Stay Tuned
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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

In Defense of Ryan Seacrest

As you guys know, TV critics are not my favorite people these days. I’m still smarting over them voting “24” as the second worst show on TV…

So when Robert Bianco wrote a scathing review of this year’s Emmys in Monday’s “USA Today,” the claws came out. I had planned to do a simple recap of the best and worst moments of Sunday’s Emmys and once again point out that I was one of the only people who saw the James Spader upset coming. But after reading Bianco’s column, I feel it is my duty to stand up and defend one Ryan Seacrest.

One of the biggest knocks (by many critics) on Seacrest is that he’s not a comedian so not all of his jokes worked. Do the critics actually think he wrote those jokes? Do they not realize that there was probably some comedian writing them for him? And how many times does a comedian have a joke bomb during an awards show? All the time! So why are they holding Seacrest to a higher standard?

I agree that his Henry VIII costume was a bad idea, but didn’t Whoopi wear different costumes at the Oscars? Did anyone attack her for her choices? No. And why?

Because people are so sick of Ryan Seacrest that they will find any reason to attack him. Call it jealousy, call it schadenfreude (a German word meaning pleasure taken from someone else’s misfortune), call it whatever you wish, but people wanted to see Ryan fail. Even I was curious as to how he would handle it, and at the risk of sounding like the president of his fan club, I thought he handled what he was given quite well.

After all, Ryan was not responsible for that hideous in-the-round set that caused half the place to look at people’s backsides all night. And of course he went out into the audience. He had to. He was practically on top of them!

And it wasn’t Ryan who decided to do a musical tribute to “The Sopranos." How is “Walk Like a Man” the proper soundtrack for people getting whacked anyway? That tribute would have been so much more powerful if they had just showed people (celebrities, viewers, etc.) talking about the impact the show had on them.

And it wasn’t Ryan who came up with that pointless montage of late night hosts’ one-liners. Why didn’t they just let Ellen do a monologue? Were they afraid that would make us wonder why they didn’t ask her to host?

And it wasn’t Ryan who decided to bring the show to a standstill with that Tony Bennett-Christina Aguilera performance. Yes, I realize that Tony ended up being the night’s big winner, but thanks to that stupid set, the performance just didn’t work, especially since Christina wasn’t herself (Maybe she was nervous about walking up and down that piano for no reason.).

But it WAS Ryan who kept the show moving with a short monologue and rapid one-liners instead of long unnecessary introductions. The critics say they want a comedian to host, but then they’re right there complaining when the show runs over by a half-hour because of the comedian’s monologue and other comedic bits.

In my opinion, this year’s Emmys were actually a step in the right direction. If I want to see comedians do comedy, I’ll watch Comedy Central. I watch the Emmys to see the awards and I would much rather they use the time to actually show us clips of the nominees than for some lame gag.

Plus, the host not talking as much let the winners talk more. I think this was the best year in a long time for acceptance speeches. I would give the award for the best one to James Spader (“Boston Legal”), who seemed embarraseed by pulling off the upset. Terry O’Quinn (“Lost”) also gave a good one when he said he’d like to experience a “Desperate Housewives” paycheck. If you’re into inspirational speeches, America Ferrera (“Ugly Betty”) obliged. And Katherine Heigl admitting that her mother didn’t think she had a shot at winning was classic.

And I don’t care what Robert Bianco says. It was funny when Steve Carell jumped on stage to accept an Emmy he didn’t win from his pals Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart. That’s the kind of spontaneity the Emmys have always lacked. The kind of spontaneity FOX was hoping to create with that hideous setup. Good idea, bad execution.

The critics—especially Bianco—trashed FOX for the opening number that kicked off the show. I find it funny how the same critics who applauded Conan O’Brien’s musical salute to NBC’s troubles last year are now bashing FOX for their “Family Guy” number about the “swill on TV,” calling it “inappropriate for the occasion.” Other than that completely mean joke about “Scrubs” not being funny, I thought it was pretty good. You can check it out for yourselves…

Personally, I believe FOX deserves kudos for trying something new. Not everything worked, but it was nice to see a network put their personal stamp on the show instead of doing the same old same old. Granted, the viewers didn’t agree (the show had its smallest audience since 1990), but I think it was worth the chance nonetheless.

However, next year, I think you can count on the same old, same old making a big comeback with some comedian hosting a show filled with meaningless video montages and unnecessary comic bits.

Boy do I wish FOX had made this thing work…

And in one more act of solidarity with my guy Ryan, let me just say…

Henderson, out!