Mad Men was the most nominated drama series at this year's 60th Primetime Emmy Awards, and, as a tribute, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences did practically everything in its power to make us even more upset that last night's planned new episode was postponed until next week, forcing us to watch the Emmys instead. Where do we begin? We don't know, which we guess puts us in league with the show's five emcees — Tom Bergeron, Heidi Klum, Howie Mandel, Jeff Probst, and Ryan Seacrest, the nominees for best reality-show host — who kicked things off with an awkward, run-on non-bit about how they'd failed to prepare an opening bit. Then, because the brightest, most creative minds in television simply couldn't think of anything more clever, William Shatner was invited onstage to rip off Heidi Klum's clothes.
To be fair, it wasn't all bad. Ricky Gervais was funny as always, Josh Groban's montage of television's classic theme songs was weirdly transfixing (who knew he was capable of such a great Cartman impersonation?), and we'd be hard-pressed to disagree with many of the evening's top results (Mad Men won for Best Drama Series! 30 Rock won for Best Comedy Series! Grey's Anatomy didn't win anything at all!) — but, as is pointed out every year, shouldn't an awards show ostensibly honoring the year's best televised entertainment be able to keep us entertained for a measly three hours? Yes.
As we likely should've expected, we got a series of weird tributes to TV's most iconic scenery, a sad, excruciatingly unfunny Laugh In reunion, and a bunch of lame banter from the five hosts (with apologies to our fashion-forward sisters at the Cut, Heidi Klum was definitely never meant to read a TelePrompTer on live television). And due to the blathering emcees — and despite the best efforts of Don Rickles, who shouted down a producer whose acceptance speech was running on too long — the show fell so behind schedule that whatever comedy had been planned for the second half was axed for time ("Thanks to Howie Mandel's prattling, our bit has been cut," complained Neil Patrick Harris before presenting an award with Kristin Chenoweth). By the time Kiefer Sutherland came out to give the award for Outstanding Drama Series, he only had time to shout the names of the nominated shows and chuck a trophy at Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner, Jack Bauer style.
Political speech was purportedly banned last night, which meant we got no hilarious, foulmouthed outbursts like Sally Field's last year, but instead a bunch of subtle anti-Palin humor (like Laura Linney, picking up her Emmy for Best Actress in a Mini-Series, crediting community organizers for the founding of our country, and Mandel acknowledging that he was on a "bridge to nowhere." Also, a timely Patrick Buchanan joke from Martin Sheen that probably wouldn't have been funny even during the Bartlet administration.
But whatever. Everyone knows that televised awards ceremonies are for calling attention to things that nobody is watching and, by that measure, last night's Emmys were a runaway success. The perpetually endangered 30 Rock stormed the comedy awards, winning for writing, series, lead actor (Alec Baldwin), and lead actress (Tina Fey). Accepting the award for Best Comedy Series, Tina Fey begged viewers to watch her show, which, as she noted, can be seen at NBC.com, Hulu, iTunes, Verizon cell phones, and "occasionally on actual television." And, if anyone was still tuned in to the Emmys at that point, they might've been inclined to check it out.