Virtual Emmys Are Real in 2020
September 21, 2020

I couldn't sleep Saturday night. I'm not really sure why, but after a few hours of tossing and turning, I realized that the whole process was futile, so I got up and turned on the TV. I had ESPN on, and sometime around 3am a promo aired that told us to 'watch the Emmys live tonight on ABC'. I wasn't aware that there was going to be an awards show on, so I tried to remember to watch. It was, as all things are this year, a little weird.

This seemed like a horrible idea, and I figured it would be very similar to NBC trying their 'stay at home' edition of Saturday Night Live, which was terrible. Give them credit, though. ABC, and host Jimmy Kimmel made the three hours very interesting. You certainly wouldn't expect a live audience, but at the start of the show, Kimmel was introduced and starts telling jokes to a theater filled with people.

“Welcome to the Pandemmies”, he opened, followed by a cut to a shot of a crowded theater of people laughing. His monologue went on for a couple of minutes, including Kimmel acknowledging Norman Lear for being the oldest Emmy winner ever at age 98. Then a shot of Lear in the crowd, and you immediately think, 'Why would a 98 year-old man attend an awards show during a pandemic?' We are then let in on the joke when there is a shot of Kimmel in the audience. There was no crowd, and it was all special effects. Even for just a few seconds, you knew you had been had.

There were just a handful of live presenters at the theater, but all the nominees were at their own homes or parties, many dressed to the nines, and others more casual, and some wearing shirts supporting causes like racial justice or encouraging people to vote. In that way it was very much like life in 2020 as we know it—the virtual thing is weird at first, but then you just get used to it. There was no orchestra to play off the winners if they spoke too long, but Kimmel threatened that the winners could be muted.

Maybe the strangest part of the show, however, had nothing to do with it being virtual. The Canadian production Schitt's Creek swept all of the comedy awards. It's a show I've actually seen (which is also weird because most nominated shows aren't really on TV, they are on streaming services). The weird part, though, is that it has been on for six years, and only now has it ever gotten any academy mention, let alone nomination. It may also not be a coincidence that reruns begin this month in syndication, after being shown in this country on the Pop network (It stars Eugene Levy and Catherine O' Hara, and Levy's son Daniel, who is also the creator of the show).

The rest was a little humdrum, as the show got settled into its virtual style. David Letterman made a (virtual) cameo appearance to present for Best Talk Show Host, which was a surprise (he still has that long gray beard, by the way). The HBO series Watchmen took most of the drama awards, and seems like a pretty good show. Many other comedies and dramas that I'm only familiar with because of previous nominations were nominated again, and some won. You see people like Reese Witherspoon, Christina Applegate, and Ted Danson, and get the yearly reminder that they are in fact, still on TV.

Some bits didn't really work. Presenter Jason Sudekis was given a Covid test on stage, with a woman in P-P-E gear shoving a swab up his nose. A mailman with a Russian accent came out to deliver winning envelopes—a joke about the postal service possibly not being trustworthy to deliver our election ballots on time. And Randall Park presented a writing award with an alpaca. (I'm sure there's a funny reference in there somewhere, but I just didn't get it). Kimmel did do a bit where he asked celebrities what they had been doing during the pandemic. Bob Newhart said he had to give up skydiving, and quit his class in alligator wrestling. That was pretty funny. The show also honored folks like women truck drivers and ranchers, who got to present awards virtually.

I didn't think to check, but I don't believe there was a 'red carpet' show. It's hard to interview celebrities who aren't actually there, but they could have done that virtually, too, I suppose. The show wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, but like everything else in 2020, let's hope they don't have to do things that way again.

MNF turns 50: It was 50 years ago tonight the ABC and the National Football League began what was at the time considered a very risky experiment. The Cleveland Browns beat the New York Jets 31-21 on Monday Night Football. Exactly 50 years later, the Las Vegas Raiders made their debut, and beat the New Orleans Saints. ESPN commemorated the anniversary in two ways. The game was simulcast on ABC, and announcers Steve Levy, Brian Griese, Louis Riddick, and Lisa Salters wore the bright yellow blazers that Frank Gifford, Howard Cosell, and Don Meredith sported every week during the 1970s.

No L-A L-A land: Some people don't like the word 'choke' in sports, but the NBA would have an all-Los Angeles Western Conference Final if the Clippers didn't lose their playoff series to the Denver Nuggets after being up three games to one. Although in fairness, Denver did the same thing to the Utah Jazz in their previous series, coming from being down three games to one. Denver now trails the Lakers 2-0, so watch out LA fans.

'Splain this to me, Lucy: I can just about promise that I'll go on a further rant about this next week, but I took my first in-depth look at baseball's post-season schedule today. With the Covid-shortened season comes expanded playoffs, and 16 of 30 teams getting in. That's stupid enough in itself, but the eight first round best-of-three series begin Tuesday of nest week. There will be eight games played on Wednesday, up to eight on Thursday, and none on Saturday or Sunday. Then the next round begins Monday October 5. Fans can't possibly watch eight games in one day, and then when they are home on weekends, there are no games on at all. Pick your own adjective, but it's worse than stupid.

My old man as an old man?: Thursday would have been my father's 89th birthday. Dad died suddenly just a month after his fiftieth birthday in 1981. His heart stopped, but other than that he seemed in pretty good physical shape. It's hard to imagine what he would be like if he was alive today, but I still wish he was here. One thing about dying. You stop aging.

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