There have been plenty of awkward, embarrassing moments at past Oscars, like Rob Lowe manically dancing and mugging alongside Snow White in the late '80s. But for the sheer volume of wince-inducing shtick, this year’s telecast will be hard to top.
For the most part, an exceptionally classy group of films were badly served by an exceptionally tacky "showcase." Here’s a rundown of the five most forgettable incidents.
1) Rookie host Seth MacFarlane’s opening, uh, comic monologue. Singling out the low point of McFarlane’s interminable routine is a challenge. Was it the bizarre fixation on jokes about black people and women, which became a sort of leitmotif of the evening? Or the baffling presence of William Shatner, 81, reprising Capt. James T. Kirk, a 1960s TV character, in a telecast that’s desperately trying to attract viewers who aren’t card-carrying AARP members?
Perhaps the producers had a word or two backstage with MacFarlane and his gag writers, because as the telecast ground forward, he kept his patter shorter and moderately wittier. But next time, leave the frat-boy humor to professionals, like, you know, Matt Stone and Trey Parker.
2) Interrupting over-long acceptance speeches with music is a time-honored Oscars tradition. But using the “Jaws” theme to chomp down on winners' relatively brief words of thanks in the non-marquee categories, while the big names were allowed to ramble on with impunity, as usual, was a gratuitous slight to the artists and technicians who labor behind the scenes.
3) Jokes about Nazis (the Von Trapp family bit) and Jews in Hollywood. Didn't Mel Brooks perfect this combo with "The Producers" in 1968? At this date, it's about as fresh as a year-old pastrami-on-rye.
4) Tony-winner Kristin Chenoweth is a brilliant actor and singer, as she demonstrated in her show-closing number with MacFarlane, one of the evening's highlights. But she should stick to walking the red carpet, not covering it as a TV interviewer. Her vapid observations and gushing praise of her fellow thespians made Joan Rivers sound like Edward R. Murrow.
5) OK, we've already taken a whack at poor Seth MacFarlane for his opening routine. But really, whose idea was that monumentally unfunny “We saw your boobs” musical number? Gil Cates, if he was looking down from that great control booth in the sky, must've been mortified.
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