Emmys Review: The Night Everything Went Wrong

From terrible comedy bits to terrible choices, it was not the show TV deserved

(Check out TheWrap's Complete Emmys 2012 Coverage)

"Something has clearly gone wrong," Jon Cryer said as he accepted his award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series.

He was modestly referring to the debatable decision to choose him over comic geniuses like Larry David and Louis C.K. But he could easily have been talking about the entire Emmys telecast.

Also read: The Complete List of Winners

It was hideous. Television had a very good year, and this was not the show it deserved.

But hey: If the television academy truly thinks Cryer is funnier on "Two and a Half Men" than any of his competitors (who included Don Cheadle, Alec Baldwin and Jim Parsons), then this was exactly the kind of show they deserved.

The show did have plenty of drama, in the form of a few wins that strained believability.

Voters denied "Mad Men" what would have been a record-setting fifth-consecutive Emmy for Outstanding Drama Series, piling prizes on "Homeland" instead. That wasn't a crazy decision, but it was debatable given a stunning year for both "Mad Men" and its AMC neighbor, "Breaking Bad."

Perhaps the Emmys were bound to have an off year, after the last two telecasts were entertaining. "Mad Men" wasn't the only one Sunday to have a streak broken.

Among the first talents wasted during the ceremony were those of Amy Poehler and C.K., who noted as they handed out the night's first award that they could set the tone. (The joke was that C.K. seemed totally uninterested, which he probably was.)

But the tone had already been set with a bad opening skit: It featured host Jimmy Kimmel getting Botox, and actresses punching him until his face went back to normal.

Kimmel won back some goodwill with his monologue, but it wasn't as funny as his typical monologue on "Jimmy Kimmel Live." And he lost almost all of that goodwill with a series of routines throughout the show that put all of the focus on him.

It might have seemed a good bet that he would be funnier than most people in the room, given how good he is on his own show. But his bits fell flat again and again, including one in which he had his parents ejected from the theater, with help from "30 Rock" star Tracy Morgan.

He also tried to pull a prank on people who were on Twitter but not watching the show, by getting viewers to tweet that Morgan had collapsed. Like many of the jokes on the show, it was a one-joke premise — and Morgan, lying inert on the stage, was in no position to punch it up.

But that joke wasn't as dead as one in which Kimmel staged an "In Memoriam" to himself. We got it: He was still alive. But showing clip after clip didn't heighten the joke, just repeated it.

Not that the real "In Memoriam" was that much better. Ron Howard delivered a nice tribute to Andy Griffith before it began. But did Griffith really stand so far above the other entertainment icons who died this year that it made sense to single him out? Like Kimmel's bit, it diminished the impact of the rest of the segment.

The tone was so off throughout the night that the funniest moment may have been a sketch featuring the murder of Don Knotts, who died for real in 2006. A sketch about "The Breaking Bad Show" imagined the AMC meth drama set in Andy Griffith's black-and-white Mayberry.

A few winners and presenters did get laughs. Jimmy Fallon and Stephen Colbert held Jon Stewart by the legs to try to keep him from reaching the stage to collect the umpteenth award for "The Daily Show." Poehler and Julia Louis-Dreyfus staged a clever routine in which Louis-Dreyfus — accepting the award for Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series — read Poehler's speech instead of her own. And Jon Hamm and Tina Fey had a fun bit about Fey forgetting her glasses.

Many of the winners delivered speeches that sounded heartfelt, notably Cryer, "Breaking Bad's" Aaron Paul and "Modern Family's" Eric Stonestreet.

Other than that, there was much too much wrong.