T Dog’s Think Tank: Seth MacFarlane, The Oscars, and you

Winning with SethMacFarlane panned at Oscars, but he wasn’t the problem with the show

A few months ago on Twitter, yours truly said Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane wasn’t a good fit as host for the 85th Annual Academy Awards, aka The Oscars.

Sunday’s telecast certainly verified that fact – well, somewhat.

The first few minutes of MacFarlane’s gig actually got off to a good start. But it went downhill from there when William Shatner beamed down via satellite from the future, where he warned MacFarlane about the bad reviews the show was going to get and even showing him headlines (of course, who better than ol’ T.J. Hooker himself to tell MacFarlane this while making a living off overacting.) One of the headlines even showed MacFarlane as “Worst Oscar Host Of All Time” (which ironically, showed up for real on the front page of The Detroit Free Press’ website earlier Monday.)

Two production numbers followed – including one titled We Saw Your Boobs. At this point, you swore the Oscars were being produced by former Tribune exec Randy Michaels (given how sexiest some critics pegged this show to be, this assumption could be amazingly accurate.) Other skits include one featuring Sally Field and The Flying Nun and Flight being re-enacted with sock puppets. Yes, sock puppets. The only things missing from the first seventeen minutes of the show were Rod Blagojevich dancing with a yellow smiley face and a Tribune Tower poker party skit.

Then came the jokes – some were actually funny (Adele/Rex Reed, Paul Rudd/Melissa McCarthy), but a few of them left viewers and some in the audience cold – including a Chris Brown/Rihanna joke and one about Lincoln’s Assassination. Ted the Bear (from the movie of the same name) also got in on the fun, making a Jewish joke. At the end of the show, MacFarlane performed a duet with Kristin Chenoweth titled Here’s To The Losers, a tune that would get both of them run out of Wrigley Field if they ever sang it after a Cubs game (or during the seventh-inning stretch.)

Oh goody, an appearance from T.J. Hooker.
Oh goody, an appearance from T.J. Hooker.

As for the show itself, it dragged on way too long – clocking in at nearly 3 1/2 hours for this boring snoozefest of a show. It was a little after 10 p.m. local time before they handed out the two writing awards – the only thing yours truly wanted to see. Is this worth sitting through two tributes to the musical Chicago?

But back to MacFarlane for just a minute. Look, I still like the guy – yours truly still watches Family Guy. I attended a live table read for the show at the Chicago Theater in 2007 and enjoyed it. But over the last few years, Macfarlane became a parody of himself. It’s like he took the “Family Guy jokes are written by manatees” tiara bestowed upon him by archrivals Matt Stone and Trey Parker of South Park and ran with it. Family Guy isn’t as good as it used to be, and spin-off The Cleveland Show just flat out sucks.

The majority of people on Twitter slammed MacFarlane, and reviews of his hosting skills leaned negative, as expected. But keep in mind many the same critics who bashed MacFarlane – you know, the same ones who crowned the just-as-awkward New Girl star Zooey Deschannel as “America’s Sweetheart” – never liked MacFarlane to begin with or his shows. Their opinion absolutely adds nothing to the table, leaving nothing but a waste of Internet space. The harshest critique no doubt, came from Deadline Hollywood’s Nikki Finke. But for all the talk she yapped about MacFarlane alienating Hollywood, the hypocritical Ms. Finke has done the exact same thing with her years of “reporting”. More people hate her in Hollywood than they do MacFarlane, so who is she to talk?

There were actually some good in this telecast. The James Bond 007 tribute was classy and wonderful, topped off with a dash of Shirley Bassey, who was amazing. Adele and Chairwoman Of The Board Barbara Striestand rocked the house. And while Chicago (the city, not the musical) has been shitted on by a ruthless and biased press solely because of its murder rate, two of its natives – Jennifer Hudson and Michelle Obama – saved this Oscar telecast from becoming a complete disaster. Also doing our town good were the appearance of Columbia College film student A.J. Young, who was one of six aspiring filmmakers helping to hand out Oscars.

Look, don’t blame Seth MacFarlane for this mess of a show. Blame the Academy for letting this once-prestige event turn into a symbol of what’s wrong with the media industry today. There’s nothing like seeing Hollywood in smarmy, self-congratulatory mode while the public is abandoning broadcast prime-time network television and terrestrial radio for alternatives with movie attendance declining thanks to media consolidation, which no one hardly talks about anymore. More and more jobs are lost in the industry while Steven Spielberg does all he can to buy another Oscar. Our cable and satellite bills continue to go through the roof while programming rates skyrocket and these “stars” get richer and richer. There are real problems in Hollywood, but no one wants to address them until its too late.

So is Seth MacFarlane the worst Oscar host in history? That honor still goes to both James Franco and Anne Hathaway from two years ago. Now the attention shifts to who hosts the 2014 Oscars and the poor sap who gets the gig will likely be even worse than MacFarlane was. Thankfully, Ryan Seacrest is tied up with American Idol, so he’s out. But given how the Academy is run by a bunch of idiots, already on the short list to host next year’s Oscars include such luminaries as Khloe Kardashian, Jeff Probst, Jenny McCarthy, and White Sox announcer Hawk Harrelson.

Doesn’t that scream elegance to you?