Photo Credit: Lester Cohen/WireImage
"Who was the genius that came up with this idea?" asked Connie Britton, a few minutes into the seriously weak comedy bit that opened the 2013 Emmy Awards. Yeah, that's what we wanted to know.
For those who missed it, host Neil Patrick Harris started off the ceremony by sitting in a control room with dozens of TV consoles, preparing to helm the show by binge-watching all the series that were up for awards this year. Then the characters on screen started talking directly to him -- sort of. But really, it was just edited clips of dialogue, a failed attempt at compiling some of the best moments from last TV season. It might have been a funny concept, except that it wasn't.
Then Harris, who's one of TV's most talented song and dance men, strode to center stage, stood stock still, and unrolled a series of dumb jokes:
Exhibit A, commentary on all the ways you can watch TV these days, including Google Glass: "Right now, I'm actually watching an episode of American Horror Story: Asylum on the inside of my contact lenses." Yawn.
Exhibit B, thoughts on the variety of shows out this season: "For every Walter White, there is an Orange Is the New Black. Or, as Paula Deen now has to call it, "Orange is the New African-American." When this old joke didn't go over, he asked, "Not soon enough?" Yep.
The opening did pick up somewhat when several former Emmy hosts butted in and tried to help.
"You gotta do a little song and dance thing like you did for the Tonys," said Jimmy Fallon. "Do a little tippy-tap." Yes! Exactly. At least Fallon offered some surprising tap dancing skills, though Harris brushed him off, saying: "That is far too gay."
When Conan O'Brien lumbered on stage (to remind Harris of the billions more people who watched the Emmys back when he was host), the whole opening bit already felt tired. Luckily, it got a boost from Kevin Spacey -- whose malevolent turn toward the camera led to a comical explanation for the mess: "It's all going according to my plan," he said in characters as his corrupt, Southern-accented politician on House of Cards. "Look at that parade of blabbering buffoons. ... Getting them all to sabotage Neil was almost too easy."
Tina Fey and Amy Poehler's popcorn chomping, 3-D glasses-wearing contribution at the end was funny enough to almost save the opening -- almost. Their advice? "Take off your pants!" And "Twerk it! .. It might be degrading but we would be de-grateful!"
Now that bit was genius. And soon enough after the Miley Cyrus twerk-nado to still be funny!
What makes the weak opener even more of a head-scratcher is that the Emmy writers did actually come up with some funny ideas. About an hour and 10 minutes into the show, the cast of Harris' sitcom, How I Met Your Mother, starred in a spoofy public service announcement in which they staged an intervention for Harris. His addiction? Excessive hosting.
Ironically (or at least luckily), one of the night's funniest moments arrived just seconds after the lame opener, when Merritt Wever won the Emmy for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy.
"Thank you so much," she said, looking sticken. "Um, I gotta go now... bye."
Best. Speech. Ever.
Jennifer Graham Kizer is an Atlanta-based writer who covers pop culture and watches too much TV. Luckily, iVillage gives her an excuse to watch even more. Follow her on Google+.