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JAN
16
3 YEARS

Golden Globes 2012 Review: Ricky Gervais a 'Letdown,' 'Punk'd' the Awards

THR Critic Tim Goodman writes of the too-tame host: "The Oscars and Emmys can't get here fast enough to erase this three-hour dud."

69th Golden Globes Ricky Gervais Walking - P 2012
Getty Images

It was a classic movie moment -- having the whole thing oversold to the point of being underwhelmed when you see it. The "it" here was Ricky Gervais and the "whole thing" was the supposed shock and awe we'd see as he returned for his third stint as host of the Golden Globes, after allegedly being so offensive to the industry last time that he was sacked. Then replaced. By himself.

It was the "you'll never host in this town again" meme that Gervais and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association milked with such bitter alacrity until the HFPA soon came to an obvious conclusion:

Think of the ratings and attention we’ll get if we bring him back?

And, indeed, the announcement itself was rather stunning. And as last night's show approached, Gervais dutifully played along that he was going to burn Hollywood down once again. Stars and their handlers were rightly worried that Gervais, who pulled no punches last year and ruffled a lot of egos, would make this year’s Globes a bloodbath of scorching wit and meanness, with no sainted star deemed untouchable.

So much for that.

Gervais was relatively tame, save for a few obvious jabs at one-time Oscar host Eddie Murphy and some dated material about the now-dated Madonna. Virtually everything else he doled out didn’t hit any major targets with more than minor damage. Johnny Depp played along and, in fact, will appear in Gervais’ upcoming series, Life’s Too Short, for HBO. Plenty of stars had noted prior to the event that they actually weren’t angry about last year and that Gervais remains painfully funny.

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But still, there was that expectation of apocalypse. And when it didn’t appear, it seemed like such a letdown. And yet, if the ceremony itself had any kind of sparkle or snap to it -- which it did not -- a tame Gervais wouldn’t be such a big story.

The trouble with the Golden Globes telecast this year was simple -- it was egregiously boring. The Oscars and Emmys can't get here fast enough to erase this three-hour dud.

Does Gervais deserve some of the blame? Well, in so much that he led a lot of people to believe he was going to be a very naughty boy, then yes. Otherwise, he was funny enough. He did his bit. And let's remember that the host at the Globes is often absent for vast stretches of time -- last year's running internet joke was that the Globes had fired Gervais mid-show and he'd never return. But it was just how the show has evolved. The host is, essentially, a minimal presence.

No, the Globes were boring all on their own. It's depressing, as a television viewer, to think that the one awards show everyone touts as a great party -- less pressure than the Oscars, more flowing booze and bigger stars than the Emmys -- failed so utterly. Isn't the very construction of the event -- stars mixing at table, leaning over and chatting, walking awkwardly but socially to pick up their awards, partaking of the ample Champagne -- meant to create eye candy for the camera? Of course it is. There just weren’t enough shots of famous people idly talking to one another like it was the coolest dinner party ever. Nope, none of that. It seemed like a mere awards show -- clenched star faces, tepid reactions to the camera and ever-so-long and rambling acceptance speeches.

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If the Golden Globes is going to be this coiled-in-boredom, the Academy Awards should move up a month and crush its relevance.

Ah, but there's something clever afoot when you think about Gervais' underwhelming performance. Think about it. Think still more. And now consider this: Ricky Gervais just Punk’d the Globes. He exacted revenge for the Hollywood Foreign Press Association making such a stink last year and taking the moral high ground, lambasting him for being cruel and petty, a bitter outcast comic among real actors and stars. It could be that Gervais' skin really is that thick and he didn't suffer their angry arrows. Or it could be that when the Globes realized it really did need Gervais because controversy breeds ratings and ratings keep you viable, that Gervais plotted his revenge.

And Sunday night he took it. He wasn't merciless. He wasn't outraged. Hell, he didn't even seem very involved or even committed. It’s as if he said, "You hired me last year knowing what you'd get, then you fired me when you got it. Well, this year you get what you truly wanted. And you definitely get what you deserve."

Cheeky, that. Oh, you clever, clever bastard. Well played, Ricky Gervais. You got the Globes but good.

Email: Tim.Goodman@THR.com

Twitter: @BastardMachine