66th Golden Globes -- TV Review

The economy might be in the toilet and the country on the edge of collapse, but it's heartening to know that at least the Golden Globe Awards are back in top form. Maybe there's hope for us after all.

Following last year's WGA strike-fueled press conference that subbed for the Globes and left everyone feeling that calling the whole thing off would have been a far more prudent course, the 66th annual Globes delivered with heart, soul and even a little political incorrectitude, proving to be the rare kudofest that left viewers feeling almost satisfied.

And you've got to believe that Fox Searchlight's party is still going strong even as you read these words, having cleaned up with "Slumdog Millionaire" and the stirring best actor win of "The Wrestler" star Mickey Rourke. Anyone who takes the time to thank his dogs in his acceptance speech has to be America's new hero.

The show also represented an increasingly rare winning moment for NBC, which seems determined to become the analog alternative in a digital world. It put on a seamless telecast that was noteworthy for its lack of bells and whistles -- a welcome thing at a time when having camera shots emerge from the rafters seems to be a virtue.

What the Globes show has over the Oscars telecast, and pretty much any of the other major awards ceremonies, is its dogged focus on the winners. It is gloriously dressed down: no live renderings of the best song nominees, no interminable clip packages, no self-flagellating monologues or self-serving quips from a smug host. In fact, there's no host.

This, to me, feels like the wave of the future. The victors get to speak as long as they desire without being played off by an intrusive orchestra, and bravo for that. And the only special honor of the night, presented to Steven Spielberg, turned out to be one of the evening highlights with the guest of honor's graceful and classy acceptance.

There were a few times toward the end when the music did pipe up, but that was because bewitching hour was near. But earlier, even the mega-long-winded Colin Farrell got to yammer on as long as he wanted to. And that was just fine. A few of the winners alluded to the teleprompter's instructing them to "wrap it up," then went on to ignore or defiantly dismiss it -- most notably Kate Winslet, whose second of two triumphs on Sunday night was a genuine highlight.

The celebrated "party atmosphere" of the Globes often is cited as a refreshing side note, but it also happens to be true. In the main, those who took to the stage to accept their statuettes on Sunday were far more excited that blase, the most fervent examples being Winslet, "Happy-Go-Lucky" star Sally Hawkins (who seemed to be in a surrealistic fog of joy) and pretty much everyone associated with "Slumdog." The sheer enthusiasm was infectious.

Airdate: 8-11 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 11 (NBC)
Production: Dick Clark Prods. and Orly Adelson Prods. in association with the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn
Executive producers: Orly Adelson, Barry Adelman, Jorge Camara, Mike Goodridge, Serge Rakhlin, Meher Tatna
Producers: Ken Shapiro, Al Schwartz
Director: Chris Donovan
Writers: Barry Adelman, Ken Shapiro
Special material by: Jon Macks
Consulting producer: Ron Weed
Executive in charge of production: Bob Bardo
Associate producer: Don Harary
Production designer: Brian Stonestreet
Lighting designer: Robert Dickinson
Executive in charge of talent: Melissa Watkins Trueblood
Music director: Lenny Stack