By Marlena De Lacroix a.k.a Connie Passalacqua Hayman
Today I’m going to use a word I’ve never used in a decade of viewing the Daytime Emmys (but nearly always used when I attended the 22 years previously). I actually “enjoyed” Saturday night’s Daytime Emmys on HLN.Don’t freak out — there are “excepts” which I’ll get into later. You see, Marlena is a great admirer of the traditional award show format on TV.
“Marlena,” Moose exclaimed during the show, “this show really knows how to play to its own community, like the Tonys (and theater). And you’d never even know that soaps were dying!” He didn’t even seem to mind forgoing the competing Yankee-Mets baseball game, clicking over only during commercials.
Yup, the Daytime Emmys 2012, were very up. No more tacky Las Vegas promotion, as in the last two years. The show felt like it was aimed at me, a soap viewer, despite the myriad of other categories (game, talk shows, etc.), Plus, it was done with — gasp — actual respect for our favorite genre. No fuss, no muss — the streamlined, simplified format went at a nice clip. It had one great innovation — mostly solo presenters, reading straightforward intros. No stupid patter or ad libs between cutesy duo presenters. Remember the year that a perky, petite ABC actress used the time to admire her co-presenters “cute butt”? Yikes!
There were a few boo-boos. The clip-less “tribute” to departed soaps was a travesty, with Susan Lucci, Erika Slezak and Cameron Mathison looking ill at ease as they soldiered on through the weakly scripted “toast-eulogy” that begged for video backup and received none. I wanted to see those clips of my old faves All My Children and One Life to Live, and have the big sob my decades of intense devotion certainly would have evoked.
I thought the presentation of the Outstanding Actor and Actress awards by teams made up of Outstanding Younger Actor and Actress nominees was very sweet and — here’s that word again — respectful. But those ladies from The Talk who introduced themselves as the hosts of The View were about as funny and endearing as the brainless show talk show is not.
The award choices themselves were seldom objectionable. I, of course, wanted my longtime favorite Erika Slezak to win her record seventh as Outstanding Actress, but surprise winner Heather Thom has always been a solid, superlative performer, for the first time in daytime history completing the Triple Crown of Outstanding Younger, Outstanding Supporting and now Outstanding Actress. Outstanding Younger Actor Chandler Massey was certainly very deserving in his wonderfully acted and scripted coming out story on Days of Our Lives.
That the fired Days writing team shockingly won for Outstanding Writing (for the first time for the show since 1976!) was a real tribute to the judgment of that soap’s executives. Seventh time winning Outstanding Actor Tony Geary’s acceptance speech was the one of the best moments of the night. That risqué joke about General Hospital possibly being cancelled for a show about “celebrity boob jobs gone wrong” was a bulls-eye, showing Geary to be to be, comme toujours, the coolest of the daytime cool.
For first time, I watched the show along with Twitter, which I found to be a lot of fun. Nancy Lee Grahn’s remarks are always a hoot, but it was a thrill to tune in “with” her in her remote location as she won her second Outstanding Supporting Actress award. “Oh my freaking G-d,” she tweeted. But the most pointed, spirited tweets of the night came from Robin Strasser. Loved when she wondered whether Dee Hall had work done to her face or not! As for the pre-show, HLN’s surprisingly classy presentation of the Red Carpet festivities tickled Robin’s fancy, too. She so liked the genuine reverence it showed for daytime soaps, she tweeted it made her feel “ferklempt.” Moi too!
The overall production of the main show was okay, especially considering HLN only had three weeks of preparation. But the set looked game-showy, and as a friend said, the tacky “electronic” music sounded worse than a Casio watch she had in the 80s. Of course, those bizarre new categories like “Best AOL Video” and “Best New Concept in Daytime” seemed to us longtime attendees as fast forward and bizarre as if we were blasting off into outer space. Not as bizarre, however, as the fact of, at long last, a decent presentation of the Daytime Emmys themselves. We who have soldiered through our genre’s usually bad, embarrassment-filled premier televised award show year after year thank you, HLN.