Monday, February 25, 2013

The Oscars Problem

The reality is, if I just wanted to know who won, then there are already lists across the land that I could look at.  So, tuning in to a four plus hour telecast to determine the four (I'm kidding, it was at least twelve...) awards presented live is not efficient.  If you wanted to see the dresses, there are numerous lists and recaps.  If you wanted to participate in the social media stuff, then, I imagine a clever person could just follow along. 
The host/hosts/hostess is not really the issue.  Here's my thought on that.  Humor is subjective.  I loved some of other people's least favorite hosts and probably vice versa.  Folks were posting last night that this was just like Seth McFarlane's normal humor and I know.  (That just happens to be why I tend to avoid large doses of Seth McFarlane.) 
Also, if you were watching for the hosting, I can't imagine what cross section of folks were equally excited about the folks holding the job the last five years.  (Oh you!  Hi!)
And let's face it the speeches are hit or miss.  Daniel Day Lewis was wonderfully funny though. 
So, sure the glitz and glamour, all those movie folks gathered together, it's good.
Eons ago, a producer of the Tonys remarked that he felt they had gotten away from the core reason they gathered, and he revamped the show to be less gag, more person(s) performing a moment from a play. 
The Grammys have gone a similar route, taking the opportunity to showcase all sorts of performers together on a stage. 
The challenge the Oscars has is if they turn the show into lots of movie clips, well, it feels like something I could do at home on my couch any day of the year. 
So, in theory the idea of showcasing music from the movies was a neat idea.  (Shirley Bassey!  Adele! The cast of "Les Miserables"!)  And I enjoyed it a lot.  But, aImost a little late.  As the changing landscape of media means movie songs are not the most direct route to get yourself noticed by the people, well, the fact that only three original songs were nominated says something.  So, they brought out other songs which (Dame Shirley Bassey!) was nice but made you wonder if you had maybe changed the channel by accident. 
I loved the year that they did a fashion show of the nominated costumes.  Honestly, I think the biggest issue is efficiency.  The pacing is weird.  There were still a ridiculous number of awards to go when they hit the time they should end.  Given the number of awards that have been shunted to the technical night and the number of people they Jaw's off, there is really no explanation for that.  I get that live shows are unpredictable, but they are not that unpredictable. 
So, if I was at that table when they next discuss the Oscars, my suggestion would be to figure out the pacing so that there's less margin for overrun (I'm not saying cut Shirley Bassey, but, well, many of those awkward presenter intros could have gone.)  And someone somewhere should know, hey, we're halfway through time but we were supposed to be here by now so here's what we're going to do.  Having just read a book talking about the terrible clock management in "Friday Night Lights" that often required to team to pull out a big win in the last two minutes, we have the same thing here.  Probably some stuff did get cut.  They probably didn't mean to basically stack the last few awards on top of each other.  But, in three hours, there should have been a better plan B.  Having nothing in your telecast to trim doesn't mean you made a great telecast, it means you are bad at planning.