Mercifully, there were no panels to attend on Day 5 of the TCA Press Tour, thereby allowing me a brief chance to breathe…and, more importantly, to spend some time with my lovely wife Jenn, who arrived from Virginia in the wee hours of Day 4. Although I ducked out to attend the TCA business meeting that morning, I passed on a chance to visit the set of “Big Brother” in order for Jenn and I to have lunch at the South Beverly Grill with my friend Dileep Rao, who I knew way back when he was just a member of the Trashcan Sinatras mailing list. Now, of course, he’s a big shot movie actor who can’t even finish his lunch without having someone come up and say, “I loved you in ‘Inception.'” Either way, it was still good to see him again.
After that, it was back to the hotel to get ready for the TCA Awards, an evening which always proves to be one of the most enjoyable evenings of the tour. It’s the opportunity for the members of the organization to pay tribute to our favorite programs and performances of the previous year, and it’s also a chance for us to interact with the individuals responsible, but we do so with our tape recorders put away for the evening. There’s no red carpet. There’s no video document of the proceedings. It’s just us, the stars, and the night…or does that sound too pretentious? Yeah, it probably does, especially when you’re talking about a night that’s hosted by Dax Shepherd.
Given that the first two TCA Awards ceremonies that I attended were hosted by John Oliver (“The Daily Show”) and the Smothers Brothers, respectively, you’d think that Dax Shepherd would feel like a step down…but then you factor in how awful Chelsea Handler was as last year’s host, and darned if Dax doesn’t seem like a decent choice. Indeed, he proved to be extremely funny, much funnier than I think a lot of us were expecting him to be. He kicked things off by pretending he was addressing a group of HerbalLife salespeople, claimed that he was only hosting because Dog the Bounty Hunter dropped out, then acknowledged he was a little hurt by the fact that just about every review of “Parenthood” that mentioned his performance invariably began with some semblance of the phrase, “You’re never going to believe this, but he’s actually pretty good.” There was also a funny story about how he’s a god at CostCo, thanks to having co-starred in “Employee of the Month” with Dane Cook, and he did a spot-on impression of Owen Wilson calling his brother Luke and mocking him for his telephone commercials. Really, the only disappointing thing about Dax’s appearance was that I didn’t realize he’d brought his fiancee, Kristen Bell, until after she’d already gone. DAMN!
From there, we entered the awards portion of the evening.
PROGRAM OF THE YEAR: “Glee” (FOX)
OUTSTANDING NEW PROGRAM: “Glee” (FOX).
INDIVIDUAL ACHIEVEMENT IN COMEDY: Jane Lynch, “Glee” (FOX).
Alas, Jane Lynch was suffering from laryngitis and was unable to attend, but Ryan Murphy and Ian Brennan accepted the award in her stead, offering as solace a list of four things we’ll hear Sue Sylvester say in Season 2.
4. “A female football coach is like a male nurse, Will: it’s a sin against nature.”
3. “I secretly hope you’re in the middle of a midlife crisis, William, as that means you’re halfway to an early death, affording me a blissful demented convalescence spent peeing on your grave.”
2. “Don’t go soft on me, Will. I realize you’re mourning the loss of that bony little redhead you’re in love with, and I understand. It’s not just a loss for you. As she appears to be the link between early hominids and man, it’s also a loss for science.”
1. “Should’ve taken the poop cookies, Will.”
OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN COMEDY: “Modern Family” (ABC).
Steve Levitan accepted his award by admitting that he’d written his speech last week and hadn’t had a chance to rewrite it. That would explain the reference to Steve McPherson.
OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN DRAMA: TIE – “Lost” (ABC) and “Breaking Bad” (AMC).
Vince Gilligan, God bless him, gave a heartfelt speech wherein he thanked us for all of our praise. Damon Lindelof, however, took a slightly different tactic, offering up some of his favorite Tweets that he received in the wake of the final episode of “Lost.”
* “My very first tweet! I started this account just to let you know how disappointed I am in you!”
* “Has anyone accused you of being an emotional terrorist yet? And research these words: closure and actual explanations.”
* “Hey, douche! Instead of backpacking in Europe or whatever the fuck you’re doing, how about you just give me six years of my life back?”
* “Please don’t ruin Star Trek by ending it in Klingon purgatory.”
* “‘You’re a dirty liar. You never knew, you made it all up, you betrayed us all. You betrayed me and I hope you rot, motherfucker.’ And that was from Mr. J.J. Abrams!”
INDIVIDUAL ACHIEVEMENT IN DRAMA: Julianna Margulies, “The Good Wife” (CBS)
Margulies wasn’t able to attend, due to filming commitments, but she did send a video thank-you, though it received a lot of probably unintended laughs when it ended with her cutting her eyes to the side, which looked for all the world as if she was about to say, “Are we done with this fucking thing now?” But she probably wasn’t.
OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN NEWS & INFORMATION: “Life” (Discovery)
OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN YOUTH PROGRAMMING: “Yo Gabba Gabba” (NICK JR.)
Best. Acceptance. EVER.
OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN MOVIES, MINISERIES & SPECIALS: “The Pacific” (HBO)
Executive producer Tom Hanks took the stage, acknowledged the strange creatures who’d taken the stage immediately before him, and declared, “This is the last fucking time I’m dressing up for you people.” (This was his fifth appearance at the TCA Awards.)
HERITAGE AWARD: “M*A*S*H*” (CBS)
Producers Burt Metcalfe and Gene Reynolds were in attendance, as were Mike Farrell (B.J. Hunnicutt) and William Christopher (Father Mulcahy).
LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT: James Garner
Sadly, no Jim Garner…but we were assured that, as grateful as he was for the award, he didn’t necessarily believe that he deserved it, anyway.