Host Seth MacFarlane can be seen on the official poster announcing the upcoming Academy Awards show February 20, 2013 in Hollywood California. The Oscars will be handed out at the 85th annual Academy Awards show in Hollywood on February 24. (Photo by ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
(USA TODAY) -- Oscars fans have seen a lot over the years, but that may be the first
time they've ever seen a host use the awards to audition for his own
That was what Seth MacFarlane was doing with his
opening for ABC's Oscar broadcast Sunday, wasn't it? Because it's hard
to imagine just what else he might have had in mind with that oddly
awkward mix of monologue and music, all under the back-from-the-future
direction of William Shatner as Captain Kirk.
Give this to MacFarlane: He threw everything he had at that opening. He dressed up like The Flying Nun.
He played with sock puppets. He radiated charm, if not cool. And, of
course, he told jokes. A tad nervously, perhaps -- one kept hoping
someone would tell him to stop rocking back and forth -- but he did
manage to land enough of them to keep the audience laughing. He even got
Tommy Lee Jones to laugh at a joke about getting Tommy Lee Jones to
laugh, which has to count for something.
Oh, and he sang and danced. A lot.
started with a number about seeing stars' breasts in movies that was
meant to represent the kind of "wild, crazy and tasteless" stunt folks
were supposedly afraid the man behind Family Guy might do, and
was, unfortunately, less wild, crazy or tasteless than it needed to be.
He then moved into more standard production numbers that fell somewhere
in between Billy Crystal's Oscars classics and something you might have
seen on The Andy Williams Show.
Still, there are worse
things a host can do than attempt to revive vaudeville. MacFarlane's act
may have been more than a little too self-conscious. The entire opening
routine was built around the prevalent fear that he was a poor choice
who would do something inappropriate, but at least he put some obvious
thought and effort into it. That's more than can be said for, say, James
Franco, just in case MacFarlane really is worried that the "Worst Host
Ever" joke headline he put on screen might actually come true.
"Best ever" may be out of reach, too. But hey, there's always that shot at The Seth MacFarlane Show.