Sunday's Oscar telecast drew fairly universal critical pans and lower ratings than last year's show, according to preliminary numbers from Nielsen showing viewing in the 56 largest markets was down 7% from 2010.
Meanwhile, reviewers cited such gaffes as bad writing and a lack of chemistry between the hosts, a trying-so-hard-it-was-embarrassing Anne Hathaway and a laid-back-enough-to-be-taken-for-dead (or at least stoned) James Franco. Even the audience seemed to long for a seasoned comic pro to take charge again, as they gave former host Billy Crystal a standing ovation. One solution, suggested by commenters on TV critic Alan Sepinwall's HitFix post: next year, try a comic from a younger demo -- or at least have Tina Fey and Steve Carell write and perform the whole thing.
One bright spot last night: the "montage of made-up songs, using auto-tuned dialogue" from the likes of "The Social Network" and "Twilight: Eclipse," lauded by Kim Potts as "one of the few times when producers made good on their promise to make this a younger, hipper Oscars."