Emmys Remember Network TV, But Award Streaming

Network TV got thanks for the memories, but streaming TV got the trophies Monday night at the Emmy Awards.

“The 75th Emmy Awards,” seen on Fox and hosted by Anthony Anderson, dug up the ghosts of TV past to mark the diamond anniversary of TV’s annual tribute to itself.

The past came alive -- or make that creaked alive -- with cast reunions from old shows and interstitial theme music from shows that were so old that most readers of this TV Blog probably could not name those tunes.

The show might have benefited from posting descriptions of some of them or at least the titles. One that was likely a mystery to many was the theme from “Get Smart,” which went unidentified to help younger viewers -- say, 50 years or younger -- feel a part of this diamond jubilee.



Note to them: This was a comedy series from the 1960s about a bumbling secret agent named Maxwell Smart. 

The music’s purpose was to usher in the annual appearance on stage of TV Academy Chairman Frank Scherma, who introduced that Emmy staple, the prestigious Governor’s Award, presented this year to GLAAD. Congrats.

This segment was by far the longest of the night and, as always, it had the effect of stopping this awards show dead in its tracks.

But it came in the final hour of this three-hour event, by which time it was easy to have already reached that point in the show when a viewer starts to yawn and look at his watch.

That wasn’t the case for the sprightly way the show began, with Anthony Anderson at a piano joined by backup singers to dust off and perform the theme songs from two other old sitcoms, “Good Times” and “The Facts of Life.” 

Then, one after the other, the curtain rose on the reassembled sets of “Cheers,” “Martin” and “All in the Family.”

In case some younger viewers are unfamiliar with this last show, “All in the Family” was an old ’70s sitcom about a hilarious bigot who lived in Queens.

In the “Cheers” bar were Kelsey Grammer, Ted Danson, Rhea Perlman, George Wendt and John Ratzenberger. 

In the “Martin” apartment set were Martin Lawrence, Tichina Arnold, Tisha Campbell and Carl Anthony Payne II.

And in the Bunkers’ living room from “All in the Family” were Mike and Gloria Stivic -- Rob Reiner and Sally Struthers --  who were so lacking in rapport that they stood some 10 feet away from each other like total strangers.

The Stivics were on hand to introduce the show’s annual salute to TV notables who died since the last Emmy Awards were held in fall 2022. 

As has become customary at the Emmys, this lifeless “In Memoriam” segment was dead on arrival.

The cast reunions from the era when network television was king were convened to present the evening’s Emmys to everything but network television.

The sole exception was Quinta Brunson -- creator and star of “Abbott Elementary” on ABC -- who won the Emmy for Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series, presented to her by spry 90-year-old Carol Burnett.

The “Cheers” cast presented the Emmys for Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series and Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series to the same guy, Christopher Storer of “The Bear” (FX/Hulu).

The “Martin” cast presented Jeremy Allen White of “The Bear” with a Best Actor in a Comedy Emmy. By the end of the Emmy show, “The Bear” was named the year’s Best Comedy.

While “The Bear” dominated the comedy categories, “Succession” (HBO/Max) vacuumed up the drama awards -- Best Drama, Best Actor in a Drama for Kieran Culkin (photo above), Best Actress for Sarah Snook, Best Directing, Best Writing and Best Supporting Actor for Matthew MacFadyan.

Other reunions included Jon Cryer and Holland Taylor from “Two and a Half Men,” a brief dance by members of the “Ally McBeal” cast, and Lorraine Bracco and Michael Imperioli from “The Sopranos,” who were joined by a framed headshot of the late James Gandolfini perched on a coffee table.

To underscore the glamor and the glory that was network television, Taraji P. Henson of “Empire” and 90-year-old Joan Collins from “Dynasty” came on stage to share their memories of the jewels and designer outfits that were characteristic of “Dynasty” and, according to Henson, inspired the costuming on “Empire.”

They presented the award for Outstanding Limited or Anthology series to “Beef” (Netflix), which also came away with multiple awards on Emmy night.

By the time Natasha Lyonne of “Poker Face” and Tracee Ellis Ross of “Black-ish” arrived to perform a black-and-white re-creation of the famous bonbon assembly line scene from “I Love Lucy,” the point was made.

Network TV was once the king of the TV hill, but it has been succeeded on this game of thrones by “The Bear,” a show about a Chicago roast beef sandwich shop, and a series called “Beef.”

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