Donald Clarke

Whingeing about cinema and real life since 2009

A question about Ricky Gervais and the Globes.

You almost certainly had better things to do with your time than stay up to watch the Golden Globes last night. There were, however, some sources of entertainment during the shindig. Invited back after ruffling a few feathers last year, …

Mon, Jan 17, 2011, 21:17

   
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You almost certainly had better things to do with your time than stay up to watch the Golden Globes last night. There were, however, some sources of entertainment during the shindig. Invited back after ruffling a few feathers last year, Ricky Gervais proved to be an impressively ruthless host. The opening monologue did not just take swipes at top Hollywood party-goers — notably Charlie Sheen — it rubbed up against a few of the controversies that have dogged the organisers this year. It was something to watch. There were as many gasps as there were guffaws. When Ricky actually used the word “bribes” his lawyers must have swallowed deep and hard.

Here’s my question. How, exactly, do we judge the stars’ reaction? A piece by Mary McNamara, the LA Times’ TV critic, seemed to suggest that a few guests had publicly slapped Ricky down. As an example, Ms McNamara mentioned the comments by Robert Downey Jr. Ricky introduced the old rogue with this quip: “Many of you in this room probably know [him] from such facilities as the Betty Ford Clinic and Los Angeles County Jail.” The actor responded in kind: “Aside from the fact that it’s been hugely mean-spirited with mildly sinister undertones, I’d say the show’s going pretty good so far, wouldn’t you?”

Ms McNamara suggests that the comment was meant as a sincere rebuke. Really? She also took comments by Tom Hanks and Tim Allen as angry put-downs. “We recall when Ricky Gervais was a slightly chubby and kindly comedian,” Hanks said. “Neither of which he is now,” Allen followed-up. What do you think?

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Here’s the thing. To me, the actors’ comments seemed entirely innocuous. They were, surely, good-naturedly playing along with Gervais’ game. Has McNamara (along with many other pundits) had an irony by-pass or am I giving Hollywood A-listers too much credit?

More fun was to be had from Sky’s predictably useless home coverage. I am not referring to the fact that Jessica Hynes took to crocheting throughout. That seemed rather charming. I refer to the interesting exchange following the news that Boardwalk Empire had triumphed in the best TV drama race. Jack Whitehall, that posh comic, noted that the series had not yet been on UK television and declared that he would be downloading it shortly. Alex Zane, the host, squirmed, but Whitehall continued to whitter about the joys of internet piracy.

All very embarrassing. Boardwalk Empire is, you see, the flagship series on the upcoming Sky Atlantic channel. At the next break, Zane was forced to prostrate himself before the viewers and point out the unspeakable wickedness of unauthorised downloading. Har! Har!

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