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Seth MacFarlane stumbles out of the Oscar gate, show struggles

Mike Krumboltz
Yahoo! Movies Oscars Blog
25 February 2013

When it was announced that "Family Guy" creator Seth MacFarlane would host the 85th Annual Academy Awards, many were skeptical. Could a man best known for voicing a psychotic cartoon baby have what it takes to play master of ceremonies at Hollywood's biggest night?

Short answer: Nope.

Sure, MacFarlane entered to large applause (though it's worth noting that Robert Downey Jr. didn't appear to clap). The host even received a big laugh when he joked that he was beginning his mission to get the notoriously grumpy Tommy Lee Jones to (Jones immediately laughed, as did everyone else). Good start.

[ Photos: The best and worst red carpet looks ]

MacFarlane tried to balance self-deprecating humor with digs at the nominees. He joked that it was an honor that everyone else who was asked to host the Oscars said no. He also acknowledged right off the bat that he wasn't going to be as good as Tina Fey and Amy Poehler were as co-hosts of The Golden Globes. True.

He joked that "Argo" was based on a true story top secret that the Academy didn't even know who directed the film (a burn toward those who snubbed Ben Affleck for Best Director). He also joked that "Amour" could just as easily be called "This Is 90." And he wondered if Jodie Foster was going to show up and ask for her privacy, seeing as more than a billion people around the world were set to watch. But then things quickly went downhill.

Of "Django Unchained," a film about a man's quest to free his wife from unspeakable horrors, he cracked it a lot like date night between Chris Brown and Rihanna. That was met by stony silence. He then suggested that the film's screenplay, in which the N-word is uttered countless times, was based on Mel Gibson's voicemails. Mel Gibson jokes in 2013 are about five years past their tell-by date. More silence.

That was when William Shatner (in character as Capt. James T. Kirk) showed up on the video screen. He said he was from the future and here to save MacFarlane from being an even worst host than he already was. Shatner showed a pseudo-skit from the future in which MacFarlane, with help from the Los Angeles Gay Men's Chorus, sings, "We've Seen Your Boobs." The song-and-dance number was meant to be fake-awkward. Instead, it was real-awkward.

The off-color jokes continued with a skit of MacFarlane, dressed like the Flying Nun, hitting on Sally Field. Things perked up with a sock-puppet reenactment of the plane-crash from "Flight." But then MacFarlance pushed his luck, quipping that he loved Denzel Washington. At least, he loved him in "The Nutty Professor" movies, starring Eddie Murphy. Cue the awkward boos.

But initial tracking showed MacFarlane's opening monologue was well received in social media. During the opening there were nearly 3,000 tweets per minute specifically mentioning MacFarlane, per Attensity Media. The overall reaction was positive with a 2-to-1 ratio of positive tweets to negative ones.

Still, celeb feedback from Twitter wasn't kind either. Comedian Colin Quinn chimed in almost immediately. "Not trying to be conceited but listening to myself think is more interesting than the whole Oscars put together," he tweeted. Steve Martin tweeted, "Congratulations to Seth Rogan on a great monologue."

It can only get better, right? We hope. We hope.

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