We're sure we've seen this routine before

EntertainmentTelevisionMeteorological DisastersTelevision IndustryDesperate Housewives (tv program)Johnny Carson

I wondered why Patricia Arquette won and not Frances Conroy, and William Shatner and James Spader and Doris Roberts and not Jeremy Piven and/or Naveen Andrews and/or Terry O'Quinn.

Every time a name was called you thought: Oh. Him/her again. How are these things voted on?

If these Emmys opened with actors reflecting on their first Emmys, it was dominated by series producers and costars reflecting on the Emmys they'd won yet again.

For the most part the more interesting new faces of TV were glimpsed more than seen, which contributed to the overall feel of a rote Emmys, an Emmys that could be happening any old year.

There were markers to make this Emmy night this Emmy night — a tribute to Johnny Carson and a curtain call for the trio of nightly newsmen, Dan Rather, Tom Brokaw and the late Peter Jennings. But even with the added subtext of post-hurricane solidarity, the broadcast failed to move beyond the deeply appropriate.

Meanwhile, I wondered if CBS had instituted some kind of soft ban on HBO, if that was why the players on its dramas played such a small role on the actual telecast. I wondered if CBS was dreading the potential finale of the telecast — a double win for ABC in the comedy and drama category, for "Lost" and "Desperate Housewives."

I wondered why men don't care to put any energy into acceptance speeches, while women do, particularly the ones who've been working long enough to know that TV doesn't want them onstage in the first place.

Blythe Danner won for "Huff" and talked about Kiefer Sutherland babysitting Gwyneth, getting our troops out of Iraq and the memory of her late husband, director-producer Bruce Paltrow, whose contributions to series TV included "St. Elsewhere" and "The White Shadow." Former National Endowment for the Arts Chairwoman Jane Alexander seemed to hint at the current administration with her acceptance speech for "Warm Springs," saying, "You know what I love about this: The Roosevelts never die. They were great leaders at a time when our nation needed great leaders."

Then again, maybe she was talking only about the Roosevelts.

I wondered why Jay Leno didn't participate in the Johnny Carson tribute, even though I also knew. I wondered who beyond Teri Hatcher thought Teri Hatcher could pull off a Groucho Marx riff.

I wondered if the pain behind the comedy about all the "Desperate Housewives" internal strife is true or just the world's longest boring joke — or a publicity campaign to keep people interested in the show.

I wondered how "Da Ali G Show" had gotten that clip package past the CBS censors. If you missed it, it appeared to have men loving other men more than they do on "Will & Grace."

I wondered if the cameras were purposely not cutting to Leno during David Letterman's tribute to Carson because it had all been worked out before the telecast.

I wondered why the Letterman eulogy to Carson didn't play, why it felt like a visiting dignitary's speech about another dignitary.

I wondered why they didn't just stage a rapprochement between Letterman and Leno; it might have been quite cathartic.

I wondered why Jon Stewart didn't just go ahead and host the show. He was onstage three different times, twice to accept awards for "The Daily Show" and once representing Hollywood's need to convey that it is angry at the Bush administration for its slow response to Hurricane Katrina.

I wondered if the idea for that running joke "Emmy Idol" had sounded good in the room, and whether they knew in rehearsal that it was playing flat.

I wondered if people were blaming host Ellen DeGeneres, when it really wasn't her fault.

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