Cat Deeley, Seth MacFarlane charm during relaxed Critics’ Choice TV Awards telecast

I mentioned when I reviewed the most recent SAG Awards telecast that less is more when it comes to award shows, and I have yet to see an example that changes my mind (though, to be fair, the Oscars delivered some mighty good spectacle this year in-between its many, many, many mistakes). That’s why I so appreciated this year’s low-key Critics’ Choice TV Awards, broadcast live on A&E and hosted by “So You Think You Can Dance” emcee Cat Deeley.

Critics’ Choice TV Awards: Complete list of winners

Deeley opened the show with a brief monologue, which was charming and played to her strengths. She’s not a stand-up comic and didn’t strain to be one. She delivered a few lighthearted jabs to the audience, including Best Reality Host rival Tom Bergeron (“Dancing With the Stars“) and then mostly yielded the floor to a steady stream of awards.

Deeley wasn’t completely absent from the rest of the proceedings, but the event played to her strengths as a reality-competition host. She appeared periodically to introduce presenters, and then had informal one-on-one chats with the winners: comparing bad reviews with Genius Award recipient Seth MacFarlane and asking Allison Janney where she keeps all her awards, which now include her third Critics’ Choice trophy in two years.

But my favorite moment from Deeley was when Best Reality Host was presented and she won – then immediately after her speech had to introduce the telecast’s next segment. What a pro.

Most of the comedy during the show came from the professional comedians. An early highlight was late-night newcomer James Corden (“Late Late Show with James Corden“) lamenting his loss for Best Talk Show, which was handed out off-screen. He then presented Janney her award for Best Comedy Supporting Actress for “Mom,” and when she kissed him unexpectedly on the lips, the quick-thinking Corden backed away slowly, pretending to conceal an erection in a subtle bit of physical comedy.

MacFarlane was also a highlight, discussing the irony of receiving a Genius Award from an organization of critics, who have never been wholehearted supporters of his work. “You guys are like a remorseful abusive dad,” he said of the critics’ unexpected show of support; he was presented his award by Charlize Theron, perhaps reminding him of how critics lambasted their recent film together, “A Million Ways to Die in the West.” He concluded that “if my work has made the world even just a tiny bit better, I would be incredibly surprised.”

Critics Choice prediction scores: Best performances by Experts, Editors and Users

There were few memorable moments among the acceptance speeches apart from “Silicon Valley” champ T.J. Miller talking with his mouth full, Janney and Corden’s lip lock, and “Better Call Saul” winner Jonathan Banks‘s f-bomb of appreciation for co-star Bob Odenkirk. But despite the absence of showstoppers, I came out of these kudos refreshed instead of exhausted. It was a perfectly pleasant way to spend two hours, and I’m sure the winners would agree.

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