NEW YORK - A little too polished. Far too dignified. Was this really the Golden Globes, which loves to bill itself as a party? Or was it the Oscarcast, arranged with tables and chairs?
There may have been an open bar serving Globes attendees, but even so, they seemed to drink responsibly. No need to shoosh the gathered glitterati, as Jennifer Lopez had to do last year shortly after arriving onstage, so she could be heard above their chatter to present that night's first award.
Maybe the shocking, tragic earthquake in Haiti made public revelry in Hollywood seem inappropriate.
In any case, "The 67th Annual Golden Globes" telecast was a glitzy, mostly businesslike affair. Pretty to look at, packed with classy people as the winners, presenters and ballroom bunch.
It wasn't much of a party. Just a slick awards show.
All the more reason to be grateful for Ricky Gervais, who served as host of the NBC broadcast - its first host in 15 years, and about time.
Cheeky, silly and funny as heck, Gervais kept things real by making sure they didn't get too pretentiously Hollywood-style real.
"It's an honour to be here in a room full of what I consider to be the most important people on the planet - actors," said Gervais as a jolly suck-up in his opening bit. "They're just better than ordinary people, aren't they?
"You couldn't replace them with any other profession," he went on. "Can you imagine a real surgeon doing what Hugh Laurie does on (the Fox doctor drama) 'House'? Hugh Laurie learns his lines while saving lives!"
Then, later on, Gervais introduced a certain awards category by warning it would be "a little bit of a downer, actually: It's for writing."
"What would writers do without actors?" he mused, reprising his original theme. For actors, "it's not the words you say, it's how good you look when you're saying them. Everyone knows that."
Of course, part of the joke was that Gervais - a grinny, doughy-framed presence on camera - is a writer-filmmaker as much as a performer. He's the English-born wag who co-created and starred in the original, British version of "The Office," as well as other series, films and projects, some of which he was happy to plug during the broadcast.
"Going well, isn't it?" he said around 30 minutes into the three-hour show. "We've seen some worthy winners - and some not so worthy ones." He giggled. "I'm not going to mention them now, am I? I'll be doing that on my blog."
There were fashion pluses and deficits. Sophia Loren looked expectedly regal. Halle Berry was va-va-voom. But the gown of Chloe Sevigny, who won as supporting actress in "Big Love," made her look like a frilly mud hen.
The broadcast took a worthy detour for its tribute to Martin Scorsese, previously announced as recipient of the Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award.
There were heart-tugging moments, notably when Mo'Nique accepted her trophy for "Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire," and during Drew Barrymore's excitable acceptance speech for "Grey Gardens," which she reeled out in triple-time.
"The Good Wife" star Julianna Margulies, who won the best actress Globe, was her category's lone nominee from a drama series airing on a broadcast network. She thanked CBS boss Leslie Moonves "for believing in the 10 o'clock drama," a well-timed tribute at a moment when NBC is ditching its ill-conceived experiment replacing dramas with "The Jay Leno Show" weeknights at 10 p.m.
But the best acceptance speech came courtesy of Robert Downey Jr., who won as best actor for "Sherlock Holmes."
As if taking a page from Gervais, he delivered an irony-laden recitation of all the people he insisted he didn't need to thank.
"I don't have ANYBODY to thank," he declared, then went on to list, with deep humility underlying his mock-arrogance, people ranging from the filmmakers and studio bosses to his wife, who collectively had made his award and even his career survival possible.
His moment on the show was one for awards show archives.
Most of the "Golden Globes" broadcast wasn't.
EDITOR'S NOTE - Frazier Moore is a national television columnist for The Associated Press. He can be reached at fmoore(at)ap.org