updated 02/25/2013 AT 9:00 AM ET
•originally published 02/25/2013 AT 10:30 AM ET
This isn’t to say he can be blamed for a long evening that seemed to be devoted more to singing than handing out awards.
On the other hand, he doesn’t get credit for the show’s best moments, either: Adele’s powerful performance of “Skyfall,” Daniel Day-Lewis’s charmingly stiff humor in his acceptance speech for Lincoln – it was so like Abe! – or Michelle Obama’s surprising and generous gesture: appearing via satellite to announce the Best Picture winner.
It’s also only fair to say that this year’s awards weren’t as awful as the ones hosted in 2011 by James Franco and Anne Hathaway (her Supporting Actress award for Les Misérables, I suspect, was not only because she made “I Dreamed a Dream” look as painful as a birth scene from Alien, but for being such a good sport about that hosting fiasco). And, given the caliber and popularity of the movies nominated, ratings should be good.
But it’s the host who sets the tone, and in that regard MacFarlane was problematic. I say “problematic” in the way that a Secretary of State might describe a report that North Korea had fired a missile in our direction.
The creator-writer of Fox’s Family Guy and the hit film Ted, MacFarlane was brought in as a calculated, possibly desperate gamble to liven up the broadcast. He’s certainly famous enough, but he’s still known principally as a comic sensibility – a voice actor, a joke teller, a writer-director – than as a personality or performer.