"War and Remembrance" was longer. "Lonesome Dove" had better performances. And last night's Utah Jazz-Detroit Pistons double overtime thriller on Ch. 13 had more drama.
Still, ABC's live telecast of the 61st Annual Academy Awards on Wednesday had something going for it. It had. . . .Well, there was. . . .
OK, but how about. . . .
All right, all right. It's hard to actually pinpoint something good about this version of the show that is usually one of the most-watched programs of the year each year. It was long, it was pretentious and it passed up most of the potential memorable moments that came along.
In other words, it was a typical Oscarcast. And as usual, it neglected some of the most important awards. So we'll just take care of that little oversight right now - and I promise, no one's going to break into a chorus of "Proud Mary."
First Clue That We Were in for a Long Night: We knew we were in trouble in the opening production number when Buddy Rogers, Alice Faye, Tony Martin, Cyd Charise and a host of other vintage stars were shuttled on and off stage faster than you can say "Brat Pack" so Rob Lowe could wail an adapted version of "Proud Mary" with a Snow White lookalike who sounded like Betty Boop - in front of a chorus line of dancing tables, no less.
Worst Hair: Melanie Griffith's "best friend," Don Johnson, looked like a poster child for terminal tangles.
Unanswered Question of the Night: Doesn't anyone make dresses with shoulders and sleeves in them anymore?
Most Appropriate Technical Snafu: I don't know about you, but I kind of liked it when the biggest sound gaffe of the telecast - the live orchestra playing over the top of a clip soundtrack - occurred while presenting the Oscar for sound.
Classiest Presenter: No question. Jimmy Stewart's still got it, with timing, good humor and style.
Saddest Film Clips: All those scenes from great musical moments from past movie greats. Not that they weren't great to see. It's just that they served as a reminder of the sorry state of contemporary film music. (This year's nominees were so lousy they didn't even bother to have them performed, for Pete's sake.)
Biggest Waste of Time and Talent: When stars like Olivia Newton-John and Walter Matthau were hauled out only to introduce other presenters. I thought Tom Selleck said we weren't going to have any hosts?
Best Acceptance Speech: Stuart Craig, who won for his art direction in "Dangerous Liaisons." His remarks were short, to the point, classy.
Unanswered Question II: What island is it that Carly Simon's children have been banished to?
Tackiest Jokes: Dudley Moore should have his mouth washed out with soap and his mind sent to the cleaners.
Best Jokes: Believe it or not, Bob Hope was the hottest comic in town Wednesday night, getting off several of the evening's best lines ("I haven't seen so many gorgeous girls since I spent Father's Day with Steve Garvey"). How long is it going to take the Academy to figure out that the surest way to improve the telecast is to put Hope or Johnny Carson back in front?
Best Moments: (Tie) The standing ovation for Hope and Lucille Ball; multiple expressions of gratitude from "Rain Man" winners to Kim, the Utah savant who inspired their story; two former 007s, Sean Connery and Roger Moore, joining Michael Caine to present the Best Supporting Actor Oscar.
Unanswered Question III: Why were the five presenters who introduced Best Picture nominees and the presenter who ultimately awarded the Oscar to "Rain Man" all women.
Most Subtle Gags: (Tie) The band playing "Flight of the Bumblebee" for presenters Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis, who co-starred in "The Fly"; the band playing "Second Time Around" for presenters Johnson and Griffith, who are about to marry each other - for the second time; having the short-subject Oscars presented by Martin Short and Carrie Fisher, who is. Short, that is.
Oddest Couple: Robin Williams and Charles Fleischer, two off-the-wall comics who just seemed to overwhelm each other.
Best Actor: Detroit's Isiah Thomas, on a questionable third-quarter foul called against Utah's Jim Les. (OK, OK - so I flipped over to Ch. 13 a couple of times.)
Best Line by a Winner: Steven Wright, who won for his live action short subject, "The Appointments of Dennis Jennings." Said Wright: "I'm really glad we cut out the other 60 minutes."
Comeback of the Year: Dustin Hoffman, whose career seems to have survived "Ishtar." He also deserves awards for going out of his way to shake hands with some of the men he defeated on his way to the podium to pick up his Oscar and for his moving tribute to his father, who he says was "recently disabled."
Unanswered Question IV: What does it mean when they call Angie Dickinson "Oscar's special friend"?
Worst Presenter: Michelle Pfeiffer. You'd think an Oscar-nominated actress would be able to inject a little energy into the reading of her lines.
Biggest Surprise: Cher's incredibly restrained (for her) black miniformal. What? - did someone shut down the sequin factory?
Most Pleasant Surprise: No "Hey, Dustin Hoffman - now that you've won the Best Actor Oscar, where are you going to go?" commercial for Disney World right after the show.
Unanswered Question V: How is Kurt Russell going to squirm out of what sounded very much like a marriage proposal to his "best friend," Goldie Hawn?
Most Pretentious Gimmick: Having presenters say "And the Oscar goes to . . ." instead of "And the winner is . . . ." This was supposed to imply that there are no winners and losers among Oscar nominees, but it ended up seeming artificial and contrived. (Which, come to think of it, is probably appropriate for Hollywood's biggest bash, after all.)