Starting 2013 With a Whimper

Does New Year’s Eve just get inherently less interesting as one gets older? It was never much more exciting to see a calendar turn than to see the odometer turn 100,000 miles. It just happens. Numbers are like that.
But this year on TV, there were more countdown shows than ever, and one of the oldest “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve” was certainly a maudlin’ eve as well, as host apparent Ryan Seacrest kept bringing down the Times Square excitement by saying that it was Clark, who died in April, who virtually invented the holiday. To hear him tell it, there was nothing happening on Dec. 31 until Clark got into the countdown business (they didn’t go on incessantly about Guy Lombardo like this after he passed, did they?).

Taylor Swift was the big performer and did a couple of her strange modern numbers as a few of her fans in the throngs sang along. Elsewhere PSY and Carly Rae Jepsen were everywhere as if to say: Look quickly: This was the music you listened to last year; we’ll never be back here again.
Things were weird on other channels as well. Carson Daly was presenting ancient concert footage (Madonna at the Super Bowl! Beyonce somewhere) and inserting all kinds of clips meant to promote NBC comedies. The weirdest part is when Jay Leno claimed he was Carson’s dad and stood there, arm around Carson’s mom.
Snooki and JWoww took over the 60 minute MTV countdown like they had the keys to dad’s car for the first time. They were terrible hosts and when they got to midnight crowed: “We made it!” It wasn’t clear whether they were talking about the year or their countdown special.
Maybe the weirdest show was on CNN where Anderson Cooper was again joined by the comic Kathy Griffin, whose plan is to get publicity each year by inadvertently cussing, making Anderson giggle or both.
In the past she kept hinting that ANderson was gay, but by his coming out in 2012 it sort of ruined that joke. Still, there were moments like the drag queen from Bourbon Street who intoned from New Orleans via satellite: “Anderson, we’re very PROUD of you.”
The worst moments came after a report from Eastport, Maine, where the tradition involves kissing a sardine. Griffin dropped to her knees to give Anderson’s pant a peck, saying she was kissing his sardine. Then she kept kneeling down and Anderson, trying to salvage any remaining dignity, would go down with her to keep her from doing that.
This on a night when there was actual news from Washington to report and they didn’t come close to covering it.
This is how your 2013 began.
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