NEW YORK (AP) — Could the Golden Globes' bad boy do it again? The answer was a biting yes.
Ricky Gervais, whose three-year stretch as Globes host both tickled and clobbered his audience, was back on duty Sunday after yielding the task the past three years to Tina Fey and Amy Poehler.
His return found him rested, ready and once again the life of NBC's Globes party as he sank his canines into show-biz propriety.
"Relax, I'm going to try to be nice," he claimed during his monologue.
Not likely. The shock value of his "Globes" monologues has dulled by now, but he can still draw blood. (And he proved a welcome palate cleanser for anyone who watched the Globes pre-gamer, a red-carpet special with "Today" celeb suck-ups Matt Lauer, Savannah Guthrie and company).
The Globes had only just begun when Gervais went for the talk of Hollywood — and far beyond: Sean Penn's interview with Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman. "I want to do this monologue and then go into hiding. Not even Sean Penn will find me," he said.
Gervais made jokes about Caitlyn Jenner as a woman driver, about Jeffrey Tambor's testicles, about the head of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association's seeming threat to pleasure him, and about how the Golden Globes are "worthless" ("It's a bit of metal that a nice bunch of confused old journalists wanted to give you in person so they could meet you and have a selfie with you").
He also lampooned the newly voiced outrage that female stars are paid less than men.
"Of course, women should be paid the same for doing the same job," Gervais grinned. "I'm getting paid exactly the same as Tina and Amy did last year. I know there were two of them, but it's not my fault if they wanted to share the money, is it?"
If Gervais was loaded for bear, Jonah Hill flopped as a presenter sporting a silly bear-head (in a strained homage to the infamous Leonardo DiCaprio scene in the film "The Revenant"). Maybe it would have been funnier if whatever he was saying wasn't heavily bleeped.
This became a recurring problem as the evening wore on at this booze-soaked affair, including when Gervais asked presenter Mel Gibson what was obviously a provocative, maybe even humorous, question — but a question that was completely bleeped.
(Reminder to on-air talent for future awards-casts: When your wisecracks include groups of words that are going to be bleeped and therefore make whatever you've said unintelligible, you lay an egg with everyone who can't read lips — or doesn't care to catch up later when the quips are deciphered but the moment has passed. Should the Globes just air on cable?)
Presenters Mark Wahlberg and Will Ferrell wore novelty 2016 glasses and pretended to be funny.
Much better was Andy Samberg, who, appearing early on, made believe he was handing out the night's final award.
"So many memorable moments," he pretended to sum up the evening. "Tom Hanks barfed. Rob Lowe fell off the balcony right in the middle of Bill Cosby's surprise appearance and full confession."
Jamie Foxx paid tribute to Steve Harvey's notorious blunder — naming the wrong winner when hosting the recent Miss Universe pageant — by declaring "Straight Outta Compton" as the Globes-winning composer of the best cinematic score. Oops, Foxx mock-apologized, the actual winner was Ennio Morricone for "The Hateful Eight."
During an emotional acceptance for best actress in a limited series (for "American Horror Story: Hotel"), Lady Gaga accomplished a logical paradox, expressing lengthy remarks that caused the orchestra to play her offstage, yet insisting, "I'm truly speechless."
What was the sentimental high point of a night with so few of them? Certainly not Denzel Washington's fumbling acceptance of the Cecil B. DeMille honorary award.
Maybe it was Sylvester Stallone winning the supporting actor trophy for "Creed." This was hardly unexpected, but the glitterati in the Beverly Hilton ballroom greeted the announcement with the roar of having witnessed an underdog score a knockout.
"I want to thank my imaginary friend Rocky Balboa," said Stallone in concluding his remarks, "for being the best friend I ever had."
Not necessarily a quip for the ages. But no viewer had to wait for the un-bleeped version.
EDITOR'S NOTE — Frazier Moore is a national television columnist for The Associated Press. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and at http://www.twitter.com/tvfrazier. Past stories are available at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/frazier-moore