Claiming this year's Emmys are better than your typical awards show is a bit like saying the bagel that's been lying on the kitchen floor for two weeks and gnawed by mice isn't too bad with a little cream cheese.

But in these last days of media, if there is a slim reed to grab on to, no one's going to turn that down. And if we can make it seem like there might be a place in the Mad Max media world of the future for Hollywood's attempts at a Chamber of Commerce dinner featuring anachronistic tuxedo-clad parades of acceptance speeches, then I'm buying!

Traditionally the Emmys have been the most hapless of awards shows, lacking the gravitas of the Oscars, the booziness of the Globes and the musicality of the Grammys (not to mention the ridiculousness of the People's Choice Awards, the glamor of the SAGs, the OMG'ness of the Teen Choice Awards, the controversy of the VMA's). Emmys have been right in middle, which in the dying awards sector is to say, nowhere.

Ratings were up for the Doogie Howser-hosted show. 13.3 million people tuned in last night, which is not quite two million more than watched the season premiere of Survivor.

The critics however, are all Lady Gaga for the brilliance of NPH. The LA Times wrote, "From the moment he walked onstage, itself a richer and more evocative setting than last year's bleak theater-in-the-round, you knew you were in good hands."

USA Today was positively besides itself, gushing about the brilliant success, "much of the credit goes to Harris, the show's dapper, constantly congenial host. Proving his Tony Awards stint was more than a flash-in-the-reward-show-host pan, Harris rescued the show from two years of reality-host miasma with style, grace and musical flair."

The NY Times labeled Howser, "genial and efficient" but decried the inside-jokeyness of the show, and of awards shows in general. The crusade for jokes that everyone can get is a venerable movement, dear to the hearts of newspaper editors and copy editors everywhere, and we're delighted to see the Times still standing by its worthiness in these final hours.

And the Washington Post's Tom Shales declared that NPH had turned the tide for all of media. "America's traditional old broadcast networks staged a comeback Sunday night at the 61st annual Emmy Awards and snatched a few of the key prizes back from cable channels that have been making inroads and all but staging raids, especially in the 21st century."

Our review: Doogie was a more affable version of the Hugh Jackman genial-quasi-old-school-glamorous-song-and-dance-man host model. The opening number was fun. Breaking things into categories sort of gave it some kinda continuity. But in the end, 90 percent of the show is reading lists of names and listening to pompous speeches punctuated by dumb jokes, and even a teenage doctor can't make that relevant for the modern age.