NEW YORK — A bizarre Green Goblin interlude, Dick Clark counting down the seconds to the new year for the 40th time, Kathy Griffin conversing with Anderson Cooper about his “nether regions” and more — it all happened on New Year’s Eve on TV.
And yes, there was Lady Gaga too, and Justin Bieber among the estimated 1 million revelers who packed midtown Manhattan Saturday night to watch the ball drop in Times Square.
As always, we develop an acute case of short-attention span fever on New Year’s Eve, so we do a lot of switching around between shows in the hour (or more) before the new year officially arrives at midnight eastern time.
So we caught bits and pieces of all the special programming that was on TV Saturday night. Here are a few impressions:
Tradition beats kooky: As much as we enjoy Kathy Griffin’s non-stop needling of Anderson Cooper on CNN (Saturday night was their fifth New Year’s Eve together), we inevitably turn to ABC and Dick Clark for the actual countdown ’round midnight. We just happen to really admire Dick Clark and even more so in recent years as he has battled back from a stroke (or maybe more than one) to continue making these annual New Year’s Eve appearances on international TV. May he live forever.
What the you-know-what?: Speaking of Griffin and Cooper, they were doing just great, pattering right along close to 11:30 (10:30c) or thereabouts, when suddenly came this Green Goblin bit that seemed to have been produced to promote the Spider Man musical. The Green Gobster’s face appeared on one of the Times Square billboard screens and maniacally issued some kind of threat to kidnap Cooper or some such. Well, the whole thing stopped Griffin and Cooper’s entertaining repartee dead in its tracks — leading us to venture elsewhere on the dial. Regrettable.
Beatle-mania: We found it interesting that at least two of the musical performances we saw were Beatles-related. Justin Bieber sang “Let It Be” and Cee Lo Green sang “Imagine” — not a Beatles song, but probably the best-known song from John Lennon’s solo career.
As for Lady Gaga: She made an entrance in, well, some kind of shapeless, black, balloon-ish thingamajig from which just her face was visible, although she eventually shed this costume to perform several numbers, accompanied by dancers, from a stage placed in the middle of Times Square. As a New York City native, Gaga seemed genuinely gaga over the whole experience. Later, she helped Mayor Bloomberg set the famous ball in motion for its drop into the new year.
New Year’s Eve Rhapsody: We don’t usually give enough props sometimes to PBS, but it bears mentioning that the finest piece of television we encountered Saturday night was the PBS special “Live from Lincoln Center,” in which the New York Philharmonic played iconic pieces from George Gershwin (including “Rhapsody in Blue” with Jean-Yves Thibaudet on piano) and Leonard Bernstein (“Symphonic Dances from ‘West Side Story’”). Alec Baldwin hosted, and even interviewed the principals between pieces and during intermission. It was a sublime, jaw-dropping broadcast.
Enjoy your New Year’s Day.