So the TV writers (the writers who write about what's on TV, I mean) are now weighing in on the Academy Awards telecast. Boring, bland, mundane, seems to be the verdict.
I agree that it wasn't the most exciting TV I've ever watched (that would be the episode of 24 where Jack had to execute that co-worker guy as part of the bad guy's demands), but nowhere did I read what I believe to be the explanation for this, probably because it has nothing to do with the telecast itself, and I don't believe it's anything that the Academy folks themselves can correct.
My explanation for the blah-ness of the Academy Awards telecast? By the time the Oscars roll around now, there have been so many "predicting" awards (Golden Globes, etc) that there's no real suspense come awards night. We already have a good idea who's going to win.
Also, in the olden days before stylists were rampant, there was always the chance of a huge wardrobe boo-boo. And the appeal of that? Being able to think, "That person is fabulously wealthy and that's what they chose?" In addition, there are so many TV magazine shows about TV and movies and actors, print magazines like People, not to mention the internet, that you no longer have to watch the Academy Awards to see the clothes at all. And no, I don't need somebody to explain to me why a dress "works" and why it doesn't.
Like American Idol, people watch award shows for the chance to see raw emotion. They want to see "the stars" acting excited and happy and grateful, like, say, real people. Again, when the awards have already been largely pre-determined, you're not going to get that (contrast Forest Whitaker at the Golden Globes to Forest Whitaker on Oscar night).
So the question becomes, why should I watch when there's almost no suspense/excitement involved? To confirm what I've already read/heard about?
What can the Academy do about this? Probably not a lot, because now that all these other awards are televised/publicized, too, the suspense simply cannot return. I do think they can cut down on the "extras" that lengthen the show, though, and that includes some of the banter that is actually painful to watch.