Lame jokes, bad musical numbers, coked-out soap stars, confused and horrified American celebrities — these are the things that make Australian showbiz’s night of nights something special, and the 2009 Logie Awards certainly delivered on all fronts.

The big story was Gretel Killeen — sporting a much-hyped new ‘do that made her look like the love-child of Sally Bowles  and a Lego-man — stinking up the stage as host. Critics haven’t held back: “Host dies on stage” says The Age, The Hun says she “floundered“, while TV Tonight declares some gags “fell flat“, while others were downright “bizarre”.

Was it really that bad? Pretty much. We actually forgave her for struggling with the notoriously weak Logies script-writing and sketches until the credits rolled and “Gretel Killeen’s material written by Gretel Killeen” appeared on screen. Sorry, Gretsky, but you can’t blame Ten or Roving for this one.

Naturally, Wendy Harmer comparisons are being made (Harmer, the last woman to host the ceremony, notoriously tanked on stage and her career never really recovered), but we  reckon it’s a bit of a stretch, given Killeen barely has a career to sink these days.

Other lowlights included: The lack of Underbelly footage (we know they weren’t legally allowed to use it, but surely they could have put something — anything — in there instead of having each host stare at their shoes and mumble, “Oh, and, uh, Underbelly are also nominated…”?); an apparent lack of pre-recorded “live” music, with both Natalie Bassingweherhuergferjgfrjerwhatever and Tom Burlinson hitting some bung notes; the weakest “Best Comedy” pool we’ve seen in years (although Hollowmen was an entirely deserving winner, they hardly had much competition from the likes of Mark Loves Sharon); and finally the “serious” news awards being relegated to a hasitly-edited highlights package, while “light entertainment” — a category that included Deal Or No Deal and Sunrise [insert “light-on-the-entertainment” joke here] — got full airtime.

The highlights, such as they were:

Dave Hughes gave a strong performance during his presenting stint and is already being touted as a possible host for next year (though Shaun Micallef was also his usual hilarious self as well, but his hosting stint a few years ago just didn’t gel with the TV Weak audience, who don’t seem to cope well with anything too left-field, so who knows if they could handle two hours of being shouted at by Hughsie); Bill “Mr Movies” Collins’ introduction to the Hall of Fame —  a deserving and non-populist move; and a few genuinely funny sketches lampooning the various stations and Gold Logie nominees.

So, good Crikey readers, what did you think? Horrible trainwreck, or pretty much par for the course? Would it spoil all the fun if the Logies were actually any good? Best dressed? Worst dressed *coughMyfWarhurstcough*? Which Umbilical Brother would you like to strangle first?

UPDATE: Gretel defended herself on Kerry Anne this morning, sharing some super-awkward moments with the SMH‘s Michael Idato: