Could the raunchmeister behind "Family Guy" and "Ted" shine in his most high-profile gig of his career? Or would he provide fuel to the skeptics who warned that this was a really bad idea?
The verdict: A little of both.
The opening moments of Sunday's overly long show felt very much like a "Family Guy" episode, containing some lowbrow gags, musical numbers, drop-in celebrity guests and a few offbeat "fantasy" sequences.
Things started off a little too inside-Hollywood with MacFarlane spewing mirthful mockery about the film business. It probably landed with a thud in most living rooms, but got big laughs in the hall -- especially a crack about the story of "Argo" being so top-secret that "the film's director is unknown to the academy." It was a reference to the inexplicable snub of Ben Affleck in the best director category.
MacFarlane's monologue was interrupted by William Shatner playing iconic Capt. Kirk, who had time-traveled to inform MacFarlane that the next day reviews would proclaim him to be the "Worst Oscars host ever" -- in part because the show included a song titled "We Saw Your Boobs," and a bit in which MacFarlane, in "Flying Nun" regalia, admitted to Sally Field that he thought she was hot back in the day.
"Your jokes are tasteless and inappropriate and everyone ends up hating you," Shatner said during the segment, which ran on for too long. Indeed, MacFarlane, at times seemed to be chasing an audience of the teen boys that love his shows, which have been known to be juvenile, profane and preoccupied with flatulence.
Of course, he was expected to bring some off-color irreverence to the generally staid Oscar party, and he didn't disappoint. One wisecrack referenced the brutal violence of "Django Unchained," and how Rihanna and Chris Brown called it a "date movie."
More appealing were spirited song-and-dance numbers with Joseph Gordon Levitt, Daniel Radcliffe, and others, in which the rookie host put his smooth-jazz radio voice to impressive use. Another taped segment, in which sock puppets re-enacted the movie "Flight" was a welcome bit of hilarity.
Some feared that MacFarlane would take the Ricky Gervais route and spend the night tossing barbs at Hollywood's elite, but he mainly turned the jokes in on himself. It was a nice touch of self-effacement, but also provoked the question: When did this night become about him?
The sense of irreverence even extended to the music used to cut off long-winded acceptance speeches: The theme from "Jaws." Good, cheeky fun -- or just plain rude?
But there were classy moments, too. Among the highlights: a rousing segment in which Catherine Zeta-Jones, Jennifer Hudson, Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway paid homage to movie musicals "Chicago," "Dreamgirls," and "Les Miserables," and a moving performance of "The Way We Were" by Barbra Streisand during the memoriam sequence, in which she paid tribute to composer Marvin Hamlisch.
More opinions: Sexist or sensational?