“This may be the saddest Emmys of all time, but we could not be happier.”
Those were the words of Modern Family co-creator Steve Levitan as he accepted the award for best comedy series at the 65th annual Primetime Emmy Awards Sunday night.
Levitan was on to something there. From the outset, with the show starting a few minutes late due to a football overrun on CBS (which obviously delayed things on CTV, too), it essentially was an awkward and bland Emmys show.
On the drama side, while the penultimate episode of his groundbreaking series had aired the same night on another network, Vince Gilligan accepted the award for outstanding drama series for Breaking Bad.
“I did not see this coming,” Gilligan said.
Can't really say I believe him.
In a stunning upset, Jeff Daniels was named the outstanding lead actor in a drama series.
“Well, crap,” Daniels said as he took the stage. We imagine a lot of people were saying the same thing.
Not that Daniels wasn't deserving, he certainly was. It's just that with the competition he was facing – Bryan Cranston of Breaking Bad, Jon Hamm of Mad Men, Damian Lewis of Homeland, Hugh Bonneville of Downton Abbey and Kevin Spacey of House of Cards – Daniels was a long shot at best.
“Aaron Sorkin (creator of The Newsroom) makes it matter and makes it count,” Daniels said.
Well, that news has broken.
To no one's surprise, Claire Danes of Homeland again was named the outstanding lead actress in a drama. She thanked her husband, actor Hugh Dancy of Hannibal, for keeping her so happy at home, so she can be “so entirely unhappy in the land of make-believe.”
In the comedy field, Jim Parsons was re-elected king.
Parsons, who plays super-nerd Sheldon Cooper on The Big Bang Theory, was honoured as the outstanding lead actor.
Parsons, who also won this award in 2010 and 2011, clearly had teary eyes as he gave his acceptance speech.
“It’s so silly to be emotional, isn’t it?” Parsons asked.
Well, only if you’re Sheldon Cooper, not for anyone else.
On the best lead actress in a comedy front, who says vice-presidents don’t get any respect? Julia Louis-Dreyfus won her second straight Emmy for playing vice-president Selina Meyer in the HBO series Veep.
There was a big laugh when Louis-Dreyfus was joined on stage by Tony Hale, who plays the vice-president’s personal assistant on Veep. Hale stood right behind Louis-Dreyfus, whispering in her ear to remember to thank her family and other such things.
Just a few minutes earlier, Hale had won an Emmy himself, as the outstanding supporting actor in a comedy.
Laura Linney of The Big C: Hereafter was named the outstanding lead actress in a movie or mini-series.
“She’s such a great actress, she didn’t even need to show up,” presenter Matt Damon joked as he accepted the award for the absent Linney.
The long-suffering wife on Breaking Bad finally got a break. Anna Gunn, who plays polarizing figure Skyler White, was honoured as the outstanding supporting actress in a drama.
Bobby Cannavale, who played terrifying villain Gyp Rosetti on Boardwalk Empire, was a surprise winner but an absolutely deserving one as the outstanding supporting actor in a drama series.
Jane Lynch paid tribute to late Glee castmate Cory Monteith, who was found dead from a drug overdose in a Vancouver hotel room last July at age 31. The inclusion of Monteith for an individual tribute at the Emmys — along with Jonathan Winters, Jean Stapleton, James Gandolfini and producer Gary David Goldberg — was controversial, in that neither Larry Hagman nor Jack Klugman were accorded such treatment.
“Cory was a beautiful soul,” Lynch said. “He was not perfect, which a lot of us can relate to. Tonight we mourn the loss for all he could have been.”
As for the first big award of the evening, if only Merritt Wever was in charge of keeping the Emmys running on time!
After being handed the hardware as the outstanding supporting actress in a comedy, a stunned Wever merely muttered, “Thanks so much. I gotta go, bye.” Cute? Or might some see it as a little contemptuous or disrespectful in a way? Up to you to decide.
Emmys host Neil Patrick Harris left no doubt as to where he stood on Wever’s speech.
“Merritt Wever, best speech ever,” Harris said. “Good luck everyone else.”
Outstanding lead actor in a mini-series or movie went to Michael Douglas for his portrayal of Liberace in Behind the Candelabra, beating out his castmate Damon, who played boy-toy Scott Thorson.
“This was a two-hander,” Douglas said, prompting laughter as he thanked Damon, “and you're only as good as your other hand. You really deserve half of this, so do you want the bottom or the top?”
Behind the Candelabra also won the award for outstanding mini-series or movie.
Translating buzz into bling, The Voice won the award for outstanding reality-competition series. “We're back on Monday, keep us No. 1,” producer Mark Burnett, who never stops selling, said in his acceptance speech.
In the wide-ranging variety-series category, The Colbert Report was the victor. “Wow, the Emmys are so good this year,” host Stephen Colbert said.
There was a great unscripted moment when Bob Newhart came out with Parsons to present an award, and the legendary Newhart received a heartfelt standing ovation from the crowd.
Harris’ first bit was to pretend he was binge-watching an entire season of television. Throw in a couple of addictions and bloodshot eyes, and he could be a TV critic.
“We’re here to honour the best in television,” Harris said in his monologue. “For our younger audience, that’s the thing you watch on your phones.”
More seriously, Harris added, “This past year has been one of the greatest in television history, truly.”
Harris then was joined on the stage by past Emmy hosts Jimmy Kimmel, Jane Lynch, Jimmy Fallon and Conan O’Brien, all presumably giving Harris advice, even though he had hosted the Emmys before. O’Brien quipped that when he hosted the Emmys, “There was no Internet. You had to pay for pornography.”
While the former hosts were arguing with the current host, the camera found Spacey who turned and delivered a for-the-audience speech about his Machiavellian plans, just like his character in House of Cards.
A pre-taped bit featured Harris’ castmates from How I Met Your Mother doing a public-service announcement to raise awareness for EHD, or Excessive Hosting Disorder. The ad was promoting The Ryan Seacrest Center for Excessive Hosting, which was funny, but it went on a little too long.
EMMYS WINNERS LIST:
BEST DRAMA SERIES: “Breaking Bad” (AMC)
ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES: Jeff Daniels, “The Newsroom” (HBO)
ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES: Claire Danes, “Homeland” (Showtime)
SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES: Bobby Cannavale, “Boardwalk Empire” (HBO)
SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES: Anna Gunn, “Breaking Bad” (AMC)
BEST COMEDY SERIES: “Modern Family” (ABC)
ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES: Jim Parsons, “The Big Bang Theory” (CBS)
ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, “Veep” (HBO)
SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES: Tony Hale, “Veep” (HBO)
SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES: Merritt Wever, “Nurse Jackie” (Showtime)
BEST MINISERIES OR TV MOVIE: “Behind the Candelabra” (HBO)
ACTOR IN A MINISERIES OR MOVIE: Michael Douglas, “Behind the Candelabra” (HBO)
ACTRESS IN A MINISERIES OR MOVIE: Laura Linney, “The Big C: Hereafter” (Showtime)
BEST REALITY TV PROGRAM: “Undercover Boss” (CBS)
BEST REALITY COMPETITION PROGRAM: “The Voice” (NBC)
BEST REALITY SHOW HOST: Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn, “Project Runway” (Lifetime)
BEST VARIETY SERIES: “The Colbert Report” (Comedy Central)
BEST WRITING, DRAMA SERIES: Henry Bromell, “Homeland” (Showtime)
BEST WRITING, COMEDY SERIES: Tina Fey and Tracey Wigfield, “30 Rock” (NBC)