The Emmys were a mixed bag of fresh-faced surprises and old stalwarts, with “Modern Family” making the most noise
"Mad Men" just landed another big account with the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences: A third best-drama Emmy.
Perhaps the only show that TV critics were universally upset over missing on Sunday night made a bigger splash on NBC than it did on AMC — but that's what DVRs are for, right?
On the comedy side, "Modern Family" beat out Fox juggernaut "Glee" and a host of veteran shows — including reigning champ "30 Rock" — to win in its freshman year. The ABC single-camera comedy also took supporting actor and writing hardware.
Though "Mad Men" took the night's big drama prize, it failed to score any acting trophies. Instead, Bryan Cranston, who shocked everyone two years ago in winning the best drama award for "Breaking Bad," also three-peated.
Energized by the win but still exuding the casual cool that belies his meth-making character, Cranston thanked his family — "I love you more than baseball," he said — before nodding to the entities that made a show like "Breaking Bad" possible:
"The two bravest companies that I've ever worked for, AMC and Sony TV," Cranston said.
(See also: Primetime Emmy Winners 2010: Complete List)
In the early goings, the 62nd annual Emmy Awards were shaping up to be all about "Glee" and "Modern Family." Four of the first five trophies went to stars of the Fox hit and the ABC freshman comedy: Jane Lynch (supporting comedy actress, "Glee"), Ryan Murphy (director "Glee"), Eric Stonestreet (supporting actor, "Modern Family"), and Steve Levitan (writing, "Modern Family").
But best comedy actor and actress went to Jim Parsons ("Big Bang Theory") and Falco ("Nurse Jackie") — the latter a particular shocker, given Falco's Emmy-entrenched competition, and that the Showtime show is barely a comedy.
"Oh, this is just the most ridiculous thing to happen in the entire history of this whole, lovely awards show," said Falco said as she accepted the award. "I'm not funny!"
On the drama side, things seemed to be breaking about as expected: Aaron Paul won a supporting trophy for "Breaking Bad," while Matthew Weiner and Erin Levy won a writing award for their "Mad Men" episode "Shut the Door. Have a Seat."
But once again, a surprise threw off the Emmys compass: Archie Punjabi took the statuette for her supporting role in the CBS drama "The Good Wife" over a formidable group of nominees, including Elizabeth Moss and the red-hot-at-the-moment Christina Hendricks, both from best-drama favorite "Mad Men."
Stonestreet won the first Emmy of the night for his turn as gay dad Cameron Tucker on "Modern Family" — also a bit of a surprise, given that the little-known actor was going up against Neil Patrick Harris, Chris Colford, John Cryer and two of his own castmates on the freshman ABC comedy.
"All I wanted to be was a clown in a circus when I was growing up," Stonestreet said, breaking up as he declared that he would give the trophy to his parents.
Immediately after Stonestreet's win, "Modern Family" writer Levitan picked up the second trophy of the night for writer for a comedy series — and then it was back to "Glee." Ryan Murphy, who also created the show, won for best director of a comedy, and seemed to take it in stride.
"I'm so shocked," Murhphy said, hardly looking shocked — and not that he ever looks anything other than slightly irritated. "'Glee' is about arts education, so I'd like to thank all of my teachers, who taught me to sing and finger-paint," Murphy deadpanned.
Even the show's cold-open was "Glee" themed. Jimmy Fallon came out doing what he — and "Glee" — does best: taking a well-loved song by a well-loved artist and having a whole lot of fun with it. Doing his best Bruce Springsteen, Fallon sang "Born to Run" with the cast of "Glee" — they auto-tuned it and harmonized in such a way that it sounded fresh off the Fox show — and was joined by Jon Hamm, Tina Fey, Betty White and several other nominees.
The biggest potential bombshell of the night failed to go off when "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart" took the prize for best variety show, an eighth straight win. That's because Conan O'Brien's truncated run at "The Tonight Show" was nominated in the category, meaning the TNT-bound late-night host could have accepted an Emmy for his former show on the network that showed him the door.
Instead, Stewart's topical Comedy Central show emerged as the only eight-year streak still going after "The Amazing Race," which also came into Sunday with seven straight wins, lost the reality competition category to "Top Chef."
HBO was getting shut out until the long-form awards came along. The cable network went eight-for-eight in the movie or miniseries categories.