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Posted at 11:00 AM ET, 08/30/2010

Emmy Awards 2010: Triumphs, surprises and disappointments

By Jen Chaney

The cast and crew of "Modern Family," accepting their Emmy for best comedy. (AP) | MORE EMMY PHOTOS

You could watch all three hours of the Emmy Awards telecast that you DVR'd because you were busy watching "Mad Men" or "True Blood." Or you could just read this rundown of the Emmy highlights -- the triumphs, the shockers and the disappointments -- and avoid having to fast-forward through all those commercials for the final season of "The Oprah Winfrey Show."

It's your call. Either way, here are the high(and low)lights.



Emmy fashion photos

Celebritology's Emmy fashion breakdown, with poll

Celebritology Emmy tweets

Critic Hank Stuever's take on the telecast

Emmy fashion chat with Janet Bennett Kelly

Transcript of TV columnist Lisa de Moraes's live chat


The Emmy triumphs

The opening number

This whole endeavor -- a "let's put on a show" routine set to the tune of "Born to Run" -- probably sent a chill up the spines of Springsteen fans everywhere. But watching Fallon round up some of TV's finest -- and in particular seeing Jon Hamm and Jorge Garcia sing and shake their things on live television -- made it one of the more memorable, fun Emmy beginners in recent years.

Jimmy Fallon's series farewells

Fallon said goodbye to three of the more cherished TV series that ended this year -- "24," "Law and Order" and "Lost" -- by channeling Elton John, Boyz II Men and Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day. It was one of the sketches that best showcased his talent and, on the whole, made Fallon's hosting gig a success. Although, just to nitpick: when "The Sopranos" ended in 2007, the Emmys paid tribute to the David Chase mob drama as if its departure marked the end of television as we knew it. While Fallon's salute was funny, these three series -- which were collectively viewed by more people than watched HBO's "Sopranos" -- deserved a bit more of a moment than they got.

"Modern Family"

It was a big night for the ABC sitcom, which not only won the Outstanding Comedy Series award, but collected trophies in the supporting actor (see surprises below) and writing categories. And it also gave us the night's funniest bridge moments between awards presentations, what with writers Steven Levitan and Christopher Lloyd's riff on the Old Spice commercial during the writing nominee montage and this gem of a sketch featuring the one and only ... well, just watch. Suffice it to say, the "Family" bunch successfully prevented the "Glee" kids from stealing the spotlight.

Ricky Gervais

As hard-working and energetic as Fallon was, let's be honest: During his five minutes on stage, Ricky Gervais was more bitingly funny. Not only did he make sure beers were served to some audience members, he also cracked the joke that got the most laughter of the night, referencing Mel Gibson and noting: "He's been through a lot -- not as much as the Jews ..."

Jim Parsons win for Outstanding Actor in a Comedy

When Parsons won for his role as uber-serious physicist Sheldon Cooper on "The Big Bang Theory," voice-over man John Hodgman joked that nerds were "taking the streets" in fits of joy. He was half-right; they actually took to Twitter to celebrate this victory for geeks everywhere.

"Temple Grandin"

The HBO movie about the accomplished autistic woman cleaned up in all of its categories and paid tribute multiple times to Grandin herself, who was at the Emmy ceremony. Her wins, and Grandin's obvious delight in them, made for some of the more moving moments in the telecast.

The Emmy surprises

A win for Eric Stonestreet

Parsons may have been a slightly surprising win in the Lead Actor in a Comedy category, but Eric Stonestreet's victory -- for his role as Cameron on "Modern Family" -- was even more of a shocker. In a category that appeared to be a race between "Family's" Ty Burrell and "Glee's" Chris Colfer, Stonestreet got the nod.

A win for Archie Panjabi

Wait, who? Yes, that's what anyone who doesn't watch "The Good Wife" probably was saying when Panjabi's name was announced as the winner in the Best Supporting Actress in a Drama category over her co-star, Christine Baranski, and "Mad Men" ladies Christina Hendricks and Elisabeth Moss. The drama trophies really were spread around between multiple shows, so this was the one place where "Wife" was able to get some love. Which leads to another surprise ...

A win for Kyra Sedgwick

Most betting men and women would have put their money on Juliana Margulies in the Lead Actress in a Drama contest, given all the buzz surrounding her performance on "The Good Wife." But Sedgwick -- who had been nominated three previous times for her work on "The Closer" -- finally got her hands on an Emmy statuette.

A win for "Top Chef"

"The Amazing Race" has won the Emmy for Outstanding Reality Competition Series every year since the category was created in 2003. This year, "Top Chef" finally broke the streak and started a new era in reality competition, one in which the race for an Emmy in this arena may actually be, yes, competitive.

The Emmy disappointments

The Tweeted introductions

Jimmy Fallon's attempt to get the fans involved and have them tweet introductions to various presenters was an epic fail. Example of a tweeted intro for Nathan Filion, as read by Fallon during the telecast: "This guy is straight off the meat rack, yo." Example of an introduction that appeared to be written by a professional: "One is lusted after by millions, the other plays Don Draper. Please welcome Jon Hamm and Betty White." Yes, America, as TV critic Hank Stuever also noted, there is a reason some people get paid to write.

Predictable wins

Even though the Emmys generally mixed it up as far as winners, there was still a disappointing level of predictability in a couple of categories, specifically Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Series and Outstanding Drama Series. "The Daily Show" won in the former category for the eighth consecutive year, "Mad Men" in the latter for its third consecutive year. Both programs are undeniably deserving, but watching them snag the trophy every year is getting a little dull. Let's mix it up a little, Academy.

No wins for "Lost"

Granted, its final season was hardly its strongest, but fans of "Lost" -- some of the most ardent lovers of a television show that you'll ever meet -- were bummed that it didn't win something as a final show of appreciation for the ground it broke during its six-season run.

No wins for "Friday Night Lights"

After years of waiting to see the Dillon, Tex., football drama receive the Emmy nominations it's always deserved, it was also sad to see these folks -- including stars Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton -- walk away empty-handed. They still have one more season, so maybe the series can score a win next year.

No win for Conan O'Brien

I desperately, desperately wanted O'Brien to win for his "Tonight Show," not only because having him accept the trophy on NBC would have made for beautifully ironic live TV, but also because his final "Tonight" installment -- the episode submitted for consideration -- wrote the template for how to exit a job with humor, grace and class. At least he got a shout-out from Fallon:

And in the category of most perpetually disappointed looking: Bryan Cranston's daughter

For some reason, the camera frequently panned to Cranston (who won another Emmy for his work on "Breaking Bad") and his family. And each time, his teenage daughter Taylor looked more disenchanted and bored than the last. (Perhaps this is to be expected, given that she once was cast in an episode of "Breaking Bad" as "Sad-Faced Girl.") Pep up, young Cranston. Not only did your dad win his third Emmy, but you actually were treated to a show that was more entertaining and surprise-filled than a lot of previous Emmy ceremonies you may have been forced to endure. That's something to smile about.

By Jen Chaney  | August 30, 2010; 11:00 AM ET
Categories:  TV  | Tags:  Emmy Awards  
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RE: Kyra Sedgewick's "surprise" win over Julianna Margulies. I think you're missing an important point, Jen -- the Academy (ATAS) has a long memory. And Julainna dissed TV when, after winning an Emmy for "ER", she left the show to "star in movies". That's the kind of diss that TV folks really, really, really take to heart. If I were a betting man (and I am), I'd guess that, although she may get nominated, Ms. Margulies will never win another Emmy for the rest of her career, no matter how critically acclaimed her work might be.

Posted by: klaw009x | August 30, 2010 12:29 PM | Report abuse

At on point they showed pictures on deceased actor and actresses and I show a picture on Lavar Burton who played Kunta Kenta on Alex Haley' ROOTS. When did he die.

Posted by: dclark6kololeke | August 30, 2010 12:43 PM | Report abuse

I did NOT post the following question on Pookie's live online Emmy chat, but sure wish I had. I didn't think Ricky Gervais was nearly as hilarious as he seemed to think (the broadcast would've ended on-time but for his prolix self-indulgent performance).

However, I DO think Matthew Perry deserves major props for behaving with far more dignity and grace last night than Gervais deserved (which is, I realize, ultimately its own reward, of course):

Q. An "Only in Hollywood" moment
When Ricky Gervais started passing out the beer, I noticed Matthew Perry turning one down. Given all of the rehab veterans in attendance, you could probably serve the whole crowd with a case...

A. Lisa de Moraes writes:
I'll have to play that Very Special Moment back on my DVR when this is over...

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | August 30, 2010 12:52 PM | Report abuse

LeVar is alive and kicking.

I missed the In Memoriam section, but I'm willing to wager someone behind the scenes of "Roots" (a producer, a co-writer, etc.) died this year and they just chose a clip of the mini in lieu of an unrecognizable picture. That would be my bet.

Posted by: Chasmosaur1 | August 30, 2010 1:17 PM | Report abuse

Follow up -

I just went through the Roots credits - David Wolper - the producer of "Roots" died a few weeks ago. That's probably the reason for the clip.

Posted by: Chasmosaur1 | August 30, 2010 1:19 PM | Report abuse

One of the later winners or presenters (can't remember) said "Thanks to Ricky Gervais for the non-alcoholic beer." It was probably just a few O'Douls that got passed around.

Posted by: jmw1122 | August 30, 2010 2:05 PM | Report abuse

One of the later winners or presenters (can't remember) said "Thanks to Ricky Gervais for the non-alcoholic beer."

And you BELIEVED that person? Probably just the Emmy folks engaging in a little retroactive CYA.

Maybe we could do a Friday list of whoppers we don't believe.

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | August 30, 2010 2:42 PM | Report abuse

Chasmo, you're correct re David Wolper having died in the past 12 months (this summer, I believe). Like others, I was a bit startled that they showed so much Levar Burton, though, since one would assume that at his age he's still very much alive and well.

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Posted by: sdfkwejoif | August 31, 2010 7:43 AM | Report abuse

I love "The Good Wife", but Archie Panjabi is my LEAST favorite character. Her win is a mystery to me -- unless the category is "most manipulative character + most inappropriately dressed for a conservative law firm".

Posted by: Californian11 | August 31, 2010 3:19 PM | Report abuse

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