It’s Emmy time, y’all!
7:55 pm EST: My thoughts on the red carpet are as follows: I’m rocking a football jersey, some shorts, and what little dignity I have left after seeing dozens of gorgeous people parade past me wearing clothing that costs more than what I make in a year. So I’m pretty much not in a position to say a whole lot about the red carpet.
8:00 pm EST: The Jets/Bills game nearly derailed the start of the awards. Luckily, it ended with minutes to spare. Can you imagine “The Heidi Bowl” in the age of social media? Good God.
8:03 pm EST: Only three minutes late, the show itself starts. “Join all your favorite television stars!” says the voiceover man, while a picture of Michael Douglas displays onscreen. That’s pretty much this awards show in a nutshell, no?
8:05 pm EST: In a preproduced segment, Neil Patrick Harris sits amidst a few dozen screens and attempts to bingewatch a season of television in a single sitting. This is sadly not a totally outrageous thing to imagine someone doing.
8:06 pm EST: The shows start talking to each other, and then various reality show judges start taking about Harris’ performance at The Tony Awards. While this is an overwhelming sequence, it’s also oddly an accurate representation of what it can feel like to keep up with as many shows as possible.
8:07 pm EST: If you hire Harris, and don’t let him shine live onstage, it seems like a huge mistake…oh, thank God, he’s finally in front of the live audience. Had a horrible feeling that was going to be entirely preproduced.
8:08 pm EST: “For every mad man, there’s a mad woman.” I get that it’s a joke, but Carrie Mathison isn’t insane. Sigh.
8:10 pm EST: After some semi-lame material, former Emmys hosts such as Jimmy Kimmel, Jane Lynch, Jimmy Fallon, and Conan O’Brien and come onstage to help Harris out. The sexual anti-tension between Lynch and Harris is incredible, but this parade of former hosts is absolutely momentum killing. We haven’t bolted out of the game. We’ve tripped and fallen face-first into some manure.
8:13 pm EST: In full “House Of Cards” character, Kevin Spacey turns directly to the screen and describes how this parade of former hosts was all part of his master plan to enact revenge on Harris. After that, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler suggest that Harris “twerk it” in order to boost the show’s entertainment value. If you had “under fifteen minutes” in your office twerking mention pool, you win.
8:15 pm EST: No big production number? That makes no sense at all. There better be one later.
8:16 pm EST: Fey and Poehler get onstage after their bit to announce the winner for best supporting actress in a comedy. And the winner? Merritt Wever, who literally NO ONE had in their predictions. It’s gonna be that kind of night, apparently. Hide ya kids, hide ya wife. Wever doesn’t actually make a speech, which is fine, as it wasn’t clear that more than half of those in the audience knew who she was. I’m not sure even people at Showtime thought she had a shot. What a way to start.
8:18 pm EST: The nominees for outstanding writing for a comedy series get to talk about their craft in preproduced bits. Since we encouraged exactly that approach a few weeks ago, we can only assume the producers read our suggestions and act upon them. In that vein, I would like a pony.
8:19 pm EST: The winners? Tina Fey and Tracey Wigfield for the “30 Rock” episode “Last Lunch”. Great pick, and may be the first of many awards for the show tonight.
8:21 pm EST: Moving things along, the Deschanel sisters (Emily and Zooey) come out to present the awards for outstanding supporting actor in comedy series. The winner? Tony Hale, for “Veep”. OK, this is officially the “Eff You Awards” to all those trying to prognosticate any winners. Great performance, but again: nothing about past trends is holding up. Also? You don’t play off the man who portrayed Buster Bluth without it being something from Charlie Brown cartoons.
8:28 pm EST: Robin Williams honors the late, great Jonathan Winters. He tells some great stories about their time on “Mork & Mindy”. “He was a big, brilliant kid who never grew up,” says Williams. An understated and lovely tribute.
8:36 pm EST: Jon Hamm and Alec Baldwin emerge from a good-looking cocoon to present the award for outstanding lead actress in a comedy series. Whoa, lots of big awards early on, huh? In any case, the winner is Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Finally, an award many predicted. Tony Hale standing behind her, in character from their time together on “Veep”, is incredibly sweet and hysterical. (Even Anna Chlumsky gets in on the act, pretending to text from the audience instead of paying attention.) HBO and Showtime are over the moon at this point. Tina Fey and Amy Poehler will have to settle on being awesome people whom I would like to be at some point.
8:40 pm EST: The stars of “We’re The Millers”, Will Arnett and Margo Martindale, manage to walk to the stage and not make a single fart joke. They are presenting the award for outstanding guest actor/actress in a comedy series, which were announced last week. I…am unclear why they are spending time during this awards show to cover previously awarded categories. Given the skin color on display, it looks like Orange Is the New Will Arnett.
8:42 pm EST: Continuing the show’s much faster pace since that deadly dull opening, already-announced winner Melissa Leo segued into presenting the award for outstanding direction in a comedy series. Once again, the directors get to speak in their own words about their craft. Once again, Louis CK does his via Skype and a dial-up connection, apparently. The winner? Gail Mancuso, for the “Modern Family” episode “Arrested”. After getting shut out of both supporting categories, this is the first win for the show tonight.
8:45 pm EST: Moving things right along, Jimmy Kimmel and Sofia Vergara present the award for outstanding lead actor in a comedy series. In a slight (but only slight) upset, Jim Parsons wins. Given that it’s Baldwin’s last chance to win, and how damn good Louis CK was this past season, it seemed likely that Parsons would win again down the line. Just not this year. Still, Sheldon Cooper is an iconic TV character, and fits comfortably within the historical continuum of what many voters consider “comedy”.
8:48 pm EST: Rob Reiner honors the memory of Jean Stapleton, whose character Edith Bunker is within that continuum just mentioned. But there’s almost no character on TV right now with the depth, pathos, and earnestness that underpin the incredible amount of silliness that Stapleton brought to Edith. Reiner’s voice cracks at several points during his speech. So long as these tributes aren
‘t as rushed as the rest of the program, they are a worthy addition to the show, especially spread out in a way to give each honoree the proper time and respect.
8:55 pm EST: After a commercial break, Michael Douglas and Matt Damon take the stage not to honor Liberace, but rather introduce Sir Elton John. Elton has written a song for Liberace with his writing partner Bernie Taupan called “Home Again”. It sounds nice, except for the loud machine getting in the way. Oh, that’s part of the song? Nevermind.
8:57 pm EST: So Tony Hale doesn’t get to thank all the people he wants to, but we have to sit through something that has at MOST tangential relationship to TV? Gotcha. Emmys logic, everyone!
9:03 pm EST: Somehow, that took up eight minutes of showtime. Unreal. In any case, Damon and Douglas stay on to present the award for outstanding actress in a miniseries or movie. The winner? Laura Linney, for “The Big C: Hereafter”. Let’s just ignore the fact that this was in fact the last season of a television show and NOT a miniseries, accept the fact that these categories are horrible broken, and move on. Linney is great. But she has no business being in this category. The names we give things should mean something. And this means very little. Those involved should really work this out before this time next year.
9:12 pm EST: Connie Britton and Blair Underwood arrive on the stage to intimidate us with their hotness and present the award for outstanding writing in a drama series. The winner? Henry Bromell, awarded to him posthumously, for the “Homeland” episode “Q&A”. Henry’s wife Sarah accepts the award on his behalf. That award was well-deserved, and since both main actors in that show used “Q&A” as their submission episode, both Claire Danes and Damien Lewis have to be favorites to win later tonight.
9:12 pm EST: Britton and Underwood stay on to present the award for outstanding supporting actress in a drama series. Anna Gunn wins for “Breaking Bad” in a semi-huge upset: This is the first time Maggie Smith hasn’t won for “Downton Abbey”. Still, Gunn had the better performance by far, and it’s great to see that win out here. We said she SHOULD win, and it’s fantastic to see her take home the prize. (Also, given her work in the final eight episodes of the show, look for her to be back next year at this time.)
9:17 pm EST: Jane Lynch presents the tribute for Corey Monteith. Many grumbled about the Emmys given to Monteith, but any chance to address someone who had a hand in nearly every great moment in the history of “Glee”, and had a lead role in one of the more important (if not always good) shows in recent television history, this seems like something worth doing. Honorariums such as this say as much about the medium’s present as past, and Monteith’s unaffected (some would say unschooled) acting style grounded a show that constantly tried to fly off the rails.
9:29 pm EST: Halfway through the show, we get “The Number In The Middle Of The Show,” the musical number we’ve all been hoping for. It’s a clever retort to those blowhards online (hey, waaaait) who complained ninety minutes ago about the lack of any singing and dancing at the outset. Halfway through this halfway-through-the-show number, Nathan Fillion and Sarah Silverman join the proceedings. Like the Elton John number, this really doesn’t have anything to do with television. But unlike the Elton John number, this is really entertaining. So we’ll take it!
9:30 pm EST: Stephen Amell and Mindy Kaling (and some technical difficulties) present the award for outstanding reality competition. The winner? “The Voice”, which didn’t exactly have a great last season, but maybe voters were sick of constantly picking “The Amazing Race”.
9:35 pm EST: Diahann Carroll and Kerry Washington arrive onstage after the commercial break. “The men are much more beautiful than when I was doing television,” jokes Carroll, who absolutely owns the stage and somehow makes Washington seem like an afterthought. After Carroll gives a short speech emphasizing the need to do more work in diversifying both television shows and those depicted therein, the two announce the best supporting actor in a drama series. And the award goes to…Bobby Cannavale? We’re back in “Eff You” territory here. Cannavale was fine, but there were at least three far more deserving winners in this category. That makes absolutely no sense. Who needs a drink? Or aspirin for pained wrists? Just me on the latter? Okey doke.
9:40 pm EST: Dylan McDermott and Julianna Margulies keep things moving to present the award for outstanding lead actor in a drama. After that Cannavale award, anything’s possible…and that prediction comes true with Jeff Daniels getting the nod for “The Newsroom”. I….yeah, I got nothing. The voters are trolling us at this point.
9:44 pm EST: Don Cheadle hosts a segment on the impact of television in the early 1960’s. I’m just glad the show didn’t have Daniels deliver this segment in character as Will McEvoy. This segment is fine…but why is it here? It really has nothing to do with anything, except to somehow link The Beatles to Carrie Underwood. Which…WHAT? I love me some Underwood, but that’s a specious connection to say the least. If the theme of this Emmys was “a link from the past to the present,” this segment would be tenuous but part and parcel of a higher thematic concern. As it stands, it comes out of nowhere, and further makes the rushed speeches seem like bad planning.
9:59 pm EST: After a lengthy break in which THIS somehow happened, we get Jimmy Fallon hamming it up rather than honor the outstanding lead actress in drama. God, this show is devolving. In any case, the winner is Claire Danes for “Homeland”, which we predicted once “Q&A” got the writing award. She’s great, but this feels like a missed opportunity, especially considering that Carroll/Washington pairing earlier. In an awards’ show that seems rapidly on page to be historically bad, it might have been a sliver lining to actually make some history worth remembering.
10:01 pm EST: Harris introduces Dean Norris as an actor from “Under The Dome”, which might be the saddest thing uttered tonight. He and Emilia Clarke introduce the previously announced winners for best guest actor/actress in a drama: Dan Bucatinsky and Carrie Preston. This pair in turn presents the award for outstanding directing in a drama series. The winner? David Fincher, for “House Of Cards”. No shocker there. Fincher couldn’t make the awards, no matter how hard voters tried to get into the same room as him.
10:02 pm EST: Moving right along, Jim Parsons and Bob Newhart arrive onstage. Newhart gets a standing ovation, largely due to his epic contributions to the medium, but also because people are desperate to cheer for anything good at this point. They are adorable together, which should come as no surprise to anyone. They are presenting the award for outstanding writing for a variety series, which goes to “The Colbert Report”. It was going to be that or “The Daily Show”, and it’s hard to go wrong with either.
10:04 pm EST: Parsons and Newhart stay onstage to present the award for outstanding direction in a variety series, which goes to Don Roy King for “Saturday Night Live,” his fourth consecutive win in this category.
10:08 pm EST: Michael J. Fox comes onstage to honor Gary David Goldberg,
the producer of such shows as “Family Ties”, “M*A*S*H”, and others. Like all other tributes tonight, it’s short, sweet, and heartfelt. These have been great. The rest? A hot mess.
10:13 pm EST: Who wants to see some live choreography, y’all? It’s time for “So You Think You Can Emmys?” We get to see quite a few stages of the performance, from initial announcement through conception through rehearsals. I’d rather this type of attention extend to all facets of television, but this is clearly the most dynamic. The fact that Harris is singing “Luck Be A Lady” is curious, but soon shows such as “Mad Men” and “Game Of Thrones” get added to the mix, and the Mother of Dragon Dance Moves takes over the stage. If you ever wanted to see flappers dance to Daft Punk, this was the piece for you! If you ever wanted to see meth dealers semi-twerk, this was your JAM, people. Still, as a first-time deal for choreographers on the mainstage, this was a welcome breath of fresh air. And the winner? Derek Hough for “Dancing With The Stars”. I’m not sure I need to see this every year, but doing something unusual like this each year in semi-obscure categories seems smart.
10:21 pm EST: Cobie Smulders and Alyson Hannigan take the stage to present the outstanding variety series. The winner? “The Colbert Report”, which makes sense given the writing win. No complaints here.
10:24 pm EST: Edie Falco appears to honor the memory of James Gandolfini. “One got the feeling that James was not comfortable with the attention he got, mostly because he would tell you every chance he got,” she says. “You all knew James Gandolfini the actor. I knew Jim the man.” As with many of those tasked to honor the deceased, Falco came close to breaking several times during her tribute.
10:31 pm EST: “This just in: no one is winning their office pool!” Yeah, yeah, we know, Neil. Ana Farris and Allison Janney arrive onstage to present two awards. The first? Outstanding writing for a miniseries, movie, or dramatic special. The winner here: Abi Morgan, for “The Hour”. I guess HBO spent so much time lobbying for “The Newsroom” and “Boardwalk Empire” that it forgot to push for “Behind The Candelabra”?
10:34 pm EST: Next up: best supporting actor in a miniseries or movie. (But NOT a dramatic special. I guess.) The winner: James Cromwell, for “American Horror Story: Asylum”. The FX strategy to put “AHS” in the miniseries category pays off! Cromwell’s pronunciation of “indefatigable” is my new favorite thing.
10:38 pm EST: After several individual memorials throughout the night, we now get a proper “In Memorium” sequence, complete with the rest of those who passed away and the always awkward applause that ensues in the audience. Why the show can’t explicitly say, “Hold your applause until the end,” I’ll never know.
10:46 pm EST: Mark Harmon and Andre Braugher arrive onstage to present the award for outstanding director for miniseries or movie. And you’re not gonna believe this, but Steven Sodeberg wins. Given that Braugher’s introduction basically thanked feature film directors for being kind enough to come down to the lowly level of television, that seemed like a no-brainer. Sigh. Eventually television will stop feeling like second-best to film, but it won’t be tonight. The two do different things. It’s apples and oranges. OK, moving on before I start drinking…
10:49 pm EST: Harmon and Braugher stay onstage to present the award for outstanding supporting actress in a miniseries or movie. The winner: Ellyn Burstyn for “Political Animals”. When in doubt, go with the most recognizable name. That’s the logic here, even though Burstyn was very good in the role.
10:55 pm EST: Bryan Cranston and Claire Danes are here to present a few awards. The first? Outstanding lead actor in a miniseries or movie. The winner? Michael Douglas, which was the easiest award of the night to predict. This was his year, no doubt. We all probably could have done without the “hey, it’s straight guys making jokes about being gay” schtick, though. Next up: outstanding miniseries or movie. The winner, to no one’s surprise again, is “Behind The Candlelabra”, which only got shut out for writing in terms of its major categories.
11:04 pm EST: Presenting the “last awards of the night” (yaaaaayyyy), Will Ferrell comes onstage in everyday clothes and three kids in tow. “I couldn’t find childcare, OK?” First up: outstanding comedy series, which goes to “Modern Family”. Given the unpredictable nature of tonight’s winners, I would have gone with “anything but this show” if you’d asked me during the last commercial who would win. Who needs a drink?
11:08 pm EST: Finally, we get to outstanding drama series. “Breaking Bad” wins, another show largely shut out tonight but getting the biggest award of all in its category. One has to wonder how much of this season’s final episodes (some of which aired before the voting deadline) had to do with this win. To be sure, “Breaking Bad” was good in the season considered. But it’s not close to as good as what we’ve seen in 2013. Still, voters saw enough to give this show the nod, and there’s no way in hell it doesn’t repeat next year. You’ll always have 2015, last seven episodes of “Mad Men”.
11:11 pm EST: Thanks to all who followed along all night, and thanks to Zap2it for letting me share my thoughts in real time.
What did you think about tonight’s show? Biggest surprise? Biggest disappointment? Sound off below!