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The 61st Primetime Emmy Awards: Highlight Reel

emmysThe surprises Sunday night didn’t come from any of the wins and losses, that’s for sure. The surprise for me was how wonderfully fun and exciting the Emmys can be when they tweak a few things and choose a great host. Sure after last year’s horror show ::shudder::, anything would have been good in comparison. And with that in mind, this show was more than good. It was fantastic! So let’s get down to what was so fantastic about it.

HOST WITH THE MOST
I love Neil Patrick Harris. His face and voice just make me smile. His opening number “Put Down the Remote” focused on why you shouldn’t change the channel, and from that moment on, I never did. It didn’t hurt that the music and lyrics were well written, and he performed it wonderfully.

One of Harris’ best moments was when he lost in Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy, and he ripped up his cue cards, saying it’s not going to be awkward. He then proceeded to check with the actual winner to make sure the card didn’t have his name on it. But nothing can beat an homage to Dr. Horrible. I really should have watched it by now, but after seeing the Emmy-version of the little internet miniseries that could, I will definitely be Netflixing it. Who knew Harris and Nathan Fillion could fit so much musical funny into two minutes?!

DEJA VU
Alec Baldwin won again for 30 Rock. I was kind of hoping that it might be Jim Parsons’ year, but there’s no question that Alec still deserved it. 30 Rock also took the win, again, for Outstanding Comedy and Outstanding Writing for a Comedy.

Mad Men, also a shoe-in, won in the Best Drama category, and after the deep and dark season two finale, I could only stand up and applaud them.

Jeff Probst won for the second time as Best Reality Host for Survivor, and The Amazing Race won Best Reality Series for the seventh time. No surprises there. It really is a breathtaking show with a non-stop pace so I understand, but sometimes you just have to share the love. It’s reality TV! Jon Stewart, who I could watch win over and over again, took it home for Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy series for the seventh time too.

And Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston won for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama, while Glenn Close won the female counterpart for Damages. I’ve never watched Breaking Bad, and I passed on this past season of Damages, so I can’t say if they deserved their awards. But when in doubt, just guess that they’ll give it to last year’s winners, right?emmysclose

THE UPSETS
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy, the first award of the night, went to Kristin Chenoweth, and the tears she shed immediately were so genuine. It made me start to tear up, especially since I never thought Pushing Daisies would win! I mean, it was canceled. Clearly, the critics and I are the only ones who loved that show.

Next up, Toni Collette won for Outstanding Actress in a Comedy for United States of Tara. I always get so excited when I hear someone, who more oft than not, plays an American, talking in their real accent. Hers happens to be Australian and damn awesome. The fact that Tina Fey didn’t take this one is still shocking, accent or not.

Some other new wins include Michael Emerson for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama, after one of his best Lost seasons, and Cherry Jones for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama, after her turn as the first female President in 24.

A little perplexing is how Jon Cryer, from Two and a Half Men, won for Supporting Actor in a Comedy. I know there are a lot of people who love this show, and they have the Nielsen results to prove it. But he didn’t win for so long; I just never thought he’d have a chance this far down the line. I did appreciate his opening speech quip (see: Quotables). I guess he truly is funny.

And Justin Timberlake, also, won an Emmy. It’s just for Guest Star in a Comedy, but it must be like a sucker punch for the “real” actors who were also nominated with him.

GREAT FILLER
We get a tour of the stage, and they really jazzed stuff up, putting the control room and the band on stage. They even give Harris a podium to hang out at during the show. All the better to push the show along, my dear.

John Hodgman (the PC guy!) was also the color commentator, the person who gives you fun facts like how many awards the winner has won as they walk on stage, but it also made me think of a beauty pageant. Thankfully, he funnied it up with stats of some of the winners’ worst pieces of work or just flat out lies.

Maksim and Karina from Dancing With the Stars and some of my favorite SYTYCDancers performed a number, choreographed by NappyTabs, and if you read any of my past reviews you’d know I was super jazzed about that. That’s me though. Most of the people in the audience just wondered why they were watching dancing at the Emmys, reality host award or not).

Sarah McLachlan sang “I Will Remember You” as the In Memorium played in the background. We really did lose a lot of amazing people this year who worked in the media. Let’s just say by the time they got to Patrick Swayze and closed out with Walter Cronkite, I was bawling my eyes out.emmyscryer

QUOTABLES
“I’m not employed now so I’d like to be on Mad Men. I also like The Office and 24.” – Kristin Chenoweth.

“This is how you host the Emmys.” – Jeff Probst to Harris. He did look like the most angry and embarrassed of all of last year’s hosts by the end of the show.

“I used to think awards were just shallow tokens of momentary popularity, but now, I realize they are the only true measure of a person’s real worth as a human being.” – Jon Cryer.

“Trevino was struck by lightning twice and now I know how he feels. I’m glad Glenn Close is a woman.” – Bryan Cranston.

“I will make my speech as brief as possible in the hope that it won’t be interrupted by a congressman or a rapper.” – Ken Howard, who won Best Supporting Actor in a Miniseries.

“The thing about the Oscars and the Golden Globes, they’ve got film stars with their jaw lines and chiseled looks, making me feel bad, but in this room, I’m probably above average. Yeah, definitely. Here, Steve Carell is considered handsome. But Rainn Wilson, we’ve got to be honest, he’s weird, even here.” – Ricky Gervais.

Tracy Morgan just speaks and people laugh, even if what he’s saying is not funny.

WRAP IT UP
Yes, there was only one place to go but up, but I think Emmy producers have finally realized what they need to do to put out a entertaining show that viewers want to tune into and keep watching. Pick a host that’s actually funny. Don’t spend too much time on fluff. Pick comedians that make us laugh to keep the show upbeat and focus on the stars we love.

Here’s to hoping that it’ll only get better in the years to come.

61th Primetime Emmy Awards (originally aired September 20, 2009)

For television reviews, click here.

Photographs courtesy of The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, CBS, Monty Brinton  and  IMDbPro.

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