Review: Emmy show top-notch all the way

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This is how the Emmy Awards should be staged.

Sunday's telecast of the "64th Primetime Emmy Awards," hosted by Jimmy Kimmel on ABC, was a first-rate affair. From some hilarious, surprising TV-themed sketches to clever, micro-movie introductions of writer/director nominees, the Emmys entertained consistently.

Although the fisticuffs-filled opening skit offered a slightly odd mix of low and smart humor, host Mr. Kimmel's monologue and appearances throughout the telecast were mostly funny and energizing, helping move the telecast along at a brisk pace.

The opening -- Mr. Kimmel burst into the backstage women's restroom in tears after a botched botox treatment -- offered a sly inside gag when five reality show hosts popped up volunteering to host the Emmys, a reference to the quintet's disastrous hosting of the Emmys in 2008.

Mr. Kimmel's monologue included political jokes directed at both Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama but it also poked fun at the self-obsession of Hollywood, noting Emmy is a mix of M and E. He said losing nominees' most challenging role yet will be "that of an actor who is happy about the success of another actor."

Mr. Kimmel even attempted a social media hoax to bring more viewers to the telecast. It probably didn't work but it was an innovative attempt. A spoof of the In Memoriam segment also fell flat but these were the exceptions.

It took just 11 minutes to get to the distribution of the first award, and while many of those who took home the trophy were repeat winners (winner Jon Stewart for "The Daily Show" noted "how [expletive] predictable these things can be"), there were some newcomers, including "Homeland" star and best drama actor winner Damian Lewis, who said, "I don't really believe in judging art but I thought I'd show up just in case; turned out all right."

For the second consecutive year, the comedy lead actress nominees had a pre-orchestrated gag that worked well. When Julia Louis-Dreyfus won for "Veep," fellow nominee Amy Poehler ("Parks and Recreation") hugged her and the pair supposedly mixed up their acceptance speeches, leading Ms. Louis-Dreyfus to begin reading Ms. Poehler's speech thanking the crew at "Parks and Recreation."

And now a few awards to the telecast itself:

Terrible pre-show: Say what you will about the E! pre-show but at least those folks know their TV trivia (and we sort of expect them to be buffoons). "Good Morning America" newsreader Josh Elliott asked Michael J. Fox during ABC's "Emmys Red Carpet Live" about being "nominated twice more tonight." Mr. Fox responded, "I don't want to spoil the secret but they gave away the two in my category last weekend and I didn't win either of them." Oops.

Local shout-out: In accepting the award for directing an episode of "Modern Family," the show's co-creator, Steve Levitan, thanked writer Abraham Higginbotham, who grew up in Washington, Pa., and graduated from Trinity High School in 1988. Mr. Higginbotham wrote the episode Mr. Levitan directed.

Worst product name check: Chick-fil-A, which has come under fire this year for its CEO's support of organizations that fund efforts to prevent gay marriage, got dinged as anti-gay twice during the Emmy telecast, first in Mr. Kimmel's monologue ("It's difficult to be a Republican in Hollywood," he said. "It's like being a Chick-fil-A sandwich on the snack table at 'Glee.' ") and later in a "Modern Family" sketch.

Best sketch: That same "Modern Family" skit portrayed little Lily (Aubrey Anderson-Emmons) as a terror behind the scenes who tries to physically harm her co-stars, mocks Julie Bowen's appearance and taunts gay and newly engaged co-star Jesse Tyler Ferguson ("This is what I'm gonna eat at my wedding," Aubrey says, while munching on a Chick-fil-A sandwich. "What are you gonna eat at your wedding?").

Best-ever introduction of accountants: Sheldon (Jim Parsons) from "The Big Bang Theory" rhapsodized about the genius of accountants, livening up the usually leaden introduction of the folks who tabulate the Emmy votes.


TV writer Rob Owen: or 412-263-2582. Read the Tuned In Journal blog at Follow RobOwenTV on Twitter or Facebook.


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