Frazer Harrison/Getty Images
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images
Best Opening Line: Sure, the bit about memorable lines was fun, but if you want to get people's attention, all you really need to say: "Ladies and gentlemen, Oprah Winfrey!"
Most Compelling Argument for Scripted Television: The meandering, Howie Mandel-centric open seemed as unscripted as Jeff Probst said it was. Thank goodness some writer had the idea for Heidi Klum to strip out of her outfit. That's the power of writing, folks.
Best Ad-lib: "What if I just kept talking for 12 minutes? That was the opening!"
Biggest Surprise: Don't know about you, but Zeljko Ivanek's win means one thing: We won't be clinching the office pool. Oh, and also that Ivanek's finally getting some long-overdue recognition...whatever.
Most Awesome: Ricky Gervais' extended Emmy-related hectoring of Steve Carell was completely award-worthy, unlike most trophy-show banter. "I could do anything—this is live," said Gervais. And we believed him.
Least Surprising: The guy directing the Emmys program won an Emmy.
Timeliest Reminder: Tommy Smothers got up to tell the audience that speaking truth is important, which is why he was receiving his Emmy 40 years after his show got canceled in favor of Hee Haw.
Best Performance: Josh Groban. Sure, it was flashy, but you gotta respect to the guy for his dizzying performance of dozens of TV show themes. He had us at South Park (he does a very fine Cartman), but sealed it with a moving rendition of the Cops theme that made us wanna strip off our shirt and get picked up on an outstanding warrant.
Comedy Is Pretty, Smart: Tina Fey, so intelligent, talented and accomplished, received her writing award from Lauren Conrad of The Hills, a reality show that's, like, totally unscripted. And so not funny, either. But both are tops in their field, of course, and both are familiar with irony. For different reasons, but still.
Best Cut: The poor winner who, discussing the power that words hold, got cut off before he could finish that thought.
Emmys Hotness, Senior Edition: We know we don't usually dwell on older talent, but we love Kathy Griffin, so we have to mention her. Also, her presenting routine with Don Rickles, who later won, was spectacular.
Deal or No Big Deal: "Thanks to Howie Mandel's prattling, our bit has been cut."—Neil Patrick Harris, echoing more than a few grumbles about the host gambit
Best Gaffe: Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner sweetly thanked his children, including the tyke he referred to as "the other one." (Don't worry: He not only remembered the name but pretty much guaranteed that kid is getting a spectacular gift.)
Best Emmy-Related Dig: Conan O'Brien offered this pointed barb: "At this point I had planned on doing a few more jokes, but Katherine Heigl told me she didn't think my material was Emmy worthy." The man knows his audience.
Most in-Character Presentation: Kiefer Sutherland walked out and said, "We are running out of time," which is pretty much like every episode of 24.
Biggest Upset: Bryan Cranston, who was overlooked for so long as the dad on Malcolm in the Middle, took home the best actor nod over much bigger, hotter, better-paid, handsomer, more hirsute talent. That was really cool.
Best Host Bit: While some of the host bits didn't really work, Jimmy Kimmel nailed it when he brought all five hosts out and used every reality-show cliché in the book to milk the moment. Including going to commercial before announcing Jeff Probst as the ultimate hosting survivor.
Biggest Winner: Tina Fey and 30 Rock, who not only swept up acting, writing and best comedy awards, but still managed to seem fresh and funny even all the way to the end. Unlike, say, Howie Mandel.
What were your favorite moments? What'd we miss? Sound off in the comments.