8:00 p.m. Lynch kicks off the show with a pre-taped number that, like last year’s, features a lot of stars. Unlike last year’s, it also features digs that would make Sue Sylvester proud. TV is a land where “dancing with Bristol Palin is… dancing with a star,” Lynch sings.
8:10 p.m. Jimmys Fallon and Kimmel take the stage arm in arm, then Kimmel wrestles Fallon’s secret acceptance-speech transcript out of his pocket.
8:12 p.m. Julie Bowen wins Best Supporting Actress, setting the tone for what could be another “Modern Family” romp of Emmy wins. She thanks her two husbands — her real life one, Scott Phillips (it’s their anniversary!) and Ty Burrell, her co-star, “who helps me manage my fear on a daily basis.”
8:15 p.m. Burrell takes Best Supporting Actor! MF is a force to be reckoned with. Burrell wonders what his hardworking father would think of the fact that he goes to work “in full makeup every day.”
8:28 p.m. Ricky Gervais delivers a lame pretaped bit about his awards-show bad boy status. Afterwards, Lynch says: “Poor little Ricky Gervais, someone didn’t get enough hugs from mummy and somehow it’s Hollywood’s fault.”
8:29 p.m. “Modern Family” takes Best Directing.
8:30 p.m. New TV season it-girl Zooey Deschanel shows up in the girliest pink ballgown we’ve ever seen and says “Sup guys” when she reaches the podium.
8:32 p.m. “Modern Family” takes Best Writing. This officially feels like the best high school football team in the district beating up on a puny squad.
8:32 p.m. In his acceptance speech, MF co-creator Steve Levitan tells the audience the show is inspired by real life — his kids walked in on him and his wife. The camera cuts to his wife, who looks like she wants to murder him. No such mishap will be reoccuring at the Levitan home tonight.
8:39 p.m. Back from commercial, Lynch makes it official: “Welcome back to the ‘Modern Family’ awards!”
8:40 p.m. Charlie Sheen comes out to weak applause. He says he’s got some words for “Two and a Half Men”: “From the bottom of my heart, I wish nothing but the best for this upcoming season.”
8:42 p.m. Are you KIDDING us? Steve Carell is snubbed — Jim Parsons wins Best Actor in a Comedy Series for the second time. This was Carell’s last chance — he had never won for “The Office.” Carell and his wife, Nancy Walls, smiled humbly when the camera cut to them. The mood seemed genuinely subdued in the room.
8:45 p.m. The mood is immediately lightened by one of the funniest Emmy stunts we’ve ever seen. As Rob Lowe and Sofia Vergara call out Amy Poehler as the first best-comedy-actress nominee, Poehler confidently takes the stage. Then Melissa McCarthy does it. Then Martha Plimpton, then Edie Falco, then Tina Fey — who ups the ante by groping Jack McBrayer‘s face before she runs up — then Laura Linney.
8:46 p.m. Melissa McCarthy wins for Best Actress in a Comedy Series — and can be seen mouthing “holy s–t” before she’s crowned (literally) by Rob Lowe.
8:52 p.m. We’d like to take this Olive Garden commercial moment to reiterate that we can’t believe Carell didn’t get the Emmy.
8:54 p.m. “Fallon” producer Mike Shoemaker confirms via Twitter that Poehler came up with the idea for the ladies’ stunt.
8:56 p.m. During a pretaped segment that finds stars from several different shows in the Dunder Mifflin offices, the highlight is Kim Kardashian deadpanning to the camera, “What do you mean, ‘work?’ Am I saying that correctly, ‘work?'”
8:57 p.m. We’re not sure what the point of this Emmytones barbershop sextet thing is, but we are sure that some of the stars in it — Zachary Levi of “Chuck,” Cobie Smulders of “How I Me Your Mother,” Kate Flannery of “The Office” — got into it by drawing the short straw among their cast.
9:02 p.m. “The Amazing Race” wins Best Reality Program and exactly nobody cares.
9:04 p.m. The award for best writing on a comedy or variety series is up — and all the shows have a clever means of showing off their writing staffs. Our favourite is the one from “Saturday Night Live,” which flashes all of its writers’ names over photos of Justin Timberlake.
9:06 p.m. No surprise here: “The Daily Show” takes Best Writing. The staff — all besuited except for its two women — takes the stage.
9:13 p.m. We’re big fans of Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone (not to mention Michael Bolton, with whom they’re singing right now) — but this performance is making us wonder how much time is left on Lonely Island’s schtick-clock.
9:14 p.m. Who cares — Maya Rudolph is standing in for Lady Gaga and Ed Helms is playing Timberlake in the “Three-Way” segment of the medley.
9:17 p.m. The gracious and genius Don Roy King — who recently lent his voice to our site — wins Best Directing for a Variety, Musical or Comedy Series for “Saturday Night Live.”
9:20 p.m. “The Daily Show” wins best Variety, Musical or Comedy Series. Stewart gives Stephen Colbert a nice tribute, calling “The Colbert Report” “exquisite.”
9:28 p.m. Seriously, with these Emmytones singers. Wilmer Valderrama is involved.
9:30 p.m. Jason Katims wins Best Writing for a Drama Series for “Friday Night Lights.” It’s some vindication for the long-overlooked, fiercely-loved series. “Clear eyes, full hearts” is invoked — FNL fans across the country are blubbering for sure.
9:32 p.m. Margo Martindale of “Justified” is so thrilled to have won Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series, she just grins in glee when she trips on the stage steps.
9:40 p.m. Martin Scorsese takes Best Directing for a Drama Series for “Boardwalk Empire.” His Emmys thanks are peppered with big names: Richard Plepler and Sue Naegle of HBO, Mark Wahlberg, superagent Ari Emanuel.
9:44 p.m. Finally, one of our upset picks pulls it out! Peter Dinklage takes home Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series for “Game of Thrones.” He thanks his dogwalker, Kitty, for watching his pup in N.Y. while he’s in L.A.
9:52 p.m. Jane Lynch as a Jersey reality queen = awesome. Anderson Cooper introing and outroing the bit = “Please don’t forget I’m a fun guy with a cool new talk show!”
9:54 p.m. Julianna Margulies wins Best Actress in a Drama Series for “The Good Wife.” Her co-stars, Alan Cumming and Archie Panjabi, look overjoyed. “Modern Family” may be the marquee name of the night, but between Margulies, Parsons and McCarthy, CBS is cleaning up in the acting awards.
9:57 p.m. Drew Barrymore introduces ABC’s new “Charlie’s Angels” as presenters. The blonde has been cut to half a dozen times tonight — each time we were sure she was Elisha Cuthbert.
9:58 p.m. Kyle Chandler wins for Best Actor in a Drama Series — more sweet justice for “Friday Night Lights” via Coach. “I knew for a fact I would not be saying here,” Chandler says. “Angels” presenter Minka Kelly shrieks Chandler’s name with excitement, then genuflects to him when she hands him the trophy. (Chandler was our second underdog pick to win).
10:07 p.m. Lynch’s best joke of the night has arrived: “A lot of people wonder why I’m a lesbian. Ladies and gentlemen, the cast of ‘Entourage.'”
10:08 p.m. Best Miniseries Writing goes to Julian Fellowes of “Downton Abbey.”
10:16 p.m. Supporting Actress in a Miniseries goes to Maggie Smith of “Downton Abbey.”
10:18 p.m. Supporting Actor in a Miniseries goes to Barry Pepper, who played Bobby Kennedy in “The Kennedys.”
10:21 p.m. Brian Percival wins Best Directing in a Miniseries — “Downton Abbey” makes it three out of four.
10:23 p.m. Among this years “In Memoriam” honorees: Elizabeth Taylor, Barbara Billingsley, Leslie Nielsen, Ryan Dunn, Frank “Uncle Frank” Potenza, Jill Clayburgh, Jack LaLanne, Laura Ziskin.
10:34 p.m. Not sure why we broke from miniseries accolades to do the In Memoriam, but we’re back — and Guy Pearce wins Best Lead Actor in a Miniseries for “Mildred Pierce.” Pearce thanks Kate Winslet, with whom he makes it clear he enjoyed having sex scenes — and to his real-life wife, Kate, for patiently listening to him talk about that.
10:37 p.m. His sex-scene cohort Winslet takes Best Lead Actress in a Miniseries for “Pierce.” She dedicates the Emmy to her mum: “No matter how old you get, you never stop needing your mum.”
10:45 p.m. “Downton Abbey” scores Best Miniseries, and we’re done with this category. But considering it took up the last 37 minutes, Hollywood needs to do a better job making relevant miniseries and promoting them to the general viewing public.
10:48 p.m. The Academy wasn’t interested in shaking things up for Best Drama Series this year: “Mad Men” wins yet again. Show creator Matthew Weiner seems genuinely surprised. Elisabeth Moss‘s gown deserves an award of its own.
10:49 p.m. FOX generously gives us the commercial break to brace ourself for Gwyneth Paltrow taking the stage.
10:55 p.m. And now we know why: PALTROW IS BARING HER STOMACH.
10:56 p.m. “Modern Family” wins Best Comedy Series for the second year in a row. And despite its dominance, we just don’t have a shred of snark for it — watching the cast migrate to the stage feels like enjoying an episode where the Dunphy clan and Co. are headed to a dressy event.
And that’s the end of what Twitter is already decrying as a lackluster Emmys, though we thought Lynch did a refreshingly evenkeeled job. Thoughts?
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