The 66th Primetime Emmy Awards gave “Breaking Bad” a grand finale Monday night, naming it best drama for the second year in a row. The AMC series won six awards overall.
“Thank you for this wonderful farewell to our show,” said series creator Vince Gilligan, adding, “It's a wonderful time to be working in television.”
The show's star, Bryan Cranston, pulled an upset, being named the best actor for his portrayal of teacher-turned-drug-dealer Walter White. He beat out heavily favored Matthew McConaughey, who was nominated for his performance in HBO's “True Detective.”
“Even I thought about voting for Matthew,” said Cranston after receiving the award from Julia Roberts.
Aaron Paul won his third Emmy and Anna Gunn won her second for their supporting roles on “Breaking Bad.” Both of them thanked Gilligan and Cranston.
“‘Breaking Bad' has changed by life, I'm here because of one man — Vince Gilligan,” said Paul. “Bryan is the baddest and best human being,” said Gunn. The show also won a writing Emmy for Moira Walley-Beckett for her episode “Ozymandia” and an earlier one for editing.
The awards show was held at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live in downtown Los Angeles on Monday, the first time it's been held on a Monday since 1976, when four cop shows were nominated for best drama series and you got to vote for the one with the best hat, joked the ceremony's host Seth Meyers. He spent most of his monologue poking fun at the confusing state of TV and the Emmys, with streaming Internet series being nominated and shows seeming put in the wrong category.
Reflecting the confusing state of television these days, the awards were all over the place, as was the show.
“Modern Family” won its fifth straight Emmy for best comedy series.
“It's all a wonder that we get to do this for a living,” said series creator Steve Levitan as the cast and producers stood behind him. The first award of the night was won by Ty Burrell for best supporting actor in a comedy series, his second Emmy win and fifth straight nomination. “Modern Family” won four awards altogether.
You probably didn't notice but the big winner of the Emmy Awards was PBS's “Sherlock.” Two of its winners — Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman — weren't there to accept their awards. They play Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson, respectively, on the show, which won seven Emmys overall — four during the Aug. 16 Creative Awards.
Steven Moffat, who helped reboot “Doctor Who” and create the new show about the iconic British detective, won best writing for a miniseries, movie or a dramatic special for the episode “His Last Vow.”
“Fargo” was named best miniseries. The show's creator, Noah Hawley, who based the show on the 1996 movie of the same name by Joel and Ethan Coen, accepted the award. He then thanked the filmmaking brothers, “who don't watch the Emmys,” for allowing him to make the miniseries. “Fargo” won three Emmys altogether, including one for Colin Bucksey for directing the “Buridan's Ass” episode.
HBO's “The Normal Heart” won best television movie. The film's producer-director, Ryan Murphy, accepted the award, saying, “We're only here because of one person, Larry Kramer.” “The Normal Heart” was based on Kramer's 1985 passionate play about the early years of the AIDS crisis. Murphy also gave a shout-out to two of its stars, Mark Ruffalo and Julia Roberts, for helping to get it made after so many years. He then encouraged young people to learn more about the crisis. The movie only won one other award — for makeup.
It was a sweet and sad win for Comedy Central's “The Colbert Report,” which is ending its nine-year run and was named outstanding variety series. Its host, Stephen Colbert, whose name was mispronounced by presenter Gwen Stefani, is taking over for David Letterman in his late-night spot on CBS.
The comedian had NBC's Jimmy Fallon accept the award while whispering in his ear and had him say something that got bleeped out. Colbert then sincerely thanked his staff and family.
Two former Oscar winners — Jessica Lange and Kathy Bates — won for their performances on “America Horror Story: Coven.” Lange, who was named best actress in a movie or miniseries said about her third Emmy, “I'm profoundly surprised.”
Bates beat Oscar-winners Roberts and Ellen Burstyn for the Emmy for best supporting actress in a miniseries or movie. She seemed genuinely shocked when her name was called.
Jim Parsons, who just got a big payday for his role on “The Big Bang Theory,” won his fourth Emmy on Monday for playing America's favorite nerd, Dr. Sheldon Cooper, on the CBS comedy.
“It's through a lot of good fortune I stand up here tonight,” said Parsons, citing his late father for encouraging him to be an actor.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus won her third straight Emmy as Vice President Selina Meyer on HBO's Veep. It was her fifth Emmy overall. In a takeoff from when she and Cranston had presented an award together earlier, she had a long kiss on her way to the platform with the “Breaking Bad” star.
She then said how HBO was her favorite place to work and noted that “Veep” “is very dense, as you might notice.”
Allison Janney took home her sixth Emmy for best supporting actress in a comedy Series for her role on “Mom.” It was the second for her this month, after winning guest drama actress for “Masters of Sex.” Janney gave credit to her co-star Anna Faris for letting her shine.
“She's the sister I never had, she's the daughter I never had. She's everything I never had,” Janney said of Faris.
Louis C.K., who won his sixth Emmy for comedy writing on his FX series “Louie,” was brief and to point in his acceptance speech.
Sarah Silverman, who is doing a segment on “Masters of Sex,” won for best writing for a variety special for “HBO Sarah Silverman: We Are Miracles.”
Cary Fukunaga, who helmed all 10 episodes of HBO's “True Detective,” won best director of a drama series.
There was the usual tribute to those who passed away this year as Sara Bareilles sang Charlie Chaplin's “Smile.” Billy Crystal, though obviously sad, then remembered his friend Robin Williams with welcomed humor.
Much of the show was uneven at best. Occasionally, there were some funny moments, but most of the show was flat. Meyers wasn't much of a presence after the opening. Comedian Weird Al Yankovic, who is having something of a revival, did a parody of current TV theme songs that was more curious than amusing.
Follow Rob Lowman on Twitter: @roblowman1