Emmys 2011: Five Best and Worst Moments

The 2011 Emmy Awards are in the books, and while host Jane Lynch didn’t score nearly as many laughs per minute as last year’s emcee Jimmy Fallon, there were enough deserving and/or surprising winners to salvage the three-hour telecast from the scrap heap. (Raise your hand if you still can’t quite believe voters finally recognized Friday Night Lights‘ Kyle Chandler.)

Anyhow, before we move on to the building and maintenamce of the “Let’s Get Busy Philipps a Nomination for Cougar Town in 2012″ Facebook page, let’s count down the five best and five worst moments from Sunday’s ceremony.

5) The Office spoof | Characters from a wide range of shows submitted to the Dunder Mifflin confessional, with Law & Order: SVU‘s Det. Benson and Game of Thrones‘ Khal Drogo scoring the biggest laughs. “I hate that no one ever rinses the horse-heart bowl”? Genius.

4) Margo Martindale recovers from her Emmy staircase bobble | There wasn’t a speech all night more effervescent and genuine than what we saw from the Justified character actress. Bonus points to Martindale for deftly steadying herself from a stumble on Emmys steep steps — before Ed O’Neill and Ashton Kutcher could rush to her rescue. Somebody shoulda trotted out that Modern Family punch line: “They’ve gotta fix that step!”

3) Steve Levitan’s wife reacts to his embarrassing public confession | When Levitan (accepting for Best Writing in a Comedy Series) admitted that the central story arc in Modern Family‘s “Caught in the Act” — the Dunphy kids walk into Phil and Claire’s bedroom while they’re in the throes of passion — was taken directly from his life, Emmy cameras caught his wife Krista in a priceless reaction shot that was simultaneously bemused, exasperated, and mortified. As Levitan went on to say, “Thank you to my somewhat satisfied wife and my three traumatized children.” Thank you all, indeed!

2) Ty Burrell’s hilarious acceptance speech | The Modern Family actor tempered his sentimental feelings about his dad not having lived long enough to witness his success as an actor with hilarious musing about how his father would’ve felt about him going to work every day in full makeup. “Couldn’t you just wear a little powder?” asked Burrell, imagining his’s dad words. “Why do you have to look like a harlot?”

1) Pre-trophy hijinks from the Lead Actress in a Comedy Series nominees | As Rob Lowe and Sofia Vergara began to announce the list of category nominees, Amy Poehler triumphantly burst from her seat and took the stage, and her competition gamely followed suit: Melissa McCarthy, Martha Plimpton, a clearly tickled Edie Falco, Tina Fey (who comically bussed Jack McBrayer) and Laura Linney (who paused to exaggeratedly wipe lipstick off her teeth). It was a moment of zany spontaneity, ending with McCarthy’s fellow nominees presenting her with a crown and sash to celebrate her win. “Holy smokes! Wow! It’s my first and best pageant ever,” declared McCarthy* at the start of her speech. Maybe Emmy can hire these women to write next year’s telecast?

5) Mildred Pearce‘s Guy Pearce giving thanks for his sex scenes with Kate Winslet while accepting the trophy for Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or Movie |“Thank you for allowing me to insert myself into your world of Mildred.” Um, no.

4) Opening musical number | Jane Lynch tried to pick up where Jimmy Fallon’s fantastic musical opening number left off last year, but most of the punch lines flopped like sides of beef being pushed off a diving board. Plus, that opening bit with Leonard Nimoy — where Lynch pretended all TV characters live in the same building — was more confounding than cute. You know you’re in trouble when your own lyrics reference a song being too long and too schlocky midway through the number.

3) Four dudes singing “Hallelujah” upstage the “In Memoriam” segment. | Okay, okay, so Google tells us they were the Canadian Tenors (which is more than the Emmy broadcast did as they were performing). But, honestly, when you’re honoring some of TV’s recently departed greats, you don’t make frequent cutaways to a musical sideshow. Next year, let’s try silence, and let the words of these late actors and writers speak for themselves, okay?

2) Lynch’s “New Jersey” spoof | Our hostess donned a black wig and garish clothes to portray “Donatella Alberghetti Mangiana D’Borgia,” a powerful TV producer responsible for the Jersey-fication of reality television. From the unnecessary Anderson Cooper intro to the stilted line-readings from the Jersey Shore cast, there wasn’t a single laugh in the entire two-minute segment. Where’s Christopher Guest when you need him?

1) The Emmy-Tones | Let me get this straight: Zacahary Levi, Cobie Smulders, Taraji P. Henson, Kate Flannery, Wilmer Valderrama, and Joel McHale (pictured, below, just in case you think it was all a waking nightmare) agree to contribute to the Emmy telecast throughout the evening, and instead of utilizing their comic gifts, you saddle them with tepid tunes introducing each category of awards? That’s not comedy, that’s tragedy!

* Bonus points to McCarthy for added hilariousness in presenting the Lead Actor in a Miniseries of Movie category, congratulating the men of Hollywood for breaking through the stigma of being seen as “handsome, pretty-pretty things to look at” and encouraging them to keep showing “a little sweet shoulder.”

What were your favorite and least favorite moments from the 2011 Emmys? Strongly agree or disagree with any of my picks? Sound off in the comments!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. stephanie says:

    How is no one mentioning the lonely island?!? 2nd best part of the whole show…after lead actress in a comedy. And please please please let Jimmy and Jimmy (Fallon and Kimmel) host next year!

  2. Erica says:

    I actually found guy pierces speech quite funny not at all cringe worthy and same for the opening it was good. I liked that Jane lynch went through different sets and loved the bit with mad men that was good. Jane lynch was wonderful and entertaining as a host.

    Maybe it’s just me but I thought for sure the worst was the musical performance what was that, that was just awkward. I like the some of the Lonely island stuff too but that was horrible and not funny.That should have been number 1 on worst moments.

  3. Jenny says:

    Someone on my Twitter feed last night suggested they had the singers during the In Memoriam segment as a way to discretely discourage the audience from clapping for particular people, which I have always found to be a bit tacky. That being said, last night I realized I an done with hearing “Hallelujia”. It’s an amazing song but has officially been way too overplayed. Thanks, Emmys. As if your Steve Carrell snub wasn’t bad enough.

  4. Doug says:

    The whole “Lonely Island” bit did not even rise to the level of ridiculous. It was a big, unentertaining waste of time and should have been cut. It almost made me wish they’d bring Charlie Sheen out again.

  5. MaireW says:

    I thought the entire show was awful, with the exception of the ladies for best lead actress in a comedy, Julianna M’s speech and the In Memorium segment. I agree with an earlier post that said next year, they should get the comedy lead actresses to write the show. Oh and while I’m at it, where are the Emmy noms for John Noble for and Anna Torv for Fringe, both of whom do master craft acting every week?!

  6. Dre says:

    Agree with most best/worst, except Guy Pearce. THAT was funny. Comedic ladies had me rolling off my couch. Charlie Sheen? How does that man still show his face in Hollywood??

    Commenting that the CDN Tenors were dinks? How the hell did you get that? And I’m pretty sure they had no control of the cameras panning from them to the ones lost this year. Pretty sure the Emmy crew had a lot to with the actual production of the show….

    And what the hell is wrong with Canada?? Tons of productions are filmed there.

    Overall I enjoyed the show, just a few parts that got dull.

  7. greatgram jean says:

    this years emmys was IN MY OPINION extremely boring. i kept switching to the news/weather report/or anything else that didnt completely stink. I MUST SAY CHARLIE SHEEN WAS A LOT MORE GENTLEMAN THAN I EXPECTED. cant wait to be bored again perhaps by the oscars.

  8. Cortexifan says:

    It was awful. The only reason I watched was to support Anna Torv. She should have been receiving one instead of just presenting it. When they showed the Drama montage, they left Fringe out and showed every other drama on TV. Yes, Fringe is a Drama not only syfy. I muted the whole show until I saw her come out. And I think she was the best dressed anyway.
    Looking forward to Friday when the new season starts.
    Fringe Rocks!

    • Julie says:

      I might have missed it, but I didn’t recall seeing the original NCIS on there either. :\ NCIS: LA, yes… The conspiracy theorist in me blames it on NCIS running head to head with Glee and stomping it every week.

  9. me says:

    Steve Carell and Hugh Laurie were both robbed so bad. Especially Steve since it was his last chance and he did such a good job on the Office, for that not to be recognized is really sad :(
    They both should have won years ago, the academy doesn’t know talent.

  10. Maria says:

    I loved when Jane entered the Mad Men set at the openings. When that guy put the telephone over his eyes to watch TV, it was hilarious!!

  11. goodlord says:

    I didn’t think the Emmys were too bad. Bad sound though. I do have two big problems though. First? Modern Family won everything it was nominated for. I love it but they were just kissing it’s butt. The other thing was the standing on stage thing. Why did everyone find it hilarious? I found it ungodly pretentious, though it figures that Amy Pohler planned it.

  12. Lorraine says:

    Towards the end when Gwyneth Paltrow said that the teleprompter was not working and that she’d go straight to the nominees, I thought that they should have done it that way from the very beginning. The scripted banter between the presenters was weak and unfunny. I’m looking at you, Zooey Deschanel.

    And yes, the sound quality was so poor that I had my TV set to the maximum of 40, and I still couldn’t hear anything.

    I loved Guy Pearce. Maybe he should host.

  13. MJ says:

    Agree about all of the best/worst momments, except Guy Pearce wich I really didn’t mind. I wanted to like Jane Lynch but I just couldn’t, I didn’t find anything she said or did funny.
    My favorite momment was Creed buying meth from Jesse, mainly because I think the office needs more Creed.

  14. Lauren says:

    I don’t understand why it is impossible to get good writers for awards shows. They are always corny and ridiculous. The best moment of the actual show was the actresses going up on stage. That was awesome. The Emmy tones were the best.
    And for me, the best win was PETER FREAKING DINKLAGE!!!!! I didn’t think he’d win because no one thought he would, but he completely deserves it. I think GOT should have won over Mad Men, but then I’ve never really gotten the fuss over that show. It’s the Modern Family of dramas.

  15. Will says:

    Why is nobody talking about LL Cool J ball-tapping Joel Mchale on his way off the stage? Hands down best moment of the whole show.

  16. Tucker says:

    Good. So I wasn’t the only one who found it extremely distasteful to feature the performers of the tribute song (moratorium on ‘Hallelujah’ should be in order, but that’s a different discussion) sauntering down the aisle in a torch song walk towards the stage to kick things off during the ‘In Memoriam’ section and then to keep cutting back to them like it was a Celtic Thunder performance. Bad form, Emmys.

  17. Doug H. says:

    Why didn’t the Canadian Tenors freak on Bill Macy?

  18. I loved the Best Actress in a comedy introduction as well, but was it really spontaneous? The only reason I ask is because there just happened to be a tiara, sash and dozen roses available for the winner. Planned or not, still one of the best moments of the night (topped by Melissa McCarthy’s wonderful speech!)

  19. Suzanne says:

    To me – most awkward moment was when Tina Fey went to kiss whomever the guy was that was sitting next to her before she went on stage. The look of abject horror on his face was really something else – -my daughter and I kept rewinding it to see if we could figure out if that was planned, or that was for real — it looked real.

    • Tucker says:

      That was Jack McBrayer, her castmate on 30 Rock. They’ve know each other for many, many years. I’m sure the kiss caught him by surprise but he was just playing it up.

      • topoopon says:

        Exactly! McBrayer’s whole schtick is he’s a God-fearing conservative backwater hillbilly. His look of disgust was total schtick!

  20. Dax says:

    I can’t believe you didn’t have the Lonely Island singing bit on the worst list. It was horrible. Bolton singing about Capt. Jack was funny on Saturday Night Live but it was just awkward and out of place here. While I was watching it unfold I actually said outloud “this isn’t funny and it makes no sense” and then I hit the mute button.

  21. Spencer says:

    I thought the Jersey Shore skit was hilarious!! And i totally agree that Melissa McCarthy did a great job!

  22. Adolfo says:

    regarding the canadian tenors: nothing says respectful and in memory of like a jaunty chapeau on one’s head.


  23. Eric says:

    I actually liked the Jersey-Spoof, it got a few laughs out of me. As for the opening number, I thought it was a clever idea but really awkwardly executed. Other than that I agree with this list. Ecspecially the wasted talent of the Emmy-Tones

  24. Rob says:

    Geez, you guys really thought that “pageant” was impromptu? It was not even that funny.

  25. Anne Reynolds says:

    Anything even alluding to JERSEY SHORE is a misfire. The Donatella/D’Borgia padding was an undiluted disaster (grim silence from the audience; could you spot the tumbleweeds rolling past your screen?). The least talented amateur, in the series’ poverty row “cast”, totally flopped on the Donald Trump roast (attendants loathed this slumlord). Was disappointed with the homage to deceased TV talent; Cliff Robertson (TWILIGHT ZONE clip) and Peter Falk rapidly faded into blips off-the-radar though their work invoked a truly iconic caliber of work (which has been forfeited from an era that coasts on “reality show” padding). And, yes, the fade-ins to a string of wailing Canadian singers was not unlike inviting Soupy Sales to a funeral.

  26. Dan says:

    The Khal Drogo joke didn’t work because it wasn’t Khal Drogo. If they couldn’t get Jason Momoa for the bit they should have cut it.

  27. watchedtheemmys says:

    I thought the funniest part was when Jane Lynch visited the Mad Men set and talked about advertisements were skippable in the future. That was so hilarious.

    I thought Hugh Laurie had a shot of winning since Bryan Cranston was unfortunately out of the running. Laurie was great on the House episode where he had to perform surgery on himself! Hopefully, like FNL, when House is on its final season, Hugh Laurie will win.

    I do agree so much that the Emmy-Tones were so awkward. Every award show these days seems to want to do musicals. I think the musical theme for award shows should just stick to the Tonys.

  28. Stinkfistula says:

    How come the three alumni from Homicide Life on the Street (Andre Braugher , Michelle Forbes and Melissa Leo ) weren’t presenters ?
    Oops ! Not on FOX shows!

  29. Leftie says:

    If we can’t laugh at a well-executed sex joke in these trying times, then I don’t want to live in this country anymore. Guy Pearce was great!

    • Yoga says:

      If that’s what puts you over the edge, then you should have left the country years ago. Sheesh! On the incredibly long list of what’s wrong with/in America, light criticism over a sex joke on a stupid TV awards show shouldn’t even register.

  30. tahina says:

    J Lynch is not even close to be a comedian as Ellen and the likes. Not because you are considered a comedian or are in a comedy means you are that good, let alone hosting a 2 hr award show*. She gives me the creeps. *IMO.

  31. neet says:

    What made me giggle was Margo Martindale attempt to get to the stage, first she did the old lady shuffle and then she went for the rock climb crawl in her attempt to reach her well deserved award…Thank goodness that Ed O’Neill was ready to rush to her aid and finally Ashton Kutcher pulled her up to safety….

  32. Rigby says:

    Did anyone else find it a little silly that Drew Barrymore stood with and “passed the torch” to the new Charlie’s Angels? Shouldn’t it have been (at least someone from) the cast of the original TV show, not the dreadful movie remakes?

    • Rubyredjewel says:

      Why were any of them up there? The show is not even on the air and the actresses are presenters in a major category
      ? While Drew came off as desperate. She must be one of the producers.

  33. Casey says:

    Okay, well I guess I’m the only one who LIKED Charlie Sheen’s appearance. But I guess I’m also the only one who LIKES Charlie Sheen in general. Oh well. I thought it was good of him to apologize and wish the cast and crew the best of luck. #TeamSheen

  34. Joe says:

    That was the WORST Emmy Awards show I have EVER seen!!!! It’s like Mark Burnett & Fox got together to figure out how badly they could humiliate the television industry, and that’s was the show. I love Jane Lynch, but she was workin’ my last nerve last night. If the Emmys are on Fox next year, I won’t watch.

  35. Patrick says:

    WTF? That opening musical number was great!

  36. Sarah says:

    I love Zac Levi and Joel McHale’s facial expressions in the emmy-tones picture. :)

  37. DrewBee says:

    Guy pierce is Australian.

  38. Mross says:

    The Glee number should have made top worst moment. It was tasteless and over the top even for the Enmys.

  39. Mross says:

    Also the comments after each winner was announced were not funny and poorly written. What they couldn’t find one decenr wrtter to write cute comments.

  40. mross says:

    Ditto. Charlie did fine. He is finally cleaning up his act. Not a top 5 in either catagory, but reasonable enough

  41. Amy says:

    Best moment of the night: Kyle Chandler’s win!! Second best, Amy Poehler leading the beauty pageant gag. Worst: Emmytones. How they got Joel McHale to do that is a mystery. Second worst, no win for Steve Carrell. Seriously?

  42. TJ S. says:

    I thought the Candian Tenors were great. The Emmy-Tones were awful. I also loved the Musical opening of the show and the Jersey Shore spoof.

    • Laugh says:

      I agree that the Emmy Tones had awful bits to sing. If they had clever and funny lines (and better melodies), it could have been genius!

  43. Bree says:

    Just want to add that Jon Hamm was rushing to help Margo Martindale up the stairs as well. He’s such a gentleman. :)

    And I may or may not have cried a little when Steve Carell didn’t win.

    I don’t understand why Emmy voters pick the same people over and over again. I love The Daily Show and all, but enough is enough! Jimmy Fallon is getting more and more amazing every week!

  44. Laugh says:

    Amy Poehler was soo funny with her head-nod and quick jaunt up onto the stage! Hilarious!

    I loved Melissa’s genuine shock and S-word that you could read on her lips when she won! Great speech!

    Steve Carell’s hilarious acceptance speech that was even better than the funny one he gave at the Golden Gl….wait, no I was hoping that was just a BAD DREAM that Mr. Skinny Neck won again. WTF?

    Seeing Loretta Devine as the best dressed woman…sigh..I really, really miss Eli Stone!

    If Steve Carell had won, maybe that would let me complain more about Elisabeth Moss and Jon Hamm being robbed. The Suitcase was probably my favorite episode of tv all last year!

    Are they still hiring that big hairy dude from Hollywood Squares to write the terrible jokes? Is the pay that bad that they can’t get some talented funny people to write some lines?

  45. laugh says:

    that whole 3-way song compilation was just GARBAGE. It may work in snippits on SNL, but as a song that went on and on it was just too much and not good. Just give us the little bit with Stamos, Helms and Mya and be done with it.

  46. Lauren says:

    The Ricky Gervais clip was hilarious – the jab Jane Lynch made at him just sounded SUPER PETTY and ugh. He’s a genius, so whatever. I just stared at Joel McHale whenever the Emmytones were singing – thus making it bearable. Amy Poehler is a perfect human being – the pageant bit was fantastic. Guy Ritchie’s acceptance speech was hilarious. The Office skit was awesome. Honestly, I FFwd through a bunch of it.
    It was pretty gross having the Entourage people accept Dame Maggie’s award – hopefully it’s sterilised before she gets it. Modern Family winning everything was boring. Steve Carrell was robbed. Downton deserves all the awards and more…

  47. Bill says:

    I liked the song interludes, if for no other reason than we got to hear Cobie Smulder’s vocals for the first time since the last appearance of Robin Sparkles on How I Met Your Mother.

  48. Amber says:

    I thought the in memoriam was great. I think it went very well. One of the worst moments though was The Lonely Island crap with Michael Bolton and the rest of whoever they trotted out. I totally expected it to be funny. But it wasn’t amusing in the least.

  49. Nancy says:

    I was bored by most of the show. And I was very mad and sad that Hugh Laurie didn’t win yet again. What does he have to do????
    I was happy for Margo and Jim Parsons whom I think are great talents. I especially didn’t appreciate E! spying on Hugh Laurie while he was in the green room. Let people know there are cameras on them! Was disappointed in the entire show! LOVED lots of the dresses though.