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!