emmys kimmel fallon Emmy Awards 2011: Some pleasant surprises (McCarthy, Chandler) during a mediocre showThe 63rd annual Emmy Awards broadcast was a tough one to pin down. There was lots to like about what Mark Burnett, Jane Lynch and the academy presented, but there was plenty not to like.

It was a very mixed and muddled show, one that entertained and held a bunch of pleasant surprises, but one that also made you scratch your head and try to figure out just what everyone involved was thinking.


The pleasantly surprising wins by Melissa McCarthy and Kyle Chandler
: Who knew that “Bridesmaids” was such a big influence on the television academy? McCarthy looked genuinely surprised that she won the lead comedy actress award for her role in “Mike & Molly,” and gave a heartfelt speech. Chandler may have won because the academy felt they had to give something to the departing “Friday Night Lights,” but it’s not like he didn’t earn the award.

The lead comedy actress “beauty contest”: When Amy Poehler went up to the stage when her name was announced as a nominee, we laughed hard because we thought she was improvising a moment where she thought she won. Then the rest of the nominees followed her up, making us think they were taking the lead from her. When McCarthy got the tiara and roses, though, we realized that it was a bit. It was a funny one, though, one that broke the tension of what was to that point an semi-uncomfortable show to watch.

Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel: It seems like Fallon can team with any late-night host and have great chemistry. Watching the Jimmys fight like brothers and seeing the construction paper art project where Fallon’s “speech” was written on were a couple of funny moments. Also, they really seemed to be breathing hard after rolling on the floor. A nod should also go to Fallon and Conan O’Brien for the fake-disgusted glares and slow-claps they gave “The Daily Show” crew after it won its bajillionth award for the variety category.

Margo Martindale‘s speech: She thanked two publicists from FX and USA Today critic Robert Bianco. Only a veteran character actor does that.

Guy Pearce‘s speech: This was where he talked about the joys of having movie sex with Kate Winslet … his wife only seemed semi-amused.

Steven Levitan: Our vote for Emmy host in 2012, the “Modern Family” co-creator had a great speech about the origins of his winning episode, where the Dunphy kids accidentally walk in on Phil and Claire making love; his wife was also only semi-amused. Then, when accepting the comedy series award, he talked about how “we are showing the world that there’s absolutely nothing wrong in a relationship between an old man and a hot young woman. Looking around this room, I see many of you agree.”

Ricky Gervais:
He had a genius taped presenter bit that not only made fun of his Golden Globes hosting stint but took a bit of a stab at the academy and FOX, as well, something Alec Baldwin wasn’t able to get away with.

Charlie Sheen:
He came out, said nothing but nice things to his former co-workers at “Two and a Half Men,” gave Jim Parsons his award for lead comedy actor, and left the stage. He even had a backstage powwow with his replacement, Ashton Kutcher. You can just feel the beginnings of his 243rd comeback, don’t you?

Jane Lynch as host: She was personable and amiable, and she delivered her lines well. She put everyone at ease while pulling up her “triple Spanx” after the opening dance number, which set a nice tone for the evening.


Jane Lynch’s writers:
She had a few good lines, namely her “circle of life” bit about film actors pushing TV actors to do video game voiceovers, which are then made into movies. But for the most part, the material she was given was not at all sharp or daring, and came out flat most of the time.

The opening video and dance number:
Fallon’s triumphant opener from last year was going to be a tough one to follow, but this year’s opener, where Lynch moved through the world of TV as if it lived in one big building, just didn’t work. The only part that sparkled was when she invaded the set of “Mad Men,” hit on Peggy Olson, told everyone that two women can now marry each other, and told Pete that her boyish haircut cost more than his salary.

Repeat wins for “Mad Men,” Parsons and “Modern Family”: All deserving, of course, but some new blood is needed in these major categories. If you could give Chandler a going-away present, why not Steve Carell? He had a better year than Parsons did.

The Lonely Island medley: Besides the vision of Michael Bolton in a pirate outfit with an ill-fitting fake mustache, the creators of the usually hilarious “SNL Digital Shorts” created a confusing mess that seemed to take the least funny bits from their best songs of the year and mash them together.

The Emmytones:
An all-star sextet of singers — Joel McHale, Cobie Smulders, Wilmer Valderrama, Taraji P. Henson, Kate Flannery and Zachary Levi — introduced each genre with songs that were hard to hear and — when we could discern lyrics — weren’t all that funny. Even the addition of LL Cool J at the end didn’t make the bit any funnier.

Putting miniseries and movies in the third hour:
It’s a no-win in this genre-specific format, because no matter where you put the cate
gory, it’s going to drag the show down simply because it contains the least-known nominees. Thankfully, both Pearce and Winslet of “Mildred Pierce” broke the snorefest that was the sight of “Downton Abbey” winning all the major awards. It shows that not all Brits have to make boring speeches when picking up awards.

The announcer: Not sure who was doing the announcing, but if they tried to replicate the model of John Hodgman making funny facts up about the winners during the last couple of Emmycasts, then they did a poor job. Was Hodgman too expensive for them this year?

“Hallelujah” as the “In Memoriam” song:
Burnett didn’t want to use a bummer of a song, but we’re not sure he actually has ever read the lyrics to this Leonard Cohen classic. Well, at least Cohen got a royalty out of it…

What did you like about the Emmys? What didn’t you like?

Posted by:Joel Keller