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WORST: I Can't Believe This Is the Opener
Perhaps calling on the worst Emmy hosts ever was not a good omen for the rest of Jimmy Kimmel's first time hosting the Big Show. Nowhere near as energetic as that other Jimmy's 2010 kick-starter, this festival of awkwardness relied on mugging (really with the ''I can't believe I just won'' faces?), hackneyed botox jokes, gratuitous violence, and Lena Dunham's perma-nudity to carry what was the hosting equivalent of baby's breath — filler.
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BEST: Long Live the (Pageant) Queens!
The ladies nominated for Outstanding Actress in a Comedy wisely (though sadly for us) didn't try to top last year's night-defining moment, but they came to play individually. Between Amy Poehler and Julia Louis-Dreyfus' speech-swapping shtick, Melissa McCarthy's verging-on-vulgar asides before Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy award (''God, I wore out that picture of Duckie!''), and Tina Fey's bit about losing her eyeglasses, the women saved the night.
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WORST: Jokes That Fell Flat
Exhibit A: See above. Though the Tracy Morgan Twitter stunt may have inspired 25,000 tweets, and Kimmel may have landed a few punchlines (a topical Chick-fil-A zing, a dig at never-won Jon Hamm), most of the segues were dismally unfunny. Perhaps he should have followed our advice.
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BEST: Drop the Mic
Amid the requisite strained attempts at comedy that awards show writers pass off as nominee intros, it was a (literally) unrehearsed moment that stole the show. Seth MacFarlane's blocking gaffe was a refreshing instance of spontaneity, particularly his clever recovery as he dropped into Stewie voice to chastise himself: ''This is what happens when you don't come to rehearsal." As the audience guffawed, he predicted, "That's going to be on YouTube." And so it was.
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WORST: Louis Hooey
Jon Cryer was just as shocked as the rest of us that he won the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy. After all, it was his first time nominated in the category (he was moved up from the Supporting Actor field) and also, he shouldn't have won. It was Louis C.K.'s year. Which leads us to...
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BEST: C.K. = MVP
''The second-best comedian in the world'' was the night's unofficial winner. Not only did he take home two awards (in underappreciated writing categories), he got shout-outs and respect from everyone. So, when he said in his acceptance speech for Outstanding Writing for a Variety Special that he ''wanted another one,'' he could have been referring to an extra award or an award in a different category (i.e. Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy). Either way, he certainly had the audience in his corner. The voters...not so much. Next time, big guy!
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WORST: Nipple Covers and Rabid Racoons
For everyone who had the prescience to include phrase "nipple covers" in their Emmys drinking game, you win! While Dancing With the Stars host Tom Bergeron delivered an appropriately chuckle-worthy acceptance speech, most of the night's winners were, at turns, boring or strange. Most notably, Modern Family's Julie Bowen — who won Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy for the second year in a row — discussed the nipple covers no one knew she had...a lot. We were still trying to figure out what that was about as Hatfields & McCoys' Tom Berenger strode up to the stage to claim his statuette for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or Movie and described his character as ''a cross between a rabid raccoon and a demented garden gnome.'' Maybe he had ''nipple covers'' on his Emmys drinking game, too?
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SPLIT DECISION: Getting Skit-ish
While Kimmel's live gags were found wanting, his taped sketches started off strong. A funny juxtaposition of Breaking Bad and The Andy Griffith Show — including Walt and Jesse gunning down Barney Fife — was perversely hilarious and could have easily gone on longer. Safe to say a skit on Modern Family's tyke terror Lily (Aubrey Anderson-Emmons) being replaced by Community's Ken Jeong was divisive. From there, the night got worse, with an inexplicable In Memoriam tribute to Kimmel himself, accompanied by Josh Groban's piano rendition of ''What Makes You Beautiful'' and the night's lowlight — the cast of The Big Bang Theory hero worshipping the Emmys accountants. Then again, if you show me a man who can make accounting funny, I'll show you a liar.
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BEST: Hitting the Snark
Leave it to Ricky Gervais. Tasked with presenting Best Direction for a Variety Special, the impish Brit made it clear that his was one of the lamer categories of the night. With only a few incisive remarks, he managed to be funnier than Kimmel was in all three hours.
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WORST: Questionable Answers
Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner, you drink for all of us. The pre-taped segments from nominated writers usually break up the ceremony's bloated midsection, but not this year. The question-and-answer bits before the Best Writer and Director awards were head-scratchingly awkward. Isn't being clever these folks' job?
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BEST: Variety Is the Spice of Life
All credit to Jon Stewart, a consummate pro whether he's interviewing a bumbling sparklevamp or the most charming man in the free world. And, while The Daily Show certainly earned its Emmy for Outstanding Variety Series, that didn't stop competitors Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Fallon from playfully wrestling its host to the ground to keep him from accepting the statuette. Lucky for us, they did not succeed — Stewart took the stage and issued an awesomely irreverent (and F-bombing) thank you to the ''predictable f---ers'' who voted for his show for the 10th year in a row.
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BEST: In Good Standing
Nothing snarky to say here. Michael J. Fox, who returns to prime time next year, was met with a spontaneous, heartfelt standing ovation when he walked out to present the award for Outstanding Comedy Series. Amid the politics and competition of an awards ceremony, this was a simple, lovely moment of community. If only it hadn't been undercut by...
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WORST: Short Cuts
Okay, Emmy-winning director Glenn Weiss, we were with you when you accepted your award from the control booth. When you silenced Modern Family creator Steve Levitan in the middle of his speech for Outstanding Comedy Series, you lost us. Bad form, sir. Bad form.