BEST Neil Patrick Harris' opening number/monologue
Smart, funny, delivered with perfect pitch — Neil Patrick Harris opened his first Emmy hosting gig with a song-and-dance-and-joke delineation of his duties. ”It’s my job to make sure things run smoothly. So let’s hope that Kanye West likes 30 Rock.”
WORST Ocular actress humor
Apparently, it was Amy Poehler’s bright idea for all the nominees in the Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy category to wear wacky eyewear when their names were announced. Not only was it not funny, but Vanessa L. Williams wouldn’t play ball — and scowled when the camera turned to her.
BEST John Hodgman's random trivia
The author/Daily Show correspondent was tasked with providing color commentary for the winners as they made their way to the stage. ”I’ll be making up a lot of it as I go along” he warned as the night began, and his inventions were inspired. When the Oscars’ ”Hugh Jackman Opening Number” won Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics, Hodgman explained, ”This is, apparently, the first time a musical number has been written for a wolverine.”
BEST Kristin Chenoweth's squeaky, heartfelt acceptance speech
The Pushing Daisies veteran, who won for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy, tearfully let it all hang out: ”Thank you for recognizing me for a show that’s no longer on the air.”
WORST Jon Cryer's sweatervest
Plus, him beating everyone else in the Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy category, including Harris. Gah.
BEST NPH, post-loss
”Well, the night could’ve gone in two directions. We are now in the second direction…. It’s not awkward…I won’t let it get awkward.” Then, Harris interviewed Cryer while the winner was in the backstage press room. It was awkward, in the best possible way.
BEST Sarah Silverman's mustache
BEST The ultraviolent ''vote for Family Guy'' shakedown
This is something of a remix — it’s a tweaked clip from the 2006 episode ”Patriot Games,” in which Stewie beats the snot out of Brian for money — but it doesn’t make it any less funny.
WORST Maksim and Karina's dance interlude
Debbie Allen should’ve sent up a flare: Dance has NO place in an awards show that isn’t specifically about dance.
BEST Jeff Probst's neck
Future nominees: If you’re not gonna wear a tie when you win for Outstanding Host for a Reality program, at least be in this kind of shape.
WORST Shohreh Aghdashloo's wheezing
Hard to concentrate on how awesome she looks and how much she deserved to win Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie for House of Saddam when it sounds like she’s going destroy Alderaan.
BEST Dr. Horrible
Big ups to Joss Whedon and the Sing-Along Blog crew — who won one of those Creative Arts Emmys — for artfully interrupting the accountants’ schpiel with Dr. Horrible (Harris) and his hijacking of the awards. Bonus points for Nathan Fillion, who pops up as Captain Hammer to surreptitiously swipe at CSI: Miami (Castle‘s timeslot rival), and Felicia Day, who chimes in with the chorus. Oh, and the buffering gag killed.
BEST The late-night writers' introduction videos
Always the smartest bits of the night. The Late Night with Conan O’Brien writers Facebook bit was particularly inspired (but The Daily Show won).
WORST The entire miniseries-telefilm section
Seriously, I know you want to have movie stars at your ceremony, Emmy producers, but watching this interminable stretch is like watching ice melt…but nowhere near as cool. A perfect candidate for shifting to that not-televised Creative Arts ceremony.
BEST Jimmy Fallon
His high-energy intro for the Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics award was autotune-iriffic. And the pratfall was expertly executed.
WORST Teasing the ''In Memoriam'' segment
During the acceptance speech for the Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics award, CBS popped in a little graphic reminding us when we’d be crying. Because death is worth making sure you’re not taking a pee break for.
BEST Ricky Gervais
Seriously, this dude should host an awards show. But then he wouldn’t be the breath of fresh air he always becomes when his guest spot arrives. So we’ll just be thankful he shows up every year.
BEST Michael Emerson and Cherry Jones win
Classy as hell. There should be a character actors’ award show — every speech would be short and awesome. And if there were some British character actors in there…forget it.
WORST ''Best seats in the house''
So, apparently, some poor girl named Barbie sent in a video for an Emmy contest and her prize was to be in on the worst jokes of the night — all of which involved her sitting behind things. The Harlem Globetrotters used to be somebodies. They coulda been contenders…for handily beating the Generals, anyway.
BEST The applause for Larry Gelbart during the ''In Memoriam'' segment
No, the cheers for the M*A*S*H creator didn’t reach the Paul Newman or Patrick Swayze levels, but it’s always nice to see a writer get more than cursory love.
BEST Bryan Cranston drops some Jerry Lewis science
Winning Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series made the Breaking Bad star ”feel like Cinderfella.” Well said, sir.
BEST Bob Newhart's Weeds joke
”Incidentally, if Weeds should win, it may take them a little longer to get up here.” It might’ve taken Newhart a little too long to mosey up to this bit, but he’s still got it.
BEST Tina Fey's NBC burn
”Thank you for keeping us on the air, even though we are so much more expensive than a talk show.” That’s what she said.