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Image: 63rd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards - Show
Kevin Winter  /  Getty Images
Host Jane Lynch performs onstage during the opening skit of the 63rd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards held at Nokia Theatre L.A. LIVE on Sept. 18 in Los Angeles.
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updated 9/18/2011 11:58:46 PM ET 2011-09-19T03:58:46
review

It's never a good sign when a show celebrating television feels like a rerun from the beginning.

When host Jane Lynch of "Glee" began a pre-taped musical number celebrating TV with "surprise" guest spots from prominent actors, a viewer immediately thinks of Jimmy Fallon's "Born to Run" takeoff on last year's show.

Not in a good way, though. Fallon's opening felt fresh and funny. Lynch's felt hashed-over. Even Jon Hamm was a rerun; the "Mad Men" actor appeared in Fallon's skit, too.

There's also something a little off-putting about a musical number proclaiming television "a vast wonderland" and "joy in a box" when it's drenched in irony. This is the time of year when viewers actually want to believe that, and not feel it's all one big joke.

The problem with using irony as the dominant comedic theme is that undercuts other moments. Charlie Sheen may deserve his own real-life Emmy for his springtime of bizarre entertainment, but he came onstage Sunday to calmly wish the stars of his old "Two and Half Men" good luck in their upcoming season.

Then you waited. He couldn't mean that, could he? It had to be some sort of a joke, right? No, apparently not.

By the way, the Emmys should rethink the idea of frontloading the telecast with so many comedy awards. Not only does it diminish comedy vis a vis drama, it takes the risk of what exactly happened Sunday: that the awards were less about all of television and more about one show.

That did give Lynch her best moment of the night. "Welcome back to the 'Modern Family' awards," she said coming back from a commercial.

The drama awards did add some class and a few surprises to the show. The biggest was when Kyle Chandler of "Friday Night Lights" took home the drama acting award, giving luster to a network show that struggled for public attention.

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Guy Pearce and Kate Winslet were delights for their wins with "Mildred Pierce." Pearce was drolly humorous in talking about working with Winslet, while Winslet — a big movie star — was infectious with her enthusiasm.

It's early in awards season, but can we start a moratorium on winners saying "I did not think that was going to happen" or "I was sure I wasn't going to win so I didn't write a speech"? Come on, we heard from the "Mad Men" folks when they won best drama. You're the most praised show on television, and you say you're surprised to win an Emmy? Come on. If you're nominated, don't act surprised to win.

The Emmy for most sincere pleasure had to go to Margo Martindale, a veteran actress genuinely touched by winning for "Justified."

We're happy for "The Good Wife" and CBS and for Julianna Margulies for her Emmy. But it sounded awfully off-putting to hear her describe "my stellar cast."

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It's also time, perhaps, to get rid of the announcer who makes pithy comments while Emmy winners approach the stage, like when he talked about Margulies' favorite "I Love Lucy" episodes as she climbed to the stage. Really? When it's neither funny nor adds valuable information, it may be the time to rethink it.

You want reruns? How about "The Daily Show" and Jon Stewart winning an Emmy for their show for the ninth year in a row? Or another win for "Amazing Race"? Their work shouldn't be diminished, but it's just one more signal for viewers that they've seen it all before. David Spade couldn't have looked less excited about the reality show awards if he was trying to act that way.

In one sign that much of the creativity in television has shifted to late-night, one of the night's best routines came when Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel came onstage to present an award. Their elaborate joke about whether or not Fallon had written a speech in case he won an Emmy felt fresh and funny.

We liked the beauty pageant way the nominees for best comedy actress lined up onstage when their names were called.

The biggest backstage buzz was about someone who WASN'T there: Alec Baldwin. He asked that a pre-taped bit that included him in the opening skit be excluded when a joke involving News Corp.'s phone hacking scandal was cut out by Emmys broadcaster Fox. He was replaced by Leonard Nimoy.

It all made Ricky Gervais' comedy skit seem more ironic. The controversial "Golden Globes" host appeared in a pre-taped routine, and said Fox editors would change it if he said something offensive. Of course, he seemed to say several "offensive" things awkwardly cut out and replaced. After Gervais started saying that HBO was the best network on television, the edit had him saying, "apart from Fox, that is."

What did you think of the ceremony? Share your thoughts on the Facebook page for our TV blog, The Clicker.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Photos: 2011 Primetime Emmy winners and presenters

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  1. 'Modern Family'

    The cast and crew of "Modern Family" accept the outstanding comedy series award at the 2011 Primetime Emmys in Los Angeles on Sunday, Sept. 18. The show was the night's big winner, with five honors. (Kevin Winter / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Ty Burrell and Julie Bowen

    Ty Burrell and Julie Bowen both won Emmys for their work on "Modern Family." (Jae Hong / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. 'Mad Men'

    The cast and crew of "Mad Men" accept the outstanding drama series award. (Kevin Winter / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Charlie Sheen

    Some were surprised that Charlie Sheen, formerly of "Two and a Half Men," presented the award for outstanding actor in a comedy series. But Sheen didn't say anything negative and in fact wished his former castmates well. (Kevin Winter / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Kate Winslet

    Kate Winslet accepts the award for outstanding lead actress in a miniseries or movie for "Mildred Pierce." (Mario Anzuoni / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. 'Entourage'

    The cast of "Entourage," from left, Kevin Connolly, Jeremy Piven, Adrian Grenier, Jerry Ferrara and Kevin Dillon, present the Emmy award for outstanding writing for a miniseries, movie or a dramatic special. (Mario Anzuoni / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. 'Amazing Race'

    "Amazing Race" creator Bertram van Munster and cast accept the award for outstanding reality competition. (Kevin Winter / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Guy Pearce

    Actor Guy Pearce accepts the Emmy for outstanding supporting actor in a miniseries or movie for his role in "Mildred Pierce." (Kevin Winter / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Kyle Chandler

    Actor Kyle Chandler accepts the award for outstanding lead actor in a drama series for his work on the final season of "Friday Night Lights." (Kevin Winter / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Minka Kelly, Annie Ilonzeh, Rachael Taylor, Drew Barrymore

    Actresses Minka Kelly, Annie Ilonzeh and Rachael Taylor, who star in the new reboot of the "Charlie's Angels" series, join up with Drew Barrymore, who starred in the "Charlie's Angels" movies, to present the Emmy for outstanding lead actor in a drama series. (Kevin Winter / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Julianna Margulies

    Actress Julianna Margulies accepts the Emmy for outstanding lead actress in a drama for "The Good Wife." (Kevin Winter / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Peter Dinklage

    Actor Peter Dinklage of "Game of Thrones" won the Emmy for outstanding supporting actor in a drama series. He plays Tyrion Lannister on the HBO show, based on the novels by George R. R. Martin. (Frazer Harrison / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Martin Scorsese

    Director Martin Scorsese accepts the award for outstanding directing for a drama series for "Boardwalk Empire." (Mario Anzuoni / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. The Lonely Island

    Comedy troupe The Lonely Island (Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone and Akiva Schaffer) joined with other performers to present a comedy medley. (Mario Anzuoni / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Jim Parsons

    Jim Parsons of "The Big Bang Theory" won the Emmy for oustanding lead actor in a comedy. (Frazer Harrison / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Jane Lynch

    Jane Lynch of "Glee" hosted the show for the first time. (Mark J. Terrill / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. Comedy actress nominees

    The nominees for outstanding lead actress in a comedy series -- Tina Fey, Martha Plimpton, Melissa McCarthy, Amy Poehler, Edie Falco and Laura Linney -- all stood on stage together and mimicked a beauty pageant crowning. McCarthy took home the award. (Kevin Winter / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Jon Cryer and Ashton Kutcher

    Jon Cryer and Ashton Kutcher, the stars of "Two and a Half Men," presented an award. (Kevin Winter / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. 'Daily Show'

    The cast of "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart" accept the award for outstanding variety, music or comedy program. (Kevin Winter / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. Margo Martindale

    Actress Margo Martindale accepts the Emmy for outstanding supporting actress in a drama for her work on "Justified." (Kevin Winter / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. Rob Lowe and Sofia Vergara

    Actors Rob Lowe and Sofia Vergara presented an award. Jon Stewart joked later that if the earth needed repopulating, the two would make "very fortunate children." (Kevin Winter / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. Jimmy Kimmel and Jimmy Fallon

    Talk-show hosts Jimmy Kimmel, left, and Jimmy Fallon wrestled on stage before presenting the award for outstanding supporting actress in a comedy series. (Mark J. Terrill / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. The Emmy Tones

    Zachary Levi, Cobie Smulders, Taraji P. Henson, Kate Flannery, Wilmer Valderrama, and Joel McHale played the a capella group the Emmy Tones, and performed intermittently on the awards show. (Kevin Winter / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
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  1. Image: The cast & crew of "Modern Family"
    Kevin Winter / Getty Images
    Above: Slideshow (23) 2011 Primetime Emmy winners and presenters
  2. Image: Julianna Margulies
    Chris Pizzello / AP
    Slideshow (30) Fashions of the 2011 Primetime Emmys

Video: ‘Modern Family,’ ‘Mad Men’ come up big at Emmys

  1. Closed captioning of: ‘Modern Family,’ ‘Mad Men’ come up big at Emmys

    >>> we're back now at 7:50 with highlights from the 63rd prime time emmy awards that included a surprise appearance from charlie sheen . we have the latest on this. kristen, good morning.

    >> good morning, matt. tv's biggest night. some the stars in hollywood still celebrating this morning. this year's emmys had everything, surprise, upsets and one heartfelt moment that nobody expected.

    >> reporter: after the first few awards were handed out you would have thought "modern family" was the only thing on tv.

    >> oh, my god.

    >> julie bowen kicked off the night as outstanding supporting actress in a comedy series . her tv husband won for supporting actor .

    >> "modern family."

    >> reporter: "modern family" won five awards including a repeat win for outstanding comedy series .

    >> we've decided to throw them into the drama pa category just to see what happens.

    >> reporter: there was little drama in the drama category. "mad money" won for the fourth year in a row. julianna margulies won best actress for "the good wife." but kyle chandler was the surprise winner for lead actor for the critically acclaimed "friday night lights."

    >> wow!

    >> reporter: the biggest snub of the night steve carell of "the office" losing to jim parsons who won for his role in " big bang theory ."

    >> this is so odd.

    >> reporter: odd perhaps because the award was presented to him by charlie sheen who provided the highlight of the night wishing luck to the cast and crew of "two and a half men," the show that fired him last season.

    >> from the bottom of my heart, i wish you nothing but the best for this upcoming season.

    >> reporter: sheen even posted pictures on twitter taken backstage with ashton kutcher who replaced him on "two and a half men." he also tweeted a message to kutcher that read "great talking to you. we'll be watching. make us proud."

    >> now on to the emmy. [ applause ]

    >> reporter: all six nominees for best actors in a comedy series took to the stage and brought the crowd to its feet before melissa mccarthy of "mike & molly" was crowned the winner.

    >> my first and best pageant ever.

    >> reporter: and though she didn't win for best supporting actress first time host "glee's" jane lynch is getting rave reviews for a fun-filled show, matt.

    >> kristen dahlgren out in los

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