Emmys 2010: Jimmy Fallon and the TV academy put on a good show

jimmy-fallon-boyz-ii-men2.jpgThere were the usual pacing problems, and a couple of "HUH!?!!" moments among the winners (and non-winners), but the Primetime Emmys were as fun as they've been in years thanks to a slew of first-time winners and a strong performance by host Jimmy Fallon.

Fallon kicked off the night with a "Glee"-ful opening number, and he delivered on his pre-show promise that the awards would celebrate all of the past year in television, not just the nominated shows. There were well-produced montages for all the genres the Emmys honor (comedy, drama, reality, variety and miniseries and movies), and Fallon's musical tribute to some of the long-running shows that ended this year was fantastic -- we collectively nearly fell off our chairs at Zap2it when he poured one out for "Law & Order" in his Boyz II Men getup.

The Emmys are made, though, by who wins, and this year's awards brought enough turnover to enough of the big categories to make for a very entertaining show. Which we'll get to in a moment -- but first, yes, there were some issues.

Why the producers chose to frontload nearly all the drama and comedy acting categories in the first half of the show is a bit of a mystery. The first hour and change of the show flew by with all the winners, but then we faced a long stretch for the variety and movie/miniseries categories that made the show drag. Al Pacino, Claire Danes and Tom Hanks (who accepted for "The Pacific") are big stars and all, but movies and minis aren't what most viewers are tuning into the Emmys to see, regardless of the star wattage.

Fallon and the producers did keep things running on time, however, and consequently the final awards of the night -- a three-peat for "Mad Men" as best drama and "Modern Family's" win for best comedy -- didn't feel as rushed as they have in some past years. Allowing the big winners to enjoy their time in the spotlight is important, and the show ended on the right note that way.

We're exceedingly happy that Emmy voters were so open to new blood -- especially on the comedy side, where every award handed out Sunday went to someone different from last year. "Modern Family" won three awards Sunday, "Glee" took two, and Jim Parsons of "The Big Bang Theory" and Edie Falco of "Nurse Jackie" are both first-time winners for lead actor and actress.

The drama side felt a little more familiar with "Mad Men" winning for best drama series and best drama writing and Bryan Cranston getting his third straight acting honor for "Breaking Bad." But they're all deserving winners, and the drama categories also brought maybe the biggest surprise of the night: Kyra Sedgwick's first win for "The Closer" over pre-show shoo-in Julianna Margulies of "The Good Wife." Archie Panjabi and Aaron Paul winning in the supporting categories were also minor upsets.

Also a surprise, albeit a less pleasant one, was the fact that "Lost" got shut out in its final run at the Emmys (it did win an editing award at the Creative Arts ceremony last year). Paul is a hugely deserving winner for "Breaking Bad," but our sentimental side was hoping either Terry O'Quinn or Michael Emerson might pick up a second Emmy for their work.

Still, the air of unpredictability at this year's Emmys was good for the show, and the thing that it signifies -- that there are a lot of good performers and shows that are relatively new -- can only be good for TV as a whole.

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Photo credit: NBC