Amy Poehler danced on to the stage. Rob Reiner channeled Richard Nixon. And Emilia Clarke -- Daenerys Targaryen of "Game of Thrones" -- created a sensation just by turning up as her actual brunette self.
The Television Critics Association Awards is always a loose affair, untelevised, uncensored and utterly free of musical extravaganzas, which probably explains why everyone's always out of the Beverly Hills ballroom and back at the bar by 9:30 p.m. at the latest. Even the Golden Globes, held in the same room in January, can't claim that. (Well, OK, it can. But only because it starts at 5 p.m. on the West Coast.)
Hosted this year -- its 29th -- by Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele, stars of Comedy Central's "Key & Peele," who killed with their President Obama and his Anger Translator routine, tailored for those in the audience who've so far spent nearly two weeks listening to actors and executives put their spin on the coming TV season, the awards show's tone was set Saturday night by Louis C.K. After being presented with the award for individual achievement in comedy for FX's "Louie," he noted that the actual award is a "plastic piece of s---."
All I can say is he should have been here the year we somehow misspelled "television" on those pieces of plastic. Because those babies are probably collector's items now.
AMC's "Breaking Bad" was named program of the year.
After "Bunheads," already canceled by ABC Family, won for youth programming, one of the bunhead ballerinas herself, actress Kaitlyn Jenkins, pirouetted onstage before giving a tearful speech of thanks. The dance, if not the tears, was imitated later by Poehler, whose "Parks and Recreation" on NBC tied with CBS' 'The Big Bang Theory" for outstanding achievement in comedy.
Lear danced a little, too. The 91-year-old producer, accepting the Heritage Award for his creation "All in the Family," came to the stage with Rob Reiner, who'd played Archie Bunker's son-in-law on the show, and the two re-enacted a conversation between President Nixon and one of his aides about an episode of the show that the president, who mistook it for a movie, had particularly disliked. (If you'd like to see the original, it's taken from a collection of Nixon administration home movies, "Our Nixon," that CNN will be rerunning at 9 p.m. Sunday night.)
Other winners included:
Tatiana Maslany, of BBC America's "Orphan Black," for individual achievement in drama; PBS' "Central Park Five," news and information; ABC's "Shark Tank," reality programming; FX's "The Americans," outstanding new program; HBO's "Behind the Candelabra," movies, miniseries and specials; and HBO's "Game of Thrones," outstanding achievement in drama.
Barbara Walters, who didn't make the ceremony, was honored for career achievement.