A big 'Homeland' surprise at Emmys

The drama series won the top three prizes. "Modern Family" won for best comedy.

It was a volatile night of surprises and rectifications at the 64th Primetime Emmy Awards Sunday night.

Homeland, a twisty, high-stakes story of contemporary treason, was the big winner, ending Mad Men's four-year run as king of television drama.

Damian Lewis and Claire Danes, Homeland's leads, reinforced the upset by sweeping the top acting honors for the drama category.

Danes' win had been widely predicted but Lewis, a British actor who first gained attention on American TV as the hero of HBO's Band of Brothers, had been almost completely overlooked in a field that included Breaking Bad's Bryan Cranston and Downton Abbey's Hugh Bonneville.

The casts of the latter series were recognized in the supporting categories by Maggie Smith as the dowager from Downton and Aaron Paul as Bad's Jesse.

Paul's victory as outstanding supporting actor in a drama was surprising for the same reason as Julia Louis-Dreyfus's win as Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy on HBO's Veep: they were both up against daunting competition.

Modern Family once again cleaned up in the humor aisle, taking the night's capstone, Outstanding Comedy Series. Because of its large ensemble, Family enters multiple cast members in the supporting categories. Both Eric Stonestreet (Cam) and Julia Bowen (Claire) won.

HBO's Game Change dominated the miniseries and movie genre and Kevin Costner won lead actor for his role as patriarch "Devil" Anse Hatfield in Discovery's Hatfields & McCoys.

Then there were the shockers, which included Two and Half Men's Jon Cryer's victory as Outstanding Actor on a Comedy and Jessica Lange's win for her Southern Gothic turn on American Horror Story. (It was considered baffling when Cryer won as supporting actor a few years ago in the same role.)

Jimmy Kimmel proved to be a serviceable if less-than-scintillating host. His opening monologue was rather bland and obvious. And many of his bigger bits during the telecast - for instance, a social media prank that required Tracy Morgan to lie flat on his back onstage, and Kimmel's "In Memoriam" tribute to himself, serenaded by Josh Groban - fell decidedly flat.

The pacing of the evening might have been successful had not the commercial allotment been so excessive. And each string of ads contained at least one promo for ABC's primetime slate.

At least, the acceptance speeches were mercifully brief, and strictly enforced. Homeland writers Alex Gansa and Howard Gordon found this out the hard way when they got played emphatically off about 30 seconds into their oration. Hatfields & McCoys' Tom Berenger got the same peremptory treatment.

The clip montage packages during the show were oddly composed, filled with scenes from shows like NCIS, House, Revenge and Smash that weren't nominated. In fact, for the first time, none of the nominees for Outstanding Drama Series was on network. Of course, you couldn't tell that from watching ABC.

 

Major Emmy winners

Drama Series: Homeland

Comedy Series: Modern Family. 

Mini-series or Movie: Game Change

Variety, Music or Comedy Series: The Daily Show With Jon Stewart.

Reality-Competition Program: The Amazing Race

Host, Reality-Competition Program: Tom Bergeron, Dancing with the Stars.

Actor, Drama Series: Damian Lewis, Homeland.

Actor, Comedy Series: John Cryer, Two and A Half Men.

Actor, Mini-series or Movie: Kevin Costner, Hatfields & McCoys

Actress, Drama Series: Claire Danes, Homeland.

Actress, Comedy Series: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep.

Actress, Mini-series or Movie: Julianne Moore, Game Change.

Supporting Actor, Comedy Series: Eric Stonestreet, Modern Family.

Supporting Actor, Drama Series: Aaron Paul, Breaking Bad.

Supporting Actor, Mini-series or Movie: Tom Berenger, Hatfields & McCoys

Supporting Actress, Drama Series: Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey.

Supporting Actress, Comedy Series: Julie Bowen, Modern Family.

Supporting Actress, Mini-series or Movie: Jessica Lange, American Horror Story.

Guest Actor, Comedy Series: Jimmy Fallon, Saturday Night Live.

Guest Actress, Comedy Series: Kathy Bates, Two and A Half Men.

Guest Actor, Drama: Jeremy Davies, Justified.

Guest Actress, Drama: Maretha Plimpton, The Good Wife.

          


Contact David Hiltbrand at 215-854-4552 or dhiltbrand@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @daveondemand_tv.