There was a touch of the familiar on top, but a few surprises were tucked in during the 63rd annual Primetime Emmy Awards televised by Fox on Sunday
AMC's Mad Men made it four straight Emmy wins in the best drama series category, while ABC's Modern Family repeated as top comedy series, with its talent, Julie Bowen named the outstanding supporting actress for her Claire Dunphy, whileTV hubby Ty Burrell triumphed as the outstanding supporting actor.
Mad Men, Matt Weiner's retro advertising series, is now four for four on the drama desk, as it eclipsed HBO's tandem of Boardwalk Empire and Game of Thrones, as well as Showtime's serial killer show Dexter, CBS's The Good Wife and the final campaign of DirecTV's Friday Night Lights.
In accepting the award, Weiner said, "I did not think this was going to happen ... we are so greatful to the Television Academy for recognizing this show again."
The win ties Mad Men with NBC's Hill Street Blues, The West Wing and LA Law for most consecutive Emmy wins in the category.
However, Mad Men's on-air talent didn't go home with any Emmy statues, including Jon Hamm for his role as creative genius Don Draper. Kyle Chandler ended AMC's three-year Emmy reign in the best actor in a drama series category for his performance as high school football coach Eric Taylor on Friday Night Lights. In addition to Hamm, Chandler beat out Steve Buschemi (Boardwalk Empire), Michael C. Hall (Dexter), Hugh Laurie (Fox's House) and Timothy Olyphant (Fx's Justified) for the Emmy.
Bryan Cranston had taken top honors in the category the past three years for his portrayal of Walter White on AMC's Breaking Bad, but was not eligible for this year's awards.
On the distaff side, Julianna Margulies won for outstanding actress in a drama series for her role as Alicia Florrick on CBS's The Good Wife, topping Mad Men's Elisabeth Moss, Friday Night Light's Connie Britton, NBC's Law & Order: SVU's Mariska Hargitay, AMC's The Killing's Mireille Enos and Kathy Bates of NBC's Harry's Law.
Broadcast set the pace in comedy with Jim Parsons again the outstanding actor for his uber-geek Sheldon Cooper on CBS's The Big Bang Theory. Black Rock also reigned as Mike & Molly's Melissa McCarthy took home her first Emmy for outstanding comedic actress.
For is part, cable collected the supporting thespian drama awards, as Margo Martindale on Justified and Game Of Thrones' Peter Dinklage were Emmy winners for their respective series.
Martindale, who played crime family matriarch Mags Bennett beat out Kelly Macdonald (Boardwalk Empire); Christine Baranski and last year's winner Archie Panjabii (both of The Good Wife); Michelle Forbes (The Killing); and Christina Hendricks (Mad Men).
In the combined movie/miniseries category, which in its previous, separate iterations had historically been dominated by HBO, it was a case of sharing. PBS's Downtown Abbey collected the category's top honor, as well as victories by Julian Fellows for writing, Brian Percival for directing and an absent Maggie Smith for supporting actress.
HBO, which had nominees for Mildred Pierce, Cinema Verite and Too Big To Fail, came up short, as did Reelz's The Kennedys here.
Kate Winslet and Guy Pearce, though, picked up Emmys for their work in Mildred Pierce. While Winslet thanked her mom in accepting the Emmy for lead actress for her portrayal of the title character Pearce was more effusive in his speech for his role as Monty Beragon: "I got to have sex with Kate Winslet many, many times..Kate, thank you for allowing me to insert myself into your world." He also thanked his "real-life wife, Kate, who had to listen to me talk about it every day."
Movie proponent Reelz Channel scored its first major win as Barry Pepper took home the outstanding lead actor for a movie or miniseries. Pepper, who was not on hand to accept his statue from the academy, won for his portrayal of Robert. F Kennedy in miniseries, The Kennedys. Reelz elected to air the controversial miniseries after History, which commissioned it, backed away from the project.
Pepper's wasn't the only transfer to pick up TV's highest honor. As mentioned, DirecTV was rewarded for its presentation of the final season of Friday Night Lights, with Chandler's lead drama actor win. Moreover, Jason Katims also went out a winner for outstanding writing in a drama series.
Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Jon Stewart garnered its ninth straight Emmy in the comedy/variety show category, as well as an Emmy for writing in the category. In accepting the award, Stewart said: "We're acutely aware of how fortunate we are to win it once let alone many times."
CBS's Amazing Race, after having its eight-year run detoured by Bravo's Top Chef in 2010, was back in its familiar Emmy perch atop the reality category.
Also, Martin Scorsese now has an Emmy to flank his Oscar. The famed film director, who finally scored an Oscar for 2006's The Departed, grabbed TV's top honor for directing a drama, as he helmed the pilot of Boardwalk Empire.
This was a category that cable was destined to win: HBO also had a nod for Jerry Podeswa on the Boardwalk Empire installment entitled "Anastasia"; Tim Van Patten was nominated for HBO's Game of Thrones' episode "Winter is Coming"; Neil Jordan was in contention for Showtime's The Borgias and its "The Poisoned Chalice/The Assassin" entry; and Patty Jenkins was lauded for the pilot of The Killing.