National Edition

Emmys night unmasks the best and worst of 'Breaking Bad'

Published: Monday, Sept. 23 2013 10:00 a.m. MDT

From left, Ben Davis, vice president of scripted programming, AMC, Joel Stillerman, senior vice president of original programming, production and digital content, AMC, Bryan Cranston, Vince Gilligan, executive producer and series writer of 'Breaking Bad', and producer Mark Johnson attend the AMC, IFC, Sundance Channel Emmy After Party, on Sunday, September 22, 2013 in West Hollywood, Calif.

John Shearer, Invision, Associated Press

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In an unlikely programming quirk, Sunday’s Primetime Emmy Awards simultaneously feted and competed against the graphic cable drama “Breaking Bad.”

At the end of the Emmys broadcast, “Breaking Bad” took home its first Emmy for best drama series. And even though “Breaking Bad” actors Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul failed to reclaim the Emmys they won last year, Anna Gunn ensured the show wasn’t shut out of the acting categories with her win for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series.

Brian Stelter reported for the New York Times, “As Bryan Cranston, who plays Walter White, the show’s lead character, applauded behind him onstage, the show’s creator, Vince Gilligan, said he ‘did not see this coming.’ … (The night) was Mr. Gilligan’s, whose show made its debut in 2008 and had been nominated for the top drama prize three times since, but had never won. Mr. Gilligan did not mention the impending finale next Sunday, but he did not have to — the award was a free advertisement before an anticipated audience of at least 10 million viewers.”

During the middle portion of CBS’ live three-hour Emmys broadcast, the penultimate episode of “Breaking Bad” was airing on AMC in the Eastern and Central time zones. That episode, “Granite State,” embodied the show’s signature blend of superb storytelling coupled with heavy, adult-themed content. (“Granite State,” for example, included the disturbing images of an execution-style murder and a home invasion perpetrated by masked men.)

“At this point in the series, most everyone we’ve come to care about in any way has been put into misery that shows no sign of ending, or is simply dead,” Time magazine TV critic James Poniewozik wrote Monday morning. “… But you don’t want a happy ending (to come) at the expense of writing off the immense moral debt Walter White has rung up in this series.”

Three other notable storylines to emerge from Sunday’s Emmy Awards:

  • “For the fourth consecutive year, ABC's hit ‘Modern Family’ has won the Emmy for comedy series. … The series has been a perennial favorite at the Emmys since its debut in 2009, earning a total of 45 nominations to date. In terms of consecutive wins, it now stands second only to ‘Frasier,’ which took home the comedy Emmy five years in a row from 1994 to 1998.” (Meredith Blake, the Los Angeles Times)
  • “The closest thing to a sweep came in the miniseries/movie categories, where the HBO film ‘Behind the Candelabra’ won three Emmys on the night, including outstanding miniseries/movie. Also honored: director Steven Soderbergh and star Michael Douglas. The film won eight Emmys at last week's Creative Arts Emmys, giving it wins in 11 out of its 15 nominations.” (Todd Leopold, CNN.com)
  • “Stephen Colbert dethroned former boss Jon Stewart … as ‘The Colbert Report’ ended ‘The Daily Show's’ decade-long streak of winning best Variety Series.” (Hilary Lewis, The Hollywood Reporter)

Email: jaskar@desnews.com

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