American network TV must be grateful to 30 Rock, as it was almost the only show from one of the five broadcasters to win last night at the Emmys. The smart and sassy sitcom took best comedy, best comedy actress [show creator Tina Fey], best comedy actor [Alec Baldwin] and best comedy writing [Tine Fey again, natch]. A few other network series picked up an award here and there - House, Pushing Daisies, Entourage - but the night belonged to cable.
Basic cable and pay channels won big. HBO has long dominated at the Emmys, thanks to perennial winners like The Sopranos. It continued to lead the way in mini-series and movie categories, with the John Adams biopic sweeping almost all before it. But FX and AMC got plenty of love too. Mad Men won best drama series, the first time a basic cable show has taken this accolade. Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner also got best drama writing for the pilot.
Surprisingly, Mad Men lead Jon Hamm got pipped by Bryan Cranston [he played Malcolm in the Middle's dad, you know] for best actor in a drama series. Cranston gives a startling performance in Breaking Bad as a terminally ill teacher who turns to drug manufacturing to secure his family's financial future, but I think Hamm deserved the trophy. Glenn Close from Damages won for best drama series actress, a performance of chilling, steely resolution.
But my favourite win of the night has to be best supporting actor in a drama series. Who cares about this category except those nominated in it, their friends and family, right? But this year the prize went to Zeljko Ivanek for his work on Damages. Character actor Ivanek has added depth and lustre to shows for years, stretching back to Homocide: Life on the Streets and beyond. His performance on Damages was well worth a trophy last night.