For all the talk about newcomers raising the game of television, the industry on Monday chose to bestow its top Emmys on the long-running shows "Breaking Bad" and "Modern Family" and long-time television actors who held off challenges from film stars.
"Breaking Bad," AMC's unlikely tale of a teacher-turned-drug kingpin Walter White, won the night's biggest honor, the Emmy for best drama series, for the second year in a row while lead Bryan Cranston took best drama actor for the fourth time in that role.
It was a nostalgic vote of sorts for the series after it ended on the fifth season with widespread acclaim and devoted binge-watching fans. It held off the ballyhooed HBO anthology, "True Detective," the bayou thriller starring Oscar winner Matthew McConaughey and fellow film star Woody Harrelson, who Cranston beat.
"Thank you so much for this wonderful farewell to our show," said "Breaking Bad" creator Vince Gilligan, who also celebrated Emmy wins in best supporting actor and actress categories for Aaron Paul and Anna Gunn.
"This is indeed a wonderful time to be working in television," Gilligan added. "I think you all know that."
"Modern Family," ABC's light-hearted take on contemporary family dynamics, won its fifth consecutive Emmy for best comedy series, leaving Netflix's dark jailhouse comedy "Orange Is the New Black" as one of the big losers of the night.
The 66th annual Primetime Emmys took a somber turn toward the end to remember Robin Williams, the versatile actor and comedian who died two weeks ago in an apparent suicide at the age of 63.
With a lump in his throat and a tremble in his voice, actor Billy Crystal remembered the madcap performer as "the brightest star in a comedy galaxy" and concluded: "Robin Williams - what a concept."
Broadcasters defy predictions
There were plenty of laughs in television's biggest night, from Julia Louis-Dreyfus passionately locking lips with "Seinfeld" guest star Cranston to Melissa McCarthy asking if her car would be towed.
When asked about the prolonged smooch later, Cranston quipped: "I think it's not a question of 'why?,' more a question of 'why not?'"
First-time Emmys host, comedian Seth Meyers, took early pokes at the stalwart broadcasters facing edgy competition from Netflix, the first outlet to win acclaim for original content streamed online with political thriller "House of Cards."
But this year's Emmys, handed out by the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, signaled that there was still plenty of love for the likes of ABC and CBS, particularly in the realm of comedy.