It was a huge night for "Breaking Bad," which ended its run this year and went out on a win streak that included writer Moira Walley-Beckett's second Emmy; supporting actress Anna Gunn's second; supporting actor Aaron Paul's third; and lead actor Bryan Cranston's fourth (tying Dennis Franz).
Cranston beat out Matthew McConaughey ("True Detective"), who was trying to win an Oscar and an Emmy in the same year. "Even I thought about voting for Matthew," Cranston said.
It was a big night for one first-time winner, PBS' "Sherlock." Benedict Cumberbatch won as best actor; Martin Freeman as best supporting actor; and Steven Moffat for writing in a movie, miniseries or special.
Add the four awards "Sherlock" won in the creative arts categories, and it was the biggest Emmy haul of 2014.
The evening got under way with a win by (adopted) hometown boy Ty Burrell the co-owner of Salt Lake City's Bar X and Beer Bar his second Emmy as best supporting actor in "Modern Family."
The least believable statement of the night came from "Amazing Race" executive producer Bertram van Munster, "I can assure you, we didn't expect this at all," on the occasion of the show's 10th win as best reality/competition series. "Race" was joined by:
• Jim Parsons, who won his fourth best actor/comedy award for "Big Bang Theory," tying Michael J. Fox, Kelsey Grammer and Carroll O'Connor in the category.
• Julianna Margulies ("The Good Wife"), who won as best actress in a drama her third.
• Jessica Lange ("American Horror Story: Coven"), who won for best actress in a miniseries movie her third.
• Kathy Bates, who won her second Emmy for her supporting role in the miniseries "American Horror Story: Coven" beating out fellow Oscar winner Julia Roberts. (Bates' first Emmy was as a guest actress on "Two and a Half Men.")
• Sarah Silverman, who won for best writing in a variety special ("We Are Miracles") her second Emmy.
• "The Colbert Report," which won as best variety/comedy series the show's second win this year (including writing) and sixth overall.
• Allison Janney, who won for best supporting actress in a comedy ("Mom") a week after winning a guest actress/drama Emmy for "Masters of Sex" adding to the four she won for "The West Wing" between 2000-2004.
• Louis C.K. ("Louie"), who won his sixth Emmy, all for writing, but was unable to break through in the best actor-in-a-comedy category.
Not all the winners were repeats, of course. Some categories don't lend themselves to repeat winners.
"Fargo" was a surprising (but deserving) winner as best miniseries, and director Colin Bucksey also took home an Emmy. And "The Normal Heart," set in New York City at the beginning of the AIDS crisis, won as best TV movie.
"Normal Heart" director/producer Ryan Murphy dedicated the Emmy to all of the artists who died of HIV/AIDS since 1981. "Your passion burns on in us," he said.
Other than all the repeat winners, the 2014 Emmycast was better than most. The pacing was good, and host Seth Meyers did a solid opening monologue that eschewed any over-the-top theatrics.
His best joke was decidedly non-prescient, however. He compared the Emmys to Video Music Awards, which are on MTV even thuogh that channel doesn't air music videos anymore.
"That's like network television holding an awards show and giving all the trophies to cable and Netflix," he said.
Cable and Netflix got lot of nominations, but fewer awards than expected.
The night's only production number Weird Al Yankovic making up lyrics to current TV theme songs fell flat, but a bit with Meyers and Billy (Eichner) on the Street was hilarious.
And Billy Crystal handled a tribute to the late Robin Williams with style and grace.
List of winners from the 66th Emmy Awards
List of winners at Monday's 66th annual Primetime Emmy Awards presented by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences:
• Drama Series: "Breaking Bad," AMC.
• Actor, Drama Series: Bryan Cranston, "Breaking Bad," AMC.
• Actress, Drama Series: Julianna Margulies, "The Good Wife," CBS.
• Supporting Actor, Drama Series: Aaron Paul, "Breaking Bad," AMC.
• Supporting Actress, Drama Series: Anna Gunn, "Breaking Bad," AMC.
• Directing, Drama Series: Cary Joji Fukunaga, "True Detective," HBO.
• Writing, Drama Series: Moira Walley-Beckett, "Breaking Bad," AMC.
• Comedy Series: "Modern Family," ABC.
• Actor, Comedy Series: Jim Parsons, "The Big Bang Theory," CBS.
• Actress, Comedy Series: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, "Veep," HBO.
• Supporting Actor, Comedy Series: Ty Burrell, "Modern Family," ABC.
• Supporting Actress, Comedy Series: Allison Janney, "Mom," CBS.
• Directing, Comedy Series: Gail Mancuso, "Modern Family," ABC.
• Writing, Comedy Series: Louis C.K., "Louie," FX.
• Miniseries: "Fargo," FX.
• Movie: "The Normal Heart," HBO.
• Actor, Miniseries or Movie: Benedict Cumberbatch, "Sherlock: His Last Vow," PBS.
• Actress, Miniseries or Movie: Jessica Lange, "American Horror Story: Coven," FX.
• Supporting Actress, Miniseries or Movie: Kathy Bates, "American Horror Story: Coven," FX.
• Supporting Actor, Miniseries or Movie: Martin Freeman, "Sherlock: His Last Vow," PBS.
• Directing, Miniseries, Movie or Dramatic Special: Adam Bernstein, "Fargo," FX.
• Writing, Miniseries, Movie or Dramatic Special: Stephen Moffat, "Sherlock: His Last Vow," PBS.
• Variety Series: "The Colbert Report," Comedy Central.
• Writing, Variety Special: Sarah Silverman, "Sarah Silverman: We Are Miracles," HBO.
• Directing, Variety Special: Glenn Weiss, "67th Annual Tony Awards," CBS.
• Reality-Competition Program: "The Amazing Race," CBS.