The best line at the 61st Annual Primetime Emmy Awards was from Tina Fey (of course), who said, “We want to thank our friends at NBC for keeping us on the air … even though we are so much more expensive than a talk show.” Neat bitch-slap, Tina.

Considering this was the third win for 30 Rock in the “Comedy Series” category, and the show won five Emmys overall Sunday night to wind up being the most honored, she can probably ask Jeff Zucker to bear her next child, without the epidural.

Oh, and The Jay Leno Show finished dead last in the ratings September 22 against real competition, not just repeats. So that Zucker experiment failed. That’s why NBC put out this message to journalists covering the Emmys: We may be the last-place broadcast network, but we’re the most awarded.

Speaking of pain and the broadcast itself, Neil Patrick Harris (a.k.a. Mr. “Put Down the Remote”) was less annoying than most hosts. But let me just say that The Family Guy clip of Stewie beating that poor dog senseless and drowning him in the toilet bowl (“Where’s my Emmy? Where’s my Emmy?) perfectly replicates what I’d like to do mentally to Don Mischer and all the other torturers who put on this Emmy crap-fest.

A total of 10 TV and cable networks collected the 28 TV awards handed out Sunday night. In all, the broadcast networks claimed 13 and the cable networks or pay channels HBO, Showtime, FX, Comedy Central, AMC and A&E collected 11, and PBS received three. Between the creative-arts ceremony and the prime-time Emmys, the scorecard was HBO 21 , NBC 16, ABC 11, Fox 10, CBS 9, PBS 9, and so on.

But they carry an asterisk because of this year’s expansion of major-category nominees to field six, and as many as seven, contenders apiece for comedy and drama. Emmys too often go to people and productions not deserving of them, and many go to HBO because Richard Plepler holds for ransom every voter’s firstborn or Chihuahua.

So here’s my piss and moan on the most notable wins and losses:

Everyone knows I’m deeply biased when it comes to Mad Men. Because even with its non sequitur story lines and permanent loose ends, creator Matthew Weiner makes up for those annoyances with surprises. But Mad Men’s back-to-back Emmy wins in this most prestigious of all categories show the stupidity of the Hollywood execs who produce and program TV. Here they have gold in their hands yet treat it like dirt. Remember how Lionsgate tried to replace Weiner after he and his CAA agents asked for a raise? Or when AMC tried to shorten the show to squeeze in a few more commercials? That Weiner had the balls to fight back and make TV his way is what Emmy voters rewarded twice.

This is such a safe “critic-approved” selection that I sometimes wonder if the Emmy voters think there’s a hidden camera trained on their ballots. I’m sorry, but 30 Rock isn’t the laugh riot they claim (they being the 25 viewers who actually watch, judging by the low ratings). But since these are TV awards, voted on by TV people, in a TV-dominated town, then a sitcom sending up TV is to them a hoot and a half. Get over it already. The sitcom is a dying genre. You’ve exhausted comedic premises like friends and families and now network TV. I would have given the Emmy to Family Guy for no reason other than it would have pissed off viewers a lot more than even that inexplicable clip of Brian the Pup as a bloody pulp.

He was the critics’ favorite. I would have given it this year to Dexter’s Michael C. Hall. But Showtime has the most dimwitted and dysfunctional marketing/PR known to mankind and execs don’t know how to promote their shows for awards. I bet they’ve never even taken a hostage.

Great actress, great choice, great show. So much unlike Brothers & Sisters’ past winner Sally Field, who sucks the air out of every scene she’s in.

Toni Collette was the only reason to watch this series (certainly not for Diablo Cody’s writing). Collette is usually the only reason to watch the motion pictures she’s in, too. My problem with this series was that it was so damn obvious and in-your-face. There was no subtlety possible because of the corny premise, and yet Collette fought against that as she always does, aided by a terrific cast. The show wouldn’t have worked, in fact, it would have been God-awful, had Collette not elevated the material.

ATAS voters, you’re only encouraging him. Baldwin isn’t that good in it. Or maybe it’s just an age/failure thing. A potential movie leading man who never achieved superstar status, who used to be hot and now isn’t, is enough of a sad story that his peers want to reward him. (As Baldwin said about presenter Rob Lowe, “I’d trade this to look like him, I really would, actually.”) The Big Bang Theory’s Jim Parsons should have won. But his career is just beginning, not on its last legs.

Jon Cryer is a mediocre actor on a misogynist sitcom that America watches, and Nielsen meters in the Top 10, for reasons that completely escape me. (Sorry, Chuck Lorre, but you’re crying all the way to the bank.) That Neil Patrick Harris didn’t win for How I Met Your Mother when he carries that show on his Hugo Boss’ed back is beyond me.

If you’re a liberal, this is deserved. If you’re a conservative, it’s a plot by those goddamn Hollywood socialists who worship the Messiah and hate God-fearing, real Americans.

How could the ATAS voters not recognize true genius in the bizarre way that Top Chef’s Tom Colicchio holds his knife and fork and tastes the food in front of him? On the other hand, Jeff Probst has the good sense to stay upwind of all those dirty and stinky Survivor contestants but also the bad manners to tell them exactly why he’s doing it.

I can’t stomach my own arguments with airline personnel much less watch other people have them. How is this entertainment? And the cameras work hard to catch every last ounce of Ugly American behavior around the world. Yet no one to date has died doing a challenge or been thrown into a Midnight Express–like foreign jail to rot. There’s much more maiming and manacling worth watching on Top Chef.

Hollywood has a Jessica Lange law: Whenever she’s in something that’s not a dumb-ass movie she did just for the money, just give her an award. (Remember how she won the Academy Award for Blue Sky, a film no one saw?)

LA Weekly