Several of the In Memoriam moments were placed throughout the telecast rather than delivered all at one time. One of the most effective was Edie Falco's farewell to James Gandolfini.

The show was heavy on meta moments — segments commenting of the artifice of the Emmy telecast itself.

"The Number in the Middle of the Show" featured Harris singing lyrics that told viewers how the production number was mainly filler to mark the halfway point in the telecast and keep it on schedule. That's not exactly something that would make you want to jump out of your chair and sing along — unless you are deeply moved by irony and post-modern deconstruction.

The telecast was at its absolute worst when it tried to go deep in a salute to TV becoming the principal storyteller of American life 1963 and 1964 with coverage of the death of President John Kennedy and debut of the Beatles on Ed Sullivan respectively.

By the time we got to Carrie Underwood singing "Yesterday," I wanted to run from the room screaming. What could have been illuminating and touching came out as self-congratulatory and superficial — just as television generally all too often does.

Tribune Newspapers contributed to this article.

Emmy winners

Drama series

"Breaking Bad" (AMC)

Actor, drama

Jeff Daniels ("The Newsroom")

Actress, drama

Claire Danes ("Homeland")

Drama directing

David Fincher ("House of Cards")

Supporting actor, drama

Bobby Cannavale ("Boardwalk Empire")

Supporting actress, drama

Anna Gunn ("Breaking Bad")

Drama writing