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Television Critics Honor ‘Game Of Thrones,’ ‘Mad Men,’ ‘Friday Night Lights’

Filed by KOSU News in Art & Life.
August 7, 2011

I’ve been talking about press tour for a week and a half, but the most fun you can have at press tour is the TCA Awards, which were held Saturday night. It’s a social event, not a working event, so everybody just gets dressed up and gets the chance, for once, to just happily salute all the stuff we really like without sticking recorders in anybody’s faces to interview them.

It’s always a good time: Last year, producer Damon Lindelof gave a hilariously profane dramatic reading of angry tweets he received at the end of Lost, and Tom Hanks swore to never dress up for us again. The best thing about the Television Critics Association awards, though, is that they are not televised, which means everyone is a million times more relaxed, real, and hilarious — and OH, THE IRONY, we know.

At any rate, these are awards I actually vote in, so I am proud — yes, proud! — to announce as the big news of the night that we honored Friday Night Lights, in its final season, as our Program Of The Year. It was very satisfying to be able to send off showrunner Jason Katims and actors like Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton with a standing ovation.

Outstanding Achievement in Drama went to Mad Men, and Outstanding Individual Achievement in Drama went to Jon Hamm. Mad Men had a good contingent in attendance, so they were warmly received as well.

The other show that had a particularly big night was Modern Family, which took home Outstanding Achievement in Comedy, while Ty Burrell (who plays Phil Dunphy) tied for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Comedy with our evening’s host, Nick Offerman of Parks And Recreation.

Oh, Nick Offerman. Offerman’s hosting was top-notch, and included a very funny little video of himself starting the day as a prepubescent boy and only turning into the man we know as Ron Swanson after being served a “bacon mountain” by wife Megan Mullally, rebuilding a carburetor, and doing a little bare-knuckle boxing. (Another chapter of the video showed Rob Lowe entering his trailer as a bent-over old man and exiting as … Rob Lowe.)

Offerman even sang on stage, pulling out an acoustic guitar to perform a parody of “I Walk The Line” in which he lamented the experience of reading nasty comments about himself on the internet. (“I Should Stay Offline,” you see.)

HBO’s Game Of Thrones also took home a big one: Outstanding New Program, while The Amazing Race, which has been sucking up awards for many years, received our first-ever TCA award for Outstanding Reality Program.

One of the more bittersweet awards went to Restrepo, which aired on National Geographic last year, and which we honored for Outstanding Achievement In News And Information. As you may know, one of the filmmakers, photojournalist Tim Hetherington, was killed in Libya earlier this year.

Outstanding Achievement In Youth Programming went to Sesame Street, while Outstanding Achievement In Movies, Miniseries, And Specials went to PBS’s Masterpiece: Sherlock.

Every year, we give out a couple of special awards, and this year, our Heritage Award went to The Dick Van Dyke Show, and having that award accepted by Carl Reiner and Rose Marie was probably the actual highlight of the evening. Reiner told the story — which, yes, he’s told before, but believe me, it doesn’t matter — of starring in the original pilot himself before being told that the show was going to do great, because they were going to get somebody great to replace him in a show that was, basically, about him.

Our Career Achievement Award went to Oprah Winfrey, who wasn’t there but sent a video acceptance that was really pretty funny — she poked fun at her appearance at press tour in January, where she famously took 18 minutes to answer one question, and she promised right off the bat not to top that record in her speech.

It’s not a long list of awards; the ceremony is relatively short and sweet. No splashy production numbers, no retrospective clip packages, no In Memoriam. But when we say, “Hey, Friday Night Lights, we watch a lot of television, and we appreciate your giving us five good years,” you can believe we mean it. [Copyright 2011 National Public Radio]

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