US hit Modern Family continued its run as television's most honoured comedy at the Emmys, winning the best comedy award for the third year in a row, while the terrorism thriller Homeland won critical praise and the best drama Emmy.
Homeland also won top acting awards for Claire Danes and British actor Damian Lewis as it prevented Mad Men from winning its fifth straight best drama Emmy. "We didn't make our show just to undermine them," Danes noted backstage. "We're delighted and thrilled and a little startled by this. I don't think anyone expected to be recognized like this right off the bat but it feels pretty nice."
Brits saw success elsewhere on Sunday night, with Dame Maggie Smith winning best supporting actress in a drama series for Downton Abbey. But makers of the show would be forgiven for feeling a little disappointed; the show won just three awards from 16 nominations this year.
The pre-Emmy awards hype for Sherlock and its stars was also met with disappointment, when it picked up nothing from 13 nominations.
Added to last year's total, the show has won none from 17 tries at the gongs and may soon face added competition from a new US twist on the classic tale, out later this year, with Jonny Lee Miller as Holmes and Lucy Liu as Watson.
Probably the least-predicted winner was Jon Cryer of CBS' Two and a Half Men as best comic actor. He's won the best supporting actor award in the past as second banana to Charlie Sheen. But with Ashton Kutcher replacing Sheen in the cast last season, Cryer moved up in class. Even he was taken aback by the win, saying he figured two-time trophy winner Jim Parsons of The Big Bang Theory would get it.
HBO's comedy Veep received mixed reviews, but Emmy voters loved veteran actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who won the best comedy actress award for her turn as a caustic US vice president.