Bob Newhart and Melissa Leo won Emmys on Sunday night. Jane Fonda and Michael J. Fox didn't.
Do the results from the Creative Arts Emmys offer any clues for this Sunday's Primetime Emmy Awards show?
Probably not. Or maybe they are remarkably revelatory. It depends on the angle of examination.
Leo's win for her brave comedic supporting spot on FX's "Louie" certainly indicates that voters were paying attention to the work and not the name behind it. Many pundits believed that Kristen Wiig or Melissa McCarthy would prevail in the category, though their nominated "Saturday Night Live" hosting turns were faint echoes of past glories. Leo's victory is richly deserved.
Likewise, Carrie Preston's prevailing over Fonda in the guest actress drama category was a case of the performance trumping the legend. Fonda's submitted episode from "The Newsroom" amounted to little more than an impeccably delivered speech. Preston's return to "The Good Wife" put her front and center, showcasing her oddball attorney. Again: An Emmy well-earned.
Newhart's turn on "The Big Bang Theory" came on one of the season's weaker episodes, though the beloved comedian did everything he could to save it. In fact, the half-hour played almost as a Newhart tribute and, as such, gave voters plenty to appreciate. It was another case of a veteran beating out a couple of bigger names (Justin Timberlake, Louis C.K.) nominated for hosting "Saturday Night Live."
Speaking of C.K., Leo's win does offer encouragement to those who believe it's high time "Louie" unseated "Modern Family" for best comedy series. "Modern Family" also came up empty in all four of its Creative Arts categories, though it went 0-4 in 2011 and still won the series Emmy and four other Primetime awards.
But Leo's Emmy might be a sign that C.K. can pull off a victory for acting. His submitted episode (voters are directed to judge just the one acting episode and nothing else), "Daddy's Girlfriend, Part 1," finds Louie looking for love and culminates with him fumbling to ask out a bookstore clerk played by Parker Posey. It's a charming performance, even if it's not his best acting work of the season. (For that, we'd look to any of the three "Late Show" episodes or the season finale, "New Year's Eve.")
Is it substantial enough to prevail over two-time winner Jim Parsons? On its own, perhaps not, since Parsons' submitted episode, "The Habitation Configuration," is one of "Big Bang's" best from the season and a brilliant display as to why people love the show so much in the first place.
Lead comedy actor remains one of the closest Emmy categories this year, and last night's results did little to offer clarity unless you really, really want them to do so. In that case, get those acceptance speeches prepared. We're not going to stop you.