Don’t expect your standard too-hip-for-the-small-screen intellectual to comprehend the drama of Sunday’s Primetime Emmy Awards. It’s like expecting the Orkin man to appreciate an entomologists’ conference.

Sunday’s Emmycast was, in fact, loaded with surprises, starting with host Jimmy Kimmel’s opening segment, when he asked the Hollywood gathering at the Nokia Theater how many of them were voting for Mitt Romney and a sizable number of them replied in the affirmative, squashing that planned gag we’ll never hear in an instant.

View Photo Gallery: Jimmy Kimmel hosts the 64th annual award show.

Sure the show began to drag when Eric Stonestreet, Julie Bowen, and Louis C.K. were all handed the exact same acting, acting and writing comedy trophies, respectively, they’d received last year.

But hipsters so busy fuming over the snubbing of Hollywood IT girl Lena Dunham, despite her tour de force naked bathroom cake eating sequence at the trophy show’s start, failed to appreciate the surprise when “Two and a Half Men’s” Jon Cryer was named best actor in a comedy series.

In the past, Cryer had been awarded the Emmy for best supporting actor, for playing Alan Harper on “Men.” His elevation to best LEAD actor winner, accomplished by stepping over far more deserving actors, including Larry David, Louis C.K., Don Cheadle and even Alec Baldwin, was, in the eyes of some, the least the TV academy could do to acknowledge Cryer having survived all those years of Charlie Sheen on the show. Still, it was a rare moment of high trophy-show pathos – as if the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show had awarded its Best in Show ribbon to an abused mutt.

Pretty much everyone had expected Claire Danes to take the Emmy for best drama actress, but who thought Damian Lewis would prove Bryan Cranston’s Kryptonite?

And who thought that when “Homeland” was named best drama series, ending “Mad Men’s” four-year stranglehold on that category, it would set an Emmy record – for “Mad Men”? With that defeat, “Mad Men” set a new Emmy record for most losses in a single year (17).

“Game Change” was another surprising Sunday win, mopping up with best actress, writing, and directing wins as well as the Emmy for best movie/miniseries. Surprising because a) we’d forgotten it aired during the eligibility period instead of a hundred years ago and b) everyone was all ooh! “American Horror Story”! in their Emmy walkup blah, blah, blah.

They’ll be talking about ABC and Jimmy Kimmel’s sly ratings grab at the Emmys for days to come. Kimmel apparently decided to thank ABC for giving him the 11:35 p.m. timeslot in January by telling Emmy viewers Sunday night to “prank” people not watching the show by tweeting “OMG! Tracy Morgan just passed out on stage! Turn on ABC now!”

Twitter instantly lit up with people dutifully typing as directed, including audience members Stephen Colbert and Joel McHale who you’d think would have thought it through. Thank goodness for the fearless journalists at TV Guide and the like, who tweeted that it was all just a Kimmel ratings play – or who knows what damage it would have done to Twitter’s unimpeachable credibility.

You know what else was surprising about Sunday’s Emmycast. In its 64th year, someone finally figured out how to make the obligatory stage walk of the Ernst & Young vote counters into something that does not cause you to want to poke your eyes with sharp things. And all it took was a silly little bit of comedy involving the cast of “Big Bang Theory.”

View Photo Gallery: Celebrities arrive for the 64th Primetime Emmy Awards in Los Angeles, hosted by Jimmy Kimmel.


Live updates from the 2012 Emmy Awards

2012 Emmy winners

Red Carpet Arrivals

CELEBRITOLOGY | When Julia Louis-Dreyfus wins, Amy Poehler wins

Emmy trivia: Things to know while watching

Emmy Creative Arts winners

CELEBRITOLOGY | E! introduces mani-cam