NEW YORK — "So many shows and so little time" was the musical lament with which Andy Samberg began his Emmy hosting duties.
In the humorous filmed intro number, Samberg was seen retreating to a TV Viewing Bunker to binge-watch TV for a full year to qualify himself to host Sunday night's 67th annual Primetime Emmy Awards.
"I know everything there is to know about every single show," he sang, and with that the Emmycast began.
Was he indeed qualified?
For sure. Currently the star of the Fox comedy "Brooklyn Nine-Nine," Samberg is an alumnus of "Saturday Night Live" with its live-ness. And live from the Microsoft Theater, he was smooth, saucy, purposefully goofy and assured — even if he just couldn't resist a couple of not very funny Donald Trump wisecracks.
NO MORE RACISM!
"The big story this year is diversity," he declared in his monologue, noting this year boasted the most diverse group of nominees in Emmy history.
"So congratulations, Hollywood," he crowed. "You did it! Racism is over." Split-second pause. "Don't fact-check that."
The slyest remark about a would-be great series was delivered when Samberg reminded viewers they had said good-bye this season to beloved series including "Mad Men" and "Parks and Recreation," and also to "True Detective" (the HBO drama suffering a critically lambasted second season) even though, as he observed, it's "still on the air."
Samberg set the tone for a breezy, fun night, but a two-pronged display of activism was sparked with back-to-back trophies for the Amazon series "Transparent," which stars Jeffrey Tambor as a man transitioning to a woman.
"We don't have a trans tipping point yet, we have a trans civil rights problem," said Jill Soloway as she collected her award for best director of a comedy.
Then Tambor was announced as best actor.
"I had a teacher who used to say when you act, you have to act as if your life depends on it," he said. "And now I've been given an opportunity to act because people's lives depend on it."
It was a double dose of sincerity and consciousness-raising.
It was truly exciting to finally see Viola Davis make history as the first African American to win the best actress Emmy.
And every "Mad Men" fan (and many other well-wishers) heaved a huge sigh of relief when, his last time at bat, Jon Hamm finally won the best actor trophy.
But arguably the night's most thrilling moment — in the ironic category — was thanks to James Cordon, host of CBS' "The Late Late Show," whose witty setup managed to turn what is routinely the Emmycast's most enervating moments into a hoot: the obligatory introduction of the Ernst & Young accounting team that tabulates the Emmy votes.
"If you had told me as a small child growing up in England," said Cordon said in mock-wonder, that he would grow up to present to Emmy's audience of millions this august trio from the Ernst & Young accounting firm, "I would have said, 'Sod off! I'm only a boy, and my brain doesn't have the room to dream that big.' But here I am!"
Whereupon he whipped the audience, happily playing along, into a cheering, standing frenzy in honor of these "three heroes."
MOST WELCOME RETURN
Tracy Morgan, who suffered terrible injuries more than a year ago in a car crash, arrived to present the best drama series Emmy.
But first he reminded the audience of his awful ordeal, and his "long road back," before assuring fans his famous raunchy comedy style was on the comeback trail.
"Only recently I've begun to feel like my old self," he declared, "which means a whole lot of y'all women are gonna get pregnant at the after-party."
MOST WELCOME RETURN NEXT YEAR
That would be Andy Samberg, who crushed it as host from sign-on to finish.
The final piece of evidence: Moments after Hamm had voiced brief, moving thank-you's for his long-deserved and much-belated win, Samberg, grinning, got the show back on its goofy track.
"I was pulling for Chandler," he cracked, referring to rival nominee Kyle Chandler of Netflix's "Bloodline," adding, "I dig that dude."
Even Chandler had to smile at Samberg's infectious sass.
EDITOR'S NOTE — Frazier Moore is a national television columnist for The Associated Press. He can be reached at email@example.com and at http://www.twitter.com/tvfrazier. Past stories are available at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/frazier-moore