(CNN) -- Long hailed as one of the finest series in television history, "The Sopranos" finished its seven-season, 10-year run in a fitting manner: as the outstanding dramatic series of the year at Sunday's 59th annual Primetime Emmy Awards.
"The Sopranos" finished its run with one of the most talked-about finales in TV history.
David Chase's show about a mobster coping with a contentious domestic life, a violent professional life and the vicissitudes of 21st-century American life was the odds-on favorite going into the Emmys, but no guarantee to win. The show had only won best drama once before, in 2004.
But the audience, which gave Chase, his staff and his cast a standing ovation after a midshow tribute, was obviously on his side. The troupe earned another standing ovation as Chase came up to accept the Emmy.
"The Sopranos" also won Emmys for direction and writing, one of just a few shows to win multiple awards Sunday night.
Indeed, in an Emmy broadcast that meandered between comedy, music and uncertainty, it was appropriate that the top 10 categories -- outstanding comedy, outstanding drama, and lead and supporting male and female performers in both genres -- were split among 10 different shows. Watch censored remark, other show highlights »
"30 Rock" picked up the Emmy for best comedy series. Ricky Gervais of "Extras" and America Ferrera of "Ugly Betty" won awards for lead acting in comedy series.
Sally Field and James Spader won lead dramatic actor awards. "Entourage's" Jeremy Piven, "Lost's" Terry O'Quinn, "Grey's Anatomy's" Katherine Heigl and "My Name Is Earl's" Jaime Pressly won supporting honors. Gallery: The stars arrive »
Spader acknowledged the challenge "The Sopranos" and its performers provided.
"I feel like I just stole a pile of money from the Mob," he said, looking back at the "Sopranos" troupe arrayed behind him.
"30 Rock's" star and driving force, Tina Fey, acknowledged her show's low ratings. After thanking NBC executives and the show's cast and staff, she added a thank you to "our dozens and dozens of viewers."
In her speech, Field lobbed a political statement.
"If the mothers ruled the world, there would be no g--damned wars in the first place," said Field, trying to recover her train of thought while accepting an Emmy for her performance in "Brothers & Sisters." The offending word was bleeped for national airing. (Later, Chase parodied her statement: "If the world and this nation were run by gangsters" -- a shrug -- "maybe it is," he said.)
Field's Emmy was a mild upset, as she defeated previous winners Edie Falco and Mariska Hargitay to take the award.
Another sometime political figure, former vice president and "recovering politician" Al Gore, received an Emmy -- and a standing ovation -- Sunday night.
Gore and Joel Hyatt won their Emmys for creating Current TV, a cable television network whose programs are often produced by viewers.
"We are trying to open up the television medium so that viewers can help to make television, and join the conversation of democracy, and reclaim American democracy by talking about the choices we have to make," said Gore.
The TV honor is the latest Hollywood recognition for Gore. The documentary "An Inconvenient Truth," which starred Gore, earned an Oscar in February.
Heigl maintained she didn't come prepared with a speech because her mother told her she wasn't going to win.
"My own mother told me I didn't have a shot in hell at winning tonight," said Heigl. "This is my dream come true. I've been doing this for 17 years."
The AMC miniseries "Broken Trail" was roundly honored at the show, winning three awards during the evening -- for best actor, best supporting actor and best miniseries or movie.
After a string of acting awards -- including an Emmy last year for "Elizabeth I" and an Oscar in February for "The Queen" -- Helen Mirren continued her remarkable run with another Emmy, this time for "Prime Suspect: The Final Act."
"Prime Suspect: The Final Act" also won for directing and writing.
Tony Bennett and his special "Tony Bennett: An American Classic" were honored several times Sunday night, most notably for outstanding variety, music or comedy special.
"The Amazing Race" won best reality/competition program for the fifth time.
The show started strongly, but quickly became uneven. It began with an irreverent musical number sung by "Family Guy's" Stewie and Brian, taking aim at everything from "the garbage on the airwaves" to the reputations of the broadcast networks.
"We're definitely on Fox tonight," joked host Ryan Seacrest, noting the characters' jibes.
"The Daily Show's" Jon Stewart and "The Colbert Report's" Stephen Colbert earned big laughs after announcing Gervais' win.
"Ricky Gervais could not be here tonight. Instead we're going to give this to our friend, Steve Carell," Stewart said, as Carell -- a former "Daily Show" cast member -- leapt onstage and the three whooped it up.
A tribute to the cast of "Roots" also earned a standing ovation.
But the show had a number of awkward moments, including a tribute to "The Sopranos' " New Jersey locale by Broadway's "Jersey Boys," who sang a medley of Four Seasons hits while clips from the show played behind them. A routine with "The Office's" Rainn Wilson and hip-hop star Kanye West, doing a bit that played off Fox's "Don't Forget the Lyrics," also fell flat.
But Wilson wasn't taking the awards too seriously.
Asked to explain why he was nominated this year but not last, he had a straightforward answer: "I'm a much better actor this year than last year," he told CNN on the red carpet.
He didn't win, which was probably for the best. If he had, he impishly threatened to put the statue on eBay. E-mail to a friend
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