Five TV critics pick their Emmy favorites

"Glee"

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What to expect on Emmy night, from the predictable to the unexpected.

 
DRAMA SERIES

John Griffiths (Us Weekly)
" 'The Good Wife' nails today's slithery forces of corruption even more potently than 'Damages,' but 'Lost' should go out the winner here. The final season was rocky, but overall the writers conjured up something bold and meaningful."

Bruce Fretts (TV Guide)
"This is a tough one. There could be nostalgic sentiment for 'Lost's' final season. 'The Good Wife' may have rookie momentum, and 'Mad Men' might pull off a threepeat. But I'm picking 'Breaking Bad,' which blew off the roof in its third season. It's like a mini indie movie every week."

Gary Susman (AOL)
"There would be no shame in giving the Emmy to any show on this list, but I think it will go to 'Men' because of momentum. I'd love to see 'Lost' win, but the last 15 minutes of that series alienated a lot of people."

Joanne Ostrow (Denver Post)
" 'Lost' might have a chance. It's a fabulous piece of pop culture that held our interest through the seasons. But I'm going to say 'Wife' here. It'd be great to see a new network show break through."

Paige Wiser (Chicago Sun-Times)
"A lot of viewers lost patience with 'Lost' in its home stretch, and 'Men' could suffer from all the critical acclaim. So I vote for 'Dexter.' When you look at the world through his eyes, you question exactly how you define 'human.' "

COMEDY SERIES

Griffiths: "It's encouraging to see new shows in the mix, but I still get more laughs and satisfaction out of '30 Rock' than any other comedy. It's smart, knowing and subversive. You root for the characters no matter how silly they are."

Fretts: "It's a battle between rookies 'Modern Family' and 'Glee.' I'll give Fox's musical the edge, since it has more overall nominations. It has reinvented the TV comedy and single-handedly revived the musical genre -- no small feat."

Susman: " 'Glee' will probably get it. It's a less traditional show than 'Family' and has done innovative things off-screen, like the downloads and the tour. 'Curb Your Enthusiasm' was pretty good this year and 'Nurse Jackie' I love, but it'll go to 'Glee.' "
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Ostrow: " 'Family' is, stylistically and in terms of acting and writing, a really bold show for network television, and the performances are impeccable. 'Glee' is a hybrid and probably the most wildly uneven show on TV. Sometimes it's fantastic, and sometimes it misses. When it's on, though, it's really on. So I'll go with one of those shows."

Wiser: " 'Jackie' is the best, no two ways about it, though I'm not sure I'd classify it as a comedy. I wouldn't mind 'Glee' getting some recognition, either, for trying something new on a network. It's not perfect, but it's pure joy."

DRAMA ACTOR

Griffiths: "Bryan Cranston ('Breaking Bad') is doing a crackerjack job, but it's about time Kyle Chandler nabbed a win for 'Friday Night Lights.' The show's coming off its most winning season, and a lot of that has to do with Chandler's low-key, utterly human portrayal of a guy who takes a heartfelt interest in underdogs."

Fretts: "I put my money on Michael C. Hall, who's got a compelling personal story to go along with his killer work on 'Dexter.' Playing opposite John Lithgow took Hall to a new level this season, and he's overdue, having never won for this show or 'Six Feet Under.' "

Susman: "I'm going with Cranston to win, as much as I'd like to see Hugh Laurie ('House') win it after all these years, or even Matthew Fox, because I love 'Lost.' "

Ostrow: "Cranston and Laurie are principals who cater to their shows. The others are more ensemble pieces. Still, I do think there's so much sentiment for 'Mad Men' (and Jon Hamm). Overall, they got it right this year. I have no quibbles with this category."

Wiser: "Chandler isn't a showy actor, but his character couldn't be more real. That's talent. I think Laurie's Dr. House is an acquired taste, and Cranston should give someone else a chance."




Julianna Margulies in "The Good Wife"
 
DRAMA ACTRESS

Griffiths: "Julianna Margulies showed some nimble moves as that betrayed, strapped-yet-steely 'Good Wife.' A close second is Kyra Sedgwick, who even in 'The Closer's' fifth season still makes her character fun, electric and full of surprises."

Fretts: "Margulies will walk away with this one. The Emmys love a good comeback story, and it'll be a fine consolation prize for 'Wife' not winning outstanding drama. Glenn Close could win her third straight for 'Damages,' but I think the academy will go with the more likable attorney this year."

Susman: "It's nice that Connie Britton got nominated for 'Friday Night Lights,' as she's deserved it for four years, but that's as far as she's going to get. All the buzz (goes) to Margulies for 'Wife.' "

Ostrow: "Margulies has had the performance and role of her life. There's a quiet power that she brings to an unflashy role. She jumps out and elevates the whole series."

Wiser: "It should go to Close, who's fascinating on 'Damages': An icy exterior, a volcano on the inside ready to blow. She's just in another league. Margulies is incredible, but hasn't really had the chance to let her guard down yet."


Jim Parsons in "The Big Bang Theory"
 
COMEDY ACTOR

Griffiths: "Larry David ('Curb Your Enthusiasm'), hands down. 'Curb' is all him, even if he is playing a version of himself. He walks a fine line of mirth and pathos, with smarts. It's both cringe-inducing and giggly-making. He's a genius, high-wire performer."

Fretts: "Alec Baldwin ('30 Rock') is tough to beat, but if anyone can (do it), it'll be 'The Big Bang Theory's' Jim Parsons. His Sheldon Cooper is such an original comic creation that the Emmys can't continue to ignore him."

Susman:
"They will give it to Baldwin until he dies, no matter how unsatisfying '30 Rock's' last season may have been. But I'd like to see Parsons get it, because he's taken what could have been a very stock, nerd character and given him warmth and humanity."

Ostrow: "Parsons has to win this. Matthew Morrison ('Glee') is great, but he's an ensemble character. This is the clearest-cut category for me."

Wiser: "Who knew a theoretical physicist with no sense of humor could be so funny? I'd like to see Parsons get more recognition for his socially challenged genius. David isn't 'acting' on 'Curb.' Baldwin is iconic, but showering him with awards is so 2008."

COMEDY ACTRESS


Griffiths: "Tina Fey ('30 Rock') has had her accolades, so I'd give it to Edie Falco ('Nurse Jackie'). She's painfully funny -- the saddest of clowns -- as the titular, drug-addicted nurse. And she gets bonus points for putting Carmela Soprano completely out of our minds."

Fretts: "This should be a Showtime showdown between Falco and Toni Collette ('United States of Tara'), with the multiple-personality mom beating out Jackie for pure showiness. Fey and Amy Poehler ('Parks and Recreation') will cancel each other out. The Emmys won't be able to resist Collette's versatility."

Susman: "It will go to Collette again because nobody is doing the kind of stretching that she is on 'Tara.' I love 'Glee,' and it's nice to see Lea Michele get nominated, but the award will go to someone more seasoned."

Ostrow: "This is such a crazy combination of names. Falco is phenomenal, and her range is impressive. Michele is great in this category, but she's not a comic actress."

Wiser: "Falco is utterly believable as a working mom who happens to need a truckload of drugs to get through the day. Collette is trying too hard for my taste on 'Tara,' but I would keep an eye on Poehler. 'Parks and Rec' is starting to hit its stride."


"Amazing Race"
 
REALITY COMPETITION

Griffiths: "This category is getting stale. 'Amazing Race' is the only one that opens up viewers' eyes to true reality, and it gets the heart pumping, so it should grab laurels again."

Fretts: "I see no reason why 'Race' won't maintain its stranglehold on the category, especially with 'American Idol' and 'Project Runway' coming off lackluster seasons. The highly educational 'Race' has the advantage of being good for you as well as just plain good."

Susman: " 'Race' will get it, and not just because it has for every single year, but because the competition is weak. 'Idol' had a weak season and 'Dancing With the Stars' had Tom freaking DeLay."

Ostrow: " 'Race' is a wonderful show, but maybe it's enough already. 'Runway' could really take it. It's well-constructed, and I like a reality show that focuses on creativity rather than the psychodrama of bickering around the globe. We need fresh blood in there."

Wiser: "I never miss 'Runway,' and it all comes down to the casting. It's pretty irrelevant who wins, but some of the personalities they've plucked from obscurity are unforgettable. 'Race' is considered the gold standard, but I always have the impulse to fast-forward through entire countries."

WILD CARD

Griffiths: "Conan O'Brien's interlude with 'The Tonight Show' and 'Saturday Night Live's' funny Betty White notwithstanding, outstanding variety, music or comedy series should go to 'The Colbert Report' or 'The Daily Show.' It's shocking how whip-smart and cathartic they are."

Fretts: "Outstanding guest actress in a comedy series is the easiest-to-predict category. Possibly the only person who will vote against White on 'SNL' is '30 Rock's' Elaine Stritch. Everyone tuned in to see White. She knocked it out of the park."

Susman: "Outstanding guest comedy actress will go to White. It's her year. Her Snickers ad is also a contender for outstanding commercial. It's her versus the Old Spice guy. I'd like to see him win."

Ostrow:
"Claire Danes in 'Temple Grandin' for outstanding actress in a miniseries or movie. It's a brilliant portrayal. People here in Colorado who know the real Temple say that Danes really embodied (her) character."

Wiser: "The right host can make or break a show. Tom Bergeron ('Dancing With the Stars') elevates the action, but Jeff Probst deserves the Emmy. He gets so much leeway on 'Survivor' that his pointed questions at tribal councils directly affect the outcome. He went from glorified game show host to power player."
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