Some years, you almost have to feel sorry for the people who pick the Emmy nominees. What are they to make of this season, with its stops and starts and strike-induced divisions?
Some shows vanished in winter, and others returned for a reduced spring run in far different — and usually worse — shape than they had been in the fall. Just keeping track of what aired when and how is a full-time job.
Which is where this sample ballot comes in, as a not-always-gentle reminder for those who are marking the real ballots. The goal is to help besieged voters make sense of a sense-deprived season and to help all of us see a better slate of nominees come July 17.
As always, the focus is on series, because that's where the most interest and toughest choices reside. But I do have a fast cheat-sheet for movies and miniseries: Skip HBO's overhyped "John Adams," nominate anyone you can from PBS' "Cranford," and if you don't nominate Phylicia Rashad, Audra McDonald and Sean Combs from ABC's "A Raisin in the Sun", don't bother holding the awards.
Now pick up your pencils, voters, and follow along:
Lead actress, drama
Glenn Close, "Damages", FX
Kyra Sedgwick, "The Closer", TNT
Sally Field, "Brothers & Sisters", ABC
Ellen Pompeo, "Grey's Anatomy", ABC
Five-year-old Jadah has a bright smile and a bubbly personality to match. Though a bit shy at first, Jadah warms quickly to shed her bashfulness and reveal the active extrovert that she really is. She is very talkative, inquisitive and asks tons of questions. Jadah loves to sing, dance, play dress-up and color. Her favorite color is pink.
Jadah's favorite show is Dora the Explorer. She is especially excited when playing with all her Dora the Explorer toys. She loves to be outdoors, too, where you'll usually find her at the playground swinging on the monkey bars or going up, up, up on the swing set. Jadah loves the zoo and is not afraid of animals. She has taken pictures with parrots and even iguanas!
Jadah needs a family that will provide a stable home and give her lots of attention. She hopes for a family that is loving and playful "Friday Night Lights", NBC
There aren't as many women to choose from in drama as there are men, but boy, are the ones we have great.
No list can exist without Close, who used beauty, grace, wit and sheer ferocity to corral a role that could have zoomed over the top. Nor are voters likely to overlook Field, who retains her remarkable ability to find the truth in even the most outrageous scenes, or Sedgwick, whose talent and star power fuel a show that would be forgettable without her.
Voters do have a habit of ignoring Pompeo, perhaps because people sometimes allow their feelings about her character to rub off on her performance. Let's hope her terrific work this spring, as Meredith was forced to confront her demons, corrects that error.
By all rights, the fifth spot should go to Britton, who is so natural and believable in Lights it's possible to miss the skill it takes to create that effect. But if you're looking for an acceptable substitute, consider Evangeline Lilly in Lost or Elisabeth Moss in Mad Men— though voters may see that as a supporting role.
Lead actor, comedy
Alec Baldwin, "30 Rock", NBC
Jim Parsons, "The Big Bang Theory", CBS
Lee Pace, "Pushing Daisies", ABC
Zachary Levi, "Chuck", NBC
David Duchovny, "Californication", Showtime