The fifth spot is the killer. There are so many worthy choices: Denis Leary ("Rescue Me"), Dominic West ("The Wire"), Matthew Fox ("Lost"), Kyle Chandler ("Friday Night Lights"), Anthony LaPaglia ("Without a Trace"), Jonny Lee Miller ("Eli Stone"), Gabriel Byrne ("In Treatment") and John Barrowman ("Torchwood") chief among them. But I'm going with Dempsey, for his sometimes undervalued ability to expose the fear, doubt and lazy selfishness behind that McDreamy facade.
Supporting actor, drama
Jesse Plemons, "Friday Night Lights", NBC
Michael K. Williams, "The Wire", HBO
Michael Emerson, "Lost", ABC
Henry Ian Cusick, "Lost", ABC
Robert Sean Leonard, "House", Fox
Stuck with one of the year's worst stories (murder and its cover-up), Plemons made do, and given one of the year's best stories (the death of his girlfriend), Leonard made hay. You could nominate almost anyone from The Wire or Lost and feel safe, but the three actors above had standout seasons. As for substitutes, consider Vincent Kartheiser or John Slattery from ""Mad Men, or Justin Chambers, who got the same kind of finale gift and lift from Grey's as Leonard did from House.
Supporting actress, drama
Sandra Oh, "Grey's Anatomy", ABC
Chandra Wilson, "Grey's Anatomy", ABC
Lisa Edelstein, "House", Fox
Yunjin Kim, "Lost", ABC
Sonja Sohn, "The Wire", HBO
This is your last chance, people, to honor Sohn for her work in "The Wire"; don't miss it. Otherwise in this category, there's an abundance of possible choices from "Grey's" and "Lost", not to mention Maria Doyle Kennedy from Showtime's "The Tudor"s or January Jones and Christina Hendricks from "Mad Men". Oh, and if it took that cheerleader outfit to get voters to finally notice Edelstein, then three cheers for short skirts.
Supporting actress, comedy
Vanessa Williams, "Ugly Betty", ABC
Jean Smart, "Samantha Who?", ABC
Wanda Sykes, "The New Adventures of Old Christine", CBS
Kristin Chenoweth, "Pushing Daisies", ABC
Swoosie Kurtz, "Pushing Daisies", ABC
I hate to leave off "Daisies"' Ellen Greene, but three stars from the same shortened show is pushing it. And even if she were included, I'd still feel bad about skipping "Christine's" Emily Rutherfurd, "Men's" Holland Taylor, "Weeds'" Elizabeth Perkins and "My Name Is Earl's" Jaime Pressly.
Supporting actor, comedy
Neil Patrick Harris, "How I Met Your Mother", CBS
Jack McBrayer, "30 Rock", NBC
Chi McBride, "Pushing Daisies", ABC
Ray Wise, "Reaper", CW
Hamish Linklater, "The New Adventures of Old Christine", CBS
We'll move more quickly through the supporting categories. Why pick Linklater over "Christine's" equally invaluable Clark Gregg? Because last year I went with Gregg, and it seems only fair to alternate.
"Grey's Anatomy" (ABC)
"The Wire" (HBO)
"Rescue Me" (FX)
"Mad Men" (AMC)
Striking a new path
Remember that ill wind that blows a bit of good? If we're lucky, the strike's confusion will cause voters to reach beyond their comfort zones to one of the best dramas ever to air on TV: "The Wire". No slate would be valid without it, or without "Lost", which benefited from better planning and a shorter run, or "Mad Men", a gorgeously evocative look at America on the cusp of the '60s social revolution. As for "Grey's", this buoyantly entertaining romance was the only series to use the strike to regroup and improve.