This Year, 'Better' Emmy Choices

You may not love this year's Emmy list, but at least it won't drive you mad.

The recognition of "Mad Men" and "Damages" alone — breaking through the usual Emmy barrier against both freshman shows and, in a historic first, basic cable series — is enough to help calm the usual fury that meets the Emmy nominations. Yes, oddities and omissions abound, but looking over the nods as a whole, the first word that comes to mind is "better."

So rather than complaining, let's start by congratulating the voters on what they got right, keeping in mind perfection and Emmys are concepts that will never intertwine. And it starts with best drama: With "Lost" making a well-deserved return and "Dexter" making an equally well-deserved and much more surprising entry, that race becomes the most competitive and interesting in years.

The same can be said for the dramatic actor category. Usually if there's even one new nominee in an acting list, you consider yourself lucky. This year, there are four: Jon Hamm, Gabriel Byrne, Michael C. Hall and Bryan Cranston, great choices all.

It's true that the comedy nominations are not as strong overall as the drama ones. But then neither were the comedies this year, so it balances out.

To be happy with the Emmys, it does help to think of them as your favorite, crazy uncle — the one whose quirks the family has just trained itself to accept. You just have to live with the fact that the voters are going to shower Boston Legal with nominations and show love to any movie star who chews the scenery — perhaps because so many of them yearn to be movie stars chewing scenery. There is no sense complaining.

Sadly, there's also probably nothing to do but bow to the voters' knee-jerk affection for every HBO movie and series except "The Wire", which they took one last, foolish opportunity to snub. Still, 23 nominations for HBO's miscast John Adams has to give you pause. Either the voters never actually made it through any or all of John Adams or they thought they were voting for the second president himself, which, considering the suspected average age of Emmy voters, is entirely possible.

Other mistakes? It would have been nice to see "Pushing Daisies" get a comedy nod, but it's possible the show was hurt by its truncated season, and it did pick up nominations for Lee Pace and Kristen Chenoweth. Far less excusable are the snubs for "The Big Bang Theory", Ken Burns' "The War", "30 Rock's" Jack McBrayer and ARaisin in the "Sun's" Sean Combs.

So, OK: a little mad. But at least not stark raving, and that's a big Emmy step up.