Last year, the Emmys expanded the list of nominees for best comedy and drama series to six or seven contenders. Six were planned, but one more could be accommodated if the seventh-ranked contender was extremely close in the vote tally. Thus both categories ended up with seven nominees.
The next batch of nominees won't be unveiled until mid-July, but our fearless experts Robert "Rob L" Licuria (AwardsHeaven.net) and Chris "Boomer" Beachum are already sticking out thin, trembling necks. Last week, they forecasted the comedy lineup. Below, they get serious and tackle drama.
Playing conservative, they plan for six nominees in the category. Boomer and Rob agree on four drama series: "Breaking Bad," "Damages," "Dexter" and "Mad Men." Then Boomer opts for "The Good Wife" and "Lost" as his other two predix; Rob chooses "House M.D." and "Big Love." Read their explanations below.
BEST DRAMA SERIES: BOOMER'S PREDIX
"The Good Wife"
BOOMER'S COMMENTARY: All seven drama series contenders return from last season, but the Emmy category is set up to most likely have only six nominees. Right off the bat, one of those shows is squeezed out due to math. Two-time winner "Mad Men" should not only be the favorite again, but I don't think any other program has come close to the overall quality of its most recent season (it would be easy right now to say it will deservedly win the category again).
This season of "Dexter" was its most acclaimed yet, so it should be back in this race easily. The final season of "Lost" is as good as expected and should claim a slot in this category. Following those three shows, I can make a case for and against all of the returning nominees from last year. After a slow start but a much better job in recent weeks, I can certainly see "Damages" back in this category. The latest season of "Breaking Bad" hasn't even aired yet, but previews and early buzz indicated it will be as good as ever. It would certainly not be a surprise if "House" continued its run as a perennial nominee in this category, but many have complained about the quality of the current season. The same can be said of "Big Love."
I think the other remaining slot will go to the best new drama with both outstanding reviews and amazing ratings -- "The Good Wife." Its star, Julianna Margulies, has already won the Golden Globe and SAG Award, so she should be the favorite to win her category.
Two other HBO series ("True Blood" and David Simon's "Treme") could figure prominently in this race, so several of these shows aren't completely safe.
BEST DRAMA SERIES: ROB'S PREDIX
"The Good Wife"
ROB'S COMMENTARY: When deciding on which shows are out in front for Emmy's top drama series category this early in the game, I look at past nominees, buzz and ratings, and the choices made by the two primary "Emmy precursors": the Golden Globe Awards and the SAG Awards.
All seven of the series nominated last year for best drama series are back in the hunt: Big Love," "Breaking Bad," "Damages," "Dexter," "House," "Lost" and "Mad Men."
"Dexter," "Mad Men" and "True Blood" made it into the top categories at this year's SAG Awards and Golden Globe Awards. Also making the cut for best drama series according to the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. were Emmy fave "House" and nominee last year "Big Love." The SAG ensemble race also included the hottest new drama of the season, "The Good Wife," and SAG perennial "The Closer."
That's 10 dramas in the running, with "Friday Night Lights," "Parenthood," "The Mentalist" and three shows from the FX stable ("Rescue Me," "Sons of Anarchy" and "Justified") also in with a chance, bringing that pool to 16 drama series with a realistic shot.
"Big Love" has steadily become a hit for HBO and has started to make inroads on the awards scene. I expect it to be nominated, with the caveat that its recently concluded season was not as well received as seasons past. As for "Breaking Bad," we expect the quality to continue, but it has yet to commence airing on AMC. However, while a definite thumbs-up might be hard to give at this stage, I expect it to be nominated again this year.
"Dexter" had an excellent fourth season, ably assisted by the inclusion of John Lithgow to the cast. It will make a return appearance, along with the front-runner and most likely winner, "Mad Men." I also expect perennial fave "House" to sneak in (again), and am counting on voters also handing a third straight nomination to "Damages."
That's six nominees, all relatively safe bets at this point. If the category is going to expand to seven (as it did last year), then it is going to be a very heated contest between "True Blood" (which many expected to be nominated last year) and "The Good Wife."
Photo credits: "Big Love" (HBO), "The Good Wife" (CBS), "House M.D." (Fox), "Lost" (ABC)