Shoulda Been Here:
Ben Travers: Honestly, I should just step back and let you tell everyone why the Television Academy f'd up by excluding "The Americans" and "Masters of Sex" from Best Drama Series, and the former from virtually all the meaningful categories (yay for Margo Martindale, the only representative of "The Americans" at this year's ceremony). My complaints in this category are far less serious: I would have liked to see John Slattery get a(nother) nod for "Mad Men" and Rachel Brosnahan earn some accolades for her role on "House of Cards," but these two shows are well represented, while "The Americans" and "Masters of Sex" are less so.
Peter Knegt: Yeah, there was definitely much less to complain about on the drama side. Or maybe I should it put this way instead: There was still a lot to complain about, but it was more because there were just so many great dramatic series and performances, and less because Emmy voters messed things up. Few could argue that last season was a pretty landmark one for dramatic television, so outside of the Emmys expanding their lineups beyond 6 nominees (which isn't a bad idea), there wasn't much they could do. That said, I'm still irked at the most obvious snub (Tatiana Maslany should have been there), and could have done with fewer nominations for "Downton Abbey" and a lot more for "Hannibal," "Justified," and, yes, "The Americans" and "Masters of Sex."
BT: "Hannibal" might be the main one that irks me, considering that it's exemplary network television and I'd like to see NBC rewarded in some way for its courage in airing such violent, bold and excellent work (since it ain't getting anything from the ratings). I'd swap Mads Mikkelsen in for Jim Carter on "Downton Abbey" or Jon Voight on "Ray Donovan," and obviously drop "Downton" from the series race. If I was personally picking them, I'd throw "The Newsroom" in there at the three spot behind "Breaking Bad" and "True Detective," but I recognize I'd be on a small island of fans for that pick. I'll just be happy with the fact Jeff Daniels already has a trophy from last year. "Parenthood" also deserved some attention, including most of the cast on Jason Katims' latest family drama -- how it doesn't snag guest actor spots every year is beyond me.
PK: There just seems like there's some shows out there that simply never find their way onto the radars of Emmy voters. Going into its last season, it seems "Parenthood" will join those ranks -- though at least its in good company (I'm not even going to start listing the amazing shows Emmy has ignored). But let's focus what did make the cut -- and what shows and actors among them could potentially take home a trophy. This seems to me like one of the most competitive years in some time...
BT: It's an extremely competitive year in nearly every category. Looking over the top drama fields, it's hard to predict anything with certainty. I feel relatively confident about Anna Gunn taking home supporting actress, but "The Good Wife" could benefit from its snub in the top category, launching Christine Baranski to the gold (who had a helluva year). Same goes for Supporting Actor with Josh Charles and Actress with Julianna Margulies. Actor and Drama Series seem to be dead heats between two top picks. It's enough to drive an Emmys prognosticator mad!
PK: It's almost easier to suggest who can't win -- which maybe isn't even a thing (look at Jeff Daniels last year -- no one saw that coming). I'd hope that list includes the entire cast of "Downton Abbey," though it's actually quite possible Maggie Smith wins another over both Gunn and Baranski. If I had to boil them each down to three-way races (which they largely seem to be), it would be those three for supporting actress, Peter Dinklage, Aaron Paul and Josh Charles in supporting actor, Bryan Cranston, Matthew McConaughey and Kevin Spacey in actor, and I guess Julianna Margulies, Robin Wright or Kerry Washington for actress? Though that wasn't easy to narrow down. Maybe I should have just said "anyone could win" and move on.
BT: I think you're dead on in the acting categories, honestly. Anyone winning outside of those three-name groupings would be a major shock, and I would say the same goes for Drama Series: It's down to "Breaking Bad," "True Detective," and, as a bit of an out-of-the-box pick, "Game of Thrones." HBO's darker than dark, swords and sandals soap opera has the most nominations of any show in the race (with 19), but it will be hard to top the final (half) season of "Breaking Bad" and the revolutionary initial entry of "True Detective." I don't want to be the first to make a claim in these categories, so please, by all means, tell me who you think will win.
PK: Actually, I had that same thought about "Game of Thrones" when I was thinking about whether to go with "True Detective" or "Breaking Bad." Its quite possible those two could split the vote, making way for a surprise winner. "Game" would be the most obvious bet to offer. It's never won, it's insanely popular... But it's also not quite enough for me to full-on go out and predict it. I'm saying "Breaking Bad," but if you'd ask me a few hours ago I might have easily said "True Detective." They really both are the favorites.
BT: Oddsmakers and experts tend to agree with you. "Breaking Bad" seems like the consensus pick, and I'll have to agree, be it begrudgingly. My gut has been telling me to bet on "True Detective" since before the nominations were announced. It's the hottest of all three shows, packs the most star power (important when it comes to courting votes), and carries the weight of the great HBO behind it. The premium cable network wants trophies more than anything, and they wouldn't risk losing any if they thought they would lose. That being said, the TV Academy has heaped praise on "Breaking Bad" for years, raising its nominations as the series improved with every season. The Academy awarded it Outstanding Drama Series last year while handing out three trophies to Bryan Cranston, two to Aaron Paul, and one to Anna Gunn over the course of its series run. Can any of these three actors pull off another win?
PK: I think all three of them can... I'm not just not going to go out and say they all will. That being said, the Emmys are pretty notorious for giving trophies to actors for their swan song seasons, even if they are subpar (see "Frasier," "Sex and the City," "Will & Grace," etc), and "Breaking Bad's" finale was far from bad. But that trio also has mighty competition, so I'm actually only going with Anna Gunn to win. I think Cranston will lose to Matthew McConaughey and Paul to Josh Charles (though that latter prediction is very iffy). What say you?
BT: I agree with all but Charles over Paul (oddly enough, two first names serving as last names -- might as well say Josh over Aaron). I think there will be some love for "The Good Wife" shown in one of these acting categories, be it with Charles, Christine Baranski, or the show's lead Juliana Margulies, but I can't see the very likable Aaron Paul being denied (even though it would be his third trophy). He's young, and some of the older voters may count that against him, but even though both performances are swan songs, I expect the better of the two to rise to the top.
PK: You could very well be right. At least compared to some other awards shows (the Oscars, cough), there's quite a bit of suspense here. Not least of all the drama actress category, where I really don't know who to pick. Wright? Margulies? Washington? They could even give Claire Danes a three-peat, given their past behavior. But my hunch is Robin Wright. They'll probably want to throw something at "House of Cards" somewhere, and this seems like the best opportunity.
BT: I agree, though every day the Emmys get closer, my conviction in that choice lessens. For me, it's very hard to tell whether the TV Academy will look to honor "The Good Wife" because it was snubbed, or if they'll stand by their slow dismissal of the CBS drama and let it fade silently into the night. I'm still leaning toward the latter, with "The Good Wife" actors in my No. 2 slots, but by Monday I may just flip a coin. This is going to be an exciting night of television -- and a nerve-racking one for anyone in an office pool.
PK: Well, hopefully no one gets screwed over by either of our picks in said office pools.
The 66th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards air Monday night, August 22, at 8pm ET (5pm PT) on NBC.