With more than 100 Emmy races, it’s difficult to know which contests will be the most exciting and which ones can be skipped for a bathroom break during the awards telecast. But from the way things are shaping up, here's a cheat sheet to what promise to be the five most interesting races:
Lead actor, comedy: It’s a good thing Steve Carell has a sense of humor. Even though “The Office” proved to be an Emmy darling at the start (best comedy series, 2006), Carell has lost the lead actor race five times, including once to the chap who created the original British series: Ricky Gervais (“Extras”). Now can Carell finally get the last laugh upon leaving the Yankee version? Sarah Jessica Parker was overdue for an Emmy when she ultimately prevailed for her last season on “Sex and the City.”
Drama series: Can “Mad Men” go four in a row for top drama series? Only three programs have won that trophy as many times: “Hill Street Blues” (1981-1984), “L.A. Law” (1987, 1989, 1990, 1991) and “The West Wing” (2000-2003). Its toughest rival may be “Boardwalk Empire,” which won the drama award at the Golden Globes and best ensemble at the SAG Awards. Both shows are old news, though, airing in late 2010. The usurper could be “The Good Wife.” It’s currently airing, Emmy voters love legal dramas and it’s on CBS. Most members of the academy work for broadcast networks — but a show airing on one of the Big Four hasn’t triumphed here since 2006, when “24” took it.