What to watch for at the Emmys

By: Matt McGovern Email
By: Matt McGovern Email

(CNN) - "Breaking Bad," it's time for your curtain call.

The addictive AMC series, which concluded last September, is expected to be one of the major frontrunners when the nominations are announced Thursday for the 66th Primetime Emmy Awards.

Its final half-season, which earned both big ratings and critical plaudits, is just about guaranteed to earn the show another nomination for best drama, and that's only the start. Star Bryan Cranston, who already has four Emmy wins for the show, should easily nab another nod. Co-star Aaron Paul should get one as well.

Altogether, the drama that turned "Mr. Chips into Scarface," in the description of creator Vince Gilligan, should make out quite well.

"Remember my name," indeed.

But it may face some stiff competition, especially since both the drama and comedy series categories have been expanded up to seven nominees this year. Here are some other Emmy storylines to pay attention to:

1. "True Detective" is on the case. The praise for the "Breaking Bad" finale had barely started to die down when HBO's "True Detective" zipped into the zeitgeist. The first season, which starred Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson as two Louisiana homicide detectives - one of them given to existential flights of fancy about life, the universe and nothingness - may have actually helped win McConaughey an Oscar. Emmy voters have no doubt paid attention.

2. The return of Netflix. If last year's eight nominations for "House of Cards" weren't enough, this year will likely bring more honors for the Washington-set drama and its Machiavellian characters. Moreover, the first season of "Orange Is the New Black" - which narrowly missed qualifying for last year's Emmys - is probably going to be in the thick of the comedy races, along with "Louie," "Veep," "The Big Bang Theory" and "Modern Family." ("Orange's" second season, which was released on June 6, will qualify for next year's awards.)

3. Room for the offbeat. HBO's "Silicon Valley" might not be able to find a slot among the comedy series nominees, since there are more than enough viable candidates. But the late actor Christopher Evan Welch, who played the eccentric investor Peter Gregory in the show, might earn a nomination for his standout supporting work (if that's not an oxymoron).

Similarly, Fox's "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" had an up-and-down season, with its surprise Golden Globe win contrasting with mediocre ratings and uneven scripts. That may not be enough to get it a best comedy series nomination. But the show does benefit from some great supporting characters, including Andre Braugher as Capt. Ray Holt and Chelsea Peretti as Gina Linetti, aka "the Paris of people."

4. Remember "Orphan Black"! Last year the Outrage Machine (commonly known as "the Internet") was inflamed by the lack of attention paid to "Orphan Black," the thrilling BBC America series that stars Tatiana Maslany as several mysterious clones. Emmy probably won't have to be prompted twice; the most recent season of "Orphan" got plenty of exposure and Maslany's face has been everywhere.

5. The big HBO movie. Every year HBO - which, it should be noted, is a unit of Time Warner, as is CNN - earns a bunch of nominations for one or more of its made-for-HBO movies and miniseries. Last year it was "Behind the Candelabra." Previous years have showered nominations on "Game Change," "Angels in America," "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee," "Grey Gardens" and "John Adams." This year, look to "The Normal Heart," the film version of Larry Kramer's wrenching play about AIDS, to be among the leaders for total nominations, with stars Mark Ruffalo and Julia Roberts leading the way. With the movie category being separated from miniseries for the first time this year, look for shows like "American Horror Story" and "Fargo" to be recognized - and have a shot of winning now.

6. Leading women. Even with more nominees being named this year, the race for lead actress in a drama looks to be the most competitive. This is a good thing because there are standout performances from every corner of television. Emmy favorites like Claire Danes ("Homeland"), Kerry Washington ("Scandal"), Robin Wright ("House of Cards"), Julianna Margulies ("The Good Wife") and Elisabeth Moss ("Mad Men") could be upset by newcomers including the aforementioned Maslany, Lizzy Caplan ("Masters of Sex"), Michelle Dockery ("Downton Abbey") or Keri Russell ("The Americans").


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