Emmy predictions: Can any drama beat ‘Mad Men’?

I will say this upfront: I don’t care about the Emmys and I am terrible at predicting them.

The Emmys are voted on by people who work in television, and if there’s one thing you learn quickly in covering this business, it’s that the people who work in television don’t actually watch a lot of television. which doesn’t really make them the best arbiters of the best shows/performances/etc. of the year.(*) When the right show or person wins, I chalk it up to luck as much as anything half the time.

(*) On the other hand, I’m in no position to throw stones, since a chunk of this year’s Television Critics Association Awards went in a direction I wouldn’t have.

And speaking of luck, in all the years I played Emmy prognosticator at The Star-Ledger, I considered myself fortunate if I got half the picks right. (I’m still, for instance, waiting for Martin Sheen to get that Emmy I kept saying he would get for playing Jed Bartlet.)

Still, even if I find the Emmys silly, the TV business doesn’t, so it’s time once again to offer my picks on who I think will win the major categories in drama (today) and comedy (tomorrow), and who among the nominees I think should win.

One thing to keep in mind, as always: while fans of these shows may have watched most or all of the season’s episodes, the Emmys themselves are based on a single submitted episode in the acting categories, and on a handful in the series categories. So an actor who was unremarkable for much of the season but great in one well-written showcase can have the advantage of a more consistent actor whose performance only seems great if you’ve seen it week after week. (You can see a list of all the actor submissions here.)

Again, this is what happens when the voters don’t spend much time watching TV before awards season begins.

After the jump, my drama picks…

Outstanding Drama Series: “Breaking Bad” (AMC), “Dexter” (SHO), “The Good Wife” (CBS), “Lost” (ABC), “Mad Men” (AMC), “True Blood” (HBO)

Should win: This comes down to the two AMC dramas, and while the previous season of “Mad Men” (the one that’s eligible for the Emmys this year) had some outstanding episodes (the runaway lawnmower, the season finale), it also dragged in spots. “Breaking Bad,” having already made a big creative leap forward with its second season, put itself into the conversation for the all-time great TV dramas with its third, which not only increased the visual ambition of one of the best-looking series ever, but expanded the scope of its storytelling as Walt and Jesse became fish in a much bigger, more dangerous pond.

Will win: Though some upcoming HBO series (the Martin Scorsese-directed “Boardwalk Empire,” Dustin Hoffman in “Luck”) may have enough movie-style shine to steal its Emmy thunder next year, right now it’s hard to imagine any show beating “Mad Men.” It remains the perfect Emmy storm, as its setting appeals to older voters while its depth and style draws in younger voters who weren’t working (or even alive) in Don Draper’s era.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series: Kyle Chandler, “Friday Night Lights” (NBC), Bryan Cranston, “Breaking Bad” (AMC), Matthew Fox, “Lost” (ABC), Michael C. Hall, “Dexter” (SHO), Jon Hamm, “Mad Men” (AMC), Hugh Laurie, “House” (FOX)

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