Dean Norris

Dean Norris stars in AMC's "Breaking Bad." (Ursula Coyote / AMC / July 30, 2012)

"True Detective" and "Breaking Bad" produced only eight episodes apiece but, for their ensembles, it's the quality not the quantity that counts. The shows should dominate the Emmys' drama series acting nominations. Here's an early look at the front-runners in the four categories.


Matthew McConaughey, "True Detective"

Bryan Cranston, "Breaking Bad"

Woody Harrelson, "True Detective"

Kevin Spacey, "House of Cards"

Jon Hamm, "Mad Men"

James Spader, "The Blacklist"

Prime contenders: Michael Sheen, "Masters of Sex"; Jeff Daniels, "The Newsroom"; Damian Lewis, "Homeland"; Matthew Rhys, "The Americans"

Bubbling under: Hugh Bonneville, "Downton Abbey"; Hugh Dancy, "Hannibal"; Steve Buscemi, "Boardwalk Empire"

For your consideration: We know everyone has jumped off the "Homeland" bandwagon, but it'd be a shame if voters didn't send Lewis, playing the late, great Nicholas Brody, out in style. Yes, the Venezuela drug house scenes didn't move the needle, but that changed when the action moved to Iran. The man will always have a star on our Emmy memorial wall.

Analysis: Room must be made for the "True Detective" partners, which will probably be bad news for a trio of 2013 nominees — Daniels, Lewis and Bonneville. And while "The Blacklist" doesn't deserve a place among TV's great dramas, it does afford Spader, a three-time Emmy winner, the chance to devour acres of scenery. The question: With Spacey a sure bet to return, is there room enough for a couple of great hams from patently ridiculous shows?


Julianna Margulies, "The Good Wife"

Robin Wright, "House of Cards"

Claire Danes, "Homeland"

Kerry Washington, "Scandal"

Lizzy Caplan, "Masters of Sex"

Elisabeth Moss, "Mad Men"

Prime contenders: Keri Russell, "The Americans"; Vera Farmiga, "Bates Motel"; Michelle Dockery, "Downton Abbey"; Tatiana Maslany, "Orphan Black"