A FEW EMMY CATEGORIES, such as animated program an hour or longer, are juried, meaning a panel of judges can hand out multiple awards or none at all based strictly on perceived merit.

This might have been the year to bring that concept to the outstanding comedy series balloting.

ABC’s “Desperate Housewives,” an hourlong program that featured plenty of laughs but also a murder and series-setting suicide, saved the TV academy’s bacon. It helped, somewhat awkwardly, flesh out a comedy field whose creative shortcomings have largely paralleled its commercial woes.

As it is, the remaining entries include a first-time show that probably should have been nominated three years ago (“Scrubs”); a multiple nominee and past winner that also should have been nominated three years ago (“Will & Grace”); a series that’s already finished its historic run (“Everybody Loves Raymond”); and a show that wouldn’t be back next season except nobody at Fox wanted to be the one to cancel it (“Arrested Development”).

Left on the sidelines, meanwhile, was the HBO series “Entourage,” which is interesting but not particularly funny; and CBS’ “Two and a Half Men,” which is plenty funny but, beyond its supporting actresses, apparently not particularly interesting, at least in the eyes of voters.

Yep, it’s been that kind of year for comedy.

DRAMAS, BY CONTRAST, reflect an embarrassment of riches, so much so that seven of the 10 lead actor nominees come from programs that didn’t earn outstanding-series recognition. With that kind of breadth, it’s easy to lament oversights, such as FX’s deserving “Nip/Tuck,” but hard not to applaud the segment of academy members who saw past the blue language to find the poetry in HBO’s “Deadwood.”

Spreading the wealth, no drama garnered more than a dozen nominations, and in addition to ABC’s surprise sensation “Lost” the sweep graced a little-seen new program like Showtime’s “Huff” with multiple acting bids.

Simultaneously the promiscuous franchising of crime shows appears to have rightfully left the aftertaste that they might be a commercial juggernaut, but don’t survive an intense sifting process. The “CSIs” and “Law & Orders” (or would that be “Laws & Order?”) are left with high ratings to keep them comfy, but without the pressing need for a tux on Emmy night.

FOR MANY, of course, sifting through the 434 nominees (roughly equal to the number of members in the House of Representatives) provides less blood sport than obsessing over who didn’t get picked. Standouts here include “Housewives” co-star Eva Longoria (in this case, score one for Maxim over the academy), HBO’s “The Wire,” the principals in “Nip/Tuck,” “The Shield’s” Michael Chiklis and “The West Wing’s” Jimmy Smits.

Still, the best advice is simply enjoy a good laugh over the vagaries of the awards derby, take the Emmys for what they are and hope that by having some fresh, top-rated programs in contention viewers will be lured back to the ceremony.

Because whoever wins, it’s pretty obvious TV can use the laughs.

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