Emmy supporting actress: Dark horses

Other thesps who may nab a nomination

DRAMA

S. Epatha Merkerson, “Law & Order”: With a staggering 324 episodes under her belt, Merkerson could probably play the good lieutenant in her sleep — but that’s meant as a compliment of the highest order. She manages to keep her character fresh, 14 years into the job.

Felicia Pearson, “The Wire”: There may have been no more eye-opening and authentic performance than by Pearson, who was down and out in Baltimore when she got cast in this superb series as Snoop, a member of Marlo’s drug-slinging gangstas.

Mary Lynn Rajskub, “24”: Her devotion to Jack is only part of her charm, and she’ll do anything — legally or not — to make sure both he and CTU are able to battle the bad guys.

Sara Ramirez, “Grey’s Anatomy”: The “Grey’s” numbers game could leave this worthy ex-“Spamalot” talent on the sidelines.

Katee Sackhoff, “Battlestar Galactica”: Sackhoff has been through the gamut, from thinking she had a hybrid Cylon baby to wondering about strange symbols from her past that hint at a larger destiny to “dying” heroically, only to return in the cryptic season finale.

Maura Tierney, “ER”: Wedding bells rang for Abby, who was set against a big affair, but, when push came to shove, she fell for groom Luka’s sentimentality. Despite her gruff exterior, it’s hard not to root for the character — or the actress.

COMEDY

Ashley Jensen, “Extras”: Perhaps more familiar to a wider audience as Christina on “Ugly Betty,” Jensen proved a worthy sidekick to Ricky Gervais on “Extras” — even stealing scenes from the show’s star. She’s in a tough spot only because “Extras” is relatively underexposed — six episodes per year on HBO.

Angela Kinsey, “The Office”: If voters go the multiple-noms route for “The Office,” Kinsey’s utter commitment to her wound-tightly role should be recognized.

Nicolette Sheridan, “Desperate Housewives”: With new storylines involving her character’s son and nephew, Sheridan responded well to increased screen time, showcasing her acting and comedic chops.

Cobie Smulders, “How I Met Your Mother”: Popularity of her Robin Sparkles alter-ego elevated Smulders’ chances immeasurably.

Sarah Silverman, “The Sarah Silverman Program”: Recognition that Silverman might be the truest comic genius in the running for this category could propel her.

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