Exec producers: Mark Gordon, Katherine Fugate, Jeff Melvoin, Deborah Spera
Cast: Kim Delaney, Sally Pressman, Brigid Brannagh, Catherine Bell
Why it could land a nom: “Wives'” boffo ratings turned Lifetime’s fortunes around this summer, delivering a much-needed hit to the femme-skewing cabler. Intelligent storylines that cover topical political and military terrains could help as well.
Maybe not: The unpopularity of the war in Iraq is a negative here, and since CBS’ “The Unit” covers some of the same material and has rarely been acknowledged for awards, tough to think this one might.
Exec producers: Matt Nix, Mikkel Bondesen
Cast: Jeffrey Donovan, Gabrielle Anwar, Bruce Campbell, Sharon Gless
Why it could land a nom: Donovan brings considerable charisma to this series about a spy who can’t come in from the cold. The show was also a pleasant ratings surprise for cable net USA over the summer, mixing action with a wry, understated sense of humor thanks to Donovan and co-stars Campbell, Anwar and Gless.
Maybe not: Crime dramas of any stripe haven’t traditionally been big winners on the awards circuit, and Donovan’s easygoing character, along with the show’s breezy tone, seems like a long shot to break through given the influx of critically lauded dramas launched this summer.
Exec producers: Tom Kapinos, Scott Winant, David Duchovny
Cast: David Duchovny, Natascha McElhone, Evan Handler, Madeline Zima, Madeleine Martin
Why it could land a nom: Duchovny has long been an HFPA fave with a win and three other nominations for “The X-Files.” His character’s midlife crisis could undoubtedly hit home with some voters, and the show’s very adult content may give it a leg up versus broadcast’s more vanilla competition.
Maybe not: The pilot was launched amid mixed reviews, and you have to be a fan of Duchovny to really get the show’s underlying comedic tone. With Showtime having success with “Dexter” and, to a lesser extent, “The Tudors,” this one might need awhile if it’s to gather any kudos for the network.
Exec producers: Todd A. Kessler, Daniel Zelman, Glenn Kessler
Cast: Glenn Close, Ted Danson, Rose Byrne, Tate Donovan, Zeljko Ivanek
Why it could land a nom: A winning combination of smart writing and thespian star power in the form of Close and Danson made “Damages” a treat for discriminating viewers. Seasonlong story arc about Byrne’s arrest for murder came together nicely at the end and sets up an interesting season two as she returns to the firm.
Maybe not: The constant time-shifting was a bit excessive, and some of the storyline threads — a stalker yearning after Byrne’s fiance, Close’s son trying to get his life straightened out — felt more like filler than anything substantial. Also would’ve been nice to have more scenes between Close and Danson.
Flight of the Conchords
Executive producers: Stu Smiley, James Bobin, Troy Miller
Cast: Jemaine Clement, Bret McKenzie, Rhys Darby, Kristen Schaal, Arj Barker
Why it could land a nom: Fresh, original and made for YouTube junkies who can turn a catchy video into a worldwide phenomenon, “Conchords” musical high jincks stood out in a mostly dull comedy summer.
Maybe not: Not the most accessible show for people who don’t get the jokes. Definitely one of those which either they love or they don’t understand. That could work against it.
John From Cincinnati
Exec producers: David Milch, Gregg Fienberg, Mark Tinker, Zvi Howard Rosenman
Cast: Rebecca De Mornay, Bruce Greenwood, Austin Nichols, Ed O’Neill, Luke Perry, Brian Van Holt, Greyson Fletcher, Keala Kennelly
Why it could land a nom: While “John” certainly had its share of critics, creator David Milch has produced such stellar work in the past — most recently the sensational but cut-too-short “Deadwood” — that his previous good will and genius in constructing remarkable television could make a difference here.
Maybe not: As much as one would’ve wanted to take in and appreciate Milch’s take on surf-noir, he seemed too lost in his own unique vision and left audiences wondering what, exactly, they were watching. What he did for the Western he was unable to accomplish with “John.”
Exec producer: Matthew Weiner
Cast: Jon Hamm, Elisabeth Moss, January Jones, Vincent Kartheiser, Christina Hendricks
Why it could land a nom: An ex-“Sopranos” scribe, Weiner presented a fresh take on the early 1960s Gotham advertising game that was brilliant in its authenticity — from office sexism to how psychotherapy was regarded in that era to presidential politics. While all the thesps were topnotch, Hamm, especially, was a revelation. He had so many secrets bubbling inside and felt so guarded at times, it’s impressive he was able to speak at all.
Maybe not: With so many critical plaudits, it’s hard to knock the series. Certainly, Weiner was fond of the skein’s slow and deliberate pace in parsing out crucial story nuggets, but there are some who could’ve felt a faster pace wouldn’t have hurt at all.
Exec producers: Dmitry Lipkin, Dawn Prestwich, Nicole Yorkin, Peter O’Fallon, Eddie Izzard, Guy Oseary, Mark Morgan, Michael Rosenberg
Cast: Eddie Izzard, Minnie Driver, Noel Fisher, Shannon Marie Woodward, Todd Stashwick
Why it could land a nom: Izzard and Driver are terrific as a couple who left their Bayou roots and completely reinvented themselves as a family. It feels like a 180-degree turn for both, with Izzard a hugely popular standup who never really had a chance to let his acting legs stretch like this and Driver known mostly for film work, which includes an Oscar nom (“Good Will Hunting”).
Maybe not: One has to buy into the premise that the Malloy family could make this transition as smoothly as it did to fully appreciate the gist of the show. If not, the entire plot feels like it’s built on a house of cards.
Exec producers: Nancy Miller, Gary Randall, Artie Mandelberg
Cast: Holly Hunter, Leon Rippy, Kenneth Johnson, Bailey Chase, Bokeem Woodbine, Laura San Giacomo
Why it could land a nom: Hunter has often played a firebrand, and she does it very well here. An odd but compelling mix of police work, religious overtones and even a whiff of decadence, “Grace” feels like one of those shows that has found its niche and is completely comfortable in a world where it does what it wants to do without expectation.
Maybe not: Like TNT’s “The Closer,” in which Kyra Sedgwick gets all the attention, Hunter might likely be what attracts voters, rather than the show itself. The procedural nature of the storytelling doesn’t do the series any favors; instead, it’s Hunter’s eccentricities that separate this one from the pack.
Tell Me You Love Me
Exec producers: Cynthia Mort, Gavin Polone
Cast: Tim DeKay, Ally Walker, Sonya Walger, Michelle Borth, Adam Scott
Why it could land a nom: An inside and very explicit look at three young couples going through a life crisis — one pair who aren’t having sex anymore, another having too much sex and a third who are only having sex to procreate. The acting was so stellar, it gave viewers the feeling they were Peeping Toms, prying into the bedrooms of these characters. For voters with a more liberal viewpoint of sexuality on TV, this could resonate big time.
Maybe not: That realism could also work against the show, especially for those who don’t want to spend week after week mired in the problems of others. The whining was, at times, too much to bear. There weren’t very many uplifting moments to be had here, and that could hurt.
Exec producers: Morgan O’Sullivan, Michael Hirst
Cast: Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Sam Neill, Jeremy Northam, Steven Waddington
Why it could land a nom: English historical dramas have a way of hitting home come awards time, and “The Tudors” might benefit. Rhys Meyers just won a Globe two years ago for his turn as Elvis, and voters might appreciate the range — going from the King to King Henry VIII.
Maybe not: Maybe in a weaker year, but fierce competition may be too much to overcome. Also, its April premiere feels so very long ago at this point, and that could give it a hard time against more recent dramatic entries.
Tyler Perry’s House of Payne
Exec producers: Tyler Perry, Reuben Cannon
Cast: LaVan Davis, Cassi Davis, Lance Gross, Allen Payne, Demetria McKinney
Why it could land a nom: Rarely has the TV business seen someone who can bring in viewers like Perry, who started this series from scratch from his Atlanta production facility. He directs every episode and has tapped into a zeitgeist that would make any network or studio president salivate. Its allegiance of fans — it’s the No. 1-ranked ad-supported cable sitcom in the 18-49 demo — is astounding.
Maybe not: While the numbers are impressive, the show’s not breaking any new ground creatively and could have a difficult time garnering traction where unique visions are often the key.