SERIES“30 Rock” (NBC) “Curb Your Enthusiasm” (HBO) “Entourage” (HBO) “The Office” (NBC) “Two and a Half Men” (CBS) Dave Walker New Orleans Times-Picayune “The Office” is very fine TV comedy, with just enough sweetness (the Jim and Pam romance) to balance the bleak workaday hell created by Michael Scott and Dwight Schrute. And who doesn’t love, and recognize, cube-world weirdo Creed? But “30 Rock” probably needs big Emmy love to live on. The fun-house mirror elements of the show’s premise — a subversive TV series about a TV series regularly kneecapping the network it lives on — are so appealing and funny and bold that any other choice would be wrong. Tina Fey, for both creating the show and starring so hilariously in it, and Alec Baldwin, for so viscerally capturing the unashamedly craven network executive Jack Donaghy, are two of the very few saviors of primetime broadcast comedy. Terry Morrow Knoxville News Sentinel/Scripps Howard News Service I can’t say I am excited over the entire list of nominees. Where’s “Flight of the Conchords” and “Scrubs”? They are excellent examples of how the comedy genre still has life. Their direction is innovative. The writing is brilliant and left of field. Of the nominees, I am impressed with “30 Rock” and “The Office,” both being the benchmarks for network comedy. They work as keen social satires while presenting accessible comedy. That’s not an easy task. “The Office” has the edge because of its well-defined characters. It deserves the Emmy for maintaining that difficult wire act and consistently strong work. Tim Goodman San Francisco Chronicle Critics can’t do anything without complaining first, so I think there needs to be some acknowledgment that “Weeds” and “Flight of the Conchords” got snubbed outright — though I had little hope Emmy voters would even understand the latter. Good arguments could also be made for “How I Met Your Mother” and “Californication.” That said, despite a creative rebound on “Curb,” this is a two-show race, creatively. “The Office” remains a real gem that I love. But “30 Rock” is fall-on-the-ground funny. It’s unreal how creative that show is. Best comedy on television, period. Lisa de Moraes Washington Post Because we are so enjoying HBO’s new, humbled state, which precludes us from hoping either “Curb Your Enthusiasm” or “Entourage” takes this year’s trophy in this important Emmy category; and… Because NBC’s “The Office” already won the Emmy for best comedy series in ’06 and has since faded to a gray take on a brilliant British black comedy; and… Because NBC’s “30 Rock” is the most creatively daring of this year’s crop of nominees, but won this Emmy Award last year and is now gorging itself on the adulation of fawning TV critics; and… Because “Two and a Half Men” has never won an Emmy in one of the so-called glamour categories and gets no love from TV critics, though it did receive recognition this year from Parents Television Council for its tireless efforts at depicting or implying nonmarital sex in primetime (efforts which no doubt contributed to its becoming the country’s most popular comedy series)… We believe “Two and a Half Men” deserves to win this year, which goes to show you why we are so fortunate to be the Washington Post’s TV columnist rather than its TV critic. BEST ACTOR Alec Baldwin, “30 Rock” (NBC) Steve Carell, “The Office” (NBC) Lee Pace, “Pushing Daisies” (ABC) Tony Shalhoub, “Monk” (USA) Charlie Sheen, “Two and a Half Men” (CBS) Mark Dawidziak Cleveland Plain Dealer Obviously, scripted comedy hasn’t been king in the primetime realm for about a decade. And, except for such hour innovations as “Desperate Housewives” and “Ugly Betty,” the form has been slipping on banana peels, puffing on exploding cigars and having Acme safes dropped on it with frightening regularity. Considering all that, it’s somewhat remarkable that the Emmy field for comedy actor is as strong as it is. I could make an argument for any one of these names popping out of the envelope. Purely on sentiment, I’d pull for the newcomer, Lee Pace, just because this would bring some high-profile attention to a sophomore show. Joanne Ostrow Denver Post This is the second year I’ve been championing Alec Baldwin. I wanted him to win last year, and he’s the one again. He’s absolutely brilliant in that role, and that character is what makes that show for me. Without Baldwin, “30 Rock” just wouldn’t have the same depth. Even when handed a mediocre scene, he makes the most of it. Tony Shalhoub, with three wins for “Monk,” has had enough attention already, and while Steve Carell’s funny, even as a fan of “The Office” I wouldn’t give him an acting award. I’m grateful that Lee Pace was nominated, because it brings attention to a deserving show. Pace deserves a shot, but not this year. I say give it to Baldwin. Scott Pierce Deseret News I wouldn’t argue that any of these don’t deserve a nomination, though there are certainly others who were equally deserving. Tony Shalhoub’s already won three Emmys. Both Steve Carell and Charlie Sheen have been nominated three years in a row. Sheen doesn’t get the respect he deserves. But then neither does “Two and a Half Men.” Pace made a great impression in “Pushing Daisies,” but only nine episodes of the show have aired, so it’s maybe a bit early for him. I’d go with Baldwin, who’s nothing short of hilarious on “30 Rock.” He takes good scripts and makes them great. It’s impossible to imagine the show without him or anyone else playing Jack Donaghy. And, hey, he’s been nominated for an Emmy seven times. It’s time Baldwin won one. Roger Catlin Hartford Courant I would have liked to have seen Ricky Gervais and Larry David in this category, which is notable largely for their absence. I guess they have to put Charlie Sheen, the guy in the top-rated comedy, in the mix. But there is nothing special about what he does. Sheen just does the gag, the most obvious of any comedy performance. Tony Shalhoub is a good lead actor, but this is the year for someone else. It’s a sweet role that Lee Pace has, but I wouldn’t categorize it as a comic role in the way of Steve Carell’s role. What Carell is doing is very subtle, although not laugh out loud. Still, he’s the best in the field. LEAD ACTRESS Christina Applegate, “Samantha Who?” (ABC) America Ferrera, “Ugly Betty” (ABC) Tina Fey, “30 Rock” (NBC) Julia Louis-Dreyfus, “The New Adventures of Old Christine” (CBS) Mary-Louise Parker, “Weeds” (Showtime) Joanne Weintraub Milwaukee Journal Sentinel I love all five of these people in all five of these roles — and I don’t remember the last time I said that about an Emmy field. I don’t think I’d carp about any one of them winning it. That said, Tina Fey is both my favorite and my best guess. Her comedy chops are fierce, and her acting gets smoother and better with each season. I know it’s an acting award, not a writing award, but both the character and the show she’s created are so damn funny that I think she’ll win. She certainly ought to, which is a slightly different matter. Rob Owen Pittsburgh Post-Gazette The actresses in this category delivered a diverse, laudable collection of performances, although it’s interesting to note how only one, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, headlines a traditional multicamera comedy. I don’t think any of these performers would be undeserving of an Emmy. Christina Applegate probably gets to show the most range, just because of the nature of her role as “good” Samantha in the present and “bad” Samantha in flashbacks. That may be catnip for Emmy voters. But I’m inclined to vote for Mary-Louise Parker. I couldn’t stand the character she played on “The West Wing,” so I’m fascinated by the utterly and completely different performance she gives on “Weeds.” She continues to reveal new layers of Nancy Botwin’s personality as the character faces ever more outlandish situations. Molly Willow Columbus Dispatch Tina Fey should win, and not just for shining next to a sublime Alec Baldwin, who casts a large humor shadow. Four of the nominees — including Fey, who won this year’s Golden Globe — have already won one award or both for their roles. Christina Applegate will probably do the same for her evolution from Kelly Bundy (nice to see her in a role where a dye job isn’t half the character). But Fey, thanks to a head writer (herself) who knows how to script for her ever-increasing strengths, has more to play with, from physical comedy to smarty-pants satire, than her competition. Mekeisha Madden Toby Detroit News This year’s list of nominees is almost identical to last year’s save the addition of Christina Applegate. I like Tina Fey. She’s funny and smart and is arguably 2008′s It Girl, thanks to a Screen Actors Guild Award win earlier in the year and “Baby Mama.” Critics reactions in all categories were compiled by Television Critics Assn. secretary Susan Young.