Will hat trick for 'Rock' undo chance of Emmy?
A hat trick for ’30 Rock’ in this category may test perennial fears over whether multiple noms ultimately undo a program’s chance of winning the Emmy.Julian Farino
Episode: “Tree Trippers”
Highlight: After getting lost in the desert because of bad ‘shrooms, Ari begins to lose it on the phone with Lloyd as he screams into the night for Vince and the guys.
Why he might win: Though several past episodes have featured pot as a central storyline, this drug-induced episode took it one step further, adding a psychedelic visual style while stepping out of its comfort zone — giving voters something fresh to consider.
Maybe not: Episode might have taken too big a step in that direction, and some voters might be put off. Beth McCarthy
Series: “30 Rock”
Highlight: After finding out how much of a bully she was in high school, Liz tries to make amends by imitating one of her former classmates’ dance moves, only to come to the realization the classmate has a handicap — causing the other classmates to attack her for her mockery.
Why she might win: “Rock” has always been a chaotic show, but McCarthy does a splendid job of capturing the disorder that ensues at Liz’s high school reunion, as well as the insanity that unfolded at the show’s headquarters.
Maybe not: The episode doesn’t really jump out of its comfort zone like some of the other nominees, and some voters may see it as a weaker selection compared to the other two “Rock” selections. Jeff Blitz
Series: “The Office”
Episode: “Stress Relief”
Highlight: In an attempt to simulate what employees should do during a fire, Dwight sets one in the office. When the plan backfires, the office becomes a scene of chaos, leading to Stanley having a heart attack.
Why he might win: The frenzied opening scene could have gotten Blitz the nomination by itself, but scenes like the CPR training class and the roast of Michael show Blitz’s ability to keep viewers and voters interested after such an action-heavy opening.
Maybe not: Even with the heavy action, the extended episode could be said to lag at times. James Bobin
Series: “Flight of the Conchords”
Episode: “The Tough Brets”
Highlight: The boys’ explain in a musicvideo how rappers get “hurt feelings” like everyone else.
Why he might win: Voters may want to reward the one show that is relatively new to the category (even though this is its second nom), plus being able to supply several musicvids that are not only funny but don’t run the story off course is impressive.
Maybe not: Was it all too quirky to digest? Todd Holland
Series: “30 Rock”
Highlight: After fabricating various lies to get a date with her new neighbor (Jon Hamm of “Mad Men”), the date goes from bad to worse for Liz after she accidentally drugs him.
Why he might win: The Jack-Generalissimo confrontation where both characters are played by Alec Baldwin is perfectly pulled off.
Maybe not: With no Tina Fey anywhere in this category, voters may see it as an opportunity to award another comedy other than “30 Rock.” Millicent Shelton
Series: “30 Rock”
Episode: “Apollo, Apollo”
Highlight: After Jenna spills the beans about Liz’s phone sex line infomercial, everyone comes across it online. Jack is so overtaken in laughter by the incident that he vomits all over Kenneth.
Why she might win: Shelton’s ability to tie in small dramatic moments, like Jack’s realization of what his life might be missing, without losing any comedic flair could move her to the top of the voter’s ballots.
Maybe not: A split vote with its “Rock” counterparts could hurt.
Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more