Road to the Emmys 2012: Drama

“Boardwalk Empire”
Two boats meet in the misty night off the coast of Atlantic City for a liquor transfer, but later, on the road to the bottles’ destination, the bootleggers are held up.

“Breaking Bad”
A man clad only in his briefs and a gas mask crashes a motor home into a ditch in the New Mexico desert. As the din of police sirens grows louder, the man draws a gun from his waistband and aims it.

“Dexter”
Dexter lunges from the backseat, wrapping a razor-thin cord around the neck of his carefully chosen target. “You’re mine now, so do exactly as I say. Now drive,” he says.

“Downton Abbey”
As the servants begin the day’s duties, word comes via telegram that Lord Grantham’s heir has perished on the Titanic, setting off a succession crisis that will change the lives of everyone who calls Downton Abbey home.

“Game of Thrones”
“Winter is coming. . .and dark things will come with it.” The opening ambush, showing the creepy White Walkers slicing and dicing a scout party, would seem to make this an understatement.

“The Good Wife”
Alicia publicly stands by her man as he weathers a Clinton-esque sex scandal but privately, she begins standing on her own two feet.

“Justified”
Seemingly out of his element in Miami, Stetson-wearing Raylan Givens holds in his grip the fate of a man who has been given 24 hours to leave town — and only has two minutes remaining.

“The Killing”
On an overcast morning (surprise), Det. Sarah Linden approaches an ambiguous shape sprawled on the coastline. Dead body? Nope. Dead seal. The body will come later.

“Mad Men”
Don Draper sits alone in a noisy bar. A chat with his waiter uncovers a slogan he can use on his clients: “I love smoking.”

“Shameless”
Frank narrates a character rundown of his resourceful, unorthodox and occasionally lawbreaking children over images of a bonfire party that gets broken up by the police.

“Sons of Anarchy”
As Sons scion Jax takes a lone ride, rival club the Mayans rob, then torch, a gun-stash house, unwittingly killing two women who were hiding there.

“Southland”
A helicopter hovers, reporters jostle and amid a jumble of cops and bystanders, ashen-faced rookie police officer Ben Sherman stands over a corpse. It’s his first day on the job.

“Treme”
Three months after Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans is a shambles and musicians like Antoine Batiste are strapped for cash — but seemingly leading the rebirth of life in the stricken city.

“True Blood”
A tense scene in a convenience store between a pleasure-seeking couple, a grim-looking clerk, and a stout redneck reveals that all is not what it seems in Bon Temps, La.

“The Walking Dead”
Rick looks under a car to see bunny slippers walk by and a child pick up a teddy bear. “Little girl, I’m a policeman…” Zombie girl comes after Rick. He shoots her in the forehead.

“Awake”
Following a deadly car crash, Det. Michael Britten explains to his therapists how he closes his eyes in one reality and awakes in the other. One therapist assures him that her reality is the real one. Britton replies, “That’s exactly what the other shrink said.”

“Boss”
Powerful Chicago mayor Tom Kane learns from his doctor that he has a degenerative disease and no more than five years to live.

“Falling Skies”
Images of the alien invasion, as seen by young children, bleed into the dark post-invasion reality.

“Grimm”
A college co-ed in a red hoodie runs by herself to the track of “Sweet Dreams” by the Eurythmics. Sounds harmless enough, but her unfortunate end introduces us to this new world that includes big bad wolves who can’t resist little red riding hoods.

“Homeland”
CIA case officer Carrie Mathison drives through Baghdad to get key intel from a prisoner on a known terrorist threat. Just as he whispers info to her, guards drag her away roughly.

“Luck”
Dustin Hoffman’s criminally good Ace Bernstein is released from prison and promptly sets into motion his plan for revenge against those for whom he took the fall.

“Magic City”
A ghostly image of bodies underwater, before cutting to Ike (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) jolting himself awake, clearly haunted by how he’s gotten to where he is.

“Once Upon a Time”
A charming prince on a white horse gallops through a majestic landscape, only to find that Snow White has already succumbed to the poisonous apple. He promptly fixes it with a kiss, proving that “Happily Ever After” is just the beginning.

“Person of Interest”
When thugs taunt an apparently homeless drunk on a New York subway train, he systematically takes down. A security camera zooms in on him — then pulls back to reveal thousands of New Yorkers being tracked.

“Revenge”
Following a quote from Confucius, cut to a full moon, a gunshot and a dead body on the beach.

“Smash”
Tom’s assistant suggests Marilyn Monroe’s life would make a great musical. Tom and Julia explain others have tried and failed, then discuss why Marilyn’s so iconic. “She married Joe DiMaggio,” Julia tells Tom. “You could do a baseball number!”

“Suits”
In a New York City high-rise, a conference room full of suits has erupted in dispute. “Get Harvey,” a clearly powerful female barks to her underling. “Closer” Harvey Specter arrives, straight from a poker game, and effortlessly bluffs his way to legal victory.

“Touch”
A series of images portraying people and patterns flash while the voiceover of an 11-year-old explains the world’s interconnectivity and his own job: to bring together those among the 7 billion Earthlings who need to find each other.

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