New Shows That Will Rock the Emmys

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If television were like high school, then Mad Men and 30 Rock were definitely the King and Queen at last year's Prom. The NBC and AMC mega-hits cleaned up at the 2008 Emmys, and deservedly so. But 2009 marked the entrance of quite a few talented underclassmen, and we'd like to see them get some recognition.

Here's our freshman roster -- and the categories that could take the shows to the top of the class.

COMEDY

BETTER OFF TED
Could win 4 ...
-- Outstanding Comedy Series
-- Lead Actor in a Comedy Series (Jay Harrington)
-- Lead Actress in a Comedy Series (Portia de Rossi)
-- Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series (Andrea Anders)

Better Off Ted has the wit, the heart -- and the boss -- to remove The Office and 30 Rock from their thrones. Here's hoping that the third time's a charm for frontrunner Portia de Rossi, whose first and second major TV roles went unnoticed at past Emmy Awards ceremonies.

PARKS AND RECREATION
Could win 3 ...
-- Outstanding Comedy Series
-- Lead Actress in a Comedy Series (Amy Poehler)
-- Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series (Aziz Ansari)

Both Amy Poehler (Saturday Night Live) and Aziz Ansari (Flight of the Conchords) are almost too good for this Office wannabe. Parks and Recreation has no chance against 30 Rock or Better Off Ted, but Poehler and Ansari could dominate in their individual categories.

PARTY DOWN
Could win 3 ...
-- Lead Actress in a Comedy Series (Lizzy Caplan)
-- Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series (Martin Starr)
-- Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series (Jane Lynch)

Party Down didn't last long, but for a fleeting moment, it really was the brightest of the STARZ shows. The ensemble cast delivers hilarious, nuanced characters without stereotyping the struggling actors they portray. Caplan, Starr and Lynch are all in the running.

UNITED STATES OF TARA
Could win 2 ...
-- Outstanding Comedy Series
-- Lead Actress in a Comedy Series (Toni Collette)

It's a challenge to play one character, yet Toni Collette (Little Miss Sunshine) pulls off four in United States of Tara: a housewife, a Vietnam vet, a wild teenager and herself, whoever that is. She'll be up against Better Off Ted's Portia de Rossi and 30 Rock's Tina Fey for Lead Actress.

DRAMA

TRUE BLOOD
Could win 5 ...
-- Outstanding Drama Series
-- Lead Actor in a Drama Series (Stephen Moyer)
-- Lead Actress in a Drama Series (Anna Paquin)
-- Supporting Actor in a Drama Series (Nelsan Ellis)
-- Supporting Actress in a Drama Series (Rutina Wesley)

High ratings? An Oscar-winning star? A hugely popular theme? True Blood will be a tough series to beat, and Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyer will be a tough pair to compete with.

SOUTHLAND
Could win 3 ...
-- Outstanding Drama Series
-- Lead Actress in a Drama Series (Regina King)
-- Supporting Actor in a Drama Series (Michael Cudlitz)

Southland's character-driven take on the conventional police drama gives Regina King all the room she needs to contend with True Blood's Anna Paquin.

FRINGE
Could win 3 ...
-- Outstanding Drama Series
-- Lead Actress in a Drama Series (Anna Torv)
-- Supporting Actor in a Drama Series (John Noble, Lance Reddick)

This sci-fi drama can't compete with big hitters like True Blood and Dollhouse in the Outstanding Drama category, but expect an exciting race between castmates John Noble (Lord of the Rings) and Lance Reddick (The Wire).

LIE TO ME
Could win 2 ...
-- Outstanding Drama Series
-- Lead Actor in a Drama Series (Tim Roth)

There's no one quite like Lie to Me's Dr. Cal Lightman. Tim Roth gives a standout dry wit to this body language expert and "Facial Action Coding System" user -- and he gives True Blood's Stephen Moyer a run for his money.

DOLLHOUSE
Could win 2 ...
-- Outstanding Drama Series
-- Supporting Actress in a Drama Series (Olivia Williams)

Joss Whedon's latest creation, Dollhouse, is no Buffy the Vampire Slayer and thus no match for True Blood but Olivia Williams could nab an Emmy for her role as Adelle DeWitt.

CASTLE
Could win 2 ...
-- Outstanding Drama Series
-- Lead Actor in a Drama Series (Nathan Fillion)

Like Tim Roth in Lie to Me, Nathan Fillion plays a one-of-a-kind character in Castle. Fillion's title character, Richard Castle, is a novelist-turned-detective and a worthy opponent for Roth and True Blood's Stephen Moyer.

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