I have to admit I'm feeling pretty good about the Emmy Awards this year.
Not just because this year's exceedingly strong field of contenders offers even more proof that we, as TV viewers, really are living in the medium's golden age -- which we are, because there's more great television being made now than at any other time in history -- but also because Emmy time also means Emmy-prediction time, and yours truly is still smugly basking in the afterglow of last year's picks.
After years of who-wins-what futility, the Emmy-guess scoresheet in 2011 read five out of eight. In batting-average terms, that's .625, more than enough for first-ballot Hall of Fame induction for any baseball player.
Granted, picking Emmy Award winners is hardly as difficult as knocking a 97-m.p.h. fastball out of the park, but I'm sticking with a smugly successful posture -- even if the smart money is on this year's results returning to more familiar sub-.500 territory.
Anyway, for discussion/debate/argument purposes, here are this year's blindly fearless Emmy predictions. Hold your derisive laughter until after the show, please.
Outstanding lead actress in a drama series:
Kathy Bates, Harry's Law
Glenn Close, Damages
Claire Danes, Homeland
Michelle Dockery, Downton Abbey
Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife
Elizabeth Moss, Mad Men
Should win: Danes, whose performance in Homeland was as complex and harrowing as anything on TV last year.
Could win: Margulies remains a force on The Good Wife; if Emmy voters go all Brit-crazy over Downton, Dockery could pull an upset.
Outstanding lead actor in a drama series:
Hugh Bonneville, Downton Abbey
Steve Buscemi, Boardwalk Empire
Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad
Michael C. Hall, Dexter
Jon Hamm, Mad Men
Damian Lewis, Homeland
Should win: Cranston, though none of the actors in this brilliance-packed category would be a bad choice.
Could win: Hamm's a perennial Emmy favourite; Buscemi has an inside chance; Lewis could break through as a newcomer.
Outstanding drama series:
Game of Thrones
Should win: Homeland, which is the best of a very strong field.
Could win: Emmy voters love to repeat themselves, so Mad Men is an even-money contender. And Breaking Bad could pull an upset if voters' love for Cranston runs deep enough.
Outstanding lead actress in a comedy series:
Zooey Deschanel, New Girl
Lena Dunham, Girls
Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie
Tina Fey, 30 Rock
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep
Melissa McCarthy, Mike and Molly
Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation
Should win: Poehler, who has quietly created one of sitcomdom's most memorable characters.
Could win: McCarthy has already been the target of Emmy affection once for a very conventional sitcom; Dunham could take home a trophy if voters are feeling edgy and daring.
Outstanding lead actor in a comedy series:
Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock
Don Cheadle, House of Lies
Louis C.K., Louie
Jon Cryer, Two and a Half Men
Larry David, Curb Your Enthusiasm
Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory
Should win: Louis C.K., whose one-man-band approach to TV comedy (he writes, produces, directs, acts and even does the music for his FX-cable series) make him unique in his field.
Could win: Baldwin and Parsons have both received Emmy love before, and it wouldn't be a surprise to see either deliver an acceptance speech on Sunday night.
Outstanding comedy series:
The Big Bang Theory
Curb Your Enthusiasm
Should win: Modern Family, which is, week in and week out, the funniest show on TV.
Could win: Sorry, but everything else in this category is an also-ran.
Outstanding movie or mini-series:
American Horror Story
Hatfields & McCoys
Hemingway & Gellhorn
Sherlock: A Scandal in Belgravia
Should win: Game Change, on the strength of Julianne Moore's stunning portrayal of Sarah Palin.
Could win: Hatfields & McCoys was a piece of pure Americana that drew unexpectedly huge audiences, and Emmy voters might favour an old-fashioned feud over a ballot-box fuss. PBS's Sherlock is a solid dark-horse contender.
The 64th Primetime Emmy Awards
Hosted by Jimmy Kimmel
Sunday at 7 p.m.
ABC and CTV