It might seem like the only TV serious viewers are paying attention to right now is "Breaking Bad," but on Sunday night, just as Walter White's penultimate episode is unfolding on AMC, we'll be finding out over on CBS whether his show, his portrayer Bryan Cranston, or other personnel will be taking home Primetime Emmy Awards.
An awful lot of familiar faces seem likely to win, as 2012-13 wasn't a big season for new breakout shows. You could easily see "Breaking Bad" take Outstanding Drama Series (which would be a first), or last year's winner, "Homeland," or "Mad Men," which had a four-year streak going before "Homeland" crashed the party in 2012.
It will almost certainly be a big year for the HBO film "Behind the Candelabra," directed by Steven Soderbergh, and for Michael Douglas' performance as Liberace. And it's the last shot for "30 Rock," which has several shots at adding to what has been a very rich Emmy haul.
But the biggest curiosity on Sunday night will be the presence of Netflix, which has nominations in major categories for both "House of Cards," the political thriller that starred Kevin Spacey, and "Arrested Development," the new and unconventionally structured season of a comedy that spent its three on-air years being celebrated but little-watched on Fox. Both series face stiff competition where they're nominated, but if Netflix were to win anything big in the very first year it was even trying, that would be a fairly authoritative arrival. (It will likely be back next year with "Orange Is the New Black," which wasn't eligible this year.)
Hosted again by Neil Patrick Harris, a past Emmy host as well as everything-else host, the Emmys are likely to be — what else? — a long evening of celebrity speeches and corny montages. But in there somewhere, they're likely to be recognizing some pretty terrific television. Because there is, in fact, an awful lot of terrific television.