Nominations for the 2011 Emmys were announced Thursday morning and a group of newbies are deservedly joining the pack of usual suspects. HBO's "Mildred Pierce" led overall noms with 21, followed by AMC's "Mad Men" with 19, HBO's "Boardwalk Empire" with 18 and ABC's "Modern Family with 17. Here's my take on the contenders in a few of the major categories.
"Friday Night Lights"
"Game of Thrones"
"The Good Wife"
MY TAKE: No real huge surprises here, and it's good to see "FNL" getting massive love now that it's going off the air (bittersweet reward). I was slightly surprised to see "Dexter" on here, as last season received mixed critical notices. The big story here is HBO's epic "Game of Thrones" entering the series race in its first year. b's "Thrones" fans, Anne Tallent and Luke Broadwater, had a mini-party at their desks. The real question is: Can anyone take over the throne dominated by "Mad Men," which has won this category three years in a row?
WHO WAS LEFT OFF: People had expected either "The Killing" or "The Walking Dead" to take one of the slots (and I assumed "The Killing" would make it). And it looks like FX's "Justified" just missed the cut.
"The Big Bang Theory"
"Parks and Recreation"
MY TAKE: "The Big Bang Theory" and "Parks and Recreation" are the virgins here — and they're welcome additions. And while "Glee" seemed like a front-runner last year, this year it's almost an also-ran. It'll be interesting to see if "The Office" will be rewarded in Steve Carell's final season, but it has massive competition in last year's champ, "Modern Family."
WHO WAS LEFT OFF: Poor "Community." When will the Emmys take the irreverent leap? Also missing the cut: "Louie"; "Nurse Jackie" (oddly) and "Family Guy"
MY TAKE: I don't know anyone who watches "Harry's Law," but I'm guessing even its viewers are surprised Bates made the cut, even those she's an Emmy favorite (eight nominations). Enos may be a spoiler here, if she can overtake front-runners Margulies and Moss. And, of course, yay for Britton.
WHO WAS LEFT OFF: The big ladies of the bunch who are usually nominated, last year's victor Kyra Sedgwick ("The Closer") and Glenn Close ("Damages") were replaced with Bates and Enos. And Katey Segal deserved recognition for "Sons of Anarchy."
MY TAKE: Nice call with Olyphant, which was a slightly bigger surprise newbies-wise than Buscemi. And Chandler joins Britton for some possible final "FNL" love. Otherwise, more of the same. It could be Hamm's year to finally get some Emmy love (he hasn't won so far).
WHO WAS LEFT OFF: Sean Bean of "Game of Thrones" and Andrew Lincoln of "The Walking Dead" were contenders. And there was talk that Tom Selleck could have made the cut for "Blood Blues," which would have been stache-tastic.
MY TAKE: Plimpton is the major surprise here. She was always considered in contention, but no one was completely sure of her shot. Also, loving the nod for McCarthy, who is having an awesome year with "Bridesmaids." I want Poehler to win. Thanks.
WHO WAS LEFT OFF: Toni Collette, a previous winner, was surprisingly left off for "United States of Tara." And sorry, Courteney Cox. You missed out again for "Cougar Town." Someone on the academy clearly has an anti-Cox agenda.
Alec Baldwin, "30 Rock"
Louis CK, "Louie"
Steve Carell, "The Office"
Johnny Galecki, "The Big Bang Theory"
Matt LeBlanc, "Episodes"
Jim Parsons, "The Big Bang Theory"
MY TAKE: The biggest surprise mix. Galecki joins his reigning champ co-star, LeBlanc makes the cut for his laugh-at-myself-constantly Showtime series "Episodes." And did anyone expect Louis CK to break in? And can any of them beat Carell in his final "Office" year?
WHO WAS LEFT OFF: People love them some Joel McHale on "Community," but he'll have to wait another year. Matthew Morrison did not give props again for "Glee." And Rob Lowe made a big (and weird, considering his screen time) push for "Parks and Recreation."
•••• Kate Winslet nears closer to that EGOT. She's up for actress in a miniseries for "Mildred Pierce"
•••• My favorite nomination may be Randee Heller for guest actress in a drama for "Mad Men." Miss Blakenship!
•••• Stringer Bell ... I mean Idris Elba ... has nominations for both his guest turn on "The Big C" and for BBC series "Luther"
•••• A battle I can't wait to see: Bette Midler vs. Carrie Fisher vs. Lady Gaga vs. Pee-wee Herman in the variety special category. The "Kennedy Center Honors" should just sit back and watch.
The Emmys air Sept. 18 on Fox.Jordan Bartel is assistant editor at b. Email him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter, @jordanbartel.