With a far wider voting pool than the panels provided, actors will need to make sure they choose an episode that showcases them in a way that appeals to the broadest audience.
Monday's lineup of CBS comedies is all new. On "How I Met Your Mother," Neil Patrick Harris is spotlighted as the ne'er do well Barney planning "The Bachelor Party" for hapless Marshall. CBS says it will use MySpace to screen scenes too hot for 8 p.m. This sophomore series, a would-be successor to "Friends," is followed by "The New Adventures of Old Christine."
In Monday's episode,, Julia Louis Dreyfus, last year's Emmy winner, finds herself in another fine mess after hitting 'reply all' on an email - something we have done at least once.
These old-style sitcoms, shot with three cameras before a studio audience, were once a key component of every network's schedule, but are now struggling against the "Dancing With Stars" juggernaut and gamer "Deal or No Deal" at 8 p.m. and the high octane dramas "24" and "Heroes" at 9 p.m.
However, with freshman hit "Heroes" on hiatus till May, there could be renewed interest in "Two and a Half Men." Last year, it was the only three-camera show to make the race for best comedy, losing to "The Office," which, like the rest of the NBC Thursday night lineup, is shot single-camera.
Monday's episode features a great guest turn by Judy Greer as the latest in the long line of love interests for Charlie Sheen. Greer is best known for her role on the third season of Emmy winner "Arrested Development."
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9:30 marks the welcome return of "The King of Queens," which kicks off the last seven episodes of its nine-year run with episode No. 200. As always, stars Kevin James and Leah Remini deliver the comedy goods, but this gem of a show has had little love from Emmy - only one nod, for James, last year.
"Late Show with David Letterman" kicks off a week of great guests with Sen. Barack Obama and Halle Berry, followed by David Duchovny tomorrow, Alec Baldwin on Wednesday, Bruce Willis on Thursday, and Bill Cosby closing out the week. This late-night talker enjoyed a five-year winning streak as best variety series from 1998 to 2002, but "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" has had a lock on the category for the past four years. By the way, longtime Letterman rival Jay Leno led "The Tonight Show" to victory once, way back in 1995.
Three hourlongs are competing for your attention at 10 p.m. On "The Shield," Oscar winner Forest Whitaker makes his final, for now, appearance. Interestingly, he did not score a nomination for this supporting role last season but he could be competing against himself this year as guest actor in a drama series for this spot and his six-episode arc on "ER" as a vengeful patient. Whitaker already has an Emmy but for his work exec-producing "Door to Door," the best television movie of 2003, which featured his fellow Oscar winner Helen Mirren in a supporting role.
There is the possibility of '60s sex kitten Raquel Welch appearing on "Boston Legal" if William Shatner can just master the "Secret." And "Law & Order: SVU" reruns "Infiltrated," the October episode that marked the return of last year's Emmy winner Mariska Hargitay after a maternity leave.
"Friday Night Lights" has an early season finale and, of course, ends with the Big Game. While major plotlines are resolved, there remains the question of whether this critically acclaimed show, a recent winner of a Peabody Award, will be returning in the fall.
It is unlikely either of ABC's old standbys, "George Lopez" and "According to Jim," will be returning after wrapping up their sixth seasons. Neither laffer has been Emmy nomm'd in any major category, though the second of tonight's "George Lopez" was directed by Andy Garcia (his TV directorial debut, a 2005 episode of "Cold Case," reruns Sunday).
Another actor moves into the director's chair when David Arquette directs his sister Patricia in an episode of "Medium" that focuses, appropriately enough, on her character's fractured relationship with her brother.
Two of the original "Charlie's Angels" are gracing the small screen tonight. Kate Jackson, the only Angel Emmy nomm'd, guests on "Criminal Minds" as the mother of series star Paget Brewster. Always the 'smart' one,
Jackson plays an ambassador in need of the team's help to save a kidnapped politician. After appearing on last year's Emmys with Jackson and Farrah Fawcett in a tribute to show creator Aaron Spelling, Jaclyn Smith caught the eye of the producers of a new reality show, "Shear Genius," and begins hosting this haircutting competition tonight on Bravo.