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Who deserves an Emmy nod for Lead Actor/Actress in a Drama? (Not just the usual suspects!)

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Emmys-Battlestar_l Yesterday, we dished our fantasy Emmy nominations in the Lead Actor/Actress in a Comedy divisions. Today, however, it’s time to cue up the violins and hit the “mood lighting” button, because we’re talking about the corresponding nominees in the Drama categories. (Not to worry, we’ll get to our fave supporting actors on Thursday and Friday.)

So look. I know some of you are probably scoffing at the folly of this exercise, thinking to yourselves, “What’s the point? The nods are — as uzh — going to go to James Spader, Hugh Laurie, Holly Hunter, and Mariska Hargitay (even though SVU has gone completely off the rails).” But with Emmy opening up room for a sixth nominee in its main races, maybe there’s cause for a little optimism, for the belief that heretofore brilliant-but-unheralded performances might make the Academy of Television Arts and Science’ grade. (Of course, if your ideal candidates don’t get recognized, they might wind up with a nomination in EW.com’s second annual EWwy Awards.) So check out Gold Derby’s list of front-runners in the men’s and women’s lead drama races, then tell us who you’d like to see get his/her name called on July 16. In the meantime, here are four folks I’m rooting for:

Mary McDonnell, Battlestar Galactica: Seriously, Emmy, THIS IS YOUR LAST CHANCE. McDonnell’s been revelatory for four seasons of BSG, and her final episodes showcased some of her finest work, as her Laura Roslin convincingly shifted from flirtatious lover to defiant cancer patient to resurgent fleet heroine. Failure to recognize her genius would be like calling Bill Gates a small business owner or saying Michael Phelps is just an okay swimmer. (Okay, so those are frakked up examples, but you know what else is frakked up? The inevitability of another McDonnell snub!)

Edward James Olmos, Battlestar Galactica: Can you imagine one of the best SciFi dramas in recent TV history without Olmos’ stoic-but-tender performance? Yeah, me neither. If McDonnell gets her due, so should this dude. So say we all? So say we all!

Regina King, Southland: Maybe her role is too subtle for Emmy voters, but with a single facial expression, the 227 vet Ray star can deliver the equivalent of 1,000 lines of dialog. Witness that rush of maternal love when her Det. Lydia Adams cradles an abandoned baby, or the ferocious lioness who’s unleashed when gang members descend on her house to try to gun down a young witness, or even the weary singleton who strains to smile her way through another doomed lunch date. Is there anything King can’t do? (And don’t answer me by asking, “Win over fusty Emmy voters?”)

Simon Baker, The Mentalist: Yes, his CBS crime procedural is a breezy trifle, but is there any TV star who’s more enjoyable to watch than Baker? His Patrick Jane may not pack the gravitas of characters in more Important Series, but damned if I didn’t find myself completely submerged in his world for an hour every Tuesday night last season.

All right, PopWatchers…you’ve got my list of Emmy longshots in the Lead Actor/Actress Drama catgeories, now it’s time to head to the message boards and share yours (along with your reasons why). Ready, set, argue!

addCredit(“Carole Segal/SyFy(2); Robert Voets/NBC”)

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