...please take our advice, and nominate some fresh blood! Here are the stars and TV shows we'd love to see on this year's ballot
Kristen Bell
Credit: Kristen Bell: Robert Erdmann/Icon International

Who deserves an Emmy nod this year? See EW’s picks

Each year, Entertainment Weekly‘s couch potatoes pray that Emmy voters will recognize the performers and series whose stellar work validates our decision to watch TV for a living. And each year, too many worthy nominees go unfeted while the same people and series earn another nod. (Arrested Development‘s surprise victory last year was a small step forward, however.) In an effort to become part of the solution, we’d like to point Emmy voters — who received nominating ballots last week — toward the year’s best tube talent (like Veronica Mars star Kristen Bell, pictured, whom EW.com readers voted as the lead actress most deserving of a nod). Regulars from new shows like Desperate Housewives, Lost, and House will no doubt feel the love when nominations are announced on July 14, so we’ve left them off our wish list in favor of some less-heralded performances.

Image credit: Peter Gallagher: Fox GALLAGHER

Actor/Supporting Actor — Drama

Emmy wish list: Actor/Supporting Actor — Drama

PETER GALLAGHER (The O.C.) Gallagher brings sorely needed gravitas to the role of selfless lawyer/superdad Sandy Cohen, and he managed to transcend the gimmickry that marred The O.C.‘s second season. Good with a schmear and a smile, Gallagher’s even better when Sandy is shooting flinty glances at his wisecracking son.

ANTHONY ANDERSON (The Shield) After a decade of playing sidekicks and comic relief (see Barbershop‘s J.D. and his short-lived 2003 WB show, All About the Andersons), Anderson got scary as drug kingpin Antwon Mitchell. As in, shot-a-little-girl-and-buried-her-under-an-outhouse scary. Antwon’s power trip soared to shocking heights, and Anderson displayed a new and frightening charisma.

IAN MCSHANE (Deadwood) His Al Swearengen was full of piss and vinegar this season. Mostly the former, as Swearengen battled kidney stones — and McShane took his agony to Marathon Man levels. But he regained that dark-alley magnetism that keeps even rambling talks about Yankton politics riveting. Emmy snubbed him once; they’d be f—ing idiots to overlook him again.

Image credit: 24: Isabella Vosmikova/Fox RAJSKUB

Actress/Supporting Actress — Drama

Emmy wish list: Actress/Supporting Actress — Drama

MARY LYNN RAJSKUB (24) The willful, sulky cog in the well-oiled CTU machine, computer genius Chloe could have been plain annoying. Instead Rajskub has invested her with a weird, endearing blend of superiority and maladjustment, making her a nifty counterpoint to her fellow authority-thwarter Jack (Kiefer Sutherland).

KRISTEN BELL (Veronica Mars) Tart but perky, cute but tough, sarcastic yet secretly nice, Bell’s Veronica is one of the coolest high schoolers in prime time, and her genuine fondness for her dad (Enrico Colantoni) makes for the best father-daughter relationship on TV.

CCH POUNDER (The Shield) Among The Shield‘s stellar supporting cast, Pounder shines this season as beleaguered Det. Claudette Wyms. Passed over for the captain’s job, punished for choosing morals over politics, she’s on a low boil of bitterness. In a station house of scenery chewers, Pounder can make a few lines ring with resentment. A single eye roll from this woman can do serious harm.

Image credit: Arrested Development: Sam Urdank CERA, WITH PORTIA DE ROSSI

Actor/Supporting Actor — Comedy

Emmy wish list: Actor/Supporting Actor — Comedy

PETER BOYLE (Everybody Loves Raymond) The only original cast member yet to snag an Emmy as a Barone, Boyle deserves a seventh straight nod — and a win. He made Frank more than a lout by hinting, evvvver so subtly, at the big lug’s heart. Without his cranky brilliance to counter, would Doris Roberts have won three times?

KEVIN DILLON (Entourage) How painful to be a washed-up TV actor tagging along after your superstar kid brother (Adrian Grenier) — and how brilliantly Dillon plays it. His Johnny ”Drama” is pouty, prideful, and desperate to prove he’s still in the game. Grenier’s cool as a cat, but Dillon’s C-lister is the star here.

MICHAEL CERA (Arrested Development) It’s easy to play a bratty teen. It’s almost impossible to pull off what Cera does as George Michael, the sweetheart scion of the Bluth family: His dorky high schooler with a kind soul and a hyperactive conscience is poignant, hilarious, and gratifying to watch.

Image credit: Lauren Graham: Larsen & Talbert: Icon International GRAHAM

Actress/Supporting Actress — Comedy

Emmy wish list: Actress/Supporting Actress — Comedy

JESSICA WALTER (Arrested Development) Longtime stock player Walter — who already has a statuette for the 1974 police drama Amy Prentiss — throws herself into the beastly role of Lucille Bluth each week with such cockeyed precision (example: walking face-first into a parking-garage pillar and moaning, ”Who the hell put that there?!”), it’s a wonder our screens don’t emit gin vapor.

LAUREN GRAHAM (Gilmore Girls) She’s deftly turned Lorelai Gilmore into a study in contradictions: flighty, yet driven enough to open the world’s most perfect B&B; sometimes self-centered, but a mother lion when it comes to protecting her whiz-kid daughter from a broken heart. Lorelai could have stalled out at ”cool mom,” but Graham’s made her magnetic, complex. . .and always real.

HARRIET SANSOM HARRIS (Desperate Housewives) Guest-starring as the shady Felicia Tilman, sister of murdered busybody Martha Huber, Tony winner Harris livened up the cul-de-sac with her manipulations and mystery revelations. The actress, so gleefully glib as Frasier’s agent, Bebe, proved she’s the master of a zillion personas: Her spooky performance punctured Housewives‘ sometimes-grating bubble of plasticity.

Image credit: Rescue Me: Craig Blankenhorn RESCUE ME

Outstanding Drama Series

Emmy wish list: Outstanding Drama Series

THE WIRE Patient viewers know that this HBO drama — about Baltimore cops and the criminals they hunt — is an intensely satisfying epic. Featuring some of the richest characters on TV, The Wire illustrates how power can corrupt the strong and embolden the weak — usually with disastrous consequences.

EVERWOOD Dunno why, but Emmy voters like to snub The WB — even when it airs programs like this sterling family drama. As it follows the story of Dr. Andy Brown (the fantastic Treat Williams) and his defiant son, Ephram (Gregory Smith), Everwood eschews treacly theatrics in favor of tiny heartbreaking moments that expose the messy truth about family (and small-town) life.

RESCUE ME We’d be happy if Denis Leary got a nod, too, for leading FX’s dramedy about macho, anguished NYC firemen on the mend after 9/11. Rescue Me doesn’t provide moral lessons or pat answers — it’s a brave, clear-eyed, damn funny look at the act of just trying to get life right.

Image credit: Entourage: Claudette Barius ENTOURAGE

Outstanding Comedy Series

Emmy wish list: Outstanding Comedy Series

GILMORE GIRLS What started as an occasionally twee mother-daughter dramedy (remember that troubadour?) has blossomed into the most hilarious and moving hour on TV. Within each densely packed script are wonderful, witty musings on family, loyalty, class, and the struggles of growing up. . .whatever your age.

SCRUBS A ludicrous, fantasy-driven comedy set in a hospital sounds like a rotten fever dream, but this NBC sitcom is one of TV’s best. Credit charming lead Zach Braff, a flawless supporting cast, and writing that is both humane and perfectly silly.

ENTOURAGE This Hollywood-based comedy moves as fast as the crowd of players at its center — the dialogue is a treasure trove of references to celebrities, movies, and Hollywood fads. Just as impressive: The show manages to have heart, thanks to a cast that stays deeply likable even when doing unlovable things.