By Michael Slezak
August 23, 2006 at 12:00 PM EDT

Countdown to Emmys stands at T-minus four days, and… um… uff da, who am I kidding getting all NASA on you guys? Especially when deep down, you know I’m regurgitating Aunt Sassy catchphrases to the point that friends and coworkers probably want to pitch me out the window. With that in mind, then, for today’s Emmy discussion, I’m going to trust that the awards gods are taking care of The Comeback‘s Lisa Kudrow (and for that matter, The Office‘s Steve Carell), and plead someone else’s case for a change: It’s time Mariska Hargitay (pictured, at left) got herself an Emmy for her work on Law & Order: SVU, damn it!

Now I know what some of you folks are thinking: ”She’s on a procedural! How hard can that be?” But au contraire, I’d argue SVU‘s paucity of big, scenery-chewing moments actually raises the degree of difficulty for Hargitay. If you were lucky enough to catch ”911,” the episode for which she landed her third Emmy nomination, you’ll know what I mean: Hargitay’s Det. Benson spends most of the episode grilling a confused, kidnapped child over a speakerphone, and yet what’s essentially a static hour of television plays as an emotionally harrowing thrill ride that, to me, stacks up against anything her competitors threw down in the last season. So what if Hargitay isn’t Secretariat coming down the stretch of the Belmont Stakes? Week after week, Hargitay is one of TV’s most reliably terrific workhorses. If that’s not worthy of a statuette, then my name doesn’t sound like a certain brand of Land of the Lost baddies.

If you could only choose one winner on Emmy night, who would it be and why? Look over the list of nominees and weigh in now.