Pay special attention to many series episodes debuting this week because they're scheduled to be submitted to Emmy judges determining nominees to be announced on July 19.
Watch these series to see what will be entered by their stars as a sample of their best work: "Everbody Hates Chris" (Tichina Arnold), "The Tudors" (Natalie Dormer) and "My Name Is Earl" (Jason Lee).
Not all Emmy contenders have declared their entries yet, so it's possible that other new episodes airing this week may play starring roles at the TV awards, too.
After last week's television academy salute to the once-overlooked "Everybody Hates Chris" (CW), Monday's episode, "Everybody Hates Math," features the Emmy submission of lead actress Tichina Arnold. As the beleaguered mother of kid Rock, she rules the roost bringing about order with just one arch of an eyebrow.
"How I Met Your Mother" (CBS) celebrates the wedding of Lily (Alyson Hannigan) and Marshall (Jason Segel). Being a sitcom, naturally the ceremony is played for laughs, with Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) riding to the rescue with "Something Borrowed."
After wallowing in that wedded bliss, watch a divorcee in despair on "The New Adventures of Old Christine" (CBS) as Emmy winner Julia Louis-Dreyfus mines comic gold from her character's woeful single status. She once again fails as she tests her dating skills with her son's teacher (guest Blair Underwood, surprisingly never nominated in his seven seasons on Emmy champ "L.A. Law"). Last week's episode was entitled "Friends," this week's is called "Frasier" could these be subtle attempts by the producers for an Emmy by association?
Last year's winner of best drama series and lead actor "24" (Fox) winds down its sixth season with a storyline involving Jack (Emmy winner Kiefer Sutherland), Audrey (Kim Raver), the Chinese, and even further intrigue in the White House. A bright spot is Kari Matchett, who brings a cool elegance to the thankless role of a mole.
One of that show's toughest Emmy competitors is probably its time-slot rival, "Heroes" (NBC). On Monday night, a guilt-ridden Sylar (Zachary Quinto) seeks refuge with his mother (guest Ellen Greene, a Broadway vet best known for originating the role of Audrey in "Little Shop of Horrors"). Aptly titled "The Hard Part," this standout episode could convince Emmy voters that this sci-fi fantasy series is a serious contender for best drama.
On "The Riches" (FX), Eddie Izzard and Minnie Driver have to make like "Cinderella" and transform themselves into the perfect host and hostess while dealing with the arrival of an evil stepmother of sorts -- her former cellmate.
The sixth-season finale of "The George Lopez Show" (ABC) features a change-of-pace comedy guest turn from Emmy-winner Edward James Olmos, whose regular role on critically acclaimed "Battlestar Galactica" (Sci-Fi) has failed to find favor with Emmy voters.
The competition is winnowed down to the final four on both "American Idol" (Fox) and "Dancing With the Stars" (ABC). These programming juggernauts have propelled their lead-outs to new ratings heights.
"House" (Fox) has Piper Perabo guesting as the latest in a long line of love interests for the misanthropic doctor, while on "Boston Legal" (ABC) Bernadette Peters (Emmy nomm'd for guesting on David E. Kelley's "Ally McBeal" in 2001) dons judge's robes in a dramatic departure for this Tony Award-winning Broadway diva.
In a last-ditch effort to avoid cancellation, "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" (NBC) jumps on the Anna Nicole bandwagon, with Kristy Swanson as an ill-fated femme fatale and Emmy-winning writer and "Arrested Development" star David Cross as her lawyer lover. The more nuanced storylines of "Law & Order: SVU" (NBC) won an Emmy for Mariska Hargitay last year. Tuesday night, co-star Christopher Meloni (nominee last year for best actor) makes a bid for a new bid with "Annihilated," which showcases him as distinctly "un-Stabler" after being spooked by guest Dylan Walsh ("Nip/Tuck") as a CIA spy.
Losing a series regular is nothing new on "Lost" (ABC). Wednesday night's episode focuses on the flashback of Others ringleader Ben, so creepily played by Emmy-winner Michael Emerson. Since the show's return in February, the momentum has been building, and these last three episodes, beginning with "The Man Behind the Curtain," promise a return to the glory that won the series the 2005 Emmy for best drama.
Former teen scream queen Neve Campbell's guest arc on "Medium" (NBC) could soon be over if Alison's (2005 Emmy-winner Patricia Arquette) latest dream comes true. And if Campbell ("Party of Five") and fellow 1990s TV star Jason Priestley ("Beverly Hills 90210") don't make you nostalgic, try "Shear Genius" (Bravo), the haircutting competition hosted by the seemingly ageless Jaclyn Smith, one of the original "Charlie's Angels."
Emmy alert: what to watch on TV
As the season comes to a close, shows such as "Lost" are building momentum.
We've upgraded our reader commenting system. Learn more about the new features.
Los Angeles Times welcomes civil dialogue about our stories; you must register with the site to participate. We filter comments for language and adherence to our Terms of Service, but not for factual accuracy. By commenting, you agree to these legal terms. Please flag inappropriate comments.
Having technical problems? Check here for guidance.