And the envelope please …

As an avid television viewer, the Emmys are even more important than the overly glitzy Academy Awards or the meaningless Grammys. The Emmys have always stood out to me because television has been a big part of my life. From watching Transformers and Thundercats as a child to laughing uncontrollably to Married … With Children and Seinfeld, television filled my daily life and in many ways refined some of my taste.

The Emmy awards always seem to bestow honors upon shows that actually deserve the recognition. With the September 19 airdate quickly approaching, I have taken it upon myself to examine this year’s competition in the categories that matter.

It’s been a great year on TV with the summer sizzle of FX’s Nip/Tuck to the teary-eyed farewells from Fraiser, Friends and Sex and the City.

With the noticeable absence of Friends and Fraiser from the Best Comedy category, the race leaves HBO’s recently departed Sex and the City, its brilliant sketch comedy Curb Your Enthusiasm, FOX’s Arrested Development and CBS’ incredibly dull Everybody Loves Raymond.

Emmy voters could be split in many directions here. They can award the final season of Sex and the City or they’ll acknowledge Arrested Development for daring to be different from the crowd of sitcoms filling airwaves.

But, it’s easy to see the voters being swayed by the loss of New York’s most sexually liberal group of women. Expect Sex to be honored as this year’s top comedy series.

The West Wing has been named Best Drama for the last four years and is hoping to extend its reign. If The Sopranos ever has a shot at the top prize it’d be this year with The West Wing down on ratings and its source material being so weak recently. This should be the night’s tightest race, with both shows on an even playing field.

The Sopranos should walk away with the honor, but it’s going to be a photo finish.

Vying for Best Actress in a Comedy Series is expected winner Sex and the City starlet Sarah Jessica Parker, but it wouldn’t surprise me in the least to see Jennifer Aniston leave home with her second Emmy. Aniston carried the final season of Friends gracefully and was again at the top of her game.

In the dramatic race, the biggest catfight is between previous winner The Sopranos’ Edie Falco and newcomer Amber Tamblyn (Joan of Aracadia). Falco won’t have a problem squashing the biblical chick, but with a mind-boggling 20 nominations, The Sopranos could wear out its welcome with voters.

Best Actor at this year’s Emmys will be fought-out between Kelsey Grammer (Fraiser) and Larry David (Curb Your Enthusiasm) in the comedy arena and James Gandolfini (The Sopranos) and Martin Sheen (The West Wing) in drama. Grammer will use sentiment to win the award, as no voter can turn down Grammer’s final performance after more than two decades as Dr. Fraiser Crane. Sheen shouldn’t have any problems stealing this statuette from three-time winner Gandolfini.

Every show depends on a stellar supporting cast, it’s absolutely essential. Megan Mullally known as the loud, snobby Karen on Will & Grace was television’s funniest actress last year. Arrested Development’s Jeffrey Tambor pushes the offbeat series along with his continually hilarious facial expressions and deliveries. Meanwhile Stockard Channing of Grease fame gets completely lost in her role on The West Wing. The Sopranos winning streak Michael Imperioli will beat all others for the coveted trophy.

The list of nominees clearly highlights the past year’s best on TV, though a few series, such as Scrubs and The Bernie Mac Show, are obvious omissions from the list.

The voters can’t appeal to everyone, but the Emmys strive to pick out only the best, and that’s why I love watching them.

And there you have it, this year’s rightful Emmy winners.

Unlike other award shows the Emmys has been known for its unpredictability, so I’d expect to see a few upsets.

Contact Entertainment Editor Pablo Saldana at