EXCLUSIVE: There are big surprises among the episodes chosen by actors to be submitted to Emmy judges, who will view one sample from each nominee before picking a winner.
Last year Edie Falco was so surprised that she won Best Comedy Actress for the rather dramatic "Nurse Jackie" that she blasted the TV academy and Showtime in her acceptance speech, saying, "This is just the most ridiculous thing that has ever, ever happened in the history of" the Emmys. According to TV academy rules, Showtime did not have the option of entering "Nurse Jackie" as a drama series this year, but the network submitted a truly funny episode of the past season -- "Rat Falls" – in the lead actress race. In it, Falco steals a statue of the Virgin Mary that the Archdiocese plans to repossess and a rat that's nibbled on one of her illicit pills falls from the ceiling into someone's salad.
Amy Poehler has chosen a slapstick-heavy episode of "Parks and Recreation" – "Flu Season," in which she escapes from a hospital and pretends not to be sick so she can give an important business presentation.
However, other contenders in the comedy races opted for very serious fare. Three-time past Emmy champ Laura Linney – who has never lost an Emmy race – picked the pilot episode of "The Big C" in which she hides the news that she's got cancer while battling her collapsing marriage, rebellious son and local city officials who try to stop her from installing a pool in her front yard.
Chris Colfer is submitting one of the most dramatic episodes of "Glee" ever – "Grilled Cheesus" – in which he wrestles with his doubt over the existence of God and sings a mournful rendition of "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" after hearing his father is in a coma.
In the race for lead comedy actor, suspense has loomed over which episode of "The Office" Steve Carell would pick: "Garage Sale" (his marriage proposal to Holly) or "Goodbye, Michael" (exit from the series). He's settling on "Goodbye, Michael" -- learn more at my LATimes.com post.
Over in the drama races, Jon Hamm and Elisabeth Moss, as expected, are submitting "The Suitcase" episode of "Mad Men," which gives them the best chance yet of someone winning the first acting award for the program that's won Best Drama Series for the past three years in a row.
See the list of episodes being submitted by actors. See the episodes submitted in the best series races (comedy and drama). Typically, about 75 to 100 judges (all actors) decide the winner in each acting category. About 750 to 900 judges pooled from all 16,000 members of the TV academy decide the races for Best Drama and Comedy Series. DVDs will be mailed to voters on Aug. 8. Ballots must be returned by Aug. 26. Winners will be unveiled during the telecast on Fox Sept. 18.
NOTE: An earlier draft of this article mistakenly stated that Showtime had the option of changing "Nurse Jackie's" classification to comedy from drama this year. In the past, TV shows could switch designation, but current rules do not allow it.
Photos: Amy Poehler in the "Flu Season" episode of "Parks and Recreation" (NBC); Edie Falco in the "Rat Falls" episode of "Nurse Jackie" (Showtime)