A real drama is heating up in the race for Best Drama Writing, as two recent script-writing champions face off for the first time: three-time writing winner Matthew Weiner ("Mad Men") and last year's Movie/Miniseries scripter Julian Fellowes ("Downton Abbey).
Weiner actually contends for two of the five slots this year, making him the favorite in this race. He co-wrote both of his nominated episodes ("Far Away Places" and "The Other Woman") with "Mad Men" staffer Semi Chellas.
Meanwhile, Fellowes stands alone as the sole writer of his nominated episode ("Episode Seven") of "Downton Abbey."
A third episode of "Mad Men" also contends for Best Drama Writing: "Commissions and Fees" written by Andre Jacquemetton and Maria Jacquemetton. This brings "Mad Men's" tally to 13 different writing nods over its first five seasons. In the entire history of the Emmys, only "The Sopranos" (21 writing nominations) and "Hill Street Blues" (16 writing nominations) reaped more bids in this category.
The remaining slot goes to "Homeland" for its well-reviewed pilot written by Alex Gansa, Howard Gordon and Gideon Raff. If "Homeland" wins, it'll be the first time since the "Mad Men" pilot in 2008 that a series' first episode claimed gold for its writing.
Below are brief descriptions of all five nominated episodes in the Best Drama Writing race.
"Downton Abbey" - "Episode Seven" (Julian Fellowes)
The household is bustling with all the Christmas preparations. Mr Bates is convicted of the murder of his ex-wife Vera despite testimony from the Earl of Grantham. Towards the end of the episode his death sentence is commuted to life imprisonment. Also the relationship between Matthew Crawley and Lady Mary Crawley takes another twist. She jilts her fiancé Sir Richard Carlisle despite his threatening to reveal her dark secret regarding Kemal Pamuk. She also discovers that the fact she is no longer a virgin does not worry Matthew Crawley and in the final scene he proposes to her but only after she insists he get down on one knee.
"Homeland" - "Pilot" (Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa and Gideon Raff)
When former Marine Sergeant Nicholas Brody is rescued after being held in captivity for eight years in Afghanistan, CIA operations officer Carrie Mathison believes he has been turned into a sleeper agent by Al-Qaeda after previously receiving intel that an American prisoner had been turned.
"Mad Men" - "Far Away Places" (Matthew Weiner and Semi Chellas)
Peggy becomes alienated after separate fights with her boyfriend Abe and a client. Roger and Jane take LSD with a group of intellectuals, altering how they see the world, and allowing them to speak honestly about their marriage. Don and Megan leave the office and take an impromptu road trip to Plattsburgh, New York, which doesn't turn out as planned after Megan takes offense at how Don treats her.
"Mad Men" - "The Other Woman" (Matthew Weiner and Semi Chellas)
Pete asks Joan to sleep with a client to secure the Jaguar account. Meanwhile, the creatives work long nights to come up with the perfect pitch for the presentation. Don becomes furious after learning Megan could take a role in Boston. Feeling unappreciated, Peggy attends lunch with Freddy Rumsen, who encourages her to make a move. Later, Peggy meets with Ted Chaough, from rival firm CGC, and is offered chief copywriter position.
"Mad Men" - "Commissions and Fees" (Andre Jacquemetton and Maria Jacquemetton)
Don discovers that Lane stole money from the company and fires him. Sally has a rendezvous with former neighbor Glen Bishop, which ends abruptly. After Don expresses a yearning for more, Roger gets him a meeting with Dow Chemical, a client that could shape the future of the company. Lane falls into a melancholic depression and kills himself.