Screams of pain were heard coming from my house a couple of weeks ago.
Like the white smoke that signals the election of a new pope or the lighting of the torch that signifies the start of the Olympic games, these screams indicated to my neighbors that my Emmy judging had come to an end.
My ballot was marked. One TV season was officially over and a new one was about to begin. Long live the Emmys.
Why the screams?
Academy rules prohibit me from sharing which categories I juried or how I voted, but let's just say one submission I had to watch was so difficult to get through, so disturbing, that I couldn't even describe to my family what it was about.
And, no, it didn't involve Robin Williams in the role of a Man-Child who embraces the wonder of youth and helps us all see the joy that's ours for the taking if only we let ourselves be free and love the Man-Child or Woman-Child that is within each and every one of us.
No, that will come next year if his new sitcom, "The Crazy Ones" on CBS, survives. Which I'm guessing it will. You've been warned.
Overall, I'm not lamenting the state of TV these days. In fact, I think it's pretty good. OK, so maybe the news isn't so good for the major networks. For the second year in a row, no drama from ABC, CBS, NBC or FOX was nominated as best in its category.
No surprise when it comes to NBC, but there was hope for "The Good Wife," "Nashville" and "Scandal." I even thought "Once Upon a Time" might sneak in, but toward the end of the season, the show plugged Disney characters so shamelessly that when someone scored a major victory, I half expected to hear "You just killed the wicked witch! Now what are you going to do?" And of course the inevitable answer: "I'm going to Disney World!"
Network shows still dominate the Outstanding Comedy Series category. "Modern Family" on ABC has won the award for the last three years, and "30 Rock" won three years in a row before that.
Both are nominated again this year, and there has been talk about a sentimental vote going to the just-canceled "30 Rock" because everyone says they love Tina Fey. This may actually be true.
Hollywood tends to honor people who live and work there, but Fey has been given seven Emmys for work she has done in New York.
Sure, if you're Helen Mirren and you're playing an English queen, or Maggie Smith and you're playing a woman who thinks she's an English queen, that's not going to be held against you and they toss you an award. But Fey is an actor/writer/producer who spends most of her time outside Los Angeles and it hasn't seemed to hurt her one bit.
Maybe Hollywood thinks of this as their version of being open-minded. It's the closest they come to voting Republican.
So, will her show win? Or will she win for Lead Actress in a Comedy Series? Or for writing? As I've written before, there is no predicting the Emmys - but I'm going to go out on a limb and say no.
OK, maybe for writing, but I think Louis C.K. will get that one (as he did last year), and his show, "Louie," may sneak by and get the award for Best Comedy, as well. Not to mention Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series. Oh, and directing, too.
Love him or hate him, the man is a phenomenon who has tapped into the anger that's just below the surface of so many people these days. I mean, have you stood in line at Whole Foods lately?
The other acting categories are so full of great performances that I think we're guaranteed a few surprises. For example, look at Lead Actress in a Drama Series. Vera Farmiga ("Bates Motel"), Michelle Dockery ("Downton Abbey"), Claire Danes ("Homeland"), Robin Wright ("House of Cards"), Elisabeth Moss ("Mad Men"), Connie Britton ("Nashville") and Kerry Washington ("Scandal").
How do you choose from that list? They've all given career-defining, award-worthy performances, and any one of them could and should win. Which means they should go with Connie Britton because she's, you know, Connie Britton.
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series will undergo a name change next year. It will be called Bryan Cranston in a Drama Series. Can anything stop this guy from winning his fourth Emmy for "Breaking Bad?" Even though Kevin Spacey is phenomenal in "House of Cards" (as are the other nominees in their shows).
I don't think there has ever been so much admiration expressed for Cranston's acting as there was in print and on the various blogs this year. You couldn't turn around without hearing him praised. I swear I was listening to a Bloomberg financial report about the iPhone 5c, and the commentator said it wasn't as good as Bryan Cranston in "Breaking Bad."
That's some serious love.
If you're placing bets and looking to rack up major points, go for "Behind the Candelabra" in anything for which it's been nominated. It was the movie that Hollywood was supposedly "afraid to make." Sure it was. They were so afraid to make it that Oscar, Emmy and Tony winners all signed on to do it before they even read the script.
Matt Damon and Michael Douglas have been nominated against one another for Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie. Michael Douglas has thankfully battled back from the cancer that almost ended his life, which let's be honest, would normally have guaranteed him the win.
But he said a few things about his cancer that the media did not like, and then he split from Catherine Zeta-Jones. If he doesn't win, it might be Hollywood's way of saying, "You just sit there in that corner, mister, and think about what you've done." Or not (I think they're going to give it to him).
The Emmys do have a tendency to get bogged down a bit, what with categories such as Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Role That Was Originally Written for Marisa Tomei But She Turned It Down, so may I suggest a game to keep you awake? Make Emmy bingo cards.
I have to credit my daughters for this; they do it for "The Bachelor" finale. Pick a bunch of phrases that you routinely hear on award shows: I want to thank my wife, I want to thank my children, I want to thank my crew, I didn't think I'd win (which just floors me, by the way. You were nominated, you idiot, there was always a chance your name was going to come out of that envelope).
Also pick a bunch of words: courage, bravery, talented, grateful, undeserving. You get the idea. Mix them up and put them on as many cards as needed, then mark them off as they're said.
Also, it's more fun if the first person to get bingo is given a prize like a candy bar or bag of gourmet popcorn. In our house, the winner doesn't have to watch the new Robin Williams show.
Happy Emmys. Now, on to the Oscars.
Chris Auer is the chair of film and television as well as dramatic writing at the Savannah College of Art and Design. An Emmy-nominated writer and producer for sitcoms, dramas and soaps, he has been an Emmy voter for 25 years.