The Emmy Awards take centre stage on Monday with Breaking Bad, True Detective and Orange is the New Black among the favourites of TV’s 66th annual version of the Oscars.
But this year’s ceremony will be overshadowed by the apparent August 11 suicide of Hollywood great Robin Williams that rocked the entertainment world.
With emotions still raw, his friend and fellow actor-comedian Billy Crystal will pay tribute to the Oscar winner during the “in memoriam” part of the primetime program.
Last year, Williams – who himself received two Emmys in the 1980s – honoured the memory of comedian and former Mork and Mindy sitcom colleague Jonathan Winters during the same segment.
But despite the underlying sadness, the Emmys – to be hosted by comedian Seth Meyers – still promise to serve up a fair amount of laughs and suspense.
Cult crime series Breaking Bad – which won best drama last year – is once again among the top contenders for the coveted title although dismayed fans saw it end almost a year ago after five seasons.
Bryan Cranston, who played the cancer-stricken teacher-turned-drugs kingpin Walter White in the blockbuster series, is nominated in the lead actor category, a top prize snagged in 2013 by Jeff Daniels of The Newsroom who is his competitor again this time around.
Breaking Bad is also up for statuettes in the best supporting drama actress and actor categories.
Another hot commodity is HBO crime drama True Detective that scored competing lead actor nominations for its co-stars Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey, a police duo who hunt for a serial killer in Louisiana.
It, too, is in the running for best drama series.
But Netflix’s breakthrough women’s prison show Orange is the New Black is also very much on the radar, vying for the best comedy series crown against long-running series The Big Bang Theory, Louie, Modern Family and Veep, as well as HBO newcomer Silicon Valley.
Taylor Schilling from Orange is the New Black and Julia Louis-Dreyfus from Veep are among those facing off for lead actress in a comedy.
The race for lead drama actress, meanwhile, pits last year’s laureate Claire Danes from Homeland against Michelle Dockery from Downton Abbey, Lizzy Caplan from Masters of Sex, Julianna Margulies from The Good Wife, Kerry Washington from Scandal and Robin Wright from House of Cards.
Not to be forgotten is HBO’s grisly royal feud saga Game of Thrones, which picked up the most nominations this year – 19 in all — including for best drama series.
Based on George RR Martin’s best-selling novels about power struggles between dueling clans in seven mythical kingdoms, it has been renewed for a fifth and sixth season.
Overall, HBO heads into the ceremony with a winning 99 nods, compared to 31 for online streaming giant Netflix.