Widescreen: Baby Yoda vs. Queen Elizabeth and two other TV battles to watch at Sunday's Emmys
The Emmys should have something for everyone this Sunday (7 p.m., CBS) given the massive number of categories and nominees they now offer. But the three biggest categories come down to epic faceoffs between two indelible characters. Here are the battles to watch this weekend:
Queen Elizabeth vs. Grogu
Who has more fans in the television industry? The answer is probably the Force-using baby from "The Mandalorian," but many Emmy voters may balk at the idea of giving the biggest award of the night, Outstanding Drama Series (eight nominees), to a Disney+ "Star Wars" franchise filmed on a virtual stage and led by an actor who (almost) never shows his face.
Netflix's "The Crown" has been the epitome of prestige television for its four seasons and earned 24 combined nominations this year, which includes 13 nominations and four wins at last weekend's Creative Arts Emmys. "The Mandalorian" got 24, too -- and won seven of them last weekend -- but it won't be a tie on Sunday. The Queen will reign.
Outstanding Comedy Series sees standup legend Deborah Vance (Jean Smart) take on upbeat soccer coach Ted Lasso (Jason Sudeikis).
Ted Lasso vs. Deborah Vance
The unlikely soccer coach at the center of a most unlikely hit for Apple TV+ seemed like a slam-dunk for Outstanding Comedy Series (eight nominees) until some quiet backlash to "Ted Lasso" Season 2 started invading the internet in recent weeks. Could that hurt how voters see Season 1, whose episodes are the only ones eligible for this weekend's awards? Probably not, especially given the Aug. 30 voting deadline.
But if anyone could score an extra-time spoiler on the Emmys pitch, it's HBO Max's "Hacks," starring Jean Smart as a Vegas standup trying to reinvent herself ... but the smart money is on Ted's Greyhounds.
Outstanding Limited or Anthology Series pits chess prodigy Beth Harmon (Anya-Taylor Joy) against detective Mare Sheehan (Kate Winslet).
Beth Harmon vs. Mare Sheehan
This battle for Outstanding Limited or Anthology Series (five nominees) is the closest of the bunch, pitting "The Queen's Gambit's" chess prodigy up against "Mare of Easttown's" weary Pennsylvania detective. (Both opponents are so formidable that even "WandaVision's" superheroes have no hope of defeating them.)
Netflix's "The Queen's Gambit" was the pandemic's biggest hit, a must-see miniseries that made Anya-Taylor Joy a superstar who's about to take over Charlize Theron's role in a "Mad Max" prequel. But it premiered last October, which feels like a lifetime ago after all the changes our world has seen since then.
Murder mystery "Mare of Easttown," which unfurled over seven consecutive weekends on HBO this spring, resurrected the idea of appointment television and gave Kate Winslet her most popular role since "Titanic." (That was 24 years ago, can you believe that?) "Mare of Easttown" felt like a throwback to big-network whodunits that had the whole country on edge; but in a TV world that constantly evolves and makes new stars, "Queen's Gambit" will likely call checkmate.
• Sean Stangland is an assistant news editor who would love to see Kenan Thompson take the podium on Sunday.