Peeking into a fresh batch of Golden Globe nominations is sort of like participating in the white elephant gift exchange at your holiday office party: You never really know what you're going to get. It could be some kind of odd offering straight out of crazytown. Or it could be something that makes you take notice and admire the thought that went into it.

And this year is no different when it comes to the TV choices made by the

Hollywood Foreign Press Association.

Some of the main head-scratchers? Start with the nominations for "Smash" in the best musical or comedy series category, and for "The Newsroom" in the best drama division, where the critically adored "Mad Men" was shockingly dissed.

"Smash," which has essentially replaced "Glee" in the eyes of Globe voters, was a wildly uneven Broadway saga that drew more scorn than viewers -- so much so that it underwent massive retooling for its upcoming second season. Oh those silly Globe voters, always seduced by glitz and glamor.

But what's their excuse for "The Newsroom"? Aaron Sorkin's ambitious take on the world of cable news did, indeed, have its moments of glory, but it was also thoroughly pummeled by critics for its self-indulgent and bombastic tendencies. You won't find "The Newsroom" on many year-ending Top 10 lists, but somehow the HFPA thinks it's bettrer than "Mad Men."

The Golden Globes also continued its inexplicable habit of lumping wildly different genres into the supporting acting competition. That's why we have the laughable face-off between Maggie Smith of "Downton Abbey" and Sofia Vergara of "Modern Family." How much ssense does that one make?

But let's give the Globe voters some credit, too. They traditionally have been ahead of the curve when it comes to recognizing the standout work being done in new shows. Hence the love for HBO's groundbreaking series, "Girls" in the best comedy or musical race, and for its young star (and creator) Lena Dunham.

Also, kudos to the voters for seeing the comedic brilliance of Max Greenfield in "New Girl."

And the Globes justifiably honored the performances of several acting veterans appearing in new projects, including the terrific Connie Britton ("Nashville"), Don Cheadle ("House of Lies"), Julia Louis-Dreyfus ("Veep") and Jeff Daniels ("The Newsroom").

But the Globes can be late to the party, as well. Thursday's nominations included a long overdue nod for "Breaking Bad," which, for years, has been widely regarded as one of prime time's top dramas. Until now, lead actor Bryan Cranston was the show's only nominee.

Like the Emmys in recent years, the Globes resoundingly prefer cable over broadcast network fare. The best drama category, for example, is made up entirely of cable shows, except for "Downton Abbey," which airs on public television.

In this image released by Showtime, Claire Danes portrays Carrie Mathison in a scene from the Showtime original series, " Homeland." Danes was
In this image released by Showtime, Claire Danes portrays Carrie Mathison in a scene from the Showtime original series, " Homeland." Danes was nominated Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012 for a Golden Globe for best actress in a drama series for her role in “ Homeland .“ The 70th annual Golden Globe Awards will be held on Jan. 13. (AP Photo/Showtime, Kent Smith) (Kent Smith)

The cable love can go overboard, though, as evidenced by the nod in the best comedy nomination for Showtime's "Episodes," which simply doesn't belong. Then again, Hollywood loves shows about itself.

The 70th Golden Globes are scheduled to air at 8 p.m. Jan. 13 on NBC. They'll be hosted for the first time by Amy Poehler and Tina Fey, both of whom garnered nominations on Thursday.