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Focus : Advice for the Emmy-Worn

August 30, 1992|HOWARD ROSENBERG | TIMES TELEVISION CRITIC

Put on a pot of coffee and tape open those eyelids.

Count em'--30 Emmys. And you get to see each bestowed and accepted--what do you think about 30 thank-you speeches?--during the "44th Annual Prime-Time Emmy Awards." Hosted by Tim Allen, Kirstie Alley and Dennis Miller, the Fox telecast airs Sunday night.

I don't know about you, but I'm still fuming about many of last year's winners. How much longer must I suffer the poor taste and judgment of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences voters? Year after year, I give them my best advice. Year after year, they reject it.

Well, no more Mr. Nice Guy! One more chance is all they get. If they don't honor my choices this time, I JUST MAY NOT DO THIS AGAIN!!!

DRAMA SERIES

That CBS high-achiever "Northern Exposure" is not only the class of this category, but arguably (with the possible exception of "The Simpsons") the class of prime time.

Among the four NBC also-rans, "I'll Fly Away," "Law & Order" and "Quantum Leap" have enough good stuff for a highlight reel. But over-the-hill "L.A. Law" is a moose.

LEAD ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES

I didn't see Kate Nelligan in the Disney Channel's "Avonlea" or Shirley Knight's guest work in "Law & Order." Not that the new academy rule pitting guest performers against regular series performers makes any sense at all.

Among the other nominees, my choice is Regina Taylor of "I'll Fly Away" over Dana Delany of ABC's departed "China Beach," Angela Lansbury of "Murder, She Wrote" and Sharon Gless of "The Trials of Rosie O'Neill," both on CBS.

LEAD ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES

Those nominated guests shots by Christopher Lloyd in "Avonlea," Kirk Douglas in HBO's "Tales From the Crypt" and Harrison Page in "Quantum Leap" slipped by me. Amazingly, the possibility exists that "Quantum Leap" one-time guest Page could win an Emmy here over "Quantum Leap" star Scott Bakula, who deserves the award for consistently meeting the challenge of playing a radically different character each week.

The other nominees are Rob Morrow of "Northern Exposure," Sam Waterston of "I'll Fly Away" and Michael Moriarty of "Law & Order."

COMEDY SERIES

NBC's "Seinfeld" deserves the nod in one of Emmys' stronger fields. Also nominated are NBC's "Cheers," ABC's "Home Improvement," "Brooklyn Bridge" on CBS and Dan Qualye's personal favorite, that other CBS comedy, "Murphy Brown." HBO's "Dream On" and ABC's "Dinosaurs" head the deserving-but-overlooked category.

LEAD ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES

Marion Ross of "Brooklyn Bridge" has a boffo Yiddish accent, but Kirstie Alley has comic instincts that merit her a second Emmy for her work on "Cheers." Candice Bergen of "Murphy Brown," Roseanne Arnold of ABC's "Roseanne" and Betty White of NBC's former "Golden Girls" are nominees, too, as is Tyne Daly for her guest work on NBC's "Wings," which I didn't see.

LEAD ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES

The concept and writing are unconventional and first-rate. Without Jerry Seinfeld, however, there wouldn't be a "Seinfeld." So please give this guy the Emmy already.

The potential for more weirdness looms here, with "Cheers" supporting actor Kelsey Grammer nominated in this starring category for his guest shot on "Wings," thus getting a chance to beat out "Cheers" lead Ted Danson, who is a nominee here along with John Goodman of "Roseanne," Craig T. Nelson of ABC's "Coach" and Burt Reynolds of CBS' "Evening Shade."

MINISERIES

Once the jewels in prime-time's crown, multi-part limited series have regressed creatively to the point of becoming, in effect, television footnotes. None of the nominees here is particularly noteworthy. NBC's "Cruel Doubt" deserves the Emmy by default over NBC's "A Woman Called Jackie" and "Drug Wars: The Cocaine Cartel," CBS' "In a Child's Name" and "The Burden of Proof" on ABC.

Superior to any of the above was the overlooked "Prime Suspect," a British miniseries aired by PBS as part of its "Mystery" series.

MADE-FOR-TELEVISION MOVIE

"Honor Thy Mother," the CBS version of the same murderous docudrama depicted in NBC's longer "Cruel Doubt," deserves to win. Because entries that aren't nominated do not receive Emmys, however, the award will go elsewhere.

NBC's "Miss Rose White" is easily the best of this modestly distinguished lot. Also nominated are Fox's "Doing Time on Maple Drive," HBO's "Without Warning: The James Brady Story" and--resulting from another change in the Emmy rules--the movie-length pilots for the prime-time series "Homefront" and "I'll Fly Away."

LEAD ACTRESS IN A MINISERIES OR SPECIAL As the villainous matriarch in the CBS docudrama "A Woman Scorned: The Betty Broderick Story," Meredith Baxter arguably did her best television work ever. That Emmy-worthy performance ranks her ahead of Laura Dern in HBO's "AfterBurn," Gena Rowlands in CBS' "Face of a Stranger," Anne Bancroft in the PBS "American Playhouse" production of "Mrs. Cage' and Judy Davis in CBS' "One Against the Wind."

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