Scott Bakula, Dana Delany, Candice Bergen and Burt Reynolds are the best leading performers on series television, according to voters in the 7th Annual Quality Awards of the Viewers for Quality Television organization.
And the best two programs on the air this season were ABC's canceled "China Beach" among drama series and CBS' "Murphy Brown" among comedies, say members of the Virginia-based advocacy organization.
There was remarkable consensus about what constitutes quality programming on TV. For while the recent mail balloting asked for voting in 13 categories, all the awards ended up encompassing just seven shows. In addition to "China Beach" and "Murphy Brown," they included "Quantum Leap," "Evening Shade," "Empty Nest," "Designing Women" and "The Wonder Years."
Bakula was best dramatic actor for "Quantum Leap," and Delany best dramatic actress for "China Beach." Bergen was best comedic performer for "Murphy Brown" and Reynolds was best comedy actor for "Evening Shade."
Supporting-player awards, in drama and comedy, went to: Marg Helgenberger ("China Beach"), Dean Stockwell ("Quantum Leap"), Park Overall ("Empty Nest") and Michael Jeter ("Evening Shade").
A best specialty player award was voted for Alice Ghostly (Bernice, on "Designing Women"), and best writing awards for drama and comedy went to "China Beach" and "Murphy Brown."
VQT founder Dorothy Swanson also named Robert Picardo, who plays Dr. Richard in "China Beach" and Coach Cutlip in "The Wonder Years," as recipient of the annual Founder's Award for previously unrecognized excellence.
The concentration of honors among relatively few shows ought to be unsettling to the networks. Just seven quality shows among all the series on the air?
The VQT honors will be bestowed at the organization's annual convention banquet in Los Angeles Sept. 21.
REMEMBERING REASONER -- There was an irony with a Baltimore angle that went unnoted earlier this week in the tributes to CBS news correspondent Harry Reasoner. The founding co-editor of "60 Minutes" died Tuesday at the age of 68, only months after retiring from the news magazine show.
Although Iowa-native Reasoner attended Stanford University and the University of Minnesota, he never finished his degree requirements as a young man. Yet over the years, his TV prominence made him in demand as a frequent commencement speaker.
In 1988, for example, he spoke at graduation ceremonies of the College of Notre Dame in Baltimore, and was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree.
Yet only the following year did Reasoner finally return to Minnesota to finish up requirements for his own bachelor's degree.