‘Murphy Brown’ is Back As If She Never Left

Review of "Murphy Brown."
Frank (Joe Regalbuto), Miles (Grant Shaud)
Murphy (Candice Bergen) and Corky (Faith Ford) (CBS)
TV SERIES REVIEW
The snarky, political loud mouth sitcom, Murphy Brown aired on CBS from 1988 to 1998. Now the show is back but instead of being “re-imagined” or “rebooted,” the new series is considered a revival featuring most of the original cast and creators. And the result? It’s as if they never left the small screen. Oh, a lot of things have changed since the show went off the air. The passing of Robert Pastorelli (Eldin Bernecky) and Pat Corley (Phil). Murphy’s son Avery is all grown up (the first Avery was played by Cyllan Christopher from 1994-1995 and the second was played by Haley Joel Osment from 1997-1998). Murphy herself is retired. Frank has been away from the camera too and “misses being famous.” Corky Sherwood had a successful television career but was recently let go in favor of someone younger. And Miles…whatever ever happened to him? In the new pilot of the revised series, all is revealed as the old gang is getting back together to put on a new show called "Murphy in the Morning."

Understandably so, the first episode of season 11 spends a lot of time getting the audience up to speed on the lives of the old TV crew. Murphy (Candice Bergen) slips into her old persona like an old shoe. Fired up with the election of Donald Trump, she’s found her purpose and is feisty as ever. Corky (Faith Ford) is a lot smarter now than she was years ago but she’s still Corky. One of the show’s funniest moments is when she is discussing the melting of polar ice caps while fighting her own hot flashes. Frank Fontana (Joe Regalbuto) will serve as an investigative journalist for the new show. And of course, they all want Miles Silverberg (Grant Shaud) to run the show – if they can find him. (Charles Kimbrough who played Jim Dial is not listed in the show's press materials but he may show up for a multi-episode arc.)*

Review of "Murphy Brown"
Murphy and Avery
(Candice Bergen and Jake McDorman) (CBS)
As it turns out, Murphy’s new show will be going up against another new show on the WOLF channel during the same timeslot. Her competition? Her son. Avery is now played by Jake McDorman (best known for starring in CBS’s Limitless). It will be interesting to see how this dynamic will play out as the show goes on. For the first episode though, the two play off each other very well. Murphy isn’t thrilled with her son’s choice of networks but she’s also super proud of her son just the same. It’s nice to see the maternal side of Murphy.

Also new to the cast is Pat (Nik Dodani) the new social media guy for Muprhy’s show who is tasked with showing Murphy how to use a smartphone. He’s nerdy, but fun. And Phil’s watering hole is now run by his sister Phyllis (Tyne Daly) who gets way too little screen time. And there promises to be a special surprise guest in the first episode as well but was left out of the screener as to not ruin the surprise. I have a suspicion on who it might be, but we’ll have to wait and see.

In some ways, bringing Murphy Brown back after all these years is a risky move. The show will naturally skew to an older audience instead of the famed 18-49 crowd that advertisers like so much, but the show has all of the right components to succeed another time around. The show promises to be edgy and probably uncomfortable at times for more politically conservative viewers, but the world we live in now has also changed since the first showed aired, but Murphy still has plenty of flaws. In the end though, this is a workplace comedy that still has heart when needed and is a lot smarter than what passes for comedy on other shows these days.

Murphy Brown airs on Thursdays at 9:30 p.m. on CBS.

*Update: I had originally reported that Charles Kimbrough (Jim Dial) had passed away, but he is alive and well.



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