Bergen delivers, the show does not; Hillary Clinton makes an appearance.
Twenty years later, “Murphy Brown” rides again — now in the era of Donald Trump and fake news.
The revival of the CBS series starring Candice Bergen gives off more than a faint whiff of old news. Really old.
The show’s premiere on Thursday proved that Bergen, who won five Emmys playing the legendary liberal take-no-prisoners TV journalist, still has a delicious droll delivery. But the show’s narrow concept and tired scripts let her down.
Critics got to watch the first three of 13 episodes. There aren’t enough laughs.
“There is so much insanity out there that I became a nut job yelling at the TV,” declares Murphy, moments into the reboot. “I’d rather be on TV, yelling out.”
But what Murphy is yelling about from her new show, “Murphy in the Morning,” are things people have hollered about for nearly two years. Between 1988 and 1998, “Murphy Brown” covered an array of national issues — the shortcomings of Vice President Dan Quayle, the Clinton-Lewinsky mess, the O.J. Trial. And personal ones, Murphy’s sexual freedom, single motherhood and cancer.
Yes, it’s early in the new show, but it seems narrowly focused on Trump and company. There are plenty of other issues that need focus.
Creator and executive producer Diane English, who reprises those duties from the original, ought to have thought of that. Moreover, a year and 250 days into Trump’s presidency, it’s a tad tardy to be noticing that he uses social media to communicate with both his allies — and his adversaries.
Like Murphy, who he dubs “Old Murphy” in a tweet. She retaliates with cheap joke about his hair. Zzzz. And in a continuation of a long-running gag about Murphy’s never-ending series of secretaries, Hillary Clinton makes a surprise appearance to vie for the job. She says she’s had experience … with emails.
In the second episode, Murphy crashes a White House press briefing and takes on Sarah Huckabee Sanders for lying. Been there, seen that, as the sitcom gets too preachy for its own good. And in episode three, Murphy goes face-to-face with a man named Ed Shannon, a thinly veiled stand-in for Steve Bannon. Shannon/Bannon — get it?
A bright spot includes Bergen’s relaxed rapport with actor Jake McDorman, who plays her 28-year-old son, Avery. The apple doesn’t fall far from the Brown tree. Avery has his own TV newsmagazine in the same time slot as his mom, but on the conservative network called Wolf.
There’s so much corny winking humor, the CBS Eye is going to need Visine.
There’s a bit of fun seeing Murphy reunited with her former colleagues — Corky Sherwood (Faith Ford), Frank Fontana (Joe Regalbuto) and Miles Silverberg (Grant Shaud). Respectively, they’re perky, needy and neurotic: They haven’t changed a bit.
The same goes for her Georgetown living room. Same forest green walls. Same striped sofa. And it’s been 20 years. And Murphy is rich. Fresh coats of inspiration could do a townhouse — and a sitcom — good.
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