Murphy Brown returned to CBS on September 27, 2018. I was a huge fan of the show during it’s original run from 1988 to 1998 and was looking forward to it’s return. I knew in the current political situation Murphy Brown, if handled well, could be a huge success if they followed a couple of rules, one, made the material as fresh as possible and two, didn’t make the entire show about President Donald Trump. The nice thing is that they followed both of those rules, but the show still fell short of the mark.
The problem isn’t with the script it’s with the cast. It was good to see the old gang back together again. Candace Bergen, Faith Ford Joe Regalbuto and Grant Shaud all played their parts well but watching these four trying to do this type of comedy was a little painful.
Back in the 80’s Lucille Ball tried to bring her brand of comedy back in show titled Life With Lucy. Now the whole country loved Lucille Ball. Her shows which ran from the 50s to the 70s were good clean funny comedy. When she returned in the 80s she was in her 70s and seeing an old woman do physical comedy wasn’t funny as much as it was painful for many people. I was just glad to have her back so would watch anything she did and approve but the show was cancelled after only a handful of episodes aired.
This is true in some ways of Candace Bergen. She is still a wonderful actress and always will be. The dialogue is funny and it’s fresh much of it is also age appropriate. Seeing Murphy holding out with a flip phone is very true of the older generation and their battle with technology. But Murphy Brown was noted for rapid fire dialogue and quick verbal jabs all of this is still there but it comes out much slower and so the jokes aren’t as funny and somehow fall a little flat.
Murphy was also a bit manic and a woman in her 70s just can’t move like that. So there was something missing in her character. Some of the what made Murphy Brown funny is just not there anymore.
Surprisingly the one who comes out the best on all of this is Grant Shaud as producer Miles Silverberg. His character of the fussy nervous producer was always over the top but these characteristics actually become funnier with age and so this works for him.
The mistake they made with bringing Murphy Brown back was not recasting all the characters and starting fresh. We need shows like Murphy Brown right now. Laughing at our current situations in this country may help us get through them and may give all of us a fresh perspective. They may even help bring us together. But the return of Murphy Brown as is just doesn’t work as good as it might have.
I will watch it until the end because that’s what a fan does. Maybe if they retool some things it will get better. There were some truly funny moments, so there is some hope.