Friday, April 9, 2010

Online Pick of the Week (4/9): Murphy Brown

The pick this week is an old revisited favorite of mine, Murphy Brown, which ran on CBS from 1988-1998. Candice Bergen starred as Murphy Brown, a tough-lipped and feisty interviewer who worked for the fictional news program FYI in Washington DC. A recovering alcoholic, at the beginning of the series she came back from a 30-day stay at The Betty Ford Clinic. The cast also featured reporter and friend of Murphy’s Frank Fontana (Joe Regalbuto); Corky Sherwood (Faith Ford), a former Miss America whose stories on FYI were often frivolous; stiff anchor Jim Dial (Charles Kimbrough), and Miles Silverberg (Grant Shaud), who at the beginning is 25 and brand new to FYI and has very little experience running a show. Murphy for six seasons also had Eldin Bernecky (Robert Pastorelli), a house painter, who appeared often to work on her house and share his philosophies.

I know some people seem to think that Murphy Brown is rather dated now, considering the fact that it relied on political and topical humor, and that it took place during the Bush (that’s George H.W., gang) and Clinton administrations, but I don‘t think so. I grew up watching the show; and in seeing more of it again for the first time in the past few years, I’ve come to understand more of the jokes now than ever. It taking place in a certain time doesn’t stop the laughs from coming. I also love how they constantly referenced other real reporters and anchors. I mean, can you imagine Frank and Jim kicking back and having a cold one with Ted Koppel and Tom Brokaw? Morley Safer and the 60 Minutes personalities playing baseball against the FYI team? And some of the real reporters such as Katie Couric and Edwin Newman appeared on the show overtime. Lesley Stahl also hosted a retrospective in the seventh season.

The show is as hilarious as ever, and that makes it all the more of a damn shame that only the first season so far has been released on DVD; especially since the set that’s out now is so well done. All of the episodes are uncut, are in great quality, and ALL of the original music is there.

I was going to choose the pilot episode “Respect” but since the greedy folks over at Warner Music Group blocked out the audio for the first part of that, I’ve picked the season three episode “Terror on the 17th Floor.” In it, a conglomerate buys out the network and hilarity ensues as the staff at FYI deal with the cutbacks. And what do you know, 19 years later, many people who watch certain networks these days point out their disdain with how they’re being run after certain big corporations or companies begin taking over things and running them, the networks of Viacom and GE in particular being perfect examples. See? Still relevant.

Murphy Brown, my online pick of the week.

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