News, Culture & Society

Murphy Brown ‘hasn’t aged well’ and ‘was made to infuriate Trump’

CBS’ ‘Murphy Brown’ has returned to television after 20 years but despite the creator saying the sitcom is ready to ‘make some noise,’ early reviews of the show have called the new version ‘crusty comeback’ declaring the show ‘hasn’t aged well’.

The revival stars Candice Bergen as Murphy, a former network TV journalist who’s now working on a cable news channel’s morning show.

Murphy is reunited with most of the old team from the original series including cast members Faith Ford, Joe Regalbuto and Grant Shaud.

Joe Regalbuto, Candice Bergen and Faith Ford are back on TV in CBS’ Murphy Brown

 One review said 'The new Murphy Brown was made to infuriate Donald Trump', but noted that there are a host of late-night talk shows that already do exactly that  

 One review said ‘The new Murphy Brown was made to infuriate Donald Trump’, but noted that there are a host of late-night talk shows that already do exactly that  

Jake McDorman is a newcomer, playing Murphy’s son, Avery, a reporter at a competing news channel.  

The extended return episode begins the night of the 2016 election, which motivates Murphy to come out of retirement and host a cable-news morning show. She gets the band back together from her old show. 

Emmy-winning creator Diane English promised the 13-episode season would address issues including ‘immigration, the midterm elections and the Me Too movement’ but Alan Sepinwall from Rolling Stone declares ‘Murphy’s popular again, but mainly for picking fights with members of the Trump administration rather than for the kind of investigative journalism on which she once prided herself.’

Sepinwall sees this revival as ‘tarnishing’ the real show’s legacy.

Candice Bergen, left, and Tyne Daly in a scene from 'Murphy Brown.' Political, social issues and the role of journalism are central in sitcom's revival, starring Bergen as a skeptical TV reporter

Candice Bergen, left, and Tyne Daly in a scene from ‘Murphy Brown.’ Political, social issues and the role of journalism are central in sitcom’s revival, starring Bergen as a skeptical TV reporter

Some reviews declared it was nice to see the Murphy Brown gang together again

Some reviews declared it was nice to see the Murphy Brown gang together again

The season premiere sees Murphy swapping insults with President Trump during a live broadcast. The second episode has her lecturing Sarah Huckabee Sanders about the dishonesty of her press briefings while the third sees a takedown of a Steve Bannon-like character.

‘We’re absolutely in the midst of a crisis of democracy, civility and belief in the value and trustworthiness of a free press,’ notes Sepinwall. ‘Murphy’s not wrong on much …but her (and the show’s) positions are laid out with such a smug, leaden hand that seems designed to alienate the people who agree with it at least as much as the Trumpists who won’t be watching in the first place.’

‘The revival left me with little appetite to revisit the good old days to see how good they really were, let alone stick with this tired new version,’ Seppinwall concludes.

The gang's all back, 'but this revival feels so last century' wrote one reviewer of the comeback

The gang’s all back, ‘but this revival feels so last century’ wrote one reviewer of the comeback

The New York Times is even more cutting with its criticism stating: ‘Murphy Brown’ Returns, Not for the Better’.

James Poniewozik states: ‘The show itself is kludgy, combining dated sitcom rhythms with sermonizing. There is a definite kick to hearing, on CBS’s air, a zinger about the sexual-harassment downfall of its own host, Charlie Rose. But somewhere in translation, ‘Murphy Brown’ has become the kind of sitcom you laugh at, not because you can’t help it, but because you feel you should.’

Brian Lowry, CNN’s Media + Entertainment correspondent also had a similarly lackluster take on Muphy’s comeback: ‘The show oscillates a little too much between current events and the show’s fictional world, between the serious and the silly. It feels both a trifle forced and extra treacherous in today’s hyper-partisan climate.

At Vulture, Jen Chaney respects the show for being blatantly partisan and anti-Trump from the outset.  

The world of TV and politics has changed enormously in the 20 years the show was off the air

The world of TV and politics has changed enormously in the 20 years the show was off the air

‘I respect it for not softening its edges in an attempt to appeal to the masses. At the same time, Murphy Brown is so determined to tear into Trump and other aspects of contemporary culture that it sometimes feels as if the series is being gerrymandered to allow for that, as opposed to organically telling stories that touch on current events.’

During its first outing in the 1990s, the show ran for 11 seasons and won numerous Emmys

During its first outing in the 1990s, the show ran for 11 seasons and won numerous Emmys

Newsday says that viewers who are looking for anti-Trump political jokes have plenty of options these days thanks to late-night talk shows which are more up-to-date and punchy. ‘In 2018, TV — notably CBS’ Stephen Colbert — has taken the fight to the White House, consequences be damned. If viewers want merciless, occasionally fiercely funny anti-Trump comedy, all they need to do is turn on that TV, and the later at night, the better. By contrast, ‘Murphy’s’ attempts at takedown are tame, safe or delivered from a soapbox,’ writes Verne Gay.

Vanity Fair had kinder words for the revival and appeared to be pleasantly surprised calling the comeback ‘refreshingly un-precious’.

Sonya Saraiya writes: ‘The show can discuss politics without getting mired in baked-in, bone-deep ideologies. It’s capitalist, but clarifying: disagreements can and will abound, but in the end, these are characters who have a job to do.

‘They may not always do it well; this isn’t The West Wing,’ Saraiya admits, ‘but it’s refreshing to watch a series in which the dramatic tension hinges on journalistic practice—a topic that has increasingly left the media bubble. 

‘As a result, Murphy Brown might be the only recently revived show I’m glad to see back on air. The show makes a stage play out of our swirling discourse, and as a result, is designed to have a short shelf life. But in the moment it hits, Murphy’s wry sarcasm really sings.’

 Murphy Brown premieres September 27 at 9:30pm on CBS.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk