CBS has rebooted Murphy Brown with the old cast coming back — Candice Bergen as Murphy, Faith Ford as Corky, Joe Regalbuto as Frank, Grant Shaud as Miles, and just for fun, Jake McDorman as son Avery. Phil is gone, Eldon is gone, sure, but the rest are there.
What isn’t there is any feeling of edgy chemistry. Back in the day, there was a sense that the team of Murphy/Frank/Corky/Miles were doing something resembling news, the fourth estate that was holding politicians accountable. It had some edgy bits, and while I wasn’t a regular watcher, I did watch occasionally and I liked it. There were always some good one liners too.
The 2018 version has almost none of that.
Murphy wants to get back in the game, mostly to provide a factual counter-balance to Trump’s fake news claims. She brings Frank and Corky along too, and both are one-dimensional caricatures, as they often were. But whereas it seemed funny when they were young and spry, it seems cliché and tired now they are, well, old and tired. Similarly for Miles, he was always just a little stress ball, but now he’s mocking his own insecurities and a nervous breakdown. I don’t know if his weak mental health was somehow supposed to be funny, but it went nowhere.
Sure, she’s back. Sure, she’s interviewing Hillary Clinton to be her secretary with lots of little “in” jokes about managing emails. She’s having a tweet war with the President. There’s no sense of real honour, she just seems like a mean old woman who wants to brag about the good old days and how now that she’s back, there will be “real news” again based on truth and facts.
There is one small bright spot in the show, and that’s her son, Avery. Played, as I said, by Jake McDorman, I absolutely loved him in Limitless a few years ago. He really grew on me in the show, and seeing him here was very welcome. And I like his character. He’s going head-to-head with his Mom for ratings, although his news show is talking to real Americans, and *spoiler alert*, both him and his mom are surprised when his real journalism showloses to her glib show in the ratings war. There’s lots of real gold to mine in their relationship, as long as the writers don’t insist upon giving her the last word of wisdom. It just falls flat.
When I did my predictions, sight unseen, I thought it would get RENEWAL. I don’t think it actually deserves RENEWAL, but I’ll keep the pick there. Hopefully they find their ground, but I won’t be watching. I’m signing off after just one episode.