Murphy’s Law Collides with Murphy Brown

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I’ve never sugarcoated my opinion on the climbing number of remakes and reboots that have taken over much of Hollywood.  I’m not a fan. Too many studios have opted to redo something previously made because, let’s be honest, original ideas are scarce these days.  With so many reboots of former programs that are meant to capitalize on the original’s accolades and popularity, let’s chat about the newest addition to the lengthening list:  CBS’ mega hit series, Murphy Brown.

Candice Bergen won 5 Emmys for her performance as the titular character, a snarky veteran journalist who was never afraid to get to the meat of a story, but couldn’t keep an assistant to save her life. From 1988-1998, with her band of eccentric, yet merry men and women, Murphy Brown took on every politician and pundit of the day, unleashing her powerful interrogation techniques with laserlike precision, then skewering her subject with her sarcastic tongue.  

In the present day, Murphy returns to television, having been offered her own morning show on cable and brings in her former FYI colleagues: all a bit older, not quite so wise. Two notable additions to the revamped cast include as Jake McDorman as the adult Avery Brown, following in his mother’s footsteps as a journalist with (gasp!) a competing program!  He inherited his mother’s wit, and razor sharp intellect, which is proudly displayed in the first couple of episodes.

However one new character doesn’t seem to fit in. Portrayed by Nik Dodani, social media specialist Pat Patel is obviously meant to be the token youngster whose mission is to drag the curmudgeonly Murphy into the 21st Century, however this was probably one of worst character additions I have seen in a long time. While he was obviously created to show the differences in thinking between the generations, how technology has altered the very structure of journalism, to the point where it has become an integral part of the media, the character came off as just obnoxious; a caricature of the stereotypical millennial. The brief scenes Dodani was in were not enjoyable, nor were they innovative. Evidently, Pat’s quips about Murphy’s outdated flip phone were the best lines they could come up with for a character I found instantly to be one dimensional.

Don’t get me wrong, I was quite a fan of the old show. I was excited when this was announced and thought it would satisfy those cravings for nostalgia. As we know, that fictional character eventually blended into actual news media and served as a true voice for working women and single parents everywhere.  That’s why this show struck a chord with the industry and with the public.  Judging solely from that first episode, my disappointment at how flat the dialogue and storyline were had diminished any promise this series could have had. I felt that if things didn’t progress enough to honor and extend the performances and writing that created such landmark television, I would have to make a hard pass.  As of this writing, I have watched the second episode, and I have indeed decided to hang it up. In this episode, Murphy once again tries to make it into a White House press briefing after being banned for the umpteenth time, so my interest began to wane again. In the last scene, after Murphy delivers yet another passionate speech about freedom of the press and transparency, Avery discusses how he has to live to up to the reputation of his famous mother. The cold, hard truth is that this revival had to live up to its reputation, and it just doesn’t. The very heartfelt and honest dialogue between Murphy and Avery that was meant to bridge the gap between the new generation of journalists and the old (as well as between mother and son) was not enough to salvage the show in my eyes.  If the script could have been flushed out better, and a certain character was scrapped, the creative spark and inspired acting that ignited fiery watercooler conversations could have continued. It’s unfortunate that it prematurely fizzled out.

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