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Murphy Brown is a very selfish, stubborn, extremely hot-tempered but also talented, resourceful, clever and caring middle-aged reporter who works for FYI News Network and at the same time tries to raise her child as an unmarried, working woman. Her friends and co-workers, Corky, Jim, Frank and Miles, try to balance between her outbursts of anger and her family, personality or even financial crises. It's a difficult life for Murphy but she's got the guts to live it... Written by
Xenophon Tsakanikas <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Great Casting, Solid Writing, Situation Comedy At Its Best
At the top of its class when first introduced in the late nineteen eighties, MURPHY BROWN still holds up as satisfying, warmly humorous "class" television twenty years later in syndication and on DVD.
Of course MURPHY BROWN was most notable in its original run for addressing the prime issues of the day, but it is the quality of the writing and acting which glows today.
Sadly, few of the "issues" addressed have gone away - "pols" of the ilk of Dan Quayle have even moved up to stealing elections through short counts in Florida and rigged voting machines in Ohio to take the TOP job - where is a Murphy Brown when we need her?), but even conservatives (I'm an occasionally elected - if moderate - Republican myself) could laugh at the balanced writing for MURPHY BROWN the TV show, which took many opportunities to spoof the irony of a newsroom full of dedicated caring professionals (this was just at the time - another topic sharply satirized - when networks were turning the once sacrosanct news departments over to the ministrations of their "entertainment divisions") trying to do a solid job while balancing corporate politics and real personal lives and passions.
Some commentators here have had reservations about the comic impact of MURPHY BROWN, perhaps longing for the knock-about, content free physical comedy of the 1950's. I'd suggest that they do not understand the nature of what SITUATION comedy has (thank God) evolved to since the days of I LOVE LUCY and I MARRIED JOAN. The best comedy comes, not from jokes and mugging (though MURPHY BROWN had its fair share of those too), but from carefully developed SITUATIONS and CHARACTER - which is why those "breast cancer episodes" in the latter seasons, with the show admittedly struggling with maintaining its comic focus in the face of departing - and frequently beloved - cast regulars, could glow so strong in so many memories.
These things go in cycles, and for those who don't like subtlety in their comedy writing, there will always be another wave of joke filled silliness that doesn't actually engage the mind in a season or two - and some times when you have a brilliant comedienne like Lucile Ball at the core and an innovative creator like Desi Arnaz shaping new ways of presenting the old formulas, it will be memorable - but the shows that really last, and *grow* with each passing season are those like MURPHY BROWN that actually engage the mind and attempt to portray and interact with the world they exist in.
MURPHY BROWN may well be the best situation comedy ever not written by Aaron Sorkin (SPORTS NIGHT and WEST WING).
Casting - regulars and guest appearances - was uniformly top drawer to match the writing, with a series of outstanding guest stars fleshing out the fictional news magazine (FYI)'s stories and the personal lives of the characters (Murphy's "ex-husband" and Miles' "brother" were brilliant in too infrequent appearances).
One of the best and most surprising ongoing story lines was Brown's relationship with her over achieving mother, Avery Brown, played by the great stage actress (and long time President of Actor's Equity!) Coleen Dewhurst. This story line brought a new generation of fans to one of the stage's brightest lights and wisely continued even after the actress's untimely passing. While the first season of MURPHY BROWN has been out on DVD for some time (Dewhurst first appeared in the first season), the issuing company does not appear to be in a hurry to put out subsequent seasons. One can only pray that they will consider a single disc DVD issue of all the Dewhurst episodes (and the one where Murphy's child is named). It would be treasured by fans of the series - and of Dewhurst.
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