Following in the footsteps of fellow revivals Will & Grace and Roseanne, CBS’ Emmy-winning comedy Murphy Brown returned Thursday night for the first time since its original ten-season run ended in 1998. But are Murphy and her TV journalist pals still relevant enough to make headlines in the age of Trump?
The premiere isn’t exactly subtle about its political leanings, opening with footage of President Trump’s campaign set to the tune of the Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil.” Murphy lets out a primal wail on election night as her son Avery (Jake McDorman) — all grown up and a journalist in his own right — announces Trump’s victory on TV, and she later dons a pink-plumed gladiator helmet for a protest march, declaring, “We’re at war.” (Phyllis, the new proprietor of Phil’s Bar played by Tyne Daly, likes the marches for a different reason: “Angry women drink a lot of Chardonnay.”)
At the bar, Murphy catches up with her old FYI co-anchors Frank Fontana, who’s now teaching journalism and attending marches in a pink protest hat just to meet women, and Corky Sherwood, who just got replaced on-air by a surgically enhanced weather girl and is old enough to start having hot flashes. (Boy, times have changed, huh?) Trump’s election is enough to inspire Murphy to get back on the air — and her decision is cemented when Avery comes home to tell her he’s getting his own show as the liberal “voice of reason” on the ultra-conservative Wolf Network. She’s tired of yelling at the TV, she says: “I’d rather be on the TV, yelling out!”
She lands a new cable news show, Murphy in the Morning — in the same time slot as Avery’s, mind you — and recruits her former producer Miles Silverberg to helm it. (She has to haul a traumatized Miles out of self-imposed career exile: “Two years at The View nearly killed me,” he confesses.) Soon, the new show is up and running, with social media guru Pat (Nik Dodani) urging Murphy to get on Twitter… and marveling at her old flip phone. Murphy also interviews a candidate to be her next secretary: Hillary Clinton, in a cheeky cameo. (She says her name is Hilary, “spelled with one L.” She also lists her office credentials: “I do have some experience with emails.”)
When Murphy grills a Trump EPA official on her show about climate change, the Tweeter-in-Chief himself fires back from the Oval Office, labeling her “Old Murphy” in a series of scathing tweets. Murphy’s not intimidated, though, challenging him on live TV to “bring it on! Hashtag Dan Quayle!” She later regrets stooping to Trump’s level and sullying her show with such lowbrow antics… but thanks to the controversy, she ends up clobbering Avery’s show in the ratings. So maybe tweaking Trump has its advantages after all.
We already weighed in with our thoughts on the Murphy Brown revival, but what did you think? Grade tonight’s premiere in the poll below, and tell us if you plan to stick around to watch Episode 2.