Murphy Brown: Mary Tyler Moore, 20 Years Later

I watched the pilot and a few episodes of Murphy Brown, Season One. One of the first things to capture my attention was the (expensive!!) use of music in this show. Murphy Brown does not have theme music for its opening credits. Instead, each episode title is based on a Motown song, or the theme of the episode is based on the song, which acts as an opening theme. Like the episode where Corky and Murphy wear the same blue dress, the opening sequence is Corky getting ready for work as “Devil In A Blue Dress” plays, and then arriving to work wearing a rather cute blue dress that could actually work today. Murphy walks in wearing the same dress. The episode then launches into a situation where Murphy has to bring Corky along to work on an assignment with her; despite her dingbatty-ness, Corky ends up busting down the door on a big story.

I figure this is the reason why this show has not seen any syndication: licensing music can be pricey. I’m sure KTLA doesn’t feel like forking over millions of dollars each year just so Murphy Brown re-runs don’t start without music.

I like that the pilot kicks off with two interesting introductory points:1. Murphy is coming back to the office after a very public breakdown and a month in rehab — so no booze, no cigarettes, even though the common non-office, non-home location for the news gang is a bar.

2. Miles is hired as the 25-year-old executive producer who is very savvy while still being slightly wet behind the ears.

The pilot also introduces Eldin, Murphy’s over-the-top house painter, who becomes a close confidant. From what I remember about this show when it was on originally, he was on throughout the series. How the hell does he paint a house for 10 years? Then again, checking IMDB, it looks like out of 247 total episodes, he appeared in 44. So they didn’t have to address it constantly, but still — after 6 months I’d be kicking him out, thankyouverymuch. Clearly, though, Murphy needed a companion at home, since she didn’t have a husband.

Early on, Murphy, who is middle-aged, remains relatively resilient but you can see that she’s questioning what she has done with her life as far as a child and husband are concerned. Though episode four or five reveal that she was once married to some activisty guy for five days. She is faced with a conflict of interest when she has to interview him. The following episode, she’s forced to bring in a set of three rambunctious children after some lady more or less left them on her doorstep (at FYI News) because she seems so “together” (even though she JUST returned from a very public rehabilitation maybe 3 months earlier). And then in a couple of years, Murphy has a baby and sends VP Dan Quail into a tizzy.

Anyway, this show is a really fantastic workplace comedy focused on a woman working in television media, advancing similar themes as The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and being a stepping stone to a show like 30 Rock. Speaking of which, when I was watching this, I had the thought that this show would have totally benefitted from being a single-camera sitcom, kind of like Sports Night.


About Michelle

I like pie. And clapping.

Posted on February 7, 2011, in Quarter 1: Winter 2010, Television and Society and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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