If you’ve been watching the Murphy Brown reboot religiously since episode one, then you know you’ve been waiting for it. The big Jim Dial moment. We needed it. We wanted it. Finally, CBS gave it to us. Charles Kinbrough makes his triumphant return in season eleven, episode four – “Three Shirts to the Wind” as Jim, the seasoned anchor of FYI who called Murphy “Slugger” and delivered some of the best dry humor that Murphy Brown has to offer.
The episode begins in a little place that is close to both my heart and my home, Anchor Bar in Buffalo, NY. Avery’s work with the Wolf Network continues to take him to locations around the country where he can get the opinion of the working woman and man on today’s divisive political climate.
After a brief scene in “Anchor Bar” that demonstrates the depth and rage of America’s political differences, Murphy, Frank, and Corky find out that a Steve Bannon-esque character named Ed Shannon who always wears three shirts – possibly to hide his “swampy scales” – has challenged Murphy to an interview that will help him to promote his new book and to gain a huge ratings boost for Murphy in the Morning. A badass lady from upper management descends to tell Murphy and the gang that morality be damned, because she wants that interview.
Back at Phil’s after the high pressure visit from Boss Diana Murphy laments that the fourth member of the FYI news crew, Jim Dial, isn’t there to offer the group guidance. Suddenly, in an act of delightful sitcom deus ex machina, Jim returns from his sailing trip to Bermuda. Jim confirms what Murphy’s gut tells her – that interviewing Ed Shannon would grant him “false equivalency,” a condition that Jim considers “the disease of modern journalism.” After Jim reminds us all what’s really happening with the media these days he and Phyllis make a love connection that will surely rear its head again this season.
After her heart-to-heart with Jim, Murphy knows what to do. Despite Twitter challenges and smack-talk, she declines Shannon’s challenge and refuses to even say his name on the air. She reminds the American people that her job is to “report the news, not become the news” – which definitely foreshadows the end of the episode . . . .
Despite Boss Diana’s anger, Murphy is pleased with herself when she arrives at Phil’s, only to find Ed Shannon and all three of his shirts waiting for her. Murphy tears him apart, calling him out as an “old white guy” too “scared of losing his place at the table.” She goes on to say that single-shirted people everywhere will prevail.
That night, Avery plays the tongue-lashing back for her on his tablet after a bystander streamed the whole event on twitter live. In the end, Murphy becomes the news again, though she tells her son something we’ve all thought before – “Thank god there were no smart phones when I was drinking” . . .
Come back next week for another slightly spoiler-filled review of Murphy Brown season eleven, episode five “The Girl Who Cried About Wolf.”