As a longtime fan from the early days of controversial short hair and arguments with Dan Quayle, I feel comfortable saying that with two episodes left in the season CBS’s new Murphy Brown may have found its stride. After a pair of hard-hitting holiday episodes and the addition of one perfect little pupper on wheels the Brown family feels more whole and the FYI team more dedicated than ever to reporting hard-hitting news to its “viewing audience” and its viewing audience. So meta.
The show opens as Murphy grills a Major Stansfield about reports that the Pentagon is inflating the number of Taliban killed and under-reporting deserters from the Afghan army in order to convince the American people there that the war is mostly over. The Major attempts to insult Murphy and then walks off the air mid-show so she follows him with a camera all the way to the door so that she can repeat her questions as he wails that he should have appeared on “Hannity” instead.
While Murphy and the gang work their story, Avery sits home in his sweats watching another reporter steal his persona and spout WOLF network propaganda. Avery seeks comfort from Mom and interrupts a story meeting about interest in Murphy’s confrontation with Stansfield. Frank calls Afghanistan an unwinable war, like Vietnam all over again, and compares their coverage to the Pentagon Papers.
Avery turns up at Phil’s in time to meet with the gang as they reminisce about contacts on the ground twenty years ago because networks had bureaus around the world. They lament the moment when the news moved over into the entertainment division and Frank talks about Cronkite on the ground in Vietnam telling America he didn’t believe in the war.
The episode ends on a somber but heartfelt note when Murphy finds Avery packed that evening to pursue Murphy’s contact in Afghanistan. As he goes, Murphy is left with little Benny Hanna who seems to fill the empty hole left in the show by the absence of beloved painter and longtime Brown companion, Eldin, whose character / actor passed away in the interim between the final season of the original show and the premiere of the new season. With only one episode left and no renewal date for a next season, Murphy Brown has NOT been cancelled and has an open-ended possibility of renewal at this time.