The First Season
Murphy Brown may be from the late 1980s, but the show still comes of hilarious and refreshing today. The television series is about Murphy Brown (Candice Bergen), an all-star news reporter with more awards and industry recognition than everyone else. She is kind hearted woman who has a crude rough brash demeanor to offset the masses. This quality is one of the things that make Murphy Brown such a likeable character. She can act hostile like a big celebrity, but in reality she's a lovable and friendly person. In this series, each episode takes a look into the daily life of Murphy at home and at work, although mostly at work. The workplace is at the office and studio for news program 'FYI: For Your Information'.
In the beginning of the first season we are introduced to all of the characters. They include Corky Sherwood (Faith Ford), Frank Fontana (Joe Regalbuto), Jim Dial (Charles Kimbrough), Miles Silverberg (Grant Shaud), and Eldin Bernecky (Robert Pastorelli). Each character's personality makes a nice addition to the series. Corky is the all too common dumb as a brick character. Her very oddly placed comments leave her looking oblivious to the obvious. She's a former Miss America (who won by default) and now a co-anchor for FYI. Frank is an investigative report for FYI and one of Murphy's best friends. In the beginning stages of the season, they tried to play him off as a ladies man, which doesn't really fit him. His role in the series adds some great interaction with Murphy and the others. Jim is the kind of character you have to like. He is an aging FYI anchor who is very stiff and old fashion. He always appears to be on edge, completely serious. Of course, this demeanor is played out so well in acting and mixed with dialogue that it's a comical delight. Miles is the FYI executive producer. What makes this character unique is that he's in his late twenties and in charge of several seasoned veterans. He always seems to be out of place in his job, as Murphy is constantly pushing him around. However, he does get his moments where he shines in his position of leadership. Finally, we have Eldin. He was hired to paint Murphy's kitchen, but his work never seems to finish. He adds a nice character to help Murphy get through her problems. All together, the cast is fun and easy to like.
The first season spends a lot of time developing the relationships between the characters. Each character gets a chance to go up against Murphy and further define their relationship with Murphy (and in some cases each other). In "Devil With a Blue Dress On", Corky shows Murphy that she isn't all beauty and no brains when she pieces together a major story. In "Baby Love", Frank and Murphy's role as best friends gets taken to the next level when they question their way of life. Together, they embark upon a life changing journey, which ends with a few laughs. In "Soul Man", Murphy really puts Jim in the spotlight when she demands to join a men's only club and she wants him to sponsor her. In "Off the Job Experience", Miles and Murphy get into a dispute about the way FYI should be run. Despite that Miles is the show's producer, Murphy thinks and does whatever she wants. After an interview gone sour, Miles lays down the law and the two duke it out. As for Eldin, the relationship that he and Murphy have develops throughout the season.
In addition, this season has several different running jokes that make this series quite funny. They poke at many former political superstars like Richard Nixon, George Bush, and Dan Quayle. Another quite funny joke is how Murphy can never seem to keep a secretary for long. Also, since Miles is so young (and has such a prestigious position), he's always at the center for a few gags. There's also Corky constantly getting on Murphy's nerve, and the fact that Eldin never seems to leave Murphy's house. The series also has a very nice aspect that is connected with Motown music. Having no theme song, each episode opens with a different song and gives the series personality. Music also plays role in the actual episodes. For instance in the pilot, there is an incredibly fun scene with Murphy Brown singing and dancing.
Overall, the first season is delightfully fun. Its approach to comedy is so refreshing and enticing that it's hard not to get lost in. While the situations in this season do not always appear realistic, they always come off hilarious. The characters are extremely hard not to like, which makes the series even easier to fall in love with. To sum it up in a few short words, Murphy Brown is fun TV.
The video is given in its original aspect ratio of 1.33:1 full frame color. Considering this season was filmed in the late 1980s, the picture looks quite good. Each episode has a distinct grain, but nothing that will ruin the viewing experience. However, at the end of the pilot episode "Respect" at 25:24 until 26:07 the picture was plagued with blue vertical lines. If you would like to see for yourself, click here to see the screen cap.
The audio in this release is in English 2.0 Dolby digital stereo. The quality is quite good. The audio is fairly flat, which is due the show being dialogue driven, and music comes off fairly rich. There are subtitles in English, French and Spanish. This release also supports closed captioning.
There are not a lot of extras with this release, but they are pretty entertaining. There are two audio commentaries and a featurette. The commentaries are for the pilot episode "Respect" with Candice Bergen and "The Summer of '77" with creator/executive producer Diane English. I thought they had some nice insights into the series. I especially enjoyed Candice Bergen's commentary. The featurette "Murphy Brown: An FYI Exclusive" is almost thirty-one minutes of the cast and crew reflecting upon the series. I found it to be full of entertaining background information about the series. I was also happy that the majority of first season cast was involved in the production.
Murphy Brown is one of those television classics that's hard not to love. It has a wonderful cast and they never seem to stop getting into hilarious situations. Anyone who enjoys an excellently executed sitcom should enjoy watching the crew at FYI. This first season is a great introduction to a fabulous series. If you haven't had the chance to experience this Murphy Brown, now is your chance and with such a low MSRP why wouldn't you?