One of the most popular shows of the late 80's and 90's (the show had a 10-year-run), "Murphy Brown" was a landmark series, both because of the show's success and the fact that Candace Bergen's character was one of the strongest female roles ever on TV. Bergen stars in the series as the title character, a journalist who has been incredibly successful over the years and, as the show begins, is heading up the TV news show "FYI". She's tough, smart, relentless in persuit of the story and, actually, not without a few flaws.
The other characters are largely her co-workers - there's the producer who's half Murphy's age (Grant Shaud, in a brilliantly nervous and hyper performance), there's the beauty queen (Faith Ford), the anchorman (Charles Kimbrough) and the show's reporter (Joe Regalbuto). Outside the newsroom, there's Elden (Robert Pastorelli), Murphy's housepainter who continues working for her long after the paint has dried. There was also a legion of nervous secretaries that worked for Murphy over the years.
It's refreshing to watch the series again, as it is a fine example of what sitcoms used to be like - and not even that long ago. The show is smart, fast and intelligent - it's not worried about referencing politics or culture because maybe some parts of the audience wouldn't pick up on it. The actors work together superbly, and have remarkable chemistry with each other - while most shows take a little while to get going, it's easy to see that "Murphy Brown" hits the ground running while watching this first season.
2. Devil With a Blue Dress On
3. Nowhere to Run
4. Signed, Sealed, Delivered
5. Murphy's Pony
6. Baby Love
7. Set Me Free
8. And So He Goes
9. I Would Have Danced All Night
11. Off the Job Experience
12. Why Do Fools Fall in Love?
13. Soul Man
14. It's How You Play the Game
15. Mama Said
16. Moscow on the Potomac
17. My Dinner with Einstein
18. Funnies Girl
19. The Unshrinkable Murphy Brown
20. The Summer of '77
21. The Bickners
22. The Morning Show
VIDEO: "Murphy Brown" is presented in the show's original 1.33:1 full-frame aspect ratio on this set. While not flawless, the picture quality surprised and pleased me, with some exceptions. Sharpness and detail remained very good throughout, with very nice, consistent detail.
For the most part, the image seemed free of specks, marks and other print wear, but a speck or two sometimes appeared. An odd flaw occured towards the end of the pilot, though: at about 24 minutes in, a few very thin, purple lines ran from the top to the bottom of the screen and were visible for about a minute. On a positive note, no instances of edge enhancement or pixelation were spotted. Colors looked bright and vibrant throughout, with nice saturation and no smearing.
SOUND: "Murphy Brown" is presented in stereo. The show's audio seemed perfectly crisp and clear, with vibrant music tracks and natural-sounding dialogue.
EXTRAS: actor Candance Bergen provides a commentary for the pilot episode, where exec producer/creator Diane English provides a commentary for "The Summer of '77". Bergen's commentary is informative, insightful and intelligent, as the actress provides a warm and enjoyable discussion of both the creation of the character and the behind-the-scenes environment of the show's early days. English's commentary is equally enjoyable, going into the bits-and-pieces of the production, discussing some of the details of the show, such as story creation, wardrobe, music, set details and character development.
On the final disc, there's also the 30-minute documentary "FYI: A Retrospective", which takes a look at the creation of the series. The documentary offers interviews with the cast and creators, who recall trying to create, cast and start the series.
Final Thoughts: "Murphy Brown" is classic TV and this first season is definitely a gem. The DVD is quite good, with a few fine supplements and mostly fine audio/video quality. Recommended.