Thursday, October 18, 2018

REVIEW: 'Murphy Brown' - Murphy Doesn't Want to Support False Equivalency on Her Show in 'Three Shirts to the Wind'

CBS' Murphy Brown - Episode 11.04 "Three Shirts to the Wind"

Murphy and the team weigh the pros and cons of accepting the offer to have the first interview with a headline-grabbing former White House senior advisor who wants to promote his divisive book and agenda on Murphy in the Morning. Also, Avery moderates a lively political discussion on his show with locals in Buffalo, New York.

In 2018, it has become very difficult to keep up with every television show out there. It's even more difficult to provide adequate coverage on this site about the episodes that air every week. Not every show can get full coverage because of my busy and hectic viewing schedule. As such, some reviews will now be condensed to give only some summary thoughts. But it also affords a space for me to jot down my thoughts on the various episodes. And so, here are my thoughts on this week's episode of CBS' Murphy Brown.

"Three Shirts to the Wind" was written by Laura Krafft and directed by Don Scardino

Murphy Brown tackles the idea of false equivalency in this week's episode. It's a fascinating subject that is very much defining the current era of politics and journalism. Sure, Ed Shannon is a very thinly veiled stand-in for Steve Bannon. However, it works that the show fictionalizes the character a little bit because it allows Murphy to actually interact with and have a spirited debate. The question of this story is Murphy having to decide if she is willing to have Shannon on her show in order to eviscerate him. It would be a huge ratings hit. That's the incentive for bringing such a despicable man on her show. He is promoting a new book. He wants the buzz in order to increase sales. He only wants to sit down with Murphy for an interview because he sees her as the only person who could engage in an intellectual debate on the same level as him. However, there is the fear of rationalizing what he stands for. If he makes an appearance on Murphy in the Morning, then there is the assumption that what he stands for is a perfectly reasonable view on the world. It's not. It's absolutely horrifying. He is a racist and misogynist. He is a fear monger who plays into the panic that is sweeping the nation about potential threats from anyone who is coming in. He wants to close the borders entirely and just thrive as an isolated nation. Murphy really struggles with the decision regarding this interview. It allows a special guest appearance by original series regular Charles Kimbrough as Jim Dial. He has largely retired from acting. That's the reason why he's no longer a regular presence in these new episodes. But it's also clear that he comes back and will continue to offer advice when the various characters need it. He has such definitive answers about Murphy's moral dilemma regarding Shannon. Meanwhile, he already starts a flirtation with Phyllis which could blossom into something more. Tyne Daly absolutely needs more screen time in this season moving forward. Of course, it's also fascinating to watch as Murphy in the Morning opts not to produce this interview with Ed Shannon while Murphy Brown has absolutely no problem with producing a sit down between Murphy and Shannon in which she completely destroys him. It's once again the show being very forceful with the way it feels to obliterate these ideas of nationalism that have invaded our politics. But it's also so invigorating because it presents as evidence that builds the trust in Murphy Brown once more. The characters all knew that she was capable of ripping Shannon apart during this interview. And now, she is given that precise opportunity. She is able to stand on the moral high ground while still producing this viral clip that will only help her show in the ratings. It's basically a win-win for her. As such, it leaves her on a high even though she's still constantly amused by smartphones recording everything she does nowadays. Elsewhere, Avery's show is seen for the first time and I absolutely have questions. It seems like these discussions in locations all across the country run the risk of being nothing but physical fights every single day. That's basically the joke that extends from his opening conversation about Shannon and his later comments about the NFL. That seems a little monotonous and not really something that could develop into a ratings challenger against Murphy. So if the audience is suppose to take Avery and his show seriously, then more time is going to need to be spent in this environment to flesh out the way that it functions.