Friday, November 23, 2018

REVIEW: 'Murphy Brown' - Thanksgiving at Murphy's House Takes a Tragic Turn in 'Thanksgiving and Taking'

CBS' Murphy Brown - Episode 11.09 "Thanksgiving and Taking"

When the culinarily challenged Murphy invites her colleagues plus Phyllis, Miguel and his parents for Thanksgiving dinner with Avery and her, they all brace themselves for the worst.

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.

"Thanksgiving and Taking" was written by Russ Woody and directed by Michael Lembeck

This episode takes such a dark and tragic turn. That shows just how quickly life can change. Everything has the potential of becoming something completely different in an instant. For the majority of its running time, this episode has fun at Murphy's expense because of her inability to cook. Her friends and family know that it's a bad idea for her to host Thanksgiving dinner. And yet, they are all stuck at her house waiting to be served as well. And yes, the show does have some amusing running jokes with this premise as well - like Murphy continually obsessing over how much this turkey cost, Pat eating his vegan food and Phyllis not wanting to do anything today. She wants everyone to appreciate what she's doing because she wants a picture-perfect holiday celebration to honor the family that she has in her life. She appreciates everyone so much. She wants this meal to go perfectly. Everyone is just making jokes at her expense. They are right to do so as well because she doesn't really know what she's doing. However, this isn't building to everyone sitting around the table being able to enjoy a meal and celebrate the friendships they've made today. Instead, it's a madcap adventure where Miguel's parents do their best to help Murphy in the kitchen and have a backup stove in their food truck once the power goes out at Murphy's house. They contribute so much to help this all go according to plan for Murphy. And yet, this is all building to ICE agents showing up and arresting Maria and Carlos for being in the country illegally. That's absolutely horrifying. It gives both Murphy and Avery potent themes to talk about on their respective shows. When all of this is happening, Avery is smart enough to know that it's vital for someone to start recording in order to talk about the injustice that is occurring. Murphy only just met Maria and Carlos. And yet, she is perfectly able to see the inhumanity on display with this decision. She doesn't even have to personally know them in order to feel horrified by the actions of the government. She chastises the current administration for being so cruel and destructive. It proves that there isn't a moment where Maria and Carlos could feel safe. Any moment could be the one in which they are discovered and sent back to a dangerous situation in Mexico. That's so absolutely tragic. There is nothing that anyone can do either. Murphy pleads with the officers on the scene. Them saying that they are just following orders doesn't absolve them of the responsibility of their actions either. They still have these jobs where they are required to separate families even on Thanksgiving - a holiday about bringing people together. They are still being active participants in all of this even though they believe they can justify that they aren't the true monsters in any of it. The show was always well-poised to talk about immigration at some point this season because of Miguel's status with DACA. At times, it's been the only characteristic with him. As such, that does lesson the potency of this story because he's not as compelling a character as some of the others in the ensemble. And yet, it's still heartbreaking when his parents are saying goodbye and Phyllis promises that she'll look after him while he continues his studies to become a lawyer. That career choice may be prompted solely to help his parents. And yet, it's also clear that this remains a staggering issue that needs passionate individuals in order to help avoid some of these incredibly tragic fates. Murphy wants to help. But she may only have her show in order to get this message out there.