Thursday, December 13, 2018

REVIEW: 'Murphy Brown' - Avery Struggles to Find Purpose After Being Fired from the Wolf Network in 'AWOL'

CBS' Murphy Brown - Episode 11.12 "AWOL"

A disillusioned Avery seeks career inspiration from his extended family at "Murphy in the Morning," as the team tries to salvage a major story that hinges on a source in the Middle East who has gone silent.

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.

"AWOL" was written by Gary Dontzig & Steven Peterman and directed by Joe Regalbuto

The premise at the start of this revival season was Murphy and Avery having news shows airing at the same time on rival networks. It was a constant battle for who would have the higher ratings. Murphy had the name recognition and public support while Avery probably had the better show that connected with people. That competition hit its peak a week ago with Avery being moved to primetime and promptly blowing that huge opportunity for his career. He imploded because he stood by his values. So now, he is unemployed. That means his mother has won in this competition. But that's hardly the point anymore. They both wanted the other to thrive as journalists in this world of constant and baffling news. They understand the importance of this profession. And now, Avery is defeated because no one is willing to hire him. It would be too convenient for him to go to work on his mother's show as well. And so, this episode needs that moment with Diana where she notes just how valuable Avery could be but that he's toxic for the network. There is even a moment where it seems like Avery is just going to work at the bar with Phyllis and Miguel. That's not a solution either. It's not what he is passionate about. He wants to be a journalist. He has always fit in with the gang at Murphy in the Morning as well. This is the first time he is seen in that office though. He comes there looking for the camaraderie. Instead, he only gets flashbacks of his childhood and needing to be kept from all of the sensitive information that is being discussed. He doesn't feel like he fits into this environment. He is still more than comfortable when just hanging out with these journalists at the bar after work is done. He loves hearing stories about how they used to cover stories in the past. Of course, that may play into the idea that journalists have to be willing to put their lives in danger in order to be good at their jobs. That's not completely true. Yes, the job requires some to enter into some dangerous situations. But it's also about asking the right questions and making sure that people are held accountable for their actions in every walk of life. Murphy understands that more than ever before. She needs to remind America of the devastating consequences of the war in Afghanistan. She wants people to remember that this country is still actively fighting a war. It's a war that we may be losing as well. She believes she has the documents to back up those claims too. She once again becomes a viral video star because she won't let a guest just walk away without answering her questions. Whether she knows it or not, Murphy fits well into the current generation of journalism and how they must act to remain engaged with young viewers. Sure, the show may condemn the younger generation as well. That's painfully clear with the latest assistant sent to Murphy. However, it has appreciation and understanding for Avery as he decides to be the man on the ground to ensure that Murphy can tell this important story. The bond between mother and son has been the most moving and powerful element of this season. As such, it's very rewarding that the show is focusing its final episodes around that dynamic. There is reason to worry about Avery. And yet, there is also a sense of pride because he knows exactly what to do in order to ensure his safety. He has the skills and determination to succeed. It just took him a beat to regain a sense of that in his life.