Thursday, December 20, 2018

REVIEW: 'Murphy Brown' - Murphy Worries About Avery as He Works to Break a Story for Her in 'Happy New Year'

CBS' Murphy Brown - Episode 11.13 "Happy New Year"

The gang tries to distract Murphy from worrying about Avery's assignment in Kabul by getting her to attend the special 100th anniversary New Year's Eve celebration at Phil's Bar.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the season finale of CBS' Murphy Brown.

"Happy New Year" was directed by Barnet Kellman with story by Tom Seeley & Norm Gunzenhauser and teleplay by Gina Ippolito & Shander Halim

This is actually a pretty lackluster finale. It's easy to understand what the creative team was trying to do. The execution is just severely lacking. The themes don't hit as well as the show would like because it is simply trying to do so much without really adding anything of note to the proceedings. This entire season so far has talked about the divide in America when it comes to political ideologies. This is a very fraught time in the country because of those extreme beliefs. The characters have made their views known. The networks have pushed for some extreme programming in the hopes of being entertaining and seen by the most individuals. That has been the energy of the season so far. And now, the show just wants to reflect back on a simpler time when people could disagree but still be friends with one another. And yes, that is something that everyone should aspire to have in the world. However, the show suddenly wants to treat it as fact without really putting in the work to show that people from both sides of the aisle can coexist in the same environment. MSNBC anchors Lawrence O'Donnell and Andrea Mitchell make cameos as themselves. However, it's obvious that the show couldn't get anyone from the conservative perspective to also be in this environment for the New Year's celebration. Instead, they have to settle for a Mike Pence stand-in. That's ridiculous. As has been noted several times this season, it's simply better when the characters are interacting with people instead of pretending that Donald Trump, Sarah Huckabee Sanders or Mike Pence is actually there. But that actually fuels a significant story for Corky here. She wants to be alone with Pence to ask him a question about his views towards women. But it offers the same analysis that any regular person could deduce about his behavior on the subject. As such, there is really no point to it at all. The show would just look to point out that it is bringing people from both sides of the aisle together for this event. Sure, the party does allow some unlikely people to come together and spark a new connection. Miles has been intimidated by Diana all season long. She is a demanding and strict head of the network. That makes her very effective at her job but also lonely when no one wants to hang out with her at the party. Of course, the kiss the two of them share is completely unexpected. It may hint at something more. Or it could just be them reacting in the heat of the moment and not really thinking about what they're doing. It really could go either way. The show is very non-committal to the whole thing. All of this takes time away from the story the previous episode set up as the most important thing for Murphy and Avery. Murphy had a source in Afghanistan who could prove that the United States has been lying to the people about the war. Avery went there in order to conduct an interview and get everything that his mother needs for this story. The entire newsroom lifted this story and its importance up. It could bring a new sense of relevance to everyone. It could boost Avery's career once more. But here, it's mostly just Murphy worried about her son and annoying everyone around her because he hasn't checked in. That's lame and unimaginative. Sure, it's sweet when they get to keep their annual tradition of welcoming in the new year by watching Toy Story. It's a sentimental moment between mother and son. It just proves that the show can only go so far with its politics. But the politics were so crucial to the revival that it seems like the show was unable to achieve its full potential this year because of it.