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English is back with 'Murphy Brown' revival that fits political climate

Buffalo writer-producer Diane English is returning to network television with the revival of the program that brought her to national prominence in the late 1980s: "Murphy Brown."

CBS announced Tuesday that it has ordered 13 episodes for an update of the classic sitcom set in a fictional TV news magazine, which ran from 1988-1998.

The network added that Candice Bergen will return as the title character and English will be back as the writer-producer for the revival, which will premiere during the 2018-19 TV season.

Original cast members Faith Ford, Joe Regalbuto, Grant Shaud and Charles Kimbrough were not mentioned in the release, though there have been reports some may return. Three members of the recurring cast -- Jay Thomas, Robert Pastorelli and Pat Corley -- have died.

You have to wonder if someone would be cast as Murphy's son Avery, who became part of the national discussion when then Vice President Dan Quayle famously made the fictional character's decision to raise the child by herself part of the discussion of family values and the importance of fathers. Avery would be in his mid-20s now and could have followed his mother in the TV news business.

'Murphy Brown' creator Diane English sets sights on return to TV

The revival is part of a trend in which networks are bringing back old shows such as NBC's "Will & Grace," ABC's "Roseanne" and Fox's "The X-Files," "24" and "Prison Break."

"Will & Grace" has been a critical and ratings success for NBC this year and "Roseanne," which premieres in March, received positive buzz in January during the recent Television Critics Association press tour in Pasadena, Calif.

The return of "Murphy Brown" actually makes more sense than other revivals in that English's show often dealt satirically with current events and media issues, which are plentiful during the Trump administration.

The attention to current events – which became old – is one of the reasons that "Murphy Brown" was never as big in syndication as expected.

You can easily see English address ageism in TV news, sexual harassment and the president's shouting "fake news" in an effort to undermine the public view of the fairness of the news media.

CBS' release suggested that would be the case. It noted "as its 30th anniversary approaches, 'Murphy Brown' returns to a world of cable news, social media, fake news and a very different political and cultural climate."

The scripts will be a success if they are as funny as some of the tweets late Wednesday after CBS' announcement, many of which comically speculated about the return of other old shows.

Among the funniest tweets was this one from Dave Itzkoff of The New York Times about upcoming scripts.

 

In the release, CBS noted the program received 18 Emmy wins, three Golden Globe wins, three Screen Actors Guild awards, two Directors Guild awards and two Writers Guild awards. Bergen won five Emmy Awards and two Golden Globe Awards.

Murphy Brown also was No. 25 on TV Guide's 2010 list of the “25 Greatest TV Characters of All Time."

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