‘Murphy Brown’ 11×05 Review: ‘The Girl Who Cried About Wolf’

Murphy Brown bounced back this week. While last week’s jokes fell flat or felt like they were lifted from a Twitter war, this week’s edition felt much sharper and more focused on the characters we love.

We say it all the time here on Fangirlish: We watch for the characters!

Frank’s Undercover Affair

Frank Fontana, investigative reporter and noted ladies’ man, has found himself a new lady, someone who makes him so happy that he smiles inappropriately while reading a tease about the terrible symptoms of dengue fever. He of course gets plenty of ribbing from his colleagues, even before they learn his new lady is an anchor at the rival conservative Wolf Network!

“Murphy Brown” 11×05 “The Girl Who Cried About Wolf.” Source: Twitter/@MurphyBrownCBS

It is so much fun to watch this team shoot one-liners at each other, even as they’re expressing concern. “You’re getting serious with a woman who’s the exact opposite of you for, what at your age, all of three minutes?” Murphy asks.

“Sixteen. I checked my FitBit,” Frank counters.

The Big Scoop

While Murphy is a little concerned about Frank, she’s also concerned about the big opioid story she’s about to break. She’s got a whistleblower ready to sound off, but is only being held back by Miles’ insistence that the network’s legal department vet the story first.

It’s a good journalistic principle, especially with a story that’s potentially explosive. In the meantime, everyone is told to keep mum to protect the scoop.


Problem is, they wind up getting scooped themselves – by Frank’s lady friend. There’s quite a bit of recrimination thrown around, with Murphy accusing Frank of leaking the story, and Frank pointing out that her son works for Wolf too – maybe he took the story! It’s the kind of spat that happens between old friends, and they settle it within a day, as truly good friends do. Friendship doesn’t mean you’ll never disagree, after all. (Besides, both of them turned out to be wrong.)

Murphy’s Newest Assistant

So it looks like Murphy’s now been through every possible human assistant on the planet. Human Resources hates her. A support group for former assistants beats up Murphy Brown piñatas.

Pat Patel to the rescue! In between hacking the team’s computers, nosing through their bank accounts and then upgrading their security, he’s invented an artificial intelligence to be Murphy’s assistant. VAL may look like a Thermos, but provides some of the funniest topical lines of the night, especially when asked to give the current count of presidential lies. VAL gives an answer… then adds one… then adds another… and then says, “Apologies, he is currently at a rally.”

“Murphy Brown” 11×05 “The Girl Who Cried About Wolf.” Source” Twitter/@MurphyBrownCBS

This is the kind of topical humor Murphy Brown does so well. And at this moment, with the president appearing at many rallies across the country, it feels in-the-moment. This is the Murphy Brown I’ve always cherished.

(And by the way: VAL was the leaker!)

Of Course Mom Lied To You!

Time for truth here: All mothers lie to their kids about SOMETHING. Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, what really happened to the pet goldfish, what happened to all the Almond Joys in their Halloween haul… yeah, we all lie to you, kids. (I’m a mom. Would I lie to you? Oh, never mind!)

But none of us can do it as masterfully as Murphy Brown. Avery hears the team talking about a big story, and wants to know what it is. And he’s willing to wait for the answer. “I have lots of my mother in me, so I’m gonna watch you all twist,” he says.

That’s when Murphy appears to cave, telling him they’ve got a story about a tape.

“THE PEE TAPE?!” Avery exclaims, with a face that looks like a kid on Christmas morning. He rushes off in an effort to find the tape at home, literally digging for it in the backyard. He never finds the (nonexistent) tape, but he does find something else buried there: a stuffed Barney, missing for more than 20 years. “I tried to set him on fire but he wouldn’t burn!” Murphy tells him, an explanation I understand only too well! (And so will every parent who had to deal with Barney or Elmo or the Teletubbies!)

It all leads to another mother/son conversation, this time about setting some ground rules and leaving their jobs at the door. But before things can become too serious, Avery says they must set rules “because I love you and you love me. We’re a happy family,” while holding up his Barney.

Once again, I must praise the chemistry between Candice Bergen and Jake McDorman. They’ve been striking all the right chords.

One-Liner Notes

  • “I’m Italian, it’s the last part of us to go.” Frank, when questioned about spending the night with a woman at his age.
  • “You can’t hide your wife’s body parts in the hayloft and not expect barn cats to play with her femur.” – A Corky Sherwood classic!
  • “When you’re in this bar you’re in my America. And if you can’t behave yourself I’ll deport you.” – Phyllis to a bigoted patron.
  • “What was she doing there, clubbing seals?” Murphy’s question when Frank says he met his girlfriend at an environmental conference.

Murphy Brown airs Thursday nights at 9:30/8:30 Central on CBS.


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