The final episode of this season of Murphy Brown opens with Murphy (Candice Bergen) calling Frank (Joe Regalbuto) in the middle of the night, sick with worry about Avery’s impending arrival in the Middle East. It turns out he is alive and well (and caffeinated thanks to the local Kabul Starbucks!)
But none of the gang got any sleep thanks to Murphy’s anxiety. The feeling is contagious — while Murphy is worried about her son’s safety, and the staff is worried about their story. If Avery can’t deliver on the intel he promised to bring back from Afghanistan, the show is in serious trouble.
Meanwhile at the bar, they’re preparing to celebrate the 100th anniversary, which happens to coincide with New Years Eve. Phyllis (Tyne Daley) is feeling less enthusiastic about the commemoration — and Pat’s (Nik Dodani) cacophonous DJ-ing isn’t helping.
Andrea Mitchell playing herself makes a surprise appearance at the party, toasting to Murphy’s excellent reporting skills over the years. But she isn’t the only celebrity guest at this party. Mike Pence (unfortunately not played by himself) is ambushed by Corky (Faith Frank) in the bathroom, who wants to know why he won’t take private meals with female staffers. This sexist practice that Pence upholds in real life is detrimental to the careers of young women, who aren’t able to get the same quality time with the politician as their male colleagues.
After midnight, the last reveler is Benny the puppy, wearing a sweet party hat provided by a safely home Avery, donning a Pod Save America sweatshirt.
“Traditions mean something to people,” Murphy tells Phyllis early on in this episode, “especially when the world is spinning out of control.” With the fate of the Murphy Brown revival still uncertain, the line has special weight. The words get right to the heart of the television reboot movement — audiences are hungry for the familiar, for the safe, for the traditional. Or so CBS was betting when it first ordered 13-episodes of the Murphy Brown reboot. And though its unimpressive numbers have not exactly affirmed that thesis, this reviewer at least has found the comforting sit-com cadence and strong matriarchal protagonist poignant and meaningful in these chaotic times.