As if Donald Trump doesn’t have enough problems these days, what with the expanding Russia investigation, payoffs to silence porn stars and low poll numbers, he’ll soon be facing another challenge.
Murphy Brown is coming after him.
OK, that wasn’t part of the official CBS announcement that it is bringing “Murphy Brown” back next season. The only reference to the current occupant of the White House is oblique — that Murphy will return “to a world of cable news, social media, fake news and a very different political and cultural climate.”
Officially, all we know is that the CBS has ordered 13 episodes; that Candice Bergen will return as the title character; and that the show’s creator, Diane English, will return as the writer/executive producer.
And that’s all we need to know to be certain that the revival will take aim at Trump, just as the original did at George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and a plethora of politicians. Make no mistake, English is not a Trump fan. Not only did she say in an interview, “Mr. Trump seems to be quite a dangerous person,” but she wrote a faux Murphy Brown-Donald Trump interview for the website Humanity for Hillary before the 2016 election. It starts out like this:
DT: Where have you been, Murphy?
MB: I took some time off to raise my son.
DT: See, this is what I’m talking about. Pregnancy is inconvenient for business. Case in point.
MB: I guess I could have had an abortion, but you said if a woman has an abortion she should be punished. What kind of punishment did you have in mind? Jail time? Flogging? A long lunch with Omarosa?
DT: You know, Murphy, you used to be a 10. Sadly, you’re no longer.
MB: Here’s a news flash. Women age.
DT: Not in my world.
That’s to a harbinger of things to come … again.
“Murphy Brown” ran for 10 seasons (1988-98), but it made its biggest headlines and got its biggest ratings when then-Vice President Dan Quayle put part of the blame for the Los Angeles riots on the show when Murphy became a single mother, calling it “wrong” and claiming the show was mocking the importance of fathers by having its central character bear a child alone and calling it “just another lifestyle choice.”
Some 70 million viewers tuned in for Murphy’s response, which celebrated the diversity of families and ended when Murphy had a load of potatoes dumped on Quayle’s lawn. (The veep had infamously misspelled “potato” as “potatoe.”)
Six weeks later, Quayle and Bush lost their bid for re-election.
It’s worth remembering that the first four seasons of “Murphy Brown” were its best and that English left to produce another show before Season 5. And if you’re inclined to scoff at a “Murphy Brown” revival, it’s also worth remembering that:
(1) Topical, political humor has made Stephen Colbert No. 1 in late night.
(2) The “Will and Grace” revival is really good.
(3) The first two episodes of the “Roseanne” revival are very promising.
(4) This is not “The X-Files.”
And don’t underestimate Diane English and Murphy Brown. They’re coming back to TV in a big way, whereas “Whatever happened to Dan Quayle?” has become a trivia question. Answer: He made an abortive run for the White House in 2000, went into investment banking and has rarely been heard from since.
The last time he made any news at all — and it flew well below the radar — was when he visited Trump Tower to congratulate Trump in November 2016.
That is until the “Murphy Brown” announcement, which dredged up that whole controversy again.