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Murphy Brown - AWOL - Review

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        Murphy Brown “AWOL” was written by the team of Gary Dontzig and Steven Peterman and was directed by none other than Joe Regalbuto – Frank! I liked this episode because it highlighted how news gathering has changed since the show first aired, and because it once again seems to be headed in the direction of ripped from the headlines. I’m talking, of course, about the shameful murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

As the episode begins, Murphy (Candice Bergen) is interviewing Major Stansfield (Robert Farrior) about Afghanistan. He keeps doing what the White House has been doing for this administration – every time Murphy asks a direct question, he changes the subject and refuses to answer. He finally just gets up and leaves – with Murphy in hot pursuit! I love them following her with a handy-cam – and her asking him how he’s going to get out of Afghanistan if he can’t even get out of their building. She also points out that he can’t escape her because she’s bionic – she has two fake hips!

At home, Avery (Jake McDorman) is still struggling with having been fired. It doesn’t make things any better that WOLF has replaced him with a clone of himself – Mark Clark (Zachary Storey) – who is willing to toe the party line and spout fake news. Avery is amusing himself by teaching Benny tricks – which are more than adorable!!! Murphy isn’t so happy when he wakes her up though.

Murphy is clearly worried about Avery and assures him that showing integrity is never a bad career move even if it does get you fired. Avery is concerned that he hasn’t had any job offers in 8 weeks. Murphy tells him to just get out of the house… But she’s not too happy when he shows up at Murphy in Morning.

Meanwhile, we get another great temp assistant for Murphy – who she quickly fires. Jayden (Bubba Weiler) is the entitled Millenial that Pat (Nik Dodani) isn’t. I like that the show exhibits some nuance when it comes to stereotypes.

Real life also sneaks in as the team has their story meeting. Murphy tries to get Miles (Grant Shaud) to tell Avery he can’t sit in, but of course, Miles refuses. They discuss the Afghanistan situation, and Corky (Faith Ford) points out that it’s an important story that everyone is ignoring because they are distracted by the President’s tweets – because that’s his point… Diana (Merle Dandridge) sticks her oar in to say that they can’t have an hour to cover the story because people’s attention spans are three minutes. Honestly, Dandridge has never really meshed in the show for me. Frank ends the meeting by pointing out that Afghanistan is just like Vietnam – the government is insisting they are winning when they definitely aren’t. And then Murphy’s source stops responding to her texts.

Avery ends up at Phil’s, and Phyllis (Tyne Daly) echoes Murphy, telling him that she admires his integrity for quitting WOLF the way he did. When the bar is left unattended, Avery jumps behind it to help, and suddenly everyone thinks he’s working there! Pat calls it sad. Miguel (Adan Rocha), however, has another take on it. He really doesn’t have the luxury of integrity – if he were to quit his job, he’d be in real trouble.

The gang arrives in the bar and eventually call Avery over to join them. They tell him about Murphy’s source going AWOL. They reminisce about how 20 years ago journalism was a much more romantic profession. There were news bureaus all over the world staffed with reporters gathering information. Now they have to do it all long distance and use freelancers – because it’s more cost effective.

Back at home, Benny is clearly training Murphy to bring him food when he rings the bell. I know this because my dog trained my mother to give him treats when he asked to shake her hand! When Murphy goes up to Avery’s room, she finds him packing. It’s hilarious – and another nice “mom” moment when she knocks first and suggests she can come back later if he’s doing something “private.”

Avery is packing to go to Afghanistan to find Murphy’s source. Murphy thinks it’s crazy because he’ll have no network sources or support. But Avery is prepared – there’s the balanced look at the Internet and its possibilities again! Besides there’s no one there reporting. Murphy is clearly worried about Avery’s safety even if she won’t say so in as many words. Avery doesn’t hesitate to tell her that he loves her too. It’s a sweet ending to the episode – which leaves us with this cliffhanger!

I thought this was another solid episode that mixed humor and drama from a balanced perspective. What did you think of the episode? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

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