When MURPHY BROWN first aired on television, I had no idea Candice Bergen could be that funny. With that said, I was immediately hooked and tuned into MURPHY BROWN for its entire ten year run. The basic premise of MURPHY BROWN follows the title character portrayed Candice Bergen, a tough, determined and sometimes-abrasive reporter on a Washington based television newsmagazine. Much of the show is based in the newsroom, which gives rise to a bunch of topical humor, but MURPHY BROWN is also very much a character based sitcom, with the characters themselves generating the majority of the laughter.
Of course, the show’s best running gag is Murphy’s Brown’s inability to find and retain a secretary; it’s a never-ending parade of wannabes that never seem to make it past a twenty-two minute episode. The cast of MURPHY BROWN also features Charles Kimbrough as ultra straight-laced new anchor Jim Dial, Joe Regalbuto as Murphy’s best friend and hard-hitting journalist Frank Fontana, Faith Ford as Corky Sherwood as former Beauty Queen who was brought into the fold to handle all of the fluff journalism, Grant Shaud as the newsmagazine’s somewhat green executive producer Miles Silverberg, Pat Corley as the sometimes sage like bartender Phil and Robert Pastorelli as the Michelangelo of house painters Eldin Bernecky.
MURPHY BROWN: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON ($30) comes in a four-disc set that features the following twenty-two episodes: Respect, Devil With A Blue Dress On, Nowhere To Run, Signed, Sealed, Delivered, Murphy's Pony, Baby Love, Set Me Free, And So He Goes, I Would Have Danced All Night, Kyle, Off The Job Experience, Why Do Fools Fall In Love?, Soul Man, It's How You Play The Game, Mama Said, Moscow On The Potomac, My Dinner With Einstein, Funnies Girl, The Unshrinkable Murphy Brown, The Summer Of '77, The Bickners and The Morning Show.
Warner Home Video has made has made all the episodes that comprise MURPHY BROWN: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON available on DVD in the proper full screen aspect ratios of their original television broadcasts. Image quality on the episodes is usually quite good, with considerable sharpness and detail- certainly not at the theatrical level, but very good for a shot on film sitcom. Colors are strongly rendered and the flesh tones are appealing. Blacks appear accurate, white are clean and contrast remains very much at the television level. The film elements from which the episodes are transferred rarely show anything more than minor blemishes and a little bit of grain. Digital compression artifacts are usually well contained.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo soundtracks will decode to surround in a serviceable fashion, with the music getting a nice spread in the outer channels. Fidelity for the classic songs utilized on the soundtracks is pretty darn good. Dialogue is clean and always easy to understand. No other language tracks have been encoded onto the DVDs, but English, French and Spanish subtitles have been included.
Music underscores the basic interactive menus, which allow one access to the standard scene/episode selection and set up features, as well as a few nice extra features. Actress Candice Bergen provides an audio commentary for the episode Respect, while series creator/executive producer Diane English offers up her comments on Summer Of '77. Also featured in the set is Murphy Brown: An FYI Exclusive. The program is a highly enjoyable thirty-minute retrospective that looks back on the series and features interviews with the majority of cast member, as well as the creative team.
I’ve always been a fan of MURPHY BROWN and am delighted that the show has made its DVD debut. Warner has done a great job with the presentation, offering solid image quality and sound. If you are a fan, MURPHY BROWN: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON is a must have. Recommended.
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