Re­booted Mur­phy Brown a gem of new TV sea­son

The Prince George Citizen - - A & E - Lynn ELBER

LOS AN­GE­LES — There’s more new tele­vi­sion to watch than is hu­manly pos­si­ble. But ev­ery­one has to make a time-al­lo­ca­tion de­ci­sion in the end, and that’s what we’re here to help with.

Con­sider the list be­low a tip sheet to get you go­ing on the fall TV sea­son. Each of the six shows has some­thing of note to of­fer, and some have the po­ten­tial to be sea­son (or be­yond) stand­outs. Happy view­ing, and the snacks are on you.

Mur­phy Brown

The un­ex­pected suc­cess of Roseanne last sea­son (be­fore its sud­den im­plo­sion due to star Roseanne Barr) would be enough to make this re­vival in­trigu­ing as an­other one­time TV hit ea­ger to prove its rel­e­vance.

The orig­i­nal CBS sit­com star­ring Candice Ber­gen as a broad­cast TV news an­chor and re­porter was un­abashedly in the mid­dle of pol­i­tics and so­cial is­sues when it aired from 1988-98, in­clud­ing go­ing toeto-toe with Vice-Pres­i­dent Dan Quayle over un­wed moth­er­hood.

Cre­ator Diane English has said it was the chance to weigh in on Trump-era pol­i­tics that per­suaded her to put Mur­phy back to work, this time on the ca­ble news side and with a bone to pick about so-called “fake news.” She’s joined by her for­mer col­leagues in­clud­ing Corky (Faith Ford), Frank (Joe Re­gal­b­uto) and Miles (Grant Shaud).

The show de­buts on Sept. 27.

The Ro­manoffs

The Ama­zon Prime Video drama se­ries makes the cut even with­out virtue of an early screen­ing, thanks both to its pedi­gree and am­bi­tions. It was cre­ated, writ­ten, di­rected and pro­duced by Matthew Weiner of Mad Men glory and marks his re­turn to se­ries TV af­ter his Emmy-show­ered drama ended in 2015.

An eight-episode an­thol­ogy se­ries, The Ro­manoffs prom­ises a kalei­do­scope of tales about peo­ple who fancy them­selves de­scen­dants of the royal Rus­sian fam­ily that fell vic­tim to rev­o­lu­tion. The cast changes from episode to episode, start­ing with Marthe Keller and Aaron Eck­hart in The Vi­o­let Hour and Corey Stoll and Kerry Bishe in The Royal We.

The Ro­manoffs was shot on lo­ca­tion in Europe, the Amer­i­cas and Asia. The first two episodes de­but Oct. 12.

My Bril­liant Friend

HBO’s first non-English lan­guage se­ries is based on the in­ter­na­tion­ally best­selling novel of the same name, the first of four books by Elena Fer­rante. That’s a pen name for the au­thor who’s re­mained anony­mous, creat­ing as much a sen­sa­tion for that choice as for the ac­claimed saga of two women start­ing in their 1950s child­hood in Naples, Italy.

The pro­duc­tion is im­pres­sive, from the cast­ing of the ac­tresses play­ing friends Elena and Lila as girls (new­com­ers Elisa Del Ge­nio and Lu­dovica Nasti) and as teenagers (Margherita Maz­zucco, Gaia Girace) to its re-cre­ation of the tough, un­for­giv­ing neigh­bour­hood that served as their in­cu­ba­tor.

There’s fidelity to the novel over­all in the episode pro­vided, a promis­ing start for the ex­tended se­ries that will adapt the nov­els in full and which, hope­fully, will air here. This sea­son’s eight episodes are com­ing in Novem­ber (date to be an­nounced).

War­riors of Lib­erty City

The Starz doc­u­men­tary se­ries has the power of fic­tion and be­yond, delv­ing into Amer­i­can lives rarely seen on TV.

Mi­ami’s dis­ad­van­taged Lib­erty City neigh­bour­hood is home to a youth football pro­gram, founded by 2 Live Crew front­man and ac­tivist Luther “Un­cle Luke” Camp­bell, that’s helped launch An­to­nio Brown, Teddy Bridge­wa­ter and oth­ers into NFL ca­reers.

While the twin football con­tro­ver­sies of kneel­ing and con­cus­sions play out at a dis­tance, the se­ries pro­vides in­ti­mate glimpses of Lib­erty City War­riors play­ers on and off the field as they pur­sue the dis­tant dream of a pro ca­reer and, more im­me­di­ately, a win­ning sea­son.

Their grit is im­pres­sive and touch­ing, but it’s framed by the bur­dens of poverty, vi­o­lence and lack of ed­u­ca­tional op­por­tu­ni­ties. Camp­bell’s pro­gram pro­vides aca­demic tu­tor­ing and tries to in­still a work ethic that can serve be­yond football, but who else is root­ing for them?

The six-episode se­ries cre­ated and di­rected by Evan Rosen­feld had a pow­er­ful ally: Le­Bron James was among its ex­ec­u­tive pro­duc­ers. It de­buts Sept. 16.

The Kids Are Al­right

This com­edy fits snugly into ABC’s eth­nic-fam­ily folio that in­cludes black-ish, The Gold­bergs and Fresh Off the Boat. But the new­comer about a work­ing­class, Ir­ish-Catholic fam­ily in the 1970s isn’t rid­ing any­one’s coat­tails: it’s sharply writ­ten, charm­ing and boasts laugh-out-loud scenes.

Cre­ated by Tim Doyle, whose back­ground mir­rors that of the fic­tional Clearys, The Kids Are Al­right gives the lov­ingly strict par­ents of eight (well-cast) sons their dig­nity as well as foibles as they nav­i­gate par­ent­hood in a tu­mul­tuous decade.

Mary McCormack and Michael Cudlitz are ac­tors best known for drama but shine as mom and dad, with McCormack get­ting the best punch­lines in the de­but episode and de­liv­er­ing them with aplomb. A sam­ple: “We do not have the where­withal in this fam­ily for any of you kids to be spe­cial.” Be­gins Oct. 16.

The Lit­tle Drum­mer Girl

For fans of the grip­ping, hugely en­ter­tain­ing The Night Man­ager that aired on AMC in 2016, there’s rea­son for cel­e­bra­tion: ex­ec­u­tive pro­duc­ers of the Emmy Award-win­ning se­ries based on a John le Carre novel are be­hind this le Carre adap­ta­tion.

The six-part minis­eries stars Alexan­der Skars­gard (Big Lit­tle Lies, True Blood) and English ac­tress Florence Pugh (Lady Mac­beth) in a 1970s tale of es­pi­onage and in­trigue. He’s a mys­tery man, she’s an ac­tress with se­crets of her own, and hov­er­ing over all is spy mas­ter­mind Kurtz (Michael Shan­non, The Shape of Wa­ter).

As with any re­spectable in­ter­na­tional thriller, it was filmed on lo­ca­tion in scenic lo­ca­tions in­clud­ing Lon­don, Prague and (bonus!) at the Acrop­o­lis and Tem­ple of Po­sei­don in Athens.

There’s an­other no­table pro­ducer be­sides Si­mon and Stephen Corn­well of the Emmy-win­ning Night Man­ager: le Carre him­self, the pen name for 86-yearold au­thor David Corn­well.

The Lit­tle Drum­mer Girl was pub­lished in 1983; his most re­cent book, A Legacy of Spies, was re­leased last year. The drama airs Nov. 19-21.


Candice Ber­gen at­tends the Mur­phy Brown panel dur­ing the Tele­vi­sion Crit­ics As­so­ci­a­tion Sum­mer Press Tour at the Bev­erly Hil­ton Ho­tel on Aug. 5 in Bev­erly Hills, Calif.

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