CBS pulled the plug on “Murphy Brown” today, bringing an end to the revival of a beloved sitcom that proved to be a ratings flop this television season.
The revival of “Murphy Brown” finished in 65th place among broadcast network shows among adults younger than 50, the key demographic for advertisers. That put it in the same company as CBS’ “Hawaii Five-0” and NBC drama “The Enemy Within.”
The 13-episode revival began in September, two decades after the original run of “Murphy Brown” came to an end.
In the new season, Murphy, played by five-time Emmy winner Candice Bergen, returned as a host of a cable news television show in the wake of President Donald Trump’s election. Most of the original cast, including Joe Regalbuto, Faith Ford and Grant Shaud, returned as well.
The “Murphy Brown” producers said before the show began that Trump’s election, and fresh attacks on the media, is what spurred them to bring the show back — and what they felt made it relevant as ever.
“This isn’t a money grab,” Steve Peterman, a producer of the show, said in an interview in August. “This isn’t a ‘let’s go out for one more swing at the fences.’ This was: We need to do this show.”
The producers were hopeful that the show would come back for another season. But the ratings were sluggish, and the reviews were decidedly mixed.
There were many challenges from the get-go. Several of its lead actors had all but retired and were out of show business. The show was unabashedly anti-Trump, which could have been a hard sell for the audience of a network that plays well in Middle America with prime-time programs like “NCIS” and “Blue Bloods.”
When “Murphy Brown” originally ran, its celebration of television journalism was still en vogue — newsmagazines like “Dateline” and “20/20” populated the prime-time lineup, and approval ratings for the media were relatively steady. The media today, however, has much dimmer support with the public.
And older episodes of “Murphy Brown,” which prominently featured Motown songs, were locked away and unavailable to stream thanks to expensive music rights, leaving old and newer viewers alike unable to catch up.
The show also filmed in New York, which made it a slightly more expensive proposition for the network.
“Murphy Brown” originally ran from 1988 to 1998, scored strong ratings and won the best comedy Emmy twice.