Wednesday, August 22, 2012

About this blog

The title of this blog: from the 1994 Murphy Brown episode "The Fifth Anchor," in which Wallace Shawn plays a former colleague of the FYI'ers, who did a weekly thinkpiece called "That's Alls I Know." The point of this blog: to talk about TV, past and present.

Speaking of "The Fifth Anchor," it's from the sixth season of Murphy Brown -- easily, to my mind, the most re-watchable and purely pleasurable of all the seasons: a resurgence for the series after the dismal fifth season. It's not as weighed down by the self-congratulatory topical references that now mar the first few years; instead, its experienced show-runners and largely new writing staff apply their talent and enthusiasm to a string of episodes that feel as timeless as they do timely. The many highlights include "Angst for the Memories" (featuring an Emmy-winning guest shot by Martin Sheen), "Political Correctness" (a merry skewering of a concept that had just come into widespread use, which the FYI lawyers insist on calling "cultural sensitivity"), "Ticket to Writhe" (which neatly dispenses with Miles' girlfriend Audrey, played by Jane Leeves, who had moved on to Frasier), "Sox and the Single Girl" (in which Murphy inadvertently steals the President's cat), "The Anchorman" (in which Jim inadvertently purchases a gay bar) and "It's Just Like Riding a Bike" (which Matt Roush, then writing for USA Today, deemed, correctly, the show's "sexiest-on-record" episode). But more than any of those, there's "It's Not Easy Being Brown," probably the series' funniest half-hour, in which Murphy, in order to improve her Q rating, goes on a children's show called Mulberry Lane and ends up having it out with a sassy puppet named Kelbo. The fur, literally, flies.