Sitcom Fan Fiction: Murphy Brown
A scene from: MURPHY BROWN (circa 1998, SEASON 10)
By Jeffery Self
We begin in the FYI Newsroom on a Monday morning. The energy is bustling and jumpy, like only a newsroom on a Monday morning can be. Reporter, Frank Fontana (Joe Regalbuto) is dictating a news story to a young, female intern named Alexus.
And if the weather patterns continue, it could be classified as a tropical storm as early as this evening. Did you get all of that?
I think so. My short hand is pretty good.
But hows your other one?!
Frank laughs at his own joke, which Alexus nor the audience seem to get. After a moment and what is likely the LAUGH sign going on in the studio audience…. there is a smattering of a giggles form the crowd. Resident scatter brain, Corky Sherwood (Faith Ford) enters with her briefcase, her hair is a mess, and her dress is very wrinkled and is clearly slept in. Clearly a walk of shame.
She goes to make herself a cup of coffee
Isn’t that the same thing you had on yesterday?
Don’t ask, Frank.
She winks. Frank makes the sign for ‘zipping his lip and putting away the key’. Corky giggles and sips her coffee. Television anchor and resident weirdo Jim Dial (Charles Kimbrough) enters and walks over to the coffee.
Morning Frank. Corky. Say, Frank did you see the Steelers game last night?
Frank, continuing his bit of ‘zipping his lip’ merely shrugs and points to his sealed lips. Jim, always a big oaf, realizes what is going on:
OH! I’m sorry Frank!
Jim removes an invisible key from his own pocket and “unzips Frank’s lip”
I HATE WHEN THAT HAPPENS!
Frank and Corky look at each other. Jim is SO fucking weird.
Murphy Brown (Candice Bergen) enters in a sensible beige business suit. She carries her briefcase and passes everyone without saying hello. She goes directly to her office then shuts the door. Two seconds pass and her office door reopens, now Murphy has completely changed into a colorful gypsy fortuneteller’s costume, complete with an eyepatch. She peers out the door like an old witch. Frank, Corky, and Jim look back and forth at each other as if to say “What the hell is going on with Murphy?!”
(Attempting to do the voice of an old gypsy woman but since Candice Bergen can’t really do voices it just sounds like Murphy with a bad cold attempting to make baby talk to a little kitten)
Come in, urchins. Come in.
Again: Frank, Corky, and Jim look at each other very much confused. After a moment they shrug and tentatively wander into Murphy’s office.
Inside Murphy’s office is the usual desk, chairs, filing cabinet, but she’s thrown a red scarf over the florescent light above her desk in an attempt to make the room eerie and spooky. On her desk is a crystal ball.
(Still trying to do that voice)
Sit! Sit my darlings.
Confused. They do as she says.
Do any of you know what TODAAAAAY is?????
They look at each other. Then shrug.
Normally the audience would laugh at that line but they don’t because just like Frank, Corky, and Jim…. they have NO idea what’s going on.
I was in the market today. Looking to buy fresh eel tongue and elephant fins when an old beggar woman offered me this crystal ball in exchange for OOOOOONE THING! Do you know what that thing WAS?!?!
Again. They shrug.
Still no audience laughter. In fact, defeaning silence instead.
So I bought it. And I’ve brought it back here so that YOU, and YOU, and YOU, and I could look into the crystal ball to see…. THE FUTURE!
Murphy attempts to cackle but as is often the case with C. Bergen, she’s so uncommitted to the acting choice that it falls flat and seems forced.
Who wants to go first? Jim? Okay. Sure. You can go.
Murphy pretends to be in a trance and shakes her desk to make it look like the floor is moving.
Jim. I see great things for you….. you’re getting something….. something….today….. outside….. the door…. right now…..
The door opens. Its Alexus, the young intern with a bagel.
Jim. Here’s that bagel you asked for earlier.
AHA!!!!! GO TO HER JIM! GO TO HER!!!!!!
Jim half terrified/half confused stumbles out of the office.
Murphy. I’ve got to get started on my report on-
I see something bad here. Something terrible and ugly.
Uh oh. Is it my date from last night?
This time the audience manages to laugh a little bit.
Everyone is dead silent.
Do you see that Frank? Corky? Do you?
I don’t see anything, Murphy-
Frank looks into the camera and for the first time we realize something is very wrong here.
(She’s turned quiet now, on the verge of tears)
I see it….. Corky. You see it. Come on Corky.
Right there. Right there. Right there on my shiny crystal ball… it says…. this is our last season on air.
Frank and Corky are shocked. Shocked to hear that its their last season, shocked that Candice Bergen has so bizarrely taken the show off its tracks, and shocked the cameras are still rolling. They look out to the director off camera for support, nobody is doing anything. It is quiet.
(Like a sad little girl)
And nobody tells me anything. Cause nobody thinks Murphy Brown needs to know when Murphy Brown’s gonna die. But Murphy Brown can see it. She can. Corky. Frank. (Yelling out the door) JIM! She can see it cause she got herself a crystal ball. So now she can see it. She did. She did. Murphy Brown’s crystal ball. She did. She did.
Murphy is now curled up in her desk chair, rocking. The extras playing newsroom people are peeking into the office, along with Jim and Alexus and various other cast members.The audience, the cast, the crew…. everyone is quiet. No one is doing anything. The crew has managed to stay out of sight. Murphy has buried her head into her gypsy woman dress. She’s either laughing or crying. It’s hard to tell. The camera stays on Murphy Brown for a while. And eventually cuts to commercial.
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