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'Murphy Brown' Is Back, and TV Moves Closer to Becoming a Greatest-Hits Rehash

By Published on .

Credit: CBS Photo Archive/Getty

CBS is bringing back "Murphy Brown" and its original star Candice Bergen, picking up 13 episodes for the next TV season. At this rate there won't be any original shows on broadcast TV within a decade.

At least it seems that way. As overall TV consumption continues to fragment and it remains difficult to count viewers on nontraditional platforms, broadcasters are becoming increasingly desperate to find built-in audiences through revivals of former hits.

"Murphy Brown" joins a growing list of old series made new, including "Will & Grace" on NBC, "Roseanne" on ABC and "Dynasty" on The CW. CBS brought back "MacGyver"; Fox rebooted both "The X-Files" and "Prison Break." And of course ABC is re-igniting "American Idol" just two years after its run on Fox ended.

(Netflix, which has helped drive broadcasters back to the vaults, isn't above borrowing from TV's past: It has made three seasons of the "Full House" reboot "Fuller House.")

To be sure, many recent revivals of former hits have performed well against today's standards. "Will & Grace" returned to NBC this season to 10.2 million viewers, and while viewership subsequently declined, it still returned from a one-month hiatus in December to just over 7 million viewers.

The final season of "Murphy Brown" aired in 1998.

The revival of the series, about an investigative journalist and TV anchor, comes as microscopic attention is being paid to the world of cable news and the phrase "fake news" is uttered seemingly every day by President Trump.

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