A running gag on the original run of the hit CBS series Murphy Brown featured the titular character, played by Candice Bergen, dealing with the absolute worst temporary secretaries. She went through 93 assistants during the show’s initial 10 seasons, including characters played by Paul Reubens, Marcia Wallace, Leslie Jordan, Michael Richards (as Seinfeld’s Kramer), Rosie O’Donnell, Don Rickles, Sally Field, and Bette Midler.
Midler’s Caprice Feldman was the secretary Murphy considered the most horrible of them all. She blasted into the FYI office wearing a bright red suit, speaking with an annoying New York accent, and holding a tiny dog named Mr. Bojangles in her hands. She even had the nerve to ask Murph’s co-anchor Jim Dial, played by Charles Kimbrough, to take her dog outside so he could go to the bathroom. It was very clear that the rich woman did not want to work, and her dead husband even told her that she would never be able to hold down a job.
That famous episode of Murphy Brown aired in 1998. Now, 20 years later, the 72-year-old Divine Miss M is reprising the funny role on the show’s reboot.
In the episode airing on Thursday, November 8, titled “A Lifetime of Achievement,” over-the-top Caprice returns — and she reveals a surprising new connection to Murphy.
It is a hilarious moment when Murphy first hears Caprice’s terrible voice.
“I have had a lot of rotten secretaries, but you were the worst. No skills, loud, ate all the tops off the muffins,” says the host of Murphy in the Morning in a preview clip posted on YouTube.
“You remember me,” gushes Caprice in response.
“It’s almost like [Murphy is] having PTSD when she hears Caprice’s voice… Murphy doesn’t act nice to anybody she doesn’t want to, but she has to deal with Caprice,” Diane English, the creator of Murphy Brown, told TV Insider.
English said that she ran into Midler right before she started writing the scripts for Season 11 of Murphy Brown, and the two “immediately agreed we should bring Caprice back.”
“Bette was on set for five days. It was really fun. She’s a force of nature.”
The November 8 episode also features the return of Jim Dial (actor Kimbrough opted not to be a series regular on the reboot but has made several guest appearances), Katie Couric playing a version of herself, and John Larroquette in his first appearance as a judge.
Murphy Brown airs Thursday nights at 9:30 p.m. on CBS.