Q: I have been trying to find a complete set of all of the seasons of "Murphy Brown." Does that even exist? All I can find so far is season 1.

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Adam Thomlison / TV Media

Alas, a complete set does not exist; only the first season of "Murphy Brown" was ever released on DVD. There are a number of reasons for this, which all seem to be working together to relegate this classic show to history.

"Murphy Brown," the political sitcom that ran on CBS from 1988 to 1998, was a huge hit at the time -- big enough that then-Vice President Dan Quayle blamed it for the breakdown of society. With success, and notoriety, like that, you'd think it would be a shoo-in for the full-release treatment, which many less-popular shows have gotten.

David Hofstede of the entertainment blog Comfort TV blames the show's political timeliness, which arguably made it so popular, for its disappearance. "How many people today would laugh at a Strom Thurmond joke?"

There's also the always-tricky issue of music rights. The show made heavy use of famous Motown songs on its soundtrack, the rights for which may be hard to get (music rights, as some know, were the main reason it took decades for fellow sitcom "WKRP in Cincinnati" to get a video release).

The first season of "Murphy Brown," however, was released on DVD, so clearly these problems weren't insurmountable. This is where the third, and perhaps most significant reason comes in: The season 1 set didn't sell.

The release rights are held by Warner Home Video, and according to Home Media Magazine, the season 1 box sold just six per cent as many copies as Warner's biggest seller that year, the ninth season of "Friends." The company certainly makes those sorts of comparisons in deciding what to release. It also considers the fact that first-season sets are usually the biggest sellers, so it only gets worse from there.

Of course, everyone can be right here. Sales may have been poor because it hasn't aged well, and releasing it may be more expensive because of the music rights, so that it would need particularly good sales to break even.

Gizmodo.com's Annalee Newitz makes a passionate case for a DVD release. She points to the show's strong, single-mom character, its political saliency and the fact that (as Quayle proved) it shaped popular discourse off-screen as well.

"This isn't just about entertainment, though 'Murphy Brown' is extremely entertaining. It's about history." She then goes on to dismiss the aforementioned stumbling blocks as "foolish," saying: "It's the kind of thing that Murphy would have laughed at -- and then fixed, with a really smart idea."

Sadly, she's no longer around to fix it.


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