''I hear you're bethrowed,'' a morose Eldin recently said to beauty queen-turned-reporter Corky Sherwood (Faith Ford), and it's true: In the season finale, the addled but ambitious reporter walks down the aisle following rapid romance with old schoolmate Will Forrest (Scott Bryce).
After a season in which its writing and acting jumped from very good to just about the best in TV comedy, Murphy Brown wraps up its second year with an eventful episode that includes appearances by the Temptations, Entertainment Tonight's John Tesh and Leeza Gibbons, and Candice Bergen's mother, Frances, as Corky's new mother-in-law. (''Take good care of my son,'' she says sweetly. ''If you turn him into a drunkard, I'll kill you.'')
The episode isn't one of the series' best, but it doesn't need to be: The show's characters have been developed so richly that just watching them react can be a pleasure. The week's funniest lines go to reporter Frank Fontana (Joe Regalbuto), desperately dateless for Washington's biggest wedding. Forced to escort grumpy, hoopskirted maid-of-honor Murphy (''It's a miracle I was able to fit you into the car,'' he snaps), Frank spends his time there hitting on former CBS This Morning anchor Kathleen Sullivan. ''My TVQ (popularity score) is higher than Bart Simpson's,'' he offers. ''Did I tell you I wept openly during Field of Dreams,'' he adds, just before Sullivan threatens to call security.
As the overcrowded plot rolls on, the bride flees, another member of the F.Y.I. gang finds true love, and poor, spurned housepainter/muralist Eldin decides to ''use this pain to inspire my greatest work.''
Does Corky finally say, ''I do''? Watch and learn: Even in an off week, Murphy Brown has become required viewing.