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The Daily Beast: "Mockingbird Lane: NBC’s Munsters Remake Offers Eerie Charms"

The Munsters return from the dead. I review the spooky, dark reworking of the TV classic, which is airing tonight, from the brains behind Pushing Daisies and The Usual Suspects.

At The Daily Beast, you can read my latest feature, "Mockingbird Lane: NBC’s Munsters Remake Offers Eerie Charms," in which I review the backdoor pilot for NBC's Mockingbird Lane, a remake of classic sitcom The Munsters from Pushing Daisies creator Bryan Fuller, which airs tonight.

The Munsters are back from the dead, though possibly for just one night.

The supernatural clan was the subject of the 1964–1966 sitcom (and its syndicated sequel, The Munsters Today, which ran from 1988–1991), notable for a few things: the show aired at the same time as that other spooky family sitcom, The Addams Family; the original series is still a cultural touchstone despite only lasting 70 episodes; and the show juxtaposed the supernatural—embodied by iconic characters from Universal’s library of horror titles—with the mundane, giving the audience ghouls attempting to assimilate into a world that feared and misunderstood them, even as they recapitulated the status quo of sitcom trappings.

Made up of father-and-daughter vampires, a blue-collar Frankenstein monster, a prepubescent werewolf, and their seemingly normal pink-skinned family relation, the Munsters return in Mockingbird Lane, which will air its pilot episode tonight at 8 p.m. on NBC.

Like the characters themselves, things are complicated: NBC is said to have passed on Mockingbird Lane but could still be deliberating about the fate of the potential series, using tonight’s episode as an attempt to gauge audience interest. Which means that tonight’s broadcast could be either a one-off special or a sneak peek, depending on how the ratings stack up.

Mockingbird Lane owes more to both the visual style and banter of the short-lived ABC drama Pushing Daisies—also from creator Bryan Fuller—than its previous television incarnations. With Mockingbird Lane, Fuller infuses the struggles of the titular monsters with existential angst, setting their plights—whether it be self-acceptance, fitting in, finding love and happiness, or sating an incessant bloodlust—against a gorgeously hyper-real backdrop. The art direction on the pilot is alone worth the price of admission, a fusion of computer-generated images, painstakingly designed sets, and a sense of wonder and whimsy.

Continue reading at The Daily Beast...

Comments

Serra said…
From what I’ve seen in the clips for this Halloween special it’s pretty interesting. It definitely is a brand new take on The Munsters show my mom used to watch on reruns on TVLand. There is a part in the behind the scenes video where the scout leader gets to meet grandpa as a hideous-looking bat thing and Marilyn is trying to calm him down. I actually thought that was very funny. It’s hard to believe that this has been in production for two years and has cost NBC two million dollars. Even though it’s one night only I’ve got my Hopper timer set to record the show. With all of the other Halloween stuff I’ve got recording it will be nice to have it at my fingertips. The pictures here on your website look gorgeous and it will just look fantastic on screen. My DISH co-worker is really excited about Portia DeRossi and she really has a good role in the show. My question is if NBC is still deliberating on whether or not the show may be picked up as a series, who would they get to take over? Bryan Fuller is currently working on Hannibal.
Anonymous said…
I have yet to read a review of Mockingbird Lane mentioning the major flaw in the show... the way the main emphasis has been completely switched and can be summed up in one word... 'threatening'. The original show featured a family who appeared monstrous on the outside but were actually kind and non-threatening on the inside (though admittedly odd). The new characters appear normal to the eye, but in actuality they are wicked killers who have the potential of ripping your throat out at any given moment. (The show begins with little Eddie attempting to murder an entire Boy Scout troop!) This family is truly threatening and dangerous.

The character of Marilyn is no longer needed in the story. The writers make no bones about portraying Lily as the true beauty/seductress of the two. Marilyn's good looks are not unique amongst her family members. But even 'normal' Marilyn is given a not-so-sweet personality who just might be capable of committing atrocities of her own. She seems to take delight in assisting Grandpa in spreading his poisonous and harmful schemes.

No, this new version of the Munsters could never be good neighbors. They might appear to the eye as being normal, but their darkness is far more more threatening. This is one family who should be avoided.

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