The new Munsters. (source: huffingtonpost.com)
(I’m gonna try not to give away too much, but there might be a few SPOILERS.)
Mockingbird Lane, it’s The Munsters remake.
So, let’s just say that I’ve been waiting for this remake for a while now and was quite worried that it might not make it onto the small screen. It was originally intended to be a series, but NBC made a last minute decision to pass on it. However, thanks to some persuasive tactics on the part of Bryan Singer (X-Men, X2: X-Men United) and Bryan Fuller (Pushing Daisies, Wonderfalls), they managed to get the pilot run as a Halloween special in the hopes of getting the series green-lit.
Hopefully, it works!
The pilot starts off with a scout troup sitting around a fire during a camping trip, when suddenly, they’re attacked by a “baby bear,” which turns out to be a werewolf. They manage to escape to the safety of the scout master’s truck, where they wait until morning.
The next morning, one boy asks “Where’s Eddie Munster?”
Shortly after, Eddie (Mason Cook) appears from behind a bush, with no memory of the events from the night before. From there, the rest of the family is introduced.
Thanks to Eddie’s werewolf incident, the Munsters have to move. While real estate hunting, Marilyn (Charity Wakefield) discovers their new home at the legendary 1313 Mockingbird Lane. Shortly after the acquisition of the new home, Herman (Jerry O’Connell) shows up to inspect the new home. There’s even a clever throwback to the original Herman’s square head. When night arrives, Grandpa (Eddie Izzard) and Lily (Portia de Rossi) are delivered in crates, rounding out the not quite normal family.
Just like the original show, the family knows what they are…all except for Eddie. He thinks he’s normal like Marilyn and doesn’t know that he’s actually a werewolf. The pilot partially revolves around how the family will tell Eddie about who or what he is. There’s a bit of a family power struggle between Herman and Grandpa, involving who will tell him and how they’ll tell him. It’s a deciding factor in their struggle to be head of the household, which is the other plot point.
Marilyn and Grandpa visit the neighbors. [source: latimes.com]
Grandpa seems to be the focus of the show instead of just a secondary character, which is perfect because Grandpa is played by the incomparable Eddie Izzard. Quite possibly the most excellent casting choice made for this, I must say! He plays the part in a darkly cynical and humorously sadistic manner, seeming to fit perfectly in the role. All of the best one-liners from the show come from him. If you’re a fan of Eddie Izzard, you don’t want to miss this.
The one person I was worried about was Jerry O’Connell. I had my doubts about him being cast as Herman, but he won me over. He wasn’t dopey and bumbling like the original, which was a good choice for this remake. He played the part more as the charming, caring, slightly goofy sitcom father, and I think that’s what swayed me. I take back the doubts I had about him.
Portia de Rossi and the rest round out the cast quite nicely and put a very interesting spin on these old favorites.
Lily Munster and some unorthodox fashion designers. [source: joblo.com]
The special effects weren’t overdone just for flashy spectacle; everything fit nicely. Grandpa’s initial transformation from a large group of rats into his undead form and his giant bat-like form, Lily forming from smoke into herself and spiders dropping down to form a dress of webs around her, as well as the first and only appearance of Eddie’s faithful pet dragon, they all looked and worked beautifully. The story was solid, an edgier and darker twist on the original without losing any charm or humor.
This wasn’t The Munsters of yore. This was The Munsters for a new era, and one I hope is ushered in quite swiftly by NBC, because the pilot felt like the story was unfinished and left me wanting more. I mean, it is and I do, which is what a good pilot is supposed to do…leave you wanting more.
This is just the setup, reintroducing us to The Munsters, and the story needs to be continued, so we can get to know the “new” family on the block. But, if this is what NBC is going to leave us with, I’m going to be saddened and disappointed for quite some time.
At least until Bryan Fuller’s next project.