With absolutely no sense of what made the 1960’s CBS series, THE MUNSTERS, such a classic with so many fans, NBC is offering a way too crappy modern reboot version of THE MUNSTERS as MOCKINGBIRD LANE on Friday Oct 26, as a Halloween season special. Actually, it’s the pilot for a possible new series where NBC will look at how well it does in the ratings to determine whether it should be added to the regular schedule. Hopefully this garbage doesn’t make the schedule!
The old CBS series got it exactly right, and MOCKINGBIRD LANE, just plain got it all wrong here by going modern, way too modern, and losing that campy sitcom version of those old B&W 1930’s Universal Studios FRANKENSTEIN, DRACULA horror-type movies. The B&W also worked well because the overdone 1930’s style monster makeup looked way too cheap and phony in color. THE MUNSTERS was like a loving homage to these old Universal film classics. But, in MOCKINGBIRD LANE, Jerry O’Connell is virtually the same as he looks everyday as Herman Munster, something that ought to just plain anger any true fans of THE MUNSTERS. Many of the jokes in the old series were about how horrible Herman Munster looked as a Frankenstein’s Monster, where you couldn’t wait to see the shocked reaction of someone who had the misfortune to meet up with him and jump out of their shoes. With Jerry O’Connell looking way too normal where’s no room for any real set-up for any jokes here. Comic Eddy Izzard plays Grandpa Munster, which is a little bit better casting, but even here the reboot takes too much license, where dazzling color special effects are supposed to substitute for the simplicity of the old MUNSTERS series and comical cheap joke setups with the best special effects only simple camera tricks such as a speeded-up picture. And no one can ever match Al Lewis as a true character actor, who really defined Grandpa Munster as his own character. Eddy Izzard, you’re no Al Lewis.
NBC could have done something really wonderful here. Created something really special. They could have done a new weekly B&W show that played homage both to the old MUNSTERS as well as those old Universal horror films and had an actor like Brad Garrett, who by the way, does a wonderful impression of Fred Gwynne, play a traditional Frankenstein’s Monster version of Herman , and the result would have been wonderful. THE MUNSTERS were so lovable that I even had an old Mattel talking doll of Herman Munster, that I just loved. Fred Gwynne also had a very tall stature that worked so well as Herman Munster, besides being a very gifted comic actor of the 1960’s. How in the world did Jerry O’Connell get cast in this role here. What were the producers even thinking? The public deserves a new version of THE MUNSTERS, but just not this crap that NBC wants to serve up. Further, there’s a little controversy over at YouTube after NBC posted a short promo for the new show, and some angry MUNSTER fans condemned the promo as pure crap, and they got their comments flagged for removal. Did NBC or the producers of MOCKINGBIRD LANE do this in retaliation here? What’s going on? What is NBC even thinking here?
In the old 1930’s Universal FRANKENSTEIN films, the townspeople got angry and grabbed torches and pitchforks and revolted against the monster. Equally, many TV fans will find this new version of THE MUNSTERS utterly revolting as well, but are more likely to turn off their TV sets or change the channel to anything more watchable than this crap.