Saturday, November 10, 2012

QuickList: 5 Reasons to Visit Mockingbird Lane

I didn't have high hopes when I first learned that The Munsters was being retooled as the edgier Mockingbird Lane (nor did I have much faith that Jerry O'Connell would be able to fill Fred Gwynne's big black boots).  Having finally caught the pilot, though, I can honestly say I was pleasantly surprised.  Here are a handful of reasons to applaud the aired-as-a-Halloween-special episode:

*1313.  More modern and ornate than dusty and cobwebbed, the mansion on the eponymous block still conveyed a strong Gothic vibe (its warm, autumnal colors also created a fine Halloween aura).  I loved the property's gruesome backstory (three words:
"Hobo Murder House").

*Jigsaw PhysiqueNot just another Universal knockoff, this Herman--with his necklace of scars and literal zippers on his torso--embodies the patchwork nature of the Frankenstein monster.  The shots of staples popping out of Herman's faltering heart were were especially effective.

*Grand(pa) Entrance.  Both Grandpa and Lily make spectacular arrivals at their new home when they exit their respective shipping crates.  The only viewers who won't marvel at this scene are those who have phobias about rats and spiders.

*Izzard King.  Eddie Izzard simply kills it as the Munster patriarch/mad scientist/legendary Count Dracula.  His character is the perfect index of the show's direction--the skewing of its humor towards drollery rather than campiness (e.g. when Herman complains that Grandpa ate a lion while naked, Grandpa retorts:
"The lion was naked.  It seemed polite.").

*See Spot Roar.  Mockingbird Lane pulls the Munster pet out of the shadows and into the light of moon-shined night.  Viewers get to see Spot in his full, fire-breathing glory, and the episode ends with the suggestion that the creature would play a more prominent role in future storylines.

Mockingbird Lane obviously hearkens back to The Munsters, but it's almost unfair to compare the two (different emphasis, different era, different budget and special-fx technologies).  The reboot is abundantly gory, but splashes plenty of charm in with the chum.  Here's hoping that the execs at NBC don't act like a mob of angry villagers and instead decide to let the show live on as a weekly series.


Anonymous said...

I enjoyed the show for what it was, but found it to be more sizzle than steak, so to speak. Even if it had been picked up, I can't imagine it lasting very long (such is the curse of Bryan Fuller, it seems). I think a mini-series approach might have worked better...say a four or five week run, just long enough for everyone to get their time in.

But who knows? Things could have improved over time. It often takes a few episodes for series to find their footing. Unfortunately, when your show is costing TEN MILL an episode, the network is a little hesitant to offer you that time.

My review (if you're interested)


Joe Nazare said...

I agree, Jonny. ML was probably doomed by the very thing that enabled it to stand out--its big budget. But it would have been interesting to see where the storylines would have gone (and how far the envelope would have been pushed).