Last Friday night, fellow couch potatoes got a surprise in the form of Mockingbird Lane. NBC’s Munsters remake was a pleasant breath of fresh air to the line up, albeit a short breath. You see folks, what we got Friday night was a glimpse into the possibility of something awesome that NBC has decided to not proceed with as a full-fledged series. We were given a beautiful re-imagining of the series by Bryan Fuller (Dead Like Me and Pushing Daisies) only to have it snatched from our grasps. Why NBC, why?
The pilot/Halloween special was genius. Leading us in shyly on a campsite full of scouts and their scout master around a campfire as one poor scout is accused of eating all the food. Before the inevitable fight breaks out the accuser scout is yanked viciously into the underbrush and one can assume eaten by the werewolf that wreaks havoc on the scouts. Cut to the morning, we find all the scouts and scout master crammed in a truck wondering if the monster is gone when one scout asks where Eddie Munster is. Naturally setting up the scene for introductions and how the family came to be at 1313 Mockingbird Lane.
Herman Munster, played by Jerry O’Connell, is a very lower key character than we might recall from the original. No green skin or neck bolts here. We find a more modern-day Frankenstein who struggles with the sorts of things an average father might, with some Munster extras mixed in. How to handle the “talk” with his young son Eddie, and we’re talking the Werewolf talk, not puberty here. Finding a new heart to replace his failing one. Totally normal stuff.
Eddie Munster, played by Mason Cook, is a young boy on the cusp of adolescents and werewolf tendencies. He’s wiser than he looks, aware of the comfortable oddness of his family and also aware of what that means to him as a growing boy. He comments at one point about wishing to be normal and you can’t help but melt. All kids have those moments of feeling like an outcast but even more so with Eddie you want so badly for him to be okay with himself.
Lily Munster, played by Portia de Rossi, is just stunning. Making a grand entrance as a whirl of dark smoke, coalescing into her human form, then clothed in silk created by the spiders inhabiting her new home. She’s every bit the stay at home mom that women can identify with. Worried that not breast-feeding her son may have affected their bond. Worrying alongside her husband about having the “talk” with Eddie. She’s a nurturer graced with copious amounts of maternal instinct as well as being a sexy vampire.
Marilyn Munster, played by Charity Wakefield, is the normal human Munster in the family but don’t let that cookie cutter cuteness fool you. Lurking beneath her soft blonde curls hide something darker. Her motives are in no way selfish or vile but they do hold a bit of serial killer calm to them. Her outlook, though at times twisted is also mixed with a bit of cheeriness. Her family isn’t odd, why it’s simply everyone else who can’t see them for loving that are the odd ones.
And finally Grandpa Munster, played by Eddie Izzard, has no qualms about who and what he is nor scaring the neighbors and using them to his own ends. Of course he is very discreet about accomplishing his goals but he’s a vampire it’s only natural he feed. To do otherwise is a concept he simply does not understand and at times we find him at odds with other family members. In the same token, we have to wonder if Grandpa isn’t right in his outlook, after all he’s lived for several hundred years.
Mockingbird Lane, while I wish NBC would make a series out of it, was lovely while it lasted. The numerous possibilities that they touched on in the pilot episode have whet my appetite for more. I really hope NBC has a change of heart and brings this show to their line-up.