Bryan Fuller has long been a favorite of MToT – those few DEAD LIKE ME episodes; WONDERFALLS is one of the best gone-but-not-forgotten series in recent memory; and of course, who can forget PUSHING DAISIES, one of my favorite shows of all time? Tonight, NBC is giving you a chance to check out his latest project, the “reboot,” so to speak, of the classic sitcom THE MUNSTERS, appropriately titled MOCKINGBIRD LANE.
MOCKINGBIRD LANE, with its classic Bryan Fuller touches like beautiful art direction and whimsy, brings the story of Herman, Lily, Eddie, Marilyn, and Grandpa into a modern setting, as the Munsters are in search of a new home. The family has been moving around a lot, due to “baby bear” attacks wherever they seem to reside. We find out soon enough that little Eddie Munster (the perfect Mason Cook), is the “baby bear” in question, and that this particular change in a young mans live comes with a bit more of a supernatural spin! Grandpa (Eddie Izzard) is delighted, of course, having worried that Eddie had the same “condition” that Marilyn has (read: she’s fully human, through and through and Charity Wakefield plays her with relish), while Eddie’s parents, Herman and Lily, aren’t quite as happy.
Jerry O’Connell plays Herman, the Frankenstein-man who loves to much, with a sweetness and charm that I didn’t honestly know he had in him, and Portia de Rossi’s turn as the gorgeous and ethereal vampire Lily is great – she is, after all things, a mother, and wants nothing but for her son to be happy. The move to Mockingbird Heights (and the site of grisly hobo murders) has given the Munsters a chance to start over among the humans, which Grandpa finds difficult right away (blood slaves, anyone?) and we realize by the time the show comes to an open ended conclusion, that part of the fun of a series would be watching them try to succeed, all the while staying true to what they all really are.
I could go on for hours about the look of the show and why I was immediately drawn to it – whimsical, beautiful, detailed, Fuller-esque. The costuming is great, the set decoration is great. Literally, could talk for hours. The acting surprised me, from a cast of people I either don’t know, or didn’t trust in roles I consider iconic, but I quickly forgot who they were “copying” and found myself invested in the new versions of the Munsters. I would expect nothing less from Bryan and director BryanSinger. They’re a great team!
The show faces an uncertain future – originally designed as the pilot to a new series, it sounds as if NBC put a halt on that idea. However, the airing of the pilot as a “movie” tonight could bode well for the series to move forward, if ratings are where NBC wants them. Do yourself a favor and check it out – you do not need to be a fan of the original MUNSTERS to check out the show and really enjoy yourself, but there are enough inside jokes and memories of the old series (like a certain recurring musical theme) that old fans will love it, too!
Let us know what you think about MOCKINGBIRD LANE – airs tonight on NBC at 8/7c.