Mockingbird Lane: Review: Pilot

NBC, 26 October 2012

The bizarre Munster family move into a new neighbourhood…

This revival of the classic 1960s comedy show The Munsters comes with bad vibes attached. Despite the presence of Pushing Daisies’s Bryan Fuller and The X-Men’s Bryan Singer, the concept of an update of The Munsters (anyone remember the dreadful 1980s The Munsters Today?) seemed to be the very definition of unnecessary television.

It’s a great surprise, then, to discover that this reboot actually has a lot going for it. Low expectations probably helped, but Eddie Izzard as Grandpa and Jerry O’Connell as a radically re-invented Herman do put a new spin on an old concept.

The hook is that young Eddie Munster (Mason Cook) is hitting puberty, so his werewolf inheritance is kicking in. Herman’s a man made up of bits of many men, but still has his original heart. Lily (Portia de Rossi) is the vampy mist-like matriarch, while Marilyn (Charity Wakefield) is the ‘normal’ member of the family.

The comedy is broad, with Granpa’s experiments maybe a bit too on-the-nose horrific for a family comedy. This could work, however, with this cast, as a half-hour (22 minute) show, but the writing needs to be sharper. It certainly had the look right, and the reinvention of the characters is not as terrible as feared. With over five million viewers, this pilot certainly attracted the curious: could a regular series hold an audience? After all, it is smarter than the current US aliens-are-your-neighbours sitcom The Neighbors.

Verdict: Aired as a one-off Hallowe’en special, it’s a shame that it seems unlikely we’ll see any more of these Munsters.

Episode 1 ‘Pilot’: 7/10

Brian J. Robb

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