Those who were never a fan of the CBS series The Munsters can be forgiven for ignoring the reinvention of the CBS classic by NBC. Considered to be one of the most expensive pilots even created, costing a whopping $10 million according to NBC, Mockingbird Lane delivered on the promise of a new Munster family for a new generation even as NBC has so far declined to pick it up as a series.
The CGI is what made this show so expensive to create. It’s needed in most scenes to render the effects of Grandpa, Lily and Herman. Actually, the only member of the family not needing it is Marilyn. For purists, you can relax; the stairs are back and so is spot.
The entire family is back. Marilyn, played perfectly by Charity Wakefield, hunts for and finds the family a home after an incident forces their relocation. Jerry O’Connell is Herman Munster, the man created because Grandpa couldn’t find any one man good enough for his daughter Lily, played to the hilt by Portia de Rossi. Eddie Izzard makes an outstanding Grandpa and a young Mason Cook plays Eddie.
Portia de Rossi is a Lily Munster much more akin to Carolyn Jones as Morticia Addams than the original Lily Munster, Yvonne de Carlo. She is beautiful, glamorous and quite undead.
Grandpa is a Vampire of the unapologetic non-sparkling variety. With CGI lending a helping hand, Grandpa is the terrifying monster of nightmares and much more like Bram Stokers Dracula (especially in bat form) than Al Lewis was when he had the role. There is no ambiguity here, Vampires are what they are. Deal with it.
Herman is a lost soul who loves too much and as a result has issues with his heart. Grandpa is there to repair it when necessary. There are no bolts in his neck and he’s not green or 10 feet tall. No, this is a Frankenstein monster for a modern world. This monster, or Munster, has a zipper in his chest so Grandpa can easily swap out parts when necessary. Like the original Herman played by Fred Gwynne, This one is a kind and loving husband, father and uncle.
There is a hint of a deeper story here with Marilyn, the niece of Lilly. If the pilot is picked up as a series there promises to be more story lines involving this Marilyn than involved the original Marilyn, Pat Priest. She’s blonde, smart and seems to be the only real human in the family.
Mason Cook was the one disappointment of the pilot. His lackluster portrayal of Eddie Munster wasn’t a good fit. But he’s young and going through changes. It’s tough to be a vegetarian werewolf, so cut the kid some slack. Sill, he is no Butch Patrick, the original Eddie.
Oh, and Butch Patrick did make a cameo in this macabre remake. Instead of being campy, this pilot was flat out macabre and bizarre. Mockingbird Lane is a perfect remake of a classic. It suits the modern era well.
Now if only someone would have them do the same thing to The Addams Family, life would be perfect.