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Mockingbird Lane: Smell Ya Later, Munsters

What do you when you've got a lavishly-produced pilot for a reboot of The Munsters that you've decided against taking to series? Well, if you're NBC, you burn it off on the Friday before Halloween, billing it as a one-night-only special event. And while Mockingbird Lane's mastermind Bryan Fuller still seems to think it could still earn a place on the primetime line-up, we're pretty sure this is the last we'll ever see of the new Munster clan, populated by Eddie Izaard as the vampish Grandpa, Jerry O'Connell as man-made monster Herman, Portia de Rossi as his wife and bloodsucker Lily, Mason Cook as the wolfish Eddie Munster and Charity Wakefield as the sole normal family member, Marilyn. Having now seen what Fuller's take on this unlikely project was, here are three reasons why we'd like to see Mockingbird Lane become an ongoing series... and three reasons why we wouldn't.

Why We'd Like to See More Mockingbird
Because We're Always Rooting for Bryan Fuller
Having created two of the freshest, most original TV comedies of the past decade -- Wonderfalls and Pushing Daisies (we can take or leave Dead Like Me) -- we're always happy whenever a network gives Fuller a bunch of money to bring one of his ideas to life. And the Fuller Touch is keenly felt throughout Mockingbird Lane, both in the witty dialogue (more on that below), sumptuous production design and the deft intermingling of metaphors with the comedy. For example, Fuller smartly uses Eddie's discovery of his monster side as an allegory for puberty, with this extraordinary kid expressing all the same fears that ordinary adolescents face. The writer also devises a new twist on the familiar Frankenstein's monster set-up by sticking a timer on Herman's ticker, requiring him to have to regularly... um, borrow new hearts from unsuspecting victims. One thing we always like about Fuller is that he doesn't half-ass his shows. Handed the assignment to remake a creaky old sitcom like The Munsters, he comes up with a version that's decidedly different from anything else on the air.

Because of Dialogue Like This
"Miss, there may be dead homeless people in the walls!" "Then they've found a home after all."
"You hired nannies to raise him and then you let him eat the nannies." "That's what they were hired for!"
"The deer eats the grass and someday when the deer dies, he'll fertilize the ground so more grass will grow so more deer can eat." "Are you sure there's a badge for this?" "It's the Circle of Life badge."
"Mom, I think something's wrong with Grandpa. He took off all of his clothes and then he ate a lion." "You weren't at the zoo, were you?"
"I've had many brides. All dead now. But we keep in touch."
"Why is that man in our house?" "I was going to take his heart and Grandpa wants to drink his blood." "Are either of those things going to happen in the dining room tonight?" "'I don't know' may not be the answer you're looking for.'"
"So nice to meet you." "Yeah." "Run!"
"I don't want to be a Munster. I want to be a vegetarian."

Because There's A Dragon
In the last scene of the pilot, Herman and Lily give Eddie a dog to ensure that his inner wolf doesn't cause too much damage. The kid is rightly skeptical about a mutt's ability to stop a werewolf... until he discovers that the dog is actually a freakin' fire-breathing dragon. At which point, his face breaks out in a big grin and we were smiling right along with him. You know, if NBC doesn't want to make more Mockingbird Lane, any chance they could just spin these two characters off and call it A Boy and His Dragon? Basically, we just want there to be more dragons on TV. Daenerys's kids could use a friend.

Why We Wouldn't Like to See More Mockingbird
Because the Casting is Problematic
Brilliant ensembles like the one on Pushing Daisies don't come along often. And while Mockingbird's script is delightful, not all of the show's cast members are on the same page. Unsurprisingly, Izzard strikes just the right note of comic menace as Grandpa and, while she doesn't have that much to do, Wakefield makes a charmingly spacey Marilyn. On the opposite end of the spectrum, O'Connell is severely miscast as Herman, a role that Fuller clearly wrote with his former leading man, Lee Pace, in mind. We also weren't sold on de Rossi, who obviously doesn't have to prove her comedy bona fides to anyone after Arrested Development, but still can't quite come up with a solid take on who Lily is. (As for Cook, he's a solid Eddie -- nothing more and nothing less.) And while it's possible that the cast would start to gel more as the series progressed, we're not sure they'd ever really start to feel like a cohesive family unit.

Because We Can Easily See It Wearing Out Its Welcome
We never got a chance to get sick of Wonderfalls or Pushing Daisies because they were cruelly cut down in their prime. But we could see ourselves growing annoyed with Mockingbird Lane after six or seven installments. Both of those shows had strong concepts that could fuel an ongoing series. It's hard to see what the driving force behind this show would be; will Grandpa and Herman fight over killing someone every episode? Will Eddie keep moping about his monster side? Will Marilyn ever have a real storyline? There's enough here to fuel a two-hour TV movie, but not 22 hours of a season-long drama.

Because, At the End of the Day, It's Still Just a Reboot of The Munsters
As sorry as we are not to have a new Bryan Fuller series on the airwaves (although he does have Hannibal on deck for a potential midseason launch and we have to admit to being morbidly curious about that small-screen version of Hannibal the Cannibal), we'd rather see him develop his own crazy, unique ideas instead of settling for a remake of a decades-old sitcom. No one else could have made a show like Pushing Daisies. A lot of other people could have rebooted The Munsters.

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