|Comedy, Drama, Fantasy
Alloy Entertainment, Warner Bros. Television
October 28th, 2012
Release length: 40:08
After Eddie Munster (Mason Cook) became a werewolf and attacked the kids of his cub scout troop, the Munster family packed up and left their home town. Marilyn Munster (Charity Wakefield) went out to find a new home, coming across 1313 Mockingbird Lane, a home owned by a sadistic man who murdered the homeless, which was scheduled for demolition. Eventually the rest of the family follows her, including Herman Munster (Jerry O’Connell), Lily Munster (Portia de Rossi), and Grandpa Munster (Eddie Izzard). The rest of the film (essentially the pilot episode), explores the family getting acquainted with some of their neighbors, establishing what Grandpa is this time around, and how to handle telling Eddie that he is a werewolf. Eddie’s sadness about what happened in his hometown, and knowing that his father is lying to him about something, causes Herman’s heart to literally break. This leads to a side plot for the episode of Grandpa seeking a new heart for Herman, deciding to kill the local scout leader, Stever (Cheyenne Jackson), for this new heart, as well as his blood.
The first few minutes of this pilot are absolutely fantastic. The scene involving the kids picking on one of the other scouts for his appetite leads to various others being attacked, and supposedly killed by a “baby bear,” which ends up being Eddie. It’s a little creepy and looks like something straight out of a horror film. But, then the credits roll, and the rest of Mockingbird Lane quickly destroys the classic characters. Herman is now a male model with an autopsy scar, Lily doesn’t have that vintage Bride of Frankenstein look to her, instead coming off like this episode’s interpretation of Olivia Doran from the recently cancelled 666 Park Avenue, and Grandpa is basically a melancholic man-hunting vampire, always talking about his next meal or turning neighbors into his slaves. A perfect example is when he transforms into a giant vampire bat in an attempt to kill Steve, as well as putting his blood in a cookie and giving it to one of his neighbors, causing him repaint the mansion, nearly working himself to literal death.
Unfortunately, very few of these people really seem believable. Eddie Munster has his moments here and there, and Marilyn Munster is an exceptionally portrayed character. But, the rest of the family is largely out of place, both in acting, as well as casting. Herman ends up being another rendition of DexterSuper Mario Bros. film that finds Luigi referring themselves to a guard as “That’s Mario Mario, and I’m Luigi Mario,” except done more than once, getting more annoying each time its done.
But, one thing that does end up working in this program’s favor is the atmosphere. This was clearly a higher budget production, and the visuals are simply spectacular. You truly get a happy, upbeat feeling at the first house Marilyn is shown, and then when she finds 1313 Mockingbird Lane, you are met with a subtle dark and dismal environment. The inside of the building looks a bit like a gothic-era creation, and Grandpa’s laboratory shows a bit of a Frankenstein touch with a dirty appearance that just feels right for this pilot turned film. Even the random scene with Marilyn walking into one of the rooms to find a large tree limb through the stained glass cathedral-esque ceiling can take your breath away. But, there’s also some CGI at work, and this scene is also debatable as being an entry into that.
Other CGI touched scenes are found here and there, such as Grandpa forming from a pack of rats, and spiders that come down and weave Lily’s outfit. Thankfully, not all look bad, and are often handled well with minimal screen time. However, there’s also the introduction of the family pet Spike, though the reveal does take away from the gag potential that existed in the original series. But, even Grandpa’s effects looked good. At one point he kills a mountain lion, a brief scene handled through computer effects, but when he tries to attack Steve, both that and a rubber costume are mixed together to make a very menacing creature, and even a genuinely funny closing that is wrapped in confusion, and a deadpan expression done well on both his face, and hers.
There wasn’t much in the way of comedy here other than that scene. The only other one that was mildly comical was the discovery of the stairs down to the basement, and Eddie throwing a coin down them that kept bouncing, though at the same rate with every ding of it hitting a stair in a physically impossible fluidity. Much of the story was left kind of vacant. For a forty minute pilot, not much was really covered as far as Eddie’s transformation went, which was cleared up more towards the end. Instead, it was just random scenes with the neighbors, including their one neighbor who hates them immediately when she learns where they live, and the scene involing her husband in the ambulance after he nearly dies from painting the mansion. Much of this pilot could have been shot in a clean twenty five minute length for a half hour window, and the same amound of story and character development would have been covered.
In all honesty, Mockingbird Lane felt like watching a show that tied in The Munsters more as an after thought, or to sell the pilot for the sake of nostalgia after it was denied being green lit the first time around. Had this famous television family not been the main focus, and instead been a new one based around paranormal and folklore derived creatures, then this pilot would probably have been a little more successful and even found a home with the many fans of the classic series. Instead, you get a darker reimagining of The Munsters that holds up well enough in a visual and atmospheric manner, but not so much in the cast themselves. Instead of showing potential for a new 2013, or perhaps then would have been 2012 television line-up entry, we’re met with a modern take on one of tv’s most memorable families, and it simply is not worth the time to watch unless you’ve never seen the initial series, or didn’t appreciate the light hearted nature of it all together.
|Overall Score: 4.5/10