The Disappointment of Mockingbird Lane

On Friday, October 26, NBC aired the pilot episode of Mockingbird Lane, a remake of The Munsters. If you missed it, don't feel bad. It was a big disappointment.  The folks at NBC probably knew as much since they still haven't picked it up for a full series and they buried this so-called "Halloween Special" airing on the Friday night deathslot without much fanfare or hype. 

I haven't seen such a poor attempt at a reboot since the disastrous Bionic Woman fiasco, although I hear the effort to bring back Wonder Woman to the boob tube (no pun intended) was even more horrendous. Mockingbird Lane failed to capture the fun spirit of the original comedy from the 1960s. Maybe that's why they chose to give it a completely different title since, despite superficial similarities, it really tried to be something new, but in all the wrong ways.

Portia de Rossi (almost unrecognizable with her golden locks dyed brown) made a valiant effort to bring some life to the part of Lily, and Charity Wakefield was commendable as Marilyn, but the rest of the Munster family seemed off kilter. Eddie Izzard was a dark, monstrous Grandpa, lacking the maniacal, over-the-top joy that Al Lewis originally brought to the role. Mason Cook as Eddie was sadly forgettable, even though the writers tried to give him more depth as the werewolf boy than in the black-and-white classic.  The biggest let-down was Jerry O'Connell as Herman. I've enjoyed O'Connell's work for most of his career, but in this case he really didn't stretch much or show much range.  While I'm glad he didn't try to do a Fred Gwynne impersonation, I was still hoping for something more than O'Connell being...well, just O'Connell with some Frankenstein scars.

NBC invested a lot in the pilot, which had some big special effects, so there might be more life left in this revival attempt. I certainly was expecting a lot more since its showrunner is Bryan Fuller who gave us the quirky but enjoyable Dead Like Me and Pushing Daisies. Personally, I wish the original name attached to the project, Guillermo del Toro, had a larger hand in its creative direction, because that might have been a show worth seeing.

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