Remaking a tv show or movie shouldn's simply be a rehash of the original; it should bring something fresh and different, offering more than just a rerun of the source material.  Mockingbird Lane succeeds at breathing new life into The Munsters, in no small part due to the whimsy, enchantment, and dark humor of writer Bryan Fuller (who was also behind the amazing show Pushing Daisies).
While the original Munsters had a family of monsters who thought they were a normal family, Mockingbird Lane has members of the Munster family who cover the whole spectrum of awareness of their monstrosities.  The show begins with the Munsters moving into their new home after young Eddie Munster (Mason Cook) turned into a werewolf on a Wildlife Explorer camping trip.  Herman Munster (Jerry O'Connell), a patchwork patchwork of body parts, wants to shield his son from knowing that he's a lycanthorpe.  Herman's wife Lily (Portia de Rossi) is a loving wife and mother -- and vampire - who's fine with her abulities but doesn't want her son thinking she's a freak.  As in the original show, Lily's niece Marilyn (Charity Wakefield) is the black sheep of the family for not being any sort of monster. And Grandpa (Eddie Izzard) is part vampire, part gargoyle, part mad scientist, and all about embracing monstrosity, whether turning the neighbors into his blood slaves or wanting to kill Wildlife Explorer Steve (Cheyenne Jackson) to replace Herman's failing heart.
Much like Pushing Daisies, Mockingbird Lane features an impressive blend of the light and the dark.  There's an almost artificial brightness to the suburban neighborhood, contrasted with the magical world of the Munsters.  There's a very wicked sense of humor through the show -- when a realtor warns "There may be dead homeless people in the walls!" Marilyn calmly answers, "Then they found a home after all" -- and a good family dynamic that includes tension with the in-law and fitting in when you really stand out.  The cast is excellent (especially Izzard, relishing the role of unrepentant bad guy) and the show is amazing.

Alas, Mockingbird Lane only had a pilot episode made, shown and passed on by NBC.  (This is surprising, as it would be a perfect fit with their fantasy show Grimm.)  Since this show has some magic and humor sorely missing from most television programs, I hope Mockingbird Lane finds new life elsewhere.
Overall grade: A
Reviewed by James Lynch

No comments: