Mockingbird Lane Review
Mockingbird Lane is the controversial remake of The Munsters. After being created as a TV series then slashed down to a Halloween Special, how does this reimagining of the 1960's classic stand? Click Away for the answer this question as well as a comparison to the original.
Ah, The Munsters. Despite its short 2-year run on TV (1964-1966), it has since become a pop culture classic for generations. The show revolved around a family of monsters of the era (Frankenstein, Werewolf, Vampire, etc.) who, despite their ghastly appearances, considered themselves to be a normal family. That of course was the humor of a quite obviously campy show. And much like the Batman series, that coincidentally caused The Munsters to be cancelled, it was accepted by viewers (campiness and all).
And now there is Mockingbird Lane. What can I say about this show? Well when I first heard about it, I thought "Well this could be interesting..." When I say the above teaser poster I thought "Wow... that looks like @#* %!!!" Then some clips from the show came out and I thought "Heh...that actually looks good." Now that I have seen the show I am happy to say while it's not a masterpiece, Mockingbird Lane was a dang good time.
Now, this "Halloween Special" is not for everyone. If you are expecting total horror, total comedy, or you are a die-hard Munsters fan who wanted a direct remake, then you definitely won't like it. I must stress that this was a full on REIMAGINING, and with the exception of the characters and setting, this had little ties to the original Munsters. For many, this is not a good thing, but I think it was the obvious way to go to make this show a success. I mean really, as good as The Munsters was, it just wouldn't appeal to the modern-day audience. This show did a fine job of remaining true to the core values of the original while still taking liberties in making the show darker and more relevant to today's world.
Now let's start out with the story. Warning! There will be some
spoilers ahead. If you don't want to know too much about the story, don't read this paragraph. Mockingbird Lane starts out with a bang, showing off its large budget by flaunting its impressive special effects. The scene consists of a transformed Eddie Munster attacking a group of Boy Scouts. Not only is this scene dark and scary, but it also mixes in a good amount of humor. As a result, the incident is referred to as a "baby bear attack", a running joke in the film and a cover to keep Eddies secret contained (a major focal point of the show). From that point on, we are introduced to Herman Munster (who is suffering from a literally broken heart, Grandpa (a vampire with wicked tricks up his sleeve), Lily (a transforming creature and wife of Herman), and Marilyn (the "normal" cousin much to Grandpa's distaste). The show is filled with many clever jokes and gags, with what seems is limitless boundaries. By the end, the show has made fun of a fat kid, a crippled lady, and puberty. Surprisingly, the horror is ramped up with lots of blood, gore, and death jokes. There is even an introduction to the "family pet".
The show boasts a huge budget that is quite obvious. The special effects are really good and the acting skills are superb, delivering a laugh a minute that made me beg for more by the end.
As you can see 1313 has received an impressive update. The overall set design of the show is fantastic and gives a dark, gothic look. The new mansion is a huge visual pleasure and has been given a spooky back-story.
Jerry O'Connell shines as Herman Munster. He plays a Frankenstein-like character who is built out of the spare parts of other humans. His one fault, his heart which is now on the verge of breaking. O'Connell shows his range as an actor, being a for the most part happy "human" that even when sad is able to deliver his twisted jokes, as well as being a caring and loving father.
Portia de Rossi plays Lily Munster, who I can only assume is a vampire like her father. She alludes to being able to transform but is never shown doing so aside from her introduction. The main problem with her character is her lack of screen time.
Eddie Izzard plays an updated Grandpa Munster. In this version he is an eccentric, nasty vampire-like creature. He is hell-bent on killing anyone with a good heart to replace Herman's. He also wants to teach Eddie how to truly be a monster. I think Izzard played his part fantastically and is probably my favorite character.
Mason Cook plays young Eddie Munster, a werewolf despite the fact that he doesn't know it. Cook holds has own as the back-talking troubled young boy.
You really feel for the kid as he tries his best to be normal despite the fact that he knows he will never be. I really wish this show would become a regular series and flesh out some more for the character.
Charity Wakefield is delightful as Marilyn, the Munsters' cousin with no special "powers". Wakefield places the outcast role perfectly, constantly vying for the approval of Grandpa. She is even left to clean up a "mess" of Grandpa's.
Oh Spot, the flame breathing dragon. Spot lived under the staircase in the original series. Now he is a full on disappearing dragon. The CGI for him is wonderful and I wish I had the picture to prove it. I hope this concept art gives you the overall idea, but I know it comes nothing close to the feeling I had at the end of the episode when he appeared.
Mockingbird Lane was a delightful treat during the Halloween season. Do I think it could hold its own as a weekly series? YES!!! With a great cast, great sets, great story, and great special effects (oh and I can't forget the unique, fun brand of dark humor), it would be great to see a new episode each week. Initial ratings place it at #3 during its time slot, but will that be enough to warrant a series? I hope so!
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