As everyone knows, The Munsters was more than just some goofy kids’ show from the 60s. It was a turning point in the civil rights movement. For centuries, lab experiments gone wrong, vampires, ghouls, and zombies suffered the kind of discrimination one typically associated only with IRS workers or certified public accountants.
But then came The Munsters, whose incisive Pinter-esque writing, sophisticated camera work, and intricate plotting managed to bring home the essential humanity of even the inhuman. Herman, Lilly, Grandpa, Eddie, and, of course, the horribly disfigured Marilyn taught us the toll discrimination took on the marginalized and quite possibly insane.
Who can forget Fred Gwynne’s iconic and grotesque guffaw, Grandpa Al Lewis’s ironic sense of humor, Yvonne DeCarlo’s Hollywood glamour, and Butch Patrick’s sad sack whininess? (Not to mention the quiet dignity that Beverley Owen brought to the character of Marilyn. Although the burden of realizing the complexity of Marilyn’s twisted psychology quickly took its toll on Owen, and after only 13 weeks she had to be replaced by the equally able Pat Priest.)
I ask you again, who can forget this Golden Age television programming?
Well, frankly, all of us, if you gave us a minute. Which is why NBC is raising the characters from the dead with their special Mockingbird Lane. Starring Jerry O’Connell as Herman, a brunette Portia Di Rossi as Lilly, and comedy semi-legend Eddie Izzard as a Mr. Monopoly–looking Grandpa , this is not your father’s Munsters. From which no one’s career ever fully recovered. (How can you top that kind of brilliance?)
But will Mockingbird Lane enhance the legacy of the masterful original? Or forever tarnish it?
Stop looking at me like that.