NBC’s “failed” pilot, Mockingbird Lane, premiered this past Friday with a mixed reviews coming from all of the internet. The strongest complaint against the series seems to be who it’s target audience is, with most targeted viewers not likely to know the original Munsters series this reboot is based on. Not being a huge Munsters fan myself, I can honestly say that it didn’t prevent Mockingbird Lane from being horrifyingly enjoyable.
Written by Bryan Fuller (Pushing Daises) and directed by Bryan Singer, Mockingbird Lane exhibits Fuller’s taste for strong dialogue and dark comedy. Though the comedy is a bit dry, Fuller does find the same gleefully ghoulish tone he used on Pushing Daises which manages to create the appropriate level of weirdness these characters deserve. Speaking of which, the characters have each gone through some pretty radical changes. Herman’s flat-top forehead, along with Eddie’s pointed ears and widow’s peak, have replaced by Jerry O’Connell’s subtle stitching and Mason Cook’s… bowl cut.
Perhaps the biggest distinction between the new cast, however, is Eddie Izzard’s performance as Grandpa. Long gone is Al Lewis’ comical doting and hair-brained scheming in exchange for Izzard’s snide, unholier-than-thou sarcasm and well-calculated manipulations. Some might say the pilot revolves around Grandpa as he pulls all the strings, both within the Munster family but their new community as well. All of the major (and bloodiest) scenes feature Izzard’s Grandpa front and center.
Marilyn (Charity Wakefield) and Lily (Portia de Rossi) play more minor, but necessary roles in the pilot that differ less from their 60’s era counterparts. Overall, these are unquestionably “human” monsters rather than the classic archetypes found in the original series. It’s a unique, if not an altogether modern, take on the characters and one that I think would be worth seeing more of. The ending, while appropriately morbid, was a bit unexpected and precedes a more heartfelt closing scene that references Eddie’s “pet” which again begs the question who this series is aimed at. Whoever their intended audience is… count me in!