For the past few months I have been waiting patiently for a premiere. The pilot episode of “Mockingbird Lane”.
I read the growing buzz about this latest reboot with a smidge of interest, born out of curiosity more than anything else. To say that I am tired of the reboot mill would be an understatement. Isn’t there anyone in Hollywood who can generate anything original? Yes, every once in a while there is a ‘reboot’ of a successful show or film that works for the most part (i.e. the Addams Family productions). On a number of levels these remakes, re-imaginings, reboots (whatever you wish to call them) feel like cheating. Especially when the original was great to begin with. The muckety-mucks who gravitate to these re-workings are probably thinking that enough time has passed for the younger people among us to not be familiar with the original productions, so they can get away with it. Whatever their reasoning, the least they could do is…and I have said this time and time again…the least they could do is rework something that bombed and make it better. There are plenty of failed projects that have had a great premise/story line, but lacked in execution. Producers need to go for those, and stay away from beloved shows with solid fan bases/cult followings like “The Munsters”.
Okay…now for ”Mockingbird Lane”. I will start my personal critique by saying that I didn’t have high hopes going in. The effort was made to retain an open mind, but I’m a fan of the original. Maybe I would be pleasantly surprised? That was the mind-set I tried to have. Don’t finalize my opinion before I even see the episode. Could be difficult, but…okay.
|(1313 Mockingbird lane)|
Next up: The house at 1313 Mockingbird Lane has a rather infamous history, once belonging to a serial killer who murdered hoboes. Marilyn finds the structure while house hunting with a realtor. He tells her the gruesome tale which of course attracts her to the place. Of course.
|(Herman's heart gets a tune-up)|
Back to the reboot. Eddie Izzard as Grandpa is really the main standout in the cast. The overall tone of this new version is quite darker than the old, and Grandpa is by far the darkest of the family members. He is ‘the’ Dracula, and father to Lily (Portia de Rossi), who is also a vamp. Herman (Jerry O’Connell) is the handsome man of the house who, aside from a collection of scars across his neck and chest and a zippered flap of skin over his heart, looks like everyone else in the “normal” world. Cousin Marilyn (Charity Wakefield) is the bleach blond misfit toy of the clan, just like in the original. However, this time Marilyn has a dark streak that shows through in some of the more entertaining parts of this pilot episode that pair her with Izzard. Last there’s son Eddie (Mason Cook), who is entering into puberty and starting to show his hairy and howly side. Only Herman and Lily are keeping these developments from their son who remembers nothing after he’s gone through one of his ‘changes’.
|(Lily and Eddie)|
So Herman’s heart is failing…it’s time for a replacement. Grandpa has also decided to start feeding again. Eddie’s new scout master is fingered as the intended victim. Herman gets his heart, and grandpa gets his bloody meal (which makes him look much younger). Herman and Lily also decide to tell Eddie that he’s a werewolf (they had lied to him before, telling him that a bear had attacked his old scout troop).
“Mockingbird Lane” is more stylized than “The Munsters”, which is to be expected. Make-up and effects have progressed by leaps and bounds since the 1960’s. There are some cool effect moments like when Grandpa forms out of a growing pile of rats, or when a bunch of spiders spin a dress onto Lily’s body. Watching Grandpa jam hearts into Herman’s zippered chest cavity is kind of gross, but this is a much bloodier show.
A couple of other characters in the hood are their neighbors, the Grants. They might as well be named the Kravitz’s because I immediately thought of Mrs. Kravitz when Mrs. Grant opened her door. Marilyn and grandpa show up on their doorstep with cookies that grandpa made. He filled the centers with his blood, so when Mr. Grant eats one he falls in thrall with him. (We later see Mr. Grant painting the Munsters’ house.)