I just viewed the pilot episode of Mockingbird Lane, which is now being re-marketed as a “Halloween Special” since it doesn’t look like NBC is going to pick up the series. After watching it, I can see why.
I never really watched The Munsters when I was younger, but I sure do love the slot machine version (Grandpa Munster was a wild card, and I always won lots of pennies) and that iconic theme song — it’s so zippy! But alas, even using the original theme music won’t bring this show back to life (pun intended).
First, a little background. The pilot cost $10 million to make, and you can easily see it was spent on the special effects and not on the talent (sorry, Jerry O’Connell and Eddie Izzard — loved you in Stand By Me and just love you, respectively). With almost no resemblance to The Munsters, aside from character names and music, the show follows the family as they relocate after young Eddie Munster has an “incident” with his scout troop.
From what I can gather, the fictional suburb of Mockingbird Heights is located in California, but I only deduce that from the moving van that brings Grandpa Munster (Izzard) and Lily Munster (Portia de Rossi) to the house (or perhaps they were moving from California?).
What can you really say about this Halloween Special? There’s nothing special about it, and that’s the problem. Grandpa Munster is the liveliest thing about the show, and he’s an undead vampire. Cue irony.
There’s no desire to follow these characters through their “everyday” lives. The original intent of the pilot episode was to establish the characters and storyline and not be a standalone special, so it’s a shame viewers won’t be getting a few more episodes to learn more about the Munsters. But if this episode is any indication of what’s to come, perhaps it’s best NBC put the noose over Mockingbird Lane.
With the pricey cost of special effects (though it looks amazing), it’s understandable they wanted to cut their losses sooner rather than later (we are still in a recession, after all).
Mockingbird Lane airs Fri., Oct. 26 at 8/7c, leading into Grimm at 9/8c.