Nerd Bastard Review – ‘Mockingbird Lane’ Pilot

The pilot for Bryan Fuller’s Mockingbird Lane is one that I’ve been looking forward to for some time now.  Although there are a lot of naysayers who think that a Munsters reboot is completely unnecessary, I personally feel that this is one property that is actually ready to be redone.  What makes the prospect even more enticing is the crew that is ready to handle the show, with Bryan Fuller at the helm and Bryan Singer adding his skills to directing this pilot episode.  Add to that a group of actors that have proven themselves to be worthy of at least giving a watch and you have the recipe to something that could be greatly successful.

This pilot episode begins by jumping right into the crux of the story’s theme – being a monster in a world of humans.  It takes the viewpoint of a child, however, instead of one of the many other monsters who happen to be okay with what they are.  Singer doesn’t just spell it out plainly for the audience, instead choosing to tease them a bit and lure them into the story with a bit of frenetic werewolf action.  As it turns out, all the chaos that happens during the first few minutes is because Eddie Munster is undergoing a unique sort of puberty – that of manifesting his werewolf self.


Switch scenes – the family is now forced to move because of the indiscretions that the unknowing Eddie has caused with his monstrous heritage.  They find a nice place at 1313 Mockingbird Lane.  This is a house that is known for once being home to a serial killer who happened to prey upon hobos and bury them in the backyard.  But that’s okay for our loving monster family.  After all, they’ve seen much worse.  And besides, that house is fkn awesome.

From there, the episode explores a bit the personalities of each character.  Herman is a human-like figure that just happens to be composed of several bits of other humans.  Lily is a vampiric sexy-lady who loves her husband and makes her best attempts to control the chaos that sometimes occurs in the household.  Eddie is a precocious little boy with a vocabulary and perception better than most of the adults, but possessed of a determination to not become what he knows the rest of the family to be – monsters.  Marilyn is the “black sheep” of the family with her curse of normalcy.  And grandpa… well, he’s a bloodsucking vampire who embraces his heritage and sees no problem with murdering the neighbors if in their deaths they can become useful to him.

The main story arc is Herman trying to gather the courage to explain to Eddie that he is indeed possessed of the same monster-like qualities that most of the other Munsters family share.  Eddies resists this, of course, although the pilot leaves off before the matter can be fully resolved.  The secondary arc is Herman dealing with the moral dilemma of getting a new heart (his is breaking down), weighing his survival against the feeling that his heart is the only real part of his makeshift body.  The rest of what goes on is really just window dressing, best explored in further episodes that will most likely never come.  <sad face>

The first thing I noticed when watching Mockingbird Lane is that it’s VERY pretty.  That $10 million was well spent, cause I was blown away with the quality that a mainstream television show was able to produce.  The effects are creative and captivating.  The sets are absolutely amazing (you can see where most of that money probably went).  The cinematography and lighting are just right to create mood and keep the show visually stimulating while remaining within the boundaries of the content.  It perfectly blends the shiny appeal of television with the moody, alternative feel of a dark comedy.

The second thing I noticed was the acting.  The dialogue is probably the best part of the show, being witty, clever and sharp and everyone (yes, I mean everyone) involved delivers their lines with near perfection.  You get the darkness and the comedy together without any of the awkwardness that can tend to permeate these types of hybrid shows.  I found myself laughing on more than one occasion and actually felt my brain having to work to keep up with the banter that was going back at forth.

And now I come to the major criticism… the main issue with the show was that it really, really needed to be about 20 to 30 minutes longer.  It was edited so concisely that it felt like I was being whisked from one scene to the next without any chance to absorb what had just happened.  It became disorienting to the point of distracting at times.  There was way too much to take in and, in my opinion, those who aren’t familiar with the original Munsters show were probably outright lost.

Bryan Fuller expressed his opinion that once people saw this pilot episode that the television studio would change their mind and go ahead and let him do a full season.  If everyone watching were either A) intelligent enough to follow it or B) familiar with the original show enough to not get lost, he might be right.  As it stands, I don’t think he’ll be able to entice enough people to create that demand.

Sigh… I was so looking forward to a full season of this.  And with what the pilot had to offer, a multi-episode storyline would have been truly amazing.  This complexity is, unfortunately, confusing to too many people and unlikely to make a regular prime time appearance unless it happens to fall within a specific genre demographic, such as another damn cop show.

Goodbye, noble Munsters reboot.  You had such potential and shone so brightly in your 39 minutes.  But, alas, you must resign yourself to the grave.

Category: TV

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