Saturday, May 10, 2014

Mockingbird Lane – review

Directed by: Bryan Singer

Release date: 2012

Contains spoilers

I loved the original Munsters, hated what I saw of the Munsters Today (which doesn’t stop me wanting to see it on DVD at some point) and waited for this with trepidation. Released as a pilot for the 2012 Halloween it finally appeared on DVD on eBay (though I suspect it isn’t overtly kosher). Given the time that has passed it is as well to ask why it wasn’t picked up as a series and I shall offer some thoughts later.

Jerry O'Connell as Herman
I had known, before it actually aired, that a lot of the ‘old school monster’ look was going to be removed. This wasn’t actually the Munsters but a modern reboot, a reimagining. So whilst the oddly normal Marilyn (Charity Wakefield) looks much as she did in the original show, Herman (Jerry O'Connell, Sliders - Stoker, Room 6 & Crossing Jordan - revealed) looks normal, barring the vicious stitches (visible above his collar line). This would make sense given that Grandpa (Eddie Izzard, Shadow of the Vampire) made him for daughter Lily (Portia de Rossi) as no single man was good enough for her. Lily and Herman’s kid Eddie (Mason Cook) is a werewolf and we begin with him.

Eddie as a wolf
Or rather, with his wolf form, at a scout camp. The next day, with the troop scared but unharmed, Eddie is unaware of the fact that he is a werewolf (it was his first turn) and the attack is put down to a baby bear. The family move away from the area and buy a (soon to be demolished) home of a serial killer; number 1313 Mockingbird Road. And it is here that the episode faltered and failed to get picked up. I loved the premise, I loved some of the ideas – for instance when the family arrive grandpa’s crate splits depositing a horde of rats that then transform into him, Lily emerges from her crate in mist form. When she takes on human form she is naked and spiders drop down and weave her a dress.

Eddioe Izzard as Grandpa
We have the issue of Eddie discovering what he is, of Herman’s (original) heart breaking through loving too much and needing replacing – and all this gets resolved around a scout master named Steve (Cheyenne Jackson). However it is storyline fluff, background material that is good to have but has no substantive bite. The comedy is still there but less overt and more subtle – often centred around Grandpa, Izzard clearly having a great time – but not strong enough to make this a comedy, it is more a comedy drama and that (of course) relies on the drama to work. For this reason, I can understand why it didn’t get picked up… there just wasn’t enough there. Perhaps it would have developed well (I like to think so) but it didn’t grab from the first instance.

manbat form
As for vampiric aspects. When Grandpa is “drinking” (human that is rather than animal blood) he becomes younger looking. His blood makes mortals his blood slaves. He is seen at different times with Nosferatu-like front fangs and side fangs. He can go out in daylight and transform shape. His manbat form was disappointing as the cgi seemed a little un-textured, making it almost appear rubbery.

So, a nice start but not good enough to let us see if they could have made it work over a long run and, of course, we will never know. The pilot itself is too short and, as I said above, is lacking in substantive storyline. 5 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

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