‘Mockingbird Lane’ Recap: “Don’t Turn the Neighbors into Your Blood Slaves”

In recent weeks, NBC bombarded its programming (well, ‘Grimm’ anyway, which is one of the few shows I watch on the network at the moment) with commercials for ‘Mockingbird Lane’. What the ads failed to clarify is whether this expensive reboot of ‘The Munsters’ was meant to be a new series, a made-for-TV movie, a Halloween special, or something else. That’s because NBC doesn’t know what to do with it. Produced as the pilot episode for a series, the network decided to pass on the show, but couldn’t justify letting its $10 million budget go completely to waste. Thus, the hour-long episode aired on Friday with such a confused promotional campaign. It’s too short and obviously episodic to be a TV movie, but the network has no plans to continue it further. That’s a shame, damn it, because this thing turns out to be a lot of fun.

Created by eccentric genius Bryan Fuller (‘Dead Like Me’, ‘Pushing Daisies’) and directed by Bryan Singer (‘The Usual Suspects’, ‘X-Men’), the show follows the same basic premise and makes plenty of fan-service nods to the original ‘Munsters’, but updates the story to the modern day with enough of a unique spin to stand apart as its own entity. For one thing, despite the casting of Jerry O’Connell, Herman isn’t a lunkhead in this version. He’s fairly bright, and a caring dad who just wants to do right by his family. Although comedic, ‘Mockingbird Lane’ is much less sitcom-y than the old show, and has a much darker and more twisted sense of humor. In fact, the opening scene, in which a werewolf (that we’ll later learn is young Eddie Munster) terrorizes a scout troup in the woods, is actually kind of scary. The episode even ends with a major supporting character getting killed off.

The plot of what was to be the pilot episode finds the Munster clan moving into an old dilapidated mansion on the title street. The house used to be the home of a serial killer who murdered hobos, a fact that pleases everyone. Portia de Rossi plays sexy vampiress wife Lily, and Eddie Izzard is a riot as the troublemaking grandpa “D” (for Dracula, presumably), who would very much like to drain all of their new neighbors’ blood. Young son Eddie doesn’t know that he’s a werewolf (he blacks out during the change and has no memories afterwards) and would prefer to be normal, like the family’s black sheep, cousin Marilyn. This greatly displeases his grandfather, but Herman has a surprisingly touching heart-to-heart with the boy about the changes he’s going through.

The episode is filled with witty dialogue and is consistently clever. The production design and costumes are terrific, the visual effects are pretty good (if not feature film quality, they’re far better than ‘Grimm’). Basically, if you liked Fuller’s previous quirky shows, this one fits in very nicely. I’m sad that we won’t get the chance to see more of it.


  1. I didn’t find it that funny,really slow and barely finished it. I ask my Dad who was a BIG fan of the original show what he thought about it and he had the same feeling. The CGI effects were good but it looks like that’s what killed the show and it’s to dark tone.

  2. EM

    I was clueless about this show and am sorry to have missed it. (I watch very little mainstream-network TV, none of it on NBC.) Frankly, I was disappointed in Dead Like Me when I finally saw it, despite liking some of its quirkiness; I am a fan of Fuller’s Pushing Daisies and Wonderfalls. I hope I can see Mockingbird Lane on Blu-ray or DVD someday.

  3. Cienna

    I thought it was well done. I liked the fact that it took qualities from the original Munsters and also added new spins, like the part where little Eddie Munster terrorizes the Boy Scout troop in an actual scary way. Other than that scene, this show wasn’t really scary at all except for the fact that the family eats human flesh, which is what I like about it. I’m also sad that we won’t get to see more of this reboot.

  4. Bob

    Very well done visually but the overall theme was too much on the dark side of funny for me toward the end with “Grandpa” drinking the scoutmaster’s blood. I could definitely see the touches of Fuller. Given more episodes, I might watch, but I’m not sold on this enterprise.

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