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June 22nd, 2012

The Munsters to Be Re-imagined, Re-invented, Not Rebooted

Jerry O'Connell will be the new Herman Munster. Photo by watchwithkristin © Wikimedia Commons

Jerry O’Connell will be the new Herman Munster.
Photo by watchwithkristin © Wikimedia Commons

Have you visited 1313 Mockingbird Lane lately? If you haven’t heard the news yet, the 1960s classic favorite The Musters is being reinvented and reimagined by Pushing Daisies creator Bryan Fuller to be titled Mockingbird Lane from the Munsters street address. Fuller tells EW the show will be getting a monster upgrade with more of the Universal monsters stopping by for a visit. The word on the net is that Mockingbird Lane will be an hour long drama and much edgier as opposed to a 30 minute comedy like the original was. The original was funny because it dealt with this family of supernatural misfits (a Frankenstein, vampires, and werewolves) trying to fit in with the modern world. They believed they were normal while everyone around them was weird and that no one saw them as the oddballs they were. Fuller tells us,  “Any story you can tell on Parenthood we can run through a Universal monster prism and tell it in a very twisted, off-kilter way. What I love about the pilot story (TV Guide reports the show’s pilot, written by Bryan Fuller and directed by Bryan Singer, features a story line in which Herman searches for a living “donor” to replace his failing heart) is it’s about a family who loves each other and they have a child [Eddie, the werewolf] with a disability and they’re trying to craft a path for that child so he can have a happy life — they just happen to be monsters. And, unlike in the original, we’re going to see our monsters do monstrous things.” Oh, my! The character costumes are also being reinvented. Fuller explains, “These are a blinged-out representation of what monsters would be doing if they lived in our society today. How they would look, how they would interact. Our wardrobe is heavily influenced by Alexander McQueen and his use of animal textures. For instance, with Lily, all of her wardrobe comes from nature. The first time we see her this nest of spiders weaves her dress on her body as she’s standing there. We’ll see ravens come in and assemble her blouse out of their feathers. We won’t see animal skins because the animals are donating as opposed to dying for it. She has domain over nature and nature has a fantastic esthetic.”

The creepy house is also getting facelift. Check out these behind the scenes photos at the house being built on the Universal Studios Hollywood back lot tour.

When I first heard about a Munsters reboot, my reaction was similar to many comments I’ve seen on the web. “Why can’t Hollywood come up with something original?” After digging a bit deeper, Mockingbird Lane sounds like it is going to be original. Sure, the names are the same and the main characters are Universal monsters and they still have the same street address as the originals, but they are now living in the 21st Century, not back in the 1960s. Fuller comments, “…people get up in arms when they see a remake idea — “Oh, they’re remaking something that’s been done before, what hackery, there’s no original thoughts in Hollywood.” But there’s a great quote that no art exists without the art before it. We’re doing our work to make our versions distinct and respect their source material. When you come to The Munsters and have Herman — who’s essentially a zombie in a constant state of decay — and he’s married to a woman who doesn’t age, there’s something very poignant there. These stories will surprise audiences.”

The cast has been set with Jerry O’Connell (The Defenders) as the head of the family, Herman Munster. Word around the net (in the comments sections on articles) is that viewers believe Brad Garret would have been a more obvious, better choice for this role, but he wasn’t chosen so I say let’s give Jerry a fair chance and not judge the show or the actors before we see one episode. Herman’s lovely wife, Lily, will be portrayed by Portia de Rossi (Arrested Development, Better Off Ted). Just because she is a blonde, doesn’t mean she can’t portray the vampiress Lily. Vampires can have blonde hair, can’t they? And if it needs to be dark she can choose to dye her hair or wear a wig. The mad scientist, shape-shifting vampire to bat Grandpa, father of Lily, falls on the wings of Eddie Izzard (The Riches) who is also producing the show according to  When Frankenstein (Herman) mates with a vampire (Lily) the result is little Edward “Eddie” Wolfgang Munster, a Boy Scouting werewolf who will be played by Mason Cook (Spy Kids 4). Cousin Marilyn, the niece of Lily and the only “normal” one of the bunch, will be played by British actress Charity Wakefield (Sense & Sensibility). She’s gorgeous to normal people but her monster family sees her as the ugly one, the black sheep of the family. No word yet on if Spot the dragon will be recast.

Two new characters are being added to the cast: Scout Master Steve and Maryanne (not to be confused with Maryanne from Gilligan’s Island). Steve, portrayed by Cheyenne Jackson (30 Rock), the leader of Eddie’s pack, is a widower who is smitten with Lily. Uh-oh, there could be some dramatic situations in the making there. Beth Grant (Pushing Daisies) is Maryanne, the nosy neighbor (isn’t that a character from Bewitched?) who is a paraplegic that keeps a keen eye on the weird family next door. She has nothing better to do than peek between the curtains to spy on her weird neighbors.

The original cast included Fred Gwynn as Herman, Yvonne De Carlo as Lily, Al Lewis as Grandpa, Butch Patrick as Eddie, and Pat Priest as Marilyn.