Exclusive : The 411 on the new Munsters’ series

munsters

The classic ‘sitcom’ “The Munsters” has been transformed into a contemporary weekly dramedy series for NBC. Bryan Fuller (“Pushing Daisies”) cooked up the story, and big-time filmmaker Bryan Singer (“X-Men”, “Superman Returns”) directs the pilot and executive produces.

“The Munsters” is Eddie Munster’s story.

He’s the kind and sympathetic young pre-teen who, as we discover in the pre-credits sequence, has a “condition”. With the help of his caring parents, Herman and Lily, he soon begins to accept his hairy alter-ego.

It’s no surprise, what with Bryan Fuller of “Pushing Daisies” captaining the ship, that the show is equal parts sweet, silly and suspenseful. It’s almost like “Parenthood” as told by Anne Rice, with the issues and topics raised not unlike those of us non-vampires and werewolves.  It’s actually quite a remarkable offering, more so because it gets the balance right.

Cast with the right actors (I don’t know, but I kept seeing Jack Davenport as Herman, and Muse Watson as Grandpa), and retaining the same energy and warmth throughout its episodes, and the show could be one of the highlights of 2012.  Either way, I think they’ve got a hit on their hands. A real winner.

Those that want to know more, can continue reading…

 

***** BEWARE OF SPOILERS BELOW ******

 

**** NO TURNING BACK NOW *****

But to the pilot…

It’s a scout camp, and the scout master has just rounded up the scouts in an effort to find out who has eaten all the boxes of food. While the token fat kid is being eyeballed, a ravaging wolf is about to crash the party…

…. next morning, a young boy wakes up naked in the woods.

After the credits…

Marilyn, the human amongst the family, stops a construction crew from taking a wrecking ball to a decrepit old mansion in Mockingbird Heights. Within moments she’s negotiated with an estate agent to buy the property – which, she’s informed, formerly housed a serial killer who poisoned hobos (the agent warns her that she might even come across a body or two).

We discover that the Munster’s have had to move to Mockingbird Heights because of what young Eddie did in the teaser. That “baby bear” attacking the scout camp was a sign that the Munster’s needed a new address before anyone realized who was really behind all those scratches and bruises that the scouts received.

Anyway…

Appropriately, the Munsters arrive via crate to their new address.  And they spend the first hour getting to know the locals (Grandpa licking his lips as he’s taken from house to house),  hunting down a replacement ‘heart’ for the ailing Herman and largely, helping Eddie realize that he’s not a monster.

Here’s a look at the characters :

Herman Munster

Think Dawson Leery’s compassionate, all-supportive dad (from ”Dawson’s Creek”) crossed with Frankenstein’s monster.

Was created by Grandpa; no other man, besides one he puts together, would of course be good enough for his daughter Lily.

Doesn’t much look like Fred Gwynne’s Frankenstein-looking fellow from the original. This Herman is more of a stud – albeit one with scars. He’s a skinny, but rather attractive man in his ’30s – though he’s stitched together from the body parts of other men and has a mechanical steampunk heart – one that is breaking down.

Though Herman does get a heart replacement –  thankfully a few of those ‘dead hobo’s’ turn up under the swimming pool – he’s not doing well (he loves too much and it’s killing him). Believing he has no choice if he wants Herman to live, Grandpa  finds a nice man with a “good heart” for Herman (if you get my drift).

A big old softie that adores his family, Herman is his son’s best friend and has a passionate relationship with the Mrs.

Eddie Munster

Think Ricky Schroder in “The Champ” – with sharper teeth.

The first – and he’s seemingly the most central character – of the Munsters we’re introduced to.  Much like Michael J.Fox’s character in ”Teen Wolf” he’s about to discover he’s got quite the howl- – only he’s terrified beyond belief at what that means (he’s frightened enough of puberty!).  Though the Munsters have moved to Mockingbird Heights because Eddie attacked his fellow boy scouts at a camp, he doesn’t have any recollection of the event and has been told a  baby bear attacked his friends. Eventually Herman is forced to tell Eddie what he does, as the request of Grandpa but dad’s determined to remind him – just as his mother will – that he’s not a monster.  Young Eddie ultimately decides to be a vegetarian monster when he can help it, and when he can’t… his dad says they’ll figure it out together. Awww.

Grandpa Munster

Think ‘Grandpa’ from “The Lost Boys” mixed with Lestat.

Scary son of a gun.  A I said, he, and the rest of the clan, arrive by delivery truck.  His crate topples over, a mass of rats spill out and join to form. An old-codger vampire that, for the past ten years, has been feeding on animals so young that Eddie doesn’t think anything’s ‘different’ about his family. This scary old fellow feeds on animals like Lions but, not surprisingly, is starting to hunger human blood.  And with Eddie now “in the family way”, he feels okay about that.  Grandpa knows he’s going to start eating humans again, suggesting he’s gobbled his way through a few in the past, and has enough love for Marilyn (who he saved from her mother, he says) to recommend she go to college on the other side of America. She’s safer there.

Has quite a few special powers – like the ability to send new neighbour Tim into a deep sleep by simply waving his hand in front of him

Lily Munster

Think the mysterious Selina Kyle meets “Friday Night Lights” momma Julie Taylor.

Perpetually beautiful. Pale. Sweet. Her crate begins as a pool of spiders before transforming into the tall, slender matriarch of the family.  Like his father, Eddie’s mum ultimately teaches him the “difference between being a Munster and being a Monster”.

She works at a pet store where she uses her magic to, for instance, trick the dogs into cleaning their own cages.

Loves her family dearly, and doesn’t want Herman to find a new heart because his current one belonged to Eddie’s biological father.

Marilyn Munster

Think hotness.  Is Adrianne Palicki busy!?

The human component of the family. Sweet, attractive young girl who – for obvious reasons – is pretty much the face of the family. Seems completely OK with Grandpa eating animals and people, recognizing his vampirism as a curse not something he chose, and is keen to help werewolf Eddie realize he’s not a bad person for having to feed off animals.

**** END SPOILERS ****

So they’re the Munsters.

Secondary characters include Eddie’s new scout-master Steve, who’ll play a pivotal part in the series (though the actor playing him mightn’t be required for any more than a couple of episodes); neighbours Tim and Doti, who seemingly don’t have a very strong relationship;  and some of Eddie’s little friends… but not surprisingly, the camera stays on one or all of the Munsters at most times.

There’s a nice little homage to both Fred Gwynne and the original series in the pilot that fans of the late great actor and the original box offering will enjoy.

“Bloody” love this. Looking forward to it!

Just one thing… where’s Spot!!!??