Mockingbird Lane – A Beautiful Mess

I am a huge fan of Bryan Fuller. Hell, I went back and watched episodes of Star Trek: Voyager because his name was on them. I loved Dead Like Me, Wonderfalls and Pushing Daisies. My heart broke a little every time his shows would be cancelled. The man is truly talented. That’s partly why I can wrap my head around his involvement in Mockingbird Lane and Hannibal.

Mockingbird Lane is a new updated version of The Munsters. And who didn’t love The Munsters growing up. Even Rob Zombie owns their car. They were weird and funny and just plain lovable. The new version focuses more on the weird and forgets about the rest. Sure, there’s funny moments but it’s an hour long dramatic series more than a comedy this time around. It’s like the version of The Bradys from the 80’s where it was an hour long series and Mike was running for office. It just didn’t feel right.

Mockingbird Lane hasn’t been picked up as a series yet. NBC most likely was trying it out before they committed by putting the pilot on as a Halloween special directed by Bryan Singer. The show had a lot going for it – a good cast with Jerry O’Connell, Portia DiRossi, Eddie Izzard and others playing Munsters or neighbors. The problem wasn’t with the cast. It was the tone. It’s a tall order to take a beloved sitcom family of yesteryear and turn them into a dark, edgy modern monster family. The show would have been fine had it changed the names.

This time around O’Connell plays Herman who looks less like the Frankenstein monster and more like a suburban dad with a few scars. DiRossi plays Lily who still looks like a hot vampire but oozes with more sexuality than her previous incarnation. Izzard’s Grampa is the biggest departure. He is changed from the lovable version of the old show to something more akin to Gary Oldman in Dracula. Marilyn is nearly the same in every way. Eddie looks like a normal kid but still changes to a Werewolf on full moons.

The episode centered around Herman needing a new heart because his was breaking from loving too hard. Grampa was going to go back to drinking human blood while making his neighbors into blood slaves. Grampa gets the idea of killing Eddie’s scout leader, drinking his blood and giving Herman the heart. But rather than play this ridiculous premise for laughs there was a dark, almost cynical, edge to it that made the show not work.

Fuller and Singer both tried their hardest. The cast was all very good but it just didn’t come together as it should have. If the show goes to series there may be potential there but I think NBC is going to pass on it. Granted, it isn’t the mess Wonder Woman was last year and can be saved but it needs work for sure.

I’m finding it very difficult to say this about anything Fuller is involved with but I’m going to have to give it 2 1/2 out of 5 stars. All the other projects he’s worked on are solid 4’s or better.


Bryan Fuller, What Are You Doing With Your Career?

For years Bryan Fuller has been a bit of an inspiration. He got his start writing professionally when Star Trek had an open script submission policy and became a writer on Deep Space Nine and Voyager. He then went on to create the wonderful series Dead Like Me.

Over the years the shows he created have been very short lived, none going more than two seasons, but they shine brightly and are remembered fondly. He also created Wonderfalls and Pushing Daisies. He was also a writer on Heroes, turning in some of the best episodes of that show.

So what made Fuller want to adapt both Hannibal and The Munsters into new television shows? It seems to me that he is better than that. The new version of The Munsters is called Mockingbird Lane and stars Jerry O’Connell and Portia De Rossi as Herman and Lily and it’s more of an hour long drama than a comedy. Eddie Izzard is playing Grampa Munster.

It’s not that I have a problem with the cast. I love Izzard and De Rossi. O’Connell can be likable in the right role. This just seems like a risky venture and, if it fails, could mark the end of Fuller’s career. Then there’s Hannibal. Do we really need to see a young Hannibal Lechter before he was captured working with the FBI? I don’t think so. What made Manhunter and Silence Of The Lambs so good was the fact that we knew very little about the character and that made him scary. By the time movie series went on we didn’t care anymore. It may be different with this show, I don’t know. I hope so.

Fuller has a very strong and creative voice. I hope that these new shows allow it to shine. I’m afraid what will happen is the same thing that happened with Carrie. Fuller wrote a television mini-series based on the classic Stephen King novel and amazing Brian De Palma film. It was meant to be a back door pilot for a series and left it open at the end. Fuller’s creative talent seemed stunted. There were very few moments I saw hints of his clever writing. Instead it was a stale retread of a story we already knew.

Let’s hope we see more Battlestar Galactica and less Knight Rider in his reboot of The Munsters in terms of quality. And as for Hannibal…your guess is as good as mine there.