In case you don't know, Mockingbird Lane sets up the original premise of The Munsters during its pilot—as a family of monsters move into a dilapidated suburban house on the titular street: father Herman Munster, a Frankenstein's Monster now re-imagined sans the original's Boris Karloff look (Jerry O'Connell); his beautiful vampire wife Lily (Portia de Rossi); murderous vampire father-in-law Grandpa (Eddie Izzard); young son and unknowing werewolf Eddie (Mason Cook); and blonde teenage daughter Marilyn (Charity Wakefield), who's perfectly normal.
I enjoyed much of Mockingbird Lane, although not as much as I expected to. The cast were the best thing about it—although it was noticeable how much was put on the shoulders of Eddie Izzard, who plays the only character with any notable desire to frighten the neighbours and get up to mischief. In comparison, Portia de Rossi was practically reduced to a few sequences walking into an off-camera wind machine in various dresses. Charity Wakefield actually had a meatier role as Marilyn, a character you'd imagine would be shoved into the background because she represents normality, so that was good to see. Mason Cook (Spy Kids 4) was also really good as little Eddie Munster, the boy scout yet to be told he'll transform into a bloodthirsty wolf every Full Moon now he's hit puberty. The biggest issue I have is with Jerry O'Connell as Herman—who understandably has been toned down from Fred Gwynne's in terms of make-up, but doesn't compensate with a beefy personality. He's just an affable sitcom-style dad, and that's monumentally boring for a show of this nature. A few scars on his neck and chest just don't cut it, and O'Connell just melted off the screen. There wasn't even any enjoyable chemistry between himself and de Rossi. Imagine how much better Mockingbird Lane would have been if an actor like Ron Perlman had been given the role. What a shame he's tied up with Sons of Anarchy because this would have been perfect for him.
Overall, this was an average pilot that has some obvious problem areas—and a rather significant one unless they chose to recast O'Connell. It was mild fun and amusing at times (I enjoyed the nods to the original show throughout), but I can't say it lived up to expectations considering the potential of this concept in Fuller and Singer's creative hands. I guess we'll have to stick with the real modernisation of The Munsters instead: Being Human, a cohabiting monsters comedy-drama that has a better handle on the present world we're living in.
26 October 2012 / NBC