5 Reasons Why NBC Should Extend Its Stay On Mockingbird Lane

Mockingbird Lane‘s journey to the small screen has been long and full of detours. The series has been in development since 2010, and NBC reportedly shelled out $10 million on the pilot, but even before Mockingbird Lane aired news broke that the series was DOA. NBC opted to air the pilot as a “Halloween special” instead. Friday night we finally got to see TV auteur Bryan Fuller’s vision of a modern Munsters family for ourselves, and, for me at least, the results were well worth the extended wait.

I enjoyed the pilot so much, that I found myself hoping against hope that NBC would pull the stake out of Mockingbird Lane‘s heart and allow Fuller’s vibrant re-imagining of the ’60s sitcom classic to continue to grow into the absorbing fantasy series it has the potential to be. The ratings were solid and the pilot helped Grimm score its second highest rated episode ever. That has to have the NBC execs at least considering giving Herman, Lily and Grandpa a permanent place on the schedule, but in case it didn’t, I have five reasons why the network should reconsider giving the Munster family an eviction notice.

It Doesn’t Feel Like Anything Else On TV
 

From its first frame, Mockingbird Lane showcased a distinctive style and spirit that instantly set it apart from every other show on television. Like all Fuller creations, it combined whimsy with macabre. The pilot balanced the darkness inherent in a family of monsters (Munsters) by setting them down in a world that was wry, colorful and warmed by an overwhelming sense of nostalgia for days gone by. Despite all of its monstrous intent, the San Francisco of Mockingbird Lane is a pleasant place to visit. It’s the sort of world where a little boy’s schoolbooks are still bound by a book strap, the color palate is always full of warm yellows and reds, and even hobo murder houses come with hidden passageways and enough retro embellishments to make Wes Anderson feel like a kid in a gently morbid candy store.

The series caters to Fuller fans and those harboring fond memories of the original Munster family or the classic horror movies of the ’30s. It’s not afraid to indulge in a bit of campiness, nor is it unwilling to be sincere. It situates itself in a universe that is wholly unique, and that is exactly the kind of series the networks need more of. The month of October brought monster premieres of two cable horror shows, The Walking Dead and American Horror Story, that trounced their network competition in the ratings. Why? Because they’re daring, distinctive and play to a passionate fanbase. Being typical is no longer an asset and Mockingbird Lane is about as far from typical network fare as NBC can possibly get.

It’s Not Just A Feast For The Eyes
 

The pilot was gorgeous visually, but a series can’t survive on striking visuals alone. CGI dragons and a winged Eddie Izzard are fun, but what made the series instantly compelling was its story. There are plenty of monsters roaming around the television landscape these days, but the Munster family carved out their own niche by focusing on one central theme: it’s okay to be exactly who you are. It’s a simple premise, but the various ways in which the pilot explored the family grappling with the concept were impressive, amusing and often moving.

Eddie’s greatest fear is that he will become a monster, so when he learns of his werewolf condition, he’s understandably shaken. Lily wants to be good for her son, but she’s locked in a constant battle against her murderous nature. Herman seeks to hold onto his last remaining original piece–his heart–even though doing so puts him at risk because he’s afraid he can’t still be who he is without it. Grandpa and Marilyn are completely comfortable in their own very different skins, and each projects a self-possessed air that annoys the other one. The pilot’s greatest strength was in how clearly it set forward each character’s motivations. I came away feeling as if I knew exactly who the characters were and how they fit together. More importantly, I instantly wanted to know more about each one of them.

A Cast This Good Should Not Be Let Go
 

NBC has quite the dream team on their hands. On paper, Portia de Rossi (Lily), Eddie Izzard (Grandpa) and Jerry O’Connell (Herman) sounded like an odd ensemble, while Mason Cook (Eddie) and Charity Wakefield (Marilyn) were virtual unknowns, but together they made for a believable and entertaining family unit.

Izzard was the standout. He took what could have easily been a ridiculous character and made him a deliciously confident villain (of sorts). His Grandpa happily enslaves the neighbors and reassembles his son-in-law while Muddy Waters’ “Mannish Boy” plays in his basement laboratory. When he hisses, “you weren’t a Munster until I made you one” at Herman, there’s both menace and pride in his words. Whether or not Mockingbird Lane moves forward, the folks at NBC would have to be insane to not want to be in the Eddie Izzard business.

As good as Izzard was though, it was O’Connell that I was the most impressed by. I was initially worried when I heard O’Connell had been cast as Herman, but he turned out to be perfect for the role. He’s not the lumbering, ’60s Herman, we know, but rather he’s a far more complicated man who is guilty of “loving too much.” The scenes between him and his young co-star, Cook, provided the episode with its strongest emotional beats. Likewise, Wakefield more than held her own while being paired with Izzard, and tapped into a stronger version of Marilyn than I remember from the original series.

If I had one disappointment it was that de Rossi wasn’t given enough material to leave much of an impression as Lily, but her strong work on ABC’s short-lived Better Off Ted leads me to believe she could do interesting things with the role.

It Has Promise
 

Pilots aren’t meant to be close-ended stories. Their primary goal is to entice the viewer to come back for more, and on that front, Mockingbird Lane was entirely successful. I want to see if Eddie can stay true to himself even when faced with his monstrous side. I want to know if losing his final original piece means Herman has lost his true self. I want more polite snarking between Marilyn and Grandpa, and I want to know where exactly the family is planning on keeping that dragon.

As a one-off special, Mockingbird Lane was frustrating because it introduced far too many tantalizing ideas that I want to see developed. Not the least of which, is the promise of meeting more re-imagined classic monsters. Mockingbird Lane could be for NBC what Once Upon A Time is for ABC: an excellent chance to make use of its parent company’s back catalog. Universal holds the rights to The Wolfman, Frankenstein and dozens of other horror properties that could stop by the Lane, making the possibilities for expanding the family’s universe nearly endless.

The point is: as a single outing Mockingbird Lane was fun. As the beginning of a series it was excellent.

It’s Time To Break The Fuller Curse
 

Bryan Fuller is easily one of the most creative minds working in television, but the man can not catch a break. Dead Like Me made it two seasons, but Showtime meddled with Fuller’s vision so much he left after episode four. Wonderfalls aired a mere four episodes before Fox yanked it from the schedule. Pushing Daisies opened to strong ratings on ABC, but was ultimately felled by the writer’s strike. Now we have Mockingbird Lane, another ambitious and unique series that seems destined to not be given its due.

Isn’t it enough already? This project is the perfect fit for Fuller. The themes of identity, death and family are kind of his thing. Furthermore, with Fuller’s Hannibal set to debut on NBC this winter, wouldn’t it be better to break the curse now instead of waiting for it to claim its next victim? (Especially considering its next intended victim is a guy who enjoys Chianti with a side of (human) liver…he’s not exactly someone you want to make angry, NBC.)

 

I’ve made my case for why we need more Mockingbird Lane, now I’ll turn it over to you guys. Did you watch the pilot? Would you watch more? Sound off in the comments!

Follow me on Twitter @sljbowman

  • Hollym701

    I did watch the show and my husband and I loved it very much! I hope they bring it back…..we would definently watch it ever week!

  • Jeanette

    Lets keep this series around .Watch the episode,Eddie is perfect..

  • Daisy40218

    I watched and would continue if it became a regular show.

  • Melissa

    Excellant review! I wholeheartedly agree; more Mockingbird Lane!!  

  • Izzardfan

    Absolutely should be given a chance. Too intriguing a premise to let die and Fuller showed that the show has many paths it could take. And so far, they all look good.

  • Ashleigh

    I enjoyed the plot very much, it was indeed hilarious and furthermore Mr. Izzard played Grandpa perfectly; I do not think anyone else can out do him. The cast is phenomenal, the costuming designs were amazing, the house was gorgeous (I would live in it) and the plot stayed on key; It would be ashamed if they took this off the air; NBC please keep this going I would think the Original casting of The Munters would be proud! 

  • Jon

    My wife and I fully enoyed the pilot and we hope that the T.V execs have the common sense to continue this awesome series. Jon and Vicki Simmons

  • Noone

    Loved it! Want more of it! Eddie Izzard makes everything fabulous! 

  • http://twitter.com/justice4juan Bobby Pittman

    Great show!  If you liked Grandpa, you’ll enjoy “Scary Gary” in the comic strips.  He’s just like Leopold.

  • Angelsfly_24

    I loved that show!

  • Thejagg

    I watched it and loved it!  It really brings the munsters into the true comedy it should have been. 
    BRING THIS BACK!!!!!

  • http://twitter.com/VioletaPolidric Violeta Aguilar

    I’m from Spain, I can’t see yet the entire pilot, I seen “Grandpa and Lily Arrives!” and I’m seeing it like a hundred more times, got something that trapping me, so warm and unique, a mix of roughness, beauty, delicated and confident charm… and something else that cannot be explain with words. I want see more, no doubt.

  • Lekfx

    A bg group of creative techies watched together and we all loved it an want more! Trouble is: NBC is famous for making lousy decisions. Let’s hope this isn’t ANOTHER one! Let it LIVE!

  • http://twitter.com/VioletaPolidric Violeta Aguilar

    Very good article, congrats!!

    • jmr

      It is obviously the NBC executives who do not know a good thing, even when it is in their possession. One has to wondeer about their decision-making ability.

    • Sabienna B.

       Thank you!

  • Heather

    I loved it and would watch it if they put it on the air.

  • Peggielee Roberts

    I,m 64 .so saw original.. so tongue in cheek hilarias!!! vegetarian werewolf?  bwahhahaahhaa !! it,s a comedy folks

  • Marvin1martian

    I heard about a Munster’s re-make and thought “why? how? and another flop on the horizon!” but I watched it and after doing so I wanted more! I called my sister the next day to see if she caught it. She hadn’t but I knew it was on a stream service so I showed her and her family it. They wanted to know when the next episode was and we all were jacked to hear NBC nixed it before letting it have a life. Why is it that execs can give a moderate life to crap but when there is something that actually has a chance to be an amazing series they.    

    • Sabienna B.

      I had similar reservations when I heard about the remake, but like you, they were completely dispelled by the final product. Fuller is the perfect guy for this project, hopefully NBC will give it a second look.

  • Stlyn439

    Reminds me of daisies and I just never got enough. Come on NBC!

  • Stuart

    I loved Mockingbird Lane but alas NBC seems to be the network of doom and failure for good shows. I hope the execs at NBC reconsider but wont hold my breath.

  • Daniel7d

    It was so good. They need to put this out very quickly before another network grabs it

  • Kimberlyelmorenc

    A show that thoroughly entertaining AND I CAN WATCH IT WITH MY KIDS!
    PLEASE, PLEASE keep it going!

  • Vwashicko

    As someone who mourned the loss of PUSHING DAISIES, and grew up on THE MUNSTERS, I could not have been happier to hear of this retelling. The cast only ensured I would watch and love the show. NBC is losing 30 ROCK and THE OFFICE this year. What better to replace it then the macabre comedy!! Adults and children alike will fall in love with this show.

    • Sabienna B.

       Excellent points! I don’t think they’re going to find a better companion piece for Grimm.

  • Niese32

    Watched with my family and we loved it! Would definitely love to see more, NBC needs to keep this and not makeep another programming mistake.

  • Dteigen

    I want more!
    Please?

  • Pdgunther

    I watched it and want more. I felt the story was starting don’t kill it now.

  • Mary

    I hope that the series will start up, if NBC had any brains they would start the series instead of only showing one little pilot.

  • lovin it

    My family and I watched it and cracked up!  I hope they keep them coming we are really looking forward to this one. Please network exec’s don’t be lame and cancel it, you finally have something interesting and different for us to watch.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/SI3M7WKICZFFKQHE6QOTD5A6FM andy

    great show, loved it. sorry it was only one episode. too bad so many good shows don’t make it.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/SI3M7WKICZFFKQHE6QOTD5A6FM andy

    wish there was more to see. well done show. loved Daisies.

  • Jamie

    We enjoyed watching this as a family. My 4 year old loved it! We ha no idea is want going to be a series. NBC: We don’t watch any hour long shows on network tv. We prefer AMC, HBO, and Showtime because network is just too mainstream but this show was really delightful. We would record and watch this show! Please make more!

  • ptjackson

    For fans of the original, wasn’t Lily a vampire, not a werewolf as shown in this reimagining? Just curious! Thanks for any help here.

    • Sabienna B.

      She was! Although, I think she was actually meant to be a vampire and a werewolf this time around (but I could be wrong). Eddie’s condition came from her, but her smoke trick was like Grandpa’s (and the floating on a ceiling thing was definitely a vampire trait). I’m bummed that we won’t get more backstory on Lily.

      • ptjackson

         Ah, ok, yes, what you re saying makes sense to me. Thanks!!

      • http://twitter.com/VioletaPolidric Violeta Aguilar

         I like very much what I seen so far of Lily, she has a great potencial in my opinion, I would like to see how are deployed all the faces of her personality.

  • http://www.facebook.com/david.schmitt#!/ David R. Schmitt

    Agreed. I want to see more. My wife wants to see more. We have been robbed too many times of Fuller’s unique visions. C’mon NBC, time to take some risks. 

  • Willa Downs

    What a wonderful show! Refreshing movie-like casting, costumes, story line, humor, etc.

    Please tell me we can look forward to a tv show that surpasses all others!

  • A.P.

    I couldn’t wait to see he second show and today disappointed to see it has already been cancelled. It was way more than a Halloween special, it had potential for a great series, still hoping against hope to see more of Mockingbird Lane.

  • Mystic Vegan

    I’d love to see more episodes. I especially love Eddie monster wanting to be a vegetarian even though he’s a werewolf.  I’d love to see him succeed in doing so. 

  • Mapmap6030

    Today, I was looking forward to watch the mockingbird lane. I was checking the schedule but only to found out that it is only a time show…… I love andturly mesmerized with the pilot episode… It is a show that i will never get feed-up to watch but will always long to watch it every week. I hope that NBC will show it on a permanently weekly basis..

  • Ljcarfam

    Totally loved the show, I am so sick of the Cops show and reality shows.  It was fun, yet dark…NBC listen to us for once! 

  • Anonymous

    I thought this was one of the best pilot episodes of this season.  I would almost like to see it shift to a cable network like SyFy or FX where they could make it slightly darker.

  • Lilcats76

    i loved watching the originals series growing up. and seeing the pilot for the munsters, i have fallen in love with them even more. ^.^ i do hope they decide to do more with the series, rather than leave us hanging for more for eternity

  • Rcg20

    It was compelling and fun to watch. Please keep it on air.

  • Andrea

    I loved it and desperately searched for more this week. I don’t have cable or T.V., so I watch it on the computer. I never dreamed they would pull the plug to such a wonderful series. It had so much heart and the plot was perfectly set. I would absolutely love to see more of this series.

  • Gharley6

    It is a show that the whole family can enjoy…just like the original show…bring it back! It will be watched every week in this house…10 thumbs up from this family!

  • pdx

    The pilot was great, and i would love to see more. Also, good point about the potential for this to be NBC’s “Once.” They, more than anyone, need a hit. I’m surprised they think they can afford to let this one go. 

  • Mike

     l loved it!

  • Itztoeknee

    Two of my favorite, the Munsters, and Eddie Izzard. This portrayal of grandpa must have been penned with Izzard in mind. From his long manicured black finger nails, to his red robe, down to his steam punk inspired accessories. Pure Izzard.

    NBC….bring it back!!!

    You owe me still for yanking Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip!!!

  • Jamador7012

    I watched the show. I loved it. I hope they do bring in back because I want to watch more.

  • Tika0108

    I was already looking forward to the next episode and was so upset to find if wasn’t set to come back. :( Please bring Mockingbird Lane back!!!!!

  • Selina

    I loved the spin of the new show, sure I liked the original but this show is funny, exciting, unpredictable and not boring like the other shows that are about who is sleeping with whom. Or what latest drama will overcome the last drama. I love this shows tenacity it’s wonderful and I want more!

  • http://www.facebook.com/justalittlebitpoofy Austin Robinson

    I loved the new take on the munsters. I hope they bring it back.

  • terra

    we watched and fell in love. excellent show to bad NBC wont listen to the viewers and let the show live.