The Munsters won’t be The Munsters

Yes, The Munsters are coming back to television, courtesy of NBC.

The catch? The creators of the rebooted series, which include Bryan Fuller of the fantastic Pushing Daisies, and Bryan Singer, of X-Men: First Class fame, have apparently decided that they’ve altered the show’s premise enough to warrant a title change.

According to TVLine, the project is now moving forward under the title of “Mockingbird Lane,” reflecting the name of the street the family moves to in the first episode – and kicking off the strange tale of a family of different monsters.

The original television show was a 60’s family sitcom which followed the humorous trials of a family of monsters in which father, Herman, is a reanimated corpse; the mother, Lily, and grandfather, “The Count” are vampires; and their only son, Eddie, is a wolf-boy. Lily’s niece, Marilyn – a beautiful, curvy blond with no apparent monstrous heritage – also lived with the family, though she was poorly developed and under explained, serving mostly as comic relief (the family saw her as hideously deformed).

The Munsters was created in response to the popularity of The Addams Family, but while the Addams’s were aristocratic, eccentric, psychopaths, The Munsters were a working-class family, and their shtick was to parody the popular family sit-coms of the time by putting this odd family in similar situations. The episodes usually focused on the family’s inability to fit in, and their lack of understanding that people thought them strange.

The new show will rely less on the plot-blindness of the characters, a mechanic which doesn’t work for modern audiences, so good-riddance, and will surely rely less on parodying other 50’s sitcoms, since those shows are no longer relevant. Instead the new show has been described as a cross between True Blood (a melodramatic vampire sex story) and Family Values (a dramedy about suburbia). So far however, the only official description we have is that it will be “a visually spectacular one-hour drama,” which only tells us it won’t follow the traditional sitcom formula, which produces half-hour episodes. 

However, we do have an unofficial summary of the pilot from a few months back, which shows Mockingbird Lane will focus, at least in the first episode, on the challenges of raising a werewolf. The reason the Munsters are moving to Mockingbird Heights in the pilot, is that Eddie has accidentally attacked his friends – this is already a huge departure from the original, in which no one ever actually got hurt by the monsters – and the family has to get him away from town before suspicion falls on him.

The conflict will revolve around Herman trying to decide if Eddie should be told that he’s becoming a wolf-man, and how the transition should be dealt with. No premier date has been announced for Mockingbird Lane, but casting has begun, and I would expect to see the pilot this fall if there are no delays.