Herman Munster found in O’Connell

Casting has been somewhat difficult for the upcoming Munsters reboot, Mockingbird Lane.

Producers Bryan Fuller, of the fantastic Pushing Daisies, and Bryan Singer, of X-Men: First Class fame, claim casting challenges have held up production. Casting was meant to have wrapped up a month ago, so that production for the pilot would be done in time for the fall. Now it might be spring, or even fall, 2013 before we see the first of this show.

In the interim, four cast members have been announced. The first is Eddie Izzard, a popular UK comedian, as The Count, Herman’s old-world, vampiric, father-in-law. Then Mason Cook, a mostly unknown child actor, and Charity Wakefield, a lovely British stage actress, were confirmed to fill the role of Herman’s son, Eddie and niece Marilyn, respectively.

Now the Bryans have found their Herman Munster: Jerry O’Connell, mostly known to genre fans for his starring role in the first few seasons of Sliders, since which he’s done very little notably in television or film.

I have no trouble imagining the tall, sometimes goofy actor in this role. The only major character left to fill is the role of Herman’s wife Lily, but that likely means that many of the support roles also still remain unfilled.

If you’re not familiar, 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. 

“We want this to be an American Harry Potter,” says Fuller. “Any story you can tell on Parenthood, we can run through a monster prism and tell in a twisted way. It’s an American Horror Story the whole family can watch.”

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 with casting going this slowly, I wouldn’t expect production to begin until this fall at the earliest.