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Culture, Film, Pop Culture, Reviews, Television

Halloween, Reboots and Character Baggage

I hope that everyone who was affected by Sandy fared okay during and after the storm. Since Monday evening I’ve been without power, but I’m temporarily back online thanks to the local charging stations around town.

Of course yesterday was Halloween, and the littlest trick-or-treaters came out in the afternoon to avoid the dangerous down power lines after dark. I was hoping to see some Katniss Everdeen’s or Captain America’s wandering around, but to no avail.

I did see my little neighbor and a very cute cocker spaniel dressed as ladybugs; which brought back memories of the awesome ladybug costume my mom made me I was seven.

Other than that, the only way I really observed Halloween (I didn’t get a chance to do my annual viewing of Hocus Pocus) was by watching the pilot of Bryan Fuller’s re-imagining of The Munsters, Mockingbird Lane.

NBC premiered it the Friday before the holiday as something of a one-off. I’m a huge fan of the dearly departed Pushing Daisies and Dead Like Me (they are only two seasons each and I recommend both highly), but I’m not sure if this project was the best presentation of what Fuller can do.

The script was a good showcase of Fuller’s witty, macabre, and bonkers (with heart) sensibility. There was potential there, but something was missing. For all the visually dynamic aesthetics (sets, pretty effective green screen, gorgeous costumes) the actors weren’t able to completely inhabit these roles. While I was watching it, more often than not, I found my mind drifting back to other stories.

Of the standouts, Eddie Izzard was clearly having a wonderful time (and had the best lines) as Grandpa, and Charity Wakefield’s odd, deadpan delivery as Marilyn (Sense and Sensibility) was consistently funny.

Mason Cook gave a wry, wide-eyed performance as Eddie and he had a real affinity for Fuller’s dialogue for someone so young. I think he would’ve made for a far more compelling Henry on Once Upon a Time than Jared Gilmore, who still struggles with the moments that have more gravity.

Seeing Portia de Rossi swan around as an all-powerful vampire, recalled but didn’t surpass for me her caustically hilarious role as ruthless executive Veronica Palmer on ABC’s wonderful, delightfully weird (and cancelled too soon) workplace comedy Better Off Ted.

Cheyenne Jackson (30 Rock, Finian’s Rainbow) was game as Eddie’s scoutmaster/Grandpa’s snack/Herman’s unwilling heart donor, but I think he might have equipped himself better as the suburban Dad with a secret than Jerry O’Connell, whose performance I found to be a bit too staid. That being said, Jackson really ought to be given a romantic lead on screen sometime soon, because he’s long overdue if Finian’s Rainbow is any guide.

Mostly, I think this vision of The Munsters might have been more successful if it had it gotten the cinematic treatment Tim Burton gave Dark Shadows earlier this year. That way it could have been a self-contained re-imagining, without any worry of it being cancelled by the network and leaving the audience an unresolved story.

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