The Munsters of 1313 Mockingbird Lane!

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For someone exposed to the creepily weird and whimsically funny classic animated series, The Addams Family, at a very early age, a similar, live-action, visually stunning and brilliantly acted television event with a story-line far more endearing and heartfelt than the anterior, Mockingbird Lane is an absolute delight. From start to finish, creator Bryan Fuller and director Bryan Singer managed to take me on a joyride, which is now completely and utterly etched in my memory, and one that makes me not only happy, but also honored to be a part of!

Mockingbird Lane finds itself strangely relevant in this era of True Blood, Once Upon a Time, The Secret Circle and The Vampire Diaries. You can certainly tell Mockingbird Lane is an occupant of this post-Twilight era, where creep is chic, because the Munsters are stylish and sexy.

The episode revolves around the Munster family’s decision to edify their kid, a pre-pubescent Eddie on Werewolves For Tweens. After our young friend unknowingly terrifies his scout troupe during a full moon, the Munsters relocate to 1313 Mockingbird Lane, buying a mansion once owned by a serial killer. Once there, the rodent-emerging vampire Grandpa, is ready to “start drinking again.” But Eddie isn’t sure he approves of his grandfather’s bloody ways. Meanwhile, Herman’s latest heart  is starting to give out, and he’ll need a new one as soon as possible.

Of the many conspicuous aspects of the show, the one that struck me most was the acting;

Jerry O’Connell portrays Herman Munster, a  very likable Frankenstein’s monster of stitched-together body parts with a zipper on his chest for easy heart-replacement and you immediately recognize his role in the show not only when, but also the way he’s introduced!
Portia de Rossi plays the role of Herman’s gossamer and cherubic vampire wife, Lily Munster traveling across the room in a cloud of smoke wearing horse-skin skirts and dresses made of spider webs.

Charity Wakefield plays non-monster cousin Marilyn Munster, who is the family’s bridge to normalcy and with a blank expression and fiendish eye for the macabre, Marilyn almost plays like the family sociopath. And the fact that Grandpa forever mourns her normalcy, and wants to get rid of her, makes her presence even funnier.

Mason Cook is Herman and Lily’s boy-scout son Eddie Munster, who’s still unaware he’s a werewolf. Cook delivers a fairly believable performance with very little annoyance involved. I’d watch him everyday with no complaints.

But the highlight is British actor Eddie Izzard, as the ludicrous, bloodthirsty vampire Grandpa Munster. He brings a delightfully fresh, unapologetically bloodthirsty spin on Grandpa Munster and delivers his sinister lines with amusing indifference (He refuses a friendly handshake by saying simply, “I have a disease.”).

Another engaging countenance of the show was the writing; Bryan Fuller is very clever and quite talented when it comes to bestowing nearly all of his characters with the gift of loquacity which makes everyone seem sharper and funnier. The dialogue in the show is so smooth and fast-paced that it doesn’t take long to just get lost in what’s going on. Almost instantly Mockingbird Lane makes you think of Fuller’s earlier work, and one of my personal favorite TV Shows, Pushing Daisies.  Though the humor is considerably darker, it’s still very smart and snappy, fast-paced enough that I just could not look away for fear of missing something important.
Humor and heart define Mockingbird Lane, a thoroughly entertaining hour of TV that explores the role of the outsider, a frequent theme in Mr. Fuller’s work.

Visually, the show looks spectacular.  It’s very bold and stylish, with plenty of detail to please the eye, and great special effects and incredible make-up work. Bryan Fuller infuses Mockingbird Lane with his trademark stylish visuals and a sharp, dark wit that’s reminiscent of the recent The Addams Family movies. His Munsters have a modern edge ,for example, werewolf Eddie wants to be a vegetarian and Grandpa reboots Herman’s heart with an iPad. These monsters don’t just frighten people… they want to eat them, too.

The real eye-catcher of the episode, however, is the production design. The Munsters’ new house at 1313 Mockingbird Lane – not so lovingly dubbed a “hobo murder home,” by its Mockingbird Heights neighbors – is a nice piece of work that would almost certainly yield plenty of spooky passageways and creepy rooms to peep through!

Fuller and Singer make the story both accessible and innately relatable. For all their monstrosity,  the Munsters are painfully human, given to foibles and concerns that plague many of us, but which are rendered in a heightened fashion. Herman loves too much, too deeply, and his heart gives out (literally) in the first few minutes of the pilot, requiring both repair and self-analysis. Where Mockingbird Lane succeeds is in the same area Herman is struggling with – heart. The show oozes appreciation for family, despite their dark nature. Yes, the Munsters are a creepy lot, but they matter to one another and that comes through nicely in this Halloween special.

The result is sweet and intriguing, with enough charm to make me want to see just where the series would go, as the family explores the lush, visually rich world of Mockingbird Heights and attempts to discover whether they ultimately want to be human or monster, whether to embrace pride or shame in their identity.

Even though, here in India, Halloween may not be widely celebrated, Mockingbird Lane is definitely a treat I would cherish for a long time!

For those who are not familiar with the new family moving in, here’s a small preview:

Murder On The “O-Death” Express!

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1 Train.

1 Murder.

2 Bodies.

Halloween. Hallelujah!

From Marilyn Monroe to Masquerades & Murder, “This Is A Dark Ride” was not only incredibly intense and totally shocking episode, but it also clued the viewers into a few massive revelations surrounding the “A”-Team! Oh, and also, there was another ‘A’ on the A-Train, you might have heard of him, ADAM LAMBERT, charging up the train, in fangs (take a moment to suck that in, pun intended)!

The episode opened with the very delirious Mona singing to another member of the A-Team from her cell. She slipped the A some drugs and bullets. And since it’s Halloween, it’s time for tricks or treat (read murder and make-up)! This is right up Mona’s alley, no? BTW, if Mona continues to sing as much as she does, the show might wanna consider changing it’s title to Glee: Psycho Killer!

We then see the core four. Spencer, Hanna, Emily, and Aria are strutting the streets of Rosewood contemplating costumes, when they are startled by a lawn display featuring a decorative version of Ali’s coffin complete with some dork himself dressed up as Ali’s corpse, waiting to pounce out. Even as Emily was ready to kick his ass, Spencer mocked him for not getting laid! This is what’s been missing from my life over the past few months! This deserves a hash-tag! Go #Spencer

As reformed as Garrett Reynolds might seem, what with him stopping by Spencer’s to drop of some flowers for ‘her Mom’, when in reality he was looking for an opportunity where he could confess everything he knew about Ali’s murder, and her missing body, to Spencer; only to have their tĂȘte-Ă -tĂȘte intruded upon by none other than the alpha male himself, Toby Cavenaugh! Oh, BTW, Spencer’s a modern post-feminist! Toby’s just another A!

Moving on, poor spleen-less Caleb can’t even reap the benefits of being in the know. He and Hanna have been laying low since he, you know, got shot. Aria, on the other hand, expected to have Ezra on her arm when she boarded
 The A-Train! Fitz bailed, though. He had to do research for a biography he’s working on in Philly. (You might wanna remember that, for future revelation, I mean reference!)

The pre-party set up some proclivity for the prospective predicament. Lucas photographed everything and looked noticeably less like a druggie this episode. Noel Kahn faked his death using an Alien knockoff gag. We’ve been teased for weeks that Someone will die! Noel’s faking, to me, put a target spot right on his face for a real kill later; however, that was pretty much the last of him until the end of the line.

“They tell me I’m a danger to myself! Now the crazy train is ready to roll! Oh!”

That’s Adam Lambert performing his song “Cuckoo.” Later on he treated the group to “Trespassing” from his sophomore album, as well. If only this was my Halloween treat! *sigh* As much as I enjoyed watching the cast trying very hard not to look awkward dancing in the front row, I liked Spencer’s reaction to bumping into a spontaneous Adam Lambert concert.

Spencer: “You’ve got to be kidding me.”

While dancing, someone dressed as the Phantom Of The Opera gave Hanna a spank.

Hanna: “Do that again and you’ll leave with a bloody stump!” LOL

Elsewhere, Jenna and Toby caught up at the cooler with Toby making a tasteless blind joke, covering her non-patched eye with his hand. And now that we know Toby is on the A-Team, can we support Jenna a little more?! To be pondered upon. Meanwhile, Jason made his presence known as James Dean (take another moment to flail)! Catching up with Spencer briefly, it almost seemed like Jason was actually tailing Lucas. Also, while Paige and Emily were able to steal a romantic moment in a separate compartment, Aria, who dressed herself up as Daisy Buchanan from The Great Gatsby (the book, not the movie) moped to Adam Lambert about her lack of an Ezra for the evening, eventually promising to be front row at Adam’s next performance. She would never make it there! ‘A’ slipped the drugs Mona gave him/her (remember that too for future reference) into her drink. Side note: I thought Adam did a pretty good job acting!

We got a little bit of what sounded like Mona’s eerie humming, only to watch “Freddy/Jason in a potato sack” pin Spencer to a wall. It turned out to be Garrett in disguise! Apparently, Garrett only had a short amount of time before he left Rosewood behind for good. He liked Spencer and always wanted to be the one helping her, if only he had better luck (read skills) of doing so. Confession time.

The night Alison died, he and Jenna had left Melissa and Ian to argue in her bedroom. The two ventured into Ali’s backyard, which was apparently under construction, only to bump into Alison herself. After sharing a few reproachful sentiments back and forth, Alison ended up pushing a blind Jenna into the dirt. In an attempt to fool Jenna into thinking he was protecting her, Garrett picked up the murder weapon and banged it against a tree. Alison played dead. In other words, Jenna thinks Garrett actually killed Ali, and both of them had their hands on the weapon that allegedly did kill her later that night. Then, Who killed Alison?!

Before leaving Garrett witnessed Alison and
 Byron Montgomery, a.k.a. Aria’s father, arguing in her back yard and tossing threats back and forth! Well, in a town full of awful dads, he’s sure near the top of the list, anyway. Spencer ran to find Aria but only managed to bump into Hanna and Aria’s purse. The scribble of Aria’s name on the window had been wiped away to leave just the “A,” and the girls got their first text in a long time.

Should the girls believe Garrett? As Hanna puts it oh so aptly, you get a varsity letter for messing with them in this town. Spencer kept looking for Aria, while Emily and Hanna rounded up their dates. Where was Aria? Bound and gagged in a crate! Aria managed to knock the crate over and start working herself free. Meanwhile, Hanna ran into Caleb, or at least, a duplicate costume. After some toying, Hanna pulled the mask off to reveal an Alison mask! Who would end up behind it?

During her inquest, Spencer found Garrett’s mask, but no Garrett! When all of a sudden, a scary devil/jester pounced and a fight broke out. Hanging Spencer from the train, it became clear that this could have been the end of the line for the Liars. Whoever was out to get them, was determined to start killing them tonight. After a serious struggle, Paige came to Spencer’s rescue, pulling off some serious UFC-type moves! Finally, reconciliation ensued between these two. In addition to the already piling up pile of clues, Paige found a giant fake nail on Spencer’s dress.

Back in the box, Aria managed to start breaking free. The tape came off her mouth, just before she realized she wasn’t alone in there! Did she really take that long to realize she was sharing the crate with
 Garrett’s body?! That’s right, Garrett Reynolds is no more. In the mean time, Hanna concluded from the over sized nail that some fool is running around attacking ladies in drag, and I’m pretty sure Jenna found Lucas’ camera. Is that the same prop camera Aria uses?

The crate starts to shake, and Aria realizes that she is being moved, and we hear two voices, one male and one female… my instincts tell me that they belong to Lucas and Mona. Placing her on the edge of the train, Aria goes into panic mode as the other three girls search frantically. Eventually, they come to the end of the line. Aria’s necklace tipped them off. Hanging by what was literally a nail on the edge of the train door, Aria secures herself another second by stabbing a hand through the cracks with a screwdriver left inside the crate. A wound to give away an A-Team member next episode? Hanna smashes the glass on a locked door with an extinguisher, and the three just barely manage to catch the box before Aria fell to her doom. See? The A’s are indeed looking to kill these girls. Two of them almost died tonight. Then again, why save Emily from Nate last episode? Do they want credit or is there something else going on here?

The best episode of PLL came to an end with the group being questioned by police. Noel and Jenna blamed the girls on sight. And just as Noel continued to push Spencer, Toby stepped in and things got physical. Knocking Noel into the ice cooler, the contents spilled to reveal Alison’s body bag. Oh, Ezra just happened to show up.

Now, what exactly is Ezra hiding? He claims he has to go to Philly for a writing job, but he doesn’t appear to be telling the truth, so maybe he’s really doing something involving his son. Or maybe he’s on the “A” team, considering he shows up on the train awfully quickly after it stops. Ezra might as well tell Aria, “I decided to drive over here and hop on this train, since we all know it’s a good idea to hang out at the scene of a murder and make people think that you might be involved.”

And, the epic of an episode comes to an end with Mona smirking like a loon back in bed with her Alison mask, and


Flashback: Alison’s hand bursting out of the plot where she was buried alive!

oooh…. Now the fun part, and my personal favorite part of the episode… While the Liars were being dangerously trick-or-treat-ed, elsewhere on the mainland, Ms.Marin might have been a bit too carried away by Melinda Gordon, because now it seems, that even Ashley Marin can see ghosts, in this case, a young girl with cold skin who talks about her mean sister and their dolls, and we’re assuming this is the ghost of Ali’s sister.

What did you all think of the special episode? Were you as impressed as I was? Is the show going to continue to be more suspenseful now that we know the A-Team is actually out to kill the core four? Who’s Halloween costume was your favorite? Will you miss Garrett now that we know more of the truth? Is Toby annoying you, now that we know he’s part of the A-Team? Is
 Ali
 Alive?! Or was it just a Halloween spook?

To tickle your taste-buds even more, here’s a sneak peek of the next episode, dated January 8!: