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:

Smash Hit!!!

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Smash has right blend of heavy character and light plot to enthrall and captivate. A musical that grows from a conversation about a coffee table book to a show with funding, a director, and a casting rivalry; characters are aggressively developed; and with no less than four numbers, Smash starts off with a bang.

So, there are four major characters: First, Karen Cartwright, struggling actress/waitress, played by American Idol runner-up Katharine McPhee, second, Broadway ensemble member Ivy Lynn, played by Megan Hilty, who are both turned down for a lead role in the first sixty seconds. Julia and Tom , a writer/composer duo in Brooklyn, who were supposed to be on a break from producing plays while their successful show Heaven on Earth ran on Broadway, but when struck with the idea for a Marilyn musical, they hit the ground running. With creativity apparently streaming unchecked from their fingertips, they write a few songs, and Tom gets Ivy, one of his favorites, to sing a demo in the show’s first number.

And just as Tom proves Ivy to be a “binding” genius, an overwrought “kids these days with their cell phones” plot device lands the video on YouTube. Julia and Tom are at first livid, but when the video gets significant critical praise, they’re ecstatic. The exposure catches the eye of Broadway producer Eileen Rand (Angelica Huston, slumming it), who pounces on the musical as a chance to develop a show while her pet project, My Fair Lady, is in escrow because of her divorce proceedings (seriously, I don’t even know, but OK). Eileen quickly draws celebrated director Derek Willis (Jack Davenport! Be still my heart) onto the project. There’s just one catch. Derek and Tom hate each other, though we don’t know why yet. Oh, and Derek is kind of an asshole. Unfortunately, he’s also a really good director. To audition for Tom and Julia, he choreographs “The National Pastime,” the baseball number that got Julia and Tom excited about this musical in the first place. It’s a showstopper. Ivy is a coquettish Marilyn, surrounded by baseball bats, muscle-bound men, and sexual innuendos. Derek knows he’s done such good work that he’s got the job, but he’s still got to deal with Tom’s attitude.

And there’s just one other thing. Tom, and to a lesser degree Julia, initially wanted Ivy for the lead role of Marilyn. But Derek wants something different — and sees it in Karen. Whatever her shtick is supposed to be, Derek likes it, and comments on how different her look is. Karen then proceeds to sing Christina Aguilera’s “Beautiful,” and something about the overproduced quality of her voice and trite lyrics convince the panel that she could be Marilyn. Both she and Ivy get callbacks. Karen “prepares” for the role by watching movies with her boyfriend and drinking champagne as they go through her wardrobe looking for a dress that accentuates her breasts. I bet you can imagine how that scene end. But late that night Karen gets a phone call from Derek, who calls her over to his apartment to work on the part. She rushes over, wearing a loose t-shirt and sweats. As soon as she walks into the apartment, things just look sketchy. Here’s this much older guy who has a lot of power over this young girl, and she’s desperate for the part, and oh look, he’s pouring her a drink.

Derek does his level best to unbalance Karen. He compares her — unfavorably — to Marilyn Monroe. He hints heavily that he’s the only person rooting for her on the casting panel, and that she’ll really have to make a good impression. And then, having created what he hopes is complete insecurity, he tells her he needs to see everything she’s got. Like yeah. That way. And yeah, like right now. Karen almost walks out of his apartment, then locks herself in the bathroom and takes existential stock of her life. She reemerges wearing one of his button-down shirts, with mussed-up, sexy hair, and nothing else. Slowly advancing upon him, she sings, “Happy Birthday, Mr. President,” in her best sultry Monroe. She straddles him on the couch, pressing up against him, and at the last-minute swerves, “Not gonna happen,” she whispers, giving him a level look. Then she gets up and walks out.

The next scene is Ivy and Karen singing as they’re dressing up for the day. As they sing, we see the other characters wake up, get ready, and walk out the door. Gradually you realize they’re all going to callbacks. Both girls, of course, arrive simultaneously. Both are in their Marilyn getups, sweet and innocent for Karen, brazen and saucy for Ivy. The final number, “Let Me Be Your Star,” is the most Broadway-staged number of the show — their simultaneous arrival, layered voices, and the presence of the entire cast in the same room gives the number an “Act I finale” feel — and to be honest, that’s exactly what it is. As they both belt out the closing line, the episode ends.

Does the series actually meet expectations for a network desperately in need of a hit? Based on the premiere, which I saw a few weeks ago, the answer is actually an unequivocal YES.

The phrase that keeps coming to mind when I think about the Smash pilot is well-produced. Steven Spielberg apparently had some real interest and thus impact on the development of the property, but even if he didn’t do squat, Smash still exudes professionalism. Michael Mayer’s direction is rock-solid and all the performances seem, to a person with no real interest in theater, quite good. The cast is filled with recognizable performers from television, film, theater and music and they’re all generally doing fine work in the pilot. From the beautifully understated “Never Give All The Heart” to the show-stopping numbers “Let Me Be Your Star” and “The National Pastime,” Marilyn seems like a show I’d pay good money to see. And while “Beautiful,” isn’t an original song, I have to throw kudos to Katharine for belting out a rendition better than Christina Aguilera‘s.

The downside to this is that there’s little to no humor in this show. There are attempts at it, but not a single moment that makes you chuckle. Then again, this is a drama and not a comedy like “Glee,” so there’s some excuse there. But hey, even “Mad Men” can be funny sometimes.

I initially checked out Smash because I’m a sucker for all things song-and-dance — but it turned out to be the show’s personable characters, whip-smart writing, and overall engaging story that kept me wanting an encore.

Now, to quote Edward Cullen, “Smash is like my own personal brand of weed!”

This is a fun, dramatic and emotional show that I will continue to follow and if you want a good time, you should too!!

Smash premières in India, Monday, March 19, exclusively on DIVA Universal! 

Revolution-izing Television?!

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Not quite, but, pretty damn close! Read on:

What appears the be the final piece in NBC’s drama puzzle this pilot season has fallen in, – NBC has given pilot orders to Revolution, a dramatic thriller from J.J. Abrams and Supernatural creator Eric Kripke. The project, from Warner Bros. TV, had a massive production commitment with a $2 million penalty attached to it. The pilot order comes after a recent rewrite. Described as an epic adventure thriller, the Warner Bros. Television project follows a group of characters struggling to survive and reunite with loved ones in a world where all forms of energy have mysteriously ceased to exist. The project puts him back in the NBC fold, where Undercovers, his short-lived CIA series aired for a few short months before getting the ax.

Kripke will pen the script with Abrams and Bryan Burk (Fringe) on board to exec produce via their Bad Robot.

Its funny, if you think about it,

All forms of energy have mysteriously ceased to exist.

Beside the obvious (oil, natural gas, coal, wood), that would also mean wind, water, sun, dried cow dung, etc. have also ceased to exist?
What’s left?
Hubris! LMAO

And, Let me guess. There are also flashbacks to the days when there was power and they were with their loved ones……

Seems interestingly familiar, ………The Twilight Zone??

Well, I sure hope with such big names behind the project, it “Revolution”-izes TV! :-p

Midnight Sun is rising, better watch out!

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No, Edward’s not telling us how he met Bella, instead this update quite different…! Read on:

The major networks are starting to home in on their 2012 pilot orders. NBC and ABC gave out a flurry of greenlights Friday evening, with more to come this week.

One of the interesting new pilot orders by NBC, the network that gave us hit dramas like Heroes, ER, The Event, and New Dramas like The Firm, Grimm, is:

Midnight Sun, based on the Israeli series Timrot Ashan, aka Pillars of Smoke, is a thriller concerning an FBI investigation of the mysterious disappearance of a group living on a commune in Alaska. The Alaska setting is appropriate given that the original series is being described as Twin Peaks meets Northern Exposure meets LostMidnight Sun centers on a female FBI cult specialist starts an investigation that uncovers a larger conspiracy.

        

Lisa Zwerling wrote the adaptation and is executive producing the pilot with Peter Traugott, his executive Rachel Kaplan and Alon Aranya.

Although the incomplete Stephanie Meyer novel has absolutely nothing to do with this, expect for having the same name, to the dismay of many, the plot does seem interesting in its own way…….. Doesn’t it?!