Early script details on the pilot episode for Bryan Fuller’s rebooted take on The Munsters (now retitled Mockingbird Lane) certainly painted a vastly different picture than the one which springs to most people’s minds. That is, when they think of the original, old-fashioned, wholesome 1960s family sitcom – which just happens to revolve around classic Universal monster types – that became all the more popular during the decades following its initial two-season run.
In a recent interview, the Pushing Daisies creator discussed how the vastly different nature of the characters and modern setting featured in Mockingbird Lane paved the way for a title change – while also touching on the divisive issue of remaking and/or rebooting cherished properties (among other things).
“We want this show to be an American Harry Potter. To have that sense of a magical world that you get to go to with your family and find stories told in a fantastical way that are instantly relatable. It’s an ‘American Horror Story’ that the whole family can watch.”
Bear in mind, Mockingbird Lane won’t be a completely family-friendly variation on FX’s disturbing American Horror Story series, as the pilot alone includes genuinely horrific examples of eating disorders (one of the Munsters like to cannibalize suicide victims) and the pangs of adolescence (young Eddie unexpectedly transforms into a werewolf). Think more the often-darkly whimsical tone of Pushing Daisies and you get the idea. As Fuller put it:
“The script is such a dramatic departure from the tone and style of the original show. If we continued to call the show ‘The Munsters’, people are just going to to think we’re doing ‘The Munsters’. We’re doing a reinvention and re-imagination of this property… What I love about the pilot story is it’s about a family who loves each other and they have a child [Eddie, the werewolf] with a disability and they’re trying to craft a path for that child so he can have a happy life — they just happen to be monsters. And, unlike in the original, we’re going to see our monsters do monstrous things.”
Mockingbird Lane is just one of two projects Fuller is heading wherein older material will be refashioned as entertainment for a new generation of viewers (the other being Hannibal). As the writer/showrunner worded it:
“I’m personally, as an audience member, not afraid of remakes. I’m afraid of bad remakes, which is unfortunately more commonly the case. Which is why I think people get up in arms when they see a remake idea — “Oh they’re remaking something that’s been done before, what hackery, there’s no original thoughts in Hollywood.” But there’s a great quote that no art exists without the art before it. We’re doing our work to make our versions distinct and also respectable of their respective source material…”
Fuller is perhaps most well-renowned for his original television work (Dead Like Me, Wonderfalls, Pushing Daisies), but he’s previously found more success by contributing creatively to established properties – including, two different Star Trek TV series (Voyager and Deep Space Nine) – not to mention, he was instrumental in re-imagining classic comic book superhero archetypes on Heroes. If nothing else, that qualifies Fuller to have a go at re-inventing something like The Munsters too.
Look for the Mockingbird Lane pilot to premiere on NBC in early 2013.