[UPDATE: NBC will air the Mockingbird Lane pilot as a Halloween special.]
Where there’s smoke, there’s fire, and Bryan Fuller’s Mockingbird Lane does indeed appear to be stuck in a rough patch, following last week’s reports that NBC plans to pass on the series. Fuller’s reboot/re-invention of The Munsters is not being labeled a disaster (like David E. Kelley’s Wonder Woman last year), but the network heads are nonetheless reported as close to giving up on the whole venture.
NBC’s primary concern is recouping its $10 million investment on Mockingbird Lane, now that it’s (apparently) all but official that Fuller’s pilot isn’t going to be picked up. One option on the table is to turn the unaired pilot into either a TV movie or a Halloween special (to air later this month or October of next year).
Fuller imagined Mockingbird Lane as a comically morose and whimsical spin on the Munsters concept from the beginning; he once described his vision for the show as “An American Harry Potter.” However, according to THR, NBC heads wanted the series to take place in an identifiable modern setting, as opposed to the semi-timeless fairy tale world of Fuller’s cult series Pushing Daisies (or, if you prefer, your average Tim Burton movie).
Moreover, Fuller and director Bryan Singer are reported to have been at odds over the visual style of the pilot – though, last we heard, NBC heads admired the mise-en-scène of Mockingbird Lane. It’s of little concern now, though, since insiders are indicating that NBC plans to either air just the finished pilot or shoot extra footage to re-package it as a TV movie for international buyers (think what ABC famously did with the Twin Peaks pilot over 20 years ago).
The problem with that plan is that Fuller’s currently preoccupied with shooting the Hannibal series for NBC, so he won’t be able to oversee revamping on the pilot in the immediate future. THR is describing the Mockingbird Lane situation as “fluid” for the time being, so the television movie option should not be taken as set-in-stone just yet. However, pending any unexpected developments, it’s safe to say additional episodes won’t be made.
Mockingbird Lane features a cast that includes Jerry O’Connell (Crossing Jordan), Portia de Rossi (Arrested Development), Eddie Izzard (United States of Tara), Mason Cook (Raising Hope) and English actor ‘import’ Charity Wakefield (Sense & Sensibility, Casualty 1909). Fuller once said the following, with regards to the the narrative and emotional core of the concept:
“… What I love about the ['Mockingbird Lane'] 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.”
The show, in other words, has a solid cast and potential to serve as an entertaining satire on domestic sit-com scenarios (by mixing supernatural creature horror into the mix). Sadly, though, Fuller fans (like me) are getting used to his eccentric TV creations (Dead Like Me, Wonderfalls) having short lives. That trend is unlikely to change, now that NBC is making a conscious move away from ‘niche’ shows (re: series with cult potential).
UPDATE: THR is now confirming that NBC will air the Mockingbird Lane pilot as a Halloween special on Friday, Oct. 26 at 8 p.m. before Grimm (since October 31st falls on a Wednesday this year).