NBC Readies Darker Reboot of ‘The Munsters’

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The Munsters remake NBC Readies Darker Reboot of The Munsters

As far as properties ripe for a reboot, the classic 1960s sitcom The Munsters has to rank pretty high – and with NBC finally going ahead with a script from the creator of Wonderfalls and Pushing Daisies, the peacock network seems to think so as well.

Running on CBS from 1964-1966, The Munsters told the story of a clan of classic movie monsters (i.e. vampires, werewolves and Frankenstein’s monster) who, despite their outward appearance, were a normal, somewhat outgoing, middle-class family. The show was equal parts a send up of the spooky characters as it was other family sitcoms like Leave it to Beaver.

Though ratings were far from stellar during its two-year run, the show gained in popularity once it found its way to syndication – leaving future Pet Sematary star Fred Gwynne (Herman Munster) and Al Lewis (Grandpa) forever linked to their iconic roles.

Now, 45-years later, NBC and writer Bryan Fuller are ready to overhaul the characters and concept by envisioning the half-hour, black and white sitcom as an hour-long drama intended as a summer series or other event.

As is the trend, Fuller’s version is said to be a darker, edgier take on more lighthearted nature of the original series. This new vision for The Munsters will work within the confines of the same premise, despite an apparent shift in tone and with some tweaks to the characters and their origins.

Grandpa is, for all intents and purposes Dracula, who has constructed Herman as the only suitable mate for his vampire daughter Lily. The monstrous couple has a young son, Eddie, who, for some reason or another, develops into a werewolf at the onset of puberty – becoming the catalyst for the family’s move to the well-known 1313 Mockingbird Lane address. Reportedly, Lily’s niece Marilyn – an outcast due to her normalcy – will also be featured in the proposed series.

Even for those lamenting the lack of originality in Hollywood, and the ubiquity of rebooted properties, the mere mention of Fuller’s name should garner some interest. Having a somewhat whimsical writing style that would pair well with the visual stylings of Tim Burton or even French filmmaker Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Fuller’s version of The Munsters should be interesting in terms of its production, at the very least.

Bryan Fuller Pushing Daisies ABC NBC Readies Darker Reboot of The Munsters

'Pushing Daisies' created by Bryan Fuller

Furthermore, past projects of Fuller’s such as Showtime’s Dead Like Me and the critically acclaimed, but short-lived, Pushing Daisies both had a similar macabre feel to them. Fuller also plumbed the depths of the gothic genre when he teamed with Hellboy creator Mike Mignola on the animated project The Amazing Screw-On Head.  Naturally, a property like The Munsters will allow the writer to go full-bore with the material, thematically speaking.

With NBC touting Fuller’s vision for the show as “visually striking,” perhaps this version will be seen as a more ambitious take on the material – similar to Burton’s upcoming Dark Shadows.

At nearly 50 years of age, The Munsters is definitely further down the proverbial well, so comparisons to the source material should produce some noticeable and interesting results, even if expectations aren’t immediately high.

Though they seem like a sure-fire bet, in terms of ratings success, reboots can be a tough sell – especially for savvy audiences starved for more original content. Additionally, there are the purists, for whom nothing but the original will suffice. However, MTV recently found success after they retooled Teen Wolf into a dark, teen-angsty drama series, so that could be seen as a spot of hope for The Munsters.

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Screen Rant will update you as more news concerning The Munsters develops.

Source: Deadline

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  1. Steve Waddington…a Los Angeles actor/singer has been doing “Herman” for the last couple of years in L.A. at Halloween, and he’s a perfect Fred Gwynne type Herman. he has all the voice characteristics and the moves…plus he’s like 6’5″ naturally, so with the boots…well, he’s in facebook and you can see the pics. Uncanny!

  2. I can’t wait for a “darker, edgier” remake of The Monkees. And how about a “darker, edgier” remake of Leave it to Beaver? They’ll have to add some sex-filled shenanigans to the new Leave it to Beaver so it can compete with Jersey Shore.

    • Gee wiz Wally, Snooki gave you crabs.

      • “Leave It In, Beaver”

        Or, for a more R-rated use, remove quotation marks/comma…

      • This made me laugh. Thank you.

    • Now that’s funny!

  3. NBC shelves Community and is working on this reboot. You don’t stay in fourth place by using your brain.

    • Community is still expected to make a return so don’t fear……yet.

      • I was just commenting on how the NBC network handles original programming and is following other networks’ lead by rebooting old shows. Pretty soon these networks will attempt to reboot reality TV contests like Fear Factor…wait, what?

  4. Wow, they are really doing their damnedest to NOT work on original ideas. The Munsters worked because of the cast time period and being in B&W. They tried to bring the show back again the 80′s with The Munsters Today but it was terrible. It just wasn’t the same without the original cast and just did not look good in color. I watched 1-2 episodes of that show and never watched it again.

    Herman Munster himself (Fred Gwynne) said it best in Pet Cemetery…… “Sometimes dead is better”

  5. I’m not too excited to read this. An edgier, darker version of the Munsters? For those of us having actually watched it in its original run on TV as kids and for those who grew up watching it in re-runs, it’s hard to see those fond memories stomped into the ground with a heavy boot for the sake of slating TV’s thirst to avoid really creating original programming and going with reboots or ‘Reality’ TV.

    Battlestar Galactica was a strange anomaly, a sci-fi vehicle that on its merits was just this side of Star Wars and Star Trek in terms of tone and turning into a grittier show that showed the hell of war, losing/finding hope, and finding our way home was a much easier task that didn’t require that huge a shift in terms of tone and had the advantage of a current military conflict(s) going on to reflect our war weariness to grab us and take us on the journey with the BG cast.

    While I cannot fully say for sure that this will fail, I cannot see it doing extremely well as a regular network series without some of the humor and likeability that kept the Munsters alive in syndication for so many years after the first run. Networks are a fickle mistress and if this doesn’t grab an audience quickly it will sink faster than the second try (the previously mentioned Munsters Today) and lets not forget the attempt to bring Dark Shadows back to TV and it didn’t try to make a grittier version and still failed to win audiences over (some say it was the Gulf War coverage and other say it just didn’t have enough to grab a loyal enough viewership to survive long), but the point is this is a wild shot in the dark and I’m guessing I’ll have to see if it survives the development process and makes it to the screen before knowing for sure.

    Still, good luck Mr. Fuller and NBC. You’re going to need it.

  6. “Darker and edgier” with the inherent plot devices of the benevolent Munsters? What imbecility.
    The only thing they (Fuller and NBC) will do is take a benign show about positive people who are misunderstood by the world around them and change it into a morally-ambivalent bummer vanity project by a produce who thinks he’s Fassbinder and Truffaut.
    Like television needs more grit.

    However, I am confident that, like the other “darker and edgier” remakes (with the one exception of Battlestar Galactica) we have seen over the past decade, this will FAIL expensively.
    Even more so, I sincerely hope that the failure is such that it damages NBC and Mr Fuller’s career to the point that ANYONE vain enough or stupid enough to insist on bringing television audiences DOWN to such levels will be escorted out of a studio’s offices by security.
    We don’t need more lowest common denominator dreck masquerading as “art”.

  7. ENOUGH WITH REMAKES/REBOOTS/RE WHATEVERS!

    Why do studios keep torturing us that remember original versions? Yeah, they may have been cheesy but we liked them first time around, we don’t need you screwing them up by ‘updating’ them.

    I will not watch new Munsters or The Rifleman, I prefer the originals with Chuck Connors and Fred Gwynne.

    Hollyweird needs to focus on getting rid of these remakes, ALL of ‘reality’ TV and these ridiculous ‘talent shows. We want good writing, good acting and ORIGINAL ideas!

  8. “Darker and edgier” eh? Isn’t that hollywoodese for “convoluted suckfest”?
    Little things like this make sure that the networks are boring at best, a complete waste of time at worst. There are literally hundreds of books and thousands of You Tube based series that would make decent series and mini-series yet for some reason it’s easier to try to rewrite what has already been done to watch it fail, miserably.

    • That is what a writer says when their idea is panned for being stupid or redundent, “wait, its a new darker and edgier version….”

  9. Brad Garrett would be perfect as Herman!

  10. How the hell can you make the Munsters darker it was a comedy. It has bomb written all over it. If they keep it a comedy maybe , but after their last attempt i can see it being any good. Can’t nbc come up with anything orginal.

  11. Wally, why does Dad wear Mom’s fishnet stockings?

    Jeez. They really think that this is going to work? – Stark

  12. Me, I’m looking for the darker, edgier, Tim Burton-directed reboot of Alvin & The Chipmunks…

    Alvin goes on Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew, to battle his addiction to junk food…

    Simon uses a brainwave stimulation device of his own creation on himself, and becomes a furry version of The Leader, bent upon world conquest…

    Theodore undergoes body-image problems, and eats until he becomes a 9,000-lb. blob; no longer a Chipmunk, but a Chunkmunk!

  13. Agreed The Munsters didnt work in that 1980s reboot. If it is to be done do it in black & white.

  14. Yeah, this dried out turd of an “original” concept oughta really rake in the ratings.

  15. I have heard that they are stripping those charachters of their old monster makeup.It won’t work…you can’t take away hermans Frankenstien and keep Munsters Tv show lovers around..Lost In space was remade in the 90′s it flopped…a ramake can’t survive if you take away what we loved.Herman and grandpa were why we loved it..not eddie!We loved Frankenstien and Dracula..you will kill it!People exspect the old makeup!A modern vibe ,thats cool.But remakes of Frankenstien without that original look have flopped!It will die verry fast!

  16. An Open Letter to Mr. Fuller
    Kind sir, there is a difference between making a work darker to prove a point and making a work darker to prove you can. For example, the original Battlestar Galactica was a relatively optimistic show, its reboot was made darker to reflect the war on terror and its effects. That is a representation of the former. For the latter case, you have the Transformers film trilogy. While it does have its fans, and they are many, the end result is just a bunch of rattle and hum; and no real motivation to make a series based on a toy darker.
    Therefore, if you must make the show darker, you should do it to have a message; rather just for the sake of being dark.
    Thank you.

    • “…the end result is just a bunch of rattle and hum;…”

      Isn’t that what machines DO, anyway?

  17. I read they aren’t using the Munsters title. Instead it will be called “Mockingbird Lane” after the street the Munsters lived on.

  18. This will make the third or is it the fourth remake of the Munsters.

    • From Wikipedia:

      Remakes and spinoffs
      [edit] Television
      [edit] The Munsters Today
      Main article: The Munsters Today

      The Munsters Today ran from 1988 to 1991 and lasted for 72 episodes. The unaired pilot episode, written by Lloyd J. Schwartz, explained the 22 year gap through an accident in Grandpa’s lab that put the family to sleep. They awake in the late 1980s and have to adapt to their new surroundings. It featured John Schuck (Herman), Lee Meriwether as Lily, Howard Morton (Grandpa) and Jason Marsden (Eddie). Marilyn was portrayed by Mary-Ellen Dunbar in the unaired pilot, and by Hilary Van Dyke thereafter. The show used many props and set pieces from the original series, and also reworked some old storylines. From the second season onwards, the show developed a more modern approach, with colorful new costumes and more contemporary storylines.
      [edit] Mockingbird Lane

      Another remake, from Pushing Daisies creator Bryan Fuller, is in development for NBC. A reboot of The Munsters, it is intended to be written and executive produced by Fuller as a one-hour drama with “spectacular visuals”. It is to explore the origins of the Munster family and to be darker and edgier, while retaining plenty of humor.[8][9][10] NBC confirmed ordering the pilot episode in November 2011,[11] and announced in January 2012 that it would be called Mockingbird Lane, a reference to the Munster family address at 1313 Mockingbird Lane.[12]

      It was also reported the costumes and make-up for the characters will be heavily toned down to resemble humans.

      NBC has recently taken the pilot for Mockingbird Lane out of the Fall 2012 schedule, reportedly to give it more attention, so production will begin in the summer, indicating that the pilot will air in 2013.[13] On March 20, 2012, former The Riches star Eddie Izzard was announced by NBC as “Grandpa”, the first of the prospective series’ main roles to be cast.[14][15] More recently, British actress Charity Wakefield has joined the cast, playing Marilyn Munster, Lily’s niece.

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