About a year back, NBC showed interest in developing a pilot for a reboot of the classic sitcom The Munsters, and established TV writer and producer Bryan Fuller was reportedly working on the project. Now, the project is officially underway.
The Munsters has a special place in my heart: it was the first show that brought me into the world of live-action television. When I was around six or seven, and addiction exclusively to cartoons, I remember The Munsters being the show that opened the Nick at Nite lineup, effectively terminating my animation intake for the evening. Ordinarily, I’d turn off the TV and head upstairs, but one night, based on my father’s recommendation, I actually decided to give The Munsters a chance. And it was a good show to start with: it was silly, filled with funny-looking people doing simple, goofy things. It made the transition easy. From there, I gave other Nick at Nite shows a chance: I Love Lucy, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Odd Couple…long story short, The Munsters is heartily responsible for my love of television, and in turn, my current employ as a TV blogger.
And although this story is a personal, specific one, there are likely countless others who hold this classic sitcom in the same regard. So needless to say, we’re skeptical that Fuller, master of the craft that he is, can really reproduce the whimsy of The Munsters. But this is not because he is untalented—Fuller has given us some fantastic television, including Dead Like Me, Wonderfalls, Pushing Daisies and the first season of Heroes. It is not because of Fuller at all. I presume, instead, that it is because of the audience. People always gripe at the idea of remakes, “It’ll never be as good as the original.” Well, that’s in part because we aren’t capable of accepting that it can be as good as the original. Those of us, of my generation, who grew up with The Munsters as a Nick at Nite show aren’t really capable of being that fascinated and enamored by something fresh, new and imaginative as we were as young children, watching the judge from My Cousin Vinny stomp around dressed as Frankenstein with a smile. The Munsters was brilliant because of its simplicity. But now that we’re older, we’re averse to simplicity. And everyone young enough to still appreciate simplicity probably hasn’t ever heard of, let alone seen, the original The Munsters.
In short, I’m pessimistic about the success of The Munsters. Not about the quality—as I said, Fuller is brilliant and has it in him to create a great show. But it won’t be The Munsters we once loved. Too simple, and we’ll be bored by it. Too complex, and it’ll be called a defamation and a different show entirely. I do truly hope that Fuller finds the middle-ground to please audiences. Kids today deserve to be brought into the underappreciated artform that is television with the same grace and magnitude that we were. And if this does end up being the show to do that for them, well…that’s just poetry.