I'm just trying to imagine a conference room where Bryan Fuller is trying to present his latest idea to a small group of NBC suits.
"You could say this series is a cross between 'The Munsters' and 'Falcon Crest,'" Fuller shares enthusiastically. "In fact, imagine this: 'The Munsters' as 'Falcon Crest.'"
Somehow that got some murmurs going for NBC, and who can blame them. It's been years since the network has had a solid scripted hit, and during that time, it has tried the cheat of nostalgia to try and entice viewers to come back. Yet no one paid attention to shows like "Bionic Woman" and "Knight Rider," and "Wonder Woman" never even made it past the pilot stage.
Yet, here is NBC again, investing in another remake, hoping the attachment of a talented creator like Fuller can be its golden ticket back to respectability.
I guess it's hard to blame NBC. Think of it this way -- resurrect Herman Munster, pulling him from the comic stage to one of serious drama. If it fails, it's more ammunition for critics like me to slap my head. But if it succeeds? NBC becomes adventurous, innovative, and just about every other adjective we currently apply to cable channels. It becomes a risk-taker, and suddenly the rest of its schedule will be noticed, and both critics and viewers alike will want to find out if they're missing something there, too.
But I just don't see it happening. And I'm a Bryan Fuller fan. I mean, seriously, "Dead Like Me" was great (not the telemovie). It wasn't my favorite, but I did enjoy the feel of "Pushing Daisies." "Wonderfalls"? Wow.
However, even the best have to have their "Wonder Woman" moments, right David E. Kelley? We sometimes get so caught up in our own nostalgia that we think we can translate a classic into something for 21st century audiences.
That might work for some shows, procedurals like "Hawaii Five-0." Hell, if it were done right (and depicted strong women, instead of just sexy women), it might even work for "Charlie's Angels." But it won't work for "The Munsters." It can't work for "The Munsters."
The idea of having Frankenstein married to an undead vampire, and having them think they can function seamlessly in a real society was true satire of the human condition. The running joke was that the Munsters didn't look at themselves as monsters. They were just like the rest of us, even if the rest of us saw them differently.
That was the basis for the humor and the draw for the show not just in the 1960s, but also in its short-lived resurrection in the 1980s.
Don't get me wrong. It's not that concepts can't change genres. I mean, look at "Little Shop of Horrors." Both the original Roger Corman film of 1960 and the 1987 musical version are actually considered horror comedies. But Declan O'Brien thinks he can make a not-so-funny version of the film, and he's probably right.
But "The Munsters" is a totally different animal. And I fear that a botched attempt at a revival will ruin the nostalgia many people -- including me -- have in growing up and watching the original series. I personally don't see a need to make Herman, Lily and Grandpa serious. In fact, I don't even see a need to do anything more than what's already been produced.
Maybe someday, but not today. And not from a network so desperate for a hit that it will try just about anything.
Be adventurous. Be innovative. But be original. Just ask HBO, AMC or any other cable channel: Without originality, adventure and innovation just doesn't exist.
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