Review

  • "The Munsters" was filmed at the Universal-Hollywood lot, where the original monster movies of the 30's and 40's featuring Frankenstein's monster, Dracula, Wolfman etc,were made. By the 1960's it was felt these creations(makeup copyright still owned by the studio)were ripe for spoofing(well they had actually already been in comedy films with Abbott and Costello a few years earlier)."The Munsters" could have been terrible-its easy to get this sort of thing all wrong, witness the appalling 80's remake "The Munster's today"; but this series works beautifully.It's not the scripts-though there are some great lines,they are often not especially outstanding. What makes the show so good is the cast, particularly Fred Gwynne as scary, hopeless, lovable Herman-what a performance he gave! Despite all the makeup he can do wonderful things with his face,and that gentle cultured voice coming out of the monstrous Herman-taking any line-often a very ordinary one, and making it totally hilarious. Herman, with his easily punctured vanity, childish tantrums and booming laugh, is one of the great comic creations. A word of appreciation too for Al Lewis, the vampire Grandpa, whose mad scientist Count comes over like a third rate vaudeville magician from New York (he even works as a stage magician in one episode!),and who enjoys nothing more than insulting his clueless son in law, Herman. The rest of the cast are fine, though Yvonne DeCarlo as Lily was given little else to do but be shrewish with Herman as the series went on. Another fortunate thing was that in the mid 60's,when the show was made, there were many marvelous character actor/comedians in Hollywood, and lots appear on the show, such as Frank Gorshin, Neil Hamilton, Jessie White, John Hoyt, Louis Nye(his TV horror host character, "Zombo", is actually scarier than any of the Munsters)and best of all Paul Lynde, who shows up twice as the Munster family doctor,and has some classic comedy moments with Herman. One of many highlights is Herman doing a cod "Ginsberg" style poem in front of an admiring beatnik audience in "Far out Munster". A treat, a show which should live forever.