Every time Bryan Fuller gets his mind around something (Pushing Daisies, Wonderfalls, Dead Like Me), it's important to watch because often it comes out pretty fantastic if not always popular. Even when he's writing for existing shows (Heroes, Star Trek: Voyager), you feel his presence.
However, his latest project, Mockingbird Lane -- a reimagining of The Munsters for NBC -- has had a troubled history. There were delays, the pilot is said to have cost nearly $10 million, Fuller reportedly was at odds with pilot director Bryan Singer, and Fuller already was at work on Hannibal, another NBC adaptation.
Although NBC gave Fuller the nod to write more scripts, the network didn't pick up the series and will now air the pilot as a Halloween special. If all goes well -- meaning, if nothing less than a miracle occurs -- there's still a chance Mockingbird gets picked up.
But hopes should not be raised. If there's a vision for Mockingbird, it's not clear in the pilot, which starts out like a horror film (with some cheese on it), then segues into a much richer, heightened visual experience Fuller fans might recognize from Pushing Daisies (this time, the bright, saturated colors are replaced by dark tones). This version of The Munsters has them all dressed as normal people, not just Marilyn (played here by Charity Wakefield) as in the original. The Munsters simply are trying to fit into the modern world, sans neck screws for Herman. Eddie Izzard (Grandpa) sets the tone with a combination of evilness and snark, achieving a larger-than-life feel without sliding over the edge into scenery chewing.
The hour goes by quickly, but it's neither overtly scary nor overtly funny. The pilot focuses on Eddie (Mason Cook) and his slow coming-of-age as a werewolf. See, he doesn't know he's one. He wants to be a vegetarian.
Herman (Jerry O'Connell) is having a hard time telling Eddie about who he really is. Lily (Portia de Rossi) also can't seem to tell him, though Eddie's apparently aware that she feeds on people and that Dad's head is sewn on.
It's impossible to judge a series on the pilot, especially one as ambitious as this and with someone as creative as Fuller at the helm. But Mockingbird has one-and-done written all over it. It only teases us with what could have been.
Airdate: 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 26 (NBC)
Cast: Jerry O'Connell, Eddie Izzard, Portia de Rossi, Charity Wakefield, Mason Cook