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Series: The Munsters

A Mundane Fantastic Dom Com that originally ran from 1964 to 1966 about a working class family of would-be monsters. Experienced surprising high ratings during the period before the Batman TV series came on, revolutionizing color TV.

The humor of the series came from the odd juxtaposition of many "cartoon" antics in a live action series, namely "Fast Motion", as well as the fact that despite their gothic appearance, the family doesn't seem to think they're different from anyone else, with the exception of cousin Marilyn who didn't inherit "The Family Look". Though sometimes compared to the Addams family, there are considerable differences. The Addams Family are in essence landed gentry (their history in the US goes back to the Pilgrim era), very refined and elegant, and independently wealthy; the Munsters are working-class recent immigrants (Grandpa having immigrated from Transylvania), and Herman has a quite coarse sense of humour. The Addamses are borderline supernatural in some undefined way; the Munsters are explicit monsters. The most important difference, however, is in the families' views of themselves and the people around them. The Addamses consider themselves perfectly normal, and cannot understand why the people they meet are so very strange; the Munsters believe themselves to be just like the people around them, and cannot understand why said people seem to think the family is so strange. (This is itself an extension of the socioeconomic angle: blue-blood WASPs thought they were the real America, and had no idea where the country they lived in came from; immigrants were convinced they worked hard to be every bit as American as everyone else, and were confounded that people still treated them differently.)

NBC had optioned a reboot of the series created by Bryan Singer and Bryan Fuller entitled Mockingbird Lane, featuring Jerry O'Connell as Herman, Portia de Rossi as Lily, Eddie Izzard as Grandpa, Mason Cook as Eddie, and Charity Wakefield as Marilyn. Oh, and it was to be a drama. The pilot episode aired as a TV special on October 26, 2012.

The character list is as follows:

  • Herman, the 7-foot-tall Frankenstinian patriarch of the family. Though he believed himself to be a Standard '50s Father, he was really more of a Bumbling Dad and loveable idiot. Afraid of Blood. It is worth noting that Herman is considered to be the most successful of Doctor Frankenstein's many efforts - presumably since he didn't tear apart the countryside. Later, it was established that a British family named Munster had adopted Herman.
  • Lily, the doting housewife. The child of immigrant parents, Lily was more keenly aware of social standards than the rest of her family, but nevertheless cheerily went about her bizarre habits anyway. Usually became involved to bail Herman and Grandpa out of trouble. She and Herman have one of TV's most successful marriages - during the series they celebrated their 100th Anniversary!
  • Eddie, a boy with werewolf tendencies, Eddie had the typical problems of a pre-teen in 1950s America: too much homework, not enough television, can't stop chewing the teacher's leg, etc.
  • Marilyn, the pretty blonde Unfazed Everyman of the series, Marilyn was the shockingly normal muggle niece of the family. Rather than proud of being able to conform better, Marilyn was convinced that she was the freak, and her aunt and uncle regarded her "weirdness" as a tragic affliction. Despite being ripe for storylines, Marilyn was a background character at best. Her (second) actress even said years after the fact that anyone could have played her.
  • Grandpa, Herman's Lancer and usually the instigator for the show's zany scheme of the week. A combination Count Dracula and Mad Scientist, Grandpa was an Omnidisciplinary Scientist with at least one degree in Occult Magic. He sometimes reported being discriminated against by his neighbors — not because he was a blood-sucking demon of the night, but because he was European.

Tropes Include:

  • Adaptation Dye-Job: Marilyn is a blonde in the series, however, in the movie Munster, Go Home!, she's a redhead (mainly because she was played by a different actress than the rest of the characters.
  • Alliterative Name: Marylin Munster.
  • Amusing Alien
  • Animated Adaptation: The Mini-Munsters, a 1973 animated TV movie.
  • Blind Without 'Em: Dr. Dudley. He even invokes it by taking off his glasses whenever he has to examine Herman so that he doesn't have to be frightened by his appearance.
  • Bumbling Dad: Herman.
  • Chocolate-Frosted Sugar Bombs: An episode of The Munsters Today had Herman being coerced into endorsing one of these, which was called Licorice Puffs. In the end, he is encouraged by his family to tell the truth to the public that Licorice Puffs has no nutritional value whatsoever.
  • Cool Car: The Munster Koach and the Dragula race car. The Munster Koach was arguably the show's signature.
    • Note: The car used in Rob Zombie's Dragula music video is not the Dragula, but the Munster Koach.
  • Cool House
  • Cute Monster Girl: Lily.
  • Darker and Edgier: Mockingbird Lane.
  • Dark Is Not Evil
  • Deadpan Snarker: The Raven in the Clock. Also, Grandpa.
  • Dysfunctional Family
  • Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: Lily.
  • Extremely Dusty Home
  • Fantasy Kitchen Sink: Frankenstein monster, vampires, and a werewolf...all related!
  • Fast-Forward Gag: Whenever someone meets the Munsters and runs away.
  • Forgotten Theme Tune Lyrics
  • Fluffy the Terrible: Spot The Dragon.
    • as well as the Black Cat who roars like a lion.
  • Friendly Neighborhood Vampires
  • Gentle Giant: Herman
  • Halloweentown
  • Happily Married: Herman and Lily.
  • Hollywood Natives: While on vacation, Herman is separated from the rest of the family, and stumbles onto a tourist attraction that is a show business tribe. Although most everyone is an actor dressed up as and acting like a Hollywood Native, the tribe somehow has an actual Native American Chief who is so old and delusion, that he believes his tribe is real, and even attempts to marry Herman to his daughter.
  • Housewife: Lily
  • Improbably Cool Car: The Munsters Koach and Grandpa's coffin-mobile. It was the '60s, it was a high-concept sitcom, so of course they had to have George Barris showrods even though it's never explained how a working stiff like Herman can afford a car like that.
  • Injury Bookend: In one episode Herman gets struck by lightning and is turned into a regular human being. After all of Grampa's magic fails to return him, he gets struck by lightning again and is back to his old self again.
  • I Want You to Meet an Old Friend of Mine: Previously, Fred Gwynne and Al Lewis were featured in the series Car 54, Where Are You?.
    • In the movie Munster Go Home! Herman panics telling Grandpa to "Call the police! Call the FBI! Call Scotland Yard! Call Batman!" And then shouts out, calling "Car 54, Where Are You?!!!!!"
  • It Runs in the Family
  • Jackass Genie: One pays the family a visit in an episode of The Munsters Today. One example of his antics was that he gave Eddie a toy car when he wanted a real one.
  • Jekyll & Hyde: Inverted. In Here Come the Munsters, Marilyn is the daughter of Herman's sister Elsa and a mad scientist named Norman Hyde. A major part of the film's plot is that while trying to find a way to make Marilyn more pleasant-looking by the family's standards, he accidentally turns himself into a handsome man named Brent Jekyll. Brent Jekyll is used as a puppet by a racist politician to deport all immigrants in America, but Grandpa manages to turn Jekyll back into Hyde before it is too late.
  • Jerkass: The two elves in The Munsters' Scary Little Christmas, though they do get called out for trying to ruin Christmas just so they can have a vacation and also make amends by inventing a machine that creates toys from a person's thoughts (Herman's).
  • Lightning Can Do Anything: Like turn Herman into a normal human.
    • Or put hair on a bowling ball! SERIOUSLY
    • Or change Herman back into a man. See Sexophone below.
  • Locked in a Freezer: in one episode, Herman and Grandpa get locked in a bank vault when they try to return some money that they accidentally stole (Herman having been mistaken for a bank robber earlier in the episode). Fortunately for them, the real robbers show up and blow open the vault, after which they pass out in fright when Herman and Grandpa step out to thank them for the rescue.
  • Mad Scientist/Bungling Inventor: Grandpa
  • Man Child: Herman. One of the Running Gags was him throwing foundation-shaking temper tantrums. In addition, he also enjoys watching children's programs, was once coaxed into testing Grandpa's sleeping pill by being promised candy, and his biggest concern about getting people angry is that they will yell at him.
  • Mirror-Cracking Ugly: Herman.
  • Mistaken for Murderer: The Munsters Today episode "Drac the Ripper" had Herman Munster see a police sketch of Jack the Ripper on a television news bulletin. He notices Grandpa's likeness to the drawing and becomes suspicious that Grandpa is Jack the Ripper.
  • Monster Mash: Another difference from the Addams Family who were general gothic, while the Munsters were based on specific movie monsters.
    • Even the Creature from the Black Lagoon shows up, he's from the old country, rich and used to be a politician as well. He's called Uncle Gilbert.
  • The Movie: Several, but only two...the theatrical Munsters Go Home! and the tv movie Munsters' Revenge... featuring the original actors.
  • Mythology Gag: In The Munsters Today episode "Designing Munsters", Herman and Lily exchange roles as provider and housewife. A montage is shown where the opening credits of the original show's first season is reinacted, but with Herman and Lily switching roles: Herman kisses Lily while giving her her suitcase, scolds Grandpa for trying to bite him, kisses Marilyn when she leaves for school, and gives Eddie his books and pats his cheeks.
    • Here Come the Munsters and The Munsters' Scary Little Christmas both featured a nod to the 1981 film The Munsters' Revenge. The former had Herman getting arrested as part of the plot and the latter featured the Phantom of the Opera as one of the Munsters' relatives.
  • Negative Continuity: The Munsters Today was originally meant to be a sequel series to the original show where the Munsters had been frozen for 22 years and woke up in the late 80's, but by the second season inconsistencies become so blatant that the show started to gradually become an Alternate Continuity.
    • As noted in the above mentioned Jekyll & Hyde, the original series establishes that Marilyn is the daughter of Lily's sister instead of Herman's.
  • Nightmare Fetishist: Not as much as The Addams, but still...
  • Obliviously Beautiful: Marilyn Munster, as a consequence of believing her family's standards of beauty.
  • Only Sane Man: Even though he was more or less Dracula incarnate, Grandpa wasn't really as naive as the rest of the clan.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different
  • Parental Bonus: The Munsters Today and The Munsters' Scary Little Christmas both have several of these.
  • Quirky Household
  • Revival: The 1980s series The Munsters Today and a revival movie from the 90s.
    • Worth noting that The Munsters Today, despite being a show whose premise was that the Munsters were cryogenically frozen and woke up in the '80s, lasted longer than the original show.
    • Mockingbird Lane was originally envisioned as this, before NBC later aired the pilot as a Halloween special (and later scrapped the idea altogether).
  • Sequel Series: The Munsters Today.
  • Sexophone: Used when Grandpa's latest invention turns Herman into a woman. (He got changed back by the end of the episode). Grandpa's spell once did the same to Eddie at the end of an episode, so the reset was automatic.
  • Shout-Out: Butch Patrick's 1983 novelty single "Whatever Happened to Eddie?" is set to the tune of the theme song and details his life as Eddie Munster.
    • Marilyn, of course, is a reference to Marilyn Monroe.
    • Munsters Go Home includes shout outs to Car 54, Where Are You? and to the 1966 Batman series.
    • Because both series were created by the same production company, there were several nods and references to Leave It to Beaver, including one episode where Herman is unsuccessful at using reverse psychology to talk Eddie out of running away from home (which was a plot in an earlier Leave It to Beaver episode), much to Lily's chagrin.
    Herman: I don't understand... it always worked on Leave It to Beaver...
  • SitCom
  • Skunk Stripe: Lily
  • Sleeping Single: Subverted. Then again these Munsters are strange folk.
  • Take That: Two episodes of The Munsters Today took a shot at the film adaptation of Howard the Duck by saying that watching it twice is very undesirable.
  • Teens Are Monsters: Averted literally— Marilyn Munster is the only normal person in the family.
    • "Poor dear... it's not her fault she's so ugly."
    • Lampshaded when a TV Land Channel Commercial was showing reruns of the show, their promotions added (less than masterful) lyrics to the theme song, including the line, "Marilyn, you're normal, where the heck did you come from?"
  • Thanksgiving Episode: The episode "Low-Cal Munster" happens specifically on Thanksgiving. The episode, though, aired during October.
  • Thirteen Is Unlucky: The Munsters live at 1313 Mockingbird Lane.
  • This Is My Side: Grandpa and Herman had many childish antics like this.
  • The Tonsillitis Episode: Eddie in "Operation: Herman."
  • Took a Level in Dumbass: Herman in The Munsters Today.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Grandpa tends to be more insulting towards Herman in The Munsters Today.
  • Under Crank: The Fast Motion Scenes
  • Unfazed Everyman: Marilyn
  • Vindicated by Reruns: For a number of years during The Turn Of The Millenia, WGN annually aired Munster Marathons on Halloween, hosted by Alice Cooper. By 2011, they've since stopped.
  • White Sheep

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alternative title(s): The Munsters
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