So, for my next trick "project", I decided to try re-watching The Munsters, which is another show I loved when I was a kid, but haven't looked at in a long time.

 

My intention is to re-watch the original series, and the film Munster, Go Home!.  These constitute the Munsters canon for me.

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Last night I watched the "never-aired" pilot. It was 13 minutes long, and was used to pitch the show to CBS. Interestingly, it was filmed in color, although the series itself was in black-and-white.

 

The pilot lacks the show's distinctive theme music, and has some chipper, though non-descript music in its place.

 

Most of the familiar cast is there, including Fred Gwynne, Al Lewis and Beverly Owen in their roles as Herman, Grandpa, and Marilyn.

 

Joan Marshall is cast as Herman's wife "Phoebe".  She looks much closer to Carolyn Jones' "Morticia Addams" than Yvonne De Carlo, and doesn't have the same "presence" as De Carlo's "Lily Munster".

 

Happy Derman plays Eddie Munster as a hostile, hissing little psycho-brat. I can see why they changed the character to make Eddie somewhat more likable.

 

The pilot is titled "My Fair Munster" and contains many elements that will be re-used in the episode of the same name.

 

The plot revolves around the familiar (to Munsters fans, at least) "What are we going to do about Marilyn" storyline, and ends with Grandpa whipping up a love potion for Marilyn.

 

Alot of things are established here, such as Igor the Bat, and Grandpa's dungeon, and my favorite, the electric chair used as a reading chair.

Thumbs up, Baron! Can't wait to read it all!

 

I can’t say for certain whether or not I’ve actually seen the first episode. I used to watch The Musters so much that I probably have, though.

Last night I watched the "never-aired" pilot. It was 13 minutes long, and was used to pitch the show to CBS. Interestingly, it was filmed in color, although the series itself was in black-and-white.

That I know I’ve never seen. It sounds as is quite a few changes were made from pilot to first episode, as there were with Gilligan’s Island. It’s hard to imagine the show in color, but then again we had a black & white set anyway

Happy Derman plays Eddie Munster as a hostile, hissing little psycho-brat. I can see why they changed the character to make Eddie somewhat more likable.

Too bad David Henesey wasn’t available. He’d’ve fit right in.
The "pilot Eddie" makes David Collins at his worst look sedate and reasonable.

Munster Masquerade (First aired 9/24/64):

Plot: Marilyn's boyfriend Tom invites the Munsters to his family's masquerade party, where Herman is insulted when he wins the prize for best costume after he shows his real face.  Meanwhile, Mrs.Morton babysits Eddie, and finds things in the Munster house a little odd.

 

For the record, Marilyn dresses up as Priscilla Mullins, Herman as King Arthur, Lily as Little Bo Peep, and Grandpa as Napoleon Bonaparte.

 

First Appearances:  The Munsters, of course, with Fred Gwynne, Yvonne De Carlo, Al Lewis, Beverley Owen and Butch Patrick in their usual roles.  We also meet the talking "raven" clock ("Nevermore!"), the cat that roars like a lion, and see the shadow of Spot, the dragon.

 

Running Gags:  Eddie howls at the Moon.

A mirror cracks when Herman looks at it.

Marilyn "scaring away" another boyfriend.

 

Family Facts: Marilyn states that she has lived with Herman and Lily since she was a baby.

Lily describes Grandpa as "my father, the count".

Grandpa claims to have had 167 wives, all now dead - although this doesn't stop him from visiting them occasionally.

 

Guest Cast:  Boyfriend Tom Daly was played by Linden Chiles, who is still acting, and has often played professional men of one stripe or another.

Agnes Daly, Tom's mother, was played by Mabel Albertson, who had a lengthy career, often playing obnoxious mothers or mother-in-law.

Albert Daly, Tom's father, was played by long-time character actor Frank Wilcox.  Fans of The Beverly Hillbillies may remember Wilcox as John Brewster, the oil company representative that dealt with Jed Clampett.

Babysitter Mrs. Morton was played by TV mainstay Lurene Tuttle.

These are all actors whose names you will most likely not remember (Unless your name is "Adam Benson"), but if you watched American TV in the 1960's, you almost certainly saw them in something.

 

Overall:  An OK first episode, introducing the audience to what will be the show's running theme - that of the misunderstandings that arise when the Munster family interacts with the "mundane" population.

 

 

Looking forward to your comments, B.  I caught the last half hour of Munster Go Home! a couple of weeks ago, I don't believe I have ever seen it all the way through in one sitting. Gwynne and Lewis had great chemistry together. I have always found the show's innocent goofiness good for a few laughs whenever I have watched the occasional episode.
Mark S. Ogilvie said:

  I sitll think one of the greatest TV weddings was missed because Eddie Munster marrying Wednesday Adams would have been great.

 

  The one thing I loved about the Munster house was that staircase that popped up. 


Count me as one who was more of an Addams Family fan than a Munsters fan.

One of my favorite references, The Great Sitcom Book by Rick Mitz, examines such shows from 1950 to 1980. His approach is to go year-by-year, with a long profile of the biggest hit or two that debuted in any given year, plus capsule descriptions of the other new shows that season -- including a few years where there's nothing worth remarking on, headlined "WHATEVER HAPPENED TO 19xx?"

In any event, he all but calls The Munsters and The Addams Family the same show, which is clearly stuff and nonsense! Yes, they both debuted in September 1964 and both went off the air two years later, but they are not the same!
No, they were deifnitely different programs.

I definitely saw "Muster Masquerade"; I just hadn't realized it was the first episode.

 

For whatever reason, I saw many, many more episodes of The Munsters than I did The Adams Family. (It could be that The Adams Family was on opposite something I wanted to watch more.) Consequently, I eventually became rather sick of The Munsters whereas The Adams Family stayed fresh. So many years (decades) have passed now since I last saw The Munsters that I would not be adverse to watching them again, and I'm looking forward to seeing how much from this thread I remember.

I meant to note that this first episode had the first version of the familiar theme music, and that in the opening credits, Yvonne De Carlo appears first, and gets first billing.

I am honestly amazed when people tell me they like "The Munsters" better than "The Addams Family." To me, everything about The Munsters was so mundane in comparison.

(That's not to say I won't enjoy an episode now and again -- or this study of them.)

I think a large part of The Munsters appeal during its original run was the characters resemblance to the Universal Studios monsters. The Addams Family was written at a more sophisticated level, perhaps due to the source material which was aimed at adults, while the Munsters relied heavily on physical humor. Personally, I liked 'em both - I have a soft spot for Herman and Grandpa but Lurch was awesome.

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