Combustible Celluloid

The Munsters: The Complete First Season (1964-1965)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Family Beware

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Buy The Munsters: The Complete First Season on DVD

In 1964, both "The Addams Family" and "The Munsters" hit the airwaves. The former was based on the classic Charles Addams cartoons from The New Yorker and featured a kind of clever, deadpan class and sophistication with a hint of darkness. "The Munsters" was more lowbrow, content with being cuddly and redundant. A single idea is the basis for virtually every joke: an out-of-touch family is continually unaware that their monster-like appearance makes everyone else uncomfortable. Fred Gwynne stars as the Frankenstein-ish Herman Munster, a buffoon with a breathy, squeaky laugh. Yvonne Dcarlo co-stars as his Vampira-ish wife. Butch Patrick appears as the family's youngest, Eddie, and Al Lewis plays Grandpa, both vampires. Played first by Beverly Owen and later (episode 14 on) by Pat Priest the family's teenage niece Marilyn is cute and blond and thus the butt of many family jokes. Shot on black-and-white film, these harmless and lovingly designed episodes look beautiful on DVD. Universal's box set collects 38 episodes on three double-sided discs, and includes a 14-minute full-color pilot that was shown only to TV executives and never aired. In color, the creatures' gray/green makeup is far more garish that one might imagine.

Starring: Fred Gwynne, Yvonne Dcarlo, Butch Patrick, Al Lewis, Beverly Owen, Pat Priest,
Written by: Joe Connelly, Bob Mosher, etc.
Directed by: Lawrence Dobkin, Charles Barton, etc.
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 966 minutes
Date: August 18, 2004

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