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TV Wasteland: The Kid from Mockingbird Lane

The Munsters returns in as a cheesy Halloween special.

By Rob Vaux     October 22, 2012

 On Friday, NBC airs its “Halloween Special” Mockingbird Lane… which is actually a pilot of an attempted reboot of The Munsters. Besides the sad repackaging of a failed TV show as a special, the endeavor smacks of network desperation on a staggering level. Forget for a moment the creative recycling on display (i.e., “we couldn’t think of anything else, so we’re updating a viable brand name”). An effort like this raises seriously scary questions. Like, if it’s good enough to broadcast, why wasn’t it picked up as a series? And if it wasn’t good enough for a series, why are they airing it at all? 

Networks rarely show us failed pilots (beyond a few notable exceptions like the woebegone L.A. Confidential spin-off available on the movie DVD). The tactic keeps their dirty laundry under wraps while helping those hard-working convention bootleggers stay in business. By breaking the unspoken rule, NBC demonstrates that is still has no idea how to crawl out of its self-created pit. Revolution has started to slip in the ratings (though it’s still pretty safe for now), and while the new Matthew Perry comedy Go On has some life in it, the rest of the network’s schedule is shockingly barren. With its declining powerhouse The Office departing in May, NBC needs to reload but quick. If Mockingbird Lane – or indeed any potential property – had anything to offer as a series, they’d be flinging new episodes out there like a short order cook at lunch hour. Instead, the timid “forget this exists” delivery of the pilot speaks only to the network’s barren creative cupboards… and a spot at the bottom of the pile that it may end up owning in perpetuity. 
Mockingbird Lane airs this Friday at 8:00 PM EST on NBC. 
 

Monday

Alphas (Syfy, 8:00 PM EST)
The only first-run show not preempted by the Presidential debates involves Rosen prepared to throw down with Stanton Parish, even as the rest of the team tries to stop him.
 
Halloween (AMC, 8:00 PM EST)
As the titular holiday grows closer, AMC has the good sense to stick with the John Carpenter original, not the horrendous Rob Zombie remake.
 
Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (AMC, 10:00 PM EST)
Then they go and ruin it all by pairing it with this one.
 
Cowboys & Aliens (HBO, 9:00 PM EST)
Daniel Craig takes on intergalactic bad guys in a textbook example of expending all your creative energy on the title.
 
Star Wars: The Phantom Menace (Spike, 7:00 PM EST and 10:00 PM EST)
You know it, you love it (or don’t), and you shouldn’t have any illusions about what you’re going to see.
 
From Dusk Till Dawn 2: Texas Blood Money (Syfy, 9:00 PM EST)
Don’t let Bruce Campbell’s name fool you on this incredibly shitty direct-to-video sequel. He’s gone in the first two minutes.
 
Girl vs. Monster (Disney, 8:30 PM EST)
A nice young gal of the sort you would expect from The Disney Channel inadvertently sets a monster loose at a Halloween party she wasn’t supposed to attend. That’ll teach her.
 
Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (FX, 7:30 PM EST)
Okay, so Galactus was a bust. Thankfully, Marvel seemed to have learned from their mistake: Iron Man hit just a year after this one.
 
Mirrors (FMC, 8:00 PM EST and 10:30 PM EST)
Kiefer Sutherland has seen better days. A lot better.
 
Revolution and other network shows are off because of the Presidential debate. 
 

Tuesday

Face Off (Syfy, 9:00 PM EST)
Corporate synergy is in abundance as the contestants vie to create new make-up designs for the NBC series Grimm.
 
Hot Set (Syfy, 10:00 PM EST)
The competitors are charged with creating the lair of a comic book supervillain.
 
Hocus Pocus (ABC Family, 9:00 PM EST)
Has this uninspired Bette Midler vehicles somehow turned into a holiday staple without my noticing? Or is ABC Family just nuts?
 
Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers and Halloween Resurrection (AMC, 8:00 PM EST and 10:15 PM EST)
The only notable thing about these two sad little entries in the Halloween franchise is that Jamie Lee Curtis makes an elusive appearance in Resurrection. With swill this bad, you take what you can get.
 
The Matrix Revolutions (Cinemax, 10:00 PM EST)
Because everyone knows that the third part of the trilogy is the best.
 
The Twilight Saga: New Moon (FX, 7:00 PM EST) 
Just keep telling yourself that it will end someday soon.
 
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 (HBO, 6:45 PM EST)
There’s a twist… and I think it’s strong enough to bring all but the most adamant Potter nay-sayers into the fold.
 
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the galaxy (IFC, 8:00 PM EST)
I find the BBC television version a little more charming, but this one definitely has points in its favor.
 
Repo! The Genetic Opera (IFC, 10:30 PM EST)
This would-be cult film trying to mix horror and music Rocky Horror style may stand as the single worst movie of the past decade. Watch it and dare to disagree.
 
 

Wednesday

Arrow (The CW, 8:00 PM EST)
Deadshot and Oliver lock horns, and Oliver calls that chick who totally isn’t Black Canary for assistance.
 
Supernatural (The CW, 9:00 PM EST)
The brothers investigate a murder that may have links to a weird animal attack.
 
American Horror Story: Asylum (FX, 10:00 PM EST)
Briarcliff gets a visit from an exorcist to handle one of its troubled patients, which I’m sure will end happily for everyone.
 
Ghost Hunters (Syfy, 9:00 PM EST)
I don’t know what kind of ghosts hang out in an abandoned furniture factory, but apparently we’re going to find out.
 
Paranormal Witness (Syfy, 10:00 PM EST)
A newly married couple in Chicago suspects that their house is haunted.
 
The Raven (TCM, 8:00 PM EST)
This fun tale of dueling sorcerers based loosely on the famous poem benefits from the presence of horror legends Boris Karloff, Vincent Price and Peter Lorre… and frankly, the sound of Price reading Poe over the opening credits constitutes a sell all on its own.
 
Murders in the Rue Morgue (TCM, 9:45 PM EST)
TCM continues its Poe adaptations, this one featuring Bela Lugosi at the height of his stardom.
 
Scooby-Doo and Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed (ABC Family, 7:00 PM EST and 9:00 PM EST)
You could see what the filmmakers wanted to achieve with these live-action updates of the Hanna-Barbera cartoons. Somewhere along the line, it all went horribly wrong.
 
My Super Ex-Girlfriend (FMC, 9:00 PM EST)
Ivan Reitman’s mojo officially ran out in the middle of this misogynistic superhero comedy… even with Anna Faris backing him up.
 
Twilight (FX, 7:30 PM EST)
Everybody leave Kristen Stewart alone about the infidelity thing. There are so many more legitimate reasons to loathe the franchise she headlines.
 
Punisher: War Zone (IFC, 10:15 PM EST)
Director Lexi Alexander probably ended The Punisher’s big-screen appearances… which is a shame because, while hardly perfect, it’s easily the best cinematic take on the character yet.
 

Thursday

The Big Bang Theory (CBS, 8:00 PM EST)
Buzz Aldrin shows up this week as the gang holds a Halloween party at the comic book shop.
 
Last Resort (ABC, 8:00 PM EST)
The ratings have not been kind to ABC’s political thriller, so tune in while you can. This week involves further heated negotiations with Washington.
 
The Vampire Diaries (The CW, 8:00 PM EST)
Connor puts the hustle on Jeremy while trying to hunt down a number of local secrets.
 
Beauty and the Beast (The CW, 9:00 PM EST)
Cat gets dressed down after putting her nose where it isn’t wanted, even as Vincent flirts with exposure.
 
The Addams Family and Addams Family Values (ABC Family, 7:00 PM EST and 9:00 PM EST)
You could do a lot worse this holiday season than Barry Sonnenfeld’s gleefully ghoulish pair of comedies.
 
The Mist (Syfy, 9:00 PM EST)
It’s a fairly grim night for movies on TV, save for the Addams double bill… and this very scary Stephen King adaptation.
 
From Dusk Till Dawn (AMC, 8:00 PM EST)
They follow this film with the sequel at 10:15, but this is all you really need.
 
The Little Vampire (Disney, 8:30 PM EST)
That kid from Jerry Maguire goes all Van Helsing on us when he befriends another kid who happens to be a vampire.
 
The Happening (FMC, 7:00 PM EST and 9:00 PM EST)
Trees just aren’t scary. Someone really needed to explain that to the director.
 
Zombieland (FX, 8:00 PM EST)
Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson and friends try to survive (and have a little fun) in a world overrun by the undead. I’m kind of mixed on this one, but my opinion is in the minority.
 
I Am Number Four (Showtime, 7:30 PM EST)
An earnest attempt to duplicate the success of Twilight explodes on take-off, despite a late-inning rally.
 
Apollo 18 (Showtime, 9:30 PM EST)
Speaking of exploding on take-off…
 
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (Starz, 8:00 PM EST)
Whatever Nick Cage owes the IRS, someone needs to help him pay it so he’ll never make movies like this again.
 
An American Haunting (Sundance, 10:15 PM EST)
It’s supposedly based on real events, which may explain why it’s such a snoozer.
 
A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child (Syfy, 7:00 PM EST)
Do I really need to tell you to skip this one?
 

Friday

Mockingbird Lane (NBC, 8:00 PM EST)
Jerry O’Connell and Portia de Rossi headline an all-new version of The Munsters, here for one night only. See the top of the article for more.
 
Fringe (Fox, 9:00 PM EST)
Broyles returns, and the team may be forced to trust him when things get dicey yet again.
 
Grimm (NBC, 9:00 PM EST)
A string of child kidnappings in New Mexico put Nick and Hank in touch with a local detective.
 
Nikita (The CW, 9:00 PM EST)
A brainwashed girl threatens to blow up a prominent target unless Nikita can get to her first.
 
Haven (Syfy, 10:00 PM EST)
It’s Halloween, and Audrey, Nathan and Duke get to spend it in a haunted house. I really hope they have more in mind than that.
 
Jeepers Creepers (AMC, 8:00 PM EST)
A surprisingly good horror movie pits a young pair of siblings against a demon who rises to feed once every 23 years.
 
Misery (BBC America, 9:00 PM EST)
Kathy Bates won a well-deserved Oscar for her portrayal of a deranged “number-one fan” in Rob Reiner’s sharp adaptation of the Stephen King novel.
 
Friday the 13th (MTV, 10:00 PM EST)
The venerable horror series gets a reboot, which isn’t great but at least delivers all of the pop culture highlights in one comparatively easy-to-swallow movie.
 

Saturday

Bedlam (BBC America, 9:00 PM EST)
Ellie and Max try to help a possessed child.
 
Diabolique (TCM, 8:00 PM EST)
This is the superior French original, not the terrible American remake. And if you haven’t seen it, it’s far and away the best option for your Saturday night.
 
Games (TCM, 10:00 PM EST)
TCM follows it up with a 1960s thriller about a rich couple who enjoys freaking people out.
 
Zombie Apocalypse (Syfy, 7:00 PM EST)
Catalina Island off the coast of California becomes a refuge for survivors of the titular zombie outbreak.
 
Rise of the Zombies (Syfy, 9:00 PM EST)
And it’s off to find a scientist who can stop the whole “undead on the rampage” thing in yet another half-baked Syfy original movie.
 
Monster House (ABC Family, 8:00 PM EST and 10:00 PM EST)
The herky-jerky technical details hamstring an already shaky story about an evil house in a small town.
 
Alien vs. Predator (AMC, 8:00 PM EST)
Let’s all just forget this ever happened, shall we? Maybe show us one of the originals instead?
 
Predator (AMC, 10:15 PM EST)
That will do nicely. Thanks!
 
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (Cartoon, 6:00 PM EST)
It’s a good movie, but what the hell is it doing on the Cartoon Network?
 
Contagion (Cinemax, 10:00 PM EST)
Steve Soderbergh gives us a guided tour of life in the wake of a global pandemic.
 
Scream (IFC, 8:00 PM EST)
For better or worse, Wes Craven’s jokey take on slasher movies defined the horror genre in the 1990s.
 
The Exorcist (IFC, 10:30 PM EST)
Whether you love Scream or loathe it, the follow-up of IFC tonight is bound to make you smile.
 
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning (MTV, 10:00 PM EST)
MTV can’t even manage the crappy remake; it has to settle for the sequel to the crappy remake…
 
Underworld: Awakening (Starz, 9:00 PM EST)
The title lies: there’s no awakening from a movie this dull.
 

Sunday

The Walking Dead (AMC, 9:00 PM EST)
A new band of survivors shows up… which could be even worse than the zombies in a lot of cases.
 
Dexter (Showtime, 9:00 PM EST)
A murder takes place on Dexter’s boat, which would be bad enough if he didn’t have to outwit Isaak in the process.
 
Once Upon a Time (ABC, 8:00 PM EST)
Regina tries to shut down her magic, even as a spectral figure begins to torment her. In the fairy tale world, we watch her learning the same magic she’s now trying to suppress.
 
666 Park Avenue (ABC, 10:00 PM EST)
It’s Halloween at the Drake, and once again, I’m sure nothing untoward will happen at all.
 
20 Million Miles to Earth (TCM, 8:00 PM EST)
TCM unleashes the aliens tonight, starting with a Venusian terror rampaging through Rome.
 
Earth vs. The Flying Saucers (TCM, 9:30 PM EST)
The classic 50s invasion movie suffers from a very silly plot, but benefits from great effects from the legendary Ray Harryhausen.
 
The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (ABC Family, 7:30 PM EST)
A fair to middling fantasy flop nevertheless does well enough if you don’t expect a whole lot from it.
 
The Shining (BBC America, 8:00 PM EST)
The BBC has been showing this one a lot, and sees no reason to stop now.
 
Monsters vs. Aliens (FMC, 8:00 PM EST and 10:00 PM EST)
Those in the mood for old-school monster movies will find a delightful treat in this animated Joe Dante-esque homage.
 
Saw II (IFC, 8:00 PM EST)
Even this early, the franchise was in big trouble.
 
Evil Dead II (IFC, 10:00 PM EST)
Sam Raimi’s deranged follow-up to his cult classic original is on the short list of the greatest horror movies ever made.
 
Stephen King’s It (Spike, 7:00 PM EST)
Spike runs the well-regarded TV adaption of Stephen King’s ultimate scary clown story. 
 
Halloween H20 (Syfy, 7:00 PM EST)
Jamie Lee Curtis returns to the franchise that made her a star – and brings mom Janet Leigh to boot – in a decent-but-not-great rematch between Laurie Strode and Michael Myers
 
Pulse (Syfy, 9:00 PM EST)
Once again, Hollywood ruins J-horror for everyone.
 
The Dark Knight (TNT, 8:00 PM EST)
There’s no better place to close out the week than here. Have a good one everybody!
 

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

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therockdltj 10/22/2012 1:11:21 AM

 Fox made Fantastic Four rise of the silver surfer so no MARVEL didn't make any mistake !

The Saw series is awesome and Saw 2 made 147 Million on a 4 million budget so no it wasn't in "big trouble"!

Dazzler 10/22/2012 4:05:11 AM

It could make it series if it gets good ratings I bet. 

lusiphur 10/22/2012 7:25:12 AM

 The only mistake Marvel has made was not producing their own movies in house from the beginning.  But I guess they didn't have much of an option until they were bought out by Disney.

I think NBC is unsure how the public will react to Mockingbird Lane, so they're testing the waters with the Halloween special.  As Dazzler said above, if the ratings are good, then more episodes may be ordered.

CaptAmerica04 10/22/2012 8:16:52 AM

Rob, I will humbly disagree with you on the Punisher "series."  I, personally, prefer Thomas Jane's take on the character.  I really liked that film better (despite the skewed backstory and the GOD-awful presence of Travolta as the douchey "villain").

IMHO, Ray Stevenson was almost TOO angry in his version of Punisher, but the killing of Micro and the even more God-awful portrayal of Jigsaw (not to mention the over-the-top, unrealistic level of violence in the film) just ruined it all.

I'm not saying you're wrong, just giving an opposing opinion.

CaptAmerica04 10/22/2012 8:32:58 AM

 Also, I feel compelled to throw myself in front of what is likely a huge oncoming train, but I actually really liked the first Alien vs. Predator.  The sequel was terrible, doing its best to outdo the original with more gore, a new hybrid monster, oh, and more gore (the maternity ward scene was stupid AND completely unnecessary).

But the first AvP had an interesting (if heavy-handed) backstory/foundation, good action, and decent characters.  Aside from the PG-13 rating, I don't get why everyone hates this film so much.

rogue188 10/22/2012 8:40:56 AM

Punisher War Journal was garbage, and the Thomas Janne film was miles ahead. They just made him a tad bit too weepy.

DaForce1 10/22/2012 11:41:57 AM

 Also premiring on Sunday is the Venture Bros. Halloween Special episode on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim. It's a new episode to tide us over until the new season starts again next year. 

It's genre, but since it's animated, it never gets reported here.

InnerSanctum 10/22/2012 11:55:29 AM

 They still have yet to make a good Punisher movie, or cast the part correctly.  Should be "by the numbers".

FerretJohn 10/22/2012 12:13:16 PM

I see your pseudo-intellectual ego is flying high again Rob, "a sad repackaging of a failed TV show"?  While the sadness of Mockingbird Lane has yet to be seen (personally I like Jerry O'Connell and hope for the best) to refer to the original Munsters as a failure is just pure stupidity.  It was one of the all-time classics of TV comedy, if you're incapable of seeing that you have no business reviewing television.

And I had no problem with Travolta in Punisher, aside from Battlefield Earth I've never seen a bad Travolta performance.  But easily the best Punisher was Thomas Janes short Dirty Laundry.  If you haven't seen it YouTube it, it's great.

fatpantz 10/22/2012 5:18:06 PM

Speaking of Ray Stevenson.....damn has he been absolutely amazing on Dexter this season.  I never actually knew the guy could act.  Absolutely amazing.

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