There’s a certain charm to The Munsters. Maybe it’s the overall familiarity of the characters. Maybe it’s just a reminder of a much more simple time. No matter what the reason one thing is for certain, and that is despite its near fifty-year age, it is just as fun now as it was back in the Sixties!
The Universal monsters are a part of horror history. It only makes sense that when the original versions of Frankenstein, Dracula, et al made it to the wondrous little invention called television, more expansive programming featuring them would hit the airwaves. Enter The Munsters.
The Munsters found their way into America’s living rooms and was an instant success. The notion of a family of monsters living through the problems of everyday life proved to be very marketable. It was as if the nation were under the influence of one of Grandpa’s spells! People just couldn’t get enough of them, and after a while they were everywhere. Lunchboxes, dolls, records, you name it. Finally, after nearly five decades our favorite family of fiends have made the jump to DVD, and I couldn’t be happier.
The Munsters: The Complete Second Season is a far superior showing in comparison to the relatively bare bones Season One set. The only thing other than the show itself that was worthy of any mention in that collection was the inclusion of the original color pilot. Universal redeems themselves here as the Season Two box set kicks some major ass! Not only do you get all thirty-two episodes, but you get nearly three hours of extras!
First up is The Munsters: America’s First Family of Fright. This is a most detailed account of the history of the show from genesis to bittersweet ending. Everything you could hope to learn is here including various interviews with the show’s surviving cast members, directors, writers, and make-up artists. Also covered are various promotional appearances and of course some hilarious commercials for products such as Cheerios! Eventually we come full circle to the ill fated attempts at resurrecting The Munsters in the Eighties and Nineties, and our history lesson is complete. But the fun’s just starting! The next set of features really warmed my heart: three retrospectives sure to please any fan on the lives, on-set antics, and careers of Fred Gwynne, Yvonne De Carlo, and Al Lewis. Bravo, Universal. Bravo! It’s great to see the stars of this show get the respect that they deserve. The features are a truly touching and entertaining look back!
Things aren’t all sunshine and puppy dogs though. One of this set’s strongest points is also one of its weakest — the packaging. The first time I saw the artwork for this set, I smirked and drooled like any fan boy should. Make no mistake; when you first pick it up, it looks really cool, but just try taking the set out of its slip cover. Frustration can and will quickly settle in as you practically have to mangle the inside box taking it in and out of its packaging. Sure, it’s great looking, but it’s just not functional. A hit and miss all at once. Feh. Also, I don’t know about you, but I simply hate double-sided DVD’s. They just seem more delicate to me. Maybe I’m being anal or nuts, but I like keeping my stuff pristine.
The packaging is a minor quibble though and should not detract you from owning this very well put together piece of horror and television history. It’s great to know that whenever I am down, I can always take a stroll to 1313 Mockingbird Lane and hang out with the friendliest faces of my childhood. Even after all these years the magic is still there, and I know Grandpa will always be waiting for me with a cigar and a hot smoking potion!
The Munsters: The Complete Second Season (1965-66)
Universal Home Video
Directed by Norman Abbott and David Alexander
Starring Fred Gwynne, Yvonne De Carlo, Al Lewis, Butch Patrick, Pat Priest
The Munsters: America’s First Family of Fright featurette
Fred Gwynne: More Than a Monster featurette
Yvonne De Carlo: Gilded Lily featurette
Al Lewis: Forever Grandpa featurette
4 out of 5 Mugs O’ Blood