It seems that network executives now use a different approach to finding success in their programming departments. That particular technique appears to be taking the stance of no faith in a particular pilot and airing the show as a mid-season replacement or special. When done in said way, most of those mid-season replacements and specials end up becoming unexpected hits and turned into a successful series.
Whether that points to a lack of astuteness in network suits scoping out hits, it frequently works without fail and typically trumps what we see premiered in the fall schedule. In the case of the NBC special "Mockingbird Lane" on Oct. 26, we see NBC trying something beyond different. Although you have to assume NBC is using the above-mentioned tactic with the thought the public wants "The Munsters" rebooted more than the network suits do.
Abstractly, "The Munsters" reconstituted into a modern day world sounds like an idea that should be left in a slush pile. The original show is such a campy part of the 1960s that the thought of contemporary actors dressed in monster makeup conjures thoughts of a rehashed "Saturday Night Live" sketch. You can imagine the dilemma a network suit had, though, when told that this new Munster clan wouldn't necessarily be wearing monster makeup and look closer to human.
That was perhaps enough to give the project a green light when the trend is on to make our classic monsters look more like one of us. The only exception to that, of course, are zombies. But then, "Mockingbird Lane" may have the misfortune of not having misunderstood zombies lumbering around the house and neighborhood.
What "Mockingbird Lane" does have is the chance to show the same social satire bent "The Munsters" had while still being believable. With the recent success of "Hotel Transylvania" in theaters, that isolation of the monster universe from the human world is back on as an interesting arena to explore. Nevertheless, where "Hotel Transylvania" went back to the physical traits of Frankenstein and Dracula, "Mockingbird Lane's" Herman Munster (Jerry O' Connell) looks like he could safely walk in a local park, save a scar on his neck.
This relatable aspect to the monster world is why NBC may be surprised at the ratings surge for "Mockingbird Lane" on Oct. 26 when paired with "Grimm." Should it become a series, it would make a perfect counterpart to "Grimm" on Friday nights, where monsters are also humanized under disguise. It also fits the bill for the new popular genre of the macabre that dominates TV and even movies for kids.
Yet, can a satire in the macabre genre exist with the others that take themselves seriously? NBC may have no choice but to include it. The only question is whether a "Mockingbird Lane" success will finally change network opinion to the point where riskier endeavors won't be second thoughts and instead placed deliberately on fall schedules.