Last October, Mockingbird Lane was dumped. The show aired as a Friday night Halloween special with a lack of promotion, three unfinished scenes, and a time slot set up for failure. Nonetheless, the modern update of CBS’s The Munsters raked in 5.6 million viewers that night. That’s a sizable audience for a Friday night one-off program.
Ultimately, NBC concluded not to pickup the show for a full season order, but while speaking with writer/producer Bryan Fuller, he said the network might not be done with the creepy family from 1313 Mockingbird Lane.
Here’s what Fuller had to say about how the show fit his interests, where the first season would’ve gone, and why we might see more from that side of the street:
What about for Mockingbird Lane? How did that tie into the themes you’re interested in?
Mockingbird Lane, they were so connected as a family. And for Herman and his role in Mockingbird Lane, he was a guy who was sort of created. And his father-in-law made him who he is literally. And so, his connection was always about defending his family and doing what was right. Even though he was an amalgam of so many different people, he still wanted to be a father, and a husband, and was on his own kind of heroic journey of doing what was right for his son. As a parent of a special needs child, that metaphor of doing everything you can to carve a path in the world for your children to travel as easy as they can.
What I like about Mockingbird Lane and what I miss about Mockingbird Lane is that it was fun to write a functional family unit, and that these people were all connected. And it was kind of like they were disconnected from the rest of the world, but they were so connected to each other that it had this romantic quality of togetherness. As sort of the youngest child of five, it was satisfying creatively to write a family story that was coming from a completely different angle.
I miss Mockingbird Lane. I would have loved to have travel in that world a bit longer.
Did your thoughts change about the show after it didn’t get picked up?
Well, since it was a one-off and not a series, for me, I had plotted an entire season and had all of these arcs and these stories. So it lived on in my mind very clearly because I knew where everybody was going and I knew what stories were coming down the pike for each of those characters. I’m just sad that I don’t get to share it with an audience or with the cast that I loved.
What we aired was an incomplete pilot. It was missing three scenes. And so, it was frustrating on one hand because it wasn’t finished. There were two big Lily scenes where you really got to know who she was and what she was about. So, in my mind, when we were making it I was like, “Okay, well, when we go to series we will add those scenes and it will be a complete picture.” And then NBC was like, “Well, let’s air it as-is.” And it wasn’t finished. It wasn’t complete. I feel like even though we went on at eight o’clock on a Friday night, which is one of the worst time slots, and we got better ratings than everything on NBC except for The Voice and Revolution. We had better ratings than anything that’s been on Thursday night for a couple of years and did it with no advertising and with the curiosity of the brand and the reimagining of the brand.
And, frankly, with a lot of Ellen DeGeneres’s promotion, because she got behind the show and promoted it off-network and was totally supportive. We didn’t have a single magazine ad, or billboard, or poster, or anything and we still had almost six million people watching us on a Friday night at eight o’clock. So I feel like it was a missed opportunity for the network.
Were those three scenes not completed because of time or special effects?
Yes to both.
What ideas did you have for that first season?
There were quite a few in terms of who we were going to meet in terms of the extended family. We were going to meet the creature from the Black Lagoon. We were going to go back in time to the Paris Opera House and see how grandpa and Lily factored into the Phantom of the Opera and Lily’s relationship with her sister, and how she came to adopt Marilyn, and those kind of family issues where very exciting for me to write about. And, also, as a horror fan, I was thrilled to be able to play with those iconic characters.
And so, episodes like what happens in a neighborhood watch in the next full moon and how the family kind of rallies together to not only protect the neighborhood from not just one, but two werewolves, because Uncle Les, who we know from the, if you are a hardcore Munster’s fan, was the werewolf uncle. All of those issues about his estrangement.
So there were a lot of stories…basically, any story that you could tell on parenthood, we could tell with monsters, which already makes it more interesting for me.
Would you ever consider putting that first season out as a comic book or another medium?
Yeah, I still hope…When they said they weren’t moving forward with the show, the kind of soft pedaled letdown was, “Perhaps we’ll redevelop this.” So you just never know. It’s certainly a rich world to be telling stories in. The fact that we did so well with so little promotion and a terrible time slot shows that there is an audience for it.