Judge Paul Corupe hates that he was the freakishly normal person in his family.
Our reviews of The Munsters: The Complete First Season (published September 22nd, 2004), The Munsters: The Complete Second Season (published November 9th, 2005), The Munsters: Family Portrait (published October 16th, 2008), The Munsters' Scary Little Christmas (published November 9th, 2007), and The Munsters: The Complete Series (published October 30th, 2008) are also available.
Hanging some frightening flesh on Universal's bare bones.
Based on Universal's classic monster properties, The Munsters is one of the best remembered sitcoms of the 1960s; a smash hit that transplanted a ghoulish family of creature feature stars to suburbia. Debuting in 1964, the series balanced wholesomely silly schlock with enough clever satire of traditional family shows like Father Knows Best to appeal to kids and adults alike. But the humor of The Munsters is really attributable to the outstanding cast: silver screen beauty Yvonne DeCarlo and Car 54, Where Are You? veterans Fred Gwynne and Al Lewis. Thanks to syndication, The Munsters has remained in the public eye since it first aired, and fans were excited when Universal finally announced their plans to bring out the first season on DVD as a bare bones box set.
Wait a minute—a bare bones release for one of the most popular sitcoms of all time? Well, Image Entertainment to the rescue. Hitting store shelves on the same day as the Munsters: The Complete First Season is The Munsters: The First Family of Fright, two discs of supplemental material meant to cash in on Universal's dreadful omission. The first DVD contains the meat of the presentation, four 45-minute documentaries culled from A&E's Biography, while the second disc features another hour of extras surprises. Let's have each defendant line up and state their case to the court:
• "The Munsters: America's First Family of Fright"
• "Fred Gwynne: More than a Munster"
• "Yvonne DeCarlo: Gilded Lily"
• "Al Lewis: Forever Grandpa"
• Pilot Episode: "My Fair Munster"
• Unaired Main Title Sequence
• "Seven Wonderful Nights"
• CBS Network Promos
• "Wayne & Schuster Take an Affectionate Look at the
• "Marineland Carnival"
• "Big G, Little O"
• Munster, Go Home Theatrical Trailer
• Munster, Go Home TV Spots
• Syndication TV Spots
• Universal Newsreels
• "It's What's Happening, Baby"
• "We Don't Knock"
Not a bad little selection, in all. The only real problem with this DVD is the overlap. There are a few minutes of repeated footage in each of the A&E biographies, and much of the included "rare" film can be found on the second disc. The Cheerios commercial, the Munster, Go Home trailer and the Marineland Carnival promo can all be seen in pretty much their entirety in the documentaries, so their inclusion later is certainly less exciting. Finally, the pilot episode, which also appears on Universal's set, pops up so frequently in this release that I'll be glad not to see it again.
The recently produced documentaries on the first DVD all feature crisp transfers and strong soundtracks. The second disc, made up of almost entirely vintage black and white material, generally looks satisfactory save for the expected source artifacts. The only poor quality segments are the color introduction to the first pilot presentation, and the video-shot Murray the K sketch, which seems particularly warped.
Although some enjoyment is to be derived from this DVD set on its own, it's really meant as a complement to the box set. If you were planning on picking up Universal's set but were disappointed about the lack of extras, The Munsters: The First Family of Fright may be just what you're looking for.
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