Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Addams Family

This weekend, Mrs. Blog and I will be making the trek to Hollywood's Pantages Theater to see the national touring company of the Broadway musical The Addams Family.

The Blog admits that he is looking forward to this with some trepidation. Here's why.

The Addams Family is one of those iconic things from The Blog's youth that they had just better not fuck up.

"Re-imagine" The Munsters all you want. That's what one of the networks, can't recall which one, (ABC, maybe?) is going to do next season with the intriguing Mockingbird Lane. Hey! What the fuck?! Bryan Singer (House, M.D. and X-Men) and Bryan Fuller (Pushing Daisies) are involved. So it has to be cool. Right? And, while The Blog loved the sitcom story of the Frankenstein monster and his suburban family, it was just not even close to as hip as The Addams clan.

(Breaking news.... Jerry O'Connell has just been cast as Herman Munster in the new series. Yep! It keeps getting cooler!)

Your old Uncle PC loved The Addams Family. Still does. Not just the 1960's sitcom, but the original cartoons from the New Yorker magazine by Chas. Addams that inspired the show. By the time I was 13-years-old, I owned every compilation of the original cartoons that had ever been published.

Dark. Subversive. Totally wrong. And, hilariously funny!

Now, I've got to tell you. The Addams Family movies starring Raul Julia, Anjelica Houston, Christopher Lloyd and Christian Ricci were brilliant. Better, even, than the sitcom.

(Full disclosure... FotB (Friend of the Blog) John Franklin (Children of the Corn's ubber creepy "Isaac" played the movie's "Cousin Itt." John! I hope that you will "ego search" yourself on Google and find this post. Check in, dude!)

(The Blog loves that the TV show he currently works on is shot on the very sound stage that those movies were filmed on!)

And a Saturday morning, animated version made in the '90s was pretty good. 

But, there have been some clunkers.

The third movie, Addams Family Reunion, shot after Raul Julia's passing, went straight to DVD. The Blog has never seen it, but, seriously, it went straight to DVD.

Know what I mean?

(Okay, so Tim Curry plays Gomez and Daryl Hannah is Morticia. The Blog may have to put it in his Netflix cue. Because that does, actually, sound pretty awesome!)

According to IMDb, there was a late 1990s series called The New Addams Family, a Canadian production that starred people no one has ever heard of. Evidently, it ran for 65 episodes on "Fox Family" before Disney bought them out. That's, HOLLY SHIT, three seasons! I've never heard of it. An IMDb review says it was "not that bad." So, maybe The Blog will have to check it out.

But, let's go back to the 1970s.

That decade brought us a Saturday morning animated series that put the family in a haunted, Victorian style RV and had them crossing the country learning lessons about the environment. (in the 1970s, all Saturday morning cartoons had to teach a lesson. Goddamn! The '70s were an awful time for cartoon entertainment!) On the plus side, most of the original TV series cast provided the voices.

Here is a stunning bit of trivia for you...

Ken Weatherwax, the original Puglsey Addams, reprised his role for an "unknown" number of episodes. For the rest if the episodes, the voice of Pugsley was provided by the past and future Oscar winner Jodie Foster!

Go ahead! Win a few bar bets with that bit of knowledge!

The Broadway production of The Addams Family musical was savaged by the critics. The reviews were toxic! Audiences disagreed. For nearly two years, the show played mostly sold out shows. The Blog doesn't really care how bad the show may have been. Nathan Lane as Gomez and Bebe Neuerth as Morticia? Priceless!

The touring show made some substantial changes to the music and plot line. The current reviews are tepid to, sort of, positive. So, that may be okay, As long as I am entertained for my nearly $100 per ticked cost, I'm cool with that.

Here is what I know about the show, going into it...

The now grown up Wednesday Addams has fallen in love with a "normal" boy from Ohio. The boy's ultra-conservative parents are coming to dinner to meet "The Family."

Where have I heard this plot before?

Oh. Right. This is basically, what we action figure collecting nerds would call a "repaint."

La Cage au Folles, anyone? La Cage au Bats. maybe?

Fine. As long as I am entertained for two hours, I'm okay with that.

Here is The Blog's point.

No matter how off base, no matter how not good the production may be...

The Blog witnessed the absolutely worst version of The Addams Family that ever went down. A single episode of a show, (presumably a failed pilot. Further research confirms this assumption,) so obscure that even IMDb has no listing for it. A show so "what were they smoking?"  bad that it makes The Brady Bunch Variety Hour seem like great television.

It was called The Addams Family Fun House.

(Since The Blog wrote the above, He put on his "investigative journalist's" hat and did a Google search. Because, frankly, The Blog started thinking, "It was the late '70s. Maybe it was a question of what I was smoking?" In the vast world of the internets, Google found exactly two references to this abortion of a show. One was a question on a message board. Some collector looking for a video of this pilot. Either an Addams completist or a total masochist. The other, a passing paragraph on the Palely Center's website that confirms that the pilot actually existed. God bless the kids at the Palely Center. A bunch of disturbingly damaged television addicts who found a way to turn their television obsession into a paycheck and an academic endeavor. Not one of the cast members lists it on their resumé, Not even Butch Patrick (see the next paragraph) who, let's be honest, post Munsters, has had a career that has, mostly, consisted of being "the guy who used to be Eddie Munster." )

The Addams Family Funhouse starred Jack Riley (The Bob Newhart Show's "Mr. Carlin") as Gomez, Liz Torres (a '70s television character actress staple) as Morticia,  a bizarrely cast Pat McCormack who, besides being tall, looked nothing like the Karloffian Lurch as... well... Lurch. And, in one of the weirdest bits of stunt casting ever, the by then adult "Eddie Munster", Butch Patrick, as Pugsley. (Great minds think alike. The Palely site called Butch Patrick's casting as Pugsley "bizarre.")

Even the Paley site doesn't mentioned that the pilot actually aired at some point. But, it did. The Blog actually saw it.

In a nutshell, this God-awfull pilot played like The Addams Family meets Laugh-In as written by a bunch of borscht belt comics. There was even a Laugh -In style "dance party" interrupted by lame one-liners.

So, I don't know how bad The Addams Family: The Musical can be. But, it can't be as emotionally scarring as The Addams Family Fun House was.

All kidding aside.... A quick "shout out" to the folks at The Paley Center for Media.
What an amazing resource they have compiled! The Blog predicts that he is going to waste spend a lot of time on their incredible site!

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