TV: The Munsters
In 1964, a curious thing happened. Two sitcoms debuted, both featuring families with a touch of horror - "The Addams Family" and "The Munsters." Both ran for only two seasons, with their last episodes coming within a week of each other. But only one would burn itself into my subconscious:
If you've never seen an episode of "The Munsters," imagine a family composed of classic monsters - Dracula (Grandpa), Frankenstein's Monster (Herman), The Wolf Man (Eddie), and Frankenstein's Bride (Lily) - that thinks it's a completely normal member of suburbia. Headed by Herman, the pater familias, the easy jokes come fast - Herman cracks every mirror he looks into, Grandpa always comes up with zany experiments, etc. Delving deeper, however, you can see a complicated look at the experience of an immigrant or minority family trying to blend in with society. I'm not sure it was the writer's intention, but "The Munsters" has a lot of meaning for any transplanted family dealing with a foreign land.
As a kid, though, I watched the Munsters' adventures at 1313 Mockingbird Lane because it was slapstick entertainment. The actors were veterans, and every situation was played for maximum laughs. It's tough to have truly romantic sitcom scenes when you're covered in makeup, but by golly, Fred Gwynne and Yvonne De Carlo made it work.
My favorite character was Marilyn, played by Pat Priest. As a beautiful blonde-haired woman in a family of monsters, she was constantly loved but pitied by everyone else for her "plain" looks. Priest really managed to sell it; Marilyn looked resigned to her fate, but was always supportive of the rest of the family. A lot of people are unaware that for the first 13 episodes, there was a different actress playing Marilyn. 13 episodes. Hmm. I wonder what happened to her?