"They went to sleep many years ago, and they woke up with a brand new show. They're the Munsters... today!" Or so the theme song goes. Twenty-two years after the original series was canceled, the Munsters returned in a syndicated new show, "The Munsters Today." The original premise was that Grandpa had made the family test his sleeping coffins and a beam in the lab accidentally fell on the dial and set it on "Forever." Finally, someone went to the lab and disturbed the machine, and they awoke. Fortunately, no one had decided to see why bills weren't being paid or decided to see why Marlin and Eddie had stopped going to school and why Herman had stopped going to work. After the family realized it was 1988, things were back to normal. Eddie was enrolled in fourth grade, and Marilyn enrolled in high school (she apparently got younger in those twenty-two years). In the pilot, Mary-Ellen Dunbar's Marilyn was older and more like Beverley Owen and Pat Priest. However, when they started taping new episodes to be aired, Hilary Van Dyke made the Marilyn image younger and "cooler."
As hard as it tried, the show was not like the original. Original props from the original series were used, but the set was different to accommodate a studio audience. Spot's tail was the only thing you could see of him, but he still hung around under the stairs. The Raven was the only other pet that remains, though he eventually disappeared. Grandpa's companion was now Leonard the skeleton that hung around in the lab, replacing his bat Igor. The major visual difference about the show was that it was in color and on video, instead of black and white and on film.
When the second season rolled around, the show changed somewhat. The frozen-in-time concept was dropped and stripped from the theme song. Eddie was now somehow a 9th grader and refused to wear the purple Little Lord Fauntleroy suit anymore. Some season one regulars were dropped as well. By season three, there was almost no action in the kitchen. None of the seasons showed any of the bedrooms or the upstairs, except the mirror in one bathroom. In three seasons from 1988 to 1991, there were 72 episodes, which is only two more than the original series. Only a few of the episodes were remakes from the original series.
Of all the Munster incarnations, "The Munsters Today" is infamously known as the poorest quality one. This is of course often the case with remakes, especially for ones that run long enough to become well known. Despite this, many people are less critical and love the show, because they grew up with it before they saw the original series to compare. Lee Meriwether's and Howard Morton's interpretations of Lily and Grandpa are well done and certain episodes are actually very enjoyable. One has to wonder, though, why don't they seem to remember waking up seven years earlier at Halloween to stop the diabolical Dr. Diablo and his wax museum of terror?
CAST John Schuck as Herman, Lee Meriwether as Lily, Howard Morton as Grandpa, Hilary Van Dyke as Marilyn, Jason Marsden as Eddie, Mary-Ellen Dunbar as Marilyn (pilot).