High-concept TV was the name of the game back on television in the 1960s. Classic TV was filled with talking horses (Mr. Ed), witches, genies, and martians living among us (Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie), nuns who could take flight thanks to their unique habit (The Flying Nun) and an annoying mom reincarnated as her son’s car (My Mother the Car). Then there were two unique horror-themed sitcoms in the form of The Addams Family and The Munsters, which premiered the same week in 1964. Coincidence?
Not according to television historian and author Stephen Cox, who has literally written the books on them with The Munsters: A Trip Down Mockingbird Lane and Addams Family Chronicles: An Altogether Ooky Look at the Addams Family. “The two shows being produced for the same season were not a coincidence at all,” he reveals to Closer Weekly in an exclusive interview. “While it’s true The Munsters was in pre-production first with CBS, Addams Family producer David Levy noticed the project and created the concept (with artist Charles Addams) to adapt the drawn characters he’d made famous into living creatures on ABC. They premiered the same week on TV and exited the airwaves the same week two years later.”
While they were similar on surface levels, they each took a unique approach to the material. The Addams Family was, as noted, based on the cartoons of Charles Addams that appeared in The New Yorker while The Munsters took its inspiration from Universal’s classic horror films that ruled the box office decades earlier. Beyond offering up one of TV’s great theme songs, The Addams Family brought to life Gomez, Morticia, Uncle Fester, Grandmama, Wednesday and Pugsley Addams — not to mention Lurch, Thing and Cousin Itt among others. They didn’t terrorize anyone, more than happy living their lives and wondering why people would react so strangely to them.
This is actually one thing both series have in common. The Munsters (which had fun with its horror movie history) consisted of Frankenstein monster Herman, vampiress wife Lily; Lily’s vampire dad, known as Grandpa (who we were led to believe is actually Dracula); Herman and Lily’s son, Eddie “Wolfgang” Munster, who’s a werewolf; and their beautiful, perfectly normal-looking niece Marilyn, who is considered the freak of the family. Each of them thought they were perfectly normal as well, all the problems they encountered coming from society.
Scroll down for more of our interview with Stephen Cox and information on both shows.
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