Saturday, March 14, 2015

Saturday Morning Cult-TV Blogging: The Secrets of Isis: "The Show-Off"

In “The Show-Off,” an episode of Isis originally aired November 1, 1975, a high-school kid named Steve (Harry Gold) nearly falls off the school roof after climbing a ladder while trying to hang a banner. 

Isis (Joanna Cameron) rescues him, but Harry is embarrassed.  He feels the need to show off, in part, he says, because he is short.

Later, on a school camping trip, Cindy Lee (Joanna Pang) gets her foot stuck in a bear trap and Steve tries to impress her by saving her himself, instead of asking for help.

This time Andrea comes to the rescue, and tells him that there is no shame in needing help, and that he should concentrate on doing well the things he loves.  To that end, Steve is an ornithologist.  

Know thyself,” Isis recommends, stressing the importance of Steve being himself.

After over-coming his need to show off, Steve and Rick (Brian Cutler) get trapped in a mountain cave with Rofu, an angry, runaway gorilla. 

Of course, this necessitates another rescue from Mighty Isis…

“The Show Off” alters the standard Isis formula a bit.  Usually, the story finds Isis trying to help a kid who has done something bad.  She shows up just in time to help him realize how wrong-headed he’s been about something (like bragging, or handling a dangerous gun). 

But this week, Isis and Steve resolve Steve’s problem -- showing off -- and the third act involves an unrelated (and odd…) matter: an out-of-control, runaway gorilla.

And what a gorilla it is.  Rofu is a man in a suit, and this just may be the worst gorilla costume you’ll find on seventies television.  But I wonder who came up with the idea of making a runaway gorilla the threat of the week, especially in an episode about showing-off.

Whatever. It was the seventies, right?

In terms of her ever increasing stable of powers, Isis demonstrates in “The Show Off” her ability to control animals, and bend them to her will.  “I have a way with animals,” she note simply, and then observes that she and Rofu will now be “lifelong friends.”  A few episodes back, Isis tangled with an angry bear, but instead of communicating with it peacefully, as she does with Rofu, she trapped it and startled it by surrounding it with a ring of fire.

Next week: “The Outsider.”

Saturday Morning Cult-TV Blogging: Bigfoot and Wildboy: "Prisoner from Space"

In “Prisoner from Space,” two scientists follow the trajectory of an alien spaceship as it lands in the Southwest. 

A dome-headed extraterrestrial being with monstrous abilities -- including paralysis rays -- disembarks from the craft and sets out for a nearby nuclear power plant to recharge himself.

Bigfoot and Wildboy realize the being is a prisoner has escaped from captivity and that he will be unstoppable on Earth if he absorbs the power he needs…

Bigfoot and Wildboy go up against another colorful villain on this week’s episode of the 1970s Sid and Marty Krofft Saturday morning program.  The alien prisoner here looks a lot like a Newcomer from the 1980s sci-fi franchise Alien Nation, and wears a vampire cape to boot, which grants him a sense of menace. 

This alien can also shoot eye-drop like “paralysis” or freeze beams from his eyes.  His victims “freeze” when the editor freezes the film.

Where other Saturday morning superheroes such as Isis and Shazam grow tiring after a time because they live in such mundane reality, Bigfoot and Wildboy is more entertaining and ingenious, though authentically weird at times. 

This episode, while not as far out as “Amazon Contest,” is nonetheless a strange one.  The evil alien bellows “I must have more power,” at one point, for instance, and the camp factor is high.  Later, an adolescent Wildboy -- not yet of driving age, I would wager -- takes over steering a car at one point, pushing aside a more experienced female scientist driver in the process.  Did Bigfoot teach him how to drive?  Now that’s a scene I would have loved to see depicted.

At the very least, this entry (from the 1979 independent series and not the Krofft Show omnibus) features some new or different footage of Bigfoot jumping into the air and sticking his landing.  Additionally, it appears that the series received a budget boost when it broke loose from the omnibus, because one scene actually depicts Bigfoot jumping up to the girders of a high (real life) tower to rescue Wild Boy, and then jumping down.  That’s a new wrinkle.

Finally, there’s a nifty little concept at the heart of this one, that aliens jettison their prisoners into space capsules, getting rid of the problem for their species, but causing lots of problems for the unlucky destination cultures.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Happy Friday the 13th: Jason X (2002)

How time flies! Another Friday the 13th is now upon us. 

Last month I gazed at Friday the 13th Part VII: A New Blood (1988), as well as the landmark 1980 original.

Today, I want to look at the only Friday the 13th film (other than Freddy vs. Jason [2004], I suppose), not to actually carry the Friday the 13th brand name: Jason X (2002).

Jason X is a huge departure for the slasher series because it is set in the distant future…and in outer space. The film is also one of the lowest-grossing entries in the sturdy franchise, which means, perhaps, that audiences didn’t take too well to its many departures from the norm.

But I’ll tell you right now, straight-up: I love Jason X.

It’s an utterly ridiculous movie that tosses Friday the 13th, Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987 – 1994) and Aliens (1986) into a blender and comes up with one weird -- but also highly inventive -- horror film. The movie possesses a sense of joy about itself, and its own ridiculousness. The vibe is pure, anarchic glee.

While it’s true that the film is never overtly scary or suspenseful, Jason X is undeniably fun, gross, and ingenious. A few of the kills are downright inspired in conception and execution, especially the one involving a giant corkscrew, and another involving a doctor’s face dipped in liquid nitrogen.

Yet one particular moment in the film strides above all the rest, and deserves absolute, adoring respect.  

Late in the film, a cyborg version of Jason stumbles into a holodeck version of Camp Crystal Lake, and encounters two nubile young women (actually computer-generated distractions...) who proclaim -- loudly -- their love for premarital sex.  

Reverting to form, Jason stops to kill them, but the trick is that the avatars are designed just for that purpose, to appeal to his draconian (or perhaps Victorian...) sense of vice-precedes slice-or-dice morality.

I could watch this scene in Jason X a dozen times and not get tired of it. In part, this is so because the sleeping bag kill (my favorite in the series) is resurrected, and in part because the Friday the 13th franchise finally acknowledges on screen -- in true post-modern fashion -- its enduring subtext.  

You pay.  You fuck…you’re out of luck. 

Lest we forget, the original franchise came about as the Reagan Revolution unfolded in our nation, and a tide of conservatism swept the country.  These films -- though despised by conservatives -- are very much about that draconian, black-and-white world view. If you engage in premarital sex or smoke weed...Jason's going to kill you.  

So be good for goodness sake!

But back to Jason X. Any film that is willing to wink at the the entire saga's central conceit is seriously deserving of some love and respect.  

Accordingly, I bow down before Jason X. It may not be good in any tangible artistic sense, but it sure is knowing, nasty and entertaining as hell.

“I’ve seen worse.”

In 2010, at the Crystal Lake Research Facility, Jason Voorhees (Kane Hodder) escapes captivity. A resourceful scientist, Rowan (Lexa Doig) manages to freeze him in a cryogenic unit, but not before being wounded and succumbing to the cryo-gases as well.

Four hundred years later, in 2455, a class of students explores the now abandoned, environmentally-ravaged planet Earth.  There, students uncover Jason and Rowan at the ancient facility, and bring back the frozen life-forms to their ship.  

Professor Lowe (Jonathan Potts), their teacher, sees an opportunity to make a profit.

When Rowan is awakened, she expresses concern about Jason, but Dr. Lowe assures her he is very dead. 

But Jason has never stayed dead for long, and this time is no exception...

“He just wants his machete back!”

Despite their charms, the Friday the 13th movies are repetitive in the extreme. Most of the films involve a lumbering killer (either Jason or his Mom) knocking off camp counselors under cover of approaching storm at scenic Camp Crystal Lake.  You get the scene involving pre-marital sex...and death.  Of smoking weed...and death.  Of skinny-dipping..and death. 

And then you get the tour of the dead, in which Jason has propped up all the bodies, so the Final Girl can run through them all like a fun house carnival. Then you get the coup de grace in which Jason apparently dies, and some twist-in-the-tail/tale that promises yet another sequel.  

Later movies throw in variations of the format, like adding a Carrie knock-off, or visiting Manhattan, but Jason X, perhaps, is the first of the franchise to turn its eyes towards wholesale assimilation of science fiction tropes.

Not surprisingly, Star Trek is a major inspiration, particularly The Next Generation. A major character, for instance, is a sentient android named Key-Em 14 (Lisa Ryder), who adapts to different environments, likes to role-play and is, apparently, fully-functional just like our old friend Mr. Data (Brent Spiner).  

Also appropriated from the Next Generation is the conceit of the holodeck, a kind of virtual reality chamber where reality can be re-molded to different settings based on user input.  As is the case on the Enterprise D, the space crew we meet in Jason X uses the holodeck for training and recreational purposes.

The Alien film series is also a major influence here. In particular, Rowan (Lexa Doig), plays basically the same role in Jason X as Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) does in Aliens (1986). Consider the specifics: She is awakened from a long cryo-sleep to contend with a threat that only she has direct, first-person information about. In Aliens, that threat is the xenomorph from LV-426. In Jason X, of course, it is Mr. Voorhees. 

Similarly, both Rowan and Ripley continually act as a brand of Cassandra figure. They warn all those around them about what will happen once the threat is encountered, but they are ignored until it is too late.

Similarly, Rowan is surrounded by other figures you may recognize from Aliens.  That film also had an android, named Bishop (Lance Henriksen), of course.  But there’s Sgt. Brodski (Peter Mensah) in Jason X, a dedicated fighter and protector who makes a good stand-in for Michael Biehn’s Hicks.  And then there’s the Carter Burke surrogate, an avaricious teacher more interested in profit than safety: greedy Professor Lowe (Jonathan Potts).

These qualities and characters might be decried as cheap or obvious shots at more popular film/TV franchises, and yet I can’t really quibble with how Jason X utilizes them. It’s not a movie’s subject matter that counts, remember, but the ways in which a movie explores that subject matter. In this case, the futuristic trappings provide two great moments in Friday the 13th history.

The first such moment involves sick bay Nanites or nano-bots (another idea familiar to us from the Trek-verse) that re-build Jason as a half-flesh/half-metal juggernaut. I loved the idea of Jason getting a dramatic visual and technological upgrade so late in his cinematic life. There’s a great moment of Frankenstein-like portentousness here as the Nanites swarm down on Jason’s corpse and bring it back to life in this new, flesh-and-steel form.

Secondly, there’s that holodeck moment I mentioned in my introduction above. The survivors of the spaceship realize that Jason can’t resist temptation. He sees gorgeous, nubile camp counselors…and…must…kill them.  The urge is too strong for him to overcome. Frankly, this is a perfect movie moment, an inspiration that could emerge, finally, only from synthesizing so many disparate creative sources, and from accurate recognition of Friday the 13th's symbolic legacy and "meaning."

I also appreciate the film’s ending, which finds Jason careening to Earth Two like a falling star, and landing in the proximity of a body of water.  This is New Crystal Lake, a perfect place for him to take up old (murderous) habits, and so one can view the whole movie as a kind of origin story that gets Jason Voorhees -- urban legend -- from Point A to Point B.

I realize fully that outer space tends not to be a fertile terrain for established horror franchises. Hellraiser and Leprechaun have both gone to the stars, only to experience severe orbital decay. I would argue that Jason X doesn’t suffer the same inglorious fate. Instead, the film gets better, moment to moment, one cribbed inspiration to the next, until it reaches that moment of bliss with the holographic camp counselors.

Was it a mistake sending Jason to space? The Friday the 13th  saga has made worse mistakes, frankly. Going to 3-D in 1982 didn’t make for great entertainment in my book. Tossing out a Jason impostor in A New Beginning (1985) is also a low-point. And of course, Jason in Manhattan (taking the city alongside the Muppets, presumably), is an historic misstep. Especially since the Big Apple looks more like Toronto in that eighth Friday film. 

None of those films, I would suggest, showcase the audacity to go big, to go weird with such apparent confidence. You might laugh a lot during Jason X, but you're laughing with the film, not at it.

Jason X captures well the idea that I expressed here a few weeks ago, and which I often attempt to explain to my son. That idea is simply that horror movies don’t always need to be serious and grim if they can have fun with their ideas, and move the ball a few yards down the field.  

Jason X features some cool special effects, a well-developed sense of humor, and a worthy upgrade for a durable movie monster. Throw in a fun cameo by genre great David Cronenberg and an utterly ridiculous scene involving Jason just wanting “his machete back,” and you have all the ingredients for a good time at the movies.

Soon after Jason X, the 2009 re-boot came along, and started the whole damn cycle over again, eliminating humor and silliness from Jason's DNA, and taking the scatter shot world of Friday the 13th very seriously. 

Over-seriously, if you ask me. 

To this day, I prefer the crazy ingenuity of Jason X.

Movie Trailer: Jason X (2002)

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Guest Post: October Gale (2015)

Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before; October Gale is a remake of 20 better films

By Jonas Schwartz

One wishes Patricia Clarkson gave a bored, lazy performance in October Gale. By all rights, she should be yawning, filing her nails, and rolling her eyes during every moment of this trite melodrama “thriller” while waiting for a large paycheck.

But the Oscar nominee gives a fully-invested performance, putting more thought into the character of Dr Helen Matthews than the script and pedestrian direction deserves, and probably for a very small paycheck based on the film’s overall low budget.

As a storm gathers on an isolated Canadian island, Dr. Matthews, still mourning the loss of her dear husband, finds a wounded young man at her doorstep. She takes the mysterious William (Scott Speedman) in, healing him but she suspects he could be a dangerous man.  He won’t admit who shot him and why he’s fleeing. Is he a victim or a criminal?  As the rain starts to fall, Helen discovers there’s more to fear from the outside and that no one is coming to save her.

If this sounds like the synopsis of a Touched By An Angel episode, it’s entirely possible. What it’s not is a compelling plot for 90-minutes. The story generates zero suspense.  Even the characters seem to care little about the danger. When unknown assailants are about to take siege, Helen and William play an un-cinematic game of cribbage.

Being a gifted actress, Clarkson reads between the lines in the script and allows Helen’s agony to simmer throughout the film. In one moment, Helen falls in the lake The camera focuses on her as Clarkson luminously evokes a sense of peace. All the sadness could go away if she just stays underwater and drowns. Her thoughts can be read clearly. It’s a moment that deserves to be in a stronger film.

Tim Roth, another dramatic dynamo, arrives late in the tale. He too refuses to phone in a performance, even though his character is given no shadings, no real heft.

Writer-Director Ruba Nadda does capture some fine visual compositions, including a shot in which Speedman and Clarkson are framed in a window as they await their assailants. The camera pulls back until a downpour overwhelms the screen, symbolizing the chaos entering their lives. There is a sense of space in the photography: The lake house encased by a blustery day, dark clouds looming and rustling trees, the calmness of the Georgian Bay getting choppier and choppier.

The dreamy soundtrack by Mischa Chillak is haunting with emotional songs by alternative pop artist Agnes Obel.

Nadda had the pieces in place for an interesting film, strong actors, dazzling photography, and a lingering score. 

Without an intriguing storyline though, all that talent has been wasted.

Jonas Schwartz is a voting member of the Los Angeles Drama Critics, and the West Coast Critic for TheaterMania. Check out his “Jonas at the Movies” reviews at Maryland Nightlife.

The Films of 1991: Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey

The difference between the two Bill and Ted movies is a profound and noteworthy one. 

Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989) is a low-brow comedy about two dumb dudes from San Dimas.  

Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey (1991) by contrast is a high-brow comedy about the same dumb dudes.

Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey is not only more intricately plotted than its predecessor was -- featuring an authentically Orphean journey to the Underworld -- but its comedy is much more layered and sophisticated too.

Before it finishes up, this film jabs science fiction tropes, and Star Trek (1966-1969), specifically, but also patiently (and humorously) develops a satire based on Ingmar Bergman’s masterpiece, The Seventh Seal (1967).

The result is a film that never has a dull moment, and is never less than searingly funny. The big problem with Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure is that, outside the Napoleon character -- who was given substantial screen time -- none of the historical figures the duo encountered came across as real characters, only one-note jokes.

In Bogus Journey, Bill and Ted meet Death -- the Grim Reaper (William Sadler) -- and he is a great character: vain, insecure, over-confident and silly as hell.  The two (alien?) scientists from Heaven (!), Station also grab the spotlight for a while, and are genuinely amusing. 

Finally, the creative decision to add a real villain in the person of De Nomolos (Joss Ackland) -- someone dead set against Bill and Ted’s inevitable success -- grants the film a sense of urgency and import that the original lacked.

It is relatively rare for a genre sequel to thoroughly out-strip the source material, but in the case of Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey, that’s the real story.  The film’s cerebral approach to comedy elevates this 1991 film, and expands the reach of the franchise in dramatic fashion.

In fact, Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey is so good it’s a genuine shame a second sequel has never been produced.

“Get down and give me infinity!”

Bill Preston (Alex Winter) and Theodore Logan (Keanu Reeves) approach “the second crucial point in their destiny,” the San Dimas Battle of the Bands…which is televised.

But in the far future world that worships them, the evil De Nomolos (Ackland) sends homicidal Bill and Ted lookalike robots back in time to sabotage the duo’s chances at the show, and -- preferably -- kill them. 

Rufus (George Carlin) manages to enter the time vortex after the robots, but is soon determined to be missing.

Back in the 20th century, the two robots do their dirty work. They drive Bill and Ted out to Vasquez Rocks and murder them.  

Now restless spirits, Bill and Ted attempt to possess the living, and communicate at a séance, and then end up relegated to  the pits of Hell.

They escape from Hell by challenging the Grim Reaper (Sadler) to a game, or several games, to be more accurate.  

They beat him at Twister (following games of Battleship and Clue), and force Death to bring them back to life.  The Grim Reaper complies, and then takes them to Heaven, where Bill and Ted petition God to help defeat the evil robots.

God provides a great scientist/creature called “Station” to help out, but the Battle of the Bands is nearing, and the evil robots have captured the princesses!

“I think we’re in our own personal Hell.”

Like Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey gets a lot of mileage out of the boys’ manner of expression. 

It was odd and amusing hearing them use surfer speak in various historical contexts in the first film, but even funnier to witness them address beings of Heaven and Hell in this one. 

How’s it going, Beelzabub?” for instance, or “How’s it hanging, Death?”  

Also, it’s impossible not to laugh at the moment here in which Bill and Ted pull a Uranus joke on the Almighty Lord. And,-- ridiculously -- this moment comes after they have mugged peaceful souls arriving in Heaven and stolen their clothes.

But Bill and Ted’s manner of speech isn’t the only joke worth noting here, and that’s what makes Bogus Journey so much fun.  

This films throws up the sci-fi cliché or trope of evil android duplicates, and then puts them in a plot that directly reflects a Star Trek episode.  

Specifically, Bill and Ted watch “Arena” on TV...the episode with Kirk fighting the Gorn at Vasquez Rocks.  We view footage of William Shatner at that famous natural landmark on their TV set.  Then, in the very next scene, we get identical shots of Bill and Ted at the same locale, fighting their own enemy.

Later, the target for satire is Ingmar Bergman’s lugubrious The Seventh Seal. 

In that film, Max Von Sydow’s character, Antonius Block, plays a chess game with Death -- a monk-like, bald-figure in a black cowl -- for his survival. The chess game is a symbol in the Swedish film, and it is believed, by the movie's characters, that no force can beat death. For humans, it is always check and mate, sooner or later.

In Bill and Ted, however, Death plays the dudes in a variety of board games, and loses every match.  

The film features a very funny scene involving several different popular games as Death is beaten -- a terrible player, apparently -- again and again.  The final interlude of this montage involves Twister.

Other scenes also hit just the right notes. There’s a short scene near the beginning of the film when Bill and Ted -- now dead -- possess the bodies of two police officers in their fifties (played by Hal Linden Jr., and Roy Brocksmith). 

Suddenly these aging, balding men in their fifties begin gesticulating and talking like surfers, and the scene earns some big laughs.

The scenes in Hell don’t last that long, but manage to be both amusing and disturbing. Bill, for example, must attend to his ancient, hairy-lipped, lip-smacking grandmother…who wants a sloppy wet kiss.  And Ted contends with a demonic, animatronic Easter Bunny.

They also go to the hellish equivalent of Military School, where they are ordered to drop and do "infinity" push ups.

The difference in approach between the films is telling. There’s no real comedy in the time travel scenes of the original, wherein Bill and Ted meet Socrates, or Billy the Kid for example. These moments are devoid of any pacing or real humor. They just kind of land with a thud.

But in Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey, the screenwriters move effortlessly from joke to joke, from Star Trek gag to Grim Reaper gag, from, possession gag to Hell gag, to Heaven gag, and so on. The film veritably speeds by on its humorous high points, and ends before you can think twice about any gaps in logic.

Alas, there are a few. 

Rufus established in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure that time runs on always-moving tracks. In other words, the clock continues for time travelers even when they are traveling.  

But in Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey, the duo violates this rule, able to leave the Battle of the Bands to learn how to play guitar, and then come back to that very moment in time, as if no duration elapsed. Given the rules established in the first film, how'd they manage this?

A little more thought about how time travel works in this universe would have made the film all the stronger.

On the other hand, this sequel does expand the franchise universe in other memorable ways.  We see the depths of Hell, the architecture of Heaven, and even Bill and Ted University in the future. The original film had all of human history to explore, and yet felt like a cheap TV show.  

By comparison, Bogus Journey is as big and weird as existence itself.

One key reason that Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey succeeds goes by the name of William Sadler.  

He’s been baddies (Die Harder [1990]) and a supporting, fatherly figure (Roswell) before, but the actor demonstrates real comedy chops as the Grim Reaper in this film. He comes off as pathetic, desperate, and a hanger-on, but ultimately, a worthy ally for the non-judgmental Bill and Ted. He's a great sidekick and foil for the duo, a would-be regal figure brought to a point far below his ostensible dignity.

Finally, this sequel conforms to one of my favorite rock movie cliches of all time: A great rock show can change the world (to quote Jack Black in 2004's School of Rock).  

That's very much what happens here, as Bill and Ted's music changes the fabric of reality itself. The film's end credits amusingly feature magazine covers charting the rise of Wyld Stallyns and Bill and Ted to ever greater heights (including a mission to Mars).

Bill and Ted may go through Hell, literally, during their bogus journey, but for this reviewer, the 1991 sequel is actually a lot closer to Heaven, with nearly every crazy, inventive gag hitting its mark, and hitting it hard.

Movie Trailer: Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey (1991)

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Late Night Blogging: The Munsters

The Munsters: "My Fair Munster" (October 1, 1964)

In “My Fair Munster,” another boyfriend drops Marilyn (Beverly Owen, and Grandpa (Al Lewis) decides to do something about it. He concocts in his basement laboratory a love potion that will make her irresistible to all who set eyes on her. 

Grandpa puts the potion in Marilyn’s oatmeal, but Marilyn skips breakfast, and Herman (Fred Gwynne) and Lily (Yvonne De Carlo) end up eating the love potion.

Before long, the mailman, Mr. Bloom (John Fiedler) is madly in love with Lily, and the nosy neighbor, Yolanda Cribbins (Claire Carleton) is in love with Herman…

Funnily enough, “My Fair Munster,” the second episode of The Munsters (1964 – 1966) is something of a bedroom farce.

This format, a forerunner to the Theatre of the Absurd, is known for its strange sexual pairings, and the running through and slamming of various household doors.  The form features a mixture of high and low humor, and focuses, often, on outrageous dialogue.

That brief definition perfectly describes the last section of “My Fair Munster,” as Lily and Herman attempt to avoid and escape their suitors, sometimes in apparent fast-motion. 

They do so by running through secret doors, hiding in wardrobes, and going in and out of various rooms in their Gothic mansion. 

So the episode -- in somewhat inspired fashion -- couples 1940s Universal Monsters and Gothic settings with French-inspired bedroom farce situations.

And here I thought American sitcoms of the 1960s were stupid…

But seriously, this is another Marilyn-centric early episode of The Munsters, in which her doting parents worry for her because they see her as being out of the norm.  and therefore disadvantaged.  Lily notes that Marilyn is “not as fortunate as the rest of us,” and so, by inference, the others should be patient with her.  

Exasperated, Herman notes “No one of my side of the family looks like that.”

And, of course, Marilyn is conventionally beautiful, whereas Herman is, conventionally-speaking, hideous.  Once more, it’s all part of The Munsters' ongoing conceit about fitting in, and beauty being in the eye of the beholder. The Munsters don’t see themselves as being outside the norm. They see themselves as perfect, normal, Americans.

It’s everyone else who is weird.

Once again, “My Fair Lady” hits the same gag, over and over.  Herman, tending to his back yard, observes “I'll be out back, watering the weeds.”  And later, he is told “You know, they just don’t make men like you, anymore.”  This is literally true, since he is cobbled together from several dead men.

Again and again, these jokes point out clichés of American life and then twist them to some monstrous (and therefore funny) standard.  

The Munsters hits this target again and again, repetitively, over its run, a one joke show.  But, again, that one joke is really pretty funny.  

You either get tired of the joke, or get on board, and admire the target practice.  

I go with the latter option, especially since The Munsters seems so concerned with a pro-social outcome: helping us understand that "normal" is in the eye of the beholder.

The Munsters Drag Race Game

The Munsters Casting Set (Emenee)

Trading Cards of the Week: The Munsters (Leaf)