The Good

With 32 episodes these discs also come packed with 4 featurettes that look at some of our favorite characters from the show.

The Bad

Hard to negotiate, awful packaging that makes taking out the discs to screen the DVDs a chore.

This is a show I have been watching in reruns for as long as I can remember. The Munsters - The Complete Second Season was something I begged to be able to review. I just love this show. I didn’t watch it as religiously as I watched other shows when I was younger, but believe me this show was always a part of the TV conversation I had with my set when I came home from school. Also, this is one of those rare shows that I don’t have a favorite character in. I could follow the exploits of Herman, Lily, Grandpa, Eddie and yes even Marilyn.

I think what makes this show so interesting to me now is the perspective I have on movies and TV in general. Was this show taking a look at different racial groups and how society perceives them? Or, was it just fun entertainment that was supposed to make us laugh when we watched TV? Something tells me that the answer lies somewhere in the middle. Packed with 32 episodes this 3 disc set just glided right through my player. Whether Herman was up to something, Lily was trying to keep order in the house or Eddie was having problems in school, I always knew that I would get a chance to see Grandpa and Marilyn try and help matters.

Some people look at these shows from the 1960s as plastic pieces of TV that really weren’t saying much, but I see them is swiftly crafted exposes on who we are and who we think we are.

Features

America’s First Family of Fright and Fred Gwynne: More than a Munster

Thank the good lord they have put “America’s First Family of Fright” on this DVD! It is a true TV buffs dream to be able to see people talking about this show (and TV in general) and really take it seriously. Sure, there are moments of levity, especially when talking about characters and the situations on the show, but this is a very nice companion piece to the 32 episodes that make up this 3 disc set. In fact, I am actually partial to all the supplemental features on these discs. Which leads me to “Fred Gwynne: More than a Munster.” This is a succinct look at Fred Gwynne the person. I had always wondered about him as it seemed like he did “The Munsters” and then My Cousin Vinny and that was it. This is obviously what he is the most known for, but one look at his body of work on IMDB and it’s pretty apparent that he had a varied career. He may have played somewhat similar roles, but I just think that’s because physically he was so recognizable.

Yvonne DeCarlo: Gilded Lily and Al Lewis: Forever Grandpa

Have you ever seen Yvonne DeCarlo without her make-up on? The woman is stunning. It is fascinating seeing the transformation that she went through to become Lily Munster. I am not saying she doesn’t look good as Lily, but there is a certain campyness to it that doesn’t bespeak how gorgeous this woman really is. This featurette really focuses on that and how she played this role that would be seminal in her career. If you forced me to be pick my favorite Munster, Al Lewis might be it. It would certainly be toss-up between him and Herman as these two characters drive this show. I never knew anything about Al Lewis, even though I had seen him in some other shows on TV land. This featurette “Al Lewis: Forever Grandpa” goes behind the make-up (as all the featurettes on this set seem to) and they illuminate more about the person as a human being and as an actor. This is a very comprehensive DVD set.

Video

Full Frame - 1.33:1. This show is in black and white and I wouldn’t have it any other way. If for some reason they ever go back and color it up, just because it’s so “easy” or they can make some more money off the franchise, I am not going to watch it. The reason this show works is because it is 25% gothic mixed with 75% reality. The black and white feel of the show, even though it is brightly lit, adds a certain old fashioned aura that does nothing but get better with age. I love the way The Munsters - The Complete Second Season looks. In fact, because there are no bells and whistles on this show, it plays right into my crummy 13” TV set.

Audio

English Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono. Subtitled in English and Spanish. More than any “sitcom” I have ever watched, each of these characters has a distinct voice. Yes, as characters but also in their vocal tones. I really concentrated on this when I screened these DVDs, because this was something I had noticed when I watched other episodes prior to being given this set to review. Sadly, I had to turn my TV a little more than halfway up, but these shows are almost 40 years old so I guess I can forgive that. Honestly, you really wouldn’t buy The Munsters - The Complete Second Season to test out your home theater system, but if you want some great TV, this show is really up your ally.

Package

The packaging looks great but it is awful to negotiate. Okay, that isn’t 100% true, but it is awful to open. With Herman Munster’s head in a dark green used as the motif, one has to slide the discs out of a plastic covering. The discs then unfold (all encased in packaging in the shape of Herman’s head) and each DVD has it’s own plastic tray. The problem lies in the fact that the structure of Herman’s head is so tightly packed into the plastic, that you won’t be able to get it out without bending and denting the top and bottom of the DVD cover. Also, the way that the Herman part is cut, one could easily rip the DVD packaging and that would be a bummer. Discs would be falling everywhere, the packaging would be torn... it could just be a mess. That said, on the back of the plastic cover is a description of the show, a “Bonus Features” listing and some Technical Specs. Inside, is a nice listing of the episodes and which discs they are on, as well as where the “Bonus Features” are.

Final Word

I cannot imagine what it must have been like to have been one of “The Munsters” on this show. Having done a zombie movie as an extra, I was in the make-up chair for 90 minutes a day and this nearly killed me. I can only imagine how it must have been to get made up like Herman. These people didn’t just have powder and coloring applied to their faces, they had their hair made up, they had to wear “ghoulish” clothing, etc... . I look at this show with it’s brightly lit black and white and I am in awe of the production values.

The Munsters - The Complete Second Season is a gem from the archives of TV and one that should be polished and looked at often.

The Munsters was released .