MINI-MUNSTERS (1973) HALLOWEEN SEASON CARTOON

mini munstersTHE MINI-MUNSTERS (1973) – This children’s cartoon version of The Munsters originally aired on October 27th, 1973 as one of the hour-long (including commercials) episodes of the second season of ABC’s Saturday Superstar Movie. That version was 44 minutes long without commercials. ABC later edited it down into a VERY incoherent 22-minute version that they proceeded to combine with commercials to make a half-hour Halloween cartoon which they would broadcast into the 1980s.

grandpa herman lucretia lily igorNot that the 44-minute version is a masterpiece, but it holds together much better than the edited version. You can judge for yourself because no less than THREE versions of The Mini-Munsters are available online: The original 44-minute version in color, the 22-minute version in color AND a black & white version of the 44-minute original.

Taking it from the top, this animated venture was directed by Gerard Baldwin of Bullwinkle & Rocky and Smurfs cartoons fame. The writers were veterans Don Nelson and Arthur Alsberg, who also co-wrote The Munsters’ Revenge in 1981.

THE PREMISE:

eddie munster lucretia and igorThe “Mini-Munsters” of the title were two teen cousins of Eddie Munster visiting from Transylvania – female vampire Lucretia and Frankenstein’s Monster-headed Igor. I know that latter name will annoy those Munster purists out there, since Igor was also the name of Grandpa Munster’s pet bat, but what can ya do?

Lucretia and Igor were not thrust into the starring roles, thankfully. They were in support of Herman, Lily, Grandpa and Eddie, who was turning 16 and wore long pants in another blow to gung-ho Munster purists.

band and hermanEddie hit it off very well with his cousins. So well, in fact, that he was the drummer of a rock band that the trio formed, with Igor and Lucretia playing their guitars. 

Hey, it was 1973, and not only was this Munsters cartoon hitting the airwaves in the same year that their old competitors The Addams Family were debuting in animated form, but there was also the memory of the 1970-1971 Groovie Goolies cartoon to contend with, since the latter series was still airing in reruns.

grandpa munsterThe harshest blow for old school Munsters fans, besides Marilyn’s absence, is the fact that Al Lewis as Grandpa was the only cast member from the original series voice-acting in The Mini-Munsters. Richard Long from The Big Valley was voicing Herman, Cynthia Adler voiced Lily and either Stuart Goetz or Bobby Diamond voiced Eddie (sources vary).

The story involved the aforementioned arrival of Lucretia and Igor for a visit, which presumably would have been extended if this had been picked up as a series. They mesh with Eddie and form their band, leading to Herman & Grandpa buying a car for Eddie so he and his band can practice elsewhere and get around easier.

igor lucretia eddie and jeremiah grundyThe trio of musical Munsters want an old run-down hearse, so that is what they get, and it turns out that along with this hearse comes its driver – the ghost of Jeremiah Grundy, the mortician who used to own the vehicle.

Jeremiah is voiced by Laugh-In’s Henry Gibson who, even more than Lucretia and Igor, would have made a nice addition to the cast of The Munsters in all projects going forward. At least in my opinion. I actually have only a working familiarity with the show.

In any event, one of Grandpa’s inventions enables the band’s hearse to be powered by the music they play, either live or recorded. That development fuels (sorry) the anti-air pollution plot common to so many 1970s cartoons, tv shows and movies.

lucretia eddie jeremiah grundy igorPeople begin to switch to using Grandpa’s invention in conjunction with recordings of the band’s music to power their cars, nearly eliminating air pollution. This interferes with the plan of Mr. Murdock, a gangster who is voiced in imitation of Marlon Brando’s Don Corleone in one of this cartoon’s best jokes.

Murdock and his gang – one of whom is voiced by the less than intimidating Arnold Stang – have been forcing car dealers and gas stations all around California to switch to buying gasoline from HIM, and he uses a very cheap, crude fuel mixture that triples (or more) the air pollution caused by normal gasoline for cars.

SPOILERS AHEAD: 

grandpa herman lilyAmid the usual type of semi-comical shenanigans from the Big Three of Herman, Grandpa and Lily, the Munster family – plus Jeremiah Grundy – manage to get Murdock and his gang arrested. They also free his hostages – the president of Anderson Oil and the Munsters’ pet Spot.

The Mini-Munsters, in my view, worked better than the various live-action revivals of the show over the decades. This many years after the original run, this show’s type of comedy really only plays well in animated form.

And I don’t say that as an insult. Look at the fame and the money raked in by The Simpsons and countless other cartoon shows in the past thirty years. No matter how you feel about that, it’s a shame this thing has only ONE user review at IMDb as of this writing.

FOR MY LOOK AT THE FIVE MONSTER CEREALS (Count Chocula, Frankenberry, Boo Berry, Fruit Brute and Yummy Mummy) CLICK HERE.          

5 Comments

Filed under Forgotten Television, Halloween Season

5 responses to “MINI-MUNSTERS (1973) HALLOWEEN SEASON CARTOON

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