The Munsters: The Complete First Season

The Munsters: The Complete First Season (1964)
Universal Home Video
Cast: Fred Gwynne, Yvonne DeCarlo, Al Lewis, Butch Patrick, Beverley Owen

Finally, ’The Munsters’ make their debut on DVD from Universal Home Entertainment and after examining this 3-disc DVD set I have to say it’s a nice debut, indeed. The DVD set contains all 38 episodes of the series first season, as well as the original pilot episode, which has never before been seen by the public.

A word about this pilot, however. The episode is actually presented in color, which is quite interesting to see, especially when you compare it to the real broadcast episodes in black and white. The show simply works better in black and white as the image has more atmosphere and looks simply ’dustier’ than in color. Still it’s an interesting twist. However, I have a few gripes wit this episode in particular, as it is actually only half an episode, stopping halfway through the show, which is a bit frustrating. Apart from that the closed-caption simply drops out after the episode’s first minute or so, indicating that QA on the release was once again sloppy on Universal’s end. The studio has become notoriously known for defective releases ad one would expect them to try to get their act together and yet, again and again they put DVDs in the market have simply not been put together properly! On top of that the box set does not contain any liner notes or any information and Universal is simply throwing this half-length pilot episode at viewers without any explanation. No explanation about its history, its context, its production or its place in ’Munster’ history are given. You just start up the DVD, see a weird Munster episode with unfamiliar actors and characters that stops halfway through. It is just sloppy of Universal to not even create a real platform for this pilot or to provide any background information on the show at all. Especially given the show’s popularity I am sure there are some real experts on this production out there who could have offered some valuable insight.

Apart from that, it is great to see your beloved family of monsters come to life on this DVD release. The image quality is very good. A bit of grain here and there but for the most part, the image is stable, clean and without blemishes. No edge-enhancement mars the image either and the compression is good, ensuring proper detail throughout.

The audio on the release is the original mono audio track present in Dolby Digital 2.0. It is clear and without pops or hiss and distortion is also at a minimum. While a bit limited in its frequency response as a result of production limitations at the time, it sounds a bit harsh, though it truly adds to the vintage quality of the series.

It’s great to welcome ’The Munsters’ on DVD after all this time but I wish Universal would have given them the treatment they deserved. After all, the Munsters are a family with history and its not like someone dug them up only yesterday. Some extras like interviews with Yvonne DeCarlo, Butch Patrick or even Al Lewis or archival footage form the set would have been so incredibly exciting that every fan must feel quite a bit let down by this box set. Still, the presentation quality itself convinces and makes it more fun than ever to visit the weird family at Mockingbird Heights.