Director: Joseph Pevney
Writer: Douglas Tibbles
Cast: Fred Gwynne, Yvonne De Carlo, Al Lewis, Pat Priest, Butch Patrick, George Petrie, Richard Poston, and Harvey Korman
Composer: Jack Marshall
Air Date: 3/10/1966
When Marilyn molds a sculpture of Herman for her class project, Professor Fagenspahen (Harvey Korman)—the art teacher at Marilyn’s university—informs his colleague, Professor Hansen (George Petrie), that a “missing link” has been discovered. Thereafter, Hansen and Fagenspahen arrange a meeting with Herman, who had recently been nominated for Father of the Year by Eddie—a detail that causes great confusion for Herman and his examiners.
“Prehistoric Munster” operates on a mildly amusing premise, namely that a dignified anthropologist would mistake Herman for a missing link. It should be indicated, however, that a similar premise had been employed more humorously in “Herman, the Master Spy.”
Upon receiving an invitation from Professors Hansen and Fagenspahen, Herman assumes that he has just won a Father of the Year contest and must travel to the college to collect his prizes—a misunderstanding that results in many hilarious, cleverly written exchanges between Herman and the professors, both of whom decide to “humor” their guest with the prospect of prizes in order to make him cooperate.
Though likely intended to parody the bizarre, pretentious qualities commonly possessed by modern-day art instructors, the exaggerated personality of Professor Fagenspahen often clashes with the subtle manner exemplified by Hansen—a more realistic professor played by George Petrie. Especially over-the-top is Harvey Korman’s fake German accent, which may, at least on occasion, induce cringing from the audience (the same criticism can be directed at Korman’s portrayal of Dr. Leinbach, an idiotic German psychologist who appears in “Yes, Galen, There Is a Herman” from season one).
By conducting himself like a spoiled, egotistical child throughout the episode, Herman never demonstrates the maturity that one would likely associate with an exemplary father figure—much in contrast to his selfless, if incredibly naive, tendencies in many prior installments of The Munsters.
A flawed but entertaining episode, “Prehistoric Munster” should be praised for its comedic subject matter. Specifically worth noting is Grandpa’s confrontation with a ghostly checker opponent, who must be chased out of the Munster home due to his rude behavior.
Overall Quality: 6/10
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