Director: Norman Abbott
Writers: Joe Connelly and Bob Mosher
Cast: Fred Gwynne, Yvonne De Carlo, Al Lewis, Pat Priest, Butch Patrick, Brian Corcoran, Eddy Donno, and Henry Beckman
Composer: Jack Marshall
Air Date: 5/27/1965
At the request of his son, Herman enters a drag race and subsequently loses the Munster Koach on an impulsive bet. Hoping to rectify Herman’s foolish mistake, Grandpa assembles a macabre hot rod with which to win back the family car.
The memorable onscreen debut of the DRAG-U-LA, “Hot Rod Herman” should be viewed by all fans of The Munsters. Especially worth mentioning are the overconfident (almost to the point of hyperbole) qualities exemplified by the Baylor father and son, which provide the audience with two hateful antagonists to root against.
When Eddie asks his father to compete against “Leadfoot” Baylor (Henry Beckman) at the Mockingbird Heights Drag Strip, Herman dons a ridiculous motorcycle jacket and hat as if to resemble Johnny Strabler from The Wild One—a comedic device that works most effectively when employed in conjunction with Herman’s idiotic Marlon Brando impression.
Also amusing is the fact that Mr. Baylor removes the DRAG-U-LA’s parachute, thus allowing for an intentionally awful special effect (i.e. Herman being dragged around in circles while attempting to stop the runaway vehicle with his bare hands) following Grandpa’s victory in the penultimate scene.
Certain pop culture references (e.g. hot rod races and impersonations of 1950s film stars) will likely fail to resonate with viewers born long after the baby boom generation.
While those who admire the Munsters for their exceptional family values may be offended by the ego-fueled actions of Herman and Grandpa, Mr. Baylor’s underhanded tactics serve to contrast with and thereby highlight the good, clean sportsmanship displayed by his competitors.
“Hot Rod Herman” makes clever use of a trope centering on Herman’s goofy, incompetent behavior. Sitcom buffs young and old will therefore enjoy the delightfully kooky tone featured in this episode.
Overall Quality: 9/10
If you enjoyed this post, please enter your email address in the subscription box to stay tuned for more updates.