Director: Gene Reynolds
Writers: Joe Connelly and Bob Mosher
Cast: Fred Gwynne, Yvonne De Carlo, Al Lewis, Pat Priest, Butch Patrick, Forrest Lewis, Helen Kleeb, and John Abbott
Composer: Jack Marshall
Air Date: 3/17/1966
During a visit to the United States, Dr. Victor Frankenstein IV (John Abbott) introduces Herman to Johann—an early experiment of the original Dr. Frankenstein. Reluctantly, Herman agrees to return home with Johann and teach him to behave in a civilized manner. Hilarity ensues when Lily takes Johann, who looks exactly like Herman, with her to Happy Valley Lodge for the weekend.
Despite paying tribute to the Universal Monster films that inspired The Munsters, “A Visit from Johann” is an extremely silly, repetitive offering. Especially tedious are the childlike antics of Johann, who can best be described as a second-rate parody of the Frankenstein monster played by Boris Karloff.
Annoyed by Johann’s lack of cooperation, Dr. Frankenstein dons a lit torch and thrusts it in the face of his great-grandfather’s creation. In response, Johann throws up his hands and runs away terrified—a clever homage to the 1931 version of Frankenstein, the monster of which behaves in a similar fashion when confronted with fire.
While in Grandpa’s laboratory, Johann is portrayed by a stand-in for Fred Gwynne—an unavoidable result of the fact that Herman and Johann appear together in the same shot. It should be noted, however, that the Frankenstein mask worn by Gwynne’s double fails to move at any point, including when Johann grunts and groans like a wild animal.
When Dr. Frankenstein employs “long-distance hypnosis” to summon Johann, Lily chases after her “husband” and enters a room where Grandpa and Herman are also present. Upon realizing that more than one version of Herman exists, Lily grows hysterical and locks herself in a nearby closet—a strange reaction considering that at least one duplicate of Herman (i.e. Charlie) had already revealed himself to Lily.
Though mildly amusing at first, “A Visit from Johann” struggles to develop the one-note premise (i.e. Lily mistaking an inarticulate beast for her husband) on which it operates. Also disappointing, the potential for a relationship between Victor Frankenstein IV and Herman (the finest achievement of Victor’s great-grandfather) is never explored beyond a surface level.
Overall Quality: 5/10
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