Director: Norman Abbott
Writers: Norm Liebmann and Ed Haas
Cast: Yvonne De Carlo, Al Lewis, Beverley Owen, Butch Patrick, Fred Gwynne, Carly Rowe, Ronnie R. Rondell, Michael Jackson, Dick Winslow, Monty Margetts, Diane Courtney, Scott McCartor, Elsie Baker, and Paul Lynde
Composer: Jack Marshall
Air Date: 10/29/1964
Upon receiving an invitation to a reunion of his Army outfit, Herman tries but ultimately fails to squeeze into his old uniform. Determined to lose weight quickly, Herman refuses to consume food for an entire week. When Thanksgiving arrives, the temptation to eat becomes too strong for Herman to resist.
“Low-Cal Munster” is a clever and amusing episode. Especially worth noting is Herman’s loss of self-control following a week of caloric restriction, which serves to parody the Frankenstein monster of Universal Studios fame.
(Spoilers beyond this point)
In the introductory sequence, a number of spooky tropes (e.g. thunder, lightning, and the groans of a wild “monster”) are employed in conjunction with Herman’s rampage, thereby recreating the atmosphere of a black-and-white horror movie. Though uncharacteristic of The Munsters, the air of malevolence in the opening scene falsely indicates that Herman, now animalistic in behavior, intends to harm or kill the Farber family—a misdirection that accentuates the comedic impact of the twist ending, wherein Herman assumes a place at the dinner table and gobbles up an entire turkey in one sitting, prompting confusion instead of terror from the aforementioned Farber family.
Also amusing are the hijinks of Grandpa, who repeatedly waves food in the face of a starving Herman. Despite being rather cruel, Grandpa’s taunting demeanor builds upon the hilarious rivalry shared by Herman and his father-in-law.
Similar to “Rock-A-Bye Munster,” “Low-Cal Munster” overplays the Dr. Dudley character—a bumbling, myopic physician whose antics resemble those of Mr. Magoo—to the point of tediousness.
By encouraging Herman to end his crash diet and eat properly, Lily and the others (excepting Grandpa) demonstrate love and concern for their patriarch—much in contrast to many “normal” sitcom families, who often behave in a dysfunctional manner.
The Munsters’ equivalent of a Thanksgiving special, “Low-Cal Munster” should be praised for its effective use of the monster theme. For series enthusiasts and casual fans alike, this one will not disappoint.
Overall Quality: 9/10
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