Director: Lawrence Dobkin
Writers: Norm Liebmann and Ed Haas
Cast: Yvonne De Carlo, Al Lewis, Beverley Owen, Butch Patrick, Fred Gwynne, Jean Willes, and Mike Mazurki
Composer: Jack Marshall
Air Date: 11/19/1964
Herman’s oleaginous brother, Charlie (Fred Gwynne), arrives at the Munster household touting a contraption that supposedly extracts uranium from seawater. Everyone except Herman becomes enamored with Charlie’s bogus invention, so much so that Grandpa actually manages to “fix” the device after tinkering with it. Upon learning of Grandpa’s efforts, Charlie decides to do the “right thing” and purchase the machine back from Mrs. Cartwright (Jean Willes), but not before the real Herman pays her a visit.
Like the majority of The Munsters episodes, “Knock Wood, Here Comes Charlie” succeeds thanks to its heavy emphasis on the absurd. However, though the concept of Herman’s cultured twin brother is an amusing one, the gag quickly grows stale as a result of its redundant nature.
By behaving like a petulant child after Charlie’s arrival, Herman maintains a humorous presence despite being overshadowed by his ridiculous sibling. The ironic fact that Herman, for all his jealousy-induced pouting, turns out to be right about Charlie’s shady conduct results in a fittingly comedic resolution to an otherwise clichéd premise.
While Charlie’s silly attire coupled with his slick demeanor will amuse many fans of this show, Herman’s doppelgänger lacks the personality and character background needed to leave a lasting impression on casual viewers. For instance, no indication is given as to why Herman and Charlie, in spite of their similar origins, ended up following vastly different life paths upon parting ways. This issue could have easily been addressed through dialogue explaining a possible shortage of good brains in Dr. Frankenstein’s laboratory, or something along those lines; however, a large portion of this story was instead spent on the repetitive con-man routine. Series enthusiasts may enjoy this episode regardless of Charlie’s poorly developed character traits, though less appreciative audiences will likely tire of Herman’s alter-ego after the initial scenes.
Though “Knock Wood, Here Comes Charlie” is marred by missed opportunities, this episode should be commended for offering Herman another chance to act on his moral convictions. Even when Charlie’s sleazy salesmanship costs his brother thousands of dollars, Herman never hesitates to restore the Munster family reputation despite the personal price he must pay in doing so. As always, Herman proves himself to be a man of great integrity, even though his ghoulish appearance would suggest otherwise.
“Knock Wood, Here Comes Charlie” is a worthy effort that should be viewed by diehard fans of The Munsters given its classic subject matter. Writers Norm Liebmann and Ed Haas would have been wise to expand on the twin brother premise to allow for a more memorable offering, though Fred Gwynne’s hilarious talents nevertheless managed to carry the action at all times.
Overall Quality: 7/10
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