Director: Lawrence Dobkin
Writers: James Allardice and Tom Adair
Cast: Yvonne De Carlo, Al Lewis, Beverley Owen, Butch Patrick, Fred Gwynne, Fred Beir, Harvey Korman, and Roy Roberts
Composer: Jack Marshall
Air Date: 12/17/1964
When the Munsters win the Average American Family of the year award, an offended Grandpa insists that his royal blood makes him anything but average. Refusing to participate out of spite, the prideful vampire runs away from home before a photographer arrives at the Munster residence. While Herman and Lily search for Grandpa, Marilyn entertains Event Magazine reporters Chip Johnson (Fred Beir) and Lennie Bates (Harvey Korman), with humorous results.
Though “Family Portrait” contains some of the most awful special effects ever captured on film, the laughable reaction shots to Herman, Lily, Grandpa, and Eddie actually complement the zany subject matter quite fittingly. Diehard fans of The Munsters are advised to view this episode for its hilarious but clean approach to slapstick, while others may appreciate the clever twist ending to yet another hilarious mix-up scenario.
Despite benefitting from an amusing concept, “Family Portrait” features a premise that lacks the necessary substance to carry a half-hour narrative on its own. Fortunately, the main story quickly branches off into two distinct subplots that never manage to disappoint. On one hand, Grandpa’s sudden disappearance gives Herman and Lily the opportunity to venture around town while looking for their lost relative, which results in a number of incredibly humorous, albeit predictable, reactions from horrified onlookers. In the meantime, Fred Beir and Harvey Korman were allowed to showcase their chemistry as a bumbling but sympathetic pair while trapped in the kookiest house imaginable. Needless to say, both storylines eventually converge just prior to a memorable conclusion, at which point Mr. Morgan (Roy Roberts) comes up with an ingenious solution to the Munster problem.
Even with plenty of goofy special effects and slapstick humor sprinkled throughout, “Family Portrait” comes out just a tad thin with regard to storytelling.
Given the Munsters’ status as the “Average American Family,” one can surmise that if judged on character alone, these kooky but loving monsters represent the strong values that were once a hallmark of Western civilization.
“Family Portrait” is a solid entry of The Munsters. Though occasionally lacking in substance, this episode compensates for its shallow premise through well-timed gags and screwball situations.
Overall Quality: 9/10
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