Director: Joseph Pevney
Writers: Richard Conway and Ronald MacLane
Cast: Fred Gwynne, Yvonne De Carlo, Al Lewis, Pat Priest, Butch Patrick, Chet Stratton, Irwin Charone, Tommy Farrell, Karen Flynn, and Lee Bergere
Composer: Jack Marshall
Air Date: 12/31/1964
After Herman loans $5,000 to his brother-in-law Lester (Irwin Charone), Lily picks up work as a palm reader in order to avoid bankruptcy; however, she does so without notifying Herman for fear of bruising his ego. Always one to stir up strife, Grandpa leads Herman to believe that Lily has initiated a relationship with Ramon (Lee Bergere), who actually happens to be her boss.
Though “Herman’s Rival” implicitly answers the age-old question of how Eddie inherited the werewolf gene (his uncle is revealed to be the Wolf Man), casual fans of The Munsters may wish to skip this offering due to its relatively weak premise. That being said, Ramon’s reaction to Herman and company makes for an amusing, satisfying conclusion to yet another Munster family misunderstanding.
As with every installment of The Munsters, “Herman’s Rival” provides enough slapstick humor and horror-related puns to satisfy its target audience.
Disappointingly, the monster theme bears little relevance to the mix-up trope central to Richard Conway and Ronald MacLane’s narrative, save for a clever finale in which Ramon has a frightening encounter with Lily’s extended family. Were it not for the “hairy” twist ending coupled with Lily’s stint as a palm reader, the concept upon which “Herman’s Rival” was founded could have easily been adopted by a less kooky sitcom.
If nothing else, “Herman’s Rival” demonstrates why family members should always clearly communicate their intentions to one another. While Herman and Grandpa had no reason to doubt Lily’s motives to begin with, any confusion on their part could have been avoided if Lily had merely sat down and discussed the family’s financial problems with her husband. Had Herman, on the other hand, consulted with his wife before lending a hefty sum of money to Lester, Lily could have at least been given a say in the risky investment of her spouse. Though not the most profound of conflicts, the above situation indicates that, for all its flaws, The Munsters offers greater insight into the traditional family unit than do the majority of modern television shows.
“Herman’s Rival” contains many amusing elements, but fails to integrate the show’s core subject matter into its primary theme. The Wolf Man’s cameo will, however, appeal to those who enjoy the Universal Monster movies after which the Munster family was modeled.
Overall Quality: 6/10
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