Director: Earl Bellamy
Writer: Richard Baer
Cast: Fred Gwynne, Yvonne De Carlo, Al Lewis, Pat Priest, Butch Patrick, Frank Maxwell, Willis Bouchey, Olan Soulé, Barry O’Hara, Peter Dawson, Joe Quinn, Michael Blake, and Monica Rush
Composer: Jack Marshall
Air Date: 11/11/1965
After a 300-lb safe lands on his head, Herman develops an unusual form of amnesia and regresses to the mentality of a young child. In order to retrieve Herman from state custody, Lily must adopt her husband and treat him like she would her own son. Unfortunately, Herman cannot keep from bickering with his “brother” Eddie.
Operating on the idiotic premise that a 7-foot tall, 150-year-old man would be given the legal status of a child, “John Doe Munster” will appeal to fans of the absurd comedy for which The Munsters is famous. That being said, Herman’s infantile behavior is a tad overplayed at times.
While presiding over Herman’s case, the Judge (Willis Bouchey) visibly struggles to maintain his composure—a humorous reaction coming from an otherwise dignified authority figure. For example, upon learning of Lily’s desire to adopt Herman, the Judge at first suspects that he may be the victim of a Candid Camera stunt. Then, after realizing that Lily’s intentions are in fact genuine, the Judge agrees to grant the adoption on a “temporary trial basis” in case the Munsters decide that they’ve made a mistake.
In a bizarre effort to snap Herman out of his amnesia, Grandpa emulates the appearance of Rock Hudson (the actual disguise bears a stronger resemblance to Rudolph Valentino) and pretends to be madly in love with Lily. Though intended to make Herman jealous, the above scheme collapses when the goofy green giant, still trapped in a juvenile mental state, becomes more interested in playing with Grandpa’s whip than in protecting his wife from the advances of a strange man—an effective satire on the antics of inattentive, unobservant children.
Suspension of disbelief aside, Richard Baer’s concept for “John Doe Munster” fails to account for one significant problem: because Herman already conducts himself in an age-inappropriate manner, the Munsters would likely fail to see any difference between the “adult” and “child” personalities of their patriarch.
(Spoilers beyond this point)
When Eddie falls from a rooftop, Herman immediately reverts to his original, fatherly self and proceeds to rescue his son from danger. Contrived though it may be, the penultimate scene demonstrates that love, kindness, and parental devotion are essential to the Munster family.
“John Doe Munster” is a worthwhile, if excessively silly, episode. Especially commendable are Herman’s courtroom shenanigans, which create an amusing contrast with the straight performance of Willis Bouchey.
Overall Quality: 7/10
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