Director: Ezra Stone
Writer: Richard Baer
Cast: Fred Gwynne, Yvonne De Carlo, Al Lewis, Pat Priest, Butch Patrick, Louise Glenn, Joan Swift, Marilyn Bell, and Paul Reed
Composer: Jack Marshall
Air Date: 2/10/1966
On her birthday, Marilyn is given the Fregosi emerald—a cursed ring that Grandpa won from Jack the Ripper in a poker game. Desperate to remove the curse, Herman travels with Lily and Grandpa to Detroit, Michigan, where the last surviving member of the Fregosi family is rumored to live.
Arguably the most iconic episode of The Munsters, “The Fregosi Emerald” puts an amusing twist on a classic trope (i.e. comic mishaps resulting from an ancient curse). Especially worth praising is the Munster family’s encounter with Henry J. Fregosi (Paul Reed), an eccentric automobile manufacturer hiding a dark secret from the world.
Intending to disprove the Fregosi curse, Herman tries on the infamous ring and commands it to “come and get” him. Immediately thereafter, a giant pump suddenly disconnects from the wall and crashes into the dining room table, spewing water all over the place. Hoping to console her husband, Lily offers Herman a plate of candy, which spontaneously explodes when Herman reaches for it. Though quite ridiculous, the antics outlined above demonstrate that when used effectively, slapstick humor need not be excessively violent in order to entertain.
By speaking in a whiny, exaggerated voice while describing the unpleasant details of her date, Marilyn does a poor job of establishing the Fregosi curse as a credible, fearsome threat to the Munster family.
Upon having the Fregosi emerald thrust in his face, Henry J. Fregosi—an ostensibly dignified and well-mannered entrepreneur—begins to rub his hands in a maniacal gesture, revealing himself to be a skilled practitioner of the black arts (supposedly an effective tool for undermining competitors within the automobile industry). A clever satire on the corporate world, Fregosi’s unconventional use for “black magic” may appeal to fans of tongue-in-cheek scenarios. (It should be noted, however, that Fregosi’s cursing of the “Edsel” is a joke that will likely be lost on modern audiences).
“The Fregosi Emerald” is a classic, fun-filled episode of The Munsters. Nevertheless, certain comedic devices (e.g. the diabolical shenanigans of Mr. Fregosi) are a tad overplayed.
Overall Quality: 8/10
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