This sassy new weeknight strip featuring the creepy, kooky, mysterious and spooky clan serves up heaping helpings of pun-filled dialogue and surprisingly cool special effects for its debut on the Fox Family Channel. It’s campy and has a certain hyperkinetic energy that paints the enterprise as very much a live-action cartoon; that makes it a kick to watch once, but perhaps too broad to endure night after night.
The half-hour clearly tries to make up in pep and savvy wordplay what it lacks in soul. The 1960s edition was charming because it didn’t try to hit you over the head with too much and was therefore truer to the quirky spirit of Charles Addams’ vision. There is nothing subtle about this “The New Addams Family,” which tosses in everything but the kitchen wash basin and moves so rapidly that it should have its own Indy-style pit crew behind the scenes rather than a mere production team.
The characters are all there and all the actors are doing their best to impersonate their predecessors. Too often, they look to be imitating rather than acting, which is perhaps inevitable given that their characters are virtually woven into the American fabric.
Glenn Taranto’s cigar-chomping Gomez sounds like a virtual carbon copy of John Astin’s. Ellie Harvie’s embodiment of Morticia is appropriately slinky and somber, and Michael Roberds gives a particularly cloying Uncle Fester, while Lurch (John DeSantis) is muted.
The ever-menacing Wednesday Addams (Nicole Marie Fugere) has a guillotine at the head of her bed, and brother Pugsley (Brody Smith) has a bed that doubles as a stretching rack (every home should have one).
The opener — helmed by Mark Jean from a script by Rob Baird and Kelly Senecal — introduces the Addamses on Halloween Night. Guest starring Jerry Van Dyke, the seg is something of a “Home Alone” takeoff that gets things off to a frenetic start.
The second seg, in which Wednesday and Pugsley raise Morticia’s onetime suitor Vlad from the dead after 15 years, is more irreverent and entertaining. Turns out that Vlad wants to kill Gomez and take Morticia for his own, resulting in the following exchange:
Granmama (Betty Phillips): “Resurrection is easy. Getting rid of the living dead … that’s the tricky part.”
Wednesday: “That would explain Keith Richards.”
Cute stuff. That seg also offers some fun visual pranks with bodies being sliced in half and the like. But there’s only so much dialogue gymnastics one can do before it begins to grate, and this Canadian production, while often clever, can’t help but squeeze the life — or perhaps in this case, the death — out of the concept by milking it nightly.
The new series features a demented new theme song written by Vic Mizzy. Tech credits are dead on.