×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

TV Review: ‘Frankenstein’s Monster’s Monster, Frankenstein’

One thing the new mockumentary “Frankenstein’s Monster’s Monster, Frankenstein” does quite well is prove that there are perks to appearing on a streaming service’s signature hit.

David Harbour, the stolid and familiar presence from Netflix’s “Stranger Things,” is given the opportunity to cut loose here with a broad, loopy half-hour that feels a bit like one long comedy sketch, with all that implies. He’s evidently having a great deal of fun playing his fictional late father, a pompous theater actor who acted in his own play about Dr. Frankenstein and recorded the piece for posterity. But even half an hour is a generous amount of time to give to a story that feels, well, sketchy, with reversals whose pile-up is more novel than truly funny and with jokes that feel underwritten at best.

Harbour also plays himself in the present day, working to uncover more information about his father and his theater career, a question that’s neither funny nor revealing. His putative father’s theater isn’t bad in an interesting or funny way; it’s just increasingly dull, wasting the great comic talent Kate Berlant at that. (Berlant recently appeared in Netflix’s “I Think You Should Leave,” a superlative variety series from which this program might have learned something about restraint; the sketches were tight and brisk and the episodes a mere 15 minutes apiece.) And the introduction of theater jokes about, say, the principle of Chekhov’s gun, come to rankle: If writer John Levenstein is so willing to show off what he knows about the principles of theater, why does so little of this work as anything other than the broadest sort of slapstick? Ultimately, the presence of quite so many preeningly presented references to theater and to Harbour’s fictional family history with so few genuine laughs makes the whole enterprise feel indulgent, a vanity project for one of Netflix’s biggest stars and not one that demands in any real way to exist.

This is a missed opportunity for Harbour, who, after the most recent season of “Stranger Things,” could use a win. His turn in the most recent season turned, quickly, from sweetly paternal if flawed to fairly menacing, as he put his power as a law-enforcement officer and as the series’s most imposing adult male character to work in overzealously protecting Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) and forcing a relationship with Joyce (Winona Ryder); it was the dischordant note in an otherwise successful season, and fell well short of cute or likable, traits that Harbour’s Jim Hopper has historically evidenced.

“Frankenstein’s Monster’s Monster, Frankenstein” might have been an opportunity for Harbour to show off the warmth and wit viewers know he possesses. But mired in strange, deadening anti-comedy and ticking by the minutes slowly, Harbour has proven, for now, only his ambition to try different sorts of acting. His deadpan, here, doesn’t connect as particularly funny, and the project as a whole likely play to all but diehards as a footnote on the “Stranger Things” reign.

“Frankenstein’s Monster’s Monster, Frankenstein.” Netflix. July 16.

Cast: David Harbour, Alex Ozerov, Kate Berlant, Mary Woronov, Alfred Molina, Heather Lawless, Michael Lerner, Marion van Cuyck, Bridey Elliott, O-Lan Jones, Lidia Porto, Graham Wagner, Randolph Thompson

Executive Producers: John Levenstein, David Harbour, Daniel Gray Longino, Ravi Nandan, Inman Young

TV Review: 'Frankenstein's Monster's Monster, Frankenstein'

More TV

  • beIN Orders First Turkish Original Drama

    beIN Orders First Turkish Original Drama 'The Choice'

    Miramax owner beIN Media is pushing into the competitive Turkish drama market. The beIN-owned Turkish pay-TV operator Digiturk has commissioned production company Ay Yapim to make drama series “The Choice” for its streaming platform, beIN Connect, in Turkey. “The Choice” marks the first original series for Digiturk since sports and entertainment group beIN Media acquired the [...]

  • Tekashi 6ix9ine Docuseries Coming From Showtime

    Tekashi 6ix9ine Docuseries Coming From Showtime and Rolling Stone

    Showtime Documentary Films today announced a new limited docuseries profiling controversial rapper Tekashi 6ix9ine. Titled “SuperVillain” and inspired by the Rolling Stone feature written by Stephen Witt, the three-part series will trace how a New York City deli clerk named Daniel Hernandez became superstar rapper Tekashi 6ix9ine — who racked up 2.6 billion streams and [...]

  • TV Ratings: 'The Masked Singer,' NBC's

    TV Ratings: 'The Masked Singer,' NBC's 'Chicago' Shows Tick Up

    One performer’s routine on “The Masked Singer” last night might have been a little too bare bones for the judges, however, the show’s ratings showed a lot more flesh. The Fox singing competition show ticked up from last week among adults 18-49 to a 2.1 rating, and gained around 100,000 total viewers to end up [...]

  • Megyn Kelly

    Megyn Kelly Makes Meandering Comeback Bid on Fox News (Column)

    Megyn Kelly made the first steps toward a TV comeback on Wednesday night, appearing on Fox News, the network that brought her to prominence, to decry NBC, the network from which she parted ways last year. It was a booking that had everything that has made Kelly a compelling figure for years — a sense [...]

  • Kane Brown CMT Artists of the

    Kane Brown Pays Tribute to Late Drummer Kenny Dixon in Tearful 'CMT Artists' Speech

    Country star Kane Brown, unabashedly distraught over the death of his touring drummer Kenny Dixon just four days earlier in a car accident, dedicated his “CMT Artists of the Year” award to Dixon in a heart-rending appearance on the telecast Wednesday night. Brown ceded the performance slot he would have been allowed to friend Chris [...]

  • CBS HEADQUARTERS

    CBS-Viacom Merger Details Revealed, Shares to Trade on Nasdaq

    Negotiations between CBS and Viacom went down to the wire on the day the long-gestating transaction was finally sealed on Aug. 13. CBS Corp. and Viacom revealed the timeline of the merger talks in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing Thursday that runs more than 650 pages. Also Thursday, CBS and Viacom said the shares [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content