Mockingbird Lane "Halloween Special" Review: Corny on the Macabre

Mockingbird Lane Halloween Special: "Pilot"

TV networks LOVE blowing the dust off of old and familiar properties and giving them a spit polish for a new audience. Their thinking is obvious: "Y'all are so dumb that you'll flock to anything vaguely familiar or nostalgic because your pea-sized brains are incapable of engaging in anything that's fresh and original, so here's a hot plate of something we dug up and changed the font on." Sequels! Prequels! "Re-imaginings!" Re-morphosizings! Old crap thrown in a blender and squeezed into a tube top with some lipstick!

One of this season's "old is new" offerings was NBC's Mockingbird Lane, a splashy update on the black-and-white-and-later-colorized The Munsters, the classic sitcom of the mid-1960s and television's love affair with creature clans. This take came from Bryan Fuller, the mad genius behind the whimsical and twisted offerings Pushing Daisies and Wonderfalls. Originally designed to go through the typical pilot process, NBC changed its mind and decided to air the pilot as a one-off Halloween special last night, with the idea that good ratings and a positive reaction could maybe (but probably not) lead to a series order after deeming the conventional route wasn't viable. Pilots are typically million-dollar coin flips, so the idea that NBC would put this out into the real world as a standalone special with no real conclusion—plus the fact that it's a Bryan Fuller project—made it a television experiment that I just had to be part of.

And you know what!? It was totally good to okay! (Professional opinion.) At its best, Mockingbird Lane is an affectionate, campy admission of doofishness with carved-out characters that viewers could imagine spending Friday evenings with. Visually there's a whole lot to love, such as the Burtonish (Tim, not Richard) sets and costumes, and in particular the extra pizazz sprinkled on the visual effects (Lily's spider-woven dress is something any production house could be proud of). But most importantly, it's something fresh, daring, and (mostly) original.

The Munster family comes pre-built with plenty of theme to last at least half a season, so there's no shortage of places for Mockingbird Lane to go. Herman (Jerry O'Connell) is a Frankenstein monster who just wants to feel complete, a modern-day Tin Man whose ticker clunked out like a MacBook three days after its warranty expired. Eddie (Mason Cook) is a big, waving red flag for puberty as his werewolfism sprouts hair all over his body, and no matter how many times it's done, lycanthropy will never get old as a metaphor for those awkward years. Grandpa (Eddie Izzard) is old-school, the creature that just can't adjust to normal living (in his day, when he invited people over for dinner, they were dinner, etc., etc.). Marilyn (Charity Wakefield) is the normal-looking cousin, the oddball in the family because she doesn't drink blood (weirdo!). And Lily (Portia de Rossi) is still Lily, and still the least interesting character despite being in a prime role as the mother of the family. It's a solid cast that works in some cases (Izzard is perfect), doesn't work in others (de Rossi is underused), and is way-too open-collared in yet others (O'Connell). Why they changed Herman from a goofy stiff into a sensitive cologne model is beyond my limits of understanding.

Still, the good parts of the pilot were GREAT, and about 15 minutes into Mockingbird Lane I wondered why NBC didn't immediately move forward with it. You know, aside from the fact that it probably wouldn't fly with most of the country.

But as it progressed, the pilot became so manic and busy and unsure of whether it was supposed to fright or delight that tonally, it came off as a trick-or-treater's bag full of both yummy sugary snacks AND crummy organic fruit bars. The show's darkness—the best aspect of the pilot—was brightened up too often when the episode went into light-hearted family sitcom mode, giving the pilot a strobe-light effect that caused my emotional well-being to go into epileptic fits and never allowed anything sentimental to develop. The cold open of Eddie Munster as a werewolf terrorizing his scout troop was FANTASTIC, with its visceral violence and campy sleeping bag explosions, but by the end of the episode, too many uninteresting Halloween-themed family-dramedy moments declawed the tone set by its rockin' start.

Fuller's over-the-top whimsy works well with real-world situations in need of some levity (Pushing Daisies, Wonderfalls), but when that style was draped over the portal to Hell opened in Mockingbird Lane, the opposing forces clashed a wee bit too often. However, that could merely be the result of it being a pilot, because there was a formula that could really work; Mockingbird Lane just needs to get the right balance of Eye of Newt and Puppy-Dog Tails. The show would probably be better off if it ditched the Disneyland haunted house music and uplifting ditties from The Magnetic Fields, too.

However, all these nitpicks are endemic of almost every television pilot, so to criminalize Mockingbird Lane for not getting everything perfect in its first outing would be just plain stupid. What we should focus on are the things that it did well, like the unapologetic campiness and overall look of the whole thing, which really made the hour stand out from a generally dreary broadcast television landscape. Despite being a souped-up retread of an old classic, Mockingbird Lane is one of the most original attempts at new programming I've seen in a while, and I think we can all agree we'd like to see more of that.



TRICKS AND TREATS

– Don't get your hopes up that this will actually become a series. The numbers are in and the special drew a 1.5 rating in the important adult demo and just under 5.5 million viewers. It's also rather expensive and too niche to warrant any long-term commitment. It's great that NBC gave it a shot, though, and I'd love to see more networks just throw their unaired pilots out there.

– Speaking of unaired pilots, what we really want to see, NBC, is the Wonder Woman pilot of 2011! C'mon, do us a solid!

– Most of the time when a network remakes a property, it does so almost exclusively for the familiarity of the brand name. Yet here, the creative decision to rename the show Mockingbird Lane seems counter-intuitive to the business decision.

– Gotta say, if you know your kid is a werewolf and you send him camping with his scout troop during a full moon, you're kind of a bad parent.

– The sleeping-bag explosion? An homage to one of the greatest horror-movie moments ever, from the late-'70s film The Prophecy:


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I loved it they need to make this a series. They Need to have more shows like this . love it
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This show is awesome. The characters are fleshed out and the actors are great. The aesthetics are amazing and the story has got me wondering what the next episodes (if ever made) will look like. I find it hard to believe that this show did not get picked up. This is a brilliant piece of art. Shame on America for not knowing what's awesome.
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If they dont pick up this pilot, AT LEAST MAKE IT A HOLLOWEEN TRADITION...every year one hour of the Munsters pretty please!
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I thought Grandpa was amusing, and was rooting for Jerry O'Connell, but even Jerry can't overcome poor writing. The rest was disappointing IMO, but I'd give it a chance to improve, but it's NBC, so not getting my hopes up.
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i loved it, i really do hope they pick it up

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I thought I would like this, but I didn't. I just found it too silly, and not funny. There was also no indication that the creators were planning some sort of story for the series. I'm not sure a story is even possible when everything is so silly.
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Not having seen the original Munsters I went into Mockingbird Lane viewing it as it's own entity and... I loved it! This show has a lot working for it, Bryan (God) Fuller, Portia De Rossi (who, yes, was a little underused), Eddie Izzard, Cheyenne Jackson (even though he was only a guets star - although, was he?) and Bryan Fullers niche touch to make it so much better than if anyone else had done it. Okay, fine. I'm slightly biased because it's from Bryan Fuller, but hey, a good show is a good show. And I think NBC should give this another 12 episodes and then decide. At least give the show a first season.

If not, hey cable networks... this show will work great for you guys!
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Well for those who dying to see the Wonder Woman pilot for some reason, here you go:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v20ZlLChNxc&feature=youtu.be
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blocked on copyright grounds
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Never having seen the original, this brought about memories from my childhood that were similarly themed and made me nostalgic. The only show that I remember and 'Mockingbird Land' resembles closely to. is 'The Addams Family' cartoon. The pilot had a couple of boring moments, but it was good enough. I'd have loved to see this made into a series, a mini-series even. Although, if recent history teaches us anything, the survival of something this quirky is highly doubtful.
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I really think what is stopping NBC from going forward with this series is MONEY. NBC has none.They have been cutting budgets of other shows over the last few months. A network cant be in last place for as long as NBC has and not lose revenue. they had the reprieve with the Olympics but that only helped for a bit. Also how do you get an accurate ratings number when some affiliates didn't even air it.If we want this show to go on it will have to be done on another station. I think FX or TNT. AMC I dont think would due to the money they spend making their shows now, Walking Dead, Mad Men , Breaking bad. Plus Its not an AMC caliber show . Their dramas are High brow .
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Personally, I'd rather see this go to either AMC or TNT. Both of those networks seem to be more suited to adult themed shows (yeah, I know, Munsters? Adult?)., and are much more likely to allow them to expand the story lines. NBC would probably want to change everything around based on some group opposed to blood, supposed nudity, violence, etc. and try to turn it back into a kiddie show like it was in the 60's and make it too adult for kids and too stupid for adults. The show was great and deserves a chance.
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I love the work of Brian Fuller. This wasn't my favourite piece but it's a pilot. If I were to base my love of all shows on their pilot I'd be stuck watching the IT crowed and and "No Heroics" on an endless loop. Still was good as pilots go.
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I absolutely loved it and I'll be really sad if someone doesn't at least give it a chance. From the second it started I was hooked and having not read nor heard anything about it prior to watching it, I knew instantly that it must be a Bryan Fuller show. The colours were spectacular, the humour was subtle when it needed to be and it reminded me so much of Pushing Daisies and Dead Like Me (both of which I adore). And as for The Magnetic Fields song in the soundtrack, I've loved them for years as well and it only enhanced the show for me. Too many shows nowadays rely on filling their soundtracks with the latest pop drivel to appease the distracted multitude. Unfortunately for people like me, they are the multitude and the ones that bring in the big bucks by watching mindless nonsense like Jersey Shore- if you don't cater to them, you don't get picked up. It's depressing, because this show has so much potential.
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I thought this show was a delightful treat and ate it up! I can only hope they would try to make a real go of this show as a regular. Aw well....
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Say, anybody else remember the syndicated 90's remake "The Munsters Today?"
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This show rocks!! much like Pushing daisies, it is weird, fun and not like the old series!!!

We need shows like this coz the other stuff is all just a version of everything else that is on TV!



Hey, why no love for The League????
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Quite possibly the worst idea in the history of bad ideas. Ever.

If you enjoyed it, more power to you but I couldn't keep my eyes off the clock waiting for this thing to be over.
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I felt the same way about Lost!
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well said mate...
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MAKE MOCKINGBIRD LANE INTO A SERIES
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It was nicely done and with good actors. It just wasn't funny. But then again, the original and remakes of The Munsters weren't funny for me either. So probably just not my show. Won't watch it again.
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I gotta say Elvira would get a kick out of this show, its so Macabre.
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Love The Munsters, love Fuller, love this! I'm hoping against logic that this gets picked up by someone.
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I love the new version of the Munsters, and I do believe they deserve a series. It was goofy and serious at the same time, which is a good thing. The only thing that I felt that it was needed was seeing Grandpa smoking a Cuban cigar and talking to Igor, his pet bat.
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I thought this was very well done with a good balance of goofy, serious and spooky. I liked the updates on the characters and think it all blended together perfectly. Sure some things here and there could be touched up but all in all this was simply Amazing and I'd watch it every week. I like the new Herman along with the other modern touches on this re-imagined masterpiece!
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I thought this was very well done with a good balance of goofy, serious and spooky. I liked the updates on the characters and think it all blended together perfectly. Sure some things here and there could be touched up but all in all this was simply Amazing and I'd watch it every week. I like the new Herman along with the other modern touches on this re-imagined masterpiece!
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it's good if u want just to time pass other wise no
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I liked it, just something different and silly. I also like the cast.
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Everyone knows how this story ends. The ratings are alright for the first couple of episodes, then gradually they start to decline and the show gets cancelled after the first season. Bryan Fuller is a great talent, but his style doesn't mesh well with the big six. Maybe make it a mini-series, or give it to FX or SyFy.
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Syfy killed Caprica and SGU. F them. FX is a good idea.
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nothing compares to the original but i'd watch this if it was a series
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Mockingbird is The Munster for this generation and they deserve to have fun with this family like we did.
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I actually liked this. Bryan Fuller made this Burton-ish "Munster"-like series well. Hope to see it picked up by NBC for more episodes.
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Coincidentally I saw the Mockingbird "pilot" special not long after having watched Barnabas Collins in the new Dark Shadows. All the time I kept thinking, does the world have room today for old-school vampires like Barnabas and Grandpa?

Let's face it, the reference young viewers for these so-called "monsters" nowadays are the likes of Twilight, The Vampire Diaries, Teen Wolf. Vampires and Werewolves are basically shirtless hunks, young men in top physical condition who are interested in high-school girls. They are more like romantic superheroes that dwell the fantasy of its nice audience. And that's a totally different take from anything reminding us of Dracula and other older-looking vampires that are real monsters, know they are monsters, and do their best to try to live with their unique condition, but would do anything to be human again.

I'm afraid The Munsters would no longer be appreciated as they were in the 1960s. The audience that seem to count is into something completely different now.
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I agree 100% with you, however I'm getting tired of those shows with younger and younger actors. I just can't relate.
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I loved it! It was fun, campy, the visuals and the special effects were amazing and by the end of it I just wanted to watch more of it all night. Broadcast networks need to be more daring and try shows like these on air. This is why cable networks are succeeding and broadcast is falling. I wish so bad for NBC to pick this up, even for a 6 episode season. I just want to see more!
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Wow, this is great! A combination of the efforts of Bryan Fuller, Bryan Singer and Jim Dooley, what's not to like? Oh, well actually there were things I didn't exactly like, but big deal, the project is fantastic!

And won't see the light of day, unfortunately. It has all the doomed and unique vision Bryan Fuller has in his most creative moments. Not in tune with present vampire fans want. Fuller should go make movies and find niche projects, or peddle his work to cable channels. A real pity.

Just for the record, I did agree with Tim on some counts. I was unsure whether to find things tragic (the scene in the camping site - children possibly dying?) and the death at the end of the episode (I'm not callous), funny (Herman dropping from the roof like a lifeless sack of potatoes), sentimental (the parents trying to make Eddie feel better about his condition), or simply bizarre (opening Herman's chest with a zipper, the family treating Marilyn as a second-rate family member and she was all right with it). But then if you watch Pushing Daisies it also takes a while to get used to all the tragic, comedic and weird stuff happening in that universe, all together.
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Well the pilot was good but nothing compares to the original and there choice of Herman Munster is wrong he does not compare to Fred Gwynne at all and they should of dressed him the same and he wasn't funny at all he should of stayed with the old sliders show they should recast him,but the choice of Portia was a good choice but the best casting was Eddie Izzard he makes a good grandpa the closest to the original Grandpa...and they could of started the series in black and white and lead into colour in the pilot it would of been a nice touch...will see if NBC gives it a chance if they do ill watch it just to see if they can make another good series like The Munsters....and they could have Butch Patrick(the original Eddie)if he is still around to guest star in the show too would be a great cameo....
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always "should have" and "could have"

never "should of" and "could of"
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The black and white thing would have been cool because the pilot of 'The Munsters' was in color and then they changed to black and white.
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I liked it. It was weird and fun.
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liked this; sucks if never gets picked up as a show but strangest things have happened :( bout Wonder Woman, I know for sure it exists on the net but haven't seen it yet...
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I'm watching Wonder Woman now & boy did it deserved not get picked up!!!! didn't know Katy Perry got the lead; just kidding here but it really looks that lame: they did absolutely everything wrong and wasted so much money on it. ps: strangely works as a Halloween show cuz it's scary bad :(
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Where can we see it?
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I saw Wonder woman a while back and agree that it was awful. Wonder woman herslef was such an unlikeable character
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Where can we see it?
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like hauntme said only could find on piratebay
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u can easily download it from pirate bay.org via torrent i hope it helps.
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I really quite enjoyed it. An hour of Eddie Izzard is always enjoyable, but he was in great form in this--wry, campy, scary. The visuals were also fantastic. I thought it started a bit slow, so I don't have Tim's problem of finding it choppy, I was quite happy when it picked up a bit. I do think they edited it down to fit in the time slot and maybe that was his problem, but who really knows. I really wanted to see what TV reviewers thought of it, but when I saw Tim's name I visibly cringed. His views tend to disfavor shows with any sense of joy so I can't possibly envision a world in which he would like this show, which kinda defeats the purpose.

I'd love to see NBC make it, and they've done similar "see how the pilot fares" tests with USA and SyFy, so that gives me some hope, but I think ultimately it cost too much money to ever be profitable. Which is a shame, but given how pretty it looked, I can see where the money went.
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I think the premier for Mockingbird Lane did pretty good numbers. No billboards...mostly through I guess NBC advertising (im not sure how much they advertised it..as I dont watch TV live)....and not enough time to let people know it was coming on...was it 2 weeks ago that they mentioned it?
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I loved this pilot. I can totally see Bryan Fuller in it. Very creative and endearing, a lot of potential. More please!!!
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I really enjoy Mockingbird lane, I hope NBC picks it up, very interested to see how it plays out. I really liked the charcter in it they all did will. So i hope i ll get to see another episode.
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To this day, I'll still never understand how the Munsters worked as a family...Frankenstein's monster marries a Vampire's daughter, and their offspring is a werewolf?
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I hope this show gets a series order and gets placed behind Revolution. Remove an hour of The Voice and add Mockingbird Lane. NBC will have an awesome Monday even if Revolution is just decent. (I know this won't happen..and I'm not really sure if removing an hour of The Voice from Monday will affect the quality of The Voice/decline in ratings or viewers of the voice)
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i really liked it..i have been waiting to see it for so long and then finally it was on last night but oops..i forgot and didnt watch it :/

ended up watching it online at nbc.com...anyways months ago i had been kinda worried that it would suck cause to be honest the trailers of it seemed really lame..but i was surprised at how into it i actually was..i loved watching the Munsters as a kid(reruns) and i really enjoyed the way they redid this..it really gave it a 2012 feel..i do kinda hope nbc changes their mind and trys for atleast a few more episodes, i think if they do atleast half a season the show can get a good fan base..
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You know how Ringer was originally a CBS pilot, but was toss to the CW because CBS didn't think it would fly as a series? Well I think Mockingbird Lane is essentially NBC's version of that. This show would likely do much better on a cable network like Syfy if they do a series order. USA is also owned by NBCUniversal, but has the wrong audience for this show. It has some of the quarks and sensibilities that shows like Warehouse 13 and Eureka has, and I believe that it would do much better on a network like Syfy.

Also, as I watched the pilot I just couldn't help but think what would Brian Fuller do if he couldn't work with color. This series was a typical Fuller project. The set piece, the wardrobe, the setting as a whole felt as if it could come out of the page of a children's book. It carried the perfect mix of vibrant colors and dark tones seen in his other projects, from Dead Like Me to Pushing Daisies. The main downside to this obvious though, to produce such a visually unique series cost money, and ratings have to be amazing to sustain it. That's why Pushing Daisies got cancelled, and why shows like Terra Nova started already on the chopping block even if ratings were decent.
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It was good, so obviously NBC would not be interested. Exactly the sort of thing Fuller should be working on, and instead he is working on Hannibal for NBC, which, while I like everything else Fuller has done up to this point, I have no desire to see. Not his genre. Total waste of his talent. Go NBC (and screw yourselves).
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I think Fuller can tackle Hannibal and bring his style to the series quite well. To me, he's more well known for the dark and whimsical, and creating a whole unique world. Hannibal will be more of a procedural show, and may be much more akin to the episodic shows of Pushing Daisies.
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Wonder Woman was leaked online some time ago.
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Where?
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I hope this show gets made into a series. I think it would be a good Friday night show to pair with Grimm. The ratings were decent for Friday night.
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I like the show concept and would enjoy a series if the network was smart enough to pay for good writing and not depend on CGI.
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refreshing! It's not another reality or talent show! yay!! yes to the series
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I think NBC should give this show a chance, if it works, they'll have a good show that does pretty good in the ratings and fits perfectly with Grimm. And If it doesn't work, it's not like it will be the worst decision NBC made this year.
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