‘Mockingbird Lane,’ And Network’s Competition With Cable

Last week, I wrote about four things that network television needed to do to recover its sense of independent identity instead of losing its mojo chasing after cable. I thought of that post again when I saw the trailer for Mockingbird Lane, NBC’s reboot of The Munsters, on which it spent a reported $10 million, and which it is airing as a Halloween special:

Mockingbird Lane looks exactly like the kind of thing that a network shouldn’t be doing: it was probably unsustainably expensive, it was a reboot of a concept no one was dying for, it had a ton of special effects that would have been unsustainable over the long term, it would never have been able to be as frightening or as sexually disturbing as American Horror Story. It’s not yet clear if NBC has given up on turning Mockingbird Lane into a series or if this airing is a test to see what kind of audience would turn out for the show. But it’s probably a good idea not to get into an arms race with cable while you’re still digging yourself out of a ratings hole, and when you don’t have subscription revenue to fall back on.