Monday, October 31, 2011


Since it's Halloween, I thought we should take a more expanded look at one of the members of the TV Crossover Hall Of Fame - Grandpa of 'The Munsters', inducted in October of 2008.

There are those who think he's "Grandpa Munster", in much the same way they think that Daisy Moses is "Granny Clampett", but both those last names belong to their sons-in-law, Herman and Jed, respectively. Grandpa's name is now Sam Dracula, but some people consider him to be Count Dracula - Herman's boss even addressed him as such once. And although Grandpa might accept that honorific out of egotism, he is NOT Count Dracula. Grandpa was embraced into the Kindred of the Dracule, and so now bears the family name in honor of his sire.

But he's not Vlad Tepes. We met Vlad the Impaler in his mortal form in the TV movie "Dark Prince" and as his vampiric Majesty in the "Buffy vs. Dracula" episode of 'Buffy The Vampire Slayer'.

All of the other Draculas seen in TV would fall into the same category - they are "Dracula" because they have been "sired" by the Vampire Lord. (As much as I admire the "soul clones" theory of the Wold Newton Universe, I think my splainin works best for the Drac Pack of Toobworld.)

Grandpa may be a Dracula, but he's pure New York, with his accent and his attitude - more Brooklyn and the Bowery than Bavaria.

And yet the gravestone he keeps in his car says he was "born" in 1367. None but the Amerinds were in the New York area back then, so how could he be in such a New York State of Mind?

Easy splainin: Time Travel.

We know Grandpa was a crackpot inventor. He may have developed a time machine during his mortal life back in the New York City of the 1950's. Perhaps he was working off the designs first developed by previous scientists, perhaps even going back to the steampunk time machine helmet created by Professor Gilbert in upstate New York back in the 1890's. (As seen in the 'Twilight Zone' episode "Once Upon A Time".)
The mortal Grandpa (not yet a true family man) used his time machine to go back in Time, where he met such historical figures as Nero, King Arthur, and Richard the Lionhearted. (As for his encounter with Jack the Ripper, Grandpa could have eventually met the man named Sebastian while Grandpa was living out his undead life... O'Bviously at some point before the Vorlons drove the Redjac entity out of the serial killer.)

Eventually his travels - both temporally as well as geographically - landed him in the Transylvania area before 1367. There he fell in love and settled down, eventually fathering a daughter who was named "Lily".

And then his path crossed that of Count Dracula in 1367.
From that point on, Sam Dracula's life would be as it was recounted in the many episodes of 'The Munsters' - with his daughter Lily being embraced as a vampire as well.

But who was Sam Dracula in his mortal life before he was embraced?

I've looked at the roles played by Al Lewis before he was cast as Grandpa, and I think the best candidate for Grandpa's mortal life would be Mr. Carrari from the 'Naked City' episode of "No Naked Ladies In Front Of Giovanni's House!"
Mr. Carrari
'Naked City'
Mr. Carrari was one of Ben Giovanni's neighbors and he complained - often! - about Ben Giovanni's escapades. It could be that Carrari wanted Giovanni reined in because he didn't want that spotlight to fall on him and his activities (like various potions, spells, and that time machine.....)

Since his character name was simply "Mr. Carrari", it could have been that his first name was "Sam".....

Realizing that the heat was on because of the Giovanni investigation, Sam Carrari may have panicked and utilized that time machine to escape into the past.

Al Lewis played other roles in 'Naked City' and I was tempted to choose Harry McGoglan from "A Corpse Ran Down Mulberry Street". The basic plotline sounded perfect - a truck crashed into a hearse and then the body inside got up and walked away from the accident.

It turned out to be part of an illegal immigrant scheme - this was a fairly realistic cop show, after all. But wouldn't it have been the type of situation which could have involved the future Grandpa - reanimating the dead perhaps?

As for those other roles on 'Naked City', maybe they were "identical cousins" to Mr. Carrari. Maybe they were all Sam in disguise. Who knows? Maybe Carrari whipped up a "Multiplicity" potion which created those five doppelgangers? But whoever those five other Al Lewis characters were on 'Naked City', there had to be something about them that differentiated them to the detectives, if not to the TV audience.

As Sam Carrari, here are some Toobworld citizens he may have met in the New York area:

Ellery Queen
Nero Wolfe
Archie Bunker
Alan Brady
Buddy Sorrell
Patrolman Columbo
Jose Jimenez
Martin and Ida Morgenstern
Alexander Waverly
Felix Unger
Oscar Madison
George & Weezie Jefferson
Ricky and Lucy Ricardo
Fred & Ethel Mertz
Daniel J. O'Brien
Martin Kane
Martin Lane
Richard Diamond
Johnny Staccato
Adam Schiff
Phil Fish
Theo Kojak
and even Leo Schnauzer!

(Some of those he may have met later, as Grandpa. during his trips into the City from the suburb of Mockingbird Heights.)
As long as that list was, as Sam Dracula he must have met thousands of TV characters throughout History since 1367, both famous and non-famous. Far too long a list to compile even the usual suspects, but I think he must have at least encountered the Time Lord known as the Doctor - if only to guide Grandpa away from any potential cataclysm to the time-stream should he meet himself as Sam Carrari.

Then there's his life after 'The Munsters'.

There were a few TV movies and even a theatrical release that has been absorbed into the TV Universe. But I think we also saw Grandpa working as a security guard in an episode of 'Taxi'. (Maybe Grandpa needed some extra cash for one of his experiments.....)
Because the Munster family had no qualms about venturing into the world around them, eventually the whole world had to know that there was a family of monsters out there who looked just like the creatures from the Universal movies. There would have been news stories, reports on television.... Eventually the covert organization I've created for splainins such as this - "UNReel" - must have stepped in and created a TV show about them to put off any further intrusion into their lives... for the sake of the Munsters as well as the general public.  (He may also have received protection from a certain government intelligence agency... and loving it!)
And that's why there would be mentions of Grandpa and the other Munsters - and of that TV show within a TV show about their lives - in such shows as:

'Wizards Of Waverly Place'
'The Nanny'
'Everybody Hates Chris'
'The Sopranos'
''Til Death'
'Six Feet Under'
'Fresh Prince of Bel Air'
'Caroline In The City'
'Red Dwarf'
'Full House'

It could be that Grandpa wanted a return to the anonymity of his past life; that could be the reason he took that night watchman job. There, he could use an alias (Alex called him "Henry") and not be bothered by fangbangers when the next wave of vampire fandom swept the nation.
Alex met "Henry" in 1981, and Henry said that he had been on the job for twenty years. This was either a lie to protect Grandpa's cover story, or it just felt like twenty years by that point.

(By the way, I think Judd Hirsch, who played Alex Reiger, would be the perfect choice to play Grandpa when they finally get around to recasting it once again.)


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