Thursday, May 03, 2007

The Addams Family - Lurch and His Harpsichord

The third episode on the DVD, vol. 2, collected episodes of The Addams Family, a fine collection of crisp, nice, black and white old TV shows (nice so far, anyway)...

This episode focuses in on Lurch's love for music, especially as it is comes forth from a beautiful old Krupnik harpsichord. I couldn't tell exactly which Krupnik model it was, but they're all good.

Lurch is playing, conducted by gloved Thing with baton; Gomez and Morticia are dancing and romancing; Fester is there. The rest of the family is away for the episode. A nice old gentleman comes by, recognizes the beauty of the playing, recognizes the Krupnik, and wants it for the museum. Gomez immediately gives it away, leaving Lurch feeling blue, which is very justified under the circumstances.

So we have the sad sight of Lurch crying, quitting, about to go home to his mother. The others decide to build another Krupnik, which, considering their lack of skill and the constant references to Gomez' and other Addams' failures, comes out as a nice instrument. No one ever complains, like I was expecting, that this is a faux Krupnik, and there aren't any clinkers in the playing.

Of course it all ends well, and Lurch can go on playing, doesn't have to quit, none of that.

In this episode I was thinking about the Addams, exactly what they're supposed to be. I always associated them with being haunted, or monstrous in certain ways. They have Itt and Thing and various other relatives they refer to, and Morticia's in her Vampira dress, and on and on. But in other ways they're nearly so conventional as to be bland. The music is nothing freaky. The artwork around the main room -- guy's leg sticking out of a big fish, a giraffe with clothes on -- seems more surreal than monstrous. No, they're not the Munsters, but just more or less eccentric, yet not so eccentric in other ways. As for all of Gomez's failures - such as being an attorney who wouldn't be able to adequately defend the old guy supposedly from the museum - how did he get to be an attorney in the first place? He seems pretty successful, so it doesn't all fit. The show is about suspending belief, yet what is put before us is not really all that radical. It makes me wonder about what kind of specifications the writers got, what kind of discussions they had to have, about how weird it should be, and how the various pieces of background - relatives, the Addams' psychology, etc. - where supposed to fit. The possibilities for the show, with the sit-com format and all the rest, seem so finite.

But it's a good show, especially for the appearance of it all. Just looking them, they're iconic.

I liked how Lurch was able to go from classical, minuet music almost involuntarily into a rock riff, just with a few flicks of Thing's hand.

And as for his crying, good thing they had the laugh track, because with a studio audience, there would've been those sickening, "Ahhhhs," you hear in a few more recent shows.

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