TV Review: ‘Disenchantment’ – Series Premiere

Matt Groening’s new animated comedy hits Netflix…

Disenchantment

How much trouble could a princess, an elf and a demon possible get into? Abbi Jacobsen leads the cast of ‘Disenchantment’ (image credit: Netflix, used for illustrative purposes only).

 

Spoiler-free review

Starring (voices):  Abbi Jacobsen, Eric Andre, Nat Faxon, John DiMaggio, Billy West, Tress MacNeille, Maurice LaMarche

Series created by:  Matt Groening & Josh Weinstein

Written by:  Matt Groening & Josh Weinstein / Episode directed by:  Dwayne Carey-Hill

What’s it about?

Misadventure awaits Princess Tiabeanie as she flees home with new companions Elfo the Elf and a demon named Luci in tow…

Episode review

The Simpsons and Futurama creator Matt Groening brings his newest animated comedy venture (co-created with Josh Weinstein) to Netflix, the ten-episode (or “chapter”) first season of Disenchantment.  In reverse of Futurama’s far future setting, Disenchantment is placed firmly in medieval fantasy and focuses on the card playing, beer-swilling and forthright Princess “Bean” Tiabeanie (Abbi Jacobsen) as she refuses to marry the dashing but virtually brain-dead Prince Guysbert and flees the alter in defiance of her father, King Zog (the unmistakable John DiMaggio – who previously voiced Futurama’s cantankerous robot, Bender), setting out in search of (mis)adventure with Luci (Eric Andre), her devilishly self-proclaimed ‘personal demon’ and exiled elf, Elfo (Nat Faxon).

An amusing, sometimes laugh-out-loud introduction, “A Princess, an Elf, and a Demon Walk Into a Bar” is perhaps a little overlong at 36 minutes but makes use of the time to establish the kingdom of Dreamland and provide the viewer with a good sense of what to expect from the series and its characters.  No doubt taking its cue from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and appearing less of a simple Game of Thrones parody, Disenchantment pokes fun at the basic tropes of a medieval fantasy tale and makes for an easy watch thanks to its trio of enjoyable central characters.

The humour is a touch more adult than The Simpsons and Futurama but refrains from slipping into cruder more outrages territory covered by the likes of Family Guy, American Dad and Archer.  There are some really funny moments in here with Luci and Elfo getting the biggest share of the laughs – the latter’s stumble into a battle between armies of dwarfs and trolls a particularly hilarious highlight.

The vocal talent is enriched by the inclusion of Simpsons and Futurama veterans such as Billy West, Tress MacNeille and Emmy Award Winner Maurice LaMarche (who viewers of a certain age will fondly recall provided the voice of Brain in Pinky and the Brain) in addition to beloved British comedy actors Matt Berry and Noel Fielding in supporting roles.  The animation itself is polished and follows that familiar Groening style.

This being a Netflix production, Disenchantment is structured around the continuous narrative that can be both a blessing and a hindrance to streaming shows.  A comedy series, especially an animated one is more likely to benefit from self-contained single story episodes rather than the long-form storytelling of say, Luke Cage, Lost in Space or Altered Carbon so it remains to be seen if this proves to be successful or not.

The bottom line:  Disenchantment gets off to a fun, daft start with a solid set of central characters and laudable vocal talent.

All 10 episodes of Disenchantment season 1 are available to stream now via Netflix.

4 thoughts on “TV Review: ‘Disenchantment’ – Series Premiere

  1. After Futurama this riff on medieval fantasies was the next obvious setting for Groening to have fun with. The animation is unexpectedly good and goes nicely with the humor. Fans should enjoy this as much as Groening’s other works.

  2. Wah, I didn’t know about this or that it was made by the same creator as The Simpsons and Futurama. But based on the art style, I can see that it’s not a lie. 😀 I personally never got around to be one of those peeps back in high school who got hooked to those cartoons although I’ve seen some random episodes here and then. I did feel like I missed the train on the hype/love for it. Glad to hear that this one sounds promising, and I do have to say the premise sounds like fun. It would definitely be a nice break from all the other stuff I’m checking out nowadays hahah

    P.S. On a different note, have you been watching or watched Westworld yet? Especially season 2? 😀

    • I didn’t think ‘Disenchantment’ would be for me mainly because of the ‘Game of Thrones’ type setting but I found myself enjoying it quite a bit (I’ve one more episode to watch).

      I did see S2 of Westworld, pretty good – it tries to be a bit too smart for its own good and lacks some of the impact of the first season but worth a look.

  3. Pingback: Disenchantment – Me and My Green Coat

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