From the creator of The Simpsons and Futurama comes an all-new animated Netflix series. But hold your horses, because this series is still in some rough territory and can’t quite be considered a masterpiece like its predecessors. Although Disenchantment is the brainchild of Matt Groening and Josh Weinstein, it doesn’t quite hit the entertainment mark, and can, at times, be quite ‘meh’.
The series is set in the kingdom of Dreamland and is in the territory of being a medieval/fairytale/fantasy satire. The characters include Princess Teabeanie or Bean (Abbi Jacobson), an elf named Elfo (Nat Faxon) and Bean’s personal demon, Luci (Eric Andre). Bean is trying to find her freedom and happiness in a seemingly restrictive environment. It’s one where she is being forced to marry someone so that there may be some form of alliance between the kingdoms of Dreamland and Dankmire. Bean is also not your average fairytale princess, she is a heavy drinker and also a gambler. Elfo, on the other hand, is sick of always being happy and cheerful and has also become quite tired of his candy production line job where all the elves are always singing. Unlike Bean, Elfo is looking to escape his village and experience some of the more brutal realities of the rest of the world. Elfo brings an innocent naivete to the series, has no idea who is mother is and is also only half elf. Luci, is a lot like Bender from Futurama, he is Beans personal demon and often self-absorbed and quick with quirky comebacks. Luci’s role is ambiguous because even though he’s portrayed as being a demon and getting Bean to do things she most probably shouldn’t do, he ultimately does have her best interests at heart.
The series is slow to start with many episodes being quite mundane and character relationships still feeling a bit thin. Episodes generally take place in Dreamland and generally follow Bean, Elfo and Luci going on a series of misadventures that don’t really lead anywhere. Sometimes the humor misses the mark with jokes that either aren’t that funny or aren’t timed that well, which could be chalked up to the writing. Some of the best humor in the series can be found in the background of Dreamland in the form of signage, these are quite punny but worthy of a giggle. The humor that involves violence, however, can often be quite boring. There’s only so many times you can watch Luci being flung around or Elfo being beaten by Luci, it’s just not that fuuny.
There are a few more things that Disenchantment has going for it. One of them is the animation style, it is classic Groening but also the kingdom of Dreamland is quite detailed and exquisite in its 3D rendering. That coupled with the 2D characters against a 3D background, make the series a visual delight. The other good thing about Disenchantment is the stellar voice cast. These two things just about save the first half of the first season.
Even though Disenchantment gets off to a rocky start, the series is not a complete castaway. It might be too harshly judged, given that its predecessors are the successes they are and perhaps Disenchantment needs to be view in isolation from the masterpieces of The Simpsons and Futurama. There’s absolutely no reason that this series can’t turn things around, in fact the last three episodes leave us with some hope. Even Futurama wasn’t a hit straight off the bat and when it was a hit it still had some ‘meh’ episodes. Disenchantment has potential and it’s also created by Matt Groening, so we should definitely give this show a fighting chance.