I guess we can now say that Matt Groening has completed his trifecta of animated adult comedies. With “The Simpsons” taking place on present day and “Futurama” set on the far future, it makes sense that his third show would be set in the past. “Disenchantment” whisks us away to the crumbling medieval kingdom of Dreamland, where we will follow the misadventures of hard-drinking young princess Bean, her feisty elf companion Elfo, and her personal demon Luci. Ironically this fantasy comedy about the miseries of medieval times is hosted only on Netflix, which may just be considered as the future of TV and film.
“Disenchantment” is just how you might expect a Matt Groening comedy would be. It’s brimming with satirical humor, which, despite the medieval setting, actually pokes fun at how we are at the present. For instance, a lady presiding a church wedding exclaims how she doesn’t really know anything about God, but that if she speaks with confidence, “you dopes will believe anything I say!” While watching a parade in Episode 8, Bean happily explains how society used to be only about working, eating, and starving, but now they also have entertainment! To which Luci replies that entertainment is “just a tool that pacifies the masses”. The medieval jokes in “Disenchantment” are funny not only because they are absurd, but also because they are smart enough to be relatable to the present.
But then again I won’t be quick to align “Disenchantment” with the level of wit and fun of its predecessors. As enjoyable as it is, the series starts off with a wobbly pilot episode that rightfully takes its time in world building, but rushes in establishing the relationships among the three main characters. Episode 1 is interesting enough to make you stick around for more, but it isn’t until Episode 8 that we finally stitch together a deeper narrative. The last three episodes is where you’ll be able to put two and two together and realize that the seemingly pointless misadventures of the earlier episodes are actually groundwork for the Season’s grander design. Nothing surprising there, but I just wished that the story is more cohesive earlier on in the series, rather than rush the reveals in the last three episodes.
The characters also need a bit more fleshing out, especially that we only briefly brushed through the backstories of the three main characters in Episode 1. Their chemistry works when they’re taken as a trio but individually, they’re pretty much one dimensional cutouts. The good news though is that the voice actors Abbi Jacobson (Bean), Eric Andre (Luci), and Nat Faxon (Elfo) did an incredible job breathing life to the characters.
Netflix’ seemingly bottomless budget is apparent in the animation of “Disenchantment”. I’m no animation expert but there’s a noticeable better quality in Disenchantment’s animation. Establishing shots are often in 3D (which somehow reminds me of a videogame cut scene) set against 2D characters.
Netflix’ “Disenchantment” kicks off to a very promising season. There’s a lot of potential that Netflix can do with the premise, and with this Season’s cliffhanger finale, there’s a lot of reason to be excited for the next!