Kröd Mändoon and the Flaming Sword of Fire premiers on Comedy Central on April 9. It’s a sort of Robin-Hood-in-D&D-land sitcom where a few adventurers try to overthrow the evil dictatorship—you know how it is. Krod’s1 rebel cell includes his girlfriend Aneka, an inept wizard, and a bumbling big man; they’re later joined by Bruce, a lisping gay escapee from the bad guy’s dungeons. The show dips easily into standard offensive fare. (On Comedy Central? No way!) Politically-Correct Intellectual Megan looks down her nose and asks, could the gay character not be a caricature? I’m not sure why he’s on the show other than to be effeminate and hypersexual. And would it be possible for Aneka to not do a pole-dance and declare sex her chosen weapon? I don’t even mind the Xena outfit, but her blonde highlights and ridiculous Barbie-style blue eyeshadow just say to me, “Let’s make her as hot as possible to a modern audience.” Actress India de Beaufort is beautiful. Can she be beautiful while kicking ass, like in the first tavern brawl, rather than giving up her throwing stars and long daggers and, shortly thereafter, her underwear?
And yet, Easygoing And Occasionally Immature Megan finds herself charmed by Sean McGuire. Don’t hold Meet the Spartans against him; he plays Krod Mandoon as a sort of narcissistic Luke Skywalker, an inept and fresh-faced freedom fighter in a den of equally inept thieves. He’s so earnest that I laugh when one of his merry band shoots him by accident and he says, “No more crossbow for you! Ever!” Or, to an enemy soldier who insults him, “I just have to ask, what makes you say ‘worm-faced’?”
Little Britain‘s wonderful Matt Lucas plays evil Chancellor Dongalor. He also steps into stereotypical queeny-guy territory occasionally—”I haven’t really got the thighs to pull off a loincloth!”—but the difference is that he’s not the butt of gay jokes and clearly has a purpose in the show. It’s just part of his character to be the kind of guy who would try on a furry loincloth and then stab someone for laughing. There’s an offensive (there she goes again!) sequence with a young woman, so I don’t think Donaglor is actually attracted to men, he’s just whacky, and Lucas is playing that character rather than counting on any one joke to be entertaining.
In a clip that I think is on YouTube and can’t find for the life of me, Stephen Fry once explained that the secret to funny sketch comedy is to commit to telling a story and commit to a character, and then if any of the jokes fall flat, you’re still telling a story. If you just have jokes, and they’re not funny or the audience gets tired of the “black wizard occasionally talking like a modern-day black youth!” gag, you have nothing left. I can’t tell if it’s uneven writing that makes a third of the characters actually likable or if those actors are just better at their craft.
Kröd Mändoon and the Flaming Sword of Fire had moments I liked, but I can probably catch those on YouTube and save myself the agony of listening to Aneka discuss how being the token, um, pagan means she has to sleep with a lot of men.
Let’s face it, the umlauts are decorative.