19 October 2018

REVIEW: Disenchantment on Netflix

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Disenchantment on Netflix
Release date: 17th August 2018
Created by Matt Groening & Josh Weinstein

Official synopsis:

In Disenchantment, viewers will be whisked away to the crumbling medieval kingdom of Dreamland, where they will follow the misadventures of hard-drinking young princess Bean, her feisty elf companion Elfo, and her personal demon Luci.

Matt Groening's new show is clearly cut from the same cloth as Futurama (especially the later seasons) with similar humour and familiar voices, albeit set in medieval times. This premiere season contains 10 episodes, each one 30 minutes long. As indicated in the posters and synopsis, the season is foremost a series of misadventures by a princess and heir to Dreamland 'Bean' (Abi Jacobson), 'Elfo' (Nat Faxon) an Elf who decided to leave Elfland because it was too happy, and 'Luci' (Eric Andre), Bean's personal demon who has been assigned to her by some mysterious crystal-glass gazing duo to complicate her life. It doesn't take long for this little trio to fall into a nice dynamic: Elfo is the angel on Bean's shoulder, Luci the demon on the other.

Elfo and Luci primarily encourage or offer advice to Bean, a teenager still revelling in childish antics  but who is being given more responsibilities - as expected of a princess. Their arcs are pretty straight-forward: Elfo's story spins around his crush on Bean and the potential his magical blood has for the King Zog. Luci is there to encourage Bean's recklessness, but ends up helping her out of trouble anyway. Bean is the heir to Dreamland, and has a rocky relationship with her Dad and step-mum after her Mum passed away when she was a toddler. The misadventures led by this trio show Bean navigating various adventures and her moral compass, (emphasise by Elfo's angelic and Luci's demonic opinions) and questioning her future.

The first 6-7 episodes are a collection of misadventures which don't lead anywhere in terms of plot development: from an arranged marriage that goes awry, crossing paths with Hansel & Gretel or meeting all kinds of magical creatures. I like to call this kind of series 'dinner tv', the kind of entertainment which allows you to switch your brain off while you're eating or having a cup of tea, like downtime television after a stressful day. Each episode is an adventure, where you can sit and enjoy it without too much thought or investment.

However, episode 8 takes a dramatic turn, and all of a sudden, the little sub-plots threads presented through-out the season all begin to weave together into something a lot more mysterious and interesting. The final episodes bring emotion and high stakes to the table, which involves Bean's parents, an unexpected death and some revelations which create even more questions.

These final episodes show the potential of future seasons if well executed. Whether it will have the same impact as Futurama (I doubt a show could ever reach the same iconic status as The Simpsons) is yet to be seen, but it is early days at the final two episodes were definitely promising.

So, is the new animated show worth a watch? Yes. Watch it while cooking or eating dinner, or on your commute. It's the kind of show where you can switch off and enjoy a simple (sometimes predictable) plot. The world created by Groening is aesthetically pleasing too: A Castle perched on the edge of a cliff with a majestic waterfall, a medieval town with thatched roofs and candle lit windows, swamps, deserts and more. This premiere season ended on a cliff-hanger so it will be interesting to see what comes next.

Have you seen this show? What did you think? Summer x

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