Review by Justin Waldman for Mr. Will Wong
Disenchantment is the latest brain child from creative mastermind Matt Groening. In ways similar to Futurama, this time things are set during medieval times. What makes this Series special and certainly interesting is that this is Groening’s first time leaving syndicated Network Television, free of its constraints in Netflix. On top of leaving what could be considered a comfort zone, he also decides to make the Show in a serialized sequence, unlike The Simpsons or Futurama. Now there are definitely obstacles to overcome with treading new territory and while Disenchantment doesn’t escape all its issues (well at least not in the first seven episodes of Season One), overall the Show is incredibly-entertaining. It will please fans of Groening’s work. As well, some veteran Voice Actors from Futurama and The Simpsons are part of the Cast and that will bring much joy and familiarity to audience members and fuel fan theories.
The Show focuses on Princess Tiabeanie or as she likes to be referred to as Bean (Abbi Jacobson), the Princess of Dreamland. Her character feels a bit like Groening‘s Leia and Lisa if you toss-in a little Hugo (Bart’s evil twin brother) into the mix. She is a heavy-drinking 19-year-old who just wants to be rebellious and live her own life to the fullest and not listen to her father, dy Zog (John DiMaggio), or her ‘evil’ stepmother Queen Oona (Tress MacNeille).
In the first episode, Bean is being poised to marry a prince, Prince Guysbert (David Herman) and an unfortunate Game of Thrones joke turns everything into chaos, as Bean continues to be her rebellious self. No wild and crazy princess is complete without a sidekick or two and we meet Luci (Eric Andre) Bean’s personal demon, both literally and figuratively, and Elfo (Nat Faxon) the elf that just wants to be his own person, even if that means not being happy all the time. The serialized part of the Show is about these two evil characters who ‘gifted’ Luci to Bean, but the show focuses more on Bean, Luci, and Elfo’s adventures through Dreamland.
What works well with Disenchantment are the multiple voice talent including Abbi Jacobson who delivers her signature self (Broad City fans, you know what I’m talking about!), Eric Andre who switches between delivering commentary on their adventures while also bringing the chaos, while Nat Faxon steals the show with his clueless, life-loving elf. John DiMaggio is always a delight and an absolute joy to hear and the same can be said about Tress MacNeille, and Maurice LaMarche and Billy West, who round out the Cast.
The format of the Show and the ever-changing direction of the Plot may not agree entirely with fans, but the ones who can ignore the lack of attention to the serialized aspect here and just enjoy the adventures of Bean, Elfo, and Luci are in for an absolute treat. Their adventures even take them past the outskirts of Dreamland to other realms and worlds, so to speak, that exist in this universe. Another three episodes of Season One and another ten episodes of Season Two at a unconfirmed date leave plenty of room for excitement and adventure.
One of the most positive things about Groening’s Disenchantment being on Netflix is the ability to have a show without having to censor or worry how it will play on Primetime. It has the ability to be family-friendly, vulgar, and allover the place as it pleases at the same time.
Disenchantment may be off to a slightly rocky start with its bouncing between bottled and serialized formats, but the overall joy felt from each roughly-30 minute episode, is more than enough to have its audience watch and wait eagerly for more after the first ten episodes finish.
If you’re a fan of The Simpsons or Futurama, you will get exactly what you expect from the beloved Groening, and if you’ve somehow never seen either, you’ll be in for a darker treat than expected. Disenchantment welcomes you to explore Dreamland and beyond. Strap yourselves in for this magical ride!
Netflix Canada stream Disenchantment Friday, August 17, 2018.