Directed by: Alex Hardcastle
Written by: Brad Johnson and Peter Knight
- Sean Maguire (Krod Mandoon)
- India de Beaufort (Aneka)
- Matt Lucas (Chancellor Dongalor)
- Kevin Hart (Zezelryck)
- Steve Speirs (Loquasto)
- Roger Allam (General Arcadius)
- Alex McQueen (Barnabus)
- Marques Ray (Bruce)
Premiere: April 9, 2009 on Comedy Central
Plot Summary (Contains Spoilers)
The rebellion against the cruel Maconian Empire has been nearly crushed. Its leader, General Arcadius (Roger Allam), has been captured by the evil Chancellor Dongalor (Matt Lucas from Little Britain USA). The only hope of the resistance lies in Arcadius's bungling protege, the low-born swordsman Kröd Mändoon (Sean Maguire, Meet the Spartans) and his free-spirited pagan girlfriend, Aneka (India de Beaufort, Run Fatboy Run).
While attempting to rescue Arcadius, only to see him killed before his eyes, Mändoon and his companions -- Aneka, pig-faced servant Loquasto (Steve Speirs), and fast-talking warlock Zezelrych (Kevin Hart) -- draw the attention of Dongalor. The sociopathic chancellor takes time out from killing his own councilors to hire assassins to hill both Mändoon and Aneka. They also acquire another companion, Arcadius's prison lover Bruce (Marques Ray).
Mändoon, in hiding, is visited by the spirit of Arcadius, who reveals that he and Aneka are prophesied to bring down the Meconian regime, and that his power to do so is expressed in the flame that courses down his sword in battle. Dispatching the assassin sent for him, Mändoon races to rescue Aneka, who, angry with Mändoon's inability to accept her pagan ways, has left to participate in the rite of 300 moons (which also involves 300 men).
Meanwhile, unknown to Mändoon and his friends, Dongalor has acquired a fearsome weapon that in time will give him the ability to lay waste to all the land...
The Latest Golden One Discovers His Destiny
Comedy Central's decision to launch a tongue-in-cheek swords and sorcery parody seems a little pointless. After all, what sarcastic remarks are there left to make about the ludicrous goings-on of your average fantasy TV series that Hercules, Xena, and Xander Harris haven't already made?
Even the current successor to the syndie fantasy slot, Legend of the Seeker, knows better than to take itself too earnestly even as it plays it more or less straight (as they tacitly noted by guesting Xena co-star Ted Raimi).
The upshot is that Kröd Mändoon and the Flaming Sword of Fire, in attempting to make fun of the genre, is treading ground already trampled by the genre itself. The expected elements are all here: the "chosen one" concept being flagged as a cliche by the characters themselves, the heavily anachronistic dialog and fashions, the unnecessary shirtlessness of the incredibly buff male lead, the camp giddiness of the villain, and so on.
Added to these trite observations are that even more unwelcome product of the uninspired humorist: the unhilarious stereotype. First, there's the fast-talking black guy who does nothing but "spin B.S.," as the character sheet helpfully puts it: As played by Kevin Hart, Zezelryck is the bastard child of Chris Tucker and Chris Rock, combining the most annoying jive huckster elements of each. Even worse is the flamboyant queer, jocularly named Bruce, played by Marques Ray. Are we really still producing shows that point and laugh at gay people by making them as flaming as possible, while the hero grimaces in revulsion? Seriously?
Some Redeeming Elements
The real trick of producing a fantasy satire is to make the characters and situations interesting and complex enough that you want to follow the story and enjoy the jokes along the way: that was why both outright parodies like When Things Were Rotten and self-mocking straight entries like Xena succeeded. Interestingly enough, there is some potential for this to develop as Kröd Mändoon proceeds. The writing on display in the pilot is uneven, ranging from the obvious to the slightly less obvious. But one sign of weak writing is to pick up a joke concept, use it once, and throw it away; and Kröd Mändoon makes an effort to go back to its joke ideas (like the guy who's too friendly with horses) and mine them for more humor, which is promising, as far as it goes.
The balance of the potential lies in the likability of the lead, Sean Maguire, and the sheer fun of Matt Lucas's turn as Dongalor. While on the evidence presented here it's clear Maguire desperately wants to be a taller, buffer Seth Green, he seems to know how to work this material while building a character that's more than just a two-dimensional target for laughs, and that's the only way the series can survive. Matt Lucas takes his scenes straight to the bank while reigning in just short of ridiculously over the top. India de Beaufort, meanwhile, has a great challenge wresting her character from the jaws of cliche, as the oversexed girlfriend who's more competent than any of the guys; but she has the chops to do it.
Kröd Mändoon is not awful. But it might very well be unnecessary.