Disenchantment Isn’t Groenings Strongest Show, But Pilot Is Intriguing Enough

by Gary Catig

Matt Groening-created shows have experienced a fair amount of success on television. The Simpsons is the longest running American sitcom and though only on in syndication now, Futurama was so beloved that it was brought back from cancellation. Groening’s latest series, Disenchantment, can be currently viewed on Netflix. Prior to its release, a panel at SDCC hyped up the show and provided sneak peeks for fans. Now that the fantasy adventure is available for your binge-watching pleasure, we can delve deeper into the program starting with the first episode.
[**Spoilers for 1.1 Ahead!]
We are quickly introduced to the main lead, Princess Bean. She is not your typical delicate flower/damsel in distress type. She has a penchant for making foolishness and fits right in downing an ale and gambling at the local tavern. Bean is pulling one over against a rube playing cards and is caught. A brawl ensues but the princess escapes unscathed. She is then picked up by the prime minister of the kingdom, Odval.
It’s the princess’ wedding day and she’s been trying everything to avoid it. She’s lived a very solitary and lonely life. Her mother passed away and she has no friends. The marriage is not even of romance, but to cement an alliance for her father, King Zog. Just once Bean would like to be happy and experience true love and companionship.
While the princess is sifting through her wedding presents, one particular gift literally jumps out at her. As she fiddles with the box, she unleashes her own personal demon, Luci. Luci doesn’t waste time imposing his bad influence over her. Bean rearranges the lettering of the wedding cake to insult her dad and she becomes drunk off of Communion wine before the marriage.
Elsewhere in Elfwood, the diabetically sweet kingdom of the elves, a single elf is feeling he doesn’t fit in. This individual, Elfo, has grown tired of the niceness and overly happy demeanor of his neighbors and compatriots. He has a longing of feeling miserable and after a scandalous affair with the village leader’s daughter, Elfo leaves and sets out in the world to experience all the negative aspects life has to offer.
At the wedding ceremony, Bean refuses to marry. Elfo walks into the church and the Princess takes advantage of the distraction to flee. Somehow Bean, Elfo and Luci end up together on the run with a new fiancée hot on their tails. The original prince had an unfortunate accident with an Iron Throne equivalent so the Princess is now betrothed to his younger brother.

Bean’s only lead to gain her freedom from marriage is to find The Wishmaster high atop a mountain and hope he can grant her a request. Unfortunately, they meet The Washmaster instead, and are tracked down by her new future husband. The trio jump off the cliff instead of risking capture.
Overall, the pilot for Disenchantment was above average. For most scenes, the hand drawn aesthetic is a nice touch and when the camera pulls back for panoramic views of the kingdom, they are clearly computer generated. It’s hard not to compare this show to Groening’s previous ones. The writing doesn’t hit as hard comedy-wise as Simpsons or Futurama, but it is still amusing. This is only the first episode, but there are no real LOL type lines or anything as memorable or quotable to the other two shows. Though the callbacks are quite enjoyable.
There are a couple more ways in which Disenchantment stands out, compared to its predecessors. First, it leans more towards risqué material. Since the show is not on broadcast TV or basic cable, I guess the creators could take more of a chance with adult-oriented jokes and more violent action scenes. Something else new, which was stressed during SDCC, is the serialized format. This can be observed by the cliffhanger ending and the presence of two mysterious villains that purposely wanted Bean to unleash the demon. Both of these garner enough intrigue to warrant watching the next episode.
Characteristic of Groening shows, are the background gags that you have to catch quickly or you’ll miss. Here are a few of my favorite signs in this episode:
Kraken Barrel (One of the many shops in Dreamland)

Welcome to Dreamland: Now With 5 Village Idiots

Now Entering Enchanted Forest – Beware of Racist Antelope.

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