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TV Review: ‘Krod Mandoon and the Flaming Sword of Fire’

Krod Mandoon and the Flaming Sword of Fire
Starring Sean Maguire, Roger Allam, Matt Lucas, India de Beaufort
Comedy Central

If only Comedy Central knew how to spend their money a little better. Every time the network I so dearly love scores a hit and is suddenly flush with revenue, they race out and greenlight a few more new series that often prove to look better on paper than on the high-definition television screen (remember The Naked Trucker and T-Bone?). Their newest effort, Krod Mandoon and the Flaming Sword of Fire, is no ill-advised exception. A vain attempt to satirize the beloved sword-and-sorcery genre much like Monty Python and the Holy Grail took on the legend of King Arthur and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (the books and the BBC radio and television adaptations I mean of course; the 2005 movie blew chunks that not even Amy Winehouse could top) turned a jaundiced eye on science fiction, Krod is a noble effort that misses a great deal more than it hits. For a fan of great epics such as Conan the Barbarian, Excalibur, and the Lord of the Rings trilogy that celebrate the awesome beauty of worlds where magic and clashing steel are as commonplace as traffic and acid reflux are here, watching this show is like watching a mediocre stand-up comedian: you may chuckle occasionally, and you may be shocked when you do, but don’t expect any big laughs.

As a narrator ominously (as best he can) intones, Krod Mandoon (Sean Maguire of the oh so delightful Meet the Spartans), the “son of a blacksmith and a stay at home mom,” leads a small band of heroic warriors on a quest to free the great General Arcadius (Roger Allam), leader of the People’s Resistance, from the clutches of the evil, eccentric, and somewhat effeminate Chancellor Dongalor (Matt Lucas). Aiding him in his quest are his rather large loyal slave Loquasto (Steve Speirs), a well-meaning moron who’s a lousy shot with his crossbow; Zezelryck (Kevin Hart), who’s supposed to be a wizard but isn’t very good at it and yet that won’t stop him from taking credit if someone credits his “magic” for saving their ass; and Krod’s babelicious girlfriend Aneka (India de Beaufort), who is well trained in the art of kicking serious ass but often resorts to somewhat sluttier methods to achieve her goals (much to Krod’s displeasure). Along the way they pick up an unlikely new member: Bruce (Marques Ray), the general’s flamboyantly gay lover. But Dongalor has a devastating secret weapon at his disposal to strike down the resistance once and for all, the mysterious… Eye of Golgagrim (I think that’s how it’s spelled)! Only thing is the Eye is missing a crucial component. Along the way Krod and his merry band of medieval miscreants will encounter horse rapists, semantics arguments, golden showers, uncomfortable secrets, assassin job interviews, ancient prophecies (obviously), and the fact that for some strange reason that will become apparent later in the series Krod’s sword often tends to catch fire on its own.

I’ve only watched the first two episodes of Krod Mandoon, which were aired together as a one-hour premiere, but I have a feeling that I won’t be catching the rest of the season. After the first two episodes the show’s premise failed to hook me and its dependence on familiar humor didn’t really aid its cause. There’s a sense that Krod‘s creators were going for a mixture of British and American comedic sensibilities but despite the presence of a few funny scenes they mostly failed at delivering such a melding. Bad puns (Horst Draper? Emperor Zaynus? Say both those names out loud) and sex jokes don’t always peacefully co-exist with dry wit and pratfalls as the worst films of Mike Myers have shown. But creator Peter Knight and his writing staff (if any such poor fools really exist) try their hardest and with veteran British television producer/director Alex Hardcastle at the helm Krod has a professional polish (thanks to solid photography from Rob Kitzmann and a score from Dog Soldiers composer Mark Thomas that keeps the action moving, which is the most anyone can expect from it) and manages to generate some energy on occasion in the action scenes (albeit brief) and the funnier moments. Every once in a while the writers do get in a hilarious quip such as when Krod is questioned by the strange words engraved on his sword and he replies, “It’s gibberish. My father was illiterate.”

It’s obvious Knight and company would love for their creation to stand shoulder to shoulder with Monty Python, the Goon Show, and The Office. Unfortunately Krod Mandoon isn’t good enough to stand shoulder to shoulder with Yellowbeard, Eric the Viking, and Nuns on the Run. The problem is rather than running with the comedic possibilities of spoofing the pomp and circumstance of the sword and sorcery genre the show’s writers get bogged down in dialogue exchanges that are supposed to be funny but end up unfunny and overextended until you’re screaming at the television. As much as I love Family Guy I’ll admit that even that show has many moments like that where it’s apparent the writers thought too much of a certain idea and we’re willing to flog it until all the comic energy had been completely drained from the premise. You keep waiting for something better to come along and save the scene, like a horse manure gag.

Of course whatever enjoyment there is to be found is due mostly to the enthusiastic performances. The cast is nicely put together and they do what they can with the middling material. The stand-out has to be Matt Lucas as the series’ centerpiece villain Dongalor. Like a Dr. Evil of the Middle Ages Dongalor may be one of the single most ineffective baddies on TV today but that doesn’t stop British actor Matt Lucas from hamming it to the hilt. Prancing about the castle sets giving uber-pretentious evil speeches while his sycophantic entourage looks on confused, Lucas, who’s probably best known here in the States from the series Little Britain and its recent American counterpart on HBO (which even spawned a video game), acts like he’s got the best part of everyone else in the cast (trust me he does) so he acts accordingly like a fiendishly amusing cross of Prince John and the Sheriff of Nottingham (that is, from Robin Hood-Men in Tights). Dr. Evil does need his Number Two after all so in step Lucas’ fellow comedic MVP Alex MacQueen as Dongalor’s eternally suffering, Oscar Wilde-looking footman Barnabus. Every good comedy team needs at least one good straight man and MacQueen is more than capable of playing Abbott to Lucas’ Costello, offering up plenty of bemused looks whenever Lucas starts camping it up.

The actors playing our band of heroes is a mixed bag indeed. Let’s start with Krod himself. Sean Maguire was first noticed doing a pretty good Gerard Butler impression in the otherwise imbicilic Meet the Spartans. Freed from those constraints and given better material than Friedberg and Seltzer could come up with up in their respective lifetimes Maguire manages to come off at times as heroic and buffoonish. He even gets moments to show off what little charisma he has even though he looks like Bud Bundy’s buffer clone. Stand-up comic Kevin Hart does what he can with his limited role but from the beginning his character Zezelryck is hobbled by being too much of a clown and a lousy wizard. Hart’s comedy is on a different wavelength than the others, not surprising given that he’s one of the only Americans in the cast, but while his acting skills are extremely limited he never becomes insufferable. India de Beaufort adds some much needed sex and girl power guts as the limber (in more ways than one) Aneka. It would have been nice if her character had been given a little dimension, but then that could also be said for most of the characters. Steve Speirs plays big and dumb better than most and he’s got the most impressive acting pedigree of the cast: he was in both Star Wars Episode 1-The Phantom Menace and Pirates of the Carribean: Dead Man’s Chest. No wait, I take that back. Roger Allam of V for Vendetta and Tristram Shandy gets to lend the production gravitas that only a trained British theater actor can give and even demonstrates a welcome gift for comedy as the sexually ambiguous General Arcadius. Marques Ray’s Bruce is a bog standard limp-wristed flamer who doesn’t get any choice comic moments outside of the occasional naughty one-liner, and even those mostly fall flat. If any of these characters get to evolve past these first two episodes I’ll be shocked.  

Krod Mandoon and the Flaming Sword of Fire may take off and become a big hit for Comedy Central, but I wouldn’t give it a snowman’s chance in Hell. It has a great concept to build a comedy around but it limits itself by depending on tired jokes and decent performances to carry it through to the end. Who knows though? The ratings might prove me wrong. If not then the network will have a new addition to their Wall of Shame (next to Viva Variety and Chocolate News). As George Kosana said at the end of Night of the Living Dead, “That’s another one for the fire.”

BAADASSSSS will return.



    A fair enough shot at The Naked Trucker & T-bones show, but it did not turn out as I had hoped either. I would change a lot of things about the show but am proud of many things that we did do.

    Sometimes you get seduced by an opportunity and convince yourself that it is all going to be okay. A little compromise here, a choice not to fight there, and the next thing you know you have produced a show that no one is completely happy with. Except some people in charge who never knew what they were doing in the first place.

    I even offered to speak with the executives after the whole thing took a shit just so they could learn from all of the mistakes. I was told “we don’t really do that”, and then she said, “I’m going skiing this weekend in Aspen”

    And then I thought, “the dog shit on my art project and I still had to show the whole school”.

    stay Bad

    David Koechner

    Comment by David Koechner — May 7, 2009 @ 1:57 pm

  2. Oh, man.

    This show is silly as hell, but I love it. First couple episodes were a little slow, but I’ve been increasingly amused.

    Lucas as Dongalor is definitely one of my new favorite villains.

    Comment by The Movie God — May 7, 2009 @ 7:48 pm

  3. This show is growing on me as well. I especially like the character Zezelryck. Kevin Hart is hilarious in this role… perfect for it. I find myself rewinding the DVR to watch his facial expressions again, they’re that funny! The part where he tosses the change on the floor in the season finale… well played, Zez, well played.

    Comment by Seanicus — May 8, 2009 @ 12:01 am

  4. I Have seen bits of this. It’s very silly, but I’m not really onboard yet.

    Great review.

    Comment by Jerry — May 8, 2009 @ 12:04 am

  5. Ok, so I was kind of against this show based solely on the travesty of “Meet the Spartans” but I must admit that I was very wrong. The show is GREAT! It has a subtle humor that hits you after watching a few episodes and it is fast-paced enough to not bore you enough to change the channel at the first real commercial break.

    As always, Matt Lucas plays an awesomely hilarious role! The whole cast is just great and I really, really, REALLY hope that Comedy Central gives it a chance. The writing could be a tad better…but then that also makes me laugh.

    Dongalor forever!

    Comment by Shaun — May 8, 2009 @ 11:45 am

  6. Am I the only one smoking crack or am I the only one who isn’t?
    This is show is awful!
    Upon watching the first two episodes of this show all I could think was, “remember that show, ‘That’s My Bush’, yea that show was just as bad as this one.”

    Cool that David Koechner posted here though, just seeing that dudes face makes me laugh.

    Comment by xGORDOx — May 10, 2009 @ 10:37 pm

  7. i’m guessing you guys are all from the u.s.?

    this show aired in the u.k. last night and it was a constant struggle between reaching for the remote and trying to give it a decent chance for me. the script was just awful and sounded like it had been written by a cadre of 13 year olds laughing at their own jokes (such jokes as there were anyway) without realising those jokes had been heard by everyone who ever lived when they were 13. the characters were weak and had obviously been put together on the back of a beermat at the end of a night of much drinking when such things seem funny. if it hadn’t been for matt lucas’s performance, this show could well have been pulled DURING its first episode.

    maybe the problem is, this show is being aimed at the wrong market. it might play well around 17:00 when the school age teens (13-16) are tuning in, but it leaves an adult audience cold with its dumbed down, toilet based, far too obvious sniggering.

    don’t know how, at what time, or to what audience it plays in the u.s.

    Comment by steven — June 13, 2009 @ 7:31 am

  8. This show is the vastest lake of honking slurry ever to have been pushed into the living rooms of any audience anywhere. Tired, witless and unlettered, it trades in Fantasy – a genre for the dateless if ever there was one. And the gags. Well, where were they? Single entendres just. won’t. cut. it. If warmed-over obviousness is your bag, you’ll love this. I suppose it all comes down to what you’re used to. If all you know is methylated spirits then a schooner of Algerian Cream Sherry or a glass of North Vietnamese hock will rock your palate. But for those of us used to the costlier vintages, this is baby sick from one sick baby. For shame!

    Comment by Louis Harris — June 17, 2009 @ 8:18 am

  9. Loved it, loved every episode. Yes it’s silly – halfway through the first I wanted to turn off, but I stuck with it and glad I did.

    It’s a comedy that knows it’s a comedy and it works. Very pythonesque and I hope there’s a second season.

    I can’t see it ever being mainstream but it will gain a cult following without doubt.

    Comment by Tom — June 18, 2009 @ 11:28 am

  10. Brilliant show, took me a few episodes to get into it. I love all the characters and the silly humor, good way to wind down and have a good laugh. Hope there will be season 2.

    Comment by Hamish — October 12, 2009 @ 5:26 am

  11. I loved and love every episode and character, sean maguire is a great actor and i very much hope the US will release season 2. A+

    Comment by david — November 30, 2009 @ 1:49 am

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