When I first heard about Disenchanted around the time it was early in development I, like most fans of Matt Groening’s other shows namely The Simpsons and Futurama was pretty excited. By all means the show has a powerhouse of talent working on it with notable voice acting alumni like Billy West and Tress MacNeille the show should by all means be a runaway hit. So with high hopes I chucked on the first season.
As it turns out it’s not
It’s not terrible it’s just bland, generic even like a beige lollipop. While the setting is interesting and the world has a lot of potential it’s just dull. You have to wonder how you could take a fantasy setting and make it so bland and lifeless.
It wouldn’t be fair to compare it to other successful shows like The Simpsons and Futurama but the inevitable comparisons are going to be drawn. Also I haven’t found a single news outlet criticising the show in any way, so I’m going to take out my big criticism hammer and be brutal.
The jokes are few and far between and the throwaway gags lack the impact as they did in previous shows namely: Futurama. Characters will constantly spout their sole defining character trait as often as they have the chance. Whereas in other better shows the characters will show off their character traits as opposed to telling people about them. For example Fry doesn’t walk around telling people he’s an idiot he acts like an idiot with many humorous results.
There seems to be a dichotomy between telling a bland story and trying to make it humorous enough that people wont turn it off. It almost seems like every time the show is about to hit a high note or has a particularly funny gag it immediately screams like an disobedient child and jarringly crams more story or some garbage character dialog in your face.
A particular example of this is Matt Berry’s character who was at that point in season one was probably the most entertaining one of the bunch. It feels like they wrote themselves into a corner with him and didn’t know what to do with the character so they just “wrote him out”. His absence from that point on really steals a lot of enjoyment from the show.
It feels like the joke writers and the story writers were in two separate rooms there doesn’t seem to be any cohesion between the two. Hence why the show has a cobbled together feeling to it. It has a weird uneven tone which can’t really be described with strange pacing issues.
I get the feeling that perhaps Matt Groening had maybe too much creative control over the project. Because there is an insistence to tell a story (one that the main characters don’t even seem to care about), while sacrificing those aspects that make the show enjoyable. I feel this way because I recall reading an article awhile back where he stated he didn’t know what made The Simpsons funny and this is very telling.
This is exactly what the show feels like: the creator trying to push a bland narrative with his support writers attempting to inject humour and make it more enjoyable. Any time the show seems to get going with good gags and jokes it gets pulled back onto the main narrative.
That’s not to say cartoons in general cannot have a narrative it’s just a precarious balance between being extremely serious and having enjoyable humour. A different show that does this quite well is Final Space it tells a serious narrative without sacrificing humour, while the first couple of episodes are a bit jarring the show eventually finds it’s speed and becomes very enjoyable.
Overall I’d say skip Disenchanted. It’s a slog to get through and not very fun. Go watch Final Space instead (if you haven’t already).