Follow TV Tropes
Apologies for using that pun as a title, but after watching the show's two seasons almost back-to-back I felt unimpressed and vaguely bored. My main problem with the show is that the underlying plot can be interesting, but it's diluted in a bunch of standalone episodes that feel strangely pointless and underwhelming. Which also ruins the "epic" feel of some of the reveals and the fact that we're supposed to sympathize with the characters instead of just laughing at them. And here's my second problem with the show: I didn't find anything that was really funny or memorable to me. The gags about Dreamland being a backwards shithole and the anachronisms get predictable after a while, just like the few running gags (such as the jester or the herald) which weren't that amusing in the first place. The protagonists are one-note characters, the villains lame and barely fleshed out, and other characters are rehashed from the other Groening shows (Sorcerio is basically a pansexual unfunny Prof. Farnsworth). There's also no memorable catchphrases ("Hi I'm Elfo!", "Oh no!"... seriously?) and even the theme tune failed to get stuck in my head. It's not bad, but it's not good either, just kinda dull and bland. Probably Groening shouldn't have waited 20 years to make it, since at this point in time there's so many more cartoons from which to choose and that make this one just "okay".
I wish Matt Groening didn't draw his characters all the same way. They may not be yellow, but Futurama, and now the newly released Disenchantment, both have that same pool ball eyes perched on a pencil nose visual style that The Simpsons always had, and such a resemblance encourages the viewer to make unflattering comparisons. With Futurama, it was a disservice as it was a brand new show finding its feet, coming just a couple of years after Simpsons was at its high water mark with season 8. Expectations were too high. With Disenchantment, it is still a disservice, because it gives it too much in common with the weak and watery show The Simpons has become. Expectations are too low.
Disenchantment is a parody of the high fantasy genre, which might give it more in common with Futurama than The Simpsons, but it also does quite a few things new. For starters, this show is nowhere near as episodic. The stories are longer form, with plot elements and consequences carrying over from one episode to the next. This innovation lets it do things that Groening's other series couldn't do, such as having regular callback gags and brick jokes. In terms of humour, it isn't anywhere near as sharp or merciless as the Simpsons once was; I doubt anything by Groening ever will be. It does have its moments though, with a silly sensibility that got some occasional laughs out of me.
The main complaint I have about Disenchantment is that it is somewhat derivative. I'm not so much talking about the fantasy tropes; they have to be there for the sake of parodying them. I'm more talking about broader character concepts. The protagonist, Bean, is a roughhousing Princess who doesn't want to be married - that's not terribly imaginative. Then there is Luci, a two dimensional demon (literally and figuratively) who is basically Bender-lite; misanthropic, mean spirited, and fond of smoking. They haven't really pushed the boat out with the characters, though I am hoping that due to the longer form story telling, they will develop in their own way into something more novel.
Disenchanted is watchable enough, but I predict it will get better. It has to get better. Right now it is laying its groundwork. If its long-term approach to story and humour is anything like Archer, then Disenchanted will have to get through a weaker start before it can build up its library of call-backs and running gags. If it manages that, it'll be hilarious a season or two down the line, once it's grown its beard.
Community Showcase More
How well does it match the trope?