After Matt Groening took 20-years off from developing anything new, fans of his past works like The Simpsons and Futurama had high hopes for his new Netflix show Disenchantment. But, after some early reviews of the show’s August 17th release, it’s looking like Groening’s animated foyer into the middle ages might be coming up short.
Per the trailer, the show will follow the exploits of Princess Bean, after she runs away from an arranged marriage in favor of exploring the world and discovering what exactly it is that she wants. Bean is something of an alcoholic, one of her companions is a demon and the other an elf, and the whole show is drawn in the style of Futurama. From the outside, fans had no shortage of things to be excited about. Strange characters, good animation, and a legendary mind driving the whole thing. But, as reviews point out, the show is still lacking something vital.
“The storytelling is above-average sitcom fare (which is no small feat; great sitcom plotting is rarely achieved),” Den of Geek wrote in a review. “Still, it’s just not all that funny.”
While Den of Geek got into the show’s struggle to maintain it’s humor, Metro noted that while the show is “wonderful to look at,” but is “missing a soul.” With Empire chiming it to say that Disenchantment is “not yet the equal of his [Groening’s] previous work”
Entertainment Weekly had one of the more thorough takes, noting that the show could have “benefited from more specificity.”
“As it is, the show’s backdrop feels generically grim-historic, all leech jokes and plague jokes, the ‘Bring out your dead!’ scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, except as a whole show. The hit rate’s low,” they wrote.
Going into the past was always going to be a harder sell for Disenchantment, it makes it difficult to avoid overstating or not saying enough. The Simpsons is set in the modern era, which gives the plot and jokes a flexibility that’s afforded when the content is meant to mirror what people deal with today. Futurama has the benefit of being set in the future where the gag is that anything, no matter how ridiculous, is possible. Plus fans from today are tethered to that universe through the perspective of a guy who does not form the future. Off the bat, both shows really just have a much easier time putting viewers into the situation than Disenchantment. Still, you have a week to wait before you can decide for yourself.
Season 1 of Disenchanment will hit Netflix on August 17.