Kröd Mändoon on DVD

Sunday, 22 November 2009 14:35

First aired on BBC2 earlier in the year, Kröd Mändoon is a fantasy-comedy series (or “fantcom” if you will) in a setting similar to “The Lord of the Rings” and “Krull”. Sean Maquire (Grange Hill) stars as Kröd, a muscle-bound resistance fighter with a good heart but a bit of an empty head. He leads an incompetent posse of misfits, including Aneka (India de Beaufort), a voluptuous rogue with absolutely no shame, the hulking pig-man Loquasto (Steve Speirs), cowardly and talentless warlock Zezelryck, and finally the outrageously gay and very clingy Bruce. Together they fight to overcome the villainous Chancellor Dongalor (Little Britain’s Matt Lucas) and foil his plan to activate The Eye of Gulga Grymna, a medieval weapon of mass destruction.

The series sets its stall out almost immediately, with plenty of slapstick goofball comedy, knowing voice-overs (which the characters occasionally interact with) and massive dollops of sexual innuendo and puns. Creator Peter Knight borrows liberally from a host of fan favourites including “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”, Blackadder, “The Naked Gun Trilogy” (and any other Leslie Nielsen film you care to mention), and last but not least “Austin Powers”.

Krod Mandoon DVDThe series’ tongue (and perhaps something else) is firmly in its cheek for the duration. Each of the five episodes follows a standard pattern: Dongalor orders his cohorts to decipher or track down the next component of his WMD, and Team Kröd has to pre-empt or generally interfere with his game plan. And of course, this being a comedy, both sides invariably discover that events (or more likely their own bumbling incompetence) conspire to frustrate them.

Maquire’s Kröd is certainly capable of great things but his neuroses, and general lack of confidence constantly undermine him. So too does his ability to leave behind the eponymous flaming sword at the most inconvenient moments.

He is also very distracted by his jealous love of Aneka. Aneka strives to be independent, which in the context of the show typically means opening her legs for as many men as possible if it either fits her Pagan lifestyle or helps the Resistance’s cause. She is also an accomplished fighter, and has a more sensible head on her shoulders than the others.

Loquasto’s life seems to centre on flexing and easing his itching “must gland”, and being such a poor shot with a crossbow that more often than not he wings members of his own side. Zezelryck’s charms come from his hilariously lame efforts to explain away his magical ineptitude, as well as his frequent attempts to undermine the work of more accomplished warlocks. The outrageously stereotypical Bruce does not really have a talent (unless you include hairdressing or morale boosting), but he helps to bind the group together, more often than not by invading their personal space in the campest way imaginable!

Counterbalancing the freedom fighters are Dongalor and his fey advisor, Barnabus (Alex Macqueen). Matt Lucas’s approach to the role of the Chancellor will be familiar to anyone who knows his other work. He flips from one aspect of the character to the next in the blink of an eye, constantly shifting from posh and pompous ruler to crass and agitated commoner. Dongalor’s charm is that, like Queeny from Blackadder, his wild mood swings mean that whenever anyone does anything to deserve some credit, within seconds of being commended they are either given short shrift or shot. He also has many of the traits of Doctor Evil from “Austin Powers”, especially his propensity for being massively self-indulgent and cackling like a loon. In the face of such a volatile boss, despite being the brains of the outfit, Barnabus has to be as cringeingly submissive as possible whilst being expected to offer advice.

Providing you appreciate the less sophisticated forms of humour, and do not expect complex storylines and character interaction, this is a series you will probably adore for its simple charms and running gags. Wherever possible, the writers squeeze in absurd, rude and crude jokes about farts, sexual prowess and homosexuality, and even the pronunciation of plurals. For example, there are plenty of references to “lube gourds” and two stand-out scenes, one involving men transformed into dogs with too much spare time on their paws, and a clichéd but genuinely side-splitting foreplay montage involving a bowl of fruit and melted wax.

Some of the comedy also comes from knowing references to modern-day technology and behaviour, such as the arrival of weapons inspectors at Dongalor’s castle, working out and the use of business cards. Thankfully, most of the humour succeeds because the actors embrace their roles so joyfully and inject a real lightness of touch to the proceedings. By the final episode, Kröd’s simple brand of comedy does admittedly start to wear a bit thin, but you will want to see how the story plays out regardless.

From the fantasy perspective, Kröd does a reasonable job here, too. The Robin Hood-esque sets and Hungarian-shot vistas are authentic and often beautiful to behold, and the costumes are suitably resplendent or drab depending on the wearer. Fans of Merlin will enjoy the ample displays of magic, sword-fighting and the inclusion of some monsters.

Special mention must go to the seductive succubi (think of the Red Dwarf episode “Psirens”) and Jonathan Slinger’s cringe-worthy “Biclops” – a creature even more overtly obsessed with sensual pleasure than most of the other characters combined! Ultimately, though, this is first and foremost a comedy series, and it does not allow the fantasy to get in the way of a good gag. Rather it uses the genre to add a lot of colour, to reinforce the humour and engineer some hysterical set pieces.

The DVD release features a solid if quite brief set of special features, including some very funny animated menus (make sure you check out every screen!), a snappy “making of” featurette with Kevin Hart guiding us around the sets and interviewing the cast, separate cast interviews, outtakes, an alternative opening sequence, deleted and extended scenes and lastly a “Hunt the Hungarian” mini-game where throughout the series, correctly-timed presses of the Enter button on your remote will reward you with screen test footage.

The series (Certificate “15”) is released by 4DVD on 23 November 2009, with a RRP of £19.99 or less from www.culttvstore.com

 

TV Review: Kröd Mändoon and the Flaming Sword of Fire (2009)

 

Last modified on Thursday, 10 May 2012 16:37

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