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Disenchantment

Entry updated 23 August 2021. Tagged: TV.

US animated tv series (2018-current). Created by Matt Groening. Developed by Matt Groening and Josh Weinstein. The ULULU Company, Rough Draft Studios. Directors include Wesley Archer, David D. Au, Frank Marino and Ira Sherak. Writers include David X. Cohen, Eric Horsted and Bill Oakley. Voice cast includes Eric Andre, John DiMaggio, Nat Faxon, Sharon Horgan, Abbi Jacobson, Phil LaMarr, Maurice LaMarche and Tress MacNeille. 30 28-minute (or thereabouts) episodes. Colour.

In the Kingdom of Dreamland, teenaged Princess Tiabeanie or "Bean" (Jacobson), daughter of King Zøg (DiMaggio), flees her arranged wedding; she is accompanied by Luci (Andre), a demon, and Elfo (Faxon), an Elf. Bean, whose mother Dagmar (Horgan) was turned to stone when she was four, is not suited to royal life, preferring to drink and be irresponsible. Luci was sent by a pair of enchanters to turn Bean evil; Elfo, weary of the compulsory happiness of elfland, came to the human realm and accidentally wandered into Bean's wedding, disrupting it.

Bean is quickly recaptured but, what with the groom being turned into a pig, the wedding does not go ahead. The trio now have several adventures, at the end of which Dagmar is de-petrified. However – in a nice twist on fantasy Clichés – the King's beloved first wife turns out to be evil, whilst Queen Oona (MacNeille), Bean's foreign step-mother, is relatively good (an interesting character, she is sidelined by becoming a pirate captain). Dagmar, whose siblings are the aforementioned enchanters, talks to Zøg of "a dark battle of a hundred centuries and our daughter's destiny." Taking advantage of the chaos, part two ends with Prime Minister Odval (LaMarche) putting Bean's step-brother on the throne as his puppet.

The penultimate episode of part two is the show's strongest, with Luci and Elfo kicked into the long grass of a minor subplot, freeing Bean to help the Scientist Skybert Gunderson (LaMarr) after he crash-lands in a flying machine. She accompanies him back to Steamland, a Steampunk City whose advanced Technology stuns but intrigues Bean. She notices that women here have more independence and authority than in her country (see Feminism), though Steamland is no Utopia: it, or one of its factions, plans the Invasion of Dreamland. Part three has a further visit to Steamland, with the episodes set there again being the most interesting; on returning to Dreamland Bean is crowned Queen, but Ogres attack and her mother arrives to take her deep underground "to your destiny".

After creating two of the greatest cartoon shows of all time – The Simpsons (1989-current), for its first nine seasons at least, and Futurama (1999-2003, 2010-2013) – Matt Groening's third was eagerly anticipated. Despite many of the cast and crew being veterans of the earlier shows, Disenchantment has to date been disappointing: a drab Fantasy series, with a moderately interesting plot, weak Humour and mostly bland characters. Bean herself is the main plus point, likable and – rarely for a female teenaged protagonist in animation – not portrayed as being particularly attractive, nor initially having any romantic interests, though in part three she falls for a mermaid. The introduction of Steamland may suggest an intended possible meditation on the scientific and magical world-views (see Sociology). [SP]

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