It's been almost 20 years since Matt Groening came up with a new show. Having created the animated juggernaut that is The Simpsons in 1989, and then followed that up with the cult cartoon fave Futurama a decade later in 1999, he pretty much went off the radar.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago when out of nowhere Netflix dropped the surprise news that not only was Groening back, baby, but he had a whole new show. This is what's commonly known as a very big deal.

Sure, there's an argument to be made that The Simpsons has largely lost the plot these days, but after well over 600 episodes that's not hugely unexpected. The now finished Futurama fared better in the quality stakes but wasn't without its weak seasons and was often plagued by its own peculiar troubles that saw it die and get an unlikely resurrection on more than one occasion.


So what to expect of Disenchantment? First impressions were good. Netflix's teaser trailer showcasing Groening's instantly recognisable art style - you know, all googly eyes and pronounced overbites - and his slightly skewed comedy stylings.

I was excited. I wanted it to be good. I was roughly Bart's age when The Simpsons first came out and I was roughly Fry's age when Futurama released. I'm hardly alone in saying that Groening's irreverent, wise cracking, absurdist humour shaped a large part of who I am.

As the camera in the teaser trailer swooped down from space and through the mist of The Simpson's familiar parting clouds, it revealed a medieval village as an exaggerated, self-important voice bellowed, "You've seen the future in Futurama, you've seen the present in Springfield, so what's the obvious third move? The past of course."

Obviously, this is not a historical past. Instead Disenchantment pillages the tropes of fantasy for its lols, much as Futurama did to sci-fi.

Despite the new setting and new characters the show feels very familiar. And not just because of Groening's trademark art style.

The show's been described as 'Simpsons meets Game of Thrones' but it takes far more inspiration from Groening's space comedy than it does from Homer and co.

Its heroine and reluctant princess Teabeanie, 'Bean' for short, is a hard drinkin' ass kicker, Luci, the demon companion she's cursed with, is a hard living ne'er-do-well and the wide-eyed elf Elfo is a dim optimist deep in lust with Bean. Give this lot a spaceship and they'd easily pass for Ye Olde Futurama.

The first episode has a lot of heavy lifting to do and subsequently its laughs are more spaced out as it works overtime to establish its world, vast array of characters and get our heroes teamed up and off on their (mis)adventure.


There was a pretty funny, very stabby, battle scene between dwarfs and trolls and a head skewering wedding scene but most of the best jokes were sight gags or wordy asides.

In a classic Groening gag Elfo's chief warns him that "No one has ever left the village," before an off-screen voice counters with, "What about Leaveo?". This, of course, prompts the chief's response, "Never speak of Leaveo again, Speako."

But my hands down fave exchange was Luci telling the cornered Bean and Elfo to, "stand aside chumps, while I chump these chumps," before launching a counter-attack on the pursuing guards.

This is exactly the sort of phrase-based, quotable, wordplay that The Simpsons excelled at before largely abandoning and that kept Futurama flying for seven seasons.

With everything established by the end of the first episode the second picks up the pace and by the third, which is where I'm at now, its tootling along nicely.

Some people have been disappointed by Disenchantment and I can understand why. While amusing, the show's never riotous. There's certainly no risk of your sides splitting while watching. There's clearly much potential here but, much like Bart's report card, you can't help but feel it needs to try a bit harder.

That said Disenchantment has cast enough of a spell on me to make me want to see more.