Krod Mandoon and the Flaming Sword of Fire -- TV Review

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Comedy Central's "Krod Mandoon and the Flaming Sword of Fire" is exactly as bad as you would fear. The trouble with the network is that it has to be all things to all people, so while it can claim partial credit for genuinely funny shows like "Reno 911!" it also must be held responsible for dreck like "Krod Mandoon."

Instead of humor, creator Peter A. Knight settles for a horribly broad and purportedly "wacky" level of high jinks that stopped being funny when you turned 15 and realized that the guy who keeps quoting "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" is not the guy you want to be. The lines that are meant to pass for jokes in a fantasy-action spoof fall flat, and the series humps its one-note premise to death within 10 minutes, making the premiere episode one of the longer one-hour slogs in recent TV memory.

Krod Mandoon (Sean Maguire) is a self-described roving guerrilla warrior in a generic medieval time aided by his pagan girlfriend, Aneka (India de Beaufort), who sleeps with anything that moves; Zezelryck (Kevin Hart), a warlock without any powers; and Loquasto (Steve Speirs), a muscle man who keeps accidentally shooting Krod.

When the series opens, Krod and his gang are on a mission to free the imprisoned Gen. Arcadius (Roger Allam) from the dungeon of Chancellor Dongalor (Matt Lucas), who is plotting to take over the empire. Arcadius dies in the rescue attempt, but his prison boyfriend, Bruce (Marques Ray), joins Krod's team. (And yes, Knight decided to name the flaming stereotype Bruce, because that's just the type of cutting-edge humor he likes to do.) The series' larger arc finds Krod battling Dongalor and doing his best to save the kingdom.

The problem -- or, at any rate, the main one -- with the series is that Knight and director Alex Hardcastle confuse spoof with skill. Every joke is played to the hilt, as if Knight or the actors aren't confident enough to let the material speak for itself; the subtext of every joke is just the performer's desperate need to mug for the camera. British actor Maguire looks the part of the hero, but his attempts to "react" humorously to his surroundings come across like an unfortunate ripoff of Nathan Fillion. Hart is similarly afflicted, and the frenetic mannerisms that worked for him as a stand-up comic are way too over the top for TV. Only Lucas manages to land a few legitimate laughs, thanks in large part to the fact that Dongalor is the only character intended to be larger than life.

The script traffics in a mix of generic dialogue and awful punch lines that are just embarrassing: Bruce's recollection that Arcadius "passed the prophecy down to me orally ... and anally" is so head-shakingly bad that I pitied Ray for having to say it aloud. "Krod Mandoon" plays it big, and does it badly.

Airdate: 10 p.m. Thursday, April 9 (Comedy Central)
Cast: Sean Maguire, India de Beaufort, Kevin Hart, Steve Speirs, Matt Lucas, Marques Ray, Roger Allam
Production: Watson Pond Prods., Hat Trick Prods., MRC
Executive producers: Peter A. Knight, Brad Johnson, Jimmy Mulville, Courtney Conte, Flody Suarez
Creator-writer: Peter A. Knight
Producer: Mario Stylianides
Director: Alex Hardcastle
Director of photography: Rob Kitzmann
Production designer: Grenville Horner
Costume designer: Alexandra Caulfield
Casting: Jeanne McCarthy (U.S.), Sarah Crowe (U.K.)