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With a Name Like 'Krod Mandoon,' It Has to Be Good

In theory, Comedy Central's new series Krod Mandoon and the Flaming Sword of Fire should not work. For starters, it's a parody of sword-and-sorcery shows like Xena: Warrior Princess and Hercules, which are already two steps away from being parodies themselves. Second, the title role of warrior rebel Mandoon is played by Sean Maguire, who isn't exactly a known comedian in the U.S., aside from his turn as Leonidas in Meet the Spartans. Third, isn't everybody much more into science fiction nowadays? Who wants to watch a fantasy series? Well, apparently I do. Call it good counter-programming, low expectations or just chalk it up to the show's non-stop, self-conscious wackiness, but the first couple of episodes of this series were highly entertaining, and made me reconsider my stance on LARPing.

Maguire is an interesting choice for the lead. He uses an American accent, and comes off as incredibly whiny, making him the polar opposite of the baritone Conans and Herculeses of the genre, which I suppose is the point. His team of freedom fighters includes Aneka, a sexy Xena-type played by India de Beaufort (Run, Fatboy, Run), whom he dates, but who also engages in pagan sex rituals with everyone else; there's also an all-talk wizard/stand-up comedian and a pig-like ogre dude. They all have their moments, and I almost wish the team had stopped there, but they picked up a fifth member, the Mango-like lover of Krod's old general, Arcadius. Arcadius, who died in prison but still pops up as a spirit sometimes, is played by Roger Allam from Speed Racer. (Yeah, they're all refugees from bad movies.) The real star of the series, however -- besides India deBeaufort's costume -- is Matt Lucas as the evil Chancellor Dongalor. I loved Lucas on Little Britain, and he plays the sadistically self-absorbed Dongalor with relish. He goes back and forth between having the wrong people killed on a whim and trying to give assassins hugs so much he makes your head spin.

As far as the jokes go, aside from everything Lucas says for some reason, they're kinda corny. Especially every line spoken by the gay sidekick. But the characters deliver their dialogue in such an exaggerated, Mel Brooksian manner that it makes the lines work somehow. It's like a much better version of Robin Hood: Men in Tights, or a fantasy-based Spaceballs. There's a lot of physical humor, like when Krod gets accidentally shot in the hand, pinning him to the corpse the arrow was intended for, or when they try dozens of times to light a funeral pyre, then find out that the stupid ogre never put the body on it, or when Aneka does a series of unnecessarily sexy cartwheels. But the bickering among the group can be pretty funny, too. After all, when you have a cowardly wizard, a slutty assassin, a stupid strongman, a whiny hero and, yes, a gay rentboy all in the same scene, there are always going to be some funny conversations. ...I mean, I would imagine. Right?

All in all, I don't know if I'll plan my already-busy Thursday nights around Krod, but I'm looking forward to having it stored on my Tivo, or available as a backup if I ever lose interest in Harper's Island. John Rhys-Davies guest-stars in an upcoming episode, as does Primeval's James Murray, and if the guest stars are all this good, I hope the show lasts at least as long as Jack of All Trades did. Fingers crossed.

Did you watch Krod Mandoon? What did you think? Prove that the cursor is mightier than the sword in the comments.

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