The problem with Comedy Central’s new sword-and-sorcery spoof Kröd Mändoon and the Flaming Sword of Fire starts at the umlauts. A look at all that unnecessary dottage in the title will tell you most of what you need to know about the series’ introductory episode (debuting 9 p.m. Thursday, April 9). This is the kind of show that still finds humor in mocking only-half-serious-to-begin-with heavy-metal tropes decades after Spinal Tap and Mötley Crüe found the ultimate punchlines. The timing’s nearly as bad for the show’s main source: those hour-long fantasy dramas such as Xena: Warrior Princess and Hercules: the Legendary Journeys, both of which, oddly enough, have titles featuring colons, not umlauts, and stopped being relevant like 10 years ago.
So what purpose would Comedy Central have in greenlighting Kröd Mändoon so long after everyone’s stopped caring about the shows it’s mocking? After even the lesbian fan-fiction writers who made up much of Xena’s core fanbase have moved on? Beats the hell out of me. The show’s just about as painful as it sounds. Everything from narrator Chris Parnell’s introduction (Kröd was the “son of a blacksmith and a stay-at-home mom”) to Sean Maguire’s broadly clueless and narcissistic take on the title character, to Kevin Hart’s caricatured portrayal of the token minority friend — grinning as he reads lines written by middle-age white men who’ve never met an actual black person — betrays Kröd as the cable TV version of those Not Another Blank Movie movie parodies Hollywood’s been shitting out on a biweekly basis the past few years. (Maguire, not so incidentally, starred in Meet the Spartans, and Hart earns some kind of asshole medal of honor for appearing in Extreme Movie, Superhero Movie, and Scary Movie 3 and 4.) Matt Lucas (of Little Brittain) makes the best of his role as medieval bad dude Chancellor Dongalor, occasionally squeezing a laugh or two out of dried-up Monty Python turds, but not really achieving much more than a middling Dr. Evil/Stewie from Family Guy impression.
I’m mostly criticizing the acting, though the biggest problems are with the writing, because the plot itself isn’t really even worth discussing. If you’ve seen any sort of fantasy anything you know the story: Kröd, a soldier in the rebellion against oppressive Dongalore leads a party of differently abled warriors (including Lord of the Rings’ John Rhys Davies as Kröd’s gargantuan lump-head slave) on a mission to free his commander and mentor, General Arcadius (Roger Allam), from Dongalore’s dungeon. Arcadius is predictably killed in the escape attempt, but not before he reveals Kröd is the “Golden One,” the man prophesied to deliver the country from tyranny and wielder of the flaming sword of fire. Speaking of flaming, Arcadius also manages to bequeath his new boyfriend Bruce (Marques Ray, who plays gay with Robin Williams subtlety) to the group in case the show’s jokes weren’t sufficiently hacky before.
If this is all starting to sound like Star Wars/Tolkien slash-fiction, you’re not far off — just replace all the amateurish hobbit-on-wookie sex scenes with kitchen-sink spoof comedy written by guys (Brad Johnson and show creator Peter Knight) who boast episodes of Coach and Sweet Valley High on their IMDB résumés. Ultimately Kröd Mändoon aspires to be Robin Hood: Men in Tights, and falls short. And that’s maybe the most depressing sentence I’ve ever written.•