Tonight the BBC shows the last episode of its Fantasy-comedy series which attempts to parody Fantasy stories and films, starring Sean Maguire and Matt Lucas.
But things didn’t look well from the start when the first two episodes were bolted together with the finess of an ogre, and now the last episode is not in the series’ regular Thursday slot. All this does is give every indication that the BBC has no confidence in this little series and has got it out of the way as quickly and quietly as possible.
But I can’t really blame the schedulers. Although the series has good production values, the script just lets it down, badly. It was probably a deliberate decision to fill the series with cliches, particularly the leading characters, but because they are all so obvious there are no surprises, delights, or any anticipation.
My favourite character is Barnabus, played smoothly by Alex MacQueen – possibly because he is the only character I actually believe in. Yes, he might be seen as a slight variation of Harry Potter’s Professor Snape, but having to tread a delicate path by the side of the changeable Dongalor gives Barnabus an edge and unpredicatabilty.
The other member of the cast with any life is the aforementioned Dongalor, given some breath of interest by Matt Lucas. There are some spot-on moments between him and Barnabus, but the writers keep ruining lovely moments of satire or – gasp – even some menace with a stupid throwaway line.
The rest of the cast are cardboard cut-outs. While Sean Maguire may be nice to look at, Kröd Mändoon is one-dimensional, as are the rest of the ‘freedom fighters’. Everyone behaves the way we expect, and do black men always have to be the wise-cracking characters and gay characters from the East? Oh, ple-e-e-e-ase…!
I suppose the writers may have thought they were making some kind of comic statement by using stereotypes, but since everyone does what is expected the whole thing ends up rather dull. and it doesn’t help that everyone is so stupid, apart, maybe, from John Rhys-Davies’s Grimshank. He at least seems to notice how dumb everyone is, but unless something happens in the last episode there’s not much point.
And that just about sums up the whole series…