Give Comedy Central credit: “Krod Mandoon and the Flaming Sword of Fire” is the most ambitious comedy ever to appear on the network…and if we’re really lucky, it will become so popular that American keyboards will finally earn the right to possess an umlaut key. As a music critic, I struggled for years with my inability to properly type the names of Husker Du and Motley Crue, but, by God, isn’t it time we finally got easy access to that little horizontal colon?
When I initially heard about the show, my first thought was, “Jesus, I hope this is going to be funnier than, say, ‘Meet the Spartans.'” Little did I realize at the time that Sean Maguire, the man playing Krod Mandoon, was actually in “Meet the Spartans.” When I heard that tidbit, I really started getting worried…but, then, I learned that the show’s villain, Chancellor Dongalor, was to be played by Matt Lucas of “Little Britain.” Suddenly, I was legitimately excited, which speaks volumes about how much faith I put in Lucas’s work. But, additionally, they showed us the trailer for the series, and it was pretty funny. Granted, I haven’t seen an entire episode yet, so this may well prove to be a case where all the best bits are in the trailer, but the production values for the show are fantastic. The whole thing was shot on location in Budapest, Hungary, and it feels about as epic as a comedy series can; indeed, it feels less like a Comedy Central series and more like a BBC production…and given what an Anglophile I am, that’s high praise, indeed.
Creator Peter Knight lays the blame for the series on his steady diet of “Conan the Barbarian” comics over the course of his adolescence, claiming that he merely blended that love with his own insecurities and a modern male outlook, but executive producer Brad Johnson elaborated on the evolution of the show a bit more.
“Peter had this idea, and it would be impossible to pitch anywhere, so he wrote it as a spec, which is always, I think, the best thing to do if you want to get through the process and really get a pure voice initially on something that’s this out of the ordinary,” said Johnson. “When I read (the spec) initially, I loved the world, but what we added was a layer of…we kind of put a contemporary post-feminist modern male in a ‘Conan the Barbarian’ character. It was a chance to really comment on modern society using this backdrop, and also to use magic and sorcery and things you couldn’t use in normal storytelling. It just opened up the world for us to invent some characters and actually comment on modern society a little better.”
In regard to my previous “Meet the Spartans” comment, rest assured that Maguire was well aware of the inherent similarities between this series and that film.
“When I first was given the script, I went, ‘No, I’m not going to do that because I’ve just done something like that and it would be repetitive,'” he said. “But then my manager and agent said, ‘Oh, you should read it, it’s really good.’ I read it, and…it’s kind of rare. I mean, the title I know sounds strange at first, but if it actually becomes a popular show, people will take it for granted. I think when you see and you kind of put it together, it really does make sense and come together well. It was enough to make me go back and do something similar. The difference between this and ‘Spartans’ is we don’t write the fourth wall. This is a genuine world that we’re trying to sort out. As silly and wild as it is, we don’t wink at the audience; it’s very much a world that Peter and Brad have created. It’s also a world that gives us so much scope to do so many different things in the future, if the show continues, that it’s just a really exciting prospect for an actor to do adventure and drama and comedy and everything all in one go.”
And thanks to “Krod Mondoon,” Matt Lucas can now claim to have set a personal record for spending the longest length of time as a single character. “This is very different to the other job that I do,” Lucas admitted, “but I’m very lucky to be able to do both. The great benefit on this show is I’m part of an ensemble cast, so I’m surrounded by some really talented people from both sides of the Atlantic and two magnificent writers. When I got these scripts, in fact, I was staying away for one night, and I came back to audition that same day as soon as I got the script for this because I realized it was such a plumb opportunity, and I was punched in the ear when I got the role. This is so much fun to do and such a great opportunity and I’m just really grateful to be here.
“And these chairs are comfy,” he added. “I like these chairs.”
“Krod Mandoon and the Flaming Sword of Fire” premieres April 9 on Comedy Central.