It’s only Episode 3 of Yonderland and the format has been broken immediately. This week, Debbie of Maddox isn’t looking for another scroll, the elders aren’t tasking her with any particular quest; instead, she comes to Yonderland because Elf really wants to show her a forest of trees yawning in unison – “Wait until this place gets an IMAX, it’ll blow your mind”.
But on the way to seeing the yawning trees, Debbie spots smoke in the distance and the gang walk into a ruined temple where monks who can never lie stand, desolate, destitute, dumbfounded and… other d-words. Debbie tries to help the monks survive in the ‘real’ world (of Yonderland), while getting them to the place where their religion was founded. And avoiding bounty hunters. And teaching them to lie. And not tell harsh truths.
Meanwhile, Negatus sits in a viewing pot/bath trying to find the Chosen One. Debbie and the monks hide from his demon henchpuppets (we’ll go with that from now on) by dressing in Debbie’s husband’s suits and putting gel in their hair – to pass as estate agents. It’s the most story any episode of Yonderland has had, but since it is a clear diversion from both the formula and the series’ overall plot, the time spent justifying 30 minutes devoted to monks walking to a pub takes up space that could be allotted to gags. As it stands, the humour in Reformation doesn’t quite hit the same level as the last two episodes. While still very funny, it’s just not got as many jokes.
In fact, the writing doesn’t seem to have much consistency; the yawning trees from the start don’t have any callbacks so feel like wasted time, while none of the characters feel like the plot of this week is in any way important to them. A brief home-life story with Debbie’s husband wanting to perform in a local production of a Gilbert & Sullivan show bookends the episode, but there’s nothing more to it. Unless some real gems come back from this episode in later outings, Reformation is a little cold and empty by comparison to the first two episodes. Of course, it may be that they spoiled us, but even then, thisåç feels a little bit too different. A joke involving a puppet proposal, for example, gets very dark quickly without any silver lining – something the show has until now been good at avoiding.
Not as strong as we’re already used to, Episode 3 of Sky 1’s Yonderland suffers from not being as smart, quirky or sweet as earlier episodes. Still, this remains funny and enjoyable.
Yonderland is available to stream with a NOW TV Entertainment Pass, which costs an introductory price of £4.99 a month with no minimum subscription length. (From 29th May 2014, this renews at £6.99 per month.)