NOW TV review: Yonderland (Season 1, Episode 4)
Andrew Jones | On 28, Nov 2013
An episode about a big games event as The Hunger Games Catching Fire is released in cinemas? Episode 4 of Yonderland aired on the perfect weekend for it – but only one person is shot with an arrow in Sky 1’s comedy show. Debbie, this week, is on a race against time to help a local community, train up and beat Negatus’ evil knight in a tournament that has been won by a “charming” doofus for a centuri (about five years) – and then get back home for her children’s sports day.
See, the problem with this year’s games is that said charming knight has managed to have a sword impaled through his body and thus decided to stop living. The only other contender around is a real scaredy-cat. This leaves Debbie in dire need to fix what has been broken with the knight’s aide as Yonderland’s last great hope – although it is written that those from below shall not compete with knights. Thus, a class war stems from the games, which include contests such as Archery and… Kissing.
Naturally, the contest is a hive of activity in Yonderland, with commentators and crazy audience members all overseen by the Elders, who (after being disappointingly absent last week) are some of the most entertaining characters on the show.
But the build up (a long act two of training) never quite finds the right mechanics to bring fresh jokes to ideas that have been parodied time and again in many other comedy series. This means that the first three-quarters of Yonderland Episode 8 are much slower than we’ve come to expect (fewer jokes are thrown out there for the sake of more plot).
In addition, Negatus was woefully underused this week – the most odd moment involved him hurting his wrist as he got angry (no vision-cauldron-hot-tub this week).
But once the programme gets into the meat of it, it’s a load of weird and silly fun, with throwaway moments, running gags from previous episodes and some plain surreal elements thrown in.
While the last 6 or 7 minutes of this week’s Yonderland are delightful, it doesn’t quite hit the target all the time. But that doesn’t mean Yonderland was bad – not at all. The real world elements have finally come into the show beyond being book-ends. We cut to Debbie’s husband a few times, worried that Debbie won’t make the mum’s race or the kids’ race, and trying to call her as well. This element is a little underplayed, but the sense of balancing time in both worlds is a good technique that hasn’t been used as effectively before now. Let’s hope as the show continues they find more places to evolve the other side of the cupboard portal.
Yonderland is available to stream with a NOW Entertainment Membership, 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.)