5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
A fantasy spoof that works,
This review is from: Elvenquest (BBC Audio) (Audio CD)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Sword and sorcery fantasy is often such an inherently absurd genre that it's hard to parody successfully - it can be hard to top the silliness of some genre efforts, and earlier radio spoofs like Hordes of the Things had difficulty finding a tone that worked consistently over four episodes, so spread over six episodes ElvenQuest has an even bigger mountain to climb. Surprisingly it manages to pull it off rather beautifully, helped immensely by its premise - a cynical fantasy writer is transported to a generic cliché-filled fantasy world in need of a saviour - which allows it to have a jaded voice if not quite outside the plot at least slightly to the side pointing out the predictability and absurdity of the plot. Not that Stephen Mangan's just-in-it-for-the-money writer with a healthy contempt for both the genre and its fans is the chosen one - that's his dog, transformed into a human but retaining his canine characteristics and perspective (at one point he's inconsolable over the death of a friend until someone throws him a stick to chase and he's immediately overjoyed again!). The questers are a typical band of irony-free stereotypes (heroic princess, brave-but-idiotic noble elf, obnoxious Scottish dwarf) going through the usual hoops that every other fantasy quest insists on, but the character interplay is fun and Anil Gupta and Richard Pinto's script consistently funny. But best of all are the double-act of Alistair McGowan's Dark Lord looking to reinvent the whole evil overlord thing in a more user-friendly fashion (something Kevin Eldon's sadistic underling never quite gets to grips with), with less than desired results that play on how reality and common sense really don't belong in this kind of genre. The presence of a studio audience is initially a bit of a problem, but most of the laughs seem well earned rather than canned and it does genuinely seem t inspire the performers to get the most out of the material. The show ends with a cliffhanger, but it's more than funny enough for you to want to follow it through another series.