Sky have been steadily expanding and diversifying its comedy slate over the last couple of years with Lucy Lumsden leading the charge, its newest addition – Yonderland, begins airing Sunday 10th November. Scott Barnett takes a sneak peak at the new show.
Yonderland is a fantasy mish-mash, full of self-aware humor, zany sketches, absurd characters and creatures – incorporating elements of every fantasy trope and story into one big bubbling soup of comedy madness…oh yeah and there are puppets.
Originally titled “The Chosen Mum” – the story centers around Debbie Maddox, mum of two, (played by Martha Howe-Doulas) who is whisked away to Yonderland via a portal in the kitchen cupboard, accompanied by an elf and a talking stick…it turns out, she is the chosen one and must save Yonderland from a nasty man with a mullet…stick with me.
Written and performed by the cast of Horrible Histories – Mathew Baynton, Martha Howe-Douglas, Jim Howick, Simon Farnaby, Laurence Rickard and Ben Willbond. These guys are certainly used to costume changes and mucking around with different characters, this time however they get to stretch their imaginations a little further, going off on wacky tangents and bring silliness to a whole new level.
Yonderland is certainly distinct in style though it has Pythonesque and Boosh-like qualities and it’s refreshing to see something completely different. The puppets are very much reminiscent to those of the 80’s cult classic film Labyrinth, with undertones of Muppets and the more playful adult attitudes akin to Avenue Q.
Some of the best moments come in the sketch like scenes peppered throughout, as well as the series promos (more Sky Yon news please). At times the predictable plot becomes detrimental to the comedy, pulling you away from the wackiness and it’s not quite as brave as an episode of the Boosh, but there’s a lot to cram into the opening couple of episodes and the potential for fun leaves me feeling optimistic.
I can’t help but feel Martha Howe-Douglas is given the short end of the talking stick – only playing the one character while her male cohorts get to have all the fun with wigs, helmets and giant, blue rubber balls covered in gloop. The story does however need an emotional voice of reason at the heart of it. I do hope in episodes to come more humour can be found for her character.
In all, a fun start to a distinctive and original series – Yonderland makes promises of a silly adventure for all the family to enjoy and it is a childish delight that can’t help but be giggle inducing…did I mention there were puppets?