Sky1’s Yonderland maintains its high quality levels this week with a high gag-success rate, gratuitous nudity, and the inspired concept of the Monks of Old John, who must always tell the truth, and end up offending Negatus as a result. Debbie attempts to lead them to safety, avoiding those hunting for the reward of bringing them in dead or alive, including goblins and bounty hunters.
There’s a lot of mileage from the cruelty of honesty, from Pete’s singing to the Monk’s tactlessness, but again there’s inspired silliness in terms of voices, juxtaposing the mundane with the fantastical, and Simon Farnaby’s willingness to take his clothes off (see The Bunny and the Bull for the fullest realisation of this) and get surprisingly close to the puppets.
The character of Elf is improving this week, though there’s still a sense that he’s there more for the kids than the adults. He’s nicely petulant when he doesn’t get his way, and his bickering with his talking stick always works well.
Having this central threesome throughout the stories means there’s always someone to grumble, and they’ve established a strong dynamic already. Bringing in nervous, starving and rude monks into the equation brings in a lot of laughs, and ties everything into the opening scenes in the real world where Pete is practicing Gilbert and Sullivan.
Though a standalone story, there are some developments in the grand scheme of things: Negatus is now feeling threatened enough by Debbie’s presence in Yonderland that he is considering telling his boss about the Chosen One. There are also some nice recurring gags – including a reappearance from Miss Fanshawe and Mr Havelock (reminiscent of a similar recurring gag from Time Bandits), and the Council being ineffectual is always a welcome sight.
Also, a round of applause for the title of this week’s episode, which requires a certain amount of deduction but is a nice historical joke, especially considering where this group met. Yonderland, then, is managing to combine the highbrow with the lowbrow for a wide audience, and it’s great to see a pre-watershed sitcom is doing this so well.
Aired at 6.30pm on Sunday 17 November 2013 on Sky1.
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