‘Yonderland’ Episode 4: ‘The Ultimate Prize’ review

Yonderland is getting increasingly hard to review, because it’s so bloody consistent.

Four episodes in and we know what we’re going to get – inspired silliness, a constant stream of one-liners, great ideas, non-sequiturs, physical comedy and not much in the way of plot arc advancement. It’s very funny. It’s hard to describe an episode without spoiling a few of these, although as there are lots to go round, it’s not the end of the world.

So, that series arc:

Negatus’ boss – played by Martha Howe-Douglas, interestingly – appears as an enigmatic floating head, but beyond that it’s another self-contained adventure, with the threat of the bad guys merely a plot device to hang daft stories on to. This is in no way a criticism, it’s nice to have a plot arc so light as to barely impinge on the fun. There’s more drama (though not much, it’s not really that sort of show) to be had from the possibility of Debbie not getting to the school sports day in time.

This episode concerns Ye Grande Tournament, and Negatus’ champion Emmanuel is so feared that people are unwilling to compete. Matthew Baynton’s nervous page – deprived of his boss Philip of Woolworth – is convinced to fight by Debbie. Obviously the tournament does not go according to plan.

We have another batch of new characters (someone should keep a tally on how many times an actor dies on screen, I think Ben Willbond is way out in front at the moment) and the return of the Council of Elders, Miss Fanshawe and Mr Havelock, and Jim Howick’s formidable wench.

This is probably the most we’ve seen of Simon Farnaby’s Negatus (though not the most we’ve seen of Simon Farnaby), as he sits alone in his lair and watches the tournament. This too is very funny. The balance between Negatus being villainous and his being a bit rubbish and sad is very well maintained.

Debbie, meanwhile, is perhaps not getting many of the good lines – Howe-Douglas’ performance is mainly reacting to the weirdness – but she does get a killer quip about Dan Brown in this week.

So yeah. Yonderland. This bares repeating, but it is very funny.

Aired at 6.30pm on Sunday 24 November 2013 on Sky1.

> Order Yonderland on DVD on Amazon.

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