There is a comedic convention I have always been a fan of. It’s the mixing of very high concept with very low action. For those of you 30 and under it’s a familiar conceit. One you were practically raised on. It’s two hitmen chatting about what to call a quarter-pounder with cheese in France. It’s every episode of Robot Chicken.
Doraleous and Associates, a delightful animation comedy from The Escapist, is of this mold. The story is about a guild of warriors in an ancient medieval kingdom who band together to protect people living in fear (for a small fee). The concepts are high: for example, in episode eleven Doraleous leads his men on a journey to protect a place known as the Mad Kingdom from attack. The action, however, is wonderfully mundane. On their way there the wizard insists on stopping at a de facto outlet mall named Digger Town to buy a Simbodian crystal. The once brave quest turns into a shopping nightmare.
Comprising the Associates is a wisecracking archer with a southern drawl named Neebs, the aforementioned wizard Mirdon, a high-pitched troll named Drak who sounds a little like Meatwad from Aqua Teen Hunger Force, the eponymous Doraleous, and a mysterious knight named Sir Walken who possesses a very familiar way of speech. Together they contend with ogres, witches, and evil kingdoms, but the real tension is far less fantastical. It’s in the verbal jousts about whether or not it’s a good idea for Mirdon the wizard to resurrect a dead cat in the middle of a dining table.
Each story riffs on the tropes we recognize from classic fantasy storytelling. In the first episode, Doraleous seeks out a mystic zephyr sword, and in another he and his men must guess the name of an ogre before he will let them pass. As it turns out the ogre’s shirt has a name tag.
I watched the first few episodes of Doraleous and soon found myself tearing through all sixteen. It’s a treat of a show with a casual approach to comedy reminiscent of other comedy animation like Home Movies. The large cast includes Nate Panning, Brent Triplett, Bryan Mahoney, Jon Etheridge and Tony Schnur all credited as writers and voice actors. That means more than a few opportunities for characters to go off script. You may even hear a few unintended chuckles from the cast during the shows funniest interplays. You’ll laugh with them.