Once again we’re covering an Adult Swim pilot, partially as we’re very fond of their work but also because they make a great deal of shows which are never commissioned for a full season. Created by Aaron Springer (Disney’s Billy Dilley’s Super-Duper Subterranean Summer, and a writer and artist on SpongeBob Squarepants) Korgoth Of Barbaria originally aired on June the 3rd of 2006 and soon developed a cult online following, and as you might have guessed is pretty blatantly a parody of Conan The Barbarian, with our dumb but violent lead murdering a pleasingly weird selection of villainous types.
Thanks to a voice over by Tom Kenny (SpongeBob Squarepants himself) we learn that “In a dark future wasteland the great cities have risen and fallen, primordial beasts have reclaimed the wilderness and thieves and savages populate sparse, dirty towns. From the frozen north emerges a warrior known as Korgoth, and his merciless savagery may be his only key to survival”, which is an all excuse to include dinosaurs along with bits of modern technology like jukeboxes in this medieval setting.
Plotwise it revolves around Korgoth being recruited by the questionably evil Gog-Ma-Gogg (Gog and Magog being a prophesied enemy nation of God’s people according to the Book of Ezekiel, Bible fact fans) to invade the floating castle of a presumed dead wizard to loot all of his fabled belongings. Korgoth has no interest in doing so until he learns he’s been tricked in to consuming food infected with a deadly parasite and so has no choice in the matter, if he wants to live at least. He’s sent off with Gog-Ma-Gogg’s best men (and some of his worst, just to even things up) and cue a montage of their various escapades. Unfortunately for all involved the Wizard’s not actually dead, he was just away on a cruise ship vacation, and soon everyone’s lives are in danger.
It’s the kind of bizarre world where eating an apple causes a dinosaur to explode, trees do their best to eat our hero, Korgoth covers himself in bird shit so that he’s not devoured by a giant pigeon, and then travels on it’s back to get to the Wizard’s floating castle, whilst the wizard almost defeats Korgoth by chewing some magic gum which turns in to a shapeshifting beast.
Korgorth is an ugly bastard and then some, and a murderous type more than happy to bite the head off of a cute Bambi-esque deer. So yeah, he’s not the most endearing lead ever created but he’s amusing enough, though if this had been given a full run there would definitely need to have been some work done improving his character and making him a bit more interesting. Most of the humour is derived from the visuals, with a lot of slapstick going on, though there’s the odd funny line, like when Korgoth battles the disturbingly strange shapeshifting beast he quips “I’ve dated girls uglier than you for breakfast”, whilst when a gang of thugs turn up at a pub with a sign declaring it’s called The Whores Nipple they find out they’ve got the wrong place when the doorman comments “They misspelled something on it…the name of the place is The Dragon’s kneecap”.
It’s regrettably a little dodgy on the female exploitation side of things though, all of the women have enormous breasts and a ridiculous amount of cleavage on display and only seem to exist as sex objects. It’s a shame because otherwise this is a mostly fun little show, and it’s disappointing that the females are treated in such a way and there’s no strong characterisation here. Some have suggested this is the fault of the genre it’s parodying rather than the show itself, but I’m not buying that excuse personally.
It’s also a little too reliant on blood and gore and humour revolving around bodily functions, and doesn’t deserve it’s reputation as one of the great lost classics. But it does show promise, and whilst undoubtedly rough around the edges and not without it’s issues there’s enough taking place here to suggest that it could have been an enjoyable series if developed carefully. Alas Adult Swim felt it was too expensive and so it was not to be, but if you have twenty two minutes and thirty nine seconds to spare and you’re fond of the films it spoofs you may well like it a fair deal.
You can watch the pilot on by clicking here.