Wednesday, October 12, 2016

TV REVIEW | Galavant

NOTE: This accidentally got published last Sunday when it wan't anywhere near finished! Sorry for any confusion!

Much like the strong pull of fate in fairy tales, I was destined to love Galavant. Why?
1) I grew up during Disney's "renaissance" and absolutely adore The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin.  A good chunk of that love is for the wonderful music written by Alan Menken who is also the composer behind Galavant.
2) I ADORE musicals, particularly when they are funny and/or larger than life.  I made a list of some of my favorites and Monty Python's Spamalot was squarely on that list.  Furthermore, I love snark almost as much as I love musical theater.  This is a pretty good description of Galavant -snark while singing. It reminded me very forcefully of Spamalot.
3) I love fairy tales or really any tales set in Ye Olde Times.  Princesses and Heroes and political plots are delicious especially when the tropes are turned on their heads and made fun of which Galavant does to perfection.  
So yeah, Galavant and I were destined for each other.  If you are like me and share any or all of the above passions, I think you are pretty well guaranteed to love this show.

So there you have it!  This show is great and you should watch it - review ended:).

Psych! You only wish that was all I had to say!

The Cast

Galavant (Josh Sasse): The hero of the show though his role is somewhat secondary in season 2. He starts off as someone with a good heart and heroic ideals but arrogant and emotionally immature. Josh Sasse is delicious, has great comic timing and a fantastic voice! Before I'd watched the show, I didn't think Josh Sasse was all that handsome just from seeing his still photos but as soon as I saw him in action there was no denying his charisma and hottie stature. He's the perfect "hero"!
Isabella (Karen David): Is a princess who comes to ask for Galavant's aid to regain her kingdom which has been taken over by the hapless King Richard and his cruel wife Madalena who just happens to also be Galavant's "one true love".  Isabella is competent, strong willed, awesome and much more on the ball than Galavant.  Karen David is perfect in this role - she has a great voice and really sells the feisty, together princess.
Sid (Luke Youngblood): Sid is Galavant's squire though his parents think it is the other way around.  He's rather young and earnest and still looks up to Galavant.  He's an excellent sidekick to many of the characters across both seasons.  Luke Youngblood has a fabulous voice.
King Richard (Timothy Omundson):  Pampered, sheltered and not overly bright (at least at first), Richard starts off as a tyrant King but by the end of Season 2 he was my favorite character on the show.  Season two is really about his personal journey to becoming a good king.  Timothy Omundson is hilarious and adorable and I love him.

Gareth (Vinnie Jones):  Gareth has been King Richards cockney henchman since the age of 10 and as such also happens to be his best friend.  Vinnie Jones gets a larger role in season 2 and is really great.
Madalena (Mallory Jansen):  Madalena is pretty much the crux of all the conflict in both seasons.  She's gorgeous, seductive, selfish and mean though she does occasionally show a glimmer of humanity.  She's also very smart.  Mallory Jansen is really beautiful, does a great job playing a villain with comic flair and has a lovely voice.

There are a few other characters that play recurring roles the most notable of which are the Jester (Ben Presley) and the Chef and Gwyndolin.  They provide some great musical numbers and yet more awesome comedy.
Chef and Gwyndolin

The Seasons and Episodes

Season 1 | 8 episodes

Generally, season 1 is about Galavant's personal "journey" from arrogant, selfish hero to um... mature adult.  The show doesn't mess around, launching directly into an exuberant and catchy song to start the pilot which also manages to ably introduce Galavant and set the scene.  It also immediately establishes the tone: upbeat, snarky and contradictory of expectations.  The tune ends up being reprised and becoming kind of a theme for the first season.  Because it's all about our hero Galavant.

One of the great things about the music on the show is the contrast.  If you are at all familiar with Alan Menken's style, it is pure Disney - sweet, upbeat, catchy and exuberant.  It is BRILLIANT then that he is paired with a librettist who is not only clever and funny but also raunchy and biting.  It's a freakin' fantastic combo.  The show's format utilizes songs 2 to 3 times per show but is otherwise spoken dialogue so if you get the heebie jeebies from opera or operettas like Les Mis, you don't have to worry.

The first season is a complete joy.  It's laugh out loud funny, it has a timeless plot that it plays with endlessly and even manages to be touching upon occasion.


I've already addressed the pilot somewhat but will go on to say what a good job it does efficiently and effectively introducing the main cast.  The cast pretty much immediately fit perfectly into their roles and there is very little stumbling around trying to figure out a winning formula etc.... It's brilliant from note one!  There is one other song in the pilot which isn't as catchy as the Galavant theme but it shows off the humor and is ably done by Timothy Omundson's King Richard.

Episode two is one of my favorites of the whole series.  It includes two great songs Hero's Journey and Maybe Not The Worst Thing Ever, plus a training montage and the slowest joust of all time.  It also signals the initial blossoming of Galavant and Isabella's romance.  So a really strong start with both of the first two episodes being marvelous.
Training Montage for the win!
Episode 3 is nothing special but fine.

Episode 4 has our three questers starting to get on each other nerves with one of the bones of contentions being Galavant's eating all the raisins out of the trail mix. "Together" is another fantastic song about the trials of spending all your time with two other people.  Meanwhile the Jester tries to teach King Richard how to be funny.
Galavant: "I keep trying to tell everyone, I'm not just the guy who eats the raisins."Madalena: "What on God's Flat Earth is going on?"

Episode five is notable for introducing the singing monks led by Weird Al Yankovic.

"Fetch the holy water and holy soap as well,because holy guacamole that one reeks to holy hell."

I also really enjoy the song that Chef and Gwyndolin sing - a love song that spoofs the life of serfs in medieval Europe - it's pretty clever and probably pretty accurate.

Episode 6 has one of my other favorite musical numbers "Love is Strange" which is the ultimate throw over of fairy tale love.  It's simple, funny and lovely all at the same time.  It is a perfect example of the contrast between Menken's sweet music and the snarky, honest lyrics by Glenn Slater.

Episode 7 is mostly important as Galavant's epiphany episode that then leads into the hilarious final episode of the season.  Galavant and King Richard as drinking buddies and Galavant's kissing anxiety are adorable and hilarious and are clever foreshadowing for the season to come.

Season 2 | 10 Episodes

This season could be subtitled "In which we all fall in love with King Richard".  At least I did.  Timothy Omundson is dreamy and funny and .... sigh....  Anyhow, the point is this season is really all about Richard.  It's his turn to grow up and figure out how to be a decent human being.  Galavant and Isabella still have some of the focus but they are apart and are just trying to find their way back to each other.

The music in season two is not quite as amazing as it was in season 1 but it's got some highlights and they play with the style a bit more which is fun but doesn't always work.  They also make some very meta-references particularly in regards to the miracle of the show even getting a season 2.

The pacing of the season is also maybe just a a teensy bit off - reuniting Galavant and Isabella sooner would have worked better and wouldn't have been too hard to sustain because they are not the sole focus.  In the end their reunion feels a little rushed.  But I really enjoyed Richard's story and think the season works jolly well great if not perfectly.

Season 2 Main Cast
Episode 1 is snarkily called "A New Season aka Suck it Cancellation Bear", referencing just how surprising it is that the show got a second season.  I like to think it's because the ABC execs loved the show and let their hearts outweigh their business heads :).  The theme song for this season is appropriately entitled "New Season" and it is very meta and almost, if not as, catchy as the Galavant theme.  It's reminiscent of an old Hollywood spectacle number and makes me grin like a hyena.
Gareth:  "Reading's for morons who can't understand pictures." 

Episode 2 has another of my  favorite songs of the series "World's Best Kiss" where Isabella and Galavant separately reflect on their only kiss which was less than perfect.    Definitely one of my favorite episodes of season 2.
Galavant: "I didn't sleep well. I dreamt a very upsetting musical number."  Galavant: " a fart...brown cow"(Galavant).

Episode 3 manages to make fun of both monarchies and democracy  - it's pretty great.
"So we all would march together towards the future; Peasant John: Well not all per se, Just the ones who look like me; Peasants: It's called democracy!"
This episode also introduces the stupendous Mr. Wormwood  - wedding planner and evil magician hungering for world domination.  He's a fantastic addition to the cast. The episode is also really chock full of great songs one of which emphasizes that wedding culture is whack, y'all.  (I love uber perky Isabella under the influence of a magical tiara.) None of the tunes are particularly original but the libretto is fabulous.  Galavant trying to rally the townspeople to his cause of saving Isabella in Hortensia while they're still remembering his quest to save Madalena from Valencia is laugh out loud.  Also this episode is called "Aw, Hell, the King" Hee!  So. Great episode.
"Gwyndolin, bae... We are officially big pimpin'."  
The song by Chef and Gwyndolin in episode 4 kind of riffs on big band/Rat Pack era music and it is one of my favorites as they sing about how they are now part of the "Upper Lower Classes, Sickly but oh so chic."  This episode also gives Madalena some humanity and somehow manages to make severed ears sweet.

Episode 5, Giants vs. Dwarves, isn't my favorite episode but it does feature the arrival of Tad Cooper, the "dragon".  Somewhat sadly (because perky Isabella is kind of hilarious), Isabella is broken out of her trance by an Un-princess, Jubilee, who I like in theory but is kind of meh in practice.

Sid finally gets a lead in a song in episode 6 and it's fantastic. "Tomorrow we'll regret it but today we rise!" Shades of Les Miserable:). It goes on to be one of my favorite episodes of the season.  We officially meet Galavant's dad though sadly it is not Anthony Stewart Head who played him in season 1.  The Forest of Coincidence is a pure genius and hilarious way of moving the plot along.

Episode 7 is worth it to see a softer side of Gareth:).  Also, Madalena's response to Gareth kneeling in front of her as if to propose is hilarious.  Galavant's "death" scene is also brilliant!
Death after being kicked in the goolies: "Why do I still have these?"

Episode 8  - MADALENA AND ISABELLA SHOWDOWN!  I also really adore Richard and Roberta's Grease-inspired duet.

The Jester's season recap that starts episode 9, using the Galavant theme, is awesome- the song and Ben Presley hit it out of the park! I find the DDew plot-line mostly tiresome but Madalena had to kick it up a notch.  Isabella shows again why she's awesome. Plus everyone's back together! The episode ends fabulously as well so this goes down as one of the better eps this season.  And there's this gem.
Galavant: "Over the last few months I've watched you transform from a boob into a real man.  And today you'll transform into a warrior."  Richard: "You said boob."
While I very much would have loved a third season, I think episode 10 does a good job wrapping things up while also leaving the door open, just in case.  I also adore that they choose to end with Weird Al. A fitting closure.
Random Child to child King Richard: "Would you like me to write your theme song, my king?" Gareth: "Shut up Menken!"


I think I've actually said all I can say about Galavant.  I feel like a little bit of light went out of the world when it was cancelled but at least both seasons are now on Netflix so you can binge watch them and grin yourself silly.  Thanks for all the joy and laughter Galavant!  You were awesome and will be missed!

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