LUKE YOUNGBLOOD, MALLORY JANSEN, JOSHUA SASSE, TIMOTHY OMUNDSON, VINNIE JONES, KAREN DAVID

There are spoilers in this review. Duh.

I was in for this show from the first commercial. I love musicals. I’ve written about them on this blog several times. Musical comedies in particular put a smile on my face. And it’s a show making fun of musicals and fairy tales? It was tailor made for me. I was going to write about it every week, but then I got lazy and decided to do a full season recap. It’s only eight half-hour episodes after all. I have to hand it to Galavant: it had a cliffhanger with what appears to be no real plans for a second season! I was completely expecting a neat tie off at the end, but the show crept toward the last minute with no resolution in sight. I’m not sure if this is brilliant or irritating; it depends on if it gets a second season, or if I care enough to need to know exactly what happened to all of them. Galavant was aired during the Once Upon a Time break in its time slot. It was intentionally only a few weeks, and it really fit in well with that audience. Or so I assume, a lot of them probably stopped watching.

This brought back together the creative team responsible for Tangled, and I can see some of that cleverness here. Except they could actually put in plenty of dark lyrics and sexual suggestion, although all done in a very tongue-in-cheek way. Galavant is about a legendary knight (Joshua Sasse) whose lady love gets kidnapped by the wicked King Richard (Timothy Omundson), and it seems like he’ll whisk her away in time and they’ll live happily ever after. Except his lady Madalena (Mallory Jansen) decides that being rich and powerful appeals to her more than being a knight’s wife, so she marries the king instead. Galavant falls into despair and lets himself go, leading his squire Sid (Luke Youngblood) to look after him. Eventually he is approached by Princess Isabella (Karen David) who says she needs his help to save her parents from the King, and that Madalena wants him back. Except Isabella is working secretly with the king because it’s the only way to help her parents and her own homeland. King Richard wants to kill Galavant so his wife will actually start liking him, although that’s going to be difficult to pull off since she doesn’t seem to like much of anything outside of her own wants. They all play these roles but they subvert them too: Galavant is heroic, but he gives up and he’s not very smart. Richard is evil, but he’s infantile and alarmingly likable. Madalena is beautiful, but she’s selfish and an evil mastermind. Isabella is also beautiful and noble, but she’s deceptive and also sort of nerdy. It all fits together well.

The music in this is great. Not all the voices sound perfect, but I actually like that. It feels almost like an off-Broadway musical, or maybe a local theater production. They have good voices and it’s fun music, but it isn’t over the top or legendary, and that works even better for me. This is supposed to be mocking musicals, so it’s okay to hit a few wrong notes or not everything rhyming perfectly. The costumes are gorgeous though, so you would never see that in a low level theater. The first few episodes deal with Galavant learning how to be a knight again, and him and Isabella slowly falling in love despite her lies and his “love” for Madalena. Meanwhile Madalena just really wants to do whatever she feels like and ignores her husband, manipulating him when necessary, and having affairs left and right. I have to admit I really dug her character. She’s the one that really turned this from a classical story into a comedy; after all, the others would go about their normal roles if it wasn’t for her choosing power over love. Supporting played Gareth (Vinnie Jones), Richard’s friend and bodyguard, is also a favorite of mine. I like the questionably evil people, what can I say?

It seemed strange that by the end of the season, Richard was an ally instead of an enemy. He was always affably evil in the beginning, but it turned out he was more of a buffoon than anything else. He and Galavant ended up together strangely, with Galavant willingly protecting his mortal enemy, and Isabella captured by her much younger arranged marriage cousin. There was no happy ending for these characters. Whaaaaat. One thing that didn’t work for me at all was the inclusion of the servants. The songs were clever, but there was something about the two of them that made me just want to ignore the TV when they were on. Lack of stage presence, maybe? Long term I’m not sure this show could work. For one or two short seasons, sure. They might make a good follow-up TV movie to tie up the loose ends. As pure entertainment it is fantastic. But there are just caricatures of people; it’s hard to get real emotional connection. And you don’t need to! Galavant is pure fun from beginning to end. If you didn’t laugh from these two videos, I don’t know what to tell you. Maybe you are the worst thing ever.

I can’t wait to see this on DVD. There better be incredible extras and behind the scenes. I want to know the thought process that went into this. “Hey Once Upon a Time is off for awhile, let’s just do something bizarre and have The Princess Bride meets Monty Python and the Holy Grail.” It doesn’t look like it has a DVD release date yet. With random and charming guest appearances by John Stamos, Ricky Gervais, and Weird Al, there has to be so much going on under the surface. If you have four hours of your life open and want to spend it laughing at dancing knights in armor and peasants singing about murdering royals, watch Galavant.

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