ABC enters the musical comedy fray with Galavant, a whimsical and irreverant take on the legends and fairy tales we all know by heart. Should you spend your Sunday nights with this show?
Galavant, a limited-edition ABC series airing at 8pm on Sundays during the month of January.
Galavant, a chiseled Arthurian hero, has a tempestuous fling with the beautiful maiden Madalena. She is kidnapped by the somewhat-evil-but-mostly-bumbling King Richard, who intends to force her to marry him. Galavant arrives at the altar just in time for a grand rescue, but Madalena admits she has chosen the wealth and fame Richard can provide over the true love Galavant promises. Galavant falls into a deep depression, bathing and exercising too little and eating too much. A princess arrives, asking for him to stop King Richard’s pillaging of her lands. Can Galavant pull himself out of the doldrums in order to exact revenge on Richard, and also perhaps change Madalena’s mind about him?1
Created by Dan Fogelman (Cars, Tangled), Galavant features the music of Alan Menken (The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast) and lyrics of Glenn Slater (Tangled).
Who is Galavant For?
Based on the commercials,2 I’m going to guess this is targeted at affluent suburban mothers. Maybe also Monty Python fans?3 It’s probably too brash for little kids (we had a balls joke within the first 30 seconds, and even had a bleeped curse word in the first episode), but too cutesy for serious fans of Arthurian legend. That is coming from a huge fan of Merlin, which is about as toothless a take on the Round Table denizens as you can get.
Sometimes, Galavant does a good job of turning the musical comedy tropes we know and love on their heads. I sincerely enjoyed the definitely-not-love-but-also-not-quite-seething-hatred song, “Maybe You’re Not The Worst Thing Ever,” and appreciated the slow-motion jousting sequence.4
What Doesn’t Work
You mean, besides John Stamos’ accent? This show has two major issues.5 First of all, it does an awful lot of telling instead of showing. A prime example is when Galavant is sharing the story of his childhood, and all we get is him talking in a tavern. No flashbacks, no song-and-dance, just him being poorly-mannered with his food and drink. More importantly: except for a nicely energetic number to open the first episode, the pace drags. With only eight episodes to tell a story, we spent most of the first two hearing about how smelly and out-of-shape Galavant became after Madalena rebuffed his rescue attempt. Related to both of these problems is a distinct lack of dance numbers; with the exception of King Richard’s nice soft-shoe while he fantasizes about killing Galavant, the musical numbers take place on benches or horses or at the dinner table.
I give Galavant a rousing “meh.” I love me some musical comedy, and I had a lot of hope for this show, but ultimately think it falls flat. The Librarians is proving that a cute, light-hearted, limited-term series can work on Sunday nights at 8pm — as long as it keeps the pace up. Watch that show instead, and catch this one on DVR if and when you don’t have much else to do.