GALAVANT Premiere Delights and Amazes
Ever since I heard about Galavant, I’ve been waiting for it with anticipation. After Glee and Smash, I couldn’t wait for a musical TV show that had 100% original songs and didn’t try to be a musical hybrid, or a show with music, but a full on musical. Shows have had musical episodes in the past (Buffy, Xena, Scrubs, Grey’s Anatomy), but Galavant is finally the first show to be a full on musical.
I had a feeling it would be good, since the music was being written by Alan Menken, who has written the scores for some of Disney’s most classic films. But it’s not just the music that’s good. The lyrics, by Glenn Slater, are witty, smart and hilarious and pair wonderfully with Menken’s masterful composition. Then you throw in the dialogue, written by Dan Fogelman, which is refreshing and plays on all the tropes of both musicals and medieval stories.
So, the source material already started out great. Then you add the actors. Despite the huge names as guest stars (John Stamos and Ricky Gervais, to name a couple), most of the main cast is relatively unknown, meaning that the production decided to go for talent over name, which has worked out so well for them. The actors are perfect for the roles, and can sing to boot.
We are introduced to the world of Galavant as the entire medieval country sings the praises of Galavant (Joshua Sasse), the hero of the area. He is in love with Madalena (Mallory Jansen), and she with him, but the evil King Richard (Timothy Omundson) kidnaps her to make her his bride. When Galavant barges into the wedding to rescue his love, a classic ploy sure to work, she tells him she’d rather have fame and fortune than true love, turning the trope on its head.
This is the first of many times that the show not only acknowledges that it is both a medieval fairy tale and a musical, but also mocks the fact. One year later, a damsel in distress, Isabella (Karen David) comes searching for Galavant, with a tale of woe: her kingdom is being taken over by King Richard, and she needs Galavant to come and save them. After several refusals, Galavant relents, and sets out with her and his trusty sidekick, Sid (Luke Youngblood), on a hero’s journey. And I don’t use the phrase “hero’s journey” colloquially: They literally sing a song about being on a Hero’s Journey. And it is delightfully undercut when Galavant tries to hold the triumphant note at the end of the song, only to run out of breath, since he is out of shape as a hero.
Naturally, when they get to a jousting match, Isabella takes it upon herself to train Galavant. Cue the traditional training montage, with a background track that has lyrics about being a training montage. Getting the picture? At every turn, Galavant knows what it is and plays to it and doesn’t try to pander to a mainstream audience by using current pop hits and generic storylines.
Several subplots fill out the show: Isabella is actually working for Richard, luring Galavant to him. Richard wants his relationship with Madalena to work, and is thus trying to butch himself up, with help from his right hand man, Gareth (Vinnie Jones) to impress her. At the end of the second episode, the two couples sing side-by-side duets, entitled “Maybe You’re Not The Worst Thing Ever”, foreshadowing that the couples will eventually fall in love. But then again, this show has proven that even though it’s a musical medieval fairy tale, you never know what might happen along this hero’s journey.
Favorite moments: A song wrapping up the first episode by commenting on how there was a lot of plot; During the training montage, Galavant douses himself in a bucket of water while shirtless, prompting Isabella to go “Daaaaaammmmnnnn”; John Stamos, as Sir Jean Hamm, hungover on the morning of the joust, against Galavant, who is too sore from his training session to move, and the slowest joust in history, where both slowly knock each other over and struggle to stand (seriously Google this scene – it’s pure genius).
The only downside to the show was that ABC felt it necessary to use the Galavant theme song tune for every. Single. ONE. of their show promos, even for shows with vastly different tones, like Revenge and Resurrection. It was a huge mistake on their marketing department’s part and I really hope that it goes away after this week.