Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Galavant Sings His Way into Our Hearts - For Now

We here at the Ace of Geeks have been looking forward to Galavant ever since the first trailers dropped. What was not to like - a musical comedy, with music by the team behind Tangled (legendary composer Alan Menken and lyricist Glenn Slater), and a villain played by Timothy Omundson. It seemed like the exact sort of goofy distraction the mid-season break needed. And thank god, it's going to stay as just that.

Galavant follows the titular character, who, as we learn in the opening number, was madly in love/lust with a maiden until she was kidnapped by the evil King Richard. When Galavant rides out to rescue her on her wedding day to Richard, the shockingly chooses fame and fortune over true love, sending Galavant into a year-long drunken stupor. Only the appearance of a mysterious beauty, a new quest, and the chance to reunite with his lost love spurs Galavant out of his stupor and back into action.

It sounds fairly straightforward, which is kind of the point. The show takes the framework of a - let's say traditional, not cliche - fantasy adventure story, and pokes fun at it in a script that feels like it was written by Deadpool. The characters burst into fourth-wall breaking songs constantly, each one designed to turn the expected on its head. Love stories are built through a song called, "Maybe You're Not the Worst Thing Ever," for example.

The show wins our hearts over to its inherent camp by leaning into the concept as hard as it can. Check out this song as an example.

The entire cast knows exactly what type of show they're doing, and the consistency across the board really helps sell the concept. Every number is like this - it starts as a typical song that very suddenly is turned on its head and gently mocked. It's not deep or subversive, but it is funny.

 The show follows the 30 Rock tradition of throwing so many jokes at you, one of them is likely to stick. One moment, a boorish knight is attempting a string of Yo Mama jokes. The next, a background extra suddenly pipes up with a witty lyric as the song moves past them. They'll try any type of joke to make you laugh, and thankfully, that means that the show hits more often than it misses.

Galavant really feels like a show that wears its heart on its sleeve. You can feel the cast, creators, and writers all staring at you through the television screen, hoping desperately for your approval. The show just wants you to like it. And that earnestness, combined with the interesting-if-not-novel-concept, leads to a really fun watch.

And, as I'm sure you can see, it has the potential to get old really fast.

Were this a 26 episode series, I'd be worried. Because it's an 8 episode miniseries instead, I have confidence. During the first episode, despite one very funny number ("I Want to Shoot Him with a Crossbow"), I could see the show running up against a wall of lack of things to do. And indeed, in the first hour of their eight, they've already burned through many of the major plot points their story calls for - the failed love, the call to adventure, the new love blossoming, etc.

But episode two, "Joust Friends," fills me with hope for this miniseries. The entire episode is one giant build up to a Jousting match between Galavant and Sir Jean Hamm, played by John Stamos. There's a training montage, complete with hair metal backing music, and the final joust itself is a damn funny bit of physical comedy. If they can find miniature adventures, like this joust, for the heroes to go on every week, while building the story of Omundson's King Richard trying to win the heart of his she-demon wife, we may have a really enjoyable series on our hands.

But it's going to be a very delicate dance to get it there. Here's hoping.

Galavant airs Sunday Nights at 8/7 central on ABC.

Mike Fatum is the Editor in Chief and Podcast Co-host of the Ace of Geeks. He loves musicals too much.

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