ABC’s new four week mini-series Galavant premiered this past Sunday, an ambitious musical-comedy that will total eight episodes. It’s basically Monty Python meets a Disney musical (well, one of the more modern Disney musicals), which makes sense because it was created by Tangled screenwriter Dan Fogelman with music by recurring Disney composer Alan Menken. I would say it errs more toward Disney, as the comedy is not nearly as absurdist as Monty Python, though it does capitalize on some of the same crude/toilet humor.
The plot is pretty traditional in that it is a narrative with a hero who has a clear goal. Overall the first two episodes were pretty entertaining, with the right balance of heart and humor, though the half-hour episodes makes the pacing a bit slow. Because of the musicals numbers, where you might find a bit more plot in a typical half-hour comedy, time only allows for limited sequences involving each character’s journey. More like what you’d expect in a webisode. With this understanding, it makes the show more enjoyable, as each episode is essentially a small serial to a longer piece.
The “Pilot” sets up the story, introducing us to Sir Galavant, the story’s hero played by Joshua Sasse, and Madalena, the woman he loves played by Mallory Jansen. Madalena is quickly kidnapped by King Richard, looking to marry her. Galavant is desperate to win her back and after she turns him down for riches, he sets off on a quest to win her back with his squire and a Princess from a kingdom that King Richard has overtaken. The plots pretty simple and from here seems pretty predictable, we’ll see if Fogelman and ABC prove me wrong and brake the mold from expected narrative. I mean, just from reading this summary you probably predict the same outcome as I.
Episode two, “Joust Friends”, centers around Galavant entering a jousting tournament against his enemy Jean Hamm (pronounced Jon Ham… for some reason) played by John Stamos. King Richard tries to woo Madalena, who has lost interest in him, finding him unmanly or undesirable or something. That’s essentially the episode, to be honest. As I said, the plot keeps pretty simple so far.
So far it’s certainly not my favorite thing on television, but I will continue watching Galavant to see where it goes during the next six episodes. At the very least, it’s entertaining and it knows what is: a medieval romance about a knight trying to save a fair maiden… along with a twist, some irreverent humor, and singing. Simple isn’t necessarily a bad thing, especially when original narratives are harder and harder to come by. Maybe the fact that it’s a tale we’re familiar with is comforting, even with some predictable changes. Plus the casting is pretty on point and everyone can sing. I’m glad they didn’t just cast famous actors and try to produce their vocal abilities in post… like some other recent live-action musicals.