Oh, ABC, you’ve lost your mind haven’t you?
In today’s television landscape we’re used to seeing weird, risqué, and mostly forgettable shows fill the midseason break, but if you’d told me two years ago that I would be watching a full on medieval musical on network tv, I’d have given you the side-eye. But here we have Galavant, the story of a disgraced knight trying to win back his love’s affection after losing her to the preposterously evil King Richard. It’s one part A Knight’s Tale, two parts Robin Hood: Men in Tight, and three parts pure cheese. No subtlety here. It’s loud, cheeky and exactly what’s advertised. Does that make it good? Absolutely not. But like a train wreck, it’s hard to look away.
In any musical, the songs can make or break the show. Les Mis has “I Dreamed a Dream,” Frozen has “Let it Go” (I swear, I’m really done talking about Frozen) and Galavant has … well let’s take a look.
1. Galavant (Opening Number)
ABC wants us to remember this tune, so much so they used it in every single one of their ads during the commercial break. The melody is simple and the lyrics explain the plot, backstory, and set up to the show. In one song, we fast forward through Galavant’s relationship with Madalena, her capture and the king’s plan to marry her. The pace is quick. No wonder this show only airing over four days.
- “Square jaw and perfect hair. Cojones out to there. There was no hero quite like Galavant.”
- “Ah, true love was never this ecstatic, nor as wildly acrobatic.”
- “I will not be denied, until she’s by my side. I suggest you fall. [Guard falls without being touched] Thanks!”
Grade: B (And please, please, don’t sing the ads next Sunday!)
2. Galavant (Reprise)
Isabella (Karen David) attempts to recruit Galavant (Joshua Sasse) on a mission to save her kingdom. David’s singing is strong, but 8 minutes in and we’re singing the same tune.
- “Where is the gallant knight, who stood for truth and right? The valiant dragon slayer, Galavant?”
Grade: B- (Points off for repetition)
3. She’ll Be Mine
King Richard’s (Timonthy Omundson) first villain song is a Monty Python-esque, jazz hands-using, choreographed dance sequence dedicated to Madalena. What’s the best way to get his new bride to sleep with him? Kill Galavant, of course! Omundson doesn’t shy away from the silly and is clearly having fun camping it up. It’s a fun song, but needs better instrumentation to really make it pop.
- “I want to shoot him with a crossbow. I want to stab him in the eye. I want to hurl him out a window and shove explosives where the sun don’t shine. Want to stab him with swords and slowly twist them, all around his reproductive system.”
- “We can start a genocidal war!” “I’ll get back to all my hobbies, like raising taxes and tormenting the poor.”
Grade: A (Extra points for singing and dancing Vinnie Jones)
4. Hero’s Journey
Galavant, Isabella, and his squire (Luke Youngblood) head off on their adventure. The song wants to be a clever take down of our not so perfect hero, but you should probably just listen to “Brave Sir Robin” instead.
- “So what if you’re still hungover. So what if you smell like slop.”
- “A champion through and through, more or less, doing what all the heroes do.”
- “To destroy the king, she was forced to wed.” “More like chose to wed.” “Not true.” “Pretty true.” “Gotta say it’s pretty true.”
5. The ’80s Training Montage Song
Galavant must win a joust against Jean Hamm (who is not played by Jon Hamm but John Stamos) and Isabella must work him into shape. This song plays up the ’80s cheese with swelling strings and might as well be played on a keytar. The narrator does his best hair-band growl as he explains the finer points of a training montage.
- “There comes a time in every tale, when the hero must prevail. Gonna be an epic fail…”
- “Now you’re looking pumped and cut.”
6. Maybe You’re Not the Worst Thing Ever
We go back and for between Richard and Madalena and Galavant and Isabella as they discover their partners might not be quite as bad as they thought. The song actually highlights each of their voices pretty well.
- “You’re frigid and demanding. I shudder at your call.” “Whenever you come near me my flesh begins to crawl. “But sometimes there are moments I’m not repelled at all.”
Musicals are a funny thing. The over-the-top spectacle works great on stage, but trying to pack that same energy onto the small screen rarely ends well. (Do you remember Viva Laughlin? No? Let me refresh your memory.) Even Hugh Jackman at the height of his popularity couldn’t make that nonsense work. Glee proved that the right balance between camp and drama (whatever that is) can cause a phenomenon, and while Galavant will never be as successful as the high school musical, they both have one thing in common: they know exactly what they are and have no apologies for it. The most glaring problem with Galavant is that this twist on the fantasy genre has been done before and better. Spamalot and Robin Hood: Men in Tights told these jokes years ago and with music that is more memorable. It’s going to be difficult not to compare.
Plus, how can you drag John Stamos into this without forcing him to sing? Have mercy!
OVERALL GRADE: B-