I wanted to write a short review about the new ABC show, Galavant. Hinted at release back in September, viewers were promised a four-week run of a new show from Dan Fogelman, who you may know as the screenwriter for Tangled and other Disney pictures. The first season of Galavant is a short run of eight episodes, each only filling a half-hour slot, and released two at a time each week in January. At the time of writing this, the season is half released.
The show follows the musical journey of Galavant, a knight, on his quest to reclaim his love Madalena from King Richard. This plot on its own would be uninspiring, but Galavant‘s strong suit is twofold: the secondary characters and the comedy. While the musical comedy aspect of the show may be too camp for some viewers, many reviewers have noted the strong influences of Monty Python on the production, and the effectiveness with which the show manages to move the plot along in spite of the short episode length and accommodation of musical numbers.
The cast is fairly diverse – a fact the characters themselves called out in the fourth episode – and does a really great job of incorporating all the characters into the spotlight. Galavant travels with Princess Isabella and his squire Sid, a dynamic which would easily allow Sid to fade into the background to accommodate a romantic plot between the other two. Much to my delight it keeps not happening, and is even addressed in song format. They continue being a trio rather than a duo with a tag-along.
I really admire the portrayal of the female characters in the show. The two main women, Isabella and Madalena, are well developed characters and are given ample time in the spotlight. Isabella’s reversal of the male gaze as she ogles Galavant, the mention of her deviated septum and the troubles it causes, and her willingness to have fun (particularly in the third episode, when she expounds on her acting hobbies) build the character in untraditional ways that really add to the quality of the show. Madalena, taking the role of the pretty-but-mean girl, seems heartless and dismissive, but then her circumstances are exposed: she’s been forced into her marriage, but made the best of the situation. She looks after herself in a world that is rather unforgiving, and had to make sacrifices to survive in the past (thinking of her goat friend, mentioned in episode 2). All the characters of the show have been carefully fleshed out to avoid any black-and-white characterization. They have good and bad sides, and it makes for both good watching and meaningful comedy.
The musical numbers, I think, are quite good. As a sister company to Disney, ABC has the benefit of their expertise on the matter, and you can feel a bit of a Disney-esque style to all the songs (unless you examine the lyrics, which are often much spicier than you’d find in other productions). Having recently endured Into the Woods, I find the pacing exceptionally good and the storylines are progressed through song in a way that doesn’t have you rolling your eyes. Quite refreshing.
Last of all I’ll speak to the casting. Timothy Omundson is a standout as King Richard. Vinnie Jones as Gareth is also fantastic and a perfect compliment to Omundson’s character. The two make a great comedy duo and I look forward to more of their scenes. Karen David as Princess Isabella has great delivery and continues to be loveable. Joshua Sasse as Galavant is quite good but I think I need to see the series as a whole before I can say whether I like his role entirely. Mallory Jansen as Madalena is excellent and frightening and her cheekbones are very memorable. Luke Youngblood as Sid is one of my favourites and the third episode (which expanded on his backstory) is quite amusing. I haven’t seen him in anything else since Harry Potter so I’m really pleased with this performance. The Jester and Chef (Ben Presley and Darren Evans respectively) are also fantastic and I hope they get more screen time.
The guest actors so far have been great. John Stamos as Sir Jean Hamm was very amusing and his interaction with Isabella genuinely made me laugh. Hugh Bonneville as Peter the Pillager was fun, the pirate’s musical number was cute, but I am more excited about some of the guests in upcoming episodes. Ricky Gervais is listed as a character called “Xanax the Wizard” and I am looking forward to seeing what that’s about.
Since the series is not complete so far I hesitate to give it a rating, but for the sake of the review I will give it a 7/10. I really like where it is going and look forward to seeing the season to completion.