The ads for ABC’s self-proclaimed “comedy extravaganza” ‘Galavant’ have looked… oh, what’s the word? “Godawful” comes to mind. “Insufferable” is another good description. However, appearances can be deceiving. I watched the premiere out of morbid curiosity, if little else. Come to find out, the show is surprisingly not so terrible at all. It’s even, dare I say it, kind of fun.
Allegedly a four-week miniseries, ‘Galavant’ is a musical fairy tale spoof filled with irreverent fourth-wall-breaking humor in the vein of ‘The Princess Bride’ and quite witty songs by Alan Menken. Joshua Sasse stars as the title character, a dashing hero whose great love, the fair Madalena (Mallory Jansen, who I swear looks incredibly familiar to me even though I’ve never seen any of her acting credits on IMDb) is kidnapped by the dastardly King Richard (Timothy Omundson). As Galavant charges the castle to interrupt the royal wedding and rescue his maiden, Madalena informs him that… yeah, she doesn’t need rescuing so much. All things considered, she’d rather have the king’s fame and fortune, thanks anyway.
Cut to one year later. Galavant is a self-pitying, drunken layabout. When approached by the comely Princess Isabella, who requests his assistance to save her kingdom of Valencia, he replies, “I’m sort of out of the whole damsel-in-distress business.” His resistance is broken, however, when Isabella informs him that the evil monarch she needs help dispatching is none other than King Richard himself, and that she just happened to overhear Madalena bemoaning how miserable she is and how much she regrets making the wrong choice. Stirred back into action, Galavant accepts the mission. The problem, unfortunately, is that he has pretty much let himself go over the last year and isn’t quite the great hero he used to be.
Also, as we viewers learn, Isabella isn’t exactly telling the truth. Really, Madalena has the prissy, doltish Richard wrapped around her finger, and the king himself sent Isabella to fetch Galavant in order to entrap him in a desperate bid to impress his bride.
The show’s premiere consisted of two half-hour episodes run back-to-back. In the second, called ‘Joust Friends’, the king requires the assistance of his henchman Gareth (Vinnie Jones) to “butch up.” Meanwhile, Galavant enters a jousting tournament to raise some cash for his adventure. Because he’s so woefully out of practice, Isabella has to whip him into shape in an ’80s-style training montage. This culminates in a very funny scene where Galavant, too sore to move, and his opponent, the smug Sir Jean Hamm (John Stamos) who’s nursing a terrible hangover, joust in slow motion until Galavant can just barely claim a pathetic victory.
I honestly did not expect to like anything at all about this show, but found myself won over by its humor and charm. Omundson in particular is delightful as the dim-witted villain, and the songs by Menken are pretty great.
That said, the show is scheduled to run for four weeks of two episodes each, and I fear that the joke may wear thin over that much time. This probably would have been better served as a one-off TV movie. We’ll have to see how it holds up.