Friday, January 23, 2015

Inexplicable TV Review: Galavant Gala-like

Somehow, Galavant is kind of an OK show. I’m not entirely sure how, since the concept – a musical twist on the classical damsel in distress, dungeons and dragons affair – seems like a Monty Python sketch stretched way too thin. How do they make it work for one 22-minute episode? Nevermind eight of them!

However, in execution, Galavant basically works as a version of Glee that is not completely up its own ass with seriousness. Everything is tongue-in-check and played for laughs, and with the surging popularity of things like Game of Thrones and Tolkien’s entire literary history now fodder for blockbusters, there is plenty of spoofing material.

The premise – The hero Galavant has his lover, Madalena, taken from him by the dastardly king. He storms the castle in an attempt to rescue her… Only to be told at the altar, by her, that she likes this new arrangement and her new things and doesn’t need rescuing. He’s knocked out, and time passes, allowing him to become vagrant-y. The now-Queen Madalena turns out to be a terror, and in an attempt to win her over more completely, the king concocts a plot to build Galavant back up for a duel in front of the queen, at which point he will kill Galavant.

All of this features singing. A lot of singing. A lot of hilarious, tongue-in-check singing. I mentioned Monty Python before, and while nothing reaches the heights of “Always Look On The Bright Side of Life,” most of the tunes are at least as good as “Camelot.” It’s a show that’s clearly made with goofy fun, with actors making obvious asides and winking statements to the camera, which makes it easier to hang in with.

In the words of a famous man, it's good to be the king.
There is a small bit of wasted potential in the concept though, in that they clearly had to skimp a bit on the acting talent. The standout is Timothy Omundson as the king, showing off some comedic chops after basically play straight-laced for eight years as Carlton Lassiter on Psych. His kidnapped damsel turned torturer Madalena, played by Australian model Mallory Jansen, is also a standout, as is Karen David as Princess Isabella Maria Lucia Elizabeth of Valencia. Vinnie Jones basically plays the king’s lead henchman as Snatch’s Bulletproof Tony in the 1200s… not that that’s a bad thing.

The rest of the cast, including the lead role, are shakier. They don’t detract from the fun, but they don’t add as much. And the guest stars are where the show is at its absolute hammiest. John Stamos, Weird Al and Ricky Gervais are just way too on the nose when it comes to the comedic accessory parts. Unlike the very best spoof movies, there isn’t a Lloyd Bridges or Robert Stack or Peter Graves to balance this out. (Okay, all three of them are dead. Yeah but still.)

The reception to the show has been mixed. On one hand, it has gotten average to very good reviews from most sources. On the other hand, it’s been pretty horribly rated. It started with 7.42 million viewers and a 2.0 in the 18 to 49 demo, but it slid to 1.3 in its second week and 0.9 in its third week. The final two episodes are on Sunday, and it can’t be a cheap show to produce, so a second season seems unlikely.

The title card and picture of Tim and Mallory are common promotional images floating around the Internet.

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