TV Recap: Galavant, Series Premiere

Written by Marisa Carpico

galavant poster

Galavant Plot Summary

Once a noble knight, Galvant (Joshua Sasse) is brought low when the woman he believes to be his true love, Madalena (Mallory Jansen), chooses a life of security with the villainous King Richard (Timothy Omundson) over him. When Princess Isabella from the kingdom of  Valencia (Karen David) comes begging for Galavant’s help against King Richard, he reluctantly agrees to help but realizes he’s a little out of practice.

Photo Credit: ABC/Bob D'Amico
Photo Credit: ABC/Bob D’Amico

For Once Upon a Time fans desperate for their fairytale fix while the show is on winter hiatus, ABC offers Galavant. Airing in the same time slot in double episode installments for four weeks, the half-hour musical comedy tells the story of the eponymous knight as he tries to win back the enterprising maiden who broke his heart. With Alan Menken (Beauty and the Beast,The Little Mermaid) providing the music and Dan Fogelman (Tangled) as the creative force behind the series, the show has every chance of being good. Unfortunately for everyone–not just OUAT devotees–it’s not.

While Galavant tweaks the fairytale musical genre in an attempt to seem modern and smart, it is anything but. Madalena, Galavant’s “true love,” trades one tired trope for another by being a remorseless heartbreaker instead of a fair maiden. Isabella is that equally tired character we see so often now: the sassy heroine who is supposed to be strong and independent but really exists affirm our hero and then fall in love with him. And, finally, there is Galavant, who is basically just an unlikable version of Chris Pratt’s Guardians of the Galaxy character in a RenFaire costume. As the titular hero, Sasse is forgettable and bland and it’s hard to imagine anyone thought he could carry a show. His lack of charisma might not be so noticeable, though, if Chris Pine hadn’t played a much better version of essentially the same character in the recent big screen adaptation of Into the Woods.

In fact, all of Galavant suffers in comparison to Woods. While they share a similar wry sense of humor, Galavant’s is broader, oddly dirty and rarely funny. One scene in the pilot consists entirely of King Richard’s right hand man Gareth (Vinnie Jones) making fat jokes about Isabella. Though it ends with Gareth explaining he likes his women “unhealthily skinny,” the joke comes off as an insincere attempt on the show’s part not to offend rather than a clever comment on standards of female beauty. Woods is never so embarrassingly tone deaf.

Photo Credit: ABC/Bob D'Amico
Photo Credit: ABC/Bob D’Amico

The music fares even worse in comparison. The songs are tolerable at best and downright obnoxious at worst. Leading the pack is Galavant’s theme song, which played not only throughout the episodes, but during the commercial breaks too. Every time we got a much-needed break from hearing that tune, it would appear in an ad for one of ABC’s other shows as someone (I’m assuming Sasse) sang-narrates what is happening. It was maddening. Also not helping the matter is Dan Fogelman’s Tom Hooper-like insistence on recording as many songs live during filming as possible. It barely worked for Les Misérables and is even less effective here. Karen David is the Anne Hathaway of the group while pretty much every other actor in this show is Russell Crowe.

Why Disney would release two such similar projects so close to each other is hard to understand, especially when the quality is so disparate. Perhaps they hoped the success of the film would prime audiences for a weekly show. As it stands, that doesn’t seem likely. You don’t need to have seen Into the Woods to know that Galavant is an utter waste of time.

Rating: 3/10

Galavant airs Sunday nights on ABC for a limited four week run.

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By day, Marisa Carpico stresses over America’s election system. By night, she becomes a pop culture obsessive. Whether it’s movies, TV or music, she watches and listens to it all so you don’t have to.