Galavant, ABC’s midseason filler for Once Upon a Time, premiered tonight and I really, really, really, really, really (yes, that many) want to love it. Still! Verily, I am a passionate soul. But after sitting through two back to back episodes this evening, I’m not sure if this is going to be a relationship where I force myself into feeling emotions that aren’t there, if I’ll learn to love it in time, or if I’ll grow to hate it enough to unfollow it on all social media and drink myself to sleep. Of a couple of things we can be sure, my views on relationships are deeply skewed and that the official verdict on this musical comedy adventure is still very much being weighed by a jury who is doubtlessly desperate for sandwiches and the use of their smartphones.
As a kid, I absolutely loved Monty Python. At the age of twelve, I was scrawling, “No one expects that Spanish Inquisition” on the front of my notebooks instead of boys’ names (those I saved for my short and sexy fiction, Tina Belcher-style). Now, while I respect the tradition that Python ushered in, my passion for it has dwindled to the levels of the nostalgic fondness that I feel for Duck Tales: It’s not high art, but it had its place in my own creative and emotional development *pauses to go swim in a bank full of gold coins as is her wont*. It was this chord that Galavant struck with me, and probably for good reason.
The score is by Alan Menken, the dude primarily responsible for the music of The Little Mermaid. If we have to tip our hats to Frozen for anything (and we do, guys), it’s for popularizing the return of the traditional Broadway sound. Melodic, narrative tracks sung by strong vocalists who do not rely on the cheap theatrics of belting poorly or trusting that an engineer will tweak their voice to weird synthy perfection? Excuse me while I swoon.
The music is there, but ABC made a fatal error: They are using the music of Galavant to advertise all of the other ABC shows during the commercial breaks. As an individual who already reacts not unlike a slug upon whom salt is being hurled at the first sign of, say, a chipper ad for yogurt designed to encourage the movement of my bowels, this gimmick was a new kind of hell. The kind of hell where everyone sounds like Gilbert Gottfried and everyone is laughing at your naked genitals.
So ABC’s already made loving the show difficult. Add to this a series of weak ‘yo mama’ jokes, and a villain who is far more compelling than your protagonist, and you’ve got a problem. Timothy Omundson shines as the evil King Richard, the man who has stolen Galavant’s one true love, Madalena, from him and now is luring him into certain death. But even that dude can’t make the not quite up to par jokes sing – pun not intended but delightful.
And yet, hope remains. Why? Because the show is at least amusing as the terribly dated Robin Hood: Men in Tights (and Mel Brooks at his most mediocre is funnier than pretty much all other people) AND because the closing number of the second episode actually elicited from my person a guffaw. In “Maybe You’re Not the Worst Thing Ever” the evil King and his frigid bride reflect on their union as do Galavant and the Princess Isabella. All it took was one well-sung, well-scripted, and sharp musical number to let the flame of “maybe it will be okay” dwell in my heart — and not eight hundred John Stamos’s playing a knight named Jean Hamm can take that away from me.