January 4, 2015

SHOWBUZZDAILY Series Premiere Review: “Galavant”


GALAVANT:  Sunday 8PM on ABC – If Nothing Else Is On…

GALAVANT is one of the goofier network enterprises in recent memory.  It’s a fairy tale comedy-musical created by Dan Fogelman (whose resume covers everything from Crazy, Stupid, Love to Tangled to The Neighbors) that’s meant to be in the vein of The Princess Bride and Spamalot, which ABC is using to spackle a month of Once Upon A Time hiatus.  It’s a reasonable thematic substitute, although since Galavant is structured as a half-hour (the network is burning through 2 each week), that doesn’t seem to have been the original intention.

The plot, such as it is, has the once-heroic Sir Galavant (Joshua Sasse) fallen on hard times after evil King Richard (Timothy Omundson) abducted his lady love, Madelena (Mallory Jansen).  None-too-bright Galavant is prevailed upon by the lady Isabella (Karen David) to lift himself up from his drunken depression and go rescue his damsel, little knowing that Madelena has decided there are worse things then being a queen, and that Isabella is secretly working for Richard.  (Into the Woods this isn’t.)

It’s all really just the pretext for lots of cheerfully anachronistic gags (if it cracks you up that a minor character is named “Sir Jean Hamm,” this is the show for you) and general silliness, with songs of varying quality by Alan Menken and Glenn Slater.  The opening episodes, both written by Fogelman and directed by Chris Koch, have some bright moments, especially the pilot (which has the best song, too, in the title tune), but they don’t provide much confidence that Fogelman has gotten his mix of genres and jokes quite right.  Although The Neighbors got steadily better after it debuted (sadly, not in the ratings), Galavant isn’t going to have that kind of time for growth with just 8 episodes on the books.

The half-hour format, once room is made for 2 or 3 songs, doesn’t leave much space for character or even plot, so the machinery is pretty rudimentary:  the pilot just lays out the basic situation, and the second episode cuts between Galavant’s joust with John Stamos as the aforementioned Sir Hamm (undertaken to raise some cash), and prissy Richard’s attempt to butch it up for his bride with the help of macho enforcer Gareth (Vinnie Jones).  There also clearly isn’t the budget for anything that would suggest the scope of a real medieval saga, even a Monty Python-esque one.  The material allows for some giggles here and there, but the actors have been directed to mug for the camera rather shamelessly, and it all feels more like an SNL sketch than any real attempt to tell a compelling story.  So far, there’s little of the heart or for the matter the comic inspiration that eventually turned The Neighbors around creatively.  For every nice bit where Richard and Madelena sing nastily about how they don’t quite hate each other, there’s a tiresome round of old-tyme Your Mama jokes.

All credit to ABC for trying something genuinely different, and to Fogelman for coming up with (and successfully pitching) such an oddity.  It seems doubtful, though, that Galavant will keep its seat at the network round table for long.


About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."