SOUND OFF: GALAVANT Gets The Girl(s), But Love Is Strange
Today we are recapping the very best moments from this week's penultimate hour of ABC's new musical comedy series GALAVANT.
Such Delicious Friction
"There it is - Valencia!" Our noble and occasionally naughty hero GALAVANT (Joshua Sasse) arrived in the famed city tonight along with his heroic compatriots Princess Isabella (Karen David) and Sid (Luke Youngblood) thanks to the helpful guiding hand of the Pirate King (Hugh Bonneville). The resulting royal trickery, doo-wop harmonies, general monk mayhem and the very first appearance of none other than pop parody king Weird Al Yankovic in the OUTRAGEOUS and off-color world of GALAVANT as the Confessional Monk made for a sprightly, sardonic and spunky first half-hour of the GALAVANT hour, appropriately titled "Completely Mad...Alena" (written by Casey Johnson and David Winsor, directed by John Fortenberry). Of course, while our journey has been leading up to this moment all along, the epic and expansive presentation of the vaunted land as envisioned on the ep and the long-awaited reunion of GALAVANT with his beloved Madalena (Mallory Jansen) were both certainly worth the wait. Yet, is Madalena beyond redemption now following her even more nefarious actions against King Richard (Timothy Omundson) with the aid of her maid, Gwynne (Sophie McShera)? Indeed, Madalena seems positively poisonous to the core anymore - first she thwarts Galavant's proposal to win her back by agreeing to stay with the king, only to repeatedly and rapaciously cheat on him with the jester, and, now, she plots to do the amusingly dotty king in for good; or, as the case may be, for bad. The real question remains: will Madalena reap redemption by the final frame of the miniseries or is she destined to be deemed yet another foe on Galavant's gallant and grand path? We will have to tune into next week's finale hour to find out for sure, but at the present time it looks quite grim for the grossly unlikable royal lady. In any event, what GALAVANT himself sang at the episode's start could very well also apply to the series itself as it stands, and next week's vastly approaching finale: "I can't believe we're almost there!"
The first major musical moment of the hour kicked off with an elaborate production number all about Madalena, "Like You" - complete with a supremely smartly staged hall of mirrors reflecting dozens of different iterations of the nasty and self-centered queen, to her expectedly rapt approval and delight. At the end of the day, nobody likes the queen as much as herself, thus "Like You" certainly has more meanings than at first immediately assumed by just the title. Following that, Weird Al Yankovic led a sensationally unexpected doo-wop mock monk musical number, "We're The Monks", equally paying tribute to the slightly cheesy barbershop quartet ala THE MUSIC MAN and the comedic brothers of MONTY PYTHON & THE HOLY GRAIL. It's musical theatre meets Monty Python mixed with THE PRINCESS BRIDE and TANGLED - the latter created by GALAVANT's own mastermind, Dan Fogelman, and featuring a musical score by multi-award-winning Broadway and Hollywood master Alan Menken along with lyricist Glenn Slater, who repeat their duties here, too - is what GALAVANT is all about, natch; and enjoyably so. Plus, who can discredit the amenable affection engendered by heretofore unseen monk miming? Is monk miming something GALAVANT can claim as having created? Whether or not they did actually invent it, it was hilarious - and all too apropos given the goings-on of the incident.
As for the copious dramatic twists of the first half-hour, Princess Isabella attempted to renege on making good on her initial plan to surrender GALAVANT to King Richard. Then she set her eyes upon the heads of her mother and father on silver platters - alive and kicking, as it were, thankfully, at (the very) least. Nevertheless, the cat is out of the bag and GALAVANT now knows the whole truth - if perhaps a bit too late in the game. Most importantly, though, GALAVANT and Isabella showed further sparks in their sensitive confessional scene before the arrests - and their amply apparent chemistry that has been more than merely tangible all along began to feel as if it could conceivably be fully realized for the first time so far. We shall have to wait and see what develops between the two - and if either or both survive the clutches of the king (and queen). On that note - and on opposite side of good and evil - Madalena certainly put the "mad" in her namesake with her continual plotting against the king - though the resulting romance betwixt her maid, Gwynne, and the Chef (Darren Evans) was winsomely realized in the sweet "If I Could Share My Life With You". The evocation of "I See The Light" from the previous Fogelman/Menken/Slater collaboration TANGLED was right on the nose - and hit the ears and heart squarely in its overtly picaresque, countryside-set execution. And, of course GALAVANT finally met his foe face-on tonight, too - and was swiftly ushered into a dark and dank prison cell along with his two traveling companions for the conclusion of the first half-hour.
The second episode of tonight's GALAVANT hour began with the hotly anticipated pairing of GALAVANT with his betrothed once again, highlighted by the sensational and intentionally over-the-top self-besotted duet song sequence "I Love You". Tango-tastic! "Can't you see how freaking gorgeous we look?" Yes - oh, yes - we can. The entire episode itself, titled "Dungeons & Dragon Lady" (written by Kirker Butler, directed by James Griffiths) continued to impress from there. While the first half-hour boasted a memorable cameo in the personage of Weird Al Yankovic, the second half-hour introduced an even bigger entertainment heavyweight into the wacky and often wonderful world of GALAVANT - none other than Ricky Gervais. Imbuing his guffaw-worthy featured role as Xanax The Wizard with his ever-apparent and always expected hangdog look, matched by a blasé attitude and deadpan delivery, Gervais excelled - and that's without even mentioning his trippy, Queen-esque rock power ballad, "Tell Us What You See".
Appreciably, Isabella and Madalena faced off in a deliciously catty exchange befitting of DYNASTY following Isabella's full reveal of her initially harmful intentions with GALAVANT - to bring both GALAVANT and the precious green jewel to the king in order to free her entrapped royal parents, currently being held captive at the Valencia castle - though a song for the moment would have been even more delicious. Maybe next year? Given that we were provided with the strongest song on the series to date byway of "Love Is Strange", shared between GALAVANT and Isabella in the dungeon leading up to the conclusion of the ep, there was little to complain about when it came to tonight's simply spectacular hour of entertainment, especially the songstack. Plus, it seems clear GALAVANT and Isabella will end up together after all after tonight's events - another big win. And, as goofy as the series can be, Galavant's late-episode proclamation to follow through on his original intention elicited a spine-tingling response - at least from this attentive viewer. And, could the subsequent shocking reveal of Rutger Hauer as Kingsley be anymore dramatic or effective? Unlikely.
"It takes a while to kick in," Xanax advised the drugged king - and much the same could be said for GALAVANT as a series. If you didn't love it instantly, now 6 episodes in, the winning charms, delightfully acerbic attitude and effervescent joy erupting from within it are impossible to deny. It's a lark worth barking about - and makes us wish for more episodes and an official renewal notice as soon as possible. ABC, are you listening?!
From This Author Pat Cerasaro