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BWW Review: GALAVANT's Renaissance Comedy Troop is Even Better in Season 2


No one is ever going to confuse ABC's medieval song and dance event GALAVANT for top-notch musical comedy, but after a promising, yet uneven, first season, this delightfully silly show has hit its stride in Season 2 capitalizing on what made it a modest, surprise success in 2015. The second season, which premieres tonight at 8:00pm ET, seems to have found a far more consistent sense of humor allowing it to fully realize the ridiculousness that each character and actor is capable of bringing to the table. For the next five weeks, ABC will air two 30-minute episodes every Sunday, each featuring original songs by Alan Menken and Glenn Slater. While this is not exactly the typical Sunday night prestige programming, it is a delightful diversion before TV gets back to being serious for February Sweeps.

Back from last season are all of your favorite characters; the noble knight GALAVANT (Joshua Sasse), the giddily pampered King Richard (Timothy Omundson), Galavant's treacherous ex, Queen Madalena (Mallory Jansen), Gal's new lady love, Princess Isabella (Karen David), and the most unbelievable musical star in recent memory, tough-guy Vinnie Jones as Gareth.

Ben Preseley, Kemall Deen-Ellis, and Karen David
Photo Credit: ABC

The plot, which comes in a distant second in importance to the Mel Brooks/Monty Python style silliness, sees last season's main characters divided into three separate locations; GALAVANT and Richard start the season on Hugh Bonneville's pirate ship before going on a quest to reclaim what is theirs, Isabella is in Hortensia where she is being held captive and forced to marry her 11-year-old cousin, and Madalena and Gareth are not so happily sharing the ruling duties of Valencia.

While I won't bother getting into the details of each storyline, as they matter very little, the writers, under the supervision of creator and executive producer Dan Fogelman, find a number of humorous set pieces to bring the best out of their exceptionally game cast. Early in the season, there is a "men only" establishment called "The Enchanted Forest" ruled by a sparkly Kylie Minogue; a fortune-teller who allows a separated GALAVANT and Isabella to communicate via his shoddy Skype-like staff; and the new King and Queen of Valencia arguing over throne room decorations. The product of all of this feels like a collection of fully realized improv sketches at a Renaissance Fair, but against all odds, is incredibly entertaining and funny.

Other than the title song, Season 1's musical numbers were serviceable at best, never rising to the magic that Menken's music can often conjure, and for the most part, that hasn't changed in the second season. However, the script's writing and comedy is so much more confident and sharp, that it is easy to overlook the show's disappointingly forgettable songs. Much like CRAZY EX-GIRLFRIEND, another musical sleeper hit, the musical numbers (which could use a bit of GLEE's patented auto-tuning) work more in terms of comedy than they do as toe-tappers; because their content is clever, and the performers are sell them so well, you overlook the fact that you can't remember a single note by the next commercial break. GALAVANT's songs are even more meta than they were in Season 1 (look no further than the premiere's opening number), and occasionally make political points as well.

The primary beneficiary of the show's more self-assured sense of humor is Omundson. An unsung hero on PSYCH for eight years, his King Richard wasn't truly a villain last year, he was more of a spoiled child who was raised to care about nothing but himself. Now that he has lost his throne, he is on a parallel journey with new BFF Galavant, to discover who, and what, he was meant to be. While David, Jansen, and Sasse, are each wonderfully charming, Omundson's performance is the stuff that comedic actors dream about. Kooky, but relatable; bizarre, but honest; outlandish, but sympathetic.

Timothy Omundson. Photo Credit: ABC

In addition to Bonneville and Minogue, several other cameos pop up early in the season, including a returning John Stamos, and later in the month, the West End's current Funny Girl, Sheridan Smith, joins the fun.

While GALAVANT isn't going to make you forget medieval comedies like THE PRINCESS BRIDE or Monty Python's SPAMALOT, it will give you a joyful distraction for an hour each Sunday, and what more could you want out of an evening of television?

Are you glad to have the singing and dancing knight back on TV? Let me know in the comments below, or on Twitter @BWWMatt. If you want to follow along with my "366 in 366" articles, you can check out #BWW366in366 on Twitter. Also, make sure to follow @BWWTVWorld on Twitter for all of the biggest news from the world of TV and movies.

Banner Image: Timothy Omundson and Joshua Sasse. Photo Credit: ABC

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