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  • Writer's pictureBryce Chismire

Galavant

MAJOR

SPOILER ALERT


What’s your usual pastime as far as TV lounging is concerned? What movie or show would you or your family have watched that drew you together?


There are a couple of shows that did that for me and my family. Some of the most noteworthy examples I can think of are ‘The Middle’ – which frankly had become one of my favorite TV shows because of how the Hecks are so much like our family – and the hit Paramount Network series, ‘Yellowstone.’ The last one, I think, was obvious, given that we live in Southwestern Colorado, and many of the topics covered in this show, despite taking place in Montana, generally correlated with what we experience in our home state.


But there’s one such show that my family and I saw years ago, just around the time I was on my way out of college, that had since left behind a faint and soft but no less persistent whistle in my ear that struck up my inner televised and even melodic satiation.


That show I speak of is ABC’s short-lived, two-season musical extravaganza Galavant.



What’s the story?


Set in medieval England, a fabled hero known as Sir Galavant was living with his fiancé, Madalena, when she was suddenly kidnapped and made into a wife-to-be by an unruly king named Richard. However, while Galavant braved his way through countless warriors and made it to the wedding ceremony to object and propose his love to Madalena… Madalena bluntly told him she was admittedly drawn to being beside the king, leaving Galavant heartbroken and confused.


A year after that, the dejected Galavant was approached by a princess, Isabella Maria Lucia Elisabetta of Valencia… Actually, Galavant was right. That name is a mouthful!


Anyway, Isabella approached him after hearing of his heroic days of yore, only to be taken aback by his laziness, primarily because of his moping over Madalena’s allegedly wrongheaded decision. As she reported it, King Richard ordered his troops to plunder and lay waste to her and her parents’ kingdom, Valencia, and claim it as his own while neglecting the peaceful, prosperous people there. Because of this, Isabella needed Galavant’s help to fend off King Richard. Seeing this as an opportunity to pay Richard back for kidnapping Madalena, Galavant reluctantly joined her, along with his servant, Sid, on a quest to Valencia to fight off King Richard, reclaim Valencia, and reason with, if not rescue, Madalena.


Meanwhile, Richard was getting used to having Madalena by his side and tried to win her over as his new bride and the new Queen of Valencia. However, much like Galavant, King Richard only ended up completely underestimating her as she attempted one shocking scheme after the next as she relished all the power and control that comes with being in the laps of royalty. The Madalena that Galavant thought he knew and that Richard thought he wanted turned out to have been more dastardly than meets the eye, especially now that she bore one of the crowns seized from Isabella’s parents.


Pretty soon, the events that unfolded started to explore more hidden truths about many of the characters involved in these chaotic tides. As Galavant, Isabella, and Sid continued to venture forth in search of Valencia, they ran into one kooky Englander after another, and as Sid began to assess his position as a squire more closely, Galavant and Isabella started to develop feelings for each other. It threw Galavant for a loop, considering he was doing this to help Isabella regain her kingdom and marry Madalena. So, what would Galavant have felt once he reached Valencia and reevaluated the Madalena he thought he had lost?


On top of that, Richard turned out to have struggled with his position as king more than his position and infamous reputation would’ve suggested. He tried to get the hang of his kingship with the help of his loyal aide, Gareth, who had been his best friend since boyhood. However, as Richard perpetually got turned down by Madalena, not as a victim but as the new Queen, Richard started to think twice about his position in Valencia and how he generally handled it. Not helping matters was the arrival of Richard’s older, more zealous brother, Kingsley, who was granted the role of kinghood when they both were young, only for Richard to be given the title out of technical issues; Kingsley was initially more interested in exploring the world than ruling a kingdom. Now, he had returned to reclaim what was his by right. In addition, feelings started to brew between Madalena and Gareth, further complicating their relationship and leaving Richard’s integrity and Kingsley’s supposedly overdue title on the line. Yet, despite Gareth’s feelings for Madalena, he still had some inner doubts and suspicions about her, so he took in Sid, whom he and Madalena previously apprehended along with his friends near the end of the first season, to help him with his troubles.


And if that and Galavant and Isabella’s relationship weren’t enough, Isabella also admitted that her parents were technically arranging for her to be married to a fellow prince from Hortensia that they knew, her cousin, Prince Harry of Hortensia. The news was spilled out when she, Galavant, and their friends finally reached Valencia. Plus, among the people involved in this wedding ceremony was an unscrupulous wedding planner named Chester Wormwood. He planned to take over the kingdom of Hortensia by exercising his charisma and dark magic through Isabela and her family. So, when Galavant heard about this, he went from planning to rescue Madalena to planning to rescue Isabella, this time with Richard, his supposed enemy, by his side.


It’s not quite the fairy tale progression you expected from a show like this, is it?


Now that I’m navigating through all these interconnected story threads, I just realized that shows like this, The Middle and Yellowstone, are not all we see on broadcast TV that brought us together.


Whenever I saw my parents watching television, they tuned in to general animated fare now and then, most notably Up, How to Train Your Dragon and Tangled. The last one was especially striking to my parents, potentially because of the chemistry between Rapunzel and Eugene as they traveled together to fulfill the princess’ dire wish, only for them to fall in love along the way. Maybe there’s something in their heartfelt moments and their bickering moments in-between that my parents related to.


Well, impressively, Galavant was overseen by three of the same people who worked on Tangled: writer Dan Fogelman, musician Alan Menken, and lyricist Glenn Slater. Outside of the show sharing a few things in common with Tangled, I caught on to plenty of things to write home about concerning the series, part of them centering around Alan Menken and his collective creative background.


You see, Alan Menken did the musical orchestrations of not only Tangled but also of such beloved Disney films as The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Newsies, Pocahontas, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Hercules, and Enchanted. He even did the music for Little Shop of Horrors, one of his first major musical breakthroughs.


Having grown up with almost all these movies throughout my childhood, I was accustomed to Alan Menken’s musical talents and the strokes of genius he achieved throughout his career. And they still sweep me off my feet, not only for their melodic strength but also for how much they practically made my childhood. Arabian Nights from Aladdin is one of my all-time favorite songs from Disney, The Hunchback of Notre Dame’s music is some of the most haunting I’ve ever heard from either a film or a musical, and his work with Howard Ashman produced some of the most hummable, richly conveyed songs ever written.


With Galavant, I don’t even know where to start, because man! He and Glenn Slater produced one good toe-tapping tune after another in the 18 episodes produced of this show, and we’re talking two or three songs per episode. Alan Menken and Glenn Slater’s work in this show is just a musical and compositional gold mine!


It would be almost impossible to go through every single song throughout the show because what makes so many of them work is that they’re either story-driven, unearthing new aspects of the characters’ personalities, or carrying some vague resemblances to Alan Menken’s earlier work, sometimes while meshing it with other more famous musical tunes.


If I did look over the songs, this review would take forever, so I’ll start with the most notable songs in the show.


The title song proudly showcased the very knightly and allegedly heroic deeds Galavant had done throughout his life, but it doesn’t stop there. Through all its reprises in the show, they went everywhere, ranging from noting Galavant’s good qualities to addressing various circumstances as they went on throughout the show. So, it serves as a riotous character portrait song and a more fitting series portrait song.


The second season’s opening tune, “A New Season,” went all out there with its anticipation of the new season afoot. But because the show’s return was so miraculous, it also went all out there in its lampooning of everything accompanying Galavant in its ABC timeslot at the time, including the Golden Globes, The Bachelorette, and, by name, even the football games. It’s like their way of shouting, “We’re back, babies, and badder than ever!” Plus, as the song mounted, it culminated in what quickly felt equivalent to watching a crowd of participants belting out the final touches of a musical number in a Broadway show. Given Alan Menken and Glenn Slater’s backgrounds, this makes too much sense, and it all made this song a genuinely seamless, incredible one to open up the second season with. It even scored for Galavant its sole Emmy nomination – Outstanding Music and Lyrics – and it goes without saying. However, I wonder if the song’s commentary of the Emmys and back-talking of its home network had something to do with it.


When you mentioned "globes made out of gold", this was not what I had in mind.

And frankly, songs like this make me wonder if Menken, Slater, Fogelman, and the cast and crew took the budget of what’s supposed to be a 22-episode season or so of a broadcast network show and used it to amplify everything, including the writing, acting, and production values, with lesser episodes per season. I understand that How to Get Away with Murder, also on ABC, did the same thing outside of Viola Davis’ star power. Could Galavant have, too?


Anyway, moving on.


“Togetherness,” sung by Galavant, Isabella, and Sid as they all traveled together to Valencia, is a generally upbeat tune about the many hurdles they had to go through concerning each other’s flaws, such as Isabella’s snoring, for instance. This song not only demonstrated some quirky banter going on between the characters, but it also conveyed a sense of fellowship as they tried to pull through and still attempt to stick with each other through thick and thin, no matter what they went through. I think any buddy road trip movie or show may have had a song similar to this one breeze in their heads. Remember Ash, Misty, and Brock’s travels in Pokémon? Or Aang, Katara, and Toph’s travels in Avatar: The Last Airbender? Stories of quests like those might hint at dynamics like what Galavant, Isabella, and Sid went through as they expressed them clearly in this song.


The romantic duets by the Valencian chef, Vincenzo, and the handmaiden, Gwynne, are also charming and endearing. The first one, “If I Could Share My Life with You,” expressed a budding love blooming forth between them. Meanwhile, their song in the second season, “As Good As It Gets,” went all out there with their newfound luxuries before they agreed to settle into more hospitable conditions that were more mellow and not so overtly luxurious.


However, their duet “A Happy Ending for Us” sounded like the most oddly macabre I’ve ever heard. In this, they sang with glee over how to poison the feast so the heads of royalty, including Queen Madalena, were to succumb to their concoctions. While their teamwork in this was cute, what they planned out together carried a creepy overtone that left me dumbfounded over the idea that they were willing to pull this off.


Madalena’s songs were also not too shabby, either. The first one, “No One But You,” carried forth the vibrant vanity that permeated Madalena throughout the whole show, this time with her reflections in her mirrors. Part of that carries the same tones as “Mother Knows Best” from Tangled. Her second song, “What Am I Feeling,” conveyed a more tender side to Madalena that even I never expected to experience from a character like her. For all her greed and power-hungry tendencies, there’s still a vulnerable side to her to which even she didn’t know how to respond. This felt well played out, too.


Somehow, I kept mentally returning to the songs being sung indoors, mainly because of how cheeky and direct they were. The first song, “Jackass in a Can,” displayed some contempt towards Galavant in his mistreatment of Sid in his hometown. And “He Was There,” sung by the children with whom Galavant’s father returned home, told Galavant all the heroic deeds he had done for them, even when Galavant did not believe so judging from his prior mistreatment of him.


Sid’s song about revolting against Gareth and Madalena, “Today We Rise,” is a genuinely rousing number fit for someone trying to rally a ground full of villagers into overthrowing a corrupt kingdom. It honestly carried some Newsies vibes, which isn’t all that surprising, considering that this is about trying to right the wrongs prevalent in a society. Of course, unlike in Newsies, everyone involved fled in a panic when Sid got into too much detail about what kind of carnage would have followed in their battles.


Near the end of Season 1, Richard, while stuck in the dungeons with most of the other main characters, sang a lullaby her mother sang to him, entitled “Goodnight, My Friend.” This song carried some heavenly vibes that I’d wager his mother conveyed to him when Richard was younger, and it felt like a satisfactory excuse for Timothy Omundson to showcase his surprisingly hard-hitting singing skills.


Some of the love tunes in this show were also excellent.


Starting with Galavant and Isabella, their first duet, “Love is Strange,” had them express how twisty yet true their devotion to each other was despite all their bickering and disagreements. In their second duet, “World’s Best Kiss,” they reflected on their first and awkwardly executed kiss while stuck in the dungeon at the end of the first season. Yet, imperfect as it was, they still thought it was one of the best they ever had. These duets carried the same romantic essences for Galavant and Isabella that “A Whole New World” did for Aladdin and Jasmine and that “I See the Light” did for Rapunzel and Eugene.


“Serenade” was a truly romantic song by Galavant as he encouraged Richard and his childhood friend, Roberta, to express their feelings to each other. It carried the same romantic urgencies as “Kiss the Girl” from The Little Mermaid, while parts of it, atmospherically speaking, seemed reminiscent of “Bella Notte” from Lady and the Tramp.



Also, Richard and Roberta’s next romantic song, “Finally,” felt like an energized, rousing song about their newfound appreciation of their feelings for each other as they stepped their relationship up to the next level. Their choreography was also splendid, as it helped match the excitable energy quite seamlessly.


Of course, the most whimsical song I have ever heard in this show is the one by Gareth, “Love Makes the World Brand New.” In this song, he reflected on the comfy aspects of life in his imagination, complete with a sing-along lyric and a bouncing-ball-type bird bouncing onto each word in the song. That just seemed so strange and random, especially for a character like Gareth, that it strangely fits and works.


One song that kept resurfacing in my head over and over is “A Good Day to Die” from the episode “Battle of the Three Kings.” This song oozed in the anticipatory and triumphant moods prevalent throughout all the warriors as all three armies, Gareth and Madalena’s army, Isabella’s army, and Galavant’s undead army, lunged towards each other in preparation for battle. It also had an odd number sung by Vincenzo and Gwynne as they settled in a humble hut…which happened to be right in the middle of the battlefield! The song is catchy, fearless, determined, and morbidly excitable. I mean, the title of the song says it all.


As for the villain songs, they still seemed to relish in the upbeat, whimsical, humorous vibes prevalent throughout the series. But, to quote another one of Alan Menken’s works, while a good majority of them are “Feed Me (Get It)” s, a few “Suppertime” s would’ve been nice, too. There may not have been one song in the whole show that sounded like the medieval equivalent of, say, “Poor Unfortunate Souls” from The Little Mermaid, Jafar’s reprise of “Prince Ali” from Aladdin, or especially “Hellfire” from The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Regardless, judging from the show’s overall tone and portrayal of the Middle Ages, they still never felt out of place as villain songs and did the job efficiently by conveying the villains’ personalities.


In short, this show was just a straight-up training exercise to get Alan Menken and Glenn Slater’s creative juices flowing throughout each episode. Thankfully, the tunes they composed for Galavant are not only monumentally gargantuan in quantity, but they carried the same musical strength that Alan Menken had mastered in many of his other projects before this one.



Let’s shift our attention to the characters next, shall we? At first, many of them started off a tad too light before they developed into more engaging characters along the way.


Galavant, the noble knight of the show, simply became a lazy bum after being dumped by Madalena and reluctantly joined Isabella to take back Valencia and supposedly rescue Madalena. But when that fell through, he ended up on another quest, this time with Richard after they were both escorted from Valencia, so they could’ve rallied an army and gathered supplies to prepare for Galavant’s rescuing of Isabella from her arranged wedding to Prince Harry. However, considering some of his backstories, most of them concerning his father and what kind of hero he meant to be, you can argue that there’s a little bit of soul-searching for Galavant as he tried to comprehend some of life’s weirdest twists and turns thrown at his way. Besides, part of what makes his journeys so entertaining is his reactions to the various nonsensical people he and his friends ran into. So, light as he was as a character, his relationship, companionships, and inner awakening as he went on his journeys more than made up for it.


Initially, what Isabella did, while understandable, called me back to Meg and Hades from Hercules, where she asked the hero to do something for her as far as the villain was concerned without ever telling the hero that she was in cahoots with the villain all along and led him into a trap the villain negotiated. Because Richard, as king, was holding Isabella’s parents hostage, he promised her that he would let them go if she brought Galavant forth to him. Isabella recruiting Galavant to help set her parents free, not to mention reclaim her Valencian Jewel, was her plan to try to fulfill her promise, even if it left her feeling continuously guilty for deceiving Galavant. Still, when she set out to rescue her parents, attempt to call off her wedding with Prince Harry, or, of course, try to foil Wormwood’s nefarious schemes, she expressed a more spirited, almost fierce aspect of her character that called me back to those of Princess Jasmine.


However, one of the most frustrating parts of the show was when she was given by Wormwood a tiara that would’ve given her immense excitement for her forthcoming wedding with Prince Harry. It lasted for only a couple of episodes, and by the time it went on, it started to get old fast. So, when the tiara fell off her head and shattered behind her – you can thank the musical number “Different Kind of Princess” for that – she regained her senses, and I legitimately breathed a huge sigh of relief. It just felt so nice to have her back. But, when she wasn’t busy doing King Richard’s bidding and trying to lure Galavant into a trap or worry about what she thought Galavant meant about her – I’ll get to that soon – she continually proved herself a resilient and praiseworthy Princess of Valencia, always trying to rally up her troops and prepare for battle to take back Valencia when her precious meeting with Queen Madalena concerning it didn’t end well. Most of it was covered in their feud song, “I Don’t Like You.” Her character was quite admirable, and when you add to that all her experiences, either as royalty, with Galavant, or with the messy wedding, you’d see an actual heroic princess sprouting forth. In hindsight, I think both seasons of Galavant did right by her through different means. The first season introduced her as a likable, exciting female co-lead bound to become Galavant’s love interest, while the second season allowed her to pull out all the stops as the Princess of Valencia that she was.



Sid, Galavant’s squire, only stuck around with Galavant, attempted to offer advice to him, and stuck by his side. However, when I look at how his adoptive parents raised him and how he was the spoiled child in the whole town, which happened to be named Sidneyland (not Disneyland), there’s a sense that he was willing to prove his worth by doing something right for other people, as he attempted to do with Galavant. And once he was made into Gareth’s servant, there’s some tension as to what kind of advice Sid would’ve felt comfortable giving and to what extent he decided to carry on with it before it was no longer deserved by those who relied on him for it. He’s a very amiable character simply for his devotion and growing sense of judgment, and his actions throughout this show made up for whatever potential lightness he started with at the beginning of the show.


Gareth, at first, started as the strong hand and advisor in King Richard and Queen Madalena’s forthcoming plans. However, when it came to his loyalty, only then did I start seeing him in an engaging, almost sympathetic light. Never mind that he was modeled after The Hound and Gregor Clegane in Game of Thrones, his character development, subtle as it may have been, and his connections, especially with Richard, throughout the show gave Gareth some noticeable complexity. In fact, by the time he and Sid were in the same company throughout the second season, they expressed so much in common that it’d have made sense for them both to feel like they understood each other, especially since these were two servants helping each other. Sid was the heart, Gareth was the muscle, and while the whereabouts of the brain are questionable, they still made a good pair.



The chef, Vincenzo, may not have established much with his character, but the way he got to where he did, alongside how his soon-to-be girlfriend, Gwynne, made it to that point, was just humorous. He became King Richard’s servant after he killed his father, as he had with his couple generations’ worth of ancestors. Yet, Vincenzo’s awkward nature and surprisingly calm way of reminding Richard of them made me catch on to how his conditions as the castle chef were in the show. But when he started having romantic feelings for Gwynne, the handmaiden, his inner man started to sprout forth and make himself shown to her and everyone around him. And for all of Gwynne’s lack of significant contributions – well, outside of poisoning a castle feast – her mannerisms and generally womanly way of processing things, like her and Vincent’s future together, still made her an endearing character to watch.


Prince Harry, the supposed bride Isabella’s parents picked for Isabella to marry, turned out to have been an endearingly uneven character. Part of the punchline with this character was that as someone who was supposed to be a prince of a high title, he turned out to have been only eight or eleven years old and young enough to act as Isabella’s younger brother rather than her husband. Fortunately, unlike Joffrey Baratheon, he’s a childlike ruler of royalty of a more cutesy type; he still acted like a kid. And when he was told about Isabella refusing to marry him – She will not stand for this! The wedding is off! – what did he do in response? He demanded that Isabella compensate him with her bra. That’s just hilarious and a little fitting, given his character’s age. Also, you don’t think he’s named after England’s Prince Harry, do you?


Next, you have Isabella’s parents. Introduced initially as innocent victims of King Richard, they started expressing more egocentric mannerisms than you’d think. They wanted what was best for their daughter, Isabella, but what they had in mind for Isabella was for her to marry her cousin, Harry, so their shared bloodline could continue. Of course, by the time they roped in the next character I’ll address shortly, only then did they come to realize how shortsighted their decision-making turned out to be, making them come alive as characters who caught on to when they did something wrong, especially with their own flesh and blood.



Chester Wormwood, the wedding planner summoned to attend Isabella’s wedding, was a conniving, silly, and somewhat excitable villain with a sneaky proposition to have the wedding go as planned before he unleashed his plan to take over the kingdom of Hortensia. Part of the humor with this character was that he had so many conflicting plans going on all at once that his assistant, Barry, was confused as to which plan was the wedding plan, which one was the master plan, which one followed what, and so on. It led to some genuinely good laughs, but his convictions, his methods of possessing others through dark magic, or his sneaky ways of executing them made him a far more intimidating threat factor for someone who at first reminded me of Chef Louis from The Little Mermaid. Come to think of it, his practices in dark magic were also intriguing, for despite me feeling frustrated by his controlling of Isabella’s mind, watching him do the same thing to Madalena at her request throws in a new dynamic to his character depending on who he spoke with. That reminds me: when Wormwood’s plot to take over Hoternsia fell through, he had no choice but to join forces with Maladena and Gareth to get even with Princess Isabella and her army.


The jester, who, at first, felt set up to be just a minor character in the show – and he was – showed more versatility with his personality than I expected. First, outside of narrating the story similarly to how Clopin did it in The Hunchback of Notre Dame, he also showed some vulnerable moments to him, like when he was requested to be Queen Madalena’s sexual playmate. Later, when his conflicted feelings got him thrown into the dungeon by Madalena, he wondered where his convictions lay and decided to ally with Isabella and her family and troops while in Hortensia. His ways of playing with Prince Harry, plus the little childlike presentations he gave off, showed a more childlike essence to him that seemed to go together with his more fool-like tendencies.


I feared Roberta would have felt too weak as a character, especially one introduced in the second season. However, while she didn’t have much to show for it, her background with Richard as a neighborhood friend did display some intriguing aspects of her character that vibed well with Richard, if not for herself. The first time Roberta appeared, she seemed to join Galavant and Richard out of pity. But it turned out that she joined them because she recognized Richard as he and Galavant made their proclamation. Part of it felt like she would’ve been in the second season what Isabella was in the first, with her being Galavant’s fierce and fearless female traveling companion. And I’ll admit, that’s where she felt the most strongly conveyed. But it still didn’t diminish the fun aspects I got out of her character.


And finally, let’s talk about the two significant characters left to discuss in the show.



First up is Queen Madalena, who, right off the bat, felt like a mix between Vanessa from The Little Mermaid and Cersei Lannister. As someone set up to be Galavant’s love interest, she was shown as being quite manipulative and having more than one trick up her sleeve, especially in conditions where it seemed, at first, like she was the victim rather than the perpetrator. And from there, she displayed every twisted, careless, unorthodox, and scheming tactic imaginable for a power-hungry queen. However, “Bewitched, Bothered, and Bedeviled” showed me, to my surprise, a more sincere, tender aspect of Madalena I wouldn’t have seen coming. Let’s say it involved some queens whom Madalena idolized but was instead made the object of ridicule by them, showcasing where her dedications lay, whether it was to Gareth since she started developing feelings for him as he sat by her as the new king, or if she really was that relentless in her pursuit for more power. This is how great villains come about when they display some refreshingly and digestibly productive plot twists and personality expositions that show more of her character than we’d have seen coming. Madalena was just a knockout in this show!


If you’re curious about how Gareth became king and where Richard’s brother, Kingsley, was in all of this, here’s what went down. Kingsley arrived to show up Richard under Madalena’s visitation, only for Kingsley, while Richard was on his way out, to be literally stabbed in the back by Madalena, who then promoted Gareth to sit beside her as king.


Finally, the last main character had the most impressive character development in the show: King Richard himself.


At first, he was portrayed as a buffoonish, generally pompous king who rambled on and on about how things were not going right for him as a new king of Valencia. That’s the type I’m accustomed to from such characters as Prince John from Robin Hood. However, when I looked at why he reacted to things not going his way with frustration, I suddenly started to reevaluate his character and look at him no longer as an incompetent tyrant but rather as a confused man who’s not had the best streak of luck. Only when things started to go haywire did he begin to wonder where things went wrong, where he went wrong, and who his faithful companions were. For one thing, he started to open up to Gareth, since he was his bodyguard since they were boys, but the level at which Richard would’ve admitted their friendship unveiled a ton of character in those moments. And at a time when they both thought of each other as bitter enemies, Richard’s relationship with Galavant instead evolved into a surprisingly adept odd couple. Galavant was confident in what he was doing despite his cockiness, while Richard was always the one complaining despite potentially being the sensible one. Plus, he made a friendship with a lizard named Tad Coopa, believing him to be a baby dragon, even when others like Galavant scoffed at the idea. But Richard had absolute faith in him, feeling like their friendship was more than enough, as expressed in “My Dragon Pal and Me,” which reminded me a lot of what I'm accustomed to from Little Shop of Horrors, especially “Grow for Me.” Me? Looking at Tad Coopa, I can understand Richard’s peers’ hesitation to believe Tad Coopa was a dragon, especially since I’ve seen what baby dragons are like in Game of Thrones.



Throughout Richard’s arc in the show, there’s a sense that, much like Galavant, he too was doing some soul-searching of his own, especially considering his rough and generally unpleasant childhood. So, all the bad experiences in his life made him think harder and look closer at who he felt to be his true, loyal allies and whether he was destined to be something far greater than he imagined to be. And I’ll give you a hint by saying that his journey made him go from being a poorly orchestrated king wannabe into a noble man with urges that turned him into a role model more worthy, recognizable, and honorable by comparison to what he had already achieved. All it took was for him to have found a sword out of a tree stump, not a stone.


To watch Richard go through such deep, nuanced character development throughout both seasons is arguably one of the testaments of Galavant’s supreme talents and underrated reputation.


Finally, I don’t believe the show’s characters would have worked as well as they did without the cast’s contributions.


Joshua Sasse expressed a genuinely resounding, appropriately dashing demeanor to Galavant’s character. Whenever he was in his self-proclaiming, heroic inflections, he also let it all out by unleashing his comedic talents to boost his character’s sense of humor. Most other times, he’s had more mellow moments about him, but they still oozed forth with just a hint of his heroic deliveries. It was as if to demonstrate how Galavant wanted to remind himself of how much of a hero he was, even if his circumstances and guts might have told him otherwise.



Karen David gave Isabella a headstrong and admirably upright demeanor towards her character. She helped her character come across as the almost no-nonsense type of princess willing to do whatever it took to save her parents and her kingdom or thwart every foolish or monstrous proposition thrown her way, thus demonstrating what a true princess she was on her way to becoming. Even in times when David wasn’t acting like herself, like when Isabella was mind-controlled by Wormwood’s tiara, David sold her character as if Isabella had nothing else on her mind but the wedding going on. As old as it became, she still sold it in service to her character, which helped add weight to her characterization.


Mallory Jansen looked like she was owning it as Madalena. Every time she sat up on the throne, wore her royal garb, or even wore her crown, I could tell she was oozing forth with her slimy inflections and sold it through her character as she relished in her newfound position and all the luxuries that came with being the Queen of Valencia. For the most part, Maladena was primarily this, which could have risked getting too stale after a while. However, whenever Madalena expressed something that even she thought felt alien, Jansen showed it with some genuine sincerity, like she meant what she said or felt without it coming across as carrying a drip of sarcasm, malice, or fibbing in her tone. Simply put, Jansen was just marvelous in her role.


Timothy Omundson sounded and felt like he was having so much fun playing King Richard. His comedic talents, generally wholehearted portrayals, and musical talents all helped bring life to a seemingly tired stereotype of a king who always complained about things not going his way. The writing of this character was good enough, but the acting Omundson lent to him helped breathe so much life and vitality into King Richard.


Luke Youngblood did a great job conveying his character, Sid, with more sensitivity to him, outside of his more neurotic expressions, most of which were also handled quite nicely. He still made sure to hone his focus on the more humane parts of his character and the details that demonstrated his character’s worth as either a squire, a friend, or someone who understood how anyone felt.



Vinnie Jones also displayed a rough show of emotions as Gareth. Yet, he’s willing to show just how much he meant to show his feelings while upholding his more brutish exterior, such as when Gareth showed Madalena all the scars he got every birthday on his body as if he wore them like badges of honor. Gareth’s rough exterior might’ve given the impression that he was mostly all muscle and no heart. Still, when he did express his heartfelt moments, he demonstrated his inner man as if he was listening to his conscience as to what should be done next and, this time, the right way. I can tell that’s what went through his head, and it all worked out flawlessly.


As an actress, Clare Foster made her character Roberta work. She conveyed the proper tones and inner vocals to emulate a more modest vibe whenever she spoke either to Galavant or mainly to Richard. She may have been a new add-on to the show, but though her performance may have felt a little standard, what she infused into her character helped elevate her with some level of characteristic background to play into her present condition and thus keep her interesting.


Robert Lindsay, who played Chester Wormwood, expressed his character with more general mannerisms recognizable from a cartoonish villain. Thankfully, he threw in some twists and turns to keep his energy afloat and his personality comedically fitting and satisfying. Plus, he never let it overshadow his more devious inflections, which he displayed in all their clarity throughout his more ominous moments.


Darren Evans as Vincenzo and Sophie McShera as Gwynne were all excellent in their roles as they displayed their sense of awkwardness with evident sensibility. Evans played Vincenzo like he was confused by what was happening around him, yet he never gave it a second thought and just went on with life. McShera seemed very innocent and carried a sense of ladylike charm. Every time they played their characters, I could feel their connection and their more considerate and trusting portions as they started to shine through. Their chemistry was almost along the lines of Seymour Krelbourn and Audrey in Little Shop of Horrors; even their love duets called me back to “Suddenly, Seymour.”


Plus, this show came with a plethora of cameos to sift through. Here is just a sampling of the most notable of such cameos.


At the beginning of the first season, one of Galavant’s rivals, Sir Jean Hamm, was played by John Stamos, who also relished in the cocky tactics as Sasse did to Galavant, except he did so with more of a self-aggrandizement to him. Whatever may have gone down, I can tell through Stamos’ performance that Jeam Hamm and Galavant had a history together as Hamm became determined to settle the score with Galavant once and for all.


In “Dungeons and Dragon Lady,” Vincenzo took Richard to see the mystical wizard, Xanax, who offered to treat Richard by arranging a visit into his memories with psychedelic magic, of all things. And there's no more fitting actor to uphold the crazy antics of such a wizard than Ricky Gervais. Famous for his generally hard-hitting sense of humor, it jibed most fittingly within the comedic canvas of this show.


Kylie Minogue shone like a light in the brief screentime she had in the show as the barkeeper of The Enchanted Forest. Outside of emulating a condescending, if not femme fatale-like, vibe to her, she was almost on fire as she unleashed her singing and physical talents in the musical number “Off with His Shirt,” as she relished in Galavant’s built body. It was said that ever since their encounter on the set, she and Joshua Sasse have been dating and getting together since. In which case, it makes this one hell of a real-life matchmaking event!


Throughout the show, the characters and I were introduced to the oddball yet musically quaint tactics of a group of monks who sang like a barbershop quartet, as demonstrated with songs like “Hey, Hey, We’re the Monks.” And who was one of the prominent singers in this troupe? Weird Al Yankovic, of course. It’s always impressive to hear and see the voices of today’s masterminds being allowed to partake in shows like Galavant.


However, the one element of the show that takes center stage is the rampant humor and fourth-wall-breaking throughout the show.


If I had to describe the show in a nutshell, I’d say it’s as if The Princess Bride was a TV show. That’s because it has all the elements of a classic fairy tale, plus the characteristics of a solid romance in the forefront, all as they were surrounded by the mystically hilarious misadventures that unfurled around them. The result is a sprawling fantasy filled with priceless jokes and oddball elements that give Galavant a laughing edge to tickle our funny bones. It also satirizes what inspired the majority of this show: the Disney films, the Arthurian legends, Robin Hood, Game of Thrones... there was even a portion of Monty Python thrown into the mix. The circumstances at hand acknowledged the absurdity of what occurred in front of the characters, but somehow either had fun with it or tied it into the progressive journey of the main characters.


Let’s look at some of the more absurd moments in the show. One was when Galavant, Isabella, and Sid ran into a band of pirates. At first, it seemed like they were about to put them on a ship, only for it to be revealed that the pirates lived in tents and not in the pirate ship because many years ago, a tidal wave lifted it and left it stranded on an angled hill and can’t be pulled down. Hence, the pirates became land-dwelling pirates since. That thought processing was very witty and in tune with the show’s comedic banter.


There’s also a nearby village where Richard used to rule his kingdom, and the town got the bright idea to form a democratic government, where everyone got an invitation to vote and make it count. Plus, where Richard’s castle used to be, besides that village, all that’s left of it now is just an outline of where his castle used to be. It turned out to have been stripped apart by the town as it used its pieces and furniture for its own means. Of course, the village still set boundaries on voting concerning women, children, gypsies, and so on. It demonstrated a silly method of exercising what was typically never done before in medieval England. Also, this was where Roberta lived before she joined Galavant and Richard. So, since Richard’s castle used to live beside where she lived, that explains how they both became so close.


Returning to The Enchanted Forest, all the men are treated like royalty in this pub. However, the Queen of the Enchanted Forest wanted to draw more men in so she could’ve been comfortable with them. Of course, part of what makes it stand out so much is that Richad’s uncle, Keith, went missing after settling there, leading Richard to presume he died there. But then, he saw his uncle Keith again, who told them that the bar had everything he ever wanted, and it made him happy there. And as for the escape hatch? Keith only led them out through the incomplete ladies’ bathroom.


There were a couple of instances where the medieval tactics of sending messages oddly reflected modern-day methods of communication. For example, in “Bothered, Bewitched, and Bedeviled,” Galavant was approached by a waiter who came by with a raven with a message attached to its leg. Galavant said, ‘I gotta take this,’ in a tone similar to taking a phone call. Speaking of which, in the episode “World’s Best Kiss,” Richard and Galavant entered a tent where a fortuneteller resided, and he carried a sphere-wielding staff that had the power to have people talk to someone else, but in a way that cheekily resembled using FaceTime through an iPhone; it even came with a ringtone! These little touches excelled in honing the show’s humor while being creative about its magic and Medieval methodologies.


This, however, led to some genuinely priceless moments in the same episode. For example, when Vincenzo, the chef, was talking to Richard through the sphere about Gareth having taken the throne in Richard’s absence, he said to Richard, “he makes you look like an ass-ass-ass-ass-ass…” before concluding with, “…astronimal leader by comparison.” The sphere had a faulty reception, making Vincenzo’s conversation with Richard go haywire and look stilted, but the miscommunication here was just too good. And the same faulty signals resulted in similar miscommunications between Galavant and Isabella. While, in theory, this looks like a very clichéed way to have the couple stay apart for a while – the girlfriend thought the boyfriend badmouthed her when he meant to tell her something else, and this mentality did go on for most of the second season, which was one of its weaker points – what spurred the moment was hysterically unexpected. What happened was that Galavant tried to tell Isabella how much he loved her and that he planned to rescue her, only to say something like “I don’t like you” and “brown cow,” seemingly insulting Isabella. But because of the faulty signals in the sphere, Isabella didn’t hear the whole story. What Galavant really referred to was a nosy and literal brown cow that emerged into the tent Galavant spoke to Isabella from. Something about that miscommunication and the spontaneity of this event seemed so delightfully random that it was hilarious.


As for how Galavant found his army to rally up to rescue Isabella? After a reunion with Sid almost left him dead, he was revived by a mystical wizard who helped save him from death, and he also gave him the army he was looking for…except it was an army of the undead. So, when he had to bring them along with him as he confronted King Gareth and Queen Madalena’s army from Valencia and witnessed Isabella’s army from Hortensia, it made Galavant’s army of zombies look like the amateurish one.



But in my opinion, the most riotous element in the show concerned the giants vs. the dwarves. After an argument made Galavant join the giants, and Richard join the dwarves, they both realized that they were the same height, even though the dwarves insisted that the giants were ‘short giants’ and the giants insisted the dwarfs were ‘tall dwarfs.’ And why did they declare war on each other? The giants raised a portion of their collaborative bridge higher than the end constructed by the dwarfs. The idea that they squabbled over something as potentially easy to fix as a bridge is guaranteed to bring on some laughs.


Plus, part of the humor that paid homage to its inspirations contributed a great deal of story and character intrigue. Look at how Richard pulled the sword out of the tree stump, reminiscent of Excalibur when it was taken out of the stone. It is yet another example of what can be done as homages or which ones were plotted to develop the characters in ways that either tested them or were nothing new for them.


For where it counts, Galavant started slow but still with a high sense of energy and rode its way into a genuinely resonating, climactic finish. The way it finished up felt exciting, epic, and hilarious all at once.


But now, let me make one thing clear concerning the show ending with the season two finale, “The One True King (To Unite Them All).”


The show ended with Madalena being upstaged by Isabella in their catfight, and when Gareth came to check up on her, Madalena, though still conflicted, turned Gareth down to settle somewhere and disappeared with a poof of dust. The next time I saw Madalena, she approached who was described as some Dark Lord because Madalena was still hungry for power, especially after feeling it with Wormwood’s magic, called the D’Dew. And the last time we saw Gareth and Sid, Gareth asked him to join him on his quest to rescue Madalena and talk some sense into her. And that’s the last we saw of the three of them.


As for everything else, however?



Galavant and Isabella reunited, finally admitted their feelings for each other, and ended up married and settling in a lovely beachside hut. Richard was able to strike down Wormfoot and help end the war between Valencia, Hortensia, and Galavant’s army. Next, he tracked down Roberta to confess his feelings for her, and they both settled in a lovely cottage in the countryside. Oh, and Richard’s lizard, Tad Koopa? It turns out he was a real dragon, after all.


Galavant’s first season ratings on ABC weren’t anything to write home about, so the public was sure it would’ve been canceled. And on a cliffhanger, no less! Because my family and I had so much fun with the show, I held my breath to see whether Galavant would be picked up for another season. When it did, I was over the moon about it and looked at it like it was a miracle.


Looking at what went down in the second season finale, however, it left me feeling like there was so much closure throughout this finale that I was not too upset when Galavant was canceled and that there wouldn’t have been a third season of the show.


Besides, even though there was much intrigue with Gareth and Sid trying to rescue Madalena and stop her from meeting up with the Dark Lord for more power, I can’t help but think back on it as if it felt more like a gateway into a spinoff than one into a third season. And because Galavant and Richard earned their happily ever after’s, I didn’t see the point of continuing Galavant beyond where it ended for these characters.


Regardless of how it ended, my family and I still had a blast with the show. And I almost had an even bigger blast revisiting the show and unpacking the tiny details that were perfect and lampooned everything popular about the Middle Ages or left behind grains of surprising characterizations I had never caught before. The characters are eclectic and interesting, the story is stunningly layered, the acting is superb, the madcap humor is a laugh riot, and not only are the songs by Alan Menken and Glenn Slater unsurprisingly well done, but the amount of what they put together for the show is just overwhelming. It goes to show you that you can unleash so much with so little episodes, and what Galavant unleashed may have cemented it as one of my all-time favorite TV shows.


Lunge forth, ye readers, and do Galavant homage with thine consideration and viewership!


My Ratings

Season 1: B+ Season 2: A low A

Series: A strong A-



Additional Thoughts


As my way of demonstrating how much Alan Menken alums were involved in Galavant, get a load of this. Who wrote the episodes “My Cousin Izzy” and “About Last Knight”? Scott Weinger. And where would you recognize him from? Either Full House or as the voice of Aladdin. I knew he was fabulous as Aladdin’s voice actor, but for him to establish himself as a writer was a pleasant surprise. With “About Last Knight”, I wonder if he got the story ideas of heroic figures having daddy issues from his work in Aladdin and the King of Thieves.

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