In the US: Sundays, 8pm ET/7pm CT, ABC
It’s the usual story: boy and girl meet, boy and girl fall in love, boy and girl sing songs together, evil king abducts girl, boy comes to rescue her, singing a song, girl decides she prefers being with the rich and famous evil king, who sings a song of triumph, boy decides to become a ne’er-do-well and drink his life away – before being given the chance of revenge against the rotter who stole his girl.
I imagine if you work at Disney, a lot of the time you’ll want to send the whole thing up. And as you can tell from the above précis of ABC’s new musical comedy, Galavant, the show’s producers Dan Fogelman, Alan Menken and Glenn Slater have finally got their wish, after working on Disney’s Tangled together. Trouble is, it’s the kind of thing you should probably leave behind at the Christmas party, rather than stick into an eight episode limited series.
Galavant is certainly a show that thinks it’s funny. To its credit, it often is as well, particularly those scenes involving Psych’s Timothy Omundson who plays the evil king and/or Vinny Jones, who plays his evil henchman. It’s just nowhere near as funny as it should be, let alone as funny as Enchanted, which is pretty much the gold standard for fairy tale pastiches.
To be sure, no one’s cutting any corners. It’s filmed in the UK – unless I’m going crazy, there are even locations used in Robin of Sherwood on display. The cast is mainly British, the exceptions being Omundson and Australian Mallory Jansen, as the gold-digging heroine – apparently there are now so many Brits pretending to be Americans in the US, the US has run out of Brits to play Brits so, as with Matador, it’s time to draw on the Aussies to help out. The songs are written by Slater and Menken, who wrote the Oscar-nominated ‘I See The Light’. And Fogelman doesn’t short-change on the plot, which is actually series-long and multi-layered.
But the show tries to get by merely on subversion and injection of age-inappropriate content. Sometimes this works, giving adults something to laugh about with the juxtaposition of fairy tales and sex, modern language interspersed with more genteel phrasing or characters revealing plot twists in song that other characters then pick up on. The idea of the drunken, selfish handsome prince and the amoral heroine also works well.
However, that’s more or less it and once you’ve seen those tricks all a few times, you’ll want something different, but the show doesn’t really have anything else to offer. So while the joke hit rate is decently high for a network comedy, by the end of each double-episode, you’re going to be feeling a little undernourished by the paucity of variety on the menu.
Probably best watched only as a musical accompaniment to Once Upon A Time, but nevertheless has the potential to get better.