The musical TV genre has a very mixed track record on network television. While “Glee” was successful for a long time and “Empire” opened strongly this week, other attempts (like “Smash”) have failed. While the ratings for “Galavant” were nothing to write home about, this show should have gained more attention. Though it’s not perfect, the first two episodes produce a highly entertaining hour of television, putting it among the better television musicals.
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“Galavant” follows an eponymous knight (Joshua Sasse, “Rogue”) whose true love Madalena (Mallory Jensen, “Young & Hungry”) was kidnapped by the evil King Richard (Timothy Omundson, “Psych”) so he could marry her. When Gal interrupts their wedding, Madalena chooses to remain with the king. After a year of heartache, the Princess of Valencia (Karen David, “Waterloo Road”) asks for his help in a quest to save her kingdom from the clutches of King Richard.
What contributes the most to “Galavant” ’s fun tone is its music. Written by Alan Menken and Glenn Slater (collaborators on Broadway’s “The Little Mermaid”), the songs are catchy and cathartic. The core of the show lies in its ability to release beautiful songs in each episode. Numbers like King Richard’s “She’ll be Mine” or the quartet songs “Maybe You’re Not the Worst Person Ever” prove that Menken and Slater know how to put together amusing tunes with some clever words. Though the main “Galavant” melody does begin to tire by the third reprise in the hour, Slater adds some sharp quips to the lyrics which lessen the burnout.
While the songs’ humorous lyrics are fantastic, the show’s dialogue is disappointing. Some contain humorous moments, but many have gags that come off as overly broad. Sometimes they have a solid idea, but it lasts for one or two lines too long, like a scene where Gal’s rival Sir Jean Hamm (John Stamos, “Full House”) tells a series of “yo-mama” jokes. Creator Dan Fogleman was also responsible for “The Neighbors,” which was similarly hit-and-miss comedically. It’s a shame that these scenes aren’t as strong, because they’re the only things that hold this show back from being the best small-screen musical.
The lack of comedic success is not the cast’s fault, however. Many of the actors bring charm to the screen despite being saddled with weak material. Omundson especially gets some of the more immature jests, but he has so much fun with his part that you hardly notice the bad jokes. He gives a huge performance, chewing scenery left and right. It works well, especially in the musical numbers. He is what makes “She’ll be Mine” as amusing as it is.
“Galavant” is exactly what a TV musical should be. Its songs are catchy and it’s a hell of a good time. While the humor isn’t always strong, the other elements are prominent enough to make it incredibly enjoyable television.