Sunday, January 4, 2015

REVIEW: 'Galavant' - Galavant Begins His Journey to Save a Kingdom & Rescue His One True Love in 'Pilot' & 'Joust Friends'

ABC's Galavant - Episode 1.01 "Pilot" & Episode 1.02 "Joust Friends"

When Sir Galavant loses his true love to evil King Richard, he falls into a deep and drunken despair. Princess Isabella shows up with a quest to save her kingdom. Galavant enters a jousting tournament to test his return to heroic form. King Richard asks Gareth to help him become a bit more macho so that Madalena won't despise him quite so much.

The premiere episode of Galavant just has so much plot to cover. It is able to hide the massive information dump because it is set to a catchy theme song. And yet, the episode still has a lot of work to do. The characters don't really escape their broad descriptions until the second episode. Galavant is the land's most revered hero until he loses the love of his life and just wallows in his own despair. King Richard is wealthy with power but not the most fearsome man in this universe. Madalena is the damsel in distress until she chooses not to leave. Sid and Gareth are the loyal aides to Galavant and King Richard respectively. Isabella is the woman torn between two choices and the only hope of pulling Galavant out of his despair.

The heavy lifting that the premiere has to do makes me very glad that ABC decided to air two episodes back-to-back - at least for the premiere, I'm less certain about it being "burned off" over only four weeks. "Joust Friends" allows depths to come for many of the characters. We get to see new nuances and backstories to these people. If we are suppose to be invested in these characters and their quests, then we need to understand what is motivating them. The Galavant theme and "Off on a Hero's Journey" are very catchy songs. And yet, the most interesting musical moment comes at the end of the second episode in "You're Not the Worst Thing Ever." It's asking both the characters and the audience to see other characters and relationships differently. Richard and Madalena are married. But should we enjoy them as a couple? Galavant and Isabella will be spending a lot of time together as they travel to the kingdom of Valencia. They should grow to become friends. That way when it's revealed she was deceitful it will sting just a little bit more.

But those character relationships also open up the discussion - Should we be rooting for Madalena as Galavant's one true love? Everything that he is doing is to win her back. And yet, the only thing we really know about their relationship in the past is that they had a lot of sex. Yes, that can be one describer of a healthy relationship. But it didn't seem like much more than that. And then, she did choose fame and fortune over his love. Why is Galavant so desperate to get her back? Isabella does feed him the line that Madalena regrets the choice she made. But the audience knows better than that. We know that it's all a ploy by Richard to kill Galavant in front of Madalena to win her love and respect. And with both Richard & Madalena and Galavant & Isabella getting closer, will the climatic point of this journey be worth it?

That's a question for later in the season though. In these episodes, Galavant showcases its fun side. Yes, some of the humor is trying a little too hard. And yet, I can also understand each comedic beats purpose. Galavant gasping for breath after holding that note at the start of "Joust Friends" felt weird until I remembered just how out of shape he actually was and then it made perfect sense. And then, the big jousting match with John Stamos' Sir Jean Hamm wasn't what I was expecting. It largely served as a metaphor for Galavant needing to stand back up and be the hero he once was after getting knocked down. It wasn't that subtle. And yet, it still amused me - and that's about as much as I can ask of Galavant.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Pilot" was written by Dan Fogelman and directed by Chris Koch.
  • "Joust Friends" was written by Dan Fogelman and directed by Chris Koch.
  • Sir Jean Hamm is such an amusing name - even though that was some weird facial hair.
  • I didn't laugh at Galavant not being able to jump up onto the house because it was used so many times in the show's promos.
  • Both Galavant and Jean Hamm are somewhat dim because Isabella says out loud her true intentions and neither one of them actually catches it. That is just weird.