*Warning: Potential Spoilers for first two episodes*
The five-week medieval extravaganza known as Galavant returned to ABC last Sunday after the enthusiastic response to its first season, complete with a new opening song and quest for our hero Galavant (Joshua Sasse) to complete in ten episodes for the next few weeks. Sadly, however, the show is so focused on celebrating its return to the air (despite the criticism and uncertainty after last season) that they seem to have lost sight of why Galavant was enjoyable in the first place- it wasn’t all about playing with the fourth wall and using modern day terms, those were just minor notes in the fun and musical adventure. From what I’ve seen in the first two episodes of this season, however, those are going to be the details we get the most of this year.
Last season, our story’s hero, Galavant, was left by his one true love Madalena (Mallory Jansen) for King Richard (Timothy Omundson). He wasted away in his house, tended to by his loyal squire Sid (Luke Youngblood) until the princess of Valencia, Isabella (Karen David), came begging for his help to kick Richard and his army out of her kingdom. As Galavant journeyed to regain his reputation and chance at “happily ever after”, countless twists and turns ensued, leading to fun musical numbers and jokes. When last we left our heroes, Galavant and Richard stowed away on a pirate ship to escape Richard’s evil older brother, leaving Isabella in the hands of her 7-year-old cousin (who is determined to marry her) and the kingdom in the hands of Madalena and Gareth (Vinnie Jones), Richard’s bodyguard.
It’s easy to see why this show wasn’t a big hit in the ratings department- it’s very much a niche show, perfect for anyone who loves medieval comedy like The Princess Bride, Robin Hood: Men in Tights or Monty Python and the Holy Grail, but it’s not something someone might expect to enjoy otherwise. That added to the fact that it airs Sunday nights during the period where everyone is basically just waiting for their favorite shows to come off their midseason breaks, and sometimes it makes me wonder how it did get renewed for Season Two. Not that I’m upset about that- season one left us with so many cliffhangers I would have been extremely upset if none of those loose ends were tied up. Now, though, watching the first two episodes of Season Two, I’m a little worried about how the series is going to tie up those loose ends, and how this story is going to play out. Granted, the first two episodes may not be a great indicator for the rest of the season, but it’s enough to have me worried.
To explain to you all why I’m worried, let’s take a look at the first episodes of Season One and Season Two side by side. Episode One of Season One: the opening song establishes Galavant as the hero of the town, his love for Madalena and her kidnap by King Richard. This leads into Galavant’s heartbreak as she dumps him at the alter, and one year later he’s the town drunk when Isabella comes to him asking for help. We see flashbacks of Madalena and Richard taking over Isabella’s country and three more musical numbers (though one is a reprise) before we discover that Isabella is actually leading Galavant into her country on the king’s orders to protect her family from execution.
Jump over to Season Two, Galavant and Richard are sailing and Galavant is forced to start singing the original opening song (which was a damn great song) when the pirates start complaining that the season is over, and it’s time for a new theme (much less catchy and less amusing) before beginning to smack into the fourth wall so dramatically I’m a little surprised they didn’t take the camera away from the director and start filming themselves. In Season One they may have poked the fourth wall on occasion, maybe even made fun of themselves being a show (a little less subtly than Glee did it, but somewhere along those lines), but never this over-the-top. When they hit the ground, Galavant and Richard travel into the Enchanted Forest (a gay bar in this show) and are forced to start working there, singing about Galavant taking off his shirt (and as beautiful as Sasse is shirtless, I was hoping for a little more story than his abs). Though they’ll escape by episode’s end, it doesn’t feel like anything was accomplished or helped along, like some of the settings from Season One did (like the jousting tournament that turned into getting Galavant back into shape, or visiting Sid’s hometown where Galavant got a fathead reality check). This is interspersed with Madalena and Gareth arguing over whether or not to call him king (not even married but having a domestic) and Isabella trapped in a tiny child’s room to await her marriage to her cousin (and none of the other cast members seeming to think this is creepy). I don’t know, just between the constant “screw you” to the ‘cancellation bear’ that the cast was working, the fourth wall poking and the less than interesting storyline, I just wasn’t as thrilled with this beginning as I was expecting to be. And I don’t think I can adequately express how annoying the whole “long distance amulet phone” was, especially after Isabella was presented as a decently badass woman in the first season.
This is not to say that there is nothing to enjoy this season. Omundson is and has been the most hilarious character on the show, and now he has a unicorn following him around because he’s a virgin. You can’t make that not funny. And despite the less than compelling first song, Alan Menken is still doing wonders for this soundtrack, sticking to the idea of bashing medieval cliches with ironic songs, like “World’s Best Kiss” and “Agree to Disagree”. I will continue watching the show, because there were some episodes last season that I wasn’t particularly fond of either, maybe now they’re just at the beginning rather than in the middle.
Just as the girl who threw a fit because the soundtrack for Season One did not include “Hero’s Journey” or “A Happy Ending For Us”, and the girl who had to scream to all of her friends that Galavant was indeed coming back, I had higher hopes for the beginning of the season. Hopefully the next four weeks will restore my faith in the Jackass in a Can.