EW loves Galavant—so much so that multiple writers wanted to take a stab at recapping it. Here, Hillary Busis and Esther Zuckerman have a tag-team discussion of the comedy’s second episode.
ESTHER: In the second installment of Galavant, there’s more singing, more medieval tomfoolery, and John Stamos as a character named Jean Hamm. Now, I know I’m jumping ahead a bit, but tell me, Hillary: Did you LOL at this name? Because I did. I most certainly LOLed.
HILLARY: I’ll admit, a chuckle may have slipped out—though I do think on the whole, episode 2 wasn’t as strong as episode 1. Agreed?
ESTHER: Funny! I was perhaps going to say the opposite.
Episode 2 held up for me. There were definitely some cheap gags: Galavant isn’t wearing pants in his dream! There’s a training montage to what sounds sort of like “Eye of the Tiger!” But there was also a lot I really liked. Some of it was small—for instance, the signpost reading “Valencia, Winterfell, Hell.” Some of it was more impactful—like the song “Maybe You’re Not the Worst Thing Ever,” which is purposeful in its awkwardness. (In that way, it reminded me of “The Song That Goes Like This” from Spamalot.) What felt like a letdown to you?
HILLARY: I think this half-hour just didn’t seem quite as winky or ambitious as Galavant‘s pilot. Now that the show’s players and plot—of which there’s quite a lot—have been firmly established, the series is free to actually develop those characters… by revealing just how closely they all hew to tried and true stereotypes. Madalena’s a stone-cold bitch; Richard’s a mincing girly man; Isabella’s a standard issue Medieval Cool Girl, complete with sword-fighting skills and the backstory that usually goes with them (“my father is a man’s man who never got a male heir”).
There was still a good deal of cleverness here—the stuff you mentioned, plus the outcome of Galavant’s big jousting match against Uncle Jesse—but I kind of hoped that Galavant‘s characters would prove to be as inventive as the show itself. Although who knows; it’s still early, so maybe these complaints are totally premature.
ESTHER: I definitely agree with you regarding Richard and Isabella—but I’m still sold on Madalena, mostly because of that final song. During it, she reveals she has a heart… only to turn on a dime at the end.
But speaking of character discrepancies, let’s talk about Galavant’s fighting skills. I know he’s supposed to be out of shape, but why does he even need a training montage? Shouldn’t he already know how to joust?
HILLARY: I mean, maybe. But a) remember, it’s been at least a few months since he traded his sword for a big-ass turkey leg, and b) who doesn’t love a training montage? Especially one set to a quietly absurd song with super-weird lyrics you can barely make out in the background? (Forget being swift as the coursing river, with all the force of the great typhoon; in Galavant‘s universe, manly men must have “the fur of the wombat,” “the fist of the hippo,” and “the magic of the yak.”)
That part, I loved. The attempts at character development… and Uncle Jesse barfing up a bunch of Green Fairy? Not so much.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Galavant tangles with Stamos—a.k.a. Jean Hamm, who speaks with the same quasi-British accent as everyone else on this show even though you’d expect him to be quasi-French, right?—when he, Squire Sid, and Princess Isabella come across a jousting competition, which Galavant enters in hopes of winning a sweet thousand-shilling prize. Galavant and Jean have some sort of antagonistic history, although that’s telegraphed mainly by Jean telling pointedly lame Yo Mama jokes to Galavant and Gal rolling his eyes. (Because even in 1256, those jokes were old.)
Knowing that Gal isn’t up to fighting anybody, let alone an apparently practiced jouster like Jean, Isabella uses her wiles to win him an automatic spot in the finals and an extra day to practice. Cue the training montage, the “Eye of the Tiger”-referencing tune, and the big final showdown, which Isabella again tries to fix by plying Jean with absinthe.
What she doesn’t realize is that Galavant, too, is not at his best, thanks to all that rigorous preparation… and the joust ends, fairly hilariously, with both heroes sliding off their horses and battling just to stand up. It’s the funniest setpiece on either of tonight’s episodes, and I hope it bodes well for the show to come—better than the Richard/Madalena plot, anyway. Which I’m gathering you liked more than I did.
ESTHER: I agree that the Galavant plot was the highlight of the episode, and I wouldn’t overstate my fandom of the Richard plotline.
Richard is a prissy man—ugh—who likes to be fed like a baby. (Perhaps he’s a long-lost relation of Ariana Grande’s.) He says things like “Oh poop, I got gravy on my tummy flowers.” So his bodyguard/manservant Gareth convinces him he has to man up, and we get a mini version of the John Wayne sequence from The Birdcage.
Richard soon gets all manly; he starts drinking ale straight from the bottle and eating with his hands. During his and Madalena’s intimate dinner, she reveals that she had a Kenneth Parcell moment during her childhood when she was forced to eat her goat friend. Richard, meanwhile, reveals that he was a poor little rich kid whose only friend growing up was his servant. They seem to have a bit of a breakthrough, leading to that sweetly pointed song… until the song ends and Madalena turns again, telling Richard that his servant friend only loved him because his parents paid her to. P.S. After that moment, did you catch something that seemed eerily similar to the Shrek theme?
HILLARY: I did!! That had to be on purpose, right?
ESTHER: I guess! Who knows?
HILLARY: Only Alan Menken, that mad genius.
Which reminds me: We should talk a little more about the episode’s big quartet number, “Maybe You’re Not the Worst Thing Ever.” Like everything else about Galavant, it’s a pastiche of previously existing material and modern-day sass; there’s a big dash of “What Is This Feeling” from Wicked, a pinch of Frozen‘s “For the First Time In Forever,” even a bit of Cole Porter (it’s sorta like a fun house mirror version of “You’re the Top”). I’ve got to admit, though, that while I can still hum pretty much all of “Galavant,” I’m at a loss to give you a few bars of “…Worst Thing Ever” or the episode’s other diegetic song, “Hero’s Journey.”
ESTHER: That’s totally fair. I was charmed by “…Worst Thing Ever,” but it certainly isn’t memorable. Nor is “Hero’s Journey.”
HILLARY: Although you’ve got to wonder—if those other songs were repeated as many times as “Galavant” was in the show’s first episode, would we have them stuck in our heads, too?
ESTHER: Perhaps, Hillary, perhaps. But none of them have the hook of “Gaaaaalavant.”
HILLARY: Maybe it’s time for us to quit while we’re ahead… like yo mama.
ESTHER: Nice Jean Hamm burn there.