Arrive to ABC’s event series “Galavant” with all the skepticism you can muster. I surely did. A musical comedy that will be instantly compared to the iconic Monty Python productions? I prepared myself for the worst.
To tell you the truth, I didn’t believe that we had the talent today to pull off the delicate balance of a comedic musical fairy tale series set in medieval times. Then, throw in the challenge of a hardened audience and the feat becomes even more difficult.
“Galavant” arrives as the networks are trying to provide year-round programming between the hiatuses of its programs – part of the battle for viewers against Netflix and cable.
The other part of the battle is to find programming that can be viewed as an event and thus watched live. I can’t say that NBC pulled it off last year with its live “Sound of Music.” That was highly rated, but also highly hate-watched if you followed the live tweeting. This year’s “Peter Pan” didn’t pull in the same ratings, partly because people had already grown tired of the format.
But, the team of writer/executive producer Dan Fogelman (“Crazy, Stupid, Love,” “Tangled”), director Chris Koch and award-winning musical composer Alan Menken (“The Little Mermaid,” “Beauty and the Beast”) and lyricist Glenn Slater pulled this off.
The first half-hour episode (ABC will be airing two back-to-back per week) dives right into a big musical number as we’re introduced to our very dashing titular hero, played by Joshua Sasse. His mission becomes clear within minutes when the object of his affection, Madalena (Mallory Jansen), is kidnapped by the King and forced to marry him. Galavant will find that the story isn’t as he (or we) expected, which sends him on a twisty and turn-y adventure to save Madalena.
We’ll meet a delightful (even the villains are likable) cast of characters during the eight episodes, including Galavant’s travel partners: his loyal squire, Sid (Luke Youngblood), and the dethroned Princess Isabella, played by a very talented and charismatic Karen David. And Timothy Omundson delivers a wonderfully nuanced performance as the “evil” King Richard.
Plus, keep your eyes peeled for guest turns by John Stamos (who gives the much younger Galavant a run for his money in the looks department), “Weird Al” Yankovic, Ricky Gervais, Rutger Hauer and “Downton Abbey’s” Hugh Bonneville and Sophie McShera.
No part of the equation that makes up “Galavant” is subtle. It piles on the songs, the choreography, the bawdy humor and the clever writing. That deep dive into the genre is what will help viewers shake off the doubts we had going into it. “Galavant” is a uniquely enjoyable ride.
“Galavant” premieres Sunday at 8 p.m. on ABC.