Sunday, January 3, 2016

Galavant 2x01 "A New Season aka Suck It Cancellation Bear" & 2x02 "World's Best Kiss" (Misses, Kisses, and Songs)

"A New Season aka Suck It Cancellation Bear" & "World's Best Kiss"
Original Airdate: January 3, 2015

One of the most delightful comedies of 2015 was Galavant — the comedy from the minds of people who created some of your favorite Disney musical memories. This was the kind of show that you watched with a smile on your face the entire time. Its first season was meta and honestly, the way that I described it in my review of the pilot is the way I will continue to describe it to people: "If Monty Python's Spamalot and Mel Brooks' Robin Hood: Men in Tights had an illegitimate child, it would be named Galavant."

Galavant is right up my alley in terms of humor. I love meta comedies — things like Community, Arrested Development, and 30 Rock — because of the fact that they usually tend to be smarter than other shows. Galavant is special because it has the added dose of musicality (and we all know that I love musical shows, too, as my recent addiction to Crazy Ex-Girlfriend will indicate). The first season of the ABC comedy was fun, but its second season is even better, building upon the characters that were established and capitalizing on their quirks and genres of humor. 

King Richard, you will find, gets the chance to shine because the show utilizes Timothy Omundson's particular brand of humor extremely well (Omundson excels at facial nuances and the way he delivers lines). Joshua Sasse and Karen David shine more whenever they have the opportunity to be the "straight men" and call out the absurdities happening around them. And Mallory Jansen's Madalena is best used whenever she is being given dry, sharp lines laced with attitude. (Meanwhile, Vinnie Jones is funny whenever his hardened, stoic, intimidating Gareth does something unexpected or makes meta commentary.) And then, of course, you have Luke Youngblood whose comedy is less physical than Omundson's but his hilarity derives from his exuberant delivery of lines and hilarious facial expressions.

Galavant began tentatively and I could have never expected it would receive a second season. But, as the show's opening song says, we should all embrace the miracle of the second season and enjoy the ride these characters are on. I'm so happy to return to reviewing the show and I hope you all are just as excited as I am. Without further delay, take a seat and let's dive into the first two episodes of the season!

"A New Season aka Suck It Cancellation Bear"

Quick summary: At the end of the last season, all of our favorite characters are scattered throughout different kingdoms. In Valencia, Madalena and Gareth are ruling the kingdom — one, a bit more than the other. In the midst of the coup and, you know, the murder of Kingsley, Gareth struggles to find his role in ruling. Galavant and Richard crash ashore and find themselves in "The Enchanted Forest" — a bar that boasts no easy escape. Elsewhere, Isabella uses her relationship with Vincenzo in order to plot her escape from Hortensia and Harry's doll-like prison.

My thoughts: I marathoned the first seven episodes of Galavant's season two in a few days because ABC is wonderful and gifted press with those many screeners. And though there's not a whole lot of deep stuff going on in the first episode back to speak about, what I found while re-watching to write this review was that this episode really sets up a lot of what we will focus on this season. All of the kingdoms are separated and the storylines are, too. You might think that such a set up would make for a disconnected and disjointed season, but the separation is important because of the character relationships explored — Gareth/Madalena, Richard/Galavant, Isabella/supporting characters. So while "A New Season aka Suck It Cancellation Bear" may not seem like a plot-heavy episode, it is still managing to move the plot forward, but — most important — moves the characterization forward.

Richard and Galavant have a strained relationship in this episode, and with good reason. Richard earnestly tries to be the hero, but keeps messing up. He crash-lands the pirate ship and gets the pair trapped in the Galavant-world equivalent of a gay bar. He can't seem to do anything right, and Galavant is pretty fed up. The fact of the matter is that Galavant always wants to do things on his own because that's what he thinks being a hero is. He thinks that it means riding in and saving the day. And he doesn't take Richard seriously — no one does, really — so he ignores him. But at the end of the episode, in spite of his mistakes, Richard comes through for the two and rescues them. It's then that Galavant realizes that he needs to stop chastising Richard for not being the hero HE thinks he ought to be. It's an important little moment that will set up their reluctant friendship and partnership in the episodes to come.

Elsewhere, Madalena concedes to calling Gareth "the king," because the man demands to know his place in the kingdom. This, too, might not seem like a big deal. But it is one. Because this is the first little instance in the series in which Madalena relinquishes some control and lets someone else rule alongside her. Usually she takes all of the credit and does all of the work. Again, this is going to set up some important things that will happen in a few episodes. And Isabella? Well, all Isabella wants is freedom. Can you blame her?

"World's Best Kiss"

Quick summary: Galavant misses Isabella, and the two quickly realize (independently) that their first and only kiss was actually quite bad. Galavant reaches out to Isabella via a magical amulet and a few things get lost in translation, and connection, leading to Isabella becoming distraught. Meanwhile, Richard learns of Gareth's betrayal and takes it particularly hard. Back at Valencia, Gareth and Madalena struggle to learn how to work together while in Hortensia, Isabella's plot to escape is halted by her conversation with Galavant.

My thoughts: I think that so many elements of "World's Best Kiss" work really well and those elements are centered around the character relationships (it'll become a theme in the reviews this season, trust me). In Valencia, Madalena and Gareth have a difficult time working together. As Sid notes, both have extremely strong personalities and opinions and rather than find anything to agree upon, the two spend most of the episodes clashing and arguing. I love the conflict between Gareth and Madalena because it allows Madalena to be a character whose authority and decisions are challenged. We're so unaccustomed to seeing her with an equal sparring partner that it's refreshing to have Gareth beside her this season, pushing back whenever she does. While the relationship with Richard was funny, it also got a bit sad because we knew Richard would never be able to match Madalena in terms of personality. Gareth and Madalena's relationship is really complex and interesting to me, and "World's Best Kiss" sets up some great future conflicts for them, but also the foundation for mutual understanding and respect too. Gareth does, at his core, respect Madalena as a person — he loves that she is hard and tough and unafraid to speak her mind. And Madalena realizes throughout this season more and more that being strong and a ruler doesn't mean making all the decisions all of the time. We get to see her compromise more and this episode establishes that character development.

And then there is Richard. Oh, poor sweet Richard. What I love about Galavant is that they evolved Richard as a character so much throughout the course of season one. When he was first introduced to us, he was presented as a cold, dastardly king who was a little bit goofy. But as the show has grown, so has the character and the writers have capitalized not only on Timothy Omundson's humor but also on his ability to switch to a drama without it seeming out of place. The earnestness with which he sang Pearl's song and heartbreak when Gareth yelled at him last season is one such instance of Omundson utilizing those serious moments to give them weight. Another such instance occurs in this episode where Richard snaps and yells at the unicorn, tired of feeling betrayed and abandoned by everyone in his life. It's a small moment, but a powerful one, and it is followed up by comfort and understanding from Galavant. The hero of our story is really growing to like Richard and care about him. Their reluctant (on Galavant's end) friendship is one of the best parts about this show.

Galavant did a great job during the first season of providing us with a lot of laughter, a lot of meta, and a lot of great music. This season is even better than the first, and I love that it opens with misses, kisses, and a whole lot of singing on top of some really great character development.

Additional fun bits & pieces:
  • Everyone's hair is miraculous this season. Can I say that? It is.
  • "Is there a name for when you throw up in your nose?"
  • "Give in to the miracle that no one thought we'd get" is probably my favorite line from the opening of "A New Season aka Suck It Cancellation." And that was really difficult to choose, considering this is a song that made reference to The Bachelorette and the Golden Globes.
  • The fact that The Enchanted Forest is a gay bar and Richard never picks up on that fact is hilarious to me.
  • "Reading's for morons who can't understand pictures." I cackled. So did Chelsea.
  • "... What is it with men and their emotions?" #gpoy
  • "Can you get cancer from walking? Because I really feel like my feet are getting cancer." How is it that everything Timothy Omundson says is absolutely hilarious?
  • The amulet of Valencia gag is fantastic.
  • "World's Best Kiss" is one of the most delightful songs because it's subverting the typical love song trope so nicely.
  • Timothy Omundson acting opposite a unicorn is perfect. Every single time it followed him around, I cackled. Like, really cackled. And I can promise you that this is not the last time you will see the unicorn this season.
  • The running gag of the elaborate changing of the guard though was perfection.
  • "Guys, the rhyme scheme!"
  • Did everyone take care to notice what sword Richard pulled out of the stone? Don't worry: that sword and its implications will return at least one more time throughout the season.
  • All of the songs in this show continue to be the absolute best. God bless Alan Menken and company.
What did you think of Galavant's premiere? Let me know in the comments below or by tweeting us! And be sure to stick around throughout the rest of the season for more reviews. :)


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