Galavant—the musical mash-up of Disney, Medieval Times, The Princess Bride, and Game of Thrones Lite—is back! Season two’s first episode is titled “A New Season... AKA Suck It Cancelation Bear,” which exactly sums up the tone of the show: deliberately smug, knowingly cheeky, and forcefully anachronistic.
In keeping with the first season’s scheduling style, “A New Season” aired back-to-back with “The World’s Best Kiss,” and the remainder of the season (10 episodes total, two more than season one) will follow suit.
Galavant has all the calculated gloss of a theme park attraction. Every moment is played with over-the-top gusto, which can be funny but can also be exhausting. Between the choreographed musical numbers and cartoonish characters, it’s got about as much depth as a magic mirror.
But Galavant is not without its endearing moments, which mostly come courtesy of its inspired guest-star casting—like Kylie Minogue, who appears to do a riff on “It’s Raining Men” at the gay bar Galavant and Richard stumble upon in “West Hollow-wood”—and weird asides, like Richard being pursued by a curious unicorn who has ID’d him as a virgin. Or the fortune-teller (played by veteran actor Simon Callow) reaching for a “cootie catcher” to suss out Galavant’s destiny. Or a discussion of the definition of “snarfing,” which is when you barf through your nose. Or a split-second glimpse of John Stamos as Galavant’s longtime rival.
There’s also a certain pleasure in watching tough guy Vinnie Jones, as the newly-crowned King Gareth, bicker with Queen Madalena over throne room decor in a song that contains the lyric “Beer, beer, beer, beer, beer.”
Galavant’s most overriding quality, however, is its supreme sense of self-awareness, which it uses in self-deprecating ways (“You’ll know hell’s freezing if we get decent ratings!”) as well as to wink at the audience repeatedly. The characters may be clueless, but the actors are all very much in on the joke—and so are viewers. If some of the show’s humor is too on-the-nose, such as when Galavant and Isabella’s link-up via magic crystals delivers a glitchy, garbled message, like a poorly-connected FaceTime session, it’s never not trying to please. And that’s actually pretty charming.
Photo credits from top: ABC/Nick Ray; ABC/Angus Young.