Off on a Hero’s Journey


Do you like Monty Python? Maybe you don’t know who he is. In that case, do you like self-aware parodies? Famous actor cameos? Medieval fantasy? The creative inversion of tired, cliché character tropes? Singing? If you said “yes” to a single one of these, allow me to highly recommend to you Galavant.

Galavant is a TV show recently aired by the ABC Family network. You can find it on Hulu or on the ABC website, and I highly recommend that you watch it in either one of those locations (if you haven’t seen it already) rather than illegally. This is because it just finished its first season on Jan. 25, and its renewal for a second season is apparently up in the air, so viewing numbers and ratings are key. But before I plead for your assistance in its renewal, you probably want to know what it’s about.

Galavant opens with a musical number that does the dual task of explaining the story and setting the tone for the rest of the show: “Way back in days of old / There was a legend told / About a hero known as Galavant! Square jaw and perfect hair / Cajones out to there / There was no hero quite like Galavant! / Tough, with every sort of manly value / Mess with him, he’ll disembowel you / Yay! He ruled in every way! / A fairy-tale cliché!”

It goes on to explain that Galavant was deeply in love with a maiden named Madalena, who had “cleavage you could hold a whole parade in” and was blissfully happy with him until she was kidnapped by and forced to marry King Richard – whom some of you might recognize as the same gentleman who plays Detective Lassiter on the popular USA show, Psych.

Galavant then proceeds to tear off to the castle and rescue Madalena – which is where this tired old plot that we’ve all heard and seen before falls to pieces on the floor. Confident that Madalena will leap into his arms and be happily rescued, this is not entirely the case.

I can’t say more without giving away the entire premise of the show, but here’s what you need to know: Galavant is a show that takes the “scruffy but charming white male protagonist swans in and saves the day” trope and turns it entirely on its head. Oblivious and fairly incapable, Galavant travels to rescue Madalena with his squire, Sid (perhaps recognizable as Lee Jordan from the Harry Potter films), and Princess Isabella Lucia Maria Elizabetta of Valencia, who has come to seek his help in reclaiming her kingdom from—who else—King Richard.

And yes, there’s a lot of singing – but don’t let that turn you off. The show is entirely self-aware of its musical nature, with everything from King Richard proclaiming a ditty about killing Galavant to be “refreshing” to Princess Isabella making an ominous aside during their travels, and Galavant actually noticing it. Perhaps the best example of this is when two characters slam open supposedly locked prison cell doors during a song in true musical theater style, only to comment afterward “Have those been unlocked the entire time? No one bothered to check?”

Not only is Galavant full of guest stars, featuring names like Ricky Gervais and even Weird Al Yankovic – it’s also full of star moments. Call me cheesy, but by the end of the show, it has written itself out of the plot at the beginning and started an entirely new story, effectively ending “Book 1”, and leaving everyone startled, alarmed, and thirsty for the second one. So even if you want nothing more than a smile and a good time, please treat yourself to this fantastic TV show. There are only 8 episodes, roughly 30 minutes each, and I feel pretty confident in saying you won’t regret it.

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