[In case you've Forgotten, and as I will continue to mention each and every one of these posts that I do: This is *not* a review. Pilots change. Sometimes a lot. Often for the better. Sometimes for the worse. But they change. Actual reviews will be coming in September and perhaps October (and maybe midseason in some cases). This is, however, a brief gut reaction to not-for-air pilots. I know some people will be all “These are reviews.” If you've read me, you've read my reviews and you know this isn't what they look like.]
Show: “Galavant” (ABC – MIDSEASON)
The Pitch: “It's 'Shrek' only live-action and without Shrek and without the magic, so maybe not that much like 'Shrek' at all.”
Quick Response: I'd like to think of the 22 minute pilot for “Galavant” as a poorly formed proof-of-concept and I wish ABC would now scrap everything but the songs and some of the cast and start again, probably with a different narrative and a different running time and probably some different actors and whatnot. Because I like the idea of “a medieval musical fairy tale” and the 22 minute pilot for “Galavant” suggests it's possible, but I wish creator Dan Fogelman, whose “The Neighbors” became much better as it went along but never recovered from the stench of its desperate pilot, wouldn't keep shooting himself in the foot with half-baked pilots for potentially great ideas. So “Galavant” is a half-hour of tell-me-don't-show-me exposition about how our hero (Joshua Sasse) became a mopey lush, setting up a “How Galavant Got His Groove Back” series which isn't going to interest most viewers because Galavant is mostly presented as a mopey lush in the pilot and there's no reason at all to want to spend time with him as a character. At the very least, ABC had better premiere “Galavant” with consecutive episodes, because Sasse isn't the slightest bit engaging as a lead and I don't know if that's the actor's fault or the fault of the story the pilot is telling, which isn't really all that complex or compelling or original anyway. You're not supposed to notice because of the song-and-dance, which is also a bit of an illusion. By my count, the “Galavant” pilot has two songs, or at least two melodic themes, since the title song gets at least three varied reprises in the pilot. That gives the impression that “Galavant” is more musically effective than it is, because the main song is repeated enough to become an earworm, but also enough to make me wonder if it's going to be sung with different words at least three times per episode. [The same thing happened in the musical episodes of “The Neighbors,” which teased more diverse musicality than actually ensued.] The main song isn't bad and the second song, featuring King Richard singing about torture, seems even better, though that's at least in part due to Timothy Omundson's performance. Omundson, gleefully devouring scenery, is so much better than anything else in the “Galavant” pilot that you forget that not only is he the villain, but he's supposed to be just one piece of the cast. This is Omundson's show, with amusing supporting work from Vinnie Jones, whose mumbly deadpan is perfectly paired with Omundson's engaged hamminess. Neither of the two love interests make any impression and the only other cast member I'd keep around is Luke Youngblood as Galavant's snarky squire Sid. I just don't see why *this* was the particular story Fogelman wanted to tell within this unique-to-TV world and why he thought it was a good idea to structure a pilot in which the hero was a passive pill. Maybe it'll turn out as we go along that King Richard is the true hero and we were supposed to root for him all along? Dunno. “Galavant” can't work if Galavant could be written out of the show with no loss.
Desire To Watch Again: The “Galavant” pilot shows that Fogelman and songsmiths Alan Menken & Glenn Slater can, in general, make this show. Now I wish they'd make it better. The approach is original enough that I want to see another episode or two, but not creative or funny enough that I'm excited about the prospect.
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