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Galavant - Two Balls + Comedy Gold - Review

The most important thing a viewer asks themselves when continuing on past a show’s pilot is whether or not the following episodes hit the same high watermark the first episode did. With Galavant, I have to honestly say yes and no. I was unimpressed with the “Two Balls” portion of last night’s episode. While it did have some great bits, particularly in King Richard’s story line, the Sid story fell a little flat for me, which is disappointing because I really enjoy his character. I didn’t feel the freshness or cheeky twist with “Two Balls” that I did with the previous two episodes. That being said, I really enjoyed “Comedy Gold”. My favorite musical sequence to date is in this episode and I think our main trio work better together, comedic-ly and musically, as we saw in this episode.

“Two Balls” opens, after the musically charged plot recap, on our heroes Galavant, Isabella, and Sid approaching Sid’s hometown in hopes to seek shelter for a few days as they are beat from traveling to King Richard. Sid tries to warn his companions that he may have exaggerated his status and adventures in letters home to his parents, which becomes abundantly clear when Galavant and Isabella observe the village’s overwhelming adoration of Sid and his “heroic deeds”. Sid has even fibbed to his parents, telling them he is a brave knight and Galavant is the one who is a squire. The entire town comes out to praise Sid in the musical number “Oy, What a Knight”, which is catchy, but not an earworm like songs from last week. My favorite part of the sequence is Galavant, still unhappy about being treated as a squire, staunchly refusing to give in and sing of Sid’s imaginary accomplishments with Isabella. It’s revealed in the musical number that Sid’s parents wish to have a ball to celebrate his and Isabella’s (fake) engagement. It seems the people of Valencia really enjoy their improv and Isabella is no exception, diving a little too deep in their cover story.

As preparations for the ball commence we get the peppy musical number “Jackass in a Can”, a song sung by the resident squires making fun of their masters. It’s through this song that Galavant realizes how he’s viewed by those who help him and how he’s been treating Sid. Later on that night at the ball, Galavant takes Sid aside and explains that he realizes how much he has taken Sid for granted. The knight also explains that he chose Sid for his squire because Sid was true to himself and didn’t hide who he was. Sid takes these words to heart and we see him going to have a word with his parents.

Meanwhile in King Richard’s court, the king is running out of amusement for his captured Valencian subjects. There is an extended sequence of the subjects lining up to kick a eunuch where his testicles once were that is really the low point of the episode for me. I like physical humor, but this is a low brow joke that goes on for a bit too long. I think Galavant is a show too smart for testicular torsion. Anyway, King Richard is really out of touch with his subjects and throws an abysmal ball, though the musical entertainment is quite good despite the fact they are a troupe of executioners singing songs about dismemberment. There’s even a guy who I’m pretty sure is playing the knife, so yeah you get the idea. King Richard realizes that the Valencians are miserable and the ball quickly turns into an idea session/celebrity roast when his subjects start shouting out what they really think of the king. It’s all in good fun until the eunuch crosses a line, addressing the elephant in the room that Madalena has been sleeping with the Jester. The mood whiplash, particularly in King Richard’s demeanor, is sudden and effective and there’s a great call back to an early joke regarding the executioners as the eunuch is being led away.

“Two Balls” was a weak episode for me. The humor wasn’t as sharp as we’ve come to expect from Galavant and I feel it fed in to a lot of old tropes with almost no fresh twists. We’ve seen the mistaken identity story before; a servant pretending to in his master’s station so as not to disappoint a family member etc etc. Sid’s parents being overbearing Jewish stereotypes was a bit tired as well. I found myself thinking “Oh, that’s it?” when they were revealed. The same goes for the physical comedy regarding King Richard’s eunuch. I admit, I laughed just as hard as King Richard at the earlier “ball” pun, but kicking the guy in the crotch for an extended period of time didn’t feel like it deserved to be on the same level as some of the other brilliant writing on Galavant. Case in point, Isabella and Valencia’s backstory of basically being a people that are really, really into community theater was random and yet still amusing. It gave us some great lines, like Galavant and the princess’s exchange on finding a rhyme for “sarcasm” which ended with Isabella stomping out of the room complaining she was trained in “monologues, not poetry”. Perhaps it’s just personal taste, but I found that to be genuinely funnier than the crotch-kicking.

My opinions on “Comedy Gold” are a huge 180 degree turn from what I thought of “Two Balls”. “Comedy Gold” begins with my favorite musical segment to date. It’s called “Togetherness” and it starts out with the trio of Galavant, Isabella, and Sid singing about how in sync and together they are. Heck, they even rhyme together! And then things quickly take a turn when we see that being as together as these three are is wearing on each other’s nerves. The princess snores, Sid is ignored, and Galavant eats all the raisins out of the trail mix because “brazil nuts are gross”. I have to praise this musical number because of the trio’s performance. The dissonance from the (mostly) cheery lyrics to the murder in Galavant and the gang’s eyes as they grow more and more annoyed with each other is truly amusing and a lot of fun to watch.

At the end of the song the trio is distracted by who gets the hold the final note and get captured by pirates. This confuses our heroes since there isn’t a body of water aside from the river for miles, but pirates they be, though technically land pirates. These scurvy dogs are led by the remarkably funny Hugh Bonneville in the second Galavant celebrity guest role to date. Those only familiar with Bonneville in Downton Abbey have been missing out on this actor’s fantastic comedic timing. The captain begins to sing an old timey pirate shanty about all the usual piratey things, sprinkled with talk of some of the crew’s more unique past times, like sustainable gardening. The pirates are just a bit off; they don’t seem to really have a handle on what it means to be a scurvy dog of the seven seas. Soon the pirates discover the Jewel of Valencia, hidden among Isabella’s “girl supplies”. Isabella is defensive of that hiding place, insisting the pirates must have been brave enough to look because they “must have sisters”. That entire bit and especially the princess’s reading of the line “they must have sisters” cracked me up.

Meanwhile King Richard, completely missing the point once more, tries to get the court jester to teach him to be funny, so that he may woo his wife as the Jester has. They sing a great song called “Comedy Gold” with King Richard bumbling through the Jester’s rules of funny and the Jester trying to stay on the monarch’s good side and keep his head. In the end though, King Richard’s stand-up routine doesn’t quite hit the mark with Madalena and the king must resort to pie-ing Gareth, who may I remind you is played by Vinnie Jones, in the face. This causes the queen to crack a smile and King Richard claims success. Later on, Madalena seeks out the Jester for another roll in the hay, but the servant refuses as he feels awful now that he’s seen how hard King Richard has tried to capture Madalena’s attention. Madalena really has no sympathy for the Jester and throws him in the dungeon, the “scary one”, before she meets up with King Richard who wonders aloud where Steve aka the Jester is going. I find it interesting that the villainous king knows the name of his jester and the fair maiden that the titular hero is trying to save does not.

Later on, the pirate captain takes Galavant aside and reveals that they knew each other from years ago. The captain has felt something lacking in his relationship with his crew. The old saying that “familiarity breeds contempt” is proving to be apt here. The captain asks to have Galavant on his crew, insulting Princess Isabella in the process. There is a running joke throughout “Comedy Gold” about the princess’s deviated septum, a weird flaw for a princess to have, that results in her chewing with her mouth open and snoring. Galavant defends these disgusting habits and we see that perhaps the “togetherness” he complained about in the earlier musical number isn’t so bad after all. Galavant quickly gets the upper hand on the pirate captain and marches him back to camp as a hostage, only to find that Sid and Isabella have taken over and saved the day, deviated septum or not. This is why I like Galavant, it’s the kind of show where it’s natural for the sidekick and the princess to kick all the butt and save the day. In the end, Galavant proposes that the pirates and his gang work together to free the pirate’s stuck ship so the cutthroats can return to the seas. We get a more sincere reprise of “Togetherness” as we see the captain and his crew make amends, as well as Galavant and his group. But Isabella remains guilty of lying to Galavant and manipulating him for King Richard. She comes right out and tells Galavant everything, only in true Galavant fashion the hero wasn’t listening. And so, our heroic trio sail off to confront King Richard and who knows what other kooky characters that my pop up.

“Comedy Gold” felt more on par with the first two Galavant episodes to me. The musical numbers were far more catchy and clever and the comedy relied on more than pratfalls to get a laugh out of me. The track record for Galavant in the guest star department is now a resounding 2 for 2. I enjoyed Hugh Bonneville’s involvement and really appreciated that he was written as his own character, not just sly winks and nods to Downton Abbey. I stated this in an early review, but one of the most endearing about this show is the flaws that the characters, particularly the protagonists, bring to the table. These characters can be klutzy and quirky while at the same time being admirable and heroic. And this show is really getting me on board with sympathizing with King Richard. I have to remind myself that the monarch killed his cook’s entire family every time I find myself rooting for him. This entire episode of Galavant showed that well-rounded characters can be fun in their faults and flaws. I’m hoping we get more episodes of this caliber coming up.

What did you think dear readers? Are you still on board with Galavant?

Tune in next week for the next musical double-header, “Completely Mad…elena” and “Dungeons and Dragon Lady”!

About the Author – Ashley B
Ashley is as serious as a sleeping curse when she says television is her life. Professional event planner, avid movie viewer, convention enthusiast, and resident sass master, Ashley writes reviews for ABC's Once Upon a Time, Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, and Galavant, as well as Showtime’s Penny Dreadful. She looks forward each week to the weird and wonderful world her favorite television programs provide.
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