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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Galavant is a comedy that sends up fairy tales. Violence is mostly of the swashbuckling, cartoonish variety, although there are sword fights and fistfights, as well as joking references in song to stabbings, eviscerations, and genocide. Female cast members are evaluated on their looks and body parts, and one (not overweight) character is called fat repeatedly. Characters drink on-screen, get drunk, and are hungover later. Many songs center on sex: how often the hero does it, how his lady love likes it, why she won't give it to her husband. The audience sees couples in bed kissing fully clothed during the songs.
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What's the Story?
In the days of old when knights were bold, the plucky hero GALAVANT (Joshua Sasse) wooed his lady fair and fought off the enemy hordes, and all was well with the world. But when the evil tyrant King Richard (Timothy Omundson) caught sight of Galavant's lovely Madalena (Mallory Jansen), he claimed her for his bride -- and she decided to go for fame and fortune rather than true love. An embittered Galavant now has put on 20 pounds and taken to drinking rather than derring-do. But when noble Princess Isabella (Karen David) comes to beg Galavant for his help saving her people and the fabulous jewel that's their only treasure, our hero sees a way to get back at King Richard and put Isabella's kingdom to rights at the same time.
Is It Any Good?
On the one hand, Galavant sends up fairy tale tropes in a way that'll go down nicely with a modern audience weaned on frothy supernatural shows such as Once Upon a Time and Sleepy Hollow. Our hero is introduced with a catchy little ditty (the songs are cowritten by The Little Mermaid impresarios Alan Mencken and Glenn Slater) that cheerfully promises our dashing hero will "disembowel you" if you cross him but has a square jaw and perfect hair: "a fairy tale cliché!" Many of Galavant's jokes land, such as a priceless sequence in which standout Omundson interrupts a murderous rant to praise a courtier for adding a hint of lemon to his tea. At its best, Galavant has a breath of Monty Python's Life of Brian and The Princess Bride.
However, even as Galavant tries to skewer tropes, it wallows in them, particularly in the areas of class and gender. The female characters mostly exist to prop up the protagonist and give him a love interest. Haven't we seen this whole "two dudes fighting over a woman" plot a few too many times? Ah, well. The jokes come often enough to keep the pace lively, there's nothing too scary for little kids (some ribald stuff, though -- watch out), the songs are catchy, and the subject matter could be a win-win for older kids and parents.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about why fairy tales are such a durable source of comedy and drama. What emotions or ideas do these stories touch on that make them timeless and universal?
What other shows do you know that center on fairy tales? Are these shows funny or serious? Do you like them as much as or more than Galavant?
What classic fairy tales have characters or plot points similar to those in Galavant? How does Galavant change the story line or character? Why would an episodic show want to make changes like these?
- Premiere date: January 31, 2016
- Cast: Mallory Jansen, Joshua Sasse, Timothy Omundson
- Network: ABC
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: Fairy Tales
- TV rating: NR
- Last updated: October 14, 2022
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