Galavant S01:E05-06 - Completely Mad... Alena & Dungeons and Dragon Lady
John Fortenberry ("Completely Mad... Alena)
James Griffiths ("Dungeons and Dragon Lady")
Casey Johnson and David Winsor ("Completely Mad... Alena)
Kirk Butler ("Dungeons and Dragon Lady")
January 18th, 2015
"Completely Mad... Alena": The trio prepare to attack King Richard but Isabella feels guilty. Meanwhile at the palace, Madalena tries to find out what Richard is hiding from her.
"Dungeons and Dragon Lady": The trio get thrown in the dungeon and King Richard visits Xanax, a magician, while Madalena makes plans of her own.
It took a few weeks, but Galavant seems to really have caught its stride with this latest star-studded night. Outside of one weak song near the beginning, the duo of episodes proved to be some of the series’ best yet. Even during its low points (which arguably aren’t even that low) Galavant has been a fun and entertaining show – “Completely Mad… Alena” and “Dungeon and Dragon Lady” avoids those low moments and gives an hour of solid comedy.
It’s hard to pin down exactly what changed between this week and the ones prior, but there is a definite change in how this week’s episodes are shot and layed out. The comedic timing is much better, the camera featured many more close-ups on characters with warmer lighting, and in all the episodes are a lot more heavily focused on developing those characters instead of throwing out references and being random for the sake of being random. My best guess is that the two episodes are directly connected which means that the writing crew didn’t have to cram everything into a half hour. This allowed for some lengthier scenes, and most importantly, some better crafted set-ups and executions for the quick-hitting jokes.
A couple jokes that felt like they would have completely failed otherwise benefited from the ability to add a couple extra beats. Sid’s joke about creating a zipper in particular was pretty bland on its own, but the fact that it got reincorporated so quickly, then again later in the episode, really propelled it. Several of King Richard’s lines complete with his normal child-like innocence had the ability to hit a little harder than usual thanks to the added time as well.
Both connected episodes serve as the late second act of the series, with Princess Isabella’s plan to betray Galavant coming to light, as well as her love for him, and his love for her. A lot of the tension that has been built up over the past two weeks was released in these episodes, and it led to a lot of great jokes between Isabella, Galavant, and especially Sid. The show has done a great job of mixing up characters dynamics in its first few episodes and these two episodes continue that trend. Chef has a lot of screen time with Madelana, and all of the characters that have been wronged by the King or Queen in some respect get some time together in the dungeon. It all melds together nicely over the hour, especially with the great guest stars that grace the episode.
Several already established character dynamics are satisfyingly built upon as well. On top of the aforementioned budding relationship between Galavant and Isabella, King Richard and Gareth’s friendship takes an interesting turn as it slowly becomes less of Gareth constantly ragging on Richard and more of the two romping around the castle as bros and just doing whatever they please.
To kick off the week’s guests is probably the shows best guest stars, as well as the best utilization of a guest star. Weird Al as a singing monk works perfectly, and he is not overused. Whether or not it is just because they can’t afford to pay him to keep him on the show any longer, the few scenes that he was featured in were effective, and funny outside of just the fact that it was Weird Al as a singing monk. The second episode’s guest star, Ricky Gervais, is basically just Ricky Gervais wearing a funny costume. But, similar to John Stamos a few weeks ago, it is still effective. Even his frog-turned-human sidekick that sits in the corner ribbiting got a few laughs out of me. It’s another simple joke, but the fact that he steals generic magic phrases from pop culture (including Harry Potter) was admittedly pretty great, and delivered in only a way that Ricky Gervais could make it work.
Oddly enough, the songs are the weakest part of these episodes for me. Especially the first song with the Queen, where she is singing to her mirrors. Not only it is one of the most obviously over-dubbed songs of the series, but in general it just is not a very needed or funny song, and it didn’t progress the story or her character whatsoever. All it did was further the idea that she is evil, and it just felt like a waste. A duet between Chef and Gwen is cute enough, but it lacked any real punch to the jokes – just basic observations (outside of the joke about having a dozen kids, which was absolutely brutal).
The real hero of the episodes is the spoken word comedy and the excellent timing of it all. Again, likely a result of the episode being an hour long, but King Richard bursting unannounced into the conversation and yelling “Perhaps they’re up your butt,” when Galavant asks Isabella where her parents could be hiding could easily have been campy, but it’s a line that is going to stick with me – and get quoted more often than it should – going forward. There is an unfortunate fart joke thrown in during the King and Chef’s journey into the past, but considering the rest of the solid jokes in the episode I guess I can let that one squeak by.
This is the first night of Galavant where I would say if you are not watching it, you are truly missing out on something special.