Saturday, January 17, 2015

Galavant 1.03: "Two Balls"

“You know what? You stay detached and apathetic, Galavant. You do it quite well. And whilst you do, I will put on my pretty purple dress for my new friend and pretend to be his bride-to-be. And maybe that makes me all sugar and spice and everything nice, but Lord knows I much prefer that over rudeness and sarcasm and back spasms!”

“Two Balls” didn’t have quite the musical chops of the first few episodes of “Galavant,” but it had some good laughs and told an amusing story. As you’d hope, there was also a bit of bite, too. King Richard fails horribly at trying to throw a ball, and Sid and Galavant sort of switch places when the gang visits Sid’s hometown. This episode wasn’t anything fancy, but it was fun, which is pretty much what I’m learning to expect from “Galavant.” Some laughs and some lessons learned along the way. I am torn about whether the half-hour format is right for the show. On the one hand, these light stories couldn’t fill a full hour. On the other hand, I feel like I haven’t really gotten to know the characters all that well yet, and the season is almost half over.

As with the pervious episode, there are two plots going on in this one. There’s one plot with Galavant and his crew, and one plot with King Richard and Madalena back in Valencia. I think the two are more closely connected thematically in this episode, though. In the sense that both plots centered around a big party (hence the “Two Balls” title). The Galavant and friends plot is another stop on their journey to Valencia to save the kingdom from King Richard. This stop just happens to be Sid’s hometown. Galanvant and Isabella are surprised to see a sign announcing the town as “Sidneyland” with a big picture of Sid. When they head for Sidney’s parents’ house, the circumstances become more apparent. Sidney has basically told his parents that he’s the heroic knight, and Galavant is his squire. To push the ruse even further, Sid’s parents think he is engaged to Isabella, and nobody does anything to disabuse them of that notion. They want to throw a huge party for the whole village to celebrate. The village is very stereotypically Jewish (Sid was adopted), and there are many Jewish culture jokes throughout this particular plot.

Meanwhile, in Valencia, Madalena is bored (shocker!). The citizens of Valencia are pretty unhappy, too. It doesn’t help when King Richard asks the Jester to tell a joke that makes fun of Valencia’s defeat in the war. It turns out that the previous major pastime in Valencia was spontaneous theatre performances around the village Elder Tree, but the Valencians remind King Richard that the Elder Tree was cut down in the aftermath of the battle. King Richard decides to throw a ball to make everyone a little happier. Madalena is only too happy to go back up to her chamber to “work on jokes” with the Jester for the occasion. Food and music, however, proves to be a bigger problem. Valencians are vegetarian, and King Richard burned all their crops except for a small amount for himself. Also, the best Gareth can come up with for a band is the team of executioners (they have a drummer). The sequence where King Richard tries to get the execution drummer to play something peppy (and all he can play is his usual cadence) is pretty hilarious.

The music in this episode wasn’t as memorable as the music in the previous week’s two episodes, but it was amusing enough for the most part. The first song of the episode was “Oy, What a Knight,” sung by Sid’s parents (and eventually the rest of his village). It didn’t strike me as especially creative. I liked the second song of the episode, “Jackass in a Can,” better. I think I mostly liked it better because it featured Galavant, and I really adore Joshua Sasse’s voice. This song in particular is Galavant’s wake-up call that he’s been, well, a jackass in a can to Sid over the years (more on that in a bit). We also get a musical performance by King Richard’s executioners, whose band name is “The Executioners” of course, called “Dance until You Die.” I’d bet the lyricist had a lot of fun with this one, trying to string as many morbid phrases as possible together. It was an amusing enough song, especially when the tempo started to pick up a bit.

Anyway, King Richard’s ball is a complete disaster, as you’d expect. The Valencians don’t really know what to do with themselves, and the Jester only has one joke to tell (since he and Madalena weren’t really coming up with jokes for all those hours in her bedroom, of course). King Richard rolls in a wheelbarrow of his private vegetable stock, but instead of feeding it to the Valencians, he burns it. His reasoning was that if they couldn’t have vegetables, he couldn’t, but he realized just after lighting the vegetables on fire that it was a bad idea. Because, you know, the Valencians would probably rather just have something to eat. The Executioners were better than expected, but the Valencians still aren’t really enjoying the party. King Richard invites them to tell him what they really think of him. All is funny until a eunuch King Richard was making fun of early in the episode says that he would have to be blind not to see that Madalena is sleeping with the Jester. King Richard ends the party and orders the eunuch killed (which is convenient, with the executioners being right there and all).

In Sidneyland (heh), Isabella is having a great time pretending to be Sid’s fiancé because it means she gets to act like she did back in Valencia. Galavant is grumpy because he has to pretend to be a squire and help put together a party for his actual squire. Sid just seems stressed because he’s in the middle of a huge lie about his life. Galavant and Isabella fight about the situation throughout the episode, with Galavant basically accusing her of being too nice. Galavant has a meal with all the other squires, and that’s when the singing of “Jackass in a Can” takes place. Galavant was trying to convince the guys that being a knight was cool, and the squires just responded with how much the knights they work for suck. It made Galavant realize that he’s quite narcissistic and probably hasn’t been the nicest employer to Sid. By the end of the episode, Galavant apologizes to Sid and tells Sid that he actually really appreciates his work. Score one for character growth!

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