Must See TV you’ve Never Heard Of: Galavant

Galavant (2015-2016)

What It Is: Think about what you were doing in the winter of 2015. Now realize you could have been watching Galavant instead. The first 10-episode season was advertised as a one-time New Year’s special event so it left viewers all kinds of surprised when the show not only left on a cliffhanger but was then revealed to be slated for a second season the following year. There was even hope for a third, but the second season ended on a satisfying enough conclusion to leave fans without rancor.

Galavant is the most famous knight in all the land, slayer of dragons and rescuer of fair maidens, so the world is watching with bated breath when his sweetheart, Madalena, is kidnapped by the evil King Richard. Yet, in a shocking twist of events, Madalena decides that marrying a wealthy, powerful man isn’t such a crap deal in this day and age after all, dropping Galavant like a hot potato. This is the first five minutes. Watch the other 17.7 episodes to see Gal & Pals go on the ultimate quest for love. Oh, also… it’s a musical. 

Why It’s Great: Let’s state the obvious. The musical numbers. Most of them are written by Alan Menken, and if you’re not familiar with his name you’re still definitely familiar with his work. He pretty much wrote the music for all of your favorite Disney movies growing up, from The Little Mermaid all the way up to Tangled, and the man’s decades of experience within the genre show. Each song is exquisitely crafted in tone and theme to fit the needs of a scene or a piece of character growth, and the lyrics are equally catchy and hilarious. (Sidebar: most of the songs are available on Spotify, and if you love the show I highly recommend adding them to your queue for a delightful sing-along). 

On the same note, there isn’t a member of the cast who’s not exceptionally gifted in the more musical side of their role, and there are more than a few moments where they might just blow you away (I’m looking at you, Jester). Although skilled singers is hardly a novelty of musicals, rather more like a necessity, and as such the series also boasts a long list of musically talented guest stars from Kylie Minogue, as the owner of a medeival gay club, to Weird Al Yankovich, one of a group of monks who take a vow of singing. 

Even the actors who don’t have a long history with these types of productions, more than manage to keep up with their musical theater colleagues, and in some cases overshadow them through other feats of performance. Yup, I’m talking about Timothy Omundson, more commonly known for his work as the tight-laced Detective Lasseter on Psych, or possibly as the calm and collected Eli on Xena: Warrior Princess. In Galavant, he plays the evil King Richard, and anyone familiar with his work prior to this point could read that sentence and think, ‘yup, that tracks, surly old king, classic Timothy.’ And in a sense, you’d be right. 

But in a bigger, more grander sense, you’d be wrong, because Omundson’s performance as Richard is one of the most unexpected, right-out-of-left-field parts of the entire show. This guy is funny. I mean really funny. He somehow manages to believably portray an evil tyrant and a spoiled, effeminate ponce simultaneously. Omundson brings a childlike naivety to the otherwise wicked king that makes you want to see him learn and grow. Even when he’s doing things you don’t want to happen, it’s all such fun that you just can’t look away. 

At the end of the day, Galavant is good, semi-wholesome fun. Whether you’re drawn in by the musical numbers, the guest stars (Hugh Bonneville as a pirate king is quite excellent), the romance, or the gut-busting laughs, odds are there’s going to be something about this fairy tale of epic proportions to enrapture you. Galavant encourages us all to believe in people just as much as it encourages us to believe in magic. Because when you super believe in something, even a lizard can prove itself to be a dragon. 

Where You Can Find It: You can watch both seasons on Netflix, or rent the episodes on Amazon Prime, YouTube, or Vudu.

What is Warrior Nun?

If you have Netflix, you probably saw the rolling ads a few weeks ago for a new Netflix Original called Warrior Nun. Or maybe you’re a normal person, whose Netflix algorithm isn’t totally fucked. 

It’s design aesthetics pop off, the concept is incredible, and it’s lore system is astounding.

But like, What is it? 

Warrior Nun is a YA series based on a popular Canadian Manga-style comic book. Or, best I can tell from skimming the wikipedia and comparing it to what I’ve just seen, very loosely based on the comic books. 

As for the story, we’ve all heard it before, a young girl is suddenly thrown into a world that is not her own. She’s witty, she’s sarcastic, and now, she’s got superpowers. In Ava’s case, it’s an ancient artifact called the Halo, which is actually an angel’s halo that’s been shoved into her back just after she died. This is, it’s important to note, an accident. Why is it important that it’s an accident? So rather than another girl hating her for no good reason, they get to hate her for reason: she’s the accidental chosen one. This can be done well in media, and I think it’s done alright in Warrior Nun, could be worse, it just distracts from the overall plot. 

Speaking of the plot, what is it? Well, we’ve got some demons to kill, that only Ava can see. They’ve got an evil corporation that has been seeking out religious relics for unknown yet nefarious purposes, and the potential murder of the last girl with the Halo. Oh, and also Ava maybe definitely got murdered by a nun. But all of this is sort of? Ancillary? To the actual plot? Which is like, Ava made a friend/love interest and she wants to run away with him? Or something? Unsure to his purpose. And why their relationship is so much more important than everything else. Ava running away from the plot in favor of her teenage love affair takes up five and a half episodes of a ten episode season. This wouldn’t be terrible, but I don’t really care about Ava, and I think that’s the main and only problem with the show. Even though she’s the main character, and on the surface she is integral to the plot, but she hardly interacts with it outside of explaining all of the exposition we can’t get any other way. 

In episode 4, all of the warrior nuns other than Ava go out on a super secret mission to reclaim some artifacts, and that’s when it hit me. This is the show I would rather be watching. Bad ass warrior nuns with Chain Mail Masks that fuckin slap doing cool ninja moves to recover historic magical artifacts is easily one of the coolest plot lines you could have pitched me. But then you’re going to make me sit through all of Ava’s storyline, if it can be called that, and not even really try to put in the effort of connecting it to the main story for more than half of the show, instead just give us a half-baked chosen-one-by-accident plotline that we’ve seen a thousand times.

This brings me to easily the best character in the entire show. Shotgun Mary. I want to know everything about her! Who is she? What was her relationship with the last Halo warrior girl? Why does she get shotguns? Why is she the best?

The good news is, it’s not totally unsalvageable. The style is great, the side characters are wonderful, and the concept is phenomenal. All they gotta do is reign Ava’s story back into the plot before it’s too late. Which, it should be noted, they do. Halfway through episode six, Ava’s little boyfriend just ditches her because she’s got weird powers (Thus proving my theory that he was totally useless as a character and plot point.) and then this shit really gets going. Warrior Nun ramps it up, and now I’m finally interested in this goddamn show. I promise, if the concept and aesthetics interest you, it is worth slogging through the first half (ugh, such a high percentage.) and if you’re a sloppy gay like me, you might even notice some very obvious tension between two of the girls. I won’t say who, spoilers, but I really hope this isn’t going to turn out to be more queerbait and they’ll actually do something about it.