Galivant and Miracle Workers

Are you missing the good old-fashioned musicals of yesteryear?  How about a tale of a knight in medieval times, beset with problems from a calculating woman who abandons the hero in favor of becoming queen of the realm?  Add a splash of comedy perhaps?  If this appeals to you, the short-lived (2 seasons – 2015/16) ABC series ‘Gallivant’ (soon to be lost from the Netflix list) might be just the thing.  Call it a cross between Camelot and the Pirates of Penzance.

It’s great fun, with wonderful singing, comic songs with terrific lyrics and a sparkling cast that knows how to play the foolish with gusto.  Where else can you find Hugh Bonneville (Lord Grantham from Downton Abbey) playing a pirate king and Sophie McShera (Daisy from Downton Abbey) playing… a serving wench, of course, but this time coupled with the wonderful Darren Evans as the hapless cook.

Joshua Sasse plays the title role of Galivant and hits just the right balance between mighty hero and complete idiot.  Mallory Jansen plays the calculating queen who manages to usurp the throne of King Richard (played by Timothy Omundson) with the help of the marvelously thick headed thug Gareth (played with relish by Vinnie Jones).

Gallivant played two seasons and failed to generate enough of an audience to justify its existence.  In some ways, that’s quite refreshing.  With only 18 episodes you are spared watching the agonizing drawn out death throws that befall too many shows that outlive their creative lives long before they fail and die.

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And speaking of medieval comedy, I began watching a series called ‘The Miracle Workers’.  The first season is devoted to a satire about Heaven.  The chosen arrive because they were selected in a completely random fashion.  Once there, they choose a heavenly department to work in, one of which is responsible for responding to prayers and miracles.  Before the arrival of a newbie (earnestly played by Geraldine Viswanathan), there is only one functionary serving in this department.  He is a bumbling timid fellow played by Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter) who must have wished he could have brought his wand along to brighten up this labored series.

Steve Buscerni plays the incredibly incompetent and ditzy God who decides to destroy Earth unless the workers in the miracle department can come up with a real miracle – getting two misfits on the planet to fall in love.  There are a few funny bits, mostly as the result of the disastrous things that happen when the miracle group’s schemes go wildly astray but, for the most part, the comedy seems forced as season one grinds on to a predicable conclusion. 

Just as you breath a sigh of relief, season two is upon you.  I confess it really threw me for a loop.  All of a sudden the same cast appears in medieval garb with exciting medieval jobs- like shit shoveling.   The script is so lacking in focus and humor that you begin to have fond memories of season one.  Where is Voldmort when you need him?

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