“Suck it, Cancellation Bear!” That’s the bold message delivered in the season two premiere of GALAVANT, returning to ABC after what was originally touted as a four-week “comedy extravaganza” last year, when it made its debut as a mid-season fill-in for ONCE UPON A TIME. The self-aware live-action fairy tale musical seemed like a great idea for a limited engagement, but the surprising and enthusiastic audience response led to another go – one that promises some set pieces so big that King Richard himself, actor Timothy Omundson (SUPERNATURAL, PSYCH) assures audiences that they “will never, ever, ever happen again in a half-hour comedy.” So how did this writer take an early look at just what GALAVANT has in store? I traveled to Burbank (on Mickey Mouse’s dime – disclosure and all) to watch the season two premiere alongside Omundson and series Creator/Executive Producer Dan Fogelman (CARS, TANGLED) and Writer/Executive Producer Kat Likkel (MY NAME IS EARL, THE NEIGHBORS), who provided some live commentary on what’s yet to come on a season packed with guest stars including Nick Frost (SHAUN OF THE DEAD), pop star Kylie Minogue, Weird Al Yankovic, DOWNTON ABBEY’s Hugh Bonneville, and John Stamos. And, oh, those catchy tunes…
“We have a war, there’s a street – I wish I had it here – this big WEST SIDE STORY-type number,” explains Likkel, describing one of many almost-too-big-to-believe sequences that were filmed for GALAVANT’s return. “Galavant and [King] Richie come across a band of warring Dwarves and Giants, but the reveal is they’re all 5’10”! They’re very short Giants, and when they’re fighting, a lot of times they forget who’s a Dwarf and who’s a Giant. It’s fun and it’s crazy and they’re doing this whole kind of Jets vs. Sharks. It’s really crazy.”
“Crazy” might be the operative word for the show – it’s success unexpected, and the look of Omundson’s King Richard, whose mountain man beard and long hair reflects a more rugged appearance this season – the “crazy” struck a nerve with his family, particularly his wife. “She doesn’t like it when I look like Charles Manson,” he states, recalling the moment he returned home from location shooting.
“I came home to see my wife and kids and I walked in the door – they’re like WHAT?,” Omdunson recalls. “How are you in TV looking like that?!? While the epic facial hair makes eating a challenge (Timothy says he likes ribs, and can’t get them anymore), he says Richard has “a method to his madness,” and that “he’ll slowly get cleaned up.”
As the characters progress, viewers of GALAVANT can be assured that they’ll develop via song, and this season, veteran Disney Composer Alan Menken (BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, THE LITTLE MERMAID) wrote 32 songs for 10 episodes – something Fogelman equates to the amount of songs in five Broadway musicals.
“I wrote the movie, TANGLED, and Alan did all the music for that – six or seven songs, but it took us a year and a half in developing the music for a film that it felt had been developing for decades. For GALAVANT, they’re [Menken and lyricist Glenn Slater] just pumping them out. Sometimes when our friends come over, I drive my wife crazy,” he says, explaining his desire to share some of the music that they’re all so proud of. I can never pick just one song, like I wish I had all the songs here right now – there’s WEST SIDE STORY, there’s stuff treading GREASE every musical genre. It’s really kind of outrageously ambitious stuff, and by the end, we do have all of the 300 Moroccan Extras singing an Alan Menken song on the march as everyone is going to War.”
“We were filming where LAWRENCE OF ARABIA filmed,” explains Likkel about the massive battle with three armies (THE HOBBIT had five). “The day we got the call sheet where we had 300 extras, I almost threw up.”
“This will never, ever, ever happen again in a half-hour comedy,” says Omundson as Fogelman began stock of where this particular scene fell within his own filmography, something he compares to “GAME OF THRONES stuff, but they’re all breaking into song.”
Dan says, “It’s a little massive. I’ve like hundreds-of-million-dollar movies that do not have the scope of what we’re doing — what’s coming in the latter half of the season particularly. These moments like you can see that opening musical number. They get bigger and bigger, these numbers with the large groups of people singing and dancing. At one point, we have a Zombie Army.“
https://www.instagram.com/p/_C608eR-vD/” style=” color:#000; font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; font-style:normal; font-weight:normal; line-height:17px; text-decoration:none; word-wrap:break-word;” target=”_blank”>After watching the Season 2 Premiere of #Galavant at the #ABC building, @omundson and I had to snag a pic. #KingRichard #ABCTVEvent #supernatural #cain #RockFatherTour
In the end, GALAVANT is definitely an actor’s show, and in what I’ve seen of Season Two, that shows on-screen as to how the performers exude the fact that they’re just having fun and relishing the material.
“I’ve been so incredibly lucky to play some really varied stuff on some amazing shows, and this one – this is the capper,” says Omundson about his GALAVANT experience. “I don’t know how I’m ever, ever going to go back to CSI: BARBADOS or whatever. This year in particular has been an incredibly satisfying journey. I just can’t wait for you to see it.”
As for The Cancellation Bear (who makes predictions via twitter), there is a “bear” you will see toward the start of the season. He does live in a forest, but he has hair, rather than fur. I can also assure you that upon meeting King Richard and Galavant, the bear is pleased.
ABC’s GALAVANT Season Two Cast: Luke Youngblood as Sid, Karen David as Isabella, Timothy Omundson as King Richard, Joshua Sasse as Galavant, Mallory Jansen as Madalena, Vinnie Jones as Gareth and Ben Presley as Jester. (ABC/Bob D’Amico)
Bonus – THE FORCE IS WITH GALAVANT: The music of GALAVANT is recorded at SONY Studios on the Barbara Streisand Stage – the same stage used for recording John Williams’ Original Score to STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS. Another STAR WARS connection? Timothy Omundson provided voices for several STAR WARS video games, including THE FORCE UNLEASHED, THE OLD REPUBLIC, BATTLEFRONT II and ROGUE SQUADRON III.
Production Stills and Photos by Nick Ray/ABC
Sidebar: I bought my wife a “Hagrid” Funko Pop! Vinyl for Christmas… but then I realized it’s actually Timothy Omundson. Weird, right?