Thursday, April 25, 2019

Galavant Rewatch 1.4, "Comedy Gold"

Read the previous entry here!
Read the next entry here!

The protagonists continue to quest towards their goal, and Richard towards his, and Richard develops more as a sympathetic character along the way.

1.4, "Comedy Gold"

Written by Kat Likkel and John Hoberg
Directed by John Fortenberry


Galavant, Isabella, and Sid reach the ocean as they progress toward Valencia. Isabella warns against the path Galvant proposes to take; he rejects the warning, heroic arrogance rising to the fore again. Tension resulting from their persistent contact emerges in song...
Harmonious motion...
Image taken from the episode, used for commentary.

...allowing them to be taken by the bandits about which Isabella had given warning.

In Valencia, Richard struggles with being cuckolded. He arrives at the idea that being funny will help woo Madalena back to him; Gareth's advice on the matter is decidedly earthy. Richard pursues his own plan, leading him to confer with the narrating jester about learning humor.
Going straight to the point...
Image taken from the episode, used for commentary.

The captured Galavant, Sid, and Isabella are taken to a putative Pirate King, whose crew is stuck aground after a shipwreck explicated in song.
They seem a nice bunch.
Image taken from the episode, used for commentary.

In Valencia, Richard begins his tutelage with the jester. Richard's practice does not go well, and the jester tries to duck out of the situation--to no avail. He perceives himself as bound to flatter Richard's ego despite the man's repeated failures.

Among the pirates, evidence of intra-group tension emerges, and its presence among the protagonists reasserts itself. The Pirate King, Peter Pillager, confers with Galavant about their respective situations. He tries to recruit him, to no avail.

In Valencia, Richard puts on a comedy show. It goes about as well as could be expected.
He's not funny for the reasons he would like to be.
Image taken from the episode, used for commentary.

The protagonists manage to subdue the pirates independently; Sid and Isabella take the camp, while Galavant takes Peter. Both groups manage to reunite, and they purpose to free the pirates' ship in exchange for the protagonists' transit to Valencia.

In Valencia, the jester finally rebuffs Madalena's advances. Madalena orders him imprisoned for it. Richard enters moments later, noting the jester's name--Steve McKenzie--and casting terrible jokes at his queen.

And, at the end, Isabella confesses her perfidy to an inattentive Galavant.


The series cannot help but remark on the popular Game of Thrones again, it must be noted. (Just as it must be noted that the Society's own Shiloh Carroll cannot but do so, either; go read her work!)

The episode departs from the medieval in favor of the anachronistic medievalist in the inclusion of pirates that follow the models typically ascribed to the 17th and 18th centuries. (The accuracy of such depictions is, of course, contestable, but having that particular discussion seems to exceed what this particular webspace allows.) As I've noted, however, such mishmashes and anachronisms are typical of presentations of older post-Classical periods, occasioning little comment save from those of us who actually look for such things. The inclusion of later period materials therefore does not break the medievalism in which the series is enmeshed, at least not for the popular viewership likely to be addressed by what aired as a Sunday evening entertainment on a broadcast network.

Neither does the focus on comedy break that medievalism--or, in the event, even with the medieval. As has been noted, the comedic genre of the fabliau is prevalent in the medieval--and seems to be a major generic model of the series. Too, the kind of comedy in place in the series runs to the bawdy and bodily, something that a 2013 article (accessibly among many others) demonstrates and a 2016 piece by Kathryn Dickason attests as being a commonplace in medieval literature. Nor yet is the sometimes-problematic nature of the current humor wholly removed from the medieval, as Jamie Beckett notes. So even such seeming incongruities as Gareth's abundantly censored stream of "humor" are in line with the medieval antecedents Galavant invokes. And it might well be worth considering if the theory of humor articulated in the episode corresponds to what such theory might obtain in medieval literature, as well.

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