Galavant: Season Two Premiere Kylie Minogue and Vinnie Jones? [Update]

Having missed the first season of ABC’s Galavant, it came a surprise to see not only Kylie Minogue, but Vinnie Jones in the season two premiere, which will air on January 3, 2016.

Kylie Minogue

[Update] After having disliked Galavant pretty much on sight, it was then decided to watch the entirety of all seven screeners on offer at ABC. After viewing said episodes,  the below vitriol has been redacted, somewhat, and for a “fairer” assessment  of this musical series read the other review  by MikesFilmTalk by clicking on this link. Thank you.

Having missed the first season of ABC’s Galavant, it came a surprise to see not only Kylie Minogue, but Vinnie Jones in the season two premiere, which will air on January 3, 2016. Created by Dan Fogelman  (Cars, Tangled) this odd “Disney-esque” type of musical offering, with a mixture of US, Australian and English performers, feels like a Mel Brooks (think The Producers, a’la the Bialystock song) song and dance without Brooks’ genius.

It is amusing in a sort of Monty Python-ish way, although the humor feels forced. There are funny moments, like Vinnie Jones…singing, for instance and the elfin Minogue as the landlady of a gay pub called the Enchanted Forest.  While all these gags are funny…ish, it is hard to believe that this show was given a second season.

Not having seen the first iteration of Galavant, which presumably had former bad boy footballer Jones but not Kylie, there are obviously a lot of jokes and routines that have been carried forward from season one.

The show comes over like an Abrahams and Zucker Bros production:

“I’ve got to stay its my destiny.”

“Meet Destiny…

Ha, bloody ha…

The clue may be in the title of the premiere episode of Galavant.  “A New Season Aka Suck It Cancellation Bear” may be meant as an “in-joke” but without seeing the first season, which may actually be much funnier than the season two opening episode, it is hard to tell.

Somewhat amazingly, on IMDb, the show pulls in huge 7.7 in rankings. This after offering up cardboard cutout character’s who all sing like the people in that furniture commercial on telly. Granted all the songs are a bit naughty and cater to  that inner child who still finds jokes about sex hysterically funny.

Galavant actually feels like a one trick pony that has worn out its welcome before the first act finishes airing. A Disney “wanna-be” for the more puerile in the audience.  Show creator, Dan Fogelman did after all write Cars…As Stan Lee would say, “Nuff said.”

Attempting to binge watch the whole eight episodes of Galavant, which are about eight episodes too many, one can only wonder how desperate Rutger Hauer must have been to take on three episodes as a “major” character. Of course the actor may be trying make up for the abysmal 2014 film 2047: Sights of Death.

None of the songs really deliver, in terms of being  genuinely funny  or delivering real laughs.  Each tune has the same tempo and beat,  despite  the different lyrics, each song still sounds amazingly like “Gal-a-vant…”  Even the furniture advert’s songs sound more impressive and individualistic.

Both season one, and now two, sound like a musical version of Leslie Neilson’s 1982 small screen Abraham and Zucker Bros Police Squad!.  Although the focus on English,  real and faux, or just annoying like, say, Ricky Gervais, does make the show feel like a tepid homage to funnier Brit comedy shows like Fawlty Towers or Monty Python’s Flying Circus.

(It is hard to outdo the original chaps, with or without musical accompaniment, who can come near the off-beat humor of the “Dead Parrot Sketch” or “No expects the Spanish Inquisition!”  Just to point out the obvious.)

Repetitious songs, jokes that feel like retreads from other, funnier, comedic situations and a cast trying too hard to please and be funny all sum up the parts of Galavant which do not really gel.  Still, there must be some who find the show irresistible, as proven by its returning for a second season.

Perhaps American audiences are drawn to “mockney” accents stridently calling out “Fat A**.” It has to be said that the appearance of Kylie Minogue, who unfortunately was forced to sing songs that sounded similar to “real” songs sung by the tiny star with the huge voice,  was enough to make one giddy for a split second.

The fact that this show has been developed for a US demographic who most likely recognize Vinnie Jones from Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, or more recently as the gritty, two dimensional baddie from Awaken,  says volumes about this unfunny and stale musical comedy. (Or even those who recognize Minogue as “The Green Fairy” from the 2001 film Moulin Rouge!)

Vinnie Jones
Vinnie is funnier when he plays it straight…

Galavant tries hard to be wildly funny and it is this that lets the show down, along with all the songs that sound pretty much the same.  This show is not big and it’s not clever, just annoying and rather flat, like the humor and jokes in each episode. Give this one a pass and watch reruns of Monty Python instead.

 

American Crime: Season Two Premiere Looks Intense

John Ridley, who is a solid winner with awards and winning projects to prove his talent as creator, give American Crime a second season with a premiere that looks intense and uncomfortable. Issues dealing with teen sexuality, a clear class system in the American educational system as well as racial issues.

FELICITY HUFFMAN

John Ridley, who is a solid winner with awards and winning projects to prove his talent as creator, gives American Crime a second season with a  premiere that looks intense and uncomfortable. It includes Issues that deal  with teen sexuality, a clear class system in the American educational system and  racial issues.  In the opening episode a mother’s son is temporarily “expelled”  after “inappropriate” pictures of the boy turn up on social media.

Taylor Blaine (Falling Skies’ Connor Jessup) is shown drunk and partially dressed.  When his mother (Lili Taylor) learns of the expulsion and the pictures she is outraged and upset. Talking to her son she learns that the boy was drugged and sexually assaulted. Going to Taylor’s school, she speaks to the headmaster, played by Felicity Huffman, who then asks the basketball coach (Timothy Hutton) to investigate the charges. 

American Crime is following the example of American Horror Story; that Ryan Murphy created, and will offer up many actors from the first season as different characters in a completely different storyline.  Huffman, who played Barb Hanlon in season one is back and Hutton, who played Russ Skokie, has also returned.

Timothy Hutton returns as does Felicity Huffman in season two of American Crime.
Timothy Hutton returns as does Felicity Huffman in season two of American Crime.

The premiere starts the second season by  offering drama with a capital D.  Questions of ethics, class divides in the school system, as well as society, and school officials who are anxious to cover up any hint of a scandal makes for heavy duty television.

It is all too easy to become swept up in the storyline and it would be a hard hearted viewer who does not empathize with both Taylor and his bewildered mother.  Each of the characters introduced come with a bag full of issues. The episode offers up dysfunctional families, parents struggling to deal with their children’s issues and a closing of the ranks by a prestigious school more concerned with its reputation than justice for an the victim.

Anyone not having seen the first season of American Crime  can tell by the caliber of the performers in the show  alone that this will be one powerhouse season. With three actors on the roster that are award winning;  Hutton has an Oscar for his performance in the 1980 film Ordinary People, and Hoffman was nominated for an Academy Award for her role in Transamerica. Lili Taylor has a multitude of awards as well.

Watching the premiere, of episode 201,  it is immediately clear that if a television series could have a pedigree, American Crime would be that show.   Serious, deep and disturbing, the second season will become necessary water cooler TV for 2016. Tune in and catch the premiere on January 6, 2016. Prepare to be impressed, disturbed and to think.

The Librarians: And the Drowned Book – (Review) [Update]

Librarians_06-10_368

[Update] In the original review, it was stated that Jake Stone (Christian Kane’s character) was Texan when in fact the new librarian is from Oklahoma. This has been changed in the article.

Season two of The Librarians opens with And the Drowned Book. There is magic in the world with the reinsertion of the sword in the stone and ley lines are filled with magical powers.  Noah Wyle, Rebecca Romijn, Lindy Booth, Christian KaneJohn Larroquette and John Harlan Kim are all back as the Librarians and so is their “enabler” Jenkins (Larroquette).  TNT have brought back this great family fun show as part of their Sunday lineup and the wait has been worth it. 

Feeling like a cross between  Relic Hunter (a show that Lindy Booth was also a regular cast member of)  and Dr. Who but with slightly better FX, the show is a good natured small screen version of a new generation of antiquities hunters who all have special skills. Kane is rough and ready Oklahoman oil rigger Jake Stone, Booth is Cassandra Cillian a young woman who literally does figures in the air and Kim is Ezekiel Jones; a Jack of all trades.  Romijn is the real handler of the group, Jenkins runs the library and aids the Librarians when required.

Wyle is the Librarian, aka Flynn Carson.  The actual library feels a little like Warehouse 13 but with books and artifacts and with Jenkins as custodian.

The opening of season two’s The Librarians has renewed magic and a mysterious, and shadowy, figure summoning a character from a book. Not just any book, though. The tome is The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and the summoner opens the pages to the short story The Adventures of the Dancing Men.  The episode then heads to a museum where another character from a fictional tale is affecting the weather and the plot.

The cleverness of the writing in this opening episode is apparent from the first time we see the pages open to the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle short story. In the “Dancing Men” tale  Holmes recognized the “stick figure” men as code, aka a cipher and in this episode, The Librarians And the Drowned Book the relics sought by the Librarians make up a code created by Prospero (from The Tempest).

Prospero calls Professor Moriarty from the Holmes collection of stories to help him outwit the Librarians and to escape into the world.

There are a number of nods and winks to other works. In a scene with Moriarty (played by South African actor David S. Lee) Flynn Carson (Wyle) tells the criminal mastermind, whom he believes is Sherlock Holmes, that he admires the man who solved “The Five Orange Pips.” Both “The Adventure of the Dancing Men” and “The Five Orange Pips” feature an individual who dies after hiring the great detective. 

In another “homage” moment, Carson and Eve Baird (Romijn) go to  collect an artifact and Flynn tells Eve that things will be all right if the villagers do not know they are there.  A short beat later sees the two running from a group of angry people with Flynn shouting to the effect that they knew. The framing of the shot is very reminiscent of Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark opening sequence where he is being chased by natives.

The allusion to the Steven Spielberg and Harrison Ford franchise is all too apparent in the overall make up of The Librarians.  Wyle can be seen as a sort of small screen Indy substitute. Both men, Jones and Carson,  are well educated and each searches for historical artifacts personally. These two are not researchers who pass their findings on, they are adventurers.

In the TNT series, Carson has recruited some helpers, in the forms of Kane, Booth and Kim. All three of the newcomers bring something to the table. Booth; a sort of spacey, yet fun, aura of genius. Kim portrays  a “criminally minded” magician who specializes in picking pockets and taking chances.

Christian Kane plays an affable and adventure seeking chap from Oklahoma who exudes a natural sense of capability and risk taking.

And the Drowned Book starts with all three of the new Librarians doing their own thing rather than working as a team.  Ultimately, through the course of the episode,  they learn that working as a group is much more effective.

There are a number of amusing moments in the show.

Kudos to Noah Wyle who, after appearing in Falling Skies as a hero type not prone to humor, gets off a few comic moments. None, however, are as good as the “I can lip read” gag.  After Moriarty reveals, to a delighted Eve, that he can read lips Flynn retorts:

“Lipreading’s not that hard. I can do it. Those two women over there… ‘Where are the snuffy pom moms?’ ‘I’ve never circled square Idaho in the blueberry cupcake.’ Nothing to it.” [Snaps fingers]

Before the end credit’s roll, Carson loses Prospero and Moriarty, Eve will not let him follow the two as they escape leaving a couple of season long villains to reappear at will.  Wyle, who solidified his character in The Librarian films has not deserted the show and he interacts with the new “kids” on a regular basis while wooing the group’s minder Eve.

The three newcomers to the verse have settled into their character’s shoes and each actor is a delight to watch. The Librarians is a series that anyone in the family can watch and enjoy. As close to a “G” rated show as one will find on nighttime television that features a bit of romance, action, magic and villainous characters that are not too bloody or violently gory.

The Librarians airs Sundays on TNT. Tune in and enjoy some entertaining storylines and the collective greatness that is Lindy Booth, Christian Kane and Noah Wyle, et al.