GALAVANT (2015-2016)

(DVD/VOD) While at first blush, this fantasy musical TV series from ABC (owned by Disney) may look like it’s solely for musical theater nerds and, while I may qualify for that moniker — I admit to spending some time in high school pit orchestra, and I did willfully throw away good money to see CATS on stage two years ago — it’s smart and clever and fun enough for everyone.

Created by Dan Fogelman (who penned the similarly subversive princess film TANGLED, but is probably best known now as the creator of THIS IS US), it’s a gleefully self-aware gaggle of fairy tale male savior tropes turned on its ear, all to the tune of Alan Menken songs. Even better, every single one of the characters are interesting and very human, all fleshed out and given their own quirks, despite the fact that the show could have coasted along on caricatures.

The cast is phenomenal and includes Timothy Omundson as the idiotic king (handsomely unrecognizable from his days on MONK), Vinnie Jones as the king’s heavy hand (yes, he does sing, and he’s hilarious), Mallory Jansen as Galavant’s ‘stolen’ love, Luke Youngblood (COMMUNITY’s Magnitude) as a plucky sidekick, not to mention an astounding guest cast including: Rutger Hauer, Weird Al, John Stamos, Hugh Bonneville, Kylie Minogue, Nick Frost, and Anthony Head.

It’s utterly delightful but inexplicably unavailable via Disney+. That said, it’s well-worth hunting down a digital copy or the DVD set.

There’s a very long trailer for the first season, but it amplifies the drama and downplays the music and comedy. I recommend the German trailer instead, which is just the intro of the pilot but with German subtitles.

Disney Germany S1 opener:

American S1 trailer:

If you still aren’t sold, check out these S2 trailers/openers, because that’s really when the show doubled-down on its very specific brand of nonsense:

S2 opener:

S2’s penultimate episode’s opener (don’t be afraid of spoilers!):

I’m very grateful to my wife for boosting this show to me, even though I bluntly said ‘I don’t think I need that’ when she first recommended it to me.

VIBES (1988)

(Prime/VOD) When I first found out about VIBES a few months ago via TCM Underground, I was very upset. “What do you mean there was a late-80s film with Cyndi Lauper, Peter Falk -and- Jeff Goldblum? Why am I just finding out about this?!” Now that I’ve had a chance to watch it, I can understand why it never registered on my radar but I do feel it’s the sort of film that anyone who has any interest in either of the three performers — which I think encompasses most of humanity — needs to know about.

VIBES capitalized on the short-lived mid-80s screwball romantic adventure genre spurred by ROMANCING THE STONE and the like. It’s comprised of two psychics (Lauper & Goldblum) who are enlisted by a dodgy cad (Peter Falk) to track down treasure in a lost Incan city. As you’d expect, the romantic intrigue and banter between Lauper & Goldblum should be enough to propel the film forward but, sadly, Goldblum’s halting delivery hampers an already weak vaudevillian script. For example, here’s an exchange between veteren character actor Michael Lerner and Peter Falk, regarding Falk’s wife: “Harry, I once slept with your wife.” “Estelle? Or Vivian?” “Both.” “Well, you’re one up on me!” (Cue rimshot.)

The sole highlight is Lauper as a 1980s Mae West but, sadly, the material simply isn’t there to let her shine. While she has the enthusiasm and rhythm for the role, her jokes rely on a more energetic and combative performer than the languid Goldblum (who has since been given far more opportunities to hone his comedic timing than Lauper).

I don’t want to oversell -or- undersell this film. Veteran TV director Ken Kwapis does the best with the material as he can, Julian Sands does a classic Julian Sands heel turn, and Steve Buscemi briefly appears as a sad-sack gambler! It’s an intriguing oddity, and it’s worth your time if your Venn diagram of interests intersect with any of those I listed above.