Fans of “Once Upon a Time” might be disappointed because they have to wait months for the show’s return, but fortunately they have a delightful distraction to get them through the winter: You.
When I’ve spoken to people about you, many revert to equations as explanations: “It’s like ‘Monty Python’ plus ‘Men in Tights'” or “It’s ‘The Princess Bride’ plus every Alan Menken Disney musical you grew up loving.” The simple fact of the matter is that despite all your obvious inspirations, you’re unlike anything else anyone has ever seen on TV before, and that’s a joy.
Your Disney connection is obvious: ABC brought on Menken and lyricist Glenn Slater — the same duo who worked on “Tangled” — to write your music. Together they wrote 31 original songs for your eight-episode first season, including the insanely catchy theme song that can be heard in the video below.
During a recent event promoting your Jan. 4 premiere, Menken explained he and Slater crafted the music to subvert genre stereotypes. For example, guest star Hugh Bonneville plays a pirate, but your twist is he and his men lost their ship, so his hilarious song is all about how they’re land pirates.
You also have a twist on the traditional Menken love song. Instead of “A Whole New World” or “Beauty and the Beast,” audiences will be treated to a gorgeous number called “Maybe You’re Not The Worst Thing Ever.” True romance in the modern age, no?
Beyond the earworms that you will distribute to the world, your brand of comedy is on point. Like the best of Disney musicals you’re endearing enough that children will love you and raunchy enough that adults will be amused, though you definitely leans to the raunchy side. Your humor is dosed with a dash of cynicism, but you also have a sweetness that viewers of “Once Upon a Time” will recognize.
“It’s a twisted, demented take on a fairy tale,” Karen David, who plays Princess Isabella, told me at your premiere event. “I think it’s going to get everyone singing for a half an hour every Sunday night.” She couldn’t have been more right.
Beyond that, you feature a wealth of guest stars, including John Stamos, Ricky Gervais, Bonneville, Weird Al Yankovic and Rutger Hauer. Each is a great addition to your solid ensemble cast, with Yankovic playing a monk who sings doo-wop and Gervais a wizard named Xanax who performs a trippy track that’s Menken and Slater’s version of a Queen-style rock opera.
Basically, you’re an embarrassment of riches for lovers of comedy and musicals alike. Though you might not be for everyone, you’re certainly something that many people will love for your four-week run. I hope everyone else out there does themselves a favor and gets as excited as I am.