Review by James Lindorf
There are essentially two types of people, those who love musicals and those that hate them. The new musical comedy series executive produced by Lorne Michaels and starring Emmy Award nominee Cecily Strong and Emmy Award winner Keegan-Michael Key is looking to convert a few haters. “Schmigadoon!” is a magical town where everyone lives in a 1940s studio musical, and nothing is more important than true love. The first two episodes of “Schmigadoon!” will premiere on Apple TV+ on July 16th, with the remaining four episodes being released weekly.
New York City doctors Josh (Key) and Melissa (Strong) are on a camping trip trying something new after years of dating. After another fight, they stumble into the city of Schmigadoon, a city trapped in time, decorated with fake trees, and home to the best song and dance school in the world. Everyone from the kids to the diner staff to the mayor provides Broadway-worthy performances. This is easily accomplished when the legendary Kristin Chenoweth plays the leader of the judgment and morality committee. There is also the town Reverend Fred Armisen, Mayor Alan Cumming, and waitress Dove Cameron. For the most part, everyone in the city is supportive of the outsiders. Still, unless Josh and Mel want to be permanent residents, they will have to work on improving their relationship or maybe try new ones.
“Schmigadoon!” feels like one of the best 3-hour long SNL skits anyone has ever seen. This isn’t saying a lot when that list contains properties like “Superstar” and “It’s Pat.” There are two factors that people need to get past to enjoy this series. The first is the setting. If you have been to the theater, you know what sets look like, and they replicate that to an exaggerated effect for the series. After a while, it kind of blends in, but it pulled my focus at least once each episode, and that “joke” is not worth the distraction. The second one is Cecily Strong. She does better than I expected going in, but she was still outclassed by every actor with a significant role. It hasn’t been announced yet if this is a limited series or a season one, so it will be interesting to see how she grows in the role if there is a second season.
“Schmigadoon!” is an above-average musical and has some outstanding progressive comedy. But it goes deeper than that. Betweens the songs and jokes, there is a surprisingly heartfelt and realistic story about a stagnant relationship. Whether or not Josh and Mel are meant to be or not, they are bound to learn about themselves. “Schmigadoon!” is the easiest show to binge since last year’s “Upload” and earns a 4 out of 5.
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