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'Schmigadoon!': Television Review

Movieguide Magazine


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SCHMIGADOON! is a satirical homage to classic movie musicals on Apple TV+ that follows a modern unmarried couple facing a relationship rut as they take a special couples hike and wind up lost, only to find themselves in a magical, musical land called Schmigadoon. This very direct tribute to the classic musical BRIGADOON explodes into a highly colorful, extravagant musical series in the first two episodes where the couple faces not only their own relationship struggles but also figure out how, or even if, they can escape back to the real world. MOVIEGUIDE® reviewed the first two episodes of the new series.

Melissa (Cecily Strong) and Josh (Keegan-Michael Key) are a pair of harried, lovelorn doctors who meet one night in their hospital. The show jumps to showing them having a great first anniversary together but a ho-hum third one. They are still unmarried yet living together and in a rut. So, Melissa makes them take a week-long couples retreat hike in the wilderness.

However, they wander off on their own and wind up lost, until they hear church bells coming through some fog and follow the sound into the magical land of Schmigadoon. The look of the town is so vibrant and spectacular it recalls the land of Oz in THE WIZARD OF OZ, and the townspeople immediately introduce themselves by bursting into song.

Josh is not amused, but Melissa is, and she convinces him to stay the night there. However, the town preacher’s stern wife (Kristen Chenoweth) won’t allow them to sleep in the same room since they’re cohabitating. When she’s restlessly unable to sleep, Melissa gets up and wanders, where she’s immediately approached by the town ladies’ man Danny Bailey, who’s determined to steal her from Josh.

Josh and Melissa ultimately come across a leprechaun, who warns them they won’t be able to leave Schmigadoon until they find true love. The couple have been going through the motions for a long time. So, they have a decision to make. Save their relationship and save themselves, or give up and stay in this odd new world?

Episode 2 finds more direct temptations for both Josh and Melissa. They get into a fight when Melissa starts questioning whether Josh really loves her. Angrily, they decide to break up and seek true love among the people in Schmigadoon. Josh places a bid in a town auction on the fruit basket of a comely young blonde who’s nothing but temptation trouble. Meanwhile, Danny Bailey pulls out all the stops on a musical number just for Melissa and winds up convincing her to take a magical ride with him through the town’s Tunnel of Love.

SCHMIGADOON! is a joy to watch on almost every level, from its ace cast (wonderfully led by SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE star Strong and KEY & PEELE star Key) that’s deeply loaded with top comic talents and a couple of Broadway-level musical performers in supporting roles thanks to Kristen Chenoweth and Alan Cumming. The visually inventive director Barry Sonnenfeld (MEN IN BLACK, GET SHORTY and the MOVIEGUIDE® AWARD WINNING MEN IN BLACK III) emerges from a few years of creative dormancy to prove he’s still got what it takes to make a wildly original production, backed by glorious visuals from Oscar-nominated production designer Bo Welch and great writing from creators Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio, who are best known for two Dr. Seuss feature movies and the DESPICABLE ME, MINIONS and SECRET LIFE OF PETS movies.

While this provides some entertaining viewing, several cautionary points are needed.

First, Kristen Chenoweth plays the town preacher’s wife as a mean-spirited shrew who’s constantly trying to keep the lead couple from sharing the same hotel room since they’re unmarried. That’s a fine Christian, biblical principle, but the way the character’s portrayed, it makes her a mean fool, and the couple makes a few wisecracks back at her in the first two episodes. Her husband, the town preacher, is portrayed more nicely, however.

Alan Cumming plays the town’s mayor with a great deal of flamboyance. This prompts Melissa to ask in the second episode if he’s gay (as in homosexual). He responds that he’s gay as can be, but since this is a 1950s musical world, at least in these first two episodes, he means “gay” in its original context as “happy.” The innuendo, however, results in a positive, albeit satirical, take on a homosexual character.

The first two episodes have minimal foul language. So, the first is rated TV-PG, but the second episode is rated TV-14 for some sexual innuendoes in two songs. The innuendoes are light enough to escape younger viewers, perhaps, but older viewers will understand them. Also, in the first episode, after their first date together, Josh and Melissa tumble onto a bed and start kissing in one quick scene. At the beginning of Episode 2, titled “Lovers’ Spat,” they appear in bed after that first night together and discuss whether this is going to be just a one-night stand or the beginning of a longer relationship.

If it keeps up the quality level, SCHMIGADOON! may well win some awards. However, MOVIEGUIDE® advises extreme caution for the first two episodes because of their politically correct depiction of the town preacher’s wife and their sexual innuendoes.

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About The Author

MOVIEGUIDE® was founded in 1985 by Dr. Ted Baehr, past president of the Episcopal Radio & Television Foundation and former director of the Television Center at the City University of New York. MOVIEGUIDE® is affiliated with the Christian Film & Television Commission® ministry (CFTVC). Both MOVIEGUIDE® and CFTVC are dedicated to redeeming the values of the entertainment industry, according to biblical principles, by influencing industry executives and artists and by informing and educating the public about the influence of the entertainment media and about how to train their families to become