The musical comedy series starring Keegan-Michael Key and Cecily Strong is failing despite a strong cast.
First of all, I must admit that I am a huge fan of musicals. So when Apple TV +, which currently has a good list of content, announced that Schmigadoon !, a six-episode musical comedy series, I hoped. And with one of my favorite comedians Keegan-Michael Key leading the cast alongside SNL favorite Cecily Strong, I thought nothing could go wrong. But little went right.
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Pay attention to the title: Schmigadoon! The exclamation mark at the end correctly conveys the mood of the show. It is excessive, bright and loud; with an insistent, almost annoying need to be happy and cheerful. So the story is this: New York City-based married couple Melissa and Josh go on a camping trip to rebuild their four-year-old, now rocky relationship, but they go astray and find themselves in Shmigadoon, a city stuck in distress. 1940s musical. They are locked in this city until they find “true love” or “what Shmigadoon considers true love,” as Josh puts it. The plot as a whole is very intriguing, but the idea breaks down as the episodes progress. The series is based on a 1947 Broadway production called Brigadoon…
Of course, what they are trying to do with the city of Shmigadun is a parody of musicals from the Golden Age of the 1940s, but ends up falling into its own trap beyond repair. The main characters are constantly trying to subvert the old stereotypes, so at certain points they explain this to the audience: they tell, they do not show. Observing the character, Melissa at one point says: “Women are so important in musicals.” But they need to understand that their audience is smarter than they think!
“Schmigadoon!” Doesn’t provide a parody that would work well if it was more layered.
It goes without saying that good music is the center of a good musical. Moment Schmigadoon! was called a musical, composers had to strive for a different sound, which later became his hallmark; something that would carry the whole performance on its shoulders. Instead, songs that ooze familiarity (both in terms of rhythm and sound) make a series. Among the many short and full tracks, only Suddenly can find a response.
The cast is strong and their experience in theater and on Broadway will come in handy as they flip through a lot of numbers with ease. Key (Josh) remains the level-headed, down-to-earth guy who doesn’t believe in musicals, while Strong (Melissa), the dreamer who is in the clouds, always striving for the “perfect relationship”, hesitates too many times. Having said that, Key loses control towards the end of the series, when emotional interruptions prevail. That’s when we know he’s out of his comfort zone.
However, notable performances come from characters in the background such as Emma, played by the charming Ariana DeBose, and Mildred, played by the exceptionally good Christine Chenout, and Howard (the Reverend), played by Fred Armisen. Each of these characters, with the exception of the main characters, are modeled after characters from musicals such as Musical man, Oklahoma etc.
As intriguing as the plot sounds, Schmigadoon! cannot provide a deception that would work well if it was more layered; if he turned not only to superficial stereotypes, but also plunged deeper into the time in which the small town is located.
Schmigadoon! currently streaming on Apple TV +