‘Schmigadoon’ Season 2 Review: Schmicago is the perfect place to drop by
Deep within Schmicago lies the heart of a season-long musical parody that gives audiences more to laugh at and get hooked on.
Some people want fundamentally different things than musicals. For those who want to see precision petticoat dancing and go home whistling a little “Schmigadoon!” at the vegetables. could not have been a greater blessing. With the sunny air of a Technicolor classic from the first half of the 20th century, the show follows old couple Melissa (Cecily Strong) and Josh (Keegan-Michael Key) as they teeter on the brink of a breakup. But after spending some time in the magical, mythical world of Schmigadoon, the small-town wisdom of the locals helped them redefine their priorities and rekindle their love for each other. Lessons learned, smiles achieved.
“Schmigadoon!” Season 2 finds Josh and Melissa in a slightly different state. Now they are married, but something is wrong. Now for the second time they find themselves in a mystical place at the end of a foggy bridge, their new temporary home, Schmicago, has somewhat different surprises in store. These new wrinkles give way to a little more darkness, a little more pizzaz, and a vibe that goes beyond one size fits all. The underlying formula is usually still the same, but they are used for different purposes, and in the revolutionary story of the 70s, Broadway is replaced as the basis. With this lighthearted approach, this ‘Schmigadoon!’ The Season 2 journey probably has a better chance of attracting fans who aren’t automatically sold on the premise alone.
If there are times when the first “Schmigadoon!” season 1 felt like a delicately, lovingly crafted novelty, season 2 follows that premise and creates a broader comedy. Schmicago is a place where flower children, bloodthirsty revenge-seekers, and defense attorneys can coexist according to the same flexible logic that made every bit of the source material work.
It helps that “Schimgadoon!” This isn’t just a revival of a jumpy couple who rely on fantasies to save their relationship. Yes, Josh and Melissa face the same “you can only leave when you realize why you’re here” conundrum. But the newlyweds are more of a couple hiccuping than a relationship at a crossroads. Where the first season was about their journey to the golden age fun quest, “Schmigadoon!” wisely strikes a better balance between their relationship and the final outcome of the other Schmicagoans.
“Schmigadoon!” Season 2 also has a fuller palette to draw from, not just re-creating a series of candy-colored River City pastels. Gone is the need to stick to Schmigadoon’s full tableau dance numbers and let director Alice Mathias and choreographer Christopher Gattelli create sequences that make better use of the fuller visual language. These company-wide dance numbers feature rainbow-colored lens spotlights, a longer leash for snappier edits, and an embrace of a different storytelling rhythm. Like the songs themselves, the pace and playfulness of the series works from the ground up and indulges its own flourishes where it suits best.
In the end, this creates a greater contrast between the rougher Webber wing of the musicals of the 70s and the darker Kander/Ebb and Sondheim branch. (Not all of the legendary songwriters fall into the show’s self-aware dialogue, but keep your eyes open and they might pop up.) There was a certain charm to the comically idyllic Schmigadoon that offset Josh and Melissa’s stale partnership. . Here, Schmicago’s over-the-top metaphor is less neat and tidy, which not only fits the shows it’s riffing on, but keeps the entire season from feeling less predetermined in the first place.
As for the songs, showrunner/songwriter Cinco Paul has a little less room here to stray from the stylistic signposts. The hit is a little wider for a generic Rodgers and Hammerstein tune like “The Worst Pies in London.” Season 2’s sweet spot might just be the show-stopping numbers for Jane Krakowski’s Bobbie (She plays a defense attorney, if that helps at all.) for crackling one-liners that both target and pay homage to the thing. When it comes to parody, there are few performers on the planet better suited than Krakowski, who nails every beat.
Whether in the book (the episode featuring Julie Klausner is a real standout) or the lyrics (Paul has more “the title than a joke” gem here), “Schmigadoon!” continues to stand by shows like ‘Documentary Now!’ and “American Vandal” as showing that it operates outside the internal level and context of baseball. Handling so many different musical inputs over six episodes makes parts of the plot feel like a messy stew, but the show always has the benefit of having Josh and Melissa speak up when things get too complicated. Another reason why “Schmigadoon!” Season 2 could be an easier jumping-in point for Strong and Key to better sell this brand of musical theater logic. Facial reactions are a few notches sharper, the ironic wink is dialed back a few notches. Suddenly, it’s two characters who don’t have the same knee-jerk reaction as outside of them as members of a returning generation.
This new season drains just enough of the opposites in the non-squeaky-clean roles played by returning Season 1 vets Aaron Tveit, Dove Cameron, Kristin Chenoweth, Alan Cumming, Jaime Camil, and Ariana DeBose. Another rookie, Tituss Burgess, is the season’s Most Valuable Handler. In The Narrator, Burgess sets the table for the premiere and subsequent episodes, switching off between the dazzling belting of the closing song and the wry smile of the tour guide who answers everything. Even if the show’s metaphorical tone resolves as expected, Burgess adds a sinister mystery that wasn’t there during Josh and Melissa’s first outing. “Schmigadoon!” not a show that gets too far ahead of expectations, but Season 2 leaves room for a little extra magic.
The first two episodes of Schimigadoon! Season 2 is now available on Apple TV+. New episodes will premiere on Wednesdays.
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