Musical Parody ‘Schmigadoon’ Sings a Surprisingly Familiar Tune

Has any failed TV sequence solid an extended shadow than Cop Rock? Steven Bochco—after creating mega-hit L.A. Legislation and long-running dramedy Doogie Howser, M.D.—took a giant swing with that procedural, which aimed to inform the gritty tales of singing LAPD officers. Cop Rock wasn’t the one failed musical dramedy to check TV viewers’ persistence that 12 months—nevertheless it was the one which turned a punchline, evoked for years after in reviews of live-action TV musical flops like Eli Stone and Viva Laughlin.

Nonetheless, producers have saved making an attempt to make musical TV sequence occur. We received one-off musical episodes of exhibits like Buffy and Scrubs; then the teenager karaoke sensation Glee; then dwell occasions from The Sound Of Music to Grease. Given the wealthy selection within the style right now, I don’t know why Schmigadoon! feels so…secure?

Within the AppleTV+ unique sequence—from screenwriters Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio of the Despicable Me sequence, amongst others; different producers embody Colbert alumna Allison Silverman and Troublesome Folks co-creator Julie Klausner (with whom, full disclosure, I used to work)—Cecily Sturdy and Keegan-Michael Key are Melissa and Josh, thirtysomething medical doctors who’ve been a pair for 3 years. She’s fearful that they’ve began taking one another without any consideration, and indicators them up for a hybrid mountain climbing and relationship retreat. The 2 find yourself getting misplaced earlier than coming upon a small stone bridge that results in a city known as Schmigadoon—the place the residents welcome them with a totally choreographed manufacturing quantity. Earlier than lengthy, they be taught that the one approach to depart this musical wonderland is for every to seek out their real love—which, primarily based on the speedy proof, will not be each other. The primary two of six episodes premiere Friday, with subsequent episodes showing subsequent Fridays.

If what you need out of a musical parody are extraordinarily devoted riffs on numbers from golden-age musicals of stage and display, carried out by Broadway stars together with Aaron Tveit, Ariana DeBose, Kristin Chenoweth, and Jane Krakowski, then Schmigadoon! is your dream come true. The title track (like all of the present’s unique music, it’s by Paul) feels prefer it was plucked from an alternate-universe Oklahoma!; others characteristic motifs borrowed from The Sound Of Music and Godspell.

The hassle taken to duplicate the musicals which have impressed Schmigadoon! is admirable; I used to be reminded of WandaVision’s eerie sitcom verisimilitude. However I additionally saved ready for a twist that by no means comes. The jokes have a tendency towards the plain—Melissa commenting on the songs’ content material whereas vaguely-late-Nineteenth-century-looking townsfolk sing on, oblivious to modern mores. When solid members sing {that a} man would possibly typically give his lady “a smack,” as an illustration, she gasps: “Oh, no, that’s not okay! Until it’s consensual.” Melissa’s different operate, within the city of Schmigadoon as in her relationship with Josh, is to agitate for change amongst characters like Alan Cumming’s Mayor Menlove: When she gently asks if he’s homosexual, Menlove sighs. “I assume that is the place I come to once I need to be homosexual,’ he says, “however I can’t.” Get it? If not, Mrs. Menlove (Ann Harada) will get a track in a later episode about what a “queer one” that man of hers is.

The factor of the present that labored finest for me have been the episode-opening flashbacks to Josh and Melissa’s life again in New York Metropolis, launched with a black display noting how lengthy earlier than Schmigadoon they occurred. A ’40s musical can state {that a} couple is destined and we’ll roll with it; a 2021 dramedy, even a musical one, has to earn our funding. Schmigadoon! helps us get there by referring to the tiny moments that accumulate into love—marking an anniversary with a first-meeting callback; kissing exterior a horrible black-box play; smoothing over damage emotions by remembering the true basis of your relationship: hating the identical issues. These vignettes are as efficient in constructing our understanding of those characters as they’re, sadly, temporary.

If Schmigadoon! have been premiering in a world that had by no means recognized The CW’s Loopy Ex-Girlfriend, perhaps it could fulfill followers with its impeccable pastiche. However in that present, star/creator Rachel Bloom and her songwriting collaborators Jack Dolgren and the late Adam Schlesinger spoofed not solely movie and stage musicals, but in addition numerous genres throughout half a century of pop music. They did so whereas telling an unflinching story about unraveling dangerous societal expectations—and the lyrics have been witty on their face, not simply faintly amusing to those that might determine what they have been fondly referencing. We’re additionally only a few months out from the primary season of Girls5Eva—not exactly a musical, however definitely a present that loaded jokes into each little bit of its manufacturing, together with its songs. Even poor previous Cop Rock was nimble sufficient to shut out with a winking number about the show’s cancellation.

Schmigadoon! is cute, so far as it goes; it simply doesn’t go as far, or as exhausting, as followers of latest TV musicals would possibly anticipate. In case your mother is something like mine, recognizing Schmigadoon!’s very particular influences will delight her each time, and hey—mothers have as a lot proper to be catered to with this type of intense fan service as anybody else. However after in regards to the fifth time you’ve seen Melissa be aware how poorly an 80+-year-old track idea has aged, you is perhaps fascinated about sneaking out at intermission.

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