Schmigadoon! season 1, episodes 1 & 2 recap – “Schmigadoon!” & “Lovers’ Spat” wrong note

July 16, 2021
Jonathon Wilson 0
Apple TV+, Weekly TV
2

Summary

“Schmigadoon!” & “Lovers’ Spat” introduce a flat-feeling musical comedy with little about it to recommend thus far.

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2

Summary

“Schmigadoon!” & “Lovers’ Spat” introduce a flat-feeling musical comedy with little about it to recommend thus far.

This recap of Schmigadoon! season 1, episodes 1 & 2, “Schmigadoon!” & “Lovers’ Spat”, contains spoilers.


I hate titles with exclamation marks. Either Mark Twain – is there any quote in history that hasn’t been attributed to him at some point? – or F. Scott Fitzgerald or perhaps both said that using them was like laughing at your own joke, and Schmigadoon!, Apple TV+’s pastiche of Brigadoon, seems like exactly the kind of show that would do that. Perhaps that’s just as well, though, since there’s little reason for anyone else to be laughing at most of the gags that litter the first two episodes, which debuted today (the next few will air weekly.)

Some people are simply going to be predisposed to hate this, and those people will be happy with Josh (Keegan-Michael Key), one half of a struggling couple who find themselves in the midst of an all-singing-all-dancing 1940s small town after getting lost in the forest on a couples’ therapy retreat. His partner, Melissa (Cecily Strong), seems thrilled to be there, but Josh hates it, and you can see his point. Most of the residents we meet in these first two episodes are insufferable, and the aesthetic, while obviously trying to evoke an awfully specific kind of Old Hollywood musical nostalgia, has a sickly and almost trance-like quality to it, like you’re staring at one of those rotating poles outside an old barbershop.

The hook to Schmigadoon! is that Melissa and Josh can only leave with their true love, and since their true love doesn’t seem to be each other, they have to essentially speed-date their way through the local weirdos, all of whom – at least those we’ve met so far – seem to represent some particular trope or specific musical. But this show never really manages to progress beyond simply pointing out its influences. It isn’t really subverting or satirizing anything, just giving a tour of it, and the deliberately stagey production design enhances the effect of a closed-off museum exhibit. The fact that the first two episodes radically overcommit to full-length song-and-dance numbers is also to the show’s detriment. Josh and Melissa, ostensibly the main characters, are reduced to simply commenting on what’s happening around them; everything is external, never internal, which isn’t exactly ideal for a story about two people learning to find themselves independently of one another.

What I began to notice early on is that I was getting oddly attached to Josh. I didn’t care what happened to him, obviously, and it’s difficult to overstate the degree to which I don’t care about his love life, but his viewpoint of the whole thing so closely aligns with my own that I found his frustration to be endearing. He didn’t want to be in Schmigadoon, and after two episodes, neither did I.

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