Schmigadoon! season 1, episode 3 recap – “Cross That Bridge”

July 23, 2021 (Last updated: July 26, 2021)
Jonathon Wilson 0
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“Cross That Bridge” keeps its characters at arm’s length, instead getting lost in the trappings of its setting.

This recap of Schmigadoon season 1, episode 3, “Cross That Bridge”, contains spoilers.

It’s easy to forget, since it’s also a musical and a comedy, that Schmigadoon! is primarily a relationship drama. It’s about a couple who enjoyed a whirlwind romance and then found themselves in a sea of sweetie wrappers with little else in common beyond their enthusiasm for vending machine confectionary. They might not always include M&Ms, but most relationships run into a roadblock after a while; you realize that your partner isn’t who you thought they were, and you’re not who they thought you were, and you have to decide whether the juice is worth the squeeze. Melissa and John are still very much in the midst of that decision, but they’re being helped along – or perhaps hindered – by the annoyingly upbeat residents of Schmigadoon. But away from the singing and dancing, their issue might be simpler than both of them realize – they might just be incompatible.

Part of this is that Josh’s snarky disdain for musicals extends to almost everything, including dancing with his girlfriend at a wedding where she clearly feels uncomfortable, which is the flashback that “Cross That Bridge” tellingly opens with. It matters that Josh puts his dislike of dancing ahead of his love for Melissa because he seems to apply the same logic to every scenario, never realizing that he’s leaving her in the lurch. Even though it’s arguably Melissa who has committed the biggest transgression while in Schmigadoon, you still get the sense it’s her we’re supposed to be rooting for.

In fact, Josh’s misfortune is explicitly played for comedy in Schmigadoon episode 3. He’s being forced into marrying a possibly underage girl under threat of being shot dead by her father. Yet there’s still a peculiar ease with which he tries to lie and manipulate his way out of this that makes his misfortune feel earned and funny, even if the story is leaning quite heavily against an old-fashioned position on marriage that basically boils Schmigadoon’s residents, its women especially, down to caricatures.

This is part of the show’s overriding objective to disassemble the classic musical and poke fun at its outmoded ways, especially regarding race, sex, and class, but it still seems toothless in how it’s going about things. Melissa totally undermining Danny Bailey’s post-coital song about becoming a husband and father by trying to explain how IUDs work does a better job of evoking the show’s underlying times-have-changed sentiment than any of the subtext elsewhere, even if that’s a bit tokenistic too. At present, Josh and Michelle are too preoccupied with laughing at the town’s outdated ways rather than trying to modernize it or use it as an excuse to look at themselves. They still bicker about everything as though there aren’t only six episodes in the season. If nobody is going to be changed by this experience, what was the point in having it?

The hook of a show like this is you kind of have to root for the couple. Schmigadoon season 1, episode 3 suggests there might not be any reason to, but more worryingly, it also suggests that they might not even realize it. The quasi cliffhanger ending of “Cross That Bridge” gives Melissa a new romantic possibility in a doctor played by Jaime Camil, but will the show’s writers give us a reason to care about that either? At the very least, she might realize she’s better off without Josh.

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