‘Schmigadoon’ Season 2 Review: Schmicago is a perfect place to start

Deep within Schmicago lies the heart of a season-long musical parody that gives audiences more to laugh and touch.

Some people just want fundamentally different things than musicals. For those who want to watch a precise petticoat dance and go home to whistle a little tune about vegetables, “Schmigadoon!” couldn’t have been a more godsend. Produced with the sun-drenched ease of a first-half 20th-century Technicolor classic, the show followed longtime couple Melissa (Cecily Strong) and Josh (Keegan-Michael Key) as they teetered on the brink of separation. But after spending some time in the magical, mythical world of Schmigadoon, some small-town wisdom from the locals helped them reset their priorities and rekindle their love for each other. Lessons Learned, Smiles Accomplished.

“Schmigadoon!” Season 2 finds Josh and Melissa in a slightly different state. They are married now, but something is wrong. Now that they find themselves a second time in a mystical place at the end of a misty bridge, their new temporary home, Schmicago, holds some slightly different surprises. These new pleats make room for a little more darkness, a little more swing, and an ambience that goes beyond one-size-fits-all. The underlying formula is still generally the same, but used for different purposes, using the revolutionary history of 1970s Broadway as a base. With that slight change in approach, this “Schmigadoon!” Season 2 journey might actually have a better chance of luring in fans who aren’t automatically won over by just the premise.

If there are times when the first season of Schmigadoon! felt like a subtle, lovingly crafted novelty, Season 2 takes that premise and makes comedy with a larger scope. Schmicago is a place where flower children and bloodthirsty revengers and high-profile defenders can all co-exist under the same flexible logic that made every piece of this source material work.

Schmigadoon Season 2 Apple TV Plus


Robert Falkner

It helps that “Schimgadoon!” isn’t just a rehash of a hilarious couple who turn to fantasies to salvage their relationship. Yes, Josh and Melissa face the same conundrum “You can’t leave unless you find out why you’re here.” But they’re newlyweds who are more likely to find themselves in a couple hiccup than a relationship at a crossroads. Where the first season was all about their journey to a happy departure from the golden age, “Schmigadoon!” cleverly strikes a better balance between their relationship and the eventual outcome for the rest of the Schmicagoans.

Schmigadoon! Season 2 also has a wider palette to draw from than just recreating an explosion of candy colored River City pastels. Gone is the need to just stick to Schmigadoon’s full tableau dance numbers and have director Alice Mathias and choreographer Christopher Gattelli create sequences that better benefit from a fuller visual language to accompany them. There’s rainbow lens flares, a longer leash for faster edits, and an embrace of a different narrative rhythm in each of these company-wide dance numbers. Like the songs themselves, the pacing and playfulness of the series takes off from a baseline and indulges in its own flourishes where most appropriate.

This creates a greater contrast between the groovier Webber grand piano of the 70’s musicals and the darker Kander/Ebb and Sondheim branch. (Not all of these iconic songwriters are included in the show’s confident dialogue, but keep your eyes peeled and you might see them pop up nonetheless.) There was a certain charm to the comically idyllic Schmigadoon that offset Josh and Melissa’s stale partnership. Here, Schmicago’s dominant metaphor is less clean and tidy, which not only suits the shows it riffs on, but keeps the entire season from feeling any less predetermined from the start.

Schmigadoon Season 2 Jane Krakowski

Jane Krakowski in “Schmigadoon!”

Robert Falkner

As for the songs, showrunner/songwriter Cinco Paul has a little less leeway here to stray from stylistic guides. The porthole is a little wider than “The Worst Pies in London” for a generic Rodgers and Hammerstein tune. Season two’s sweet spot might just be the stunning numbers for Jane Krakowski’s Bobbie (she plays a defense attorney, if that helps your orientation.) For sizzling one-liners that both aim and pay tribute to the cause they parody, the cast is few on the planet better suited than Krakowski, who makes every punchline sparkle.

Whether it’s in the book (the episode credited to Julie Klausner really stands out) or the lyrics (Paul has several “joke title reveal” gems here), “Schmigadoon!” continues to stand alongside shows like “Documentary Now!” and “American Vandal” as shows that work on an inside baseball level and out of context as well. Tackling so many different musical inputs over the course of six episodes makes parts of the plot feel like a confusing goulash, but the show always has the added benefit of being able to call out Josh and Melissa when things get too complicated. Another reason “Schmigadoon!” Season 2 might be an easier entry point, since Strong and Key are better at selling that kind of musical theater logic. The facial reactions are a few degrees sharper, the ironic wink is turned back a few notches. Suddenly, these are two characters who don’t have the knee-jerk reaction that they’re above being part of a throwback generation.

This new season gets just enough juice to see the contrasts in the not-squeaky-clean roles played by season one’s recurring vets Aaron Tveit, Dove Cameron, Kristin Chenoweth, Alan Cumming, Jaime Camil, and Ariana DeBose. It’s another newcomer, Tituss Burgess, who’s proving to be the season’s most useful oar. As The Narrator, Burgess sets the table for the premiere and every episode thereafter, alternating between gorgeous song-closing belting and the lopsided smile of a tour guide with all the answers. Even as the show’s metaphorical tune unravels in the expected way, Burgess adds that dash of sinister mystery that wasn’t present on Josh and Melissa’s first round. Schmigadoon! isn’t a show that’s too far ahead of expectations, but Season 2 does leave room for a little extra magic.

The first two episodes of “Schimigadoon!” Season 2 are available to stream now on Apple TV+. New episodes start on Wednesdays.

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https://www.indiewire.com/2023/04/schmigadoon-season-2-review-schmicago-perfect-place-1234826170/ ‘Schmigadoon’ Season 2 Review: Schmicago is a perfect place to start

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