Review by Sean Boelman
Schmigadoon! was a pleasant surprise when it came out — one of the greatest comedy shows on streaming thanks to its charming, endearing homage to Golden Age musicals with some hilarious comedy to boot. Fans were overjoyed to find out it was renewed for a second season, and that it would pay homage to a different era of classic musicals. While it doesn’t quite live up to expectations, season two of Schmigadoon! is still plenty of fun.
Although the first season left viewers with a pretty open ending, season two picks up with our everyday protagonists (Keegan-Michael Key and Cecily Strong) having returned to their normal lives. Discontent with the mundanity of domesticity, they decide to attempt to return to Schmigadoon, only to find a new city in its place, inspired by the musicals of the ‘70s and ‘80s.
Perhaps the biggest mistake that season two of Schmigadoon! makes is that it casts too wide of a net. Although even the most casual of musical theater fans will be delighted by all of the references — from Chicago to Cabaret and even Sweeney Todd — there are just too many things going on here. There are so many subplots that many of them feel underdeveloped and limited by the small number of episodes.
Indeed, this season is perhaps even more ambitious than the last, and while it’s still charming, it’s not quite as infectious. With a few more episodes to flesh out the supporting characters — and offer a few more songs in the process — this certainly could have stacked up against the masterwork that was season one, but as is, it feels like something is missing.
Still, some of the casting decisions made in this season are absolutely legendary. Casting Ariana DeBose as a stand-in for the Emcee from Cabaret and Jane Krakowski as what is essentially a gender-swapped version of Billy Flynn from Chicago are inspired choices that lead to some very fun moments — it’s just a shame that they aren’t used a bit more.
The music also isn’t quite as good as the first season. Although the primary song, which welcomes our protagonists to the new setting of “Schmicago” is really catchy — largely thanks to the phenomenal voice of Titus Burgess — the rest of the songs simply aren’t as memorable. And given that the writers had such a wealth of material to work with and parody, just good is not good enough.
That being said, the film does thrive with its production design and choreography. Much like the first season, the sets here are exquisite, created to be a slightly surreal version of the world of these musicals we all know and love. And since there are so many more distinct influences this time around, there’s also a lot more variance in the designs.
Season two of Schmigadoon! isn’t quite as good as the predecessor, but it’s still an entertaining (and highly bingeable) series. Unlike a lot of sequels, this doesn’t suffer from a shortage of ideas — it just feels like their execution was somewhat rushed.
Schmigadoon! streams on Apple TV+ beginning April 5. All six episodes reviewed.