Review by Sean Boelman
With the Emmy eligibility period closing at the end of May, the summer months typically aren’t known for the debut of high-quality television. However, audiences will be pleasantly surprised by Schmigadoon!, a brilliant and hilarious comedy series that is essentially a Pleasantville for musicals.
The series follows a bickering couple who find themselves trapped in a magical town in which the residents act like they are in a musical from the 1940s. It’s a pretty basic romantic comedy premise of two people struggling to understand true love, but set against the backdrop of a lovingly and intricately crafted parody of classic musicals.
Consisting of six half-hour episodes, one would think that the premise would wear itself thin rather quickly, but it doesn’t. In fact, the end product almost feels too short and will leave viewers clamoring for more. Each episode contains at least one or two catchy showtune homages, and this great soundtrack keeps things moving.
One of the things that the series could have done better is developing its themes with a bit more weight. The show does contrast how progressive the modern-day protagonists are against their old-timey setting, but the statements it has to make about these issues like misogyny and homophobia are very basic and straightforward.
However, the series makes up for that with some wonderfully diverse casting (and even a few witty lines acknowledging it), including Keegan Michael-Key, Cecily Strong, Alan Cumming, Ariana DeBose, and more. Cumming and DeBose are particular highlights, having both some of the best musical numbers and funniest moments in the entire show.
The series does a great job of taking these stock characters and challenging the stereotypes in a way that is consistently engaging. The central couple is compelling, but the real standouts here are the memorable supporting characters, like the zany Mayor (Cumming) or the staunch preacher’s wife (Kristen Chenoweth).
Of course, the music in the series by Cinco Paul is absolutely wonderful and will make for a soundtrack album that can be played on repeat many times. Yet equally impressive is director Barry Sonnenfeld’s direction which brings the eponymous world to life in a way that is beautiful and entirely immersive.
Schmigadoon! is without a doubt one of the greatest new television comedies to debut this year. Infectiously fun and undeniably creative, this new series seems destined to gain a devoted cult following.
Schmigadoon! streams on Apple TV+ beginning July 16 with new episodes releasing subsequent Fridays. All six episodes reviewed.