Apple TV’s ‘Schmigadoon’ was made for someone like me. I mean, where do I start? It’s a show about a musical, and it is itself a musical. It has musical numbers, with references to famous musicals in almost every frame. Sure, it pokes fun of them, too, but in a cute ribbing way – and you have to get the references anyway to feel any kind of sting. It’s truly wonderful.
I have seen the first two episodes and I am in love with it (I had to rewatch them right away) It is about a married couple, both doctors, who go on some kind of couples retreat to add some spice to their relationship. And wonder of all wonders, they get stuck in a place called Schmigadoon, a town stuck in the musical wonders of the 40s and 50s. Think an amalgamation of ‘Oklahoma!,’ ‘Carousel,’ and ‘The Music Man.’ It’s the kind of place where people burst into song and just burst into full-blown production numbers instantly, and you will either love it or hate it (I say you love)
The highlight for me, in the first episode anyway, is a scene reminiscent of the Carousel bench scene, with Aaron Tveit starring as Danny (think Billy Bigelow) falling madly in love with Melanie, one of the doctor visitors. It’s corny, it’s cute, and Tveit is just pure perfection. The musical numbers are all great, Christopher Gattelli’s choreography is spot on. And spotting all the references will be such a good ‘game’ to spot for a musicals nerd like me.
I am so in love with this show that this is probably never going to be renewed.
I had to think about ‘After Louie’ after the film ended, and then its impact hit me. What happens when one spends most of his life fighting a war, and then suddenly it seems like it’s over? Alan Cumming plays Sam, a fifty five year old man who was an AIDS warrior – there was a time he used to go to two funerals a week, he says – and now time has caught up with him in a different way, as he realizes the youth of today enjoys a sexual freedom he never had, and feels bitterness towards that. He meets Braeden, a twentysomething, and all hell breaks lose emotionally – he despairs a couple friend’s marriage, as he obsesses over his ex-lover’s films, trying to piece something out of those, which is kind of a metaphor for how he wants to piece his life together.
Cummings is great at showing Sam’s emotional turmoil even if the heavy-handed dialogue fails. We see the conflict in his eyes, we see the anguish in his happiness, the defeat as he realizes that yes, the fight may now be over, and he has won. I can’t help but identify with his character, for I myself have felt some of those conflicting emotions too. For example, as much as I rejoice Marriage Equality, there’s a part of me that’s not on board with it totally, that yes, it kind of feels like my ‘niche’ factor is gone. That’s why gay bars are becoming extinct nowadays – anybody now can go anywhere.
Vincent Gagliostro directs this without little subtlety, and his script (with Anthony Johnston) has holes, but as I said earlier, it made me think, it made me reflect. I don’t know if everyone else can relate, to be honest, but I guess I should be glad that in this case, I can still be ‘niche.’