It’s another day in Schmigadoon, where the citizens “always strive for peace and happiness.” But the struggle is getting real in the third episode of the musical comedy parody series from AppleTV+. Schmigadoon! dropped the first two episodes of the six-episode series on AppleTV+ July 16, following with weekly episodes on Fridays. And Playbill, lovers of all things musical, are glued to the screen trying to spot all the spoofs, allusions, and Easter eggs.
Read on as two Playbill staffers go scene-by-scene calling out plot points and the Golden Age musicals that inspired them.
The moment before:
We left off last week with our main character couple having broken up and now on different dates: Melissa (Cicely Strong) entering the Tunnel of Love with Danny Bailey (Aaron Tveit) and Josh (Keegan-Michael Key) caught with Betsy (Dove Cameron) up at ‘Viriginity Ruins’ by her gun-toting Papa.
EPISODE 3: Cross That Bridge
Talaura: The episode opens “One Year & Three Months Before Schmigadoon” at a destination wedding in Alliance, Nebraska where Melissa is a bridesmaid. We see another relationship-establishing moment between Josh and Melissa here: he won’t dance with her at the wedding when all the maids’ significant others are called to the floor, leaving her feeling foolish. They tiff about it on the way home, and he apologizes and makes her laugh with a game they play in which they call out the top three worst moments of the day.
Back in Schmigadoon, Melissa wakes up perhaps a bit hung over in Danny’s house. “Damn that gentlemen’s punch.”
Logan: We’re getting “yee-honk” as an exclamation a lot in this series, and I think that’s a nod to “Ye Gods,” the favored exclamation of The Music Man’s Zaneeta Shinn.
Talaura: Combined with Tommy’s “Great honk!”
Logan: Those catchphrases are just so, so weird.
Talaura: You’ve never creatively cussed in front of your grandma?
In a reprise of “You Can’t Tame Me,” Danny sings that he’s done been tamed now and seems to think that Melissa is now his bride and there is a baby on the way. Amid protestations from Melissa that this was a one-night thing and she is def not preggers, Danny launches into a skewering parody of “Soliloquy” from Carousel, distilling Billy Bigelow’s entire first half of the number about his awesome son Bill into the line “Of course, if he’s a boy everything will be fine,” before ruminating that if he was a girl it would change everything! (Melissa: “But would it, really?”) And a little last dig, “steal it” and” take it” are the same thing. Ha!
Logan: Back in the town square, Betsy is proudly showing off her new engagement ring! Turns out that with a gun in his face, Josh went ahead and proposed. We still don’t know just how old Betsy is, though Melissa reminds us that The Sound of Music’s Liesel was “16 going on 29.” [I did decide to fact check this and learned that Charmian Carr was 22 when The Sound of Music hit movie theatres. That thick makeup and breathy mid-Atlantic elocution does tend to age a girl up, though.]
Talaura: The Ladies’ Auxiliary Society…I mean the Mothers Against the Future, under the leadership of Mrs. Layton (Kristin Chenoweth) have had Melissa and Josh kicked out their hotel. “We are against cityfolk like you contaminatin’ our town with your urban ways.” Mrs. Layton pronounces that no one in Schmigadoon will give them lodging. Obstacle! Josh is also worried that he’ll be shot to death but Melissa assures him that no one gets killed in a musical. Except for all the ones that do. “That sounds like all the musicals!” Josh says.
I feel like so far I’ve neglected to say how legitimately funny this show is. Beneath the overarching series parody of Schmigadoon!, the episodes are filled with jokes. Writers include Julie Klausner (Difficult People), Bowen Yang (SNL), Kate Gersten (The Good Place), and Allison Silverman (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt).
Logan: It looks like Melissa and Josh have somewhat patched things up, and yet Josh immediately decides that getting out of Schmigadoon is the most important, even if that means buying into Betsy being his true love. Josh takes Betsy to the footbridge and tells her about the “Skinner Feeling,” a hastily concocted story about his grandfather knowing he’d found true love by walking his lady over a footbridge and straight on to the courthouse. (Stolen from the bride’s speech at that opening scene wedding.)
Talaura: Melissa has gone to the Menloves for help in finding a place to stay. Ann Harada as Mrs. Menlove is doing a kind of wide-eyed dingbat character thing that I haven’t seen her do before and it is stinkin’ adorable! Mrs. Menlove reveals that the Mayor won’t interfere with the Mothers Against the Future. “I think they’re witches,” she says.
Logan: I mean, Kristin played one on Broadway, so she’s not expressly wrong.
Talaura: And we get a song from Mrs. Menlove: “(He’s a Queer One) That Man O’Mine.” (Reminding us of “You’re a Queer One, Julie Jordan” and a few “my man” numbers that we can’t help lovin.’) The writers spoke to my very soul with this song. A torchyish song about a guy who is obviously gay. Then the writers double down with Melissa saying, “This was literally me in high school.” Straight grown-up theatre girls everywhere…we are both Mrs. Menlove and Melissa in this scene and it’s beautiful.
Logan: The formerly closeted but always charming theatre-obsessed homosexuals of America apologize profusely and are wondering if you’re available for brunch this weekend, Talaura. Speaking of gayness, I loved the Menloves’ homoerotic home decór, which of course reminded my of Georges and Albin’s similar pieces in La Cage Aux Folles.
Back at the footbridge, Josh has collected all the women of Schmigadoon to see if any of them are his ticket out of town. One of the ladies bemoans being an “old maid” at the ancient age of 23, something Marian Paroo or Sarah Brown—among many other classic musical theatre heroines—might identify with. Fun fact: The average age at which people currently get married in the United States is 32.
We then get a rousing, gospel-style number about how Josh has to “Cross That Bridge.” These types of numbers are pretty frequently found in musicals both classic and contemporary, usually to up the energy in the second act.
Talaura: A philosophy song built on a metaphor…”Sit Down You’re Rocking the Boat,” “Blow, Gabriel, Blow.” Although, the lyric in this one points out “It’s not a metaphor/It’s a literal bridge.”
Logan: Musically, this one specifically reminded me of “The Brotherhood of Man” from How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, even down to its campy soprano ensemble solo.
Talaura: Melissa finds Josh trying to get out of Schmigadoon with any ole gal that might be able to cross the bridge with him, and that’s it. It’s over. “Screw you, Josh!” Josh runs into the church to hide from Papa who is now trying to shoot him for breaking Betsy’s heart. In a heart-to-heart with the Reverend (Fred Armisen), we hear the show’s philosophy on love: “it’s probably not something you find, it’s probably something you make.” Are you listening, Josh??!! (Team Melissa!) Emma drops by and Josh realizes that she didn’t try to cross the bridge. “It’s gotta be her!” Ugh. He wasn’t listening.
Logan: Without anywhere else to go, Melissa is wandering the streets of Schmigadoon until she reluctantly finds herself at the doctor’s house to inquire about an available nursing job that Mrs. Menlove told her about. As it turns out, Doc Lopez is exceedingly handsome, so maybe this might not be such a bad setup for Melissa. Yee honk!
Talaura: Let’s play Josh and Melissa’s Top Three game…except instead of worst moments, we say our favorite moments.
Logan: Ooo. Let’s see. For me that would have to be Danny’s Soliloquy with Melissa’s commentary from this episode, and, from last week’s episodes, Josh learning that Betsy may be troublingly young and “Corn Puddin’!” I just feel like we don’t do enough group numbers as a society these days, ya know?
Talaura: One: Kristin Chenoweth’s line delivery of “Won’t take a husband!” in the basket auction scene right after Emma says “Balzac.” It’s almost as if she’d misheard and thought she’d been called a name and blurted out “your mom is.” I wish I could explain better. Anyway. I laughed so hard and rewound and watched it several times over. Two: Keegan-Michael Key’s “Damn that Skinner feeling!” on the bridge. Another LOL line delivery. And Three: the number ”Enjoy the Ride.”