Schmigadoon! S2E4 Recap: “Something Real” Spreads the Love

Jenny in the center smiling while Josh on the left and Melissa on the right look at her, surronded by dancers
Screenshot/Apple TV+

The following recap contains spoilers for Schmigadoon! S2E4, “Something Real” (written by Raina Morris and directed by Alice Mathias)

Schmigadoon! S2E4, “Something Real,” starts the second half of the season by allowing the characters other than Josh and Melissa to experience something they have not been able to up until this point, genuine emotional connection. Cinco Paul’s musical homages are just as strong as ever, but there is a quality to Raina Morris’s script for “Something Real” that really packs an emotional punch while still being just as funny as any previous installment of the series.

Melissa (Cecily Strong) and Josh (Keegan-Michael Key) quickly discover that their own happy ending from Josh being found “not guilty” is not what they need to escape Schmicago and decide to set about bringing happy endings to everyone they have met so far. This leads to a great little scene where the two of them use drawings of each of the main characters to explain the connections and motivations of the cast. The funny interlude also includes some great backing music and cues to represent each character. This is interrupted by another fully Sally Bowlesian entrance by Jenny (Dove Cameron) which gives Josh his best idea of the series, introducing our bohemian cabaret showgirl to the hippie commune.

Drawings of each of the main characters
Screenshot/Apple TV+

Up until this point there have been three main settings of Schmigadoon! Season 2, the gritty streets of Schmicago, the Dickensian Quick Street, and the psychedelic junkyard of Trevor (Aaron Tveit) and his merry band of followers. The areas have been kept relatively distinct and while the characters have interloped they have tended to stay mostly to the appropriate eras. With “Something Real” that gets upended and the show gets to make the most of it. Jenny loves the junkyard and, of course, the tribe loves her but Josh didn’t bring her there for that. Josh and Melissa want Trevor to tell a parable that will cause Jenny to talk to her father, Dooley (Alan Cumming).

Trevor though won’t give in to the demands and switches from Godspell Jesus to Jesus Christ Superstar Jesus as he musically refuses and closes himself into his tent. This leaves Josh to tell the parable, and so he starts the incredible ditty “Talk to Daddy” and is eventually joined by Melissa and all the other members of the tribe. “Talk to Daddy” is a tour de force of incredible recreations of 60s musical tropes, complete with shot by shot recreations of some of the choreography the song is referencing from “The Rhythm of Life” and “Rich Man’s Frug” from Sweet Charity. Christopher Gattelli’s references here have a tremendous amount of depth and subtlety, but are also instantly recognizable.

Dove Cameron’s reactions to the song are amazing, she has been fantastic all season but her performance here is a step above. She is clearly immersed in the experience, playing and dancing along, but still in her 1920s persona. The character of Jenny too is excited, but not taken in by the experience of the song. While the song is mesmerizing and works on the others, Jenny ends the song focused on only one thing. The hot broody boy who walked away at the beginning. And so Jenny goes to Topher’s tent to console him.

Jenny and Topher holding hands in sillhueette in his tent
Screenshot/Apple TV+

And we get an incredible duet between Cameron and Tveit as they present their version of “Love Song” from Pippin, “Something Real.” Cinco Paul has said in interviews that he wrote most of this song back when he was 16, inspired by “Love Song” but not trying to be it. The end result is a fantastic grounding musical piece in the middle of the episode. Tveit and Cameron play the song entirely earnestly, and it makes the characters, despite their innately ridiculous qualities, feel real by extension. Like Josh and Melissa, we want these two lovers to be happy.

Of course, the success with setting up Topher and Jenny leads Melissa and Josh to make the questionable decision that they should also set up Dooley with Ms Codwell, so for the last act of “Something Real” we get to see a double date between Josh and Melissa and Codwell and Blight. Unfortunately, this finally gives us the full Sweeney Todd turn from Blight and Miss Codwell (Kristin Chenoweth) and that does not bode well for the orphans in their care.

Once they return to the orphanage for a “nightcap” Codwell and Blight make the inevitable connection that her abundance of orphans and his dearth of meat could be solved with a single solution. And so Cumming and Chenoweth get to launch full scale into that musical staple, the child murder song. This one starts with a note perfect recreation of “A Little Priest” from Sweeney Todd switching in the children’s names for the professions in the original song. But just when we think the song is done it switches into a full dance number with all the children, incorporating elements from “You’re Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile” from Annie and “Food Glorious Food” from Oliver!.

The Orphans surround Ms Codwell and Dooley
Screenshot/Apple TV+

By the end of the incredible number we zoom out on Josh and Melissa surveying their handiwork through the window, not realizing the havoc they have unleashed. With only two episodes left, the characters of Schmigadoon! are still far from their happy endings, but with “Something Real” the show is still hitting on all cylinders.

A Few Of My Favorite Things

To close out these musings each week I thought it would be fun to list a few of my favorite specific references to other musicals. There are many many more and I encourage anyone who would like to play along to post their favorites in the comments!

  • Alan Cumming and Kristin Chenoweth really should be Sweeney and Lovett in a full production, it is a little surprising that they haven’t been but that is the key takeaway from all of this, please let’s just take the current production on Broadway and swap them in.
  • Josh only sang the love song at the end of Season 1, and even then Key was singing softly and a little out of key. It was perfect for the character and for the moment, but it is certainly more fun that his gets to be a part of the real action here. I hope he keeps singing!
  • It is interesting that the Dooley story is so close to Sweeney Todd, and it certainly only becomes more so here as the orphan murder for meat is almost exactly Lovett’s solution in that show, Topher and Jenny may be based on their source characters, but Dooley Blight is trapped in the life of his.
  • This:

the tribe dancing the frug
Screenshot/Apple TV+

Written by Clay Dockery

Clay Dockery is an actor, author, and impresario extraordinaire. They are the co-editor of Why I Geek: An Anthology of Fandom Origin Stories and was the co-head organizer and creative director of MISTI-Con, Coal Hill Con, and The West Wing Weekend fandom conventions. They live in New York City with their girlfriend and their two chonky cats.

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