There's a lovely symmetry to the structure of Schmigadoon! Season 1 Episode 4, pleasing the sensibilities and enhances the sweet romance blossoming in the central plot development.
It's most obvious in the opening and finale scenes where couples are declaring their love for each other for the first time, kissing, and getting snowed on (as unlikely as that particular weather is in the context of Schmigadoon, the town).
What's positively magical about it all is that between those elegantly drawn moments of burgeoning affection, they managed to fit in a song about the biology of baby-making, a death by Egyptian Hucklebuck (although not on screen), and a whole dance number done on top of desks.
One of the trademarks of Golden Age MGM Musicals was the "movie magic" technology, whether it was camera angle tricks, double-exposure effects, or split-screen "travel."
We get some delightful homages to those here with the dual dance number and the classroom ensemble tap dance.
(I mean, they COULD have had all those kids dance on top of actual desks, but I suspect there was some new-fangled CGI at work here, especially after learning in our Dove Cameron interview that the Corn Puddin number on Schmigadoon! Season 1 Episode 2 was spliced together.)
So how impressive is Ariana DeBose as schoolmarm, Emma Tate? Style, spunk, and some hard-line standards to boot.
What's interesting to note is that she is introduced in the very first musical number. In contrast, Doc Lopez, the Younger, is some surprise Yee-Hunk material when it turns out he's taken over his father's practice.
Several tropes from musical theatre come into play throughout this chapter.
Obviously, Melissa's involvement and interference in both Doc Lopez's professional and personal life echo Maria's crash landing in the von Trapp household in The Sound of Music.
The fact that Melissa's "Doe, a Deer" moment turns into a Sex Ed lesson (following on her earlier attempt to explain IUDs to Danny Bailey) again confirms that she's the only demonstrably capable medical practitioner in this show.
On a side note and stepping out of the Golden Age era for a moment, the character of Nancy reminds me most of Wendla Bergman in Spring Awakening, a musical from the early 2000s.
The tragic end of that musical would've easily been averted if someone like Melissa had been around. And yeah, I get that would've meant the whole show would've been moot, but that show really burned my buns.
I've got so many questions and no idea who to ask. For instance, where does the baby come out? I feel like there are a couple of options, but both seem crazy.Nancy
Melissa's involvement with the elder Doc Lopez and Mrs. Lopez is a fantastically updated parallel to Maria teaching Captain von Trapp how to raise his children.
Of course, the elderly aren't quite as able to adjust to new ways of living, which might mean death. Oops.
But, seriously, who didn't see that coming? (Sorry, no pun intended.)
I'm sorry. I don't care how ridiculously handsome you are, you're just wrong.Melissa
It speaks to the poetic heart of me that Mayor Menlove comes to his epiphany and makes his revelation in the church. (Puns intended there.)
That his announcement prompts Emma and Jorge to seize the moment suddenly to express their love is a fabulous bit of plot-planning.
And since his announcement is sung as a reprise of "Somewhere Love is Waiting for You," it makes a lot of sense. In the musical theatre definition of "sense," that is.
As the craziness of the action amps up, it's balanced by more reality in the form of Melissa and Josh offering their outsider perspective.
Josh going to Melissa for advice is a questionable choice for sure. But it offers the opportunity for direct analysis of the situation, something Josh isn't equipped to do without a background in musicals.
Josh: You know musicals. Any tips for me? Like what musical I'm in?
Melissa: I'm so torn between really not wanting to help you and really wanting to show off how much I know.
I'm a little lost on how Doc Lopez (the younger) being a widower makes him more attractive, but that might be a musicals thing.
Romance in musicals isn't always logical. That's why they usually let the songs do the heavy lifting.Melissa
And wooing Emma by helping Carson overcome his insecurities seems, at face value, pretty underhanded, but it works, so who am I to critique it?
Now, the dance send-up of Maria and the Captain's Laendler was pure romantic fantasy on screen.
And the "movie magic" used to have the couples exchange places was a visual metaphor for Melissa and Josh falling in love with each other again.
Because that's the whole point here, isn't it? To remind them what falling in love -- those early, exciting affections -- feels like, what that moment outside the theater in New York was about.
Josh: You didn't tell me there were going to be naked people.
Melissa: I didn't know. Dave didn't mention it. Oh no, is Dave going to be naked?
Josh: His character is called The Unprotected Secret Truth so I'm thinking yes. I cannot see Dave naked.
Melissa: Sure you can. We're doctors.
Josh: I operate on knees. This is way above my pay grade.
Besides escaping their friend's nakedness.
The keen schedule-watcher will note that we are now at the end of the second hour (-ish) of this adventure. In theater terms, we're at intermission.
With our lovers in love with other people and the town on the brink of turmoil due to the Mayor's announcement, we can expect some catalyst event(s) soon to trigger a final rush to our conclusion.
Good money is on Mildred Layton to stir up (more) trouble. With a capital "T," and that could be pretty entertaining as Kristin Chenoweth is more than capable of bringing the literal house down with her talent.
And what of poor Florence Menlove? What will she do?
Did Danny ever sing himself out of his dark vision of the future?
Will Betsy and her father have a real discussion about options for her future?
Do you have a favorite song so far? Which one has your toes tapping?
Did you know that Apple TV+ has released singalong video versions of the songs on YouTube? Seriously. Go check it out.
Also, ICYMI, TV Fanatic had the opportunity to interview Cinco Paul (creator) and Cecily Strong (Melissa), as well as Dove Cameron (Betsy) and Aaron Tveit (Danny), and Barry Sonnenfeld (director) at a recent press day event. Stay tuned for even more interviews with cast members!
Diana Keng is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.