Schmigadoon! - Photo Apple TV+
Schmigadoon! – Photo Apple TV+

If you loved the first Emmy-winning season of the inventive musical comedy parody “Schmigadoon!” – which premiered in the summer of 2022 – don’t miss the second season, titled “Schmicago!”

Created by Don Kaurio and Cinco Paul, the team behind the “Despicable Me” franchise, with a score by composer Christopher Willis, it follows the misadventures of Melissa Gimble (Cecily Strong) and Josh Skinner (Keegan-Michael Key) who – after leaving wholesome, candy-colored Schmigadoon – are transplanted into Bob Fosse’s debauched Schmicago.

They’re trapped in a murder mystery at a seedy nightclub run by Madame Frau (Ann Harada), featuring sexy chanteuse Jenny Banks (Dove Cameron). She’s surrounded by razzle-dazzle characters inspired by the jaded inhabitants of edgy late-1960s and ‘70s musicals like “Cabaret,” “Chicago,” “Sweeny Todd,”  “Annie,” “A Chorus Line,” “Pippin,”  “Sweet Charity,” “Hair,” “Jesus Christ Superstar,”  “Godspell”  and “Oliver!”

As the musical motifs unfold, Alan Cumming embodies the dastardly, cleaver-wielding, blood-thirsty butcher Dooley Flint while Kristin Chenoweth embodies demented Miss Codwell whose orphaned children could become his new meat supply.

(FYI: The idea of selling poverty-stricken children to wealthy patrons as food came from Irish humorist Jonathan Swift’s 1729 essay, “A Modest Proposal.”)

Yet the highlight is slinky Jane Krakowski’s slyly show-stealing “Bells and Whistles” dance number in which she whirls on a trapeze; if you recall, she won a Tony doing something similar in 2003’s “Nine.”

As the playful plot evolves with its inside jokes and myriad melodic references, Melissa realizes that almost everyone in Schmicago has made choices that they thought would make them happy but didn’t work out – including Josh and herself. So – at the suggestion of the Leprechaun (Martin Short) – she tries to rectify that. 

On the Granger Gauge of 1 to 10, “Schmigadoon! Season 2” is a snarky, satirical 7 – with all six episodes streaming on Apple TV+. 

Invasion - Photo Apple TV+
Invasion – Photo Apple TV+

On the advice of my friend critic-turned-director Rod Lurie (“The Outpost”), I just caught up with the ominous sci-fi series “Invasion” that made its debut in 2021.

This 10-episode saga begins as strange objects descend from the sky. In Oklahoma, a mysterious circular crater in a cornfield attracts the attention of retiring small-town Sheriff John Bell Tyson (Sam Neill). who is searching for meaning in his career.

In a suburban Long Island neighborhood when an explosion destroys every home except theirs, Syrian immigrant Aneesha Malik (Golshifteh Farahani) is desperately trying to save her two children (Tara Moayedi, Azhy Robertson) when she discovers that her philandering husband Ahmed (Firas Nassar) has a mistress.

In Afghanistan, Trevante (Shameir Anderson), an American Navy SEAL, discovers he’s alone in the desert as his squadron eerily disappears. In London, young Monty (Paddy Holland) relentlessly bullies Caspar (Billy Barratt), an intuitive epileptic who then saves his schoolmates after a bizarre bus crash suddenly strands them in a quarry. 

And in Tokyo, an aerospace engineer, Mitsuki Yamato (Shioli Kutsuna), is distraught and defiant when the Japanese shuttle flown by her astronaut lover, Hinata Murai (Rinko Kikuchi). apparently implodes en route to the International Space Station.

Everywhere, spiky, metallic, seemingly indestructible, spider-like creatures from outer space are wreaking havoc and destroying cities around the globe.

Co-created by Simon Kinberg (“The Martian”) and David Weil (Prime’s “Hunters,”  “Solos”), who consulted with experts from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the SETI Institute, which investigates life beyond Earth, it’s perfectly timed to coincide with recent government revelations about UFOs and extraterrestrial visitations that indicate we are not alone.

On the Granger Gauge of 1 to 10, “Invasion: Season 1” is a slow-paced 6 – with Season 2 just starting to stream on Apple TV+. It’s shaping up to be far better.

NOTE: Like many streaming channels, Apple offers a free seven-day trial, during which you can watch both seasons of “Invasion” and “Schmigadoon!,” along with Emmy-winning “Ted Lasso” and “The Morning Show.” A paid subscription to Apple TV+ costs $7/month.

Westport resident Susan Granger grew up in Hollywood, studied journalism with Pierre Salinger at Mills College, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with highest honors in journalism. In addition to writing for newspapers and magazines, she has been on radio/television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic for many years. See all her reviews at www.susangranger.com.