According to a number of sources, the average person spends almost 18 minutes a day trying to figure out what to watch on Netflix. That’s a lot of wasted time, and it doesn’t take into account searching the seemingly bottomless catalogs of Amazon Prime, Apple TV+, Crave, Disney, etc.

Despite the fact we have reached peak TV (until the next peak comes along), for every zeitgeisty series out there – Succession, Stranger Things, Ted Lasso, etc. – there’s still an awful lot of stuff out there that you may not have heard of. 

Well, fellow TV fanatics, I’m here to help. Welcome to Under the Radar, an occasional column of gentle suggestions of watchable stuff on the streaming services. 

My objective is not to suggest that you should like what I like (I will never use the noxious phrase ‘the show you should be watching right now’). I’m just passing along some stuff that I’ve seen that you might, or might not, like. 

My first suggestion is a series that was so certain to have a very small audience, I’m surprised Apple went ahead with it at all. It’s called Schmigadoon, a witty homage to famous musicals of the past (Schmigadoon is a play on a 1947 musical Brigadoon) with 21st century sensibilities.  

The story:  Melissa and Josh (Cecily Strong, ex of SNL and Keegan Michael Key of Key and Peele) are a couple of successful New Yorkers who find that their relationship has gone stale. On a backpacking trip intended to patch things up, the couple become lost and find themselves in a fantasy town called Schmigadoon, which seems locked in early 20th century America. Weirder yet, everyone sings and dances in the style of Broadway and film musicals of the past, which baffles Josh but delights musical theatre fan Melissa. Turns out, they can’t go home until they can find ‘true love’. 


Why I like it, and why you might not. I think it’s safe to say most people don’t like musicals, and I get that. The whole concept of people bursting into song is, well, just weird. But the genre has also produced some of the best non-rock music of the 20th century. The Sound of Music still gets a yearly airing on U.S. TV, and The Phantom of the Opera just closed on Broadway after an astounding 35-year run, so clearly musicals have a solid following. I grew up listening to my dad play original cast recordings (at maximum volume) of all the major musicals of the 1960s, so I have a soft spot for the genre. 

The songs of Schmigadoon are all original, and keener ears than mine will detect themes from musicals of the past (I heard hints of Jesus Christ, Superstar in one season 2 episode). And the songs are great, clever and funny, and performed by people who really know how to belt out a tune (Kristin Chenoweth, Alan Cumming, Jane Krakowski, and Strong, who is a surprisingly good singer), with lush, full-orchestral accompaniment. The series, filmed in Vancouver, probably employed half the theatre arts majors in Canada. 

To my surprise, a second season debuted a few weeks back, but this time set in the much grittier world of Chicago (Schmicago) in the 1920s. The same cast returns, just this time as different characters, and it’s every bit as good as season one. 

Clearly no expense was spared in the making of Schmigadoon. Everything about it, from the music to the sets to the choreography, are MGM musical quality. The series is short, just six 30 minute episodes, so it is easily bingeable. If you’re weary of the usual streaming fare of routine action movies and woefully unfunny comedies, Schmigadoon might be for you.

Maurice Tougas claims he was his family’s “walking TV listing back in the three-channel universe.” He’s also a retired, award-winning journalist. I first encountered Maurice when he was editor of Alberta Prime Times. He asked me to contribute a TV column there; happy to continue our association here at

1 Comment

  1. One of my favourite shows that died way to early was Gallivant, also a TV musical with great gags.

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