(Warning: This post, which was first published July 16, contains spoilers for the premiere of Apple TV+’s “Schmigadoon!”)
If at the end of the series premiere of Apple TV+’s “Schmigadoon!” you, like Josh (Keegan-Michael Key), were more focused on how Martin Short’s leprechaun was shattering your whole construct of what’s real and not real in the world than on what the little magical man was saying, we can’t blame you. Because he was a freakin’ leprechaun played by Martin Short.
But now that you’ve had a moment to adjust, we have some intel from Cinco Paul, the show’s co-creator and showrunner, about the mysterious being that warned Josh and Melissa (Cecily Strong) they’ll be trapped in the literal musical that is the town of Schmigadoon until they can find “true love” — which the couple thought they already had with each other.
“That was a moment of craziness that Ken [Daurio] and I landed on,” Paul told TheWrap of Short’s leprechaun character, which he and “Schmigadoon!” co-creator Daurio arrived on together. “It’s a little bit of a nod to ‘Finian’s Rainbow’ and ‘Brigadoon’ that, ‘Oh, a leprechaun should come and tell them what the rule is!'”
The rule in question, if you don’t recall, comes via a little song delivered by Short at the bridge to exit the town, which Josh and Melissa think they’ve just stopped in for one night on a backpacking trip. The song goes: “Once ye have entered Schmigadoon/’Tis true you won’t be leaving soon/Within its borders ye are bound/Until at last true love ye found/But til ye find it/Ye must stay/Where life is a musical every day.”
Paul said it was “Schmigadoon!” executive producer and “SNL” boss Lorne Michaels who suggested Short for the part, which he and Daurio thought was “genius.”
“Originally it wasn’t a song, and once we had Marty it was like, ‘Oh, he has to sing! So I’m going to turn this verse into a song so he can sing it,'” the “Schmigadoon!” showrunner, who wrote all of the original songs for the series, said. “And I just love the idea of this. It’s so crazy and also random and then… I think part of the fun of it is he appears and then disappears and you never see him again.”
Yes, unfortunately, you won’t be seeing Short pop up again by the end of the show’s first season, which will roll out in weekly installments through its finale on Aug. 13 — but as Paul told us, “that’s the charm of it.”
Among the other charms Paul found in “Schmigadoon!” was the chance to create “more mature” content than he and Daurio have written in the past, including the screenplays for animated movies “Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who,” “Despicable Me,” “Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax,” “Despicable Me 2,” “The Secret Life of Pets” and “Despicable Me 3.”
“I was ready to explore something more adult thematically after all those years in animation, which I love and it was great, but I wanted to do something a little more mature,” Paul told us. “And this was a way in because my sensibility is pretty earnest and sincere and wholesome, I have to tell you, but it was really fun to have this modern couple. They’re the ones that bring the adult themes into the town.”
Paul even teased that Strong will perform a song with more “adult” terminology in one of the upcoming episodes.
“She has a very strong opinion about, ‘Oh no, people should know these things and you should be able to sing a song about this. It’s clinical, people.’ That’s where it really came from,” Paul said. “This is not a push-the-envelope, dark, rated-M show at all. It’s pretty much family-filled, but with some grownup, adult themes in there.”
New episodes of “Schmigadoon!” launch Fridays on Apple TV+.