fri 05/06/2020

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Kimmy vs The Reverend, Netflix review - bold, but only a partial success | reviews, news & interviews

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Kimmy vs The Reverend, Netflix review - bold, but only a partial success

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Kimmy vs The Reverend, Netflix review - bold, but only a partial success

Interactive one-off episode works best in nugget-sized portions

Kimmy (Ellie Kemper) and Jacqueline (Jane Krakowski)

Tina Fey and Robert Carlock’s hit comedy Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix) ended its fourth series in January last year, but this belated interactive special suggested there could be new life in it yet. Summarising Unbreakable… is possible but almost meaningless – “after 15 years imprisoned in an Indiana doomsday cult, Kimmy moves to New York, makes some very eccentric friends and becomes an inspirational children’s author” – but the infinite elasticity of the concept means that anything can happen.

And so it proved here, as we rejoined Kimmy (Ellie Kemper) as she prepared to marry Prince Frederick, 12th in line to the British throne. Daniel Radcliffe, whose post-Harry Potter career could be described as “nice chap in search of an identity”, was perfectly cast as the naive and insubstantial royal. His Harry-like beard made it impossible not to think of the Duke of Sussex, except he wasn’t planning to move to a gated billionaire’s compound in California. “Maybe we’ll get to live in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania,” he pondered. “That’s a normal thing to do, isn’t it?” (pictured below, interactive choices for Kimmy and Prince Freddy).

But this was just one plot fragment among many, the narrative being further chopped and diced by its regular interactive choices. For instance you might get an option to see Kimmy and Frederick “make out” or “read book”, or decide whether Jacqueline (the superb Jane Krakowski) would “lose it” with a pedantic, self-obsessed scriptwriter or “go to a happy place”. After Kimmy embarked on an epic chase with Titus (Tituss Burgess) to track down her kidnapper and escaped jailbird Reverend Wayne (Jon Hamm, in truth not ideally suited to this slapstick-fantasy stuff), we could choose whether she would shoot him, spare him or ‘splode him.

This was all brain-teasing meta-fun, but it inevitably hurled any notion of a linear narrative under a bus. It was also disorientating because it made you lose all sense of where you were in the story, or how much running time was left. The authors signalled their satirical intent with some jibes about the Time’s Up movement, but they were laboriously over-written and collapsed in an ungainly heap. What eventually survived from the chaos was a cluster of discrete nuggets, like Titus’s heart-rending performance of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s "Freebird" with a band of cowboy-hatted rednecks, or a wonderfully silly cameo by Prince Freddy’s Mary Poppins-esque nanny. It was conceptually bold and the cast was great, but it was only a partial success.

This was brain-teasing meta-fun, but it hurled any notion of a linear narrative under a bus

rating

Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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