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August 16, 2020

An interactive special reunites us with Kimmy Schmidt and her friends for a zany adventure.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt:  Kimmy vs. the Reverend

Staring: Ellie Kemper, Tituss Burgess, Carol Kane, Jane Krakowski, Daniel Radcliffe, and Jon Hamm

Written by: Robert Carlock, Tina Fey, Sam Means, and Meredith Scardino

Directed by: Claire Scanlon

The Netflix sitcom Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt may have come to an end last year, but its sunny protagonist’s story now continues in a delightful special that not only gives us a chance to spend some more time in Kimmy’s whimsical company but also makes good use of its web-based platform.

Billed as a television movie at the Primetime Emmy Awards where it has snagged two nominations, Kimmy vs. the Reverend finds our resilient heroine (played with fitting gusto by Ellie Kemper) and her friends – Lillian (Carol Kane), Titus (Tituss Burgess), and Jacqueline (Jane Krakowski) – continuing their shenanigans in an interactive episode in which you, the viewer, get to decide how things play out.

Since the events of the finale, Kimmy has fallen in love with a British royal and is now days away from her wedding to Prince Frederick (Daniel Radcliffe) who has had a life almost as peculiar as hers. But wedding planning takes a backseat when she discovers a book inside her old backpack that does not belong to her. Closer inspection reveals that the paperback was borrowed from a school library six years after she was kidnapped.

Realizing that something is amiss, Kimmy sets out on a quest to unravel the mystery, which leads her back to her now-incarcerated kidnapper Reverend Wayne (Jon Hamm) and the revelation that there is a second bunker with more kidnapped girls.

Kimmy must now find and free the girls, and it is in the viewer’s hands how she gets there, if she gets there at all.

You are given the chance to make decisions, ranging from silly to serious, that impact the outcome. Choose wisely and you will lead Kimmy to her happily ever after. Make one wrong move though and you could end up dooming the victims, ruining the Time’s Up movement, or even killing the protagonist. But fear not, for the episode will always give you a do-over – make better choices, fix your mistakes, and find the happiest ending. Or mess up on purpose just to discover where each arc leads.

The special offers silliness aplenty as the absurd drama of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt proves to be perfect for a choose-your-own-adventure styled epilogue. The plot may not be very complex but it’s clear that considerable work and creativity went into crafting all the storyline. Not only are there several endings (after most of which you get chided by a character for messing things up), but even something as simple as skipping the theme song leads to humorous results.

It is fun to be reunited with the exuberant characters that populate Kimmy’s world, plus there are also several surprise cameos that keep things entertaining. The cast – from newcomers like Radcliffe (who fits right in) to old favourites like Hamm (who is as amusing as ever as the villain) – remains terrific.

A few inconsistences and dated references – do we really need more jokes about the Fyre Festival and Mark Wahlberg’s schedule? Notwithstanding, Kimmy vs. the Reverend is an enjoyable episode, the interactive elements of which work really well. Kimmy’s joyous disposition continues to be contagious, making her delightful comeback a bright spot in an otherwise dreary summer.

Rating system: ★Not on your life ★ ½ If you really must waste your time ★★ Hardly worth the bother ★★ ½ Okay for a slow afternoon only ★★★ Good enough for a look see ★★★ ½ Recommended viewing ★★★★ Don’t miss it ★★★★ ½ Almost perfect ★★★★★ Perfection

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