You’re about to lose hours to TV special
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, the delightfully weird comedy created by Tina Fey and Robert Carlock, technically ended more than a year ago with happy endings for the main characters.
So why does there need to be an interactive special? Because of the fun! And it is fun.
Not long after the series wrapped, Kimmy Schmidt's producers announced the show would return in an interactive special, using the same choose-your-own-adventure technology Netflix first premiered with the Black Mirror special Bandersnatch.
The broad strokes of Kimmy vs. the Reverend is that Kimmy (Ellie Kemper) is days out from marrying Frederick (Daniel Radcliffe), a Prince of England and 12th in the line to the throne. But when she finds an old book in her backpack, it sets her off on a mission where she must confront her kidnapper, Reverend Richard Wayne Gary Wayne (Jon Hamm).
The idea is you make choices with your device (it's not playable on Apple TV pucks or Chromecast) that controls which way the story goes, in this case it includes whether Titus goes to the gym or goes home and naps or whether Kimmy makes small talk with Reverend Richard Wayne Gary Wayne or gets straight to the interrogation.
While Bandersnatch was quite circular in its story and there were at least of handful of main endings, Kimmy Schmidt's narrative is linear and deterministic. There's only one main ending with four minor variations on it, while all the over-a-dozen false endings results in a rewind to the previous choice and then carries on with the main thrust of the story.
(If you want to "win" the story, scroll to the bottom of this article for the path to get there - the spoilers are clearly marked.)
I've played it through about three times, which probably took a bit over four hours. On the first pass (where I chose an option and played it out), while I loved the adventure, I didn't really see the point of the interactive part given that there was such a clear through-line on the story.
After four seasons with the characters, there is a fairly straightforward path where you make the choices that aligns with what you know about the characters.
But when I went back and replayed the other choices, the fun of the interactivity really jumped out. With each different pick, there was another gem to be unearthed, a random bit of comedy whether it be a dream sequence, or fantasy or an outlandish death.
There's one alternative pathway in one of its subplots but that also leads to the same scene eventually.
Given Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt has always been goofball and occasionally absurdist, it's a perfect title to use the format. It's not really a choose-your-own-adventure so much as choose-your-own-diversion. The engagement of discovering those little extra bits is the real drive of this experience and you may find yourself losing a day to it.
Pro tip: Choose the "skip intro" option.
And there are minor characters such as Mikey (Mike Carlson), Robert Durst (Fred Armisen), Buckley (Tanner Flood) and Frumpus who only show up in any substantial way if you unlock certain choices. Same goes for "Kim Jong-un", a great Josh Groban cameo and a truly terrifying make-out session.
I eventually went through what I thought were all the options, but Amy Sedaris's name was in the end credits and I still haven't found her.
(If anyone finds Sedaris, can they please let me know where and the path to get there - it's driving me nuts.)
As for the story itself, it's a really cracking and clever framework with its three interweaving narratives to host the format.
It still gives viewers too much time (14 seconds) to make a choice, which slows the momentum down and makes you impatient for the story to keep moving with the choice you made, even if they're riffing in the meantime.
But it's such a joy to be back in this cartoonish world with its purple, fuchsia and canary yellow palette, over-the-top beats and occasional dark turns (one choice gets particularly pitch-black).
Radcliffe as the earnest and naive Frederick slots in the show's offbeat energy effortlessly while everyone else slips back into their characters with ease. Jon Hamm's willingness to humiliate himself in the name of comedy has always been so rewarding.
You won't be left with a macabre sense of despair or existential dread like at the end of Bandersnatch; rather it's an uplifting, satisfying close.
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Kimmy vs. the Reverend absolutely earns the hours you're about to give it.
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Kimmy vs. the Reverend drops on Netflix on Tuesday, May 12 from 5pm AEST
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(SPOILER WARNING: If you want to "win", you need to pick the fun dress at the beginning and have Titus pick "follow Kimmy" when given the choice between his best friend and a hallucinatory woodland banquet. END SPOILER)
Originally published as You're about to lose hours to TV special