When the second season of Amazon’s “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” arrived a year ago, I lamented that the early episodes were so disappointing that newcomers to the Emmy Award-winning show might have wondered what all the fuss was about for season one.
It appeared to be difficult for executive producers Amy Sherman-Palladino (“Gilmore Girls”) and Daniel Palladino to recreate the marvelous magic of discovering the characters in the first season.
Thankfully, the magic partially returned with a family visit to the Catskills in the summer of 1959 for episodes four and five that rekindled the nostalgia, the classic music and the stand-up comedy that made me fall in love with the series in the first place.
Fortunately, season three of this love letter to a bygone era gets out of the gate much faster than season two. The new season starts streaming Friday.
The first batch of five episodes made available for review are a colorful mix of humor, romance, music and silliness that is centered around Midge Maisel (Rachel Brosnahan) touring the country as a warmup act for a handsome African American singer Shy Baldwin (Leroy McClain).
Of course, there is the speedy and snappy dialogue that we’ve become used to from Sherman-Palladino. The only thing faster than Midge talking is Midge walking.
The opening episode quickly establishes this season’s premise as Midge performs a snappy, funny monologue for the troops at a USO gathering in New York City where the Jewish comedian struggles to find the lyrics of “White Christmas” as the group sings.
I laughed out loud as Baldwin looked at Midge faking the words.
To be honest, the silliness provided by Midge’s parents, Abe and Rose Weissman (Tony Shalhoub and Marin Hinkle), can get a little tiring. Its primary purpose seems to be to remind people that just because you age doesn’t mean you grow up.
And the plotline in which Midge’s agent, Susie Myerson (Alex Borstein), has taken on a new client who wants to add to her resume by switching from being a comedian to act in a Strindberg play falls flat in the weaker episode two.
But starting with Midge’s appearance at the concert in the opener and continuing with her failing, recovering and growing in Las Vegas and Miami, “Mrs. Maisel” can do no wrong.
Well, check that. She can do wrong.
The show needs to have some conflict, with Midge’s agent Susie and estranged husband and father of her two children, Joel Maisel (Michael Zegen), providing some early material.
A dispute over the telephone between Midge and Joel over the behavior of a dishwasher repairman is priceless.
Midge’s feelings for Joel are a little complicated as he has moved from feeling threatened and jealous of Midge’s career in season one to becoming one of her biggest fans in season three.
Midge’s platonic relationships with legendary comedian Lenny Bruce (Luke Kirby) and Baldwin also have the potential to head into new territory. And why not? There is something very appealing about an attractive and funny woman who doesn’t yet realize how talented she is and how much in demand she appears to be headed.
In other subplots, Joel plans to open a club; orderly Abe and attention-starved and principled Rose is at odds with her rich family and Joel’s annoying and unrefined parents, Moishe (Kevin Pollak) and Shirley (Caroline Aaron); and Susie has to concoct a “weird ask” from the tour promoter for Midge to show that she deserves the star treatment.
As amusing as those subplots are, every minute in which Midge isn’t on the screen making fun of herself, her heritage, her family and her habit of cooking brisket when she is nervous is a minute wasted.
Like Zachary Levi last year as a doctor romancing Midge before things fall apart, McClain brings charisma to the show playing a charming and talented singer almost amused by everything Midge does or says.
McClain’s singing and the exquisite dancing choreographed by Western New York native Marguerite Derricks, add to this season’s magical feel of Mrs. Maisel.
There’s no dancing around it: It may help, but you don’t have to be Jewish (I am) to enjoy the show. I suspect if you know the words to “White Christmas” (which was written by Irving Berlin, a Jewish immigrant), you’re fall in love with the energy of this marvelous show all over again this season.