The premise of NBC’s “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist” is so ludicrous that it takes an extremely charming ensemble to drag it off. Neatly, that’s what the creators and producers of this dramedy, which premieres its pilot tonight, January 7th, earlier than returning for its common run in February, assembled. Led by the all the time real Jane Levy (“Evil Lifeless”), who’s assisted by a group of performers up for the challenges of this distinctive mix of caprice, heartache, and pop tunes, “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist” is a pleasing diversion at a time when a lot tv feels prefer it’s making an attempt to be actively disagreeable. A present that may very well be pitched as “This Is Us meets My Loopy Ex-Girlfriend” is of course going to be just a little inconsistent and a few of the melodrama feels manipulative, however then, like a catchy hook in a music, it should win you over irrespective of how arduous to attempt to struggle it.
Levy returns to TV after “Suburgatory” and “Citadel Rock” to headline her first hour-long dramedy because the title character, a younger coder dwelling in San Francisco who has a headache and goes to the physician for an MRI. Whereas she’s there, an earthquake occurs and, nicely, Zoey wakes up with distinctive powers. With out warning, folks round her break into music. And the favored tunes that her mates, colleagues, and members of the family belt out mirror what’s happening of their hearts and minds, typically even on a unconscious degree. For instance, somebody who seems to have all of it collectively sings “Mad World” by Tears For Fears, reflecting that their façade is hiding ache. (It’s a darkish music.) In one other scene, Zoey’s boss, performed by Lauren Graham, belts out The Rolling Stones, whereas the large emotional pull of the present will come from the beats wherein Zoey’s father (Peter Gallagher), who has been struck by a illness that leaves him unable to speak, can specific himself once more to his daughter via music.
There are moments within the first three episodes wherein the high-concept of Zoey’s life feels nearly too literal. An individual in Zoey’s life bursts into music after which Zoey figures out the best way to resolve the issue that led to the High 40 second. In these beats, it’s nearly like a musical variation on “Freeway to Heaven” or “God Friended Me” or any variety of problem-case-of-the-week reveals. And I’d be mendacity if I didn’t really feel just a little manipulated by the sick father arc, however Levy, Gallagher and the great Mary Steenburgen as Zoey’s mom easy over the heartstring-pulling bumps.
“Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist” is at its most charming when it permits itself to be foolish. The musical numbers aren’t overly polished or elaborate however have simply sufficient potential for a visible shock—and I hope the present leans into that extra because the present progresses—however the primary motive the present works is that it’s a forged of characters which can be additionally attention-grabbing to hang around with between the tunes. There’s a a lot worse model of this present that doesn’t perceive that angle and depends too closely on the idea. There’s sufficient of a dramatic arc to Zoey’s story, together with not only a sick father however a troublesome boss and a possible love triangle at work, to maintain folks unengaged by the Spotify-cation of the style watching. And the forged doesn’t simply depend on the acquainted faces however introduces us to some stable new performers, together with Skylar Astin, Alex Newell, and the good John Clarence Stewart.
So, in the long run, “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist” is a stable dramedy that additionally occurs to incorporate Mary Steenburgen singing Van Morrison, Peter Gallagher tackling Cindi Lauper, and Lauren Graham nailing Katy Perry. You would wish an actual dirge of an inside music your self to not a minimum of smile a bit at that.
Three episodes screened for evaluate.