Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist: Pilot
January 7, 2020 8:21 PM - Season 1, Episode 1 - Subscribe

Well, the mid-season network premieres have begun, so, I guess I'll be putting my Kdrama kick on pause to check out the new round of pilots.

I think I'll pass on continuing to follow this one. Lots of good vocal talent, and I've certainly seen worse pilots, but, it mostly just left me wanting to do a Crazy Ex-Girlfriend re-watch.
posted by oh yeah! at 8:26 PM on January 7, 2020 [2 favorites]

I haven't seen any of the veins being mined here, so I'm fine with this as the one musical soap among many that I pay any attention to. Set it in startup SF -- and they don't Nash Bridges it and block all the shots super tight so there's no city background -- and I'll give it a few episodes at least. I just know there's going to be alll kinds of wildly stereotyped jargon coming out of Lauren Graham's mouth throughout and I want to be in on it.

I also love Steenburgen (not sure about the bangs), and am I mistaken or have Kyle MacLachlan and Peter Gallager been sharing one career for the past 5-10 years?

Mention of suicide! Some bold words in this episode, also "Adderall dealers" earlier. Someone remaking "Mad World," solidifying Gary Jules' as the iconic performance of the song, like Jimi Hendrix to Dylan with "All Along the Watchtower." Now, a Goop joke too!

This episode sure covered a lot of ground and our protagonist of course has the best career luck of anybody forever.
posted by rhizome at 1:03 AM on January 8, 2020

This was cute enough and I appreciated when it leaned into its quirkiness. Less so when it went for the obvious emotions.

I think the musical numbers all went on a bit long and threw off the pacing. The song choices were fine but also went for the try-hard route (do you like when all your favorite streaming dramas end with a too-on-the-point song? Here's an entire TV of show of that!).

The cast is fun but I don't need another love triangle (love ... square?) on TV. I would've liked to have seen Zoey's relationship with Simon play out without the complication of "oh, but he's engaged!" and the "my best friend is secretly in love with me!" point is just a bit tiresome.

I'll give it another episode or two.
posted by darksong at 5:03 AM on January 8, 2020

The darkness level in this first episode is almost as high as the peak darkness level of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. And the premise seems to let the songs' emotions leap out at you through the screen. This is fascinating.
posted by amtho at 8:27 AM on January 8, 2020 [2 favorites]

Plus it's an hour long -- it could achieve a depth that previous musical series haven't even approached. I think that acting, writing, and production have been preparing the ground for something like this for a long time.
posted by amtho at 8:28 AM on January 8, 2020

Drat. I missed this. While I'm not a fan of musicals or musical television, I am a fan of Jane Levy and always hope she'll land in a good project. Based on the previews, I am torn on this particular show, but I'll have to manage to catch next week's episode to see how it goes.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:41 AM on January 8, 2020

Thorzdad - the pilot will be rerun on the USA channel on Sunday night/Monday morning, if you get that channel.
posted by oh yeah! at 8:50 AM on January 8, 2020

Or maybe that’s Saturday night/Monday morning? It’s 1/12 at 1am according to my TiVo app, anyway.
posted by oh yeah! at 9:55 AM on January 8, 2020

Here's the episode (free to watch, with ads) on nbc.com: link. NBC usually posts their own shows the day after they broadcast.
posted by amtho at 12:15 PM on January 8, 2020 [1 favorite]

I’ll keep watching. It’s not as “fresh” as I would like it to be but I do like the actors.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:22 PM on January 8, 2020 [1 favorite]

My dad came down with a neurological disease that started like Zoey's dad's did (albeit my dad's was a lot slower by comparison, sounds like her dad has become incapacitated within the last six months) and he was locked in and unable to communicate. Watching this messed me up so bad, especially when he started singing "True Colors" to her. You don't cast Peter Gallagher without using him well, though I do feel sorry for him having to play someone who's locked in for 90% of the show. This was so triggery as fuck to me, especially when Simon said she should spend time with her dad while she still could and she felt like he wasn't in there any more. Lived that.

So yeah, I was expecting this to be a fun semi-fluff show with a similar premise to Eli Stone (anyone remember that one? No, I'm guessing, but similar premise except he had a brain aneurysm causing his hearing singing, and God gave it to him) and instead I was crying. Oy. I guess brain aneurysm or brain tumor (reminded me of Simone Giertz) is still on the table for this show too.

I always liked the actor playing Unique, so I'm happy he has a new gig. Did kind of think he was sounding a lot like Tituss in this show somehow though.

I would avoid anyone who sings “All I do is win.” I feel sorry for her working in a bro palace. “Congrats on the promotion. Now I have two female bosses. It’s like I’m working at Goop.” GRRRRR. Also, seriously, even in SF, I didn't think anyone still had swings at work unless you're Facebook/YouTube/Google.

Skyler Astin's definitely reminding me of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend again.

I admit I am not thrilled with the disposable fiancee and love triangle tropes, but that shit's everywhere so what are you gonna do.

If anyone ever sings to me, "I think I love you, so what am I so afraid of?” I will lose my goddamned MIND. If I were Zoey I woulda just blue screen of death'd right there.

Anyway...I'll continue to watch it even though it's triggering my horrible dying dad issues out the wazoo. I like the cast a lot and I'm down with singing shows even though this is clearly a "one and done" sort of show. I don't get the marketing behind this one of putting up the pilot and then taking over a month to air the rest of the show. What the hell kind of logic is that? Way to dissipate any eagerness for the show, which makes me think they're just going to get rid of it quickly.
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:36 PM on January 8, 2020 [4 favorites]

I went back and forth on this but will watch more to decide for sure. My knee jerk reaction is that it's like Crazy Ex-Girlfriend but with a more traditionally likable lead and with the original songs replaced with romcom style "look how clever we are with soundtrack choices" moments. Neither of those is really an upgrade.

That said, Jane "OG Mandy Milkovich" Levy has always been super duper charming, the cast is good in general, the canvas/world that Zoey is set up in is already wider than you might expect (if not always that original), and the idea that she may be obligated to help was somewhat sweet.

I could see this going either way.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 5:09 AM on January 9, 2020

For some reason, I had read Jane Levy as Jane Lynch and was confused that she never showed up.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:35 AM on January 9, 2020 [2 favorites]

I was so into Eli Stone, so I'm pleased to see it referenced!

I wanted to watch this, but missed it. The ambiguous reviews here make it even more intriguing for me. Thanks, Fanfare!
posted by Ruki at 3:10 PM on January 9, 2020 [1 favorite]

It's on YouTube....
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:59 PM on January 9, 2020 [1 favorite]

I watched this in the most random way - the entire episode was available as a youtube ad - so I watched it as an ad? It kept my attention the whole way through, when I was not at all expecting it, so I guess that says something good for it - or my love of musicals, maybe. But overall, it felt way too bland. All I could think of was "this is so network-y." And that's not a good thing.

At every point, they seemed to just make the most formulaic, bland, vanilla choices, for every single character. The whole thing felt airless.

Some of the dancing and singing were great though!
posted by lunasol at 10:54 PM on January 9, 2020

I haven't seen this yet. Quick question: the main character's a programmer. How much does actual programming, making technology, etc. matter in her interior life? Does it seem like there are going to, for instance, be any songs actually about what it's like to make software? Because that is what I am incredibly interested in.
posted by brainwane at 1:25 PM on January 10, 2020

I have no idea. She gets inspired to solve a programming issue in the pilot, but not in any musical way.

I guess they could sing "Code Monkey" at some point? Beyond that, I wouldn't count on this show doing that.
posted by jenfullmoon at 2:54 PM on January 10, 2020

There were some glancing references so maybe about as much as Big Bang Theory does on its characters' professions and probably less than Silicon Valley (which doesn't really mention all that much). All of the songs were basically extant hits, so no tech-specific content to speak of yet.

And this is a frustration of network TV, that (most) everything is just a demographic vehicle for the same old kind of stories. Which bugs me on a creative level, but as a watcher it means I don't have to pay attention to any of it, ever, and can dip my toe in with shows like this when I choose to satisfy that demographic.

I used to be actively disdainful of BBT for exploiting nerd-dom (Chuck Lorre will always be a red flag), but as time wore on it didn't matter because there is really no nerd-specific content in the show. Think about it: how much more accepted are spectrum nerds than they were 10 years ago? There certainly wasn't a flowering of similar shows, nor spinoffs. The Good Doctor maybe? Which, is that even on anymore. Young Sheldon is essentially Malcolm in the Middle, as another example.

So far "Zoey's..." is not like any of this, but I still doubt they'll delve any deeper than meme references. I won't be surprised if it's a repackaged "Superstore," which isn't the worst that could happen.

OK, this isn't MeFi!
posted by rhizome at 3:04 PM on January 10, 2020

(My interest in theater/song about programming.)

Thanks for answering my question. I will hold out hope!
posted by brainwane at 6:36 AM on January 11, 2020

I'll probably keep watching this (nice of NBC to give us six weeks to make up our minds), but I will always think that they missed a trick by giving us the Dad communicating in the pilot. Imagine Zoey realizing that she really can read people's minds, and she's not just hallucinating or projecting her own thoughts onto them, and her first thought is I can use this to talk to Dad! and she zooms to the house and tells him all about it (with or without Mom in the room) and stands there waiting for him to sing...

and nothing.

She tries, over and over, and maybe occasionally we get a flashback so the audience all figures Oh, that's why they have Peter Gallagher, and the whole season, she keeps trying, but it gets even harder for her to know that she has this superpower and it isn't helping her with the one thing that she truly wants.

And in the last episode, the last scene, with the whole family singing their hearts out in the big finale... and dad sings, just the last, fading word of the last line. Cut to credits.
posted by Etrigan at 11:58 AM on January 13, 2020

I thought this was cute, sweet, pretty obviously heart-string tuggy (but still effective dammit), and way overloaded on tropes. Like I guess as a musical you want to do everything bigger, but yeesh. I didn't mind the tech bros as much because they're a legit thing, but the best friend with unannounced feelings, the fiancée out of nowhere, and I don't want to be insensitive, but this is a pretty clear cut case of the "magical negro" trope right? I suppose it might be too early to tell and I hope they do more with the character, but basically our heroine has barely spoken to this woman before and now she's interrupting her at work for spiritual guidance?
posted by ODiV at 10:56 AM on January 14, 2020

The musical numbers are not over-produced, which I find refreshing.
posted by theora55 at 10:50 PM on February 19, 2020

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