‘Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist’ 1×02 Review: This Power is Wasted on You

Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist returns with “Zoey’s Extraordinary Best Friend,” an episode intended to help Zoey come to terms with her new, ahem, powers …as well as try to establish the dynamics we’re going to come to rely on during the season to come, and it works just about as well as the “Pilot,” which is to say, not entirely.

Sure, it all feels a bit more grounded, because there’s no need for introduction here – people can just get right on with the singing. But that doesn’t mean it all clicks, or even that all the musical numbers work. Instead the show is left somewhere in the middle, with some things mostly working, and some things leaving us vaguely unsettled.

But I guess, not enough to stop watching, so yay Zoey?

The problem, however, is that this seems like the type of show that needs some episodes to truly hit its stride. But is that likely to happen when the show is airing Sundays at 9 PM? I don’t want to be a cynic, but Zoey isn’t exactly a 9PM show, and more and more TV has me considering things like: is this show being built for success? as I decide what I should invest in.

Right now, Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist looks anything like a sure thing.

It’s a shame, though, because when the show wants, it really hits on some emotional beats. Jane Levy, in particular, is extraordinary (pun intended) as Zoey, someone who is as much of a mess as the rest of us, but who now also has to contend with other people’s issues, in the form of musical dance numbers.

The rest of the cast comes and goes. Alex Newell is almost always a hit, because he gets to be the voice of the audience, but I’m still waiting for his AHA moment. Skylar Astin manages to be adorable in a non-threatening way, but I’m still far from shipping him with Zoey, which I guess is the point?

Peter Gallagher has very little to do other than sing, and Mary Steenburgen feels like she’s playing the same emotion over and over. Andrew Leeds, who plays Zoey’s brother David, meanwhile, is still mainly stuck in my mind as the serial killer from Bones, and I’m gonna need more than a couple of episodes to get over that one.

Let’s not even talk about Lauren Graham because you couldn’t fault me for forgetting she was there.

Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist
ZOEY’S EXTRAORDINARY PLAYLIST — “I’ve Got The Music In Me” Episode 102 — Pictured: Alex Newell as Mo — (Photo by: Sergei Bachlakov/NBC)

A bright spot – other than Jane Levy – is John Clarence Stewart, who brings such a vulnerability and likableness to his Simon that I just want good things for him. It’s not that I ship him with Zoey, it’s that I just …like him, and want to see much more of him.

But this is only episode two. Three is usually the test of if a show finds its legs or not. Even if Zoey doesn’t, though, there are still so many shows that had subpar first seasons and ended up being amazing, that it’s hard to truly discount it for good.

I just wish TV execs felt the same.

Things I think I think:

  • Now she’s dancing?
  • I want that NASA shirt.
  • Oh, thank God that was a dream.
  • “Everything is under CTRL” HA
  • Is Lauren Graham’s character supposed to be THIS unlikable? I assume she’s getting a musical heart-to-heart soon, but come on.
  • I did appreciate the timing for “Sucker.” I will admit that.
  • And “I wanna dance with somebody” absolutely worked for me.
  • Is it possible Max doesn’t …eh, know he’s in love with Zoey?
  • He’s just acting …normal.
  • Or has he internalized it that much?
  • And Zoey isn’t being fair to her FRIEND.
  • “Jesus, take the wheel.”
  • Finally, someone gets my feelings about this show.
  • I reaaaaaally like Simon, okay. I’m not even sure if I like him as a love interest, but I like him.
  • See, and now Max has a date and you looking all conflicted.
  • This whole see what the universe brings thing is a recipe for disaster.
  • Also, the episodes titles are going to get old FAST.

Agree? Disagree? What did you think of “Zoey’s Extraordinary Best Friend”? Share with us in the comments below!

Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist airs Sundays at 9/8c on NBC.

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