There’s far too little musical theatre-type television. Probably most successful was FOX’s long-running Glee. But maybe the best show was NBC’s Smash, which dealt with the production of a fictional Broadway show, and ran for two seasons.
This spring’s best bet has been Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist, which recently concluded its first season on NBC. The show, featuring Jane Levy, is about a young woman, Zoey, who develops an unusual condition. After she is placed in an MRI during an earthquake in her hometown, San Francisco, Zoey comes to hear the most intimate feelings of people through the song and dance numbers they perform for her view alone.
In the early episodes, Zoey sees this bizarre ability as an annoyance. She is, after all, a practical, analytical young woman who works for a software company. But she eventually comes to see this power as a gift. For through her insights she finds ways to help people.
It may seem strange that Jane Levy, who is not known for singing or dancer, has been cast as the lead in this musical show. But the former star of Suburgatory sings and dances well in the numbers she performs. And her co-stars, including Alex Newell, Skylar Astin and Peter Gallagher, are outstanding performers from musical theatre. Even the actress Lauren Graham (Gilmore Girls), as her boss, is an engaging singer.
The story lines in this show are much better than the tired ones used in Glee. Zoey is confronted with real problems, including her inability to decide romantically between two men she works with. She must also deal with the disabling illness of her father, played by Gallagher. The combination of story substance and song gives the episodes a poignancy.
Considering the shortage of musical theatre-related TV shows, we should cherish the well-done ones. I’m hoping to see Zoey back in its second season.