Analysis Recaps

ZOEY’S EXTRAORDINARY PLAYLIST Stumbles Through a Weak Third Episode

The following article contains spoilers for Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist, S1: E3, “Zoey’s Extraordinary Boss.”

Recap

This week, Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist found our protagonist getting closer to her boss, Joan. SQUIRT, or whatever the company is called that they work for (SPRQ, I think), is close to launching the new watch they’ve been working on in a pretty muddy C-storyline for a few weeks. Joan’s well-connected, video game-developing husband, Charlie, is set to appear at the launch to perform a Steve Jobs-esque demonstration.

Zoey overhears Joan singing “I Can’t Get No (Satisfaction)” in the restroom at SPRQ, and after some convincing from Mo, she decides to talk with Joan. Joan reveals to Zoey that (SURPRISE!) her husband is a dick. He’s neglectful and controlling. Joan confronts Charlie, he gets butt-hurt and backs out of the demonstration, she apologizes, he comes back to the demonstration, and she finally tells him how it is at the actual event, so he finally leaves. It’s all a bit of back-and-forth that really doesn’t feel entirely necessary except for the show is an hour long, so, fine.

Elsewhere, the boys at SPRQ are pumped to meet their video game idol, Charlie, and in Zoey’s head (?), she hears them all worshiping him as he enters to the tune of the title track from the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, Jesus Christ Superstar (see the performance in the video below and stick around for some awkward marital meeting action).

Finally, on the home/ family front, Zoey and company have rigged up a laptop with a mouse-powered keyboard so that dad can communicate with words instead of the buzzer from Taboo! The first thing he asks for is lemonade, though, which sends the family matriarch, Maggie, into a tailspin. She feels unappreciated and overworks and she ultimately gets into a brawl with some sorority girls in a grocery store who have bought every bottle of lemonade in the store (and apparently every bottle on the planet, judging from her reaction). Zoey and her brother, David, decide to help their mom out and take shifts helping her watch their dad.

Meanwhile, at the product launch (which is a big party DJed by Mo), Zoey convinces Joan to stand up for herself and demo the product. She doesn’t need her husband after all! Zoey saves the day!

Review

This show is becoming the most frustrating thing I’m watching (there’s a reason this review is several days late). I just don’t know how to watch it, maybe. Sometimes it’s so good. But at other times, there are just massive stumbles. These stumbles are almost always song-related. In a musical, the music should feel like a seamless addition. I understand that in this case, the music should feel a bit more abrupt since Zoey hears it unwillingly. I also understand that maybe, just maybe, the misuse of these songs would indicate that the character singing the song doesn’t understand the source material. I think it’s more likely, though, that the bros working at SPRQ have never heard “Jesus Christ Superstar” than that they misunderstand it (see below).

The series has a solid heart at its center, and I am willing to ride with it because of that story. The casting is also spot-on (I loved the choice of Justin Kirk as Charlie this week). But the creators need to start to understand how they want music to work in this world a little more clearly.

The Songs

  • “I Can’t Get No (Satisfaction)” was a fine choice for Joan (Lauren Graham). It was an appropriate song for what she was feeling. The staging in the company restroom was adequate, but it got weird when she boarded the elevator and was around more people than just Zoey.
  • “Jesus Christ Superstar” is a ridiculous choice. Clearly, the music producer wanted to convey they fact that these programming bros worship Charlie, but the entire point of Judas singing the song to Jesus in the original musical was to question whether he was, in fact, the savior that everyone claimed he was. This song would have been more appropriate for Joan (probably). This is also probably why they guys only sang the chorus and didn’t get into the versus of the song.
  • “NO” by renowned bass advocate, Megan Trainor was a huge swing and a miss. When Charlie originally backs out of the event, Zoey asks Simon if he thinks he’ll be able to book someone else. His internal song monologue betrays him by singing this song, which is originally about shooting down a guy’s advances. The best musicals that repurpose songs understand the original context and do something interesting with it. So far, Zoey’s is just looking for lyrics that kind of work for the moment. Add to this that Simon only sings the chorus (again), and I don’t even think they needed this one at all.
  • “Roar” by Katy Perry is the big finale, and it almost sticks the landing. As Joan walks to the stage, she begins to sing a stripped-down and vulnerable version of the anthem that slowly builds as she approaches the stage. It’s just weird when anyone other than Perry does that “You’re gonna hear me ro-or-or-or-oaor” thing that the song demands. Again, take a note from Glee and don’t be afraid to tweak a bit more, but also understand context.

Chances That Zoey Is Actually Dead

This week, I felt less like Zoey was dead and more like it was me who was suffering through some eternal punishment.

Chances this week: 20%

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