To savor “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist” – which starts its second season Tuesday (Jan. 5) – you must buy into one tiny little premise and …
OK, it’s actually a huge premise: Zoey was listening to her headphones inside a CAT scan. There was an earthquake, creating an anomaly. Now, of course, she keeps seeing people expressing their deepest personal thoughts via pop songs.
Yes, that’s a lot to accept. But we’ve seen a teen-ager gain the strength of a spider … and a guy turn into a hulk when he gets angry … and (in one cartoon series) a boy turn into an automobile. Unlike some of those shows, this one offers warmth, humor and intelligence.
“Playlist” (8 p.m., NBC), which has the TV’s brightest color palette, could have settled for silliness. Instead – with the writing and with the casting of Jane Levy (shown here) – it makes Zoey smart and caring.
She works for some sort of tech company, doing whatever it is that tech companies do. She has an office crush Simon (John Clarence Stewart), plus a best friend Max (Skykar Astin) who revealed – that pesky pop-song thing – that he loves her.
But Zoey does more than fret about romance. Her biggest concern has been her father’s degenerative disease. He died in the season-finale, leading to this show’s finest moment – at the wake, a marathon performance of “American Pie,” with people alternating as leads as the camera glided smoothly.
“Playlist” can do that, because it has stocked its cast with singers. That includes Zoey’s gender-fluid neighbor Mo (Alex Newell), who sings the first notes of the second season.
That starts six weeks after the funeral, with Zoey still in reclusive mourning. When she does emerge, she finds new friendships have formed and the office has changed: The boss (Lauren Graham) has been promoted; Max’s job has gone to a well-meaning chap who lacks social skills.
That role goes to Harvey Guillen, who shows comic brilliance as Guillermo in “What We Do in the Shadows.” Already a good show, “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist” gets better.