Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist – Season 1 Episode 1 Recap & Review

Penny For Your Thoughts?

Once More With Feeling is in my top 3 for favourite TV episodes of all time. The musical episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer arrived at the perfect time in Season 6 after a pretty bleak opening and effectively anchored all the character drama in the form of catchy, lyrically poignant numbers. Since then, a whole slew of shows have taken this idea and run with it, including Glee, High School Musical and more recently, Netflix’s Soundtrack.

Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist then is a unique proposition and one that takes the best elements of other musical shows and combines them together with simple but effective characters to deliver a cleverly written and incredibly engaging opening episode. 

With a tinge of yellow hanging over the show’s aesthetic, Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist begins with a stitch-work of different songs, thanks to Zoey’s neighbour Mo listening and singing to Wham!. Heading out to work, Zoey greets her friend Max and is immediately thrown into an interview for a management position that doesn’t go too well.

After being introduced to her family, Zoey’s headaches prompt her to get an MRI but unfortunately things go wrong mid-scan. As a cacophony of music floods into her mind, this freak earthquake causes her to begin hearing the thoughts of everyone around her through the medium of music, typified by a massive song and dance number outside.

Back home, Zoey consults Mo who seemingly hasn’t been affected by the issue and admits that she wants Zoey to continue going to her for advice as “this is the first remotely interesting thing about you”. Ouch.

At work, Zoey has a relatively uneventful day but as day turns to night, she hears the new guy Simon singing Mad World at his desk, tears stinging his eyes. As the song ends, Zoey turns and leaves, heading straight to Mo’s party where they discuss the power of song. Zoey then uses this newfound knowledge to her advantage, speaking to Simon about the misery in her life and prompting him to head out with her for a walk where he opens up about his Dad.

Back home, Zoey speaks to her Mum about their current situation and questions whether they should speak to her Father again. Before she gets a chance to put this into practice however, her boss pulls her aside at work and questions rhetorically whether she’s management material. After another dance number, Zoey runs into Simon but unfortunately she learns he’s actually engaged.

With a broken heart, she heads home and, with tears in her eyes, pleads with her Father for help. As she stares at a picture of them together, her Father stands up and begins singing. It’s enough to spur her on and speak to her Mum about taking him out for a day on the boat in the hope that he rekindles some of his joy again. It works too, as he reaches over and holds her Mother’s hand.

As the episode closes out, Zoey gets the management position at work after solving the coding bug but her best friend Max sings about being in love with her, where we close the episode for an agonising month wait.

Well this is most certainly going to be my guilty pleasure this year. While the character arcs are a little simple and there’s already a bit of a cliched feel to some of this melodrama bubbling away in the background, the dance numbers and enthusiastic charm oozing through every facet of this show is enough to make this well worth sticking with. The dance numbers are well-choreographed, the singing is authentic and not lip-synced (as far as we can tell anyway) and there’s enough scope for the story to go in any direction from here on out.

As a taster for what’s to come, Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist has absolutely whet the appetite and this could be one of the early surprises of the year. It’s a little too early to jump the gun of course but for now, NCB’s musical drama may just have hit the right notes here.


Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist is available to watch on NBC. Feel free to click here to check this show out!

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