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More viewers in tune with ‘Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist’

Jane Levy (left) and Alex Newell in "Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist."
Jane Levy (left) and Alex Newell in "Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist."Sergei Bachlakov/NBC

NBC’s “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist” returned for a second season on Tuesday night, and I keep wanting to like it. Apparently many viewers do; it hit a new viewership high this week, as the lead-in to the popular “This Is Us.”

I do enjoy some of the singing and dancing, which sets the show apart from most scripted network shows. The performances have a loose feel to them, as a character bursts into song and a flash mob of sorts forms about him or her. The performers are all good enough, but not slick — which I find appealing. These are far from the airless musical sequences of “Glee,” where each song was overly produced and felt separate from the non-musical action in the scene. The imperfections on “Zoey” add some intimacy.


I also like the ensemble cast, particularly Mary Steenburgen as Zoey’s mother and Alex Newell as Zoey’s gender-fluid friend.

But the story line is a glut of rom-com clichés, hardly worth tuning in for. And Jane Levy, who has shined in “Suburgatory” and, briefly, in “Shameless,” is a bit too weary-dreary as Zoey. She’s at the other end of the energy spectrum from Rachel Bloom on a different network musical, the late “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.” A tech worker in San Francisco, Zoey is driven to distraction and near paralysis by hearing the people in her life erupt into songs that reveal their true feelings. I want her to perk up and be less passive. And I really want her to stop complaining about hearing the music! You know, it ruins the mood.

Matthew Gilbert can be reached at matthew.gilbert@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @MatthewGilbert.