I take a look at this adaptation of a Brazilian show about a ghost rock band.
Julie Molina (Madison Reyes) is a high schooler in an elite music program, however, she has been unable to sing since the death of her mother a year prior. One day, while going through her mother’s belongings, she finds a CD for the ’90s band Sunset Curve. A band on the cusp of making it, their careers ended tragically when three of the four band members ate tainted hot dogs and died. When she plays it, she finds herself seeing the three dead musicians: Luke (Charlie Gillespie), Alex (Owen Patrick Joyner), and Reggie (Jeremy “Finn from Adventure Time” Shada). Only she can see or hear the members, unless they’re playing music. It turns out that people can hear them when they play, but when they play with Julie, they become completely visible. Once they stop playing, they disappear, making people think they’re a hologram band called Julie and the Phantoms. Turns out, they’re pretty great, to the point that they’re sought after by a powerful ghost named Caleb Covington (Cheyenne Jackson) to be his house band.
I turned this show on because it looked light and I wanted something to fall asleep to. I then failed to fall asleep for like four hours because it was just so much fun. A big part of it is that the music is, appropriately, awesome. While some of the songs feel like filler, any time Madison Reyes is on-screen, she’s belting out a hell of a performance, particularly when she’s accompanied on vocals by Charlie Gillespie. The songs are usually catchy but the lyrics are often extremely touching and the set-up to the performances tend to provide a heavy emotional aspect to the performance. It relates music to what it’s always been, a pure form of human expression and connection. I’ll also wager that no one can watch the sequence “Unsaid Emily” without at least feeling something inside.
The show is fairly formulaic, but it actually does a fun job of mocking the tropes it embraces. It also often subverts them in unexpected ways. For example, Julie’s rival, Carrie (Savannah May), runs her own band that is like the Misfits to Julie’s Jem and the Holograms (Get it?). However, Carrie is depicted as being a former friend of Julie who resents her because Carrie works harder than Julie does. Additionally, Julie wins almost all of their verbal sparring matches in legitimately clever ways. It’s just a few extra touches that make the show a little more interesting than it normally would be.
Overall, it’s a fun show and I recommend it if you like musicals or shows that are just light distractions.
If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time, Collection of TV Episodes, Collection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.
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