Stream It Or Skip It: ‘Melody’ On Prime Video, Where A High School Singer And Her Pop Star Hero Make A Cross-Continental Mental Connection
Melody, co-produced by Sarah Lenore and Jose Louis Pagan, is an event of interest because, rather than being produced by a traditional studio, it is produced by Warner Music Entertainment, Gibson Guitars and Trinity Entertainment. The show has a story, but it’s more of a vehicle for WME to promote some pop songs in two different languages, sung by two talented artists who have records in the industry.
MELODY: TRANSMITTING IT OR IGNORING IT?
Opening shot: A teenage girl looks at the camera and explains that her name, Melody, comes from the Greek word for “song”.
The gist: Melody (Yas Gagliardi) is a high school girl in Buenos Aires who is determined to make her career as a singer. She is so determined that she sneaks out of her house where she lives with her uncle Franco (Peto Menachem) and aunt Marissa (Muriel Santana) to sing at a local subway station. She is helped by her best friend Emma (Melodie Baigun), who accompanies her on drums, and Charly (César Bordon), who has a booth at the station and helps with the sound.
The reason Melody has to go undercover is because Franco, who owns a coffee shop near the booth, doesn’t want Melody to pursue a singing career. He adopted Melody as a baby when his sister decided to move to Spain to pursue a career in the arts. he’s a very practical guy and looks to Melody’s future. He also fears that the song will take Melody away from them, like the arts did to his sister.
Marisa tells Melody that her mother left behind a notebook of poems and other writings, which Melody wants to look at for inspiration, but Franco claims that he sent it back to his sister.
In Miami, Melody’s pop star hero Layla (Sarah Lenore) prepares to record a new album. She has a lot of commitments and her manager seems worried that she’s getting stressed out, especially when Layla starts spouting lyrics about the future in perfect Spanish, a language she doesn’t speak. She also mentions that her piano was playing by itself earlier that day. Given what we know about Melody, it seems the two have a cosmic connection that stretches from Florida to Argentina.
Back in Argentina, a band made up of some of Melody and Emma’s classmates is looking to record some music, but they need a bass player. They go to a park to meet one of the band member’s cousins, who is more of a skater but is good with the bass. there they meet Melody and Emma. Melody, who curses her hormones for distracting her from her mission to become a pop star, is still smitten with the shy but funny band leader, Benja (Juan Caruso).
Meanwhile, Van Borden (Luis Machin), a legendary music producer, seems to bemoan the mediocre talent of everyone his son brings to him in hopes of modernizing the family label. He’s essentially looking for the next Layla, which he brought to the Latin American market. When she’s about to get on the subway, she hears Melody singing and something clicks.
What shows will it remind you of? It is interesting that Melody It’s essentially launching at the same time as Disney The Low Tone Club, because the two shows are similar in tone and theme. Both are aimed at pre-teen and teen audiences.
Our take: The songs inside Melody they are well made and both Lenore and Gagliardi do a great job with their singing performances. About half of the hour-long first episode is full-length performances, so the fact that the songs are earworms in a good way comes in handy.
Fortunately, the story isn’t hidden between the songs. Is it the most sophisticated story we could have? No, but at least Melody’s side is relatively charming. The only part we don’t get is why doesn’t Melody just tell her uncle that’s what she’s doing? It feels like Melody keeping her subway singing from her uncle is a bit of an artificial obstacle, especially considering it will be enough for Franco to worry about when Melody inevitably starts working with Van Borden.
Layla’s side of the story is pretty underdeveloped. Layla is professional, always keeps her commitments, and those around her don’t understand why she can suddenly speak Spanish and find those turns of phrase for the future. Obviously, the cosmic connection between Melody and Layla will be at the heart of the show, but it may take a few episodes for that part of the story to really take off.
What age group is it for?: Again, this looks like a show for teenagers and pre-teens.
Parting shot: As Melody sings, her mother’s notebook nearby, Van Borden hears her from the subway platform below, but then Charly warns her that “Coffee Uncle” is coming. What will he think if he sees her singing in the subway station?
Sleeper Star: The various songwriters have done a good job creating original music for the series that are very successful, especially in Latin America.
More pilot line: We’re not sure why Charlie is stupidly lying about a magazine that Franco wanted that is right in Franco’s line of sight. Yes, Melody and Emma were hiding behind his counter, but couldn’t Charly give him a copy of the magazine and take his five bucks? This was looser than any comedy in the episode.
Our call: WATCH THIS. Melody not much drama, and some of the acting is stiff at best. But the music of the show is decent enough and there is enough story to keep the viewer interested between the song performances.
Joel Keller (@joelkeller) writes about food, entertainment, parenting, and technology, but he’s not kidding himself: he’s a TV fanatic. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, Slate, Salon, RollingStone.com, VanityFair.comFast Company and elsewhere.