The energy and innocence in “Todrick” — an MTV series about YouTube sensation Todrick Hall, which feels like a throwback to the old Mickey Rooney-Judy Garland “Let’s put on a show” movies — doesn’t last. Yes, the musicvideos that Hall produces and stars in are great fun (and who ever thought we’d see those again on MTV?), but the hand-wringing in the build-up to making them is a bit of a snooze. And while the show’s namesake has a buoyant personality, it’s hard to build an entire show around that, even if it runs only 20-some-odd minutes sans commercials.
As Hall tells everyone in the infectious opening-credit song (which includes the lyric, “They said, ‘You got big dreams, but you’ll never make it out of Texas’”), he fled the Lone Star State to pursue stardom, and ultimately decided to chase that by making these little movies, working on meager budgets, begged-for props and ridiculously tight self-imposed deadlines. Still, if it’s mildly interesting to see how the process works, it grows tedious watching Hall and his posse (many of them outfitted like extras from “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”) agonize over how they’re ever going to get it all done in time, which of course they do.
The second episode actually dares to try to be about something, with Hall going back to Lubbock, both to produce a video and have a heart-to-heart talk with his much-younger brother, in which he intends to discuss the fact that he’s gay. Ultimately, though, there’s no consistent arc to the storytelling, or even context about prejudice that might have helped frame the exchange.
All that really leaves, then, is the music, and that’s fine, so far as it goes. But it also makes all the material surrounding what Hall bills as the premiere of his latest wildly choreographed song in each episode feel like filler — unnecessary padding to kill time until the main event.
As noted, there’s nothing new about Hall’s “big dreams,” only about the chance offered, courtesy of new technologies, to pursue them independently, distribution-wise. And one can see why MTV would be opportunistic enough to sweep in and provide the show’s talented namesake a platform, given the millions of YouTube views he’s amassed.
Despite making it out of Texas, though, what the assorted powers that be haven’t bothered to give Hall, yet anyway, is a fully realized show that offers more than the kick that comes with seeing his name in the bright lights of a channel guide.