NOEL KING, HOST:
Disney launched its new streaming service, Disney+, on Tuesday. Mickey Mouse is there. The Muppets are there. The Marvel superheroes are there. But Disney is also offering a handful of new shows original to Disney+. And our pop culture correspondent Linda Holmes says you can tell a lot about the service from just one show. It is called "High School Musical: The Musical: The Series." Hi, Linda.
LINDA HOLMES, BYLINE: Hi. Congratulations on getting through that mouthful of a title.
KING: (Laughter) So there was an original "High School Musical" - Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens. I loved it. What exactly is "High School Musical: The Musical: The Series"?
HOLMES: So "High School Musical," I want to say first, they do know that this title is ridiculous.
KING: They do? OK.
HOLMES: There is a cheekiness to this series. So "High School Musical" was in 2006. "High School Musical: The Musical: The Series" is about a group of theater kids who are putting on an actual high school musical. And the musical is a stage adaptation of "High School Musical" the movie.
(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL: THE MUSICAL: THE SERIES")
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As character) Auditions are after school.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: (As character) I've seen the original movie 37 times and the first 15 minutes of both sequels.
KING: Is it as complicated when you watch it as it is when you explain it?
HOLMES: It's not. The title is more tricky than the plot. It's - when you watch it, it's a squeaky clean Disney-type show. It's about theater kids. They have crushes on each other. It's kind of similar to that first "High School Musical." I think, although it's pretty rote in some ways, it's going to go over with the same people who maybe their older siblings or even their parents were fans of "High School Musical" in 2006.
KING: So your thesis is that you can tell a lot about Disney+ from this one show. How do you make that argument?
HOLMES: Well, most of what you can get on Disney+ at this point is movies and shows that Disney already has. They have a gigantic catalog of movies obviously, but they also have the Marvel movies now. And they have "Star Wars" and this kind of vast world of existing stuff. And that's how they're hooking viewers is with that huge catalog.
And so even when they're making a new thing like "High School Musical: The Musical: The Series," it's an offshoot of what they already have. And that's similar to a lot of their originals. There's a new "Star Wars" series called "The Mandalorian." There's a remake of "Lady And The Tramp." There's this expansion of this really kind of successful franchise. And it shows that their strategy is all about this library of what we now kind of depressingly call content.
KING: So a lot of what Disney does, obviously, is for kids. That's always been the case. Does Disney+ have anything for we grown-ups?
HOLMES: I think that, you know, some of their library, they have a lot of things that some adults like - Marvel and "Star Wars," as we mentioned. Some of what you might call their kind of inspirational movies like "Secretariat" or "Miracle" about the 1980 U.S. hockey team. But the new stuff other than maybe "The Mandalorian" is pretty firmly kids TV. And at this point, they're right at the beginning. They're trying to get people hooked. And, you know, it's possible that once they feel like the series is established, you might see a broader range of originals from them.
KING: OK. So reel the kids in, and the adults will come in time.
HOLMES: Whether they want to or not.
KING: Disney. Was there anything that you watched from Disney+ that you really liked?
HOLMES: I actually enjoyed a reality show they have called "Encore!" which is about reuniting high school theater kids who did a production together many years ago.
HOLMES: So the first episode, they reunite the cast of a 1996 high school production of "Annie." And what they do is they bring as many members of the cast back as they can, and they do the show again. What I found really moving about it is that you have people whose kids get to see them perform who have never seen their parents in that context. And I thought that was quite touching, actually.
KING: That sounds kind of amazing.
HOLMES: It really was. I thought it was a lot of fun.
KING: Pop culture correspondent Linda Holmes. Linda, thanks so much.
HOLMES: Thank you, Noel.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.