For all the cash Apple has been pumping into its still-infant supply service, we’ve but to see many exhibits that radiate with sufficient creativity to drag our consideration from Apple TV+’s extra established rivals. Central Park, although, is a type of exhibits. It’s an animated comedy, which is nothing new in itself, however get this: It’s additionally a full-blown musical with all solely a handful of spoken strains dropped earlier than its forged bursts into songs about all the things from superheroes to scooping poop.
Its artwork type is an immediate tip-off that it’s from a few of the identical of us who gave us Bob’s Burgers, however Apple’s huge money piles enable it to be animated with a fluidity we by no means noticed in co-producer Loren Bouchard’s earlier present. For one of many first instances on Apple TV, right here’s an instance of Apple placing all that cash to glorious use.
As in Bob’s Burgers, plenty of the motion facilities on a unusual household, on this case the household of Central Park supervisor Owen (Leslie Odom, Jr.), who lives in a candy “fortress” within the park’s coronary heart. We additionally meet Paige, his journalist spouse (Kathryn Hahn)—who works for “the primary most left-on-the-subway paper within the metropolis,” his two youngsters (Kristen Bell and Tituss Burgess), and a lovable busker (Josh Gad) who creeps on them by peeping by their home’s home windows. (It’s completely cool, he tells us; in spite of everything, he’s the narrator!)
Contemplating what number of songs drop in every episode, I’m impressed by how catchy they’re. It’s laborious sufficient to provide you with a single good musical episode — as The Magicians did so memorably in 2018 — however the two episodes I noticed included all the things from the showboating numbers anticipated from musicals to light-weight raps. A lot of Central Park’s humor, in reality, comes from foolish couplets like this: “Papa, I imagine this pet’s heaven-sent / I promise to select up his each excrement.” Sure, in true Bob’s Burgers trend, the poop jokes are as plentiful as gritty gum on Manhattan sidewalks.
Past that, the musical method works so nicely as a result of the precise singing is pleasant, which shouldn’t come as a lot of a shock as Kristen Bell famously voiced Frozen’s Anna, whereas Odom and Daveed Diggs (who performs a dour lady) established themselves within the hit musical Hamilton. Among the songs are higher than others — Bell’s “Weirdoes Make Good Superheroes” is an particularly memorable standout — however none of them left me eager for everybody to begin chatting usually once more.
Apple TV’s Central Park: Season 1
It’s price watching Central Park for the standard of its animation and its pun-laden musical numbers alone. It deserves essential consideration, although, for the best way it makes use of these components to deal with essential modern points. Central Park tends to begin with a basis of acquainted and cozy ideas like teenage love and job dissatisfaction after which makes use of them to springboard into commentaries on the ways in which, say, a few of our most valuable establishments exist solely due to a fragile thread of laws.
To its nice credit score, Central Park by no means knocks you over the pinnacle with these messages. A lot as Apple TV+ did with its great collection Little America, it as a substitute subtly communicates these concepts by empathy and shared experiences with the characters slightly than by direct lecturing. The method works as a rule.
On this period of social distancing and common uncertainty, Central Park additionally works as a strong reminder of the significance and vitality of shared public areas and, for that matter, the messy compromises we typically have to make to ensure that our communities to flourish. Generally, Central Park suggests, you merely must cope with the truth that you’re going to have to select up some trash. Alternatively, I like that Central Park appears to be constructing to a conclusion that argues that some issues shouldn’t be compromised.
If there’s one factor that the majority of Apple TV+ exhibits have had in frequent till this level, it’s that they take a few episodes to place the items in place after which the actually good episodes — those that go away one of the best impressions — drop later within the season. Primarily based on the 2 episodes of Central Park accessible at premiere, that’s true of this collection, too. The distinction is that few of Apple TV+’s exhibits have pulled off that method so efficiently, to the purpose that I’m now desirous to see what Bouchard and his buddies have in retailer for us for the following few Fridays going ahead. It is a lovely and rewatchable setup, crammed as a lot with coronary heart as it’s with scatological jokes. It’s additionally optimistic, and proper now, that’s a welcome present.