REVIEW: ‘Central Park’ Episodes One and Two

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Central Park

The first two episodes of Apple TV+’s newest show, Central Park, aired on Friday. This musical animated sitcom was created by Loren Bouchard, the creator of Bob’s Burgers, Josh Gad, and Nora Smith. The series follows a family of caretakers who live and work in Central Park. “Episode One” introduces viewers to the park ranger, Owen (Leslie Odom Jr.), and the rest of his family. His wife. Paige (Kathryn Hahn), works at a struggling indie newspaper. Molly (Kristen Bell) and Cole (Tituss Burgess), their children, attempt to deal with regular teenage issues. In “Episode One,” Cole tries to hide Bitsy’s (Stanley Tucci) dog since he’s always wanted a dog. Bitsy offers a reward to whoever finds it, which brings chaos to Central Park. In episode two, “Skater’s Circle,” Owen tries to make a deal with some skaters in the park while Cole is reeling from returning Bitsy’s dog.

With Bouchard being attached to the project, I’m not surprised that Central Park shares a similar animation style to Bob’s Burgers and Home Movies. It’s simple enough to follow while also distinguishing itself from other animated series. There are also scenes that change the animation style, especially when Molly draws her comic book stories. That variation adds to the notion of Central Park setting itself apart from other shows. Each character’s design fits perfectly with their respective personalities, giving audiences a better picture of who they are within the first few minutes of the first episode. I’m eager to see if any new animation styles are introduced or if the ones already established add something new to the show.

One of the few key components of Central Park that surprised me the most was the incredible voice cast. I had heard of the show since it was supposed to be at this year’s SXSW festival but didn’t know much about it. I was quite excited to hear some familiar voices, as well as hearing new ones. I’ve been a massive fan of Burgess since his role in Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. It’s great that he’s branching out into different genres of television. Having watched all episodes of Veronica Mars and The Good Place, Bell easily became one of my favorite actresses. Her portrayal of Molly centers around hilarious moments while also feeling authentic. I’m not too familiar with Hanh’s or Odom’s previous works but I really liked their characters.

Central Park

The other key component that surprised me while watching the first two episodes of Central Park was the multiple musical numbers. There’s an opening musical number in the pilot episode, which I quickly mistook for the theme song. I would’ve let this minute detail carry more weight on my overall experience of watching the show, but the song was quite catchy. It also helped that Josh Gad was the one singing the song. He brought an equal blend of comedy and musical talent that made the song enjoyable. Several other cast members get their own musical numbers, which were fantastic. The song at the end of the pilot episode, which is sung by Cole and Owen, solidified my love for the fact that musical numbers will be heavily featured. I hope that the songs are released online because I will definitely add them to my playlist.

As far as the comedy in Central Park, it might be the one definitive thing that may get people to either watch or not watch the show. While it is an animated show, it still falls under the sitcom genre. A lot of the humor comes from either the situations that characters find themselves in or the dialogue. There are jokes that are more for adults, but they don’t necessarily cross any lines in terms of being too offensive or crude. The musical numbers also offer comedic moments, which I quite enjoyed. I had no real problem with the humor, but there were times that felt a bit bland. It felt like there were moments where comedy was needed but wasn’t include and vice versa. It disrupted the flow of the episodes, which was disappointing to see.

I really enjoyed watching the first two episodes of Central Park. I wasn’t sure what to expect from the show but I was genuinely surprised with what I saw. The animation style sets a tone for the show, especially after watching other shows created by Bouchard. The show’s talented voice cast surprised me with their portrayals of characters, especially since it’s an animated show. Adding musical numbers to the episodes brought a unique feeling to the show as a whole that I rarely see in other animated shows. It’s disappointing that new episodes are being released weekly, but it will give audiences something to look forward to every week.

The first two episodes of Central Park are available to watch now, exclusively on Apple TV+.

Central Park, Episodes 1-2
  • 9/10
    Rating - 9/10
9/10

TL;DR

I really enjoyed watching the first two episodes of Central Park. I wasn’t sure what to expect from the show but I was genuinely surprised with what I saw. The animation style sets a tone for the show, especially after watching other shows created by Bouchard. The show’s talented voice cast surprised me with their portrayals of characters, especially since it’s an animated show.