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Grading the musical numbers of 'Central Park': episodes 1-2
Photo: Apple TV+

Television

Grading the musical numbers of ‘Central Park’: episodes 1-2

The musical aspect of ‘Central Park’ is more than a gimmick and helps complement the storytelling. They’re a lot of fun too.

Loren Bouchard, of Bob’s Burgers fame, has a new project coming out today entitled, Central Park. It is an animated comedy that follows the Tillermans, who are a family that resides in one of New York City’s most iconic areas, as they come into conflict with a wealthy hotel heiress named Bitsy. She plans to buy the park and develop it into condos and shopping centers.

What sets the show apart is that it is also a musical. The songs are more than a mere gimmick and add additional allure to an already funny and enjoyable program. Here, we’ll take a closer look at each musical number and grade them on their catchiness, artistry, and overall effectiveness in storytelling.

“Episode One”

“Central in My Heart” – written by Kate Anderson and Elyssa Samsel: B+

It would only make sense to begin the show with a huge song and dance. “Central in My Heart” begins slow with strumming on the violin but builds musically as the shot pulls back showing the vastness of the park. The lyrics cover the history and everyday activities and what Central Park means to different people. Considering the location, there is a very New York humor that references dead rats, pooping police horses and children playing in dirty hot dog water. As it comes to the conclusion, the violin is now played with a bow to add some refinement and the scene becomes more epic as more “extras” join in. Overall, the opening leaves a great first impression.

“Heiress to a Fortune” – written by Kate Anderson and Elyssa Samsel – B

After such a big opening, the next song is a short and sweet ditty that serves as a quick introduction to the show’s villain, Bitsy Brandenham. It is accompanied by the pizzicato technique on the violin.

“Own It” – written by Kate Anderson and Elyssa Samsel: A

The following number has a song that grows on you every time you hear it. After meeting all the major players of the show, “Own It” serves as a good way to link everyone together despite their different locations and provides insight on their motivations. It’s a jolly, upbeat tune that would fit right in on a Broadway show and it certainly showcases everyone’s vocal talents.

“Poops I’ll Pick It Up” – written by Steven Davis, Nora Smith and Loren Bouchard: B+

It’s not uncommon for parents and kids to discuss owning a pet. In this case, it’s turned into a Hamilton-esque rap battle that meshes well with the back and forth. As Cole talks about all the responsibilities he’s willing to take if he can keep Shampagne, the animation changes to simplistic childlike style to emphasize his younger age. Of course, it would be the song about curbing a dog that co-creators, Loren Bouchard and Nora Smith, would write as their first contribution to the show. In a display of lyrical mastery, they rhyme heaven sent with excrement and make it work.

“Shampagne Was My Best Friend” – lyrics by Kate Anderson and Elyssa Samsel, music by Nora Smith: B

This segment packs a lot of emotion in a short amount of time. Both, Cole and his dad are heartbroken; the former for losing his dog and the latter for having his flowers destroyed. It’s the same instrumental as “Poops” but slower paced to mirror the somber mood. But there is an uplifting ending as the pair comfort each other.

Central Park 1.2.1
Photo: Apple TV+

“Skater’s Circle”

“Weirdos Make Great Superheroes” – written by Sarah Barielles: A+

This piece took my admiration for the show to another level. A school cafeteria is the perfect place for a tune that references adolescent awkwardness and fitting in. There are costume changes into appropriate caped crusading attire and the gold sparkles that rain down add to the artistry. Molly, herself, assumes her Fista-Puffs persona and with her hair serving as an extra pair of appendages, help make for clever choreography including a lift with her brother. That doesn’t even mention Barielles’ beautiful and catchy composition.  Just perfect.

“Make ‘em Pay” – written by Brent Knopf: C

Definitely, my least favorite of the numbers from the first two episodes. It’s a bit clunky and not as melodious as the others because Stanley Tucci must sing in the gruff voice he created for Bitsy. It plays more for comedic effect but the lyrics can come off as trying too hard, especially the line about Bitsy growing a penis to be taken more seriously. Although it provides more understanding towards the show’s villain as she’s been mistreated and overlooked her entire life and that has made her into the vindictive curmudgeon she is now. It even generates a little sympathy for her seeing how hard she’s had it.

“Weirdos Make Great Superheroes (Reprise)” – lyrics by Sarah Barielles and Brent Knopf, music by Sarah Barielles: A

The reprise is still as captivating as the original but a more stripped-down version with a piano instrumental and limited percussion. And it’s a little peppier to match Cole’s excitement after Shampagne remembers him. There are still the superhero wardrobe changes and even the adorable dog gets in on the cosplay.

“Do It While You Can” – written by Brent Knopf: A

The final number of the episode is an upbeat, jazzy, funky song that you can’t help but to get up and dance. It’s a fun way to mark the reconciliation between Owen and the local skating legend, Gorgeous Gary. The choreography works well from the background dancers to the skaters and their different moves. Owen’s dad lack of grace is on full display too. The song also provides an opportunity for the cast to improvise with great runs and synchronize their harmonies.

Central Park 1.2.2
Photo: Apple TV+

Central Park wouldn’t be taking full advantage of its musical side if they didn’t make their songs available. You can find how to listen to the soundtrack on various platforms and visit the dedicated Central Park destination on Apple Music.

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