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‘Central Park’ musical report card: Episode 6

Andrew Rannells contributes to an instant classic and Darren Criss writes the opening.

In “Dog Spray Afternoon”, Central Park introduced a new narrator because the previous one broke the rules when he blurted out vital plot points at Paige. This episode, we learn a little bit more about the show’s latest addition, Griffin, and his growing rivalry with Birdie.  Also, while Owen and Cole are enthralled by the park’s Owl Cam, the rest of the family spend the night across the street at the Brandenham Hotel as Paige pursues another lead in her investigation.

Darren Criss of Glee fame is this week’s guest songwriter contributing the opening number. Also, on the show are an instant classic and a Russian club banger.

“Rival Busker”

“First Class Hands” written by Darren Criss – B

After breaking the rules last week, Birdie was replaced by Griffin as the narrator. This toe tapping tune serves as an introduction to the new character who in some sense, is the opposite of the busker we know. Griffin is tall and lanky, plays the guitar, but is also a bit of an arrogant jerk. The song is used to list his accomplishments and why he’s a better choice.

Though a pleasant number, “First Class Hands” feels a little underwhelming compared to other ones from guest writers like Sara Barielles and Cyndi Lauper. One plus is we hear Josh Gad’s Book of Mormon co-star, Andrew Rannells play Birdie’s replacement.

“Too Close” written by Kate Anderson and Elyssa Samsel – A+

The rivalry between Griffin and Birdie builds much like this awesome power ballad. The animation changes to a simpler and cuter cartoony style creating an innocence in the segment. This is totally offset by the first shocker and example of people getting too close, which is absolutely hilarious. The other two verses are funny as well but they don’t come to the level of the first. “Too Close” comes to a nice conclusion with a diminuendo and really shows off the vocal talents of both Rannells and Gad.

“Show Up” written by Kate Anderson and Elyssa Samsel – A-

“Show Up” begins a bit awkward and clunky since the lines don’t exactly rhyme. Also, Kathryn Hahn’s singing voice is a bit weaker than the rest of the cast and they try to hide it by making her quasi-rap. Despite Hahn’s shaky start, the song itself is good and has a catchy hook. It is clearly the best choreographed number and the bass line really carries the songs.

Paige and Anya’s hand claps are on beat and adding in Molly brings in some formations that the show plays with to create symmetry. There are great camera angles that bring in different framing like aerial shots, and the dance sequences nicely play with different levels. It’s a really fun scene and Paige and Molly provide the support Anya needs to go through with the wedding.

“What Could Go Wrong” written by Brent Knopf – B-

At first, I didn’t realize this is part of the soundtrack since it’s in a foreign language and I had to use Siri to confirm it. The techno beat fits right in with an Eastern European wedding and there’s plenty of fist pounding, clapping and jumping up and down. Lyrically it is difficult to judge since it is in Russian but the song has an interesting title for something played after a couple gets married.

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