This week on Central Park, the Tillerman parents try to take interest in their children’s hobbies. Owen and his son partake in a scavenger hunt tied to Cole’s favorite book series but pretty soon his dad’s know-it-all attitude begins to annoy Cole. Meanwhile, Paige takes Molly to play some pick-up chess at the park. Also, Bitsy attends the annual Brandenham retreat just so she can embarrass her brother and reveal to her family, including Kite Boy, her plan to purchase Central Park.
Right off the bat, we are greeted with a pleasant Titus Burgess song to get us excited for the rest of the episode. Oscar and Emmy nominated artist, Aimee Mann, guest writes a piece as well.
“Nuts Nuts Nuts” written by Brent Knopf and Jeff Drake – A
This upbeat tune serves as the introduction to the episode and is a love song to Cole’s favorite book series, Squirrels Quarrels. You can really feel his enthusiasm for the franchise and it rubs off on all who hear his song. Midway, the pace slows and Cole is transported to his most memorable parts with a change of animation depicting the fantasy rodents in a way that would make Mouse Guard’s David Petersen proud. It’s an exciting number and a great way to open the show. Plus, I’m a sucker for anytime Titus Burgess sings.
“Big Deal” written by Aimee Mann – B
When the list of guest songwriters for the show came out, Mann was one of the few I was most excited for. Ever since hearing her voice in Magnolia, I’ve been a huge fan. The song has a tango feel to it and effectively conveys Bitsy’s contempt towards her family. She hates them all for being fake, incompetent, and spoiled.
Artistically, I enjoy how each individual member is isolated from the scene by circling them and turning the rest of the background black and white. Lyrically, the different plays on the phrase “big deal” are entertaining and witty and it’s nice to see that Mann can song write for comedy. Although it’s a bit disappointing that instead of her melodious vocals we get Stanley Tucci’s grating Bitsy voice.
“Can We Do Today Again” written by Brent Knopf and Jeff Drake – B+
After incidences with their children, Owen and Paige’s feelings are on opposite sides of the spectrum. The former is sad and disappointed in the way he acted on the scavenger hunt while the latter couldn’t be more hyped seeing her daughter dominate at pick-up chess. The rock number, “Can We Do Today Again”, perfectly contrasts the two parents’ emotional states not just in the lyrics but literally through clever positioning.
Though they begin at different locations in Central Park with a split screen, Owen and Paige’s stories intersect with the dad at the bottom of the hill moping and the mom on top of the world doing celebratory dances. The use of foreground and background shots further distinguish the elder Tillerman’s dispositions. This is a rare sequence where the scenes are better than the music.
“Can We Do Today Again Reprise” written by Brent Knopf – B-
This is a more somber and barer version of the original featuring only an acoustic guitar. It mirrors Paige’s despair after witnessing her daughter’s crushing loss at chess. The scene has the mother trailing behind and painted with more noticeable colors to distinguish the lyrics are what’s going through her head. Despite the bleak tone, it makes the high of Molly learning from her experience and comforting her mom more noticeable.