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central park 2.1.1
Photo: Apple TV+

Television

‘Central Park’ season 2 episodes 1-3 review: Great family dynamics and music with reflective individual moments

The Apple TV+ animated musical comedy returns with three new episodes.

Loren Bouchard’s next venture following the success of Bob’s Burgers would be Central Park. It shared similarities to the Fox show being an animated comedy centered around the exploits of a family but this time it would be a full-on musical set in New York City’s iconic location. Today, the charming Apple TV+ original returned for its second season with three new episodes.

In the season premiere, the Tillermans go through a variety of experiences from a city-wide power outage to finding the perfect way to honor Paige on Mother’s Day to Holly wrestling with her own insecurities. In addition, we have more of Bitsy behaving badly including her latest get rich quick scheme and a squabble with her hotel’s resident bartender.

Central Park continues to show its heart in the three episodes especially with the focus on family. They are far from perfect but you can tell they love each other. The show uses a game night during the black out as an effective tool to bring out the Tillermans’ underlying issues of mistrust. Although hurtful things are said in the heat of the moment, they understand they stepped over the line and try to resolve their problems in a level headed and mature manner.

You also see how far they’ll go for the family with Owen overlooking one of the things he hates most, public vandalism, to execute a perfect Mother’s Day. The reveal in the end is so heartwarming and it is a complete Tillerman effort. In addition, Titus Burgess is a revelation instilling a youthful imagination and innocence in Cole while he tries to be a big boy.

central park 2.1.2
Photo: Apple TV+

The musical numbers of Central Park still impress with great camera work and stunning and artistic visuals. The use of colors and split screens shows how animation can be a proper vehicle for the genre. They can also incorporate comedy without taking away from the beauty with clumsy yet elegant civilians in the background performing the choreography. The show doesn’t use your traditional looking classically trained dancers.

The music itself is good and pleasant and regular contributors Kate Anderson, Elyssa Samsel, and Brent Knopf maintain their high-quality work. It covers a variety of styles such as hip hop and rock. The series also recruits a variety of guest writers including They Might Be Giants and John Cameron Mitchell of Hedwig and the Angry Inch fame. Even though the songs are catchy, a high standard was set last season and there is no real stand out so far. We received “Heroes Make Great Superheroes” in the second episode and nothing so far this season reaches that level.

It’s not all fun and games on Central Park and there are some reflective individual moments for the characters. Helen’s situation with Bitsy contrasts with the bartender but both of them keep coming back no matter how toxic it is to them, but at least he receives what he wanted from leaving.

Then the entire third episode is dedicated to Molly and her self-doubt when she feels threatened by Hazel’s basketball friend. She escapes into her art as a coping mechanism and a means to vent. It becomes really meta with a story within a story format which combines the regular animation with her comic book style for an unconventional but compelling story. The comic motif is a playful way to address a serious issue plus, it gives us Molly’s own version of the Danger Room.

The first three episodes of season two provides the family heart, comedy, and great musical numbers that we’ve grown accustomed to while providing moments of self-reflection for its characters.

New episodes of Central Park drop Fridays on Apple TV+.

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