When we last left Central Park, Aunt Abby was able to finally find a job after a whole day of rejection. The one complication is that she would technically be working at the Brandenham Hotel under Bitsy. How would the rest of the family feel if they knew she would be employed by their arch nemesis? We find out in “A Matter of Life and Boeuf.”
Abby tries to make breaking the news easier by making breakfast for Owen and her sister, but Paige sees through the ruse. Though they don’t approve, the couple at least agrees to eat at the hotel restaurant where she is a waitress to scope things out. This leads to plenty of amusing fish out of water scenarios since the Tillerman-Hunters are unaccustomed to fine dining, particularly the children.
The evening takes a dramatic turn when Bitsy and her brother, Ambrose, show up and bicker over an order of côte de boeuf. We soon have a full-fledged mystery on our hands. There are so many messy entanglements and issues between all the parties that really anyone could be the culprit. It’s a very well-done thriller that keeps upping the ante and revealing unexpected twists while still keeping the Central Park levity.
Most episodes tend to feel like an animated comedy with song and dance numbers interspersed throughout. However, “A Matter of Life and Bouef” really has that proper musical aura to it. Because all the major characters are together in the same location for a significant portion, when they sing it seems grander to have them all there rather than a split screen.
In addition, there is a more epic feel which is ironic considering the smaller scale story being told. The combination of elaborate effects, costume changes, varying scenery, and lighting add to the theatrical production value. Also, songs are top notch especially “A Real Whodunnit” by Don’t Stop or We’ll Die, which perfectly captures the paranoia and distrust between everyone.
Most importantly, the episode marks the true return of Kristen Bell to Central Park. So far, we’ve been trying to get good sense of her character but Abby really steps out here. Her good nature and optimism are on display but she also has the strength to stick to her beliefs and values regardless of outside pressure. It warms your heart seeing how decent she is and it’s contagious as it even softens Bitsy. Abby has plenty of solos as well so there are good opportunities to hear Bell’s beautiful voice.
This week we receive a grand musical dinner mystery where Kristen Bell’s Abby takes her first real big steps of the series.
New episodes of Central Park drop Fridays on Apple TV+.
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