Friday, May 29, 2020

REVIEW: 'Central Park' - A Search for a Missing Dog Sends the Tillerman Family Into Bitsy's World in 'Episode One'

AppleTV+'s Central Park - Episode 1.01 "Episode One"

An event goes awry in the New York park, which Owen manages and lives in with his family. Paige chases a hard news story.

In 2019, the television industry aired 532 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the series premiere of AppleTV+'s Central Park.

"Episode One" was written by Loren Bouchard, Nora Smith & Regina Hicks and directed by Gavin Dell

Central park is central to our hearts. That's the sentiment expressed at the start of this new animated musical comedy. That's the heart of the lyrics for the first song Birdie gets to perform. It's the introduction to this world and the precise energy the show is going for. It's a lot of fun. It highlights how the main characters largely delight in the wonders of this staple of New York City. However, it's also perfectly frank about the park being less than wonderful. It can be disgusting as well because of how careless human beings can be. Even those are seen as joyous to the main characters though, Birdie doesn't mind that children are playing around in hot dog water. That is such a specific joke that works incredibly well. Now, most of this premiere is largely just introducing these characters. The Tillerman family exists at the heart of the series. However, Birdie is the entry point for the audience. He is the character who details what is important in this world. At times, he operates solely as the narrator. He breaks the fourth wall to talk directly to the audience about things that are going to be important shortly. He establishes that Bitsy Brandenham is a villain long before she actually appears on the screen. However, Birdie is also an actual character within this world. It's almost unimportant that he continually spies on the Tillerman family. He is lurking just outside their window watching them prepare for their days in the park. It's creepy and the show plays it off as something that is bad but not the worst behavior that could be done. Stalking is almost acceptable behavior in this world. Birdie does it. He continually wants to be close to the Tillerman family. He craves that acceptance even though Owen, the park manager, really doesn't want to pay any attention to him or his possible motivational speeches. Meanwhile, daughter Molly has to rush out the door in order to spy on a cute guy she spotted in the park a week ago. She is at least called out for this stalking. The guy catches her and starts a conversation with her. That infers that she won't have to indulge in this behavior again in the future. It still might be commonplace though. This show wants to be a joyous celebration as expressed through music. And yes, it is a lot of fun as that. The original songs are the most memorable and engaging moments of the show so far. They also provide more details into the characters than the dialogue and potential comedy do in the early going. The entire ensemble is trying to motivate themselves into owning their actions. They are pumping themselves up and trying to believe that they are deserving of so much more in this world. Owen knows that he can have a great day celebrating the Turtleheads if he has the right mindset for it. Paige believes she can impress her boss if she just breaks one huge story. Cole thinks he can finally have a pet of his own if he just expresses enough cute emotions to his parents. And yes, it's easy to see how all of this gets swept up together to create a cohesive narrative. It's also very basic at the moment. Bitsy hates the park because her dog gets lost in it. That was a purposeful action done by her long-suffering assistant Helen. Those characters exist outside of the park. As such, they present as more elaborate and joke-based characters. They are over-the-top with the comedic flourishes. That enhances the story. But the thrust of the story is still just being established with Bitsy actually wanting to buy the park and transform it into condos. Meanwhile, Cole and the rest of the Tillerman family are disappointed that they can't rescue this dog. They bonded with him quickly while acknowledging that they couldn't keep him. Paige still writes a good story. Owen is encouraged and supported by his family. These characters love each other. It's a unique blend that should create a lot of laughs with a bit more specificity to it. Right now though, the songs are enough for the audience to enjoy as the show finds its heart and soul moving forward. Not everyone may appreciate Central Park like Birdie and the Tillmerman family do. The public has no real consideration for the preservation of nature. And yet, it can be the source of so many activities and events that bring a large swath of people together no matter what might happen while in the vast environment.