At first glance, Central Park might appear uninspired. It’s the sort of show we have seen a few times before with not enough traction to separate itself from the likes of The Simpsons, Family Guy and King of the Hill.
But then the first musical number hits. And we are treated to a new animated sitcom entirely – one that is stimulating and not monotonous, one that collects its forebearers gifts and moulds them into originality. Awkward humour and clever tunes don’t produce the “rolling on the floor with laughter” result, but rather a tickle, appreciate and remember effect.
Bob’s Burgers’ creators Loren Bouchard and Nora Smith team up with man of the moment Josh Gad (who also voices hilarious narrator Birdie), and the end product is excellent. A Parks and Recreation twist serves the show well, but the brilliance comes in a well-chosen cast of both established and newer voice actors.
Gad reunites with Frozen co-star Kristen Bell who delivers high notes with ease. We’re also treated to Leslie Odom Jr as caretaker Owen, Kathryn Hahn as his wife Paige, Tituss Burgess as son Cole, Stanley Tucci as (not so) evil Bitsy Brandenham, and Daveed Diggs as Helen.
Odom Jr conveys a loveable patriarch, but the laughs are mostly left for Bell, Gad and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt alumni Burgess, whose dry wit and timing make Cole equally annoying, hilarious and loveable.
Choosing to find a careful balance between singular episodes and developing storylines also contributes to Central Park adding a fresh element to the animation genre. Music and comedy are notoriously difficult to align, few know how to do it well, but this show harmonises them with grace and ease. It is fortunate Apple TV saved the series from the 20th Century Fox shelf. Standing the test of time will be its next challenge, but Central Park’s strong start looks promising.
Central Park is released on Apple TV on 29th May 2020.
Watch the trailer for Central Park here: