Review: Central Park “Rival Busker”

 

Overview (Spoilers Below):

There are adorable baby owls in a tree in Central Park, and everyone is excited. Okay, so only Cole and Owen are excited about it, but their enthusiasm is abundant enough to make up for Paige and Molly’s lack thereof. A live nature cam is set up to stream the owlets across the world wide web, and Owen and his son are watching when they see one of the baby owls in trouble.

Meanwhile, Paige and Molly are at Bitsy’s fancy hotel, hot on the trail of the elderly biddy’s criminal dealings with Dmitri, the oligarch mob boss. Dimitri is all set to finance Bitsy’s Central Park plot as long as his daughter Anya’s wedding goes well. It all comes to a head when Anya sneaks away from her ceremony because she is nervous about marrying Zach, a nice guy who doesn’t know about her father’s criminal underworld lifestyle. She runs into Molly, who helps to teach her that she shouldn’t be afraid to marry the man she loves.

Our Take:

I don’t think Central Park has had a bad episode yet, and Rival Busker is no exception. It’s an episode that gets a lot of things right, particularly the balance between the ongoing season plot and the typical trivial fun stuff. The owls that Cole and Owen get obsessed with are adorable, and Paige and Molly’s run in with a mafia leader’s daughter is near perfection. There’s even some drama between narrators, which still feels a bit weird, but at least gets better when it’s not just a one-off joke in a single episode.

Central Park is kind of unique among other adult animated fare in that it has a overarching plot. Bitsy’s plans to take over the park that Owen, Paige, and their family call home isn’t exactly a pressing matter in every episode, but it is a constant thought in the background, a dark shadow that looms over the usually sunny park proceedings. Unlike The Simpsons or Bob’s Burgers, there’s tension that’s is ratcheting up with every move Bitsy makes, and Rival Buskers does a great job of integrating that with a fun half hour of plot.

Paige’s decision to stake out Bitsy’s hotel is pure investigate journalism, and I love seeing her get closer and closer to what’s actually going on. She tells Owen that her “gut has a hunch that my inklings are right”, and after many episodes of being underestimated by the world, her boss, and even occasionally her family, seeing her connecting the clues is great.

Of course, it wouldn’t be possible without Birdie’s helpful information. While I thought his whole breaking the narrator rules thing was a little too cute last week, it does actually carry through into this episode. His struggle against his replacement narrator, Griffin, helps make the conflict of the scenes more palpable. I’m still not entirely sold on spending this much screen time (and song time!) on the narrator, but when it’s Josh Gad, what are ya gonna do?

Only six episodes in, and Central Park is really starting to shine. The way Paige’s snooping connects with Bitsy’s plotting and Molly’s dreams of the rich hotel life is really nicely done. The ladies’ song was pretty killer, and even if Owen and Cole don’t get as much of a chance to grace our screens this week, their owl quest is a worthy one. Central Park is quickly starting to become central to my TV viewing habits.

Caleb

graphic designer, writer, and animation addict. when i'm not writing words about my favorite shows, you can usually find me skulking about on Twitter. if you want, leave a comment or send me a tweet; i'd love to chat!

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