The makers of ‘Bob’s Burgers’ are bringing a star-studded new musical series to Apple’s streaming service.
Last week, Amazon put a toe in the animated battleground with the announcement of their forthcoming series Undone. Not to be outpaced, Apple got out its wallet to win a bidding war over another a new animated show. According to Deadline, the company will be working with 20th Century Fox TV to produce an animated musical comedy called Central Park, a show about a family that lives and works in the titular New York City park. They save the park. And maybe the world? Okay. So, what’s the hook?
It’s a good one. The series, which already has a two-season order, was created and co-written by the makers of the most-excellent animated show Bob’s Burgers in partnership with Josh Gad (Frozen). Oh, and it’ll feature the voices of Gad, Leslie Odom Jr. (Hamilton, Smash), Tituss Burgess (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt), Kristen Bell (Frozen), Stanley Tucci (Beauty and the Beast), Daveed Diggs (Hamilton, Black-ish), and Kathryn Hahn (Transparent).
Yup. Two of the stars of the hit Broadway show Hamilton are in the cast. Diggs and Odom Jr. are phenoms. Honestly, the group is ridiculously talented. Gad is crushing it from his animated hit in Frozen to his live-action work in the new Beauty and the Beast, Murder on the Orient Express, and Marshall. Tucci is one of the most versatile actors in the business, capable of inhabiting any character. Bell, Hahn, and Burgess are all riding high in their own right. All three already feature in hit television series.
Central Park sounds a bit like Bob’s Burgers: The Musical with the vocal talent turned up to 11. You know the Bob’s Burgers musical episodes are the best, right? That’s going to offer excellent competition against Apple’s streaming competitors as they all vie for animation domination.
As far as the storyline goes, I’m not too clear on what it means to save the world in Central Park. However, if the mover and shakers of Bob’s Burgers (Loren Bouchard and Nora Smith) are going to be leading this brilliant group of actors on a journey of song and joke, I’m there for it.
And, that’s probably the exact reaction Apple is looking to get out of this announcement. It’s also likely why they launched into a bidding war with Netflix and Hulu over the rights to Central Park after Fox passed on it.
Meanwhile, Amazon’s venture into the adult-oriented animation game, Undone, will feature Rosa Salazar (The Maze Runner, Alita: Battle Angel). But the Dutch artist on board to animate the series, Hisko Hulsing, might be the biggest attractor. Amazon is hoping to create a fresh look for the show.
In a visual medium, that’s certainly a plus. A noteworthy or original approach to animation is enough to draw viewers. Cartoon Network’s Samurai Jack turned heads as much for its story as it did its unique look that featured no outlines. Amazon is headed in a solid direction. But, in terms of sheer attention-drawing panache, it’s not possible to beat the lineup offered by Central Park.
For all that, neither Apple nor Amazon is quite ready to compete with Netflix just yet. They’ve got Voltron, Castlevania, and the forth-coming Tuca & Bertie from the red-hot talent Tiffany Haddish (Girls Trip). Also, Bojack Horseman, Big Mouth, and F Is For Family. I could go on. Oh, and Netflix is ready to spend $8 billion on content this year.
Maybe that’s okay. Netflix might drown in the quantity of their forthcoming content. Apple’s goal, as in everything else they do, seems to be a pursuit of quality over quantity. I’m not particularly convinced you can’t do both. But, based on Apple’s first step into animation, they seem to be making good on their promise.
In related news, CNN’s Dylan Byers asked Apple’s Eddy Cue whether they might just simply buy the competition. Cue offered a modest answer about Apple traditionally avoiding major acquisitions and lauded their current working relationship with both Disney and Netflix. Still. When you’re sitting on fully operational moon-base levels of money, it isn’t totally out of the question.