Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Now on Netflix: The Good Place Season 1 (2016)

The Good Place (2016) - Created by Michael Schur; Starring Kristen Bell, Ted Danson, William Jackson Harper, Jameela Jamil, D'Arcy Carden, Manny Jacinto, Adam Scott.

By Kenny Howell

It's surprising that The Good Place even exists.

Not because it is a bad idea, not because it isn't well-executed, but because it is a weird, weird show on network TV, in this case NBC.

But I assume that Michael Schur is the reason because he probably has a lot of pull in the industry these days. He has been a producer on The Office, Parks and Recreation, Brooklyn Nine Nine, Saturday Night Live, Master of None and The Comeback. That is all his TV producing credits, which should tell you he knows what he is doing. He doesn't misfire. He also played Dwight's brother Mose on The Office, which should be enough on its own.

The Good Place takes place in the afterlife. It is not quite heaven as the architect of the place, played by Ted Danson (The One I Love), explains that all religions got a little bit right, and the only one to get it totally right was a stoner teenager in the 1970s. We are introduced to The Good Place by Eleanor, the always great Kristen Bell (Bad Moms), who has just arrived. She is shown the world, and she meets her soul mate Chidi (William Jackson Harper). The Good Place matches people up with their soul mate, and they live together in a neighborhood of other people there. Problem is that Eleanor was a crappy human being when she was alive, and there has been a mix up which sent the real Eleanor to The Bad Place to be tortured for eternity.

From there, The Good Place kind of works as a cover up/mystery as they try to keep Eleanor's real identity under wraps while they try to figure out just what is going on in The Good Place. Something is not on the up and up, and over 13 episodes there are several twists and turns, including a major one to conclude the season.

The Good Place is not on the same quality as The Office or Parks and Recreation, and probably not as good as Brooklyn Nine Nine when it is at its best. At least not yet, though it has the potential to be. However, it is incredibly unique. Schur has created a whole new world with its own set of rules, and he somehow weaves broad comedy elements within it. It's quite a feat, and his excellent cast led by Bell and Danson know how to sell it. Schur can basically do no wrong right now, and The Good Place is another example of that.

You can watch the entire first season of The Good Place right now on Netflix.

Rating: ***

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