TV Review: NBC's The Good Place

Welcome to the Good Place. Everything is fine.

The Good Place is a 2016-2020 fantasy sitcom created by Michael Schur. It aired on NBC in 2016 and ran for 53 episodes in 4 seasons until it was canceled. The show stars Kristen Bell and Ted Danson. The series was nominated for 14 Primetime Emmys during its run, winning none of them.


Season 1 / Season 2 / Season 3 / Season 4 / Overall


"What the fork?" -Eleanor Shellstrop

SEASON 1

Plot


After Eleanor Shellstrop dies, she wakes up in a mysterious dimension called "The Good Place". There she meets Michael, the architect and creator of her neighborhood inside of The Good Place. Michael tells her that she made it to The Good Place through her hard work as a lawyer, clearing many people from death row. After Michael introduces her to her soulmate, Chidi, Eleanor admits to Chidi that she doesn't belong in The Good Place and what Michael was telling her was not her life. As Eleanor and Chidi try to hide in plain sight, new challenges present themselves in The Good Place, prompting Eleanor to try and become a better person.


Review


The Good Place is just loads of fun. Schur's inventive idea evokes laughs from the audience while also providing a heartfelt and intriguing story. Every episode leaves off on a massive cliffhanger, letting the audience's mouths water as they can't stop themselves from clicking on the next episode. I started watching this show about two weeks ago and have already watched half of the series. Kristen Bell brings all the charm and charisma to the small screen that you want whilst never being completely likable. Some of the fish out of water comedy is fantastic, and the twist ending of the first season comes out of left field. The very concept of the show is so much fun and so interesting, and it plays out exactly as you want it to, with a few bumps in the road. The series is highly relatable and unnerving at points. The viewer cares about all these characters, even the ones who are played to be unlikable. The writing is genius, providing as much tension, emotion, charm, and comedy as the audience needs. The few gripes that I had with it were fixed after the first couple episodes. I think that Tahani is especially unlikable at the beginning and I am not a huge fan of the flashbacks to life on Earth that we sometimes get throughout the season. The show does a perfect job of something that most sitcoms (The Office or Seinfeld) don't do; it has a full, overarching story to keep the audience's attention. That's hard to do with a show that is played for laughs, but this show does it perfectly.


Final Score


The Good Place Season 1 is an absolute joy from beginning to end. The cast, writing, and direction are fantastic and the story keeps you engaged for all 13 episodes.


I will give this season a Sweet. Age range is 10+.


"The Good Place"


Fun Factor: 9.5/10

Story: 10/10

Acting: 8.5/10

Characters: 8/10

Quality: 9.5/10


Created by Michael Schur


First episode aired on September 19, 2016


Rated TV-14 for sexual humor and thematic elements


Episode runtime: 22 minutes


Kristen Bell as Eleanor Shellstrop

William Jackson Harper as Chidi Anagonye

Ted Danson as Michael

Jameela Jamil as Tahani Al-Jamil

D'Arcy Carden as Janet

Manny Jacinto as Jianyu/Jason Mendoza

Marc Evan Jackson as Shawn

Andy Scott as Trevor

Tiya Sircar as Vicky

Maribeth Monroe as Mindy St. Clair




SEASON 2

Plot


After Eleanor's troubling realization that The Good Place is actually The Bad Place, Michael works to impress his boss, Shawn, by redoing the entire neighborhood. When Eleanor continuously beats Michael, the demon has no choice but to team up with the four humans to avoid retirement. As Michael and Eleanor work together to get to the real Good Place, the group dynamic between them becomes stronger than ever. Meanwhile, the evil forces of The Bad Place attempt to track the humans down so that they can be tortured for eternity.


Review


While Season 2 may not be as refreshingly original as Season 1, The Good Place still manages to provide an original storyline for the season that keeps audiences thrilled to see what comes next. The improved charisma of Kristen Bell and Ted Danson makes the characters more likable than ever. The supporting cast lives up to expectations. Tahani's character is much less annoying. Jason Mendoza is stupider, which makes him funnier. D'Arcy Carden and the writing for Janet are the funniest part of the show. The introduction of Maya Rudolph's character is hilarious. And the world-building for the afterlife is just incredible. Everything about this show is just fabulous. The couple gripes that I had with the season don't weigh it down that much, but I do think that Chidi's character was much less likable and sometimes a little bit too annoying or too nerdy. I also think that, while the twist conclusion of the previous season was fantastic, the implications of that event on this season basically erase what happened in Season 1. However, that does not take away from the ridiculous amount of entertainment that this show provides.


Final Score


The original storyline and new one-liners make this season just as strong as the first, with a few, very tiny bumps in the road.


I will give it a Sweet rating. Age range is 9+.


SWEET N' SOUR SCALE

Sweet (Great)

Savory (Good)

Sour (Bad)

Moldy (Terrible)


"The Good Place"


Fun Factor: 9.5/10

Story: 9/10

Acting: 9/10

Characters: 8/10

Quality: 9/10


Created by Michael Schur


First episode aired on September 20, 2017


Rated TV-14 for sexual humor and thematic elements


Episode runtime: 22 minutes


Kristen Bell as Eleanor Shellstrop

Ted Danson as Michael

William Jackson Harper as Chidi Anagonye

D'Arcy Carden as Janet

Jameela Jamil as Tahani Al-Jamil

Manny Jacinto as Jason Mendoza

Marc Evan Jackson as Shawn

Maya Rudolph as The Judge

Tina Sircar as Vicky

Maribeth Monroe as Mindy St. Clair

Jason Mantzoukas as Derek


SEASON 3

Plot


When their run-in with The Judge doesn't go as planned, the humans are sent back to Earth by Michael to relive their lives so that they can become good people and make it into The Good Place. While Michael and Janet keep intervening in their lives, The Bad Place demons attempt to squish their attempts at a good life. Eventually, Eleanor and Chidi figure out what's going on and try to save as many souls as possible.


Review


The last two seasons were two of my favorite TV seasons ever. This one had a lot to live up to, but I do think that this is the weakest of the seasons of The Good Place. While that may be the case, it is still a great season. There were a couple of episodes that were legitimately slow and not great, but the highs were still very high. The concept is still original and they haven't really recycled any ideas yet, which is very hard to do with a show like this. The group dynamic has never been stronger between our main characters, and that made these characters just as good as they had been before. The first and final few episodes of this season are as good as the rest of the show has been. It's probably between episodes 4 and 10 that the season hits a low point. There are episodes that just don't really contribute anything new or fresh, which makes it not as entertaining as most of the episodes in this show. It is still a consistently fun and funny show and everything that I said in the previous two reviews pertains to this season. It's just those middle couple of episodes that bring this one down the slightest bit.


Final Score


Season 3 may be the weakest of The Good Place seasons, but that doesn't mean it is bad. It's still a great season that provides as much laughs as the others have.


I will give it a Savory rating. Age range is 9+.


SWEET N' SOUR SCALE

Sweet (Great)

Savory (Good)

Sour (Bad)

Moldy (Terrible)


Fun Factor: 8/10

Acting: 8.5/10

Story: 9/10

Characters: 9/10

Quality: 8.5/10


"The Good Place"


Created by Michael Schur


Season premiere aired on September 27, 2018


Rated TV-14 for sexual humor and thematic elements


Episode runtime: 22 minutes

Kristen Bell as Eleanor Shellstrop

Ted Danson as Michael

William Jackson Harper as Chidi Anagonye

D'Arcy Carden as Janet

Jameela Jamil as Tahani Al-Jamil

Manny Jacinto as Jason Mendoza

Maya Rudolph as The Judge

Marc Evan Jackson as Shawn

Kirby Howell-Baptiste as Simone Garnett

Tiya Sircar as Vicky

Andy Scott as Trevor

Mike O'Malley as Jeff the Doorman

Leslie Grossman as Donna Shellstrop


SEASON 4

Plot


After the Judge decides to allow a test that will determine the fate of the universe, Eleanor, Michael, Chidi, Tahani, Janet, and Jason must redo what Michael tried to do before: create a fake Good Place. The four subjects of the experiment are chosen by the Bad Place. As Eleanor and Michael take control of the neighborhood, they must get the four people together and prove that they can become better people by working together.


Review


The beginning of the season recaptured the magic of the first two, with a very fun and exciting concept. They basically show us how the original neighborhood was managed with different context. It was so much fun and so exciting to revisit the twisted version of The Good Place. What happens with the characters throughout the show was very well done. Everyone ends up where they should and they act consistently in character through the duration of the season. Chidi's character was much less annoying in this season. He has some legitimately great moments that make me like him a lot more. The stakes of this season are incredibly high. I do think that the first half is significantly more exciting and better than the second half. There were some very intense moments that made me fear for the safety of our characters and for the safety of the universe. The finale, while imperfect, was very emotional and ended things on a satisfying note. Everything comes full circle: Eleanor gets over her selfishness and lets Chidi leave The Good Place. Chidi becomes more relaxed and is able to make decisions, especially ones that could end up changing the outcome of the universe. Tahani makes amends with her parents and gives up eternal peacefulness for helping people. Jason embraces his inner monk while waiting to give Janet the necklace that he made her. Janet saves the universe by recruiting other Janets to put the "restart the universe garage opener" in their voids. And Michael gets to live out his dream as an actual human. All the characters end in the perfect place, cementing this as one of my favorite shows I've ever watched.


Final Score


It may not have been 100% perfect all of the time, but The Good Place finishes off with a fabulous ending and a great overall run.


I will give it a Sweet rating. Age range is 10+.


SWEET N' SOUR SCALE

Sweet (Great)

Savory (Good)

Sour (Bad)

Moldy (Terrible)


"The Good Place"


Created by Michael Schur


Season premiere on September 26, 2019


Rated TV-14 for sexual humor and thematic elements


Episode runtime: 22 minutes


Kristen Bell as Eleanor Shellstrop

Ted Danson as Michael

William Jackson Harper as Chidi Anagonye

D'Arcy Carden as Janet

Jameela Jamil as Tahani Al-Jamil

Manny Jacinto as Jason Mendoza

Marc Evan Jackson as Shawn

Tiya Sircar as Vicky

Maya Rudolph as The Judge

Kirby Howell-Baptiste as Simone Garnett

Jason Mantzoukas as Derek

Benjamin Koldyke as Brent Norwalk

Brandon Scott Jones as John Weaton

Lisa Kudrow as Hypatia







Overall Score


The Good Place is one of the funniest, most charming, and most intriguing shows that I have ever watched. Kristen Bell and Ted Danson lead this show as a powerhouse duo. The ensemble cast is fantastic, the script is flawless, and the story provides an experience like no other. The Good Place has become one of my favorite sitcoms and one of my favorite shows.


I will give it an overall Sweet rating. Age range is 9+.


SWEET N' SOUR SCALE

Sweet (Great)

Savory (Good)

Sour (Bad)

Moldy (Terrible)


Fun Factor: 9.5/10

Acting: 9.5/10

Story: 10/10

Characters: 9.5/10

Quality: 9.5/10