Friday, February 02, 2018

Places, Everyone

The Good Place just ended its second season.  It's never been a big hit, but it has been renewed for a third season.  The show is funny, though I wouldn't necessarily call it the funniest show out there.  But it's got the most original plot. In fact, I can't recall any show quite like it.

I will now discuss the plot, meaning there'll be plenty of spoilers.  I wouldn't want to ruin it for anyone--there are only 26 half-hours, so if you haven't seen it, it wouldn't be a tough binge. Okay, here we go.

When I first heard about the show, I didn't get it.  All I knew was it was about a woman who dies and goes to heaven.  Heaven?  How can there be conflict there? And a show with no conflict is pretty dull.

But of course the show's creator Michael Schur knew that.  The twist was this woman, Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell), wasn't supposed to be there.  In fact, she'd been a pretty awful person on Earth.  But due to a clerical error--she died the exact same moment a much nicer person with the same name did--she was in the wrong place.  So the plot was how she could cover up that fact, even as her presence in heaven (a particular heaven built for her and the other residents) was being harmed.

She eventually got to know three other residents pretty well--Chidi, an ethics professor and her putative soul mate; Tahani, a beautiful jet-setter in her previous life; and Jianyu, a Buddhist monk.  Overseeing this heaven was Michael (Ted Danson), the Good Place's architect and caretaker, along with Janet, a sort of robot ("Not a robot" she'd reply) who could answer and questions and provide anything needed.

However, as the season wore on, and Eleanor fought harder and harder to keep up the ruse, she discovered odd things about her neighbors.  Chidi couldn't make up his mind and drove people crazy.  Tahani was arrogant and overshadowed by her amazing sister.  Jianyu was actually Jason Mendoza from Jacksonville, Florida, a stupid and slimy street tough.

After all sorts of twists and turns, the finale of season one gave us the biggest twist of all.  This wasn't heaven, this was the Bad Place--devised by Michael so that these four would spend all time torturing each other.  But when Eleanor figured it out, Michael decided to erase their memories and reboot "The Good Place."

So we had some idea what would happen in season 2. Except not quite.  What happened was no matter how many times Michael re-ran the experiment (more than 800), these four would find each other and figure out what was going on rather quickly.  Meanwhile, Michael was hiding his troubles from his superior Shawn, to avoid being punished himself.

Michael and the four started to work together so the humans would pretend they were being tortured.  And they all, Michael included, started taking moral lessons from Chidi.  Eventually they were discovered and went on the run.  They ended up in front of a powerful judge who decide who goes where.  Michael argued they had improved themselves, which wasn't supposed to happen.

So, in the season 2 finale, the Judge is trying a new experiment to see if the humans are worthy--they're sent back to Earth and saved from death to see what direction their lives take. (They can't know it's an experiment or they might just try to be good for the reward.)  Michael and Janet follow their progress and then Michael slips out to intrude on Eleanor's life and perhaps send her in the right direction.

So the next season is set up to take place on Earth, with perhaps the four eventually finding each other, partly through Michael's intervention.

While I would watch this, it's odd, since it is so far from what the show has been.  No matter what else happened, the setting was always the afterlife.  Will putting the action in real life make it less special?  That's the question fans like me are left to ponder while awaiting new episodes.

Of course, Schur might take a left turn and send the show somewhere else pretty quickly.  Even at 13 episodes a season, it's quite a juggling act to keep things moving forward.


Anonymous Denver Guy said...

The writers meetings for this show must be the most complicated ever for a sitcom. I'm glad you have stuck with it - this is the only show I get close to watching when it airs, because I'm really curious where it will go next. Brooklyn 99, my other must see, I binge every month or so, because honestly all the episodes are sort of the same (though funny). It's the SNL of sitcoms.

I also just watched the pilot of Ghosted. Meh. I'll give it another shot. I'm looking for signs that Legion will be coming back to FX.

12:32 PM, February 02, 2018  
Blogger LAGuy said...

I gave up on Ghosted before the pilot was over. Legion I gave up on after the second episode--too complicated and I didn't care for the characters. I give up on most shows pretty quickly--I watch too much TV as it is. (I don't often write about the shows I give up on.)

Brooklyn Nine-Nine may be the funniest show in production, though I wonder how much longer they'll continue.

12:57 PM, February 02, 2018  

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