Tuesday, November 1, 2016

What We've Been Watching: The Good Place

At last, a new television show that is light, engaging, humorous, and makes you think. All while celebrating the virtues that lead to being good.

After a freak accident, Eleanor (Kristen Bell) wakes up to find that she died and wound up in The Good Place (as opposed to The Bad Place, of course). Hearing the long list of humanitarian behavior that led to her arrival is a surprise to Eleanor. Because the system, overseen by immortal Michael (Ted Danson) had a glitch that assigned her the completely wrong history. Eleanor was never very nice and always selfish which means she is in The Wrong Place.

Luckily, she's met her "soulmate" who was an expert in morality and ethics. He agrees to give her lessons to teach her how to be good. Naturally complications arise and we meet other Good Place neighbors who, though perfectly good, are dealing with their own dilemmas.

What all this leads to for the viewer is a refreshing change from the usual sitcoms. The show is being allowed to develop at its own pace and this lets us grow along with it.

One thing we especially enjoy is the mini-philosophy lesson which Eleanor learns and which is echoed in each episode's general plotline. You get a sense, albeit surface level, of different philosophical concepts of virtue and being good. Which is, in itself, refreshing.

It's not just high minded though. The humor is loopy, oddball and fun, in the best way possible. And the set design is deceptively simple but done with the sort of attention that makes me think of Pushing Daisies which was another favorite of ours.

The show was developed and is being run by Mike Schur who's known for his involvement in The Office, Parks and Recreation, and Brooklyn Nine Nine.

NBC has all the episodes available on their website. I think they're letting it grow through word of mouth, which is also refreshingly different these days. You need to watch them in order because it is one big story.

Rose pushed us to watch this because she wants it to keep going. It only took a few episodes for us to see why. So I'm pushing it too.

Take a look. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.

(For a more indepth look, check out The AV Club's pilot review.

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