My Take On…THE GOOD PLACE on NBC
NBC’s Must-See-TV brand that represented the Thursday comedy block was tarnished a bit in the last decade, due to comedy series that couldn’t gain traction among viewers. As a TV fan, and a fan of simple and intelligent comedy that makes me laugh out loud, it’s been incredible to see a minor resurgence coming from the house where FRIENDS once stood.
Already making positive strides to regain their Must-See-TV mantle with THE CARMICHAEL SHOW (S3 coming later this season) and SUPERSTORE (S2 returning later this week with hilarious new episodes), NBC’s latest effort is the absolutely hilarious and wholly original new comedy series THE GOOD PLACE, hailing from Mike Schur (who steered the PARKS AND REC ship), and starring the incomparable Ted Danson and Kristen Bell.
Premiering tonight (before moving to its permanent home Thursdays at 8PM) after THE VOICE with two back to back episodes (the first establishes the premise; the second solidified my love), THE GOOD PLACE follows Eleanor Shellstrop (Bell), a fairly heinous person who somehow ends up in the GOOD place (vs the BAD) when she dies, who then has to keep quiet about the fact that she shouldn’t be where she is. Michael (Danson), the architect of her after-life community (his first; with froyo on every corner), wants to show that he can succeed at building a community. Eleanor’s arrival in town threatens to bring it all down around him and everyone else she encounters, including Eleanor’s “soul-mate” Chidi (William Jackson Harper), the former ethics professor that she’ll spend eternity with. As Eleanor tries to figure out just exactly how to keep her secrets, we get to watch it all play out – a breath of fresh air in a Fall season where throw-back comedies are all the rage (also premiering tonigth: KEVIN CAN WAIT….for me to ever watch a second episode).
Ted Danson is incredible as Michael, learning about humans, and how to best serve them in the afterlife (everything is new to him, even suspenders); his chemistry with Kristen Bell (and honestly the entire chemistry among the entire cast) is unreal. They work off of each other in such a balanced way – him the do-gooder trying to keep his community together; her the shirt-show (ha), trying to learn how to be a good person so she doesn’t get them all sent straight downward. The nuanced way that Kristen Bell plays Eleanor trying to maintain herself (totally against type as this person and what an ash-hole she is) while trying to become someone worthy of living in this perfect afterlife is unrivaled; her constant state of exasperation and amused is funny, charming, and relatable.
And the writing? Well this is some of the funniest stuff I’ve seen in a VERY long time. Straight up comedy, what these folks do so well – with the message that maybe you might want to try to be a good person because if you are, you can have a positive affect on those around you. Mike Schur and his team are delivering gold, and 5 episodes in, they show no signs of stopping.
THE GOOD PLACE premieres Monday 9/19 at 10/9c with back to back episodes before moving to Thursdays at 8/7c.