Editor’s Note: This review is spoiler-free! Enjoy it without worry before diving into The Good Place!
Remember back in the day when NBC was known as THE home of comedy? Thursday nights were the holy grail of funny network series—Seinfeld, Friends, 30 Rock, The Office, Parks and Recreation, etc—for years and years. Well, until that all changed a couple years back. But the peacock is not down and out of the comedy race just yet. They seem to be attempting to reclaim that crown this season, first with their new series The Good Place, starring Kristen Bell and Ted Danson. And honestly? We’re smitten with the concept and can’t believe it’s even a series.
Bringing comedy back to the tip of NBC’s tongue? None other than Parks and Rec creator Michael Schur, who knows a thing or two about quirky settings and situations (and people—especially quirky people). And he’s got all of that in spades in his version of Heaven (or whatever you want to call the opposite of Hell/The Bad Place), brimming with potential, humor, and a whole host of non-swear words sure to become one of our new favorite running TV gags.
The series revolves around Eleanor Shellstrop (Bell), a recently deceased person who wakes up to find herself in the good section of the afterlife… but only because a mistake put her there (whoops). You see: Eleanor’s been the victim of a bit of mistaken identity. Michael (Danson), one of the architects of the Good Place, believes her to be a woman who helped get innocent people off death row (something that a few flashbacks reveal to be not a thing this particular Eleanor would ever do). And after getting a supposed aural glimpse at “the bad place,” Eleanor quickly decides she should try and curb her foulmouthed, boozy ways in order to stay in The Good Place forever.
Needless to say, chaos and antics and truly bizarre hijinks ensue.
Danson and Bell shine as a leading pair—the two are so charismatic and bubbly they basically leap off the screen like some sort of IRL human 3D. And the humor is imbued by the excellent supporting cast, which includes ethics professor/Eleanor’s bonded soulmate, Chris (William Jackson Harper) and Janet, The Good Place’s Siri/Alexa-esque butler, played brilliantly by D’Arcy Carden (who we’re absolutely thrilled is making her way to the mainstream after years in the NYC comedy scene and on Broad City).
Of course we cannot help but worry: will this hold up? Will something as high concept as this be able to stand on two legs past a first season? It’s hard to say this early into the game, but we err on the side of trusting Schur. There’s just too much goofy, whimsical charm for it to not go on our DVR list.
3.5 out of 5 Very Good burritos:
The Good Place premieres its first two episodes on September 19, and airs its third episode during its actual time slot on Thursday, September 22. Are you tuning in? Let us know in the comments below!