“Parks and Recreation” and “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” co-creator Michael Schur has unveiled his first solo comedy creation – NBC’s “The Good Place”. TV legend Ted Danson joins movie star Kristen Bell (who recently gave a “Frozen 2” update, stating to IGN, “They are not rushing the script”) star in this quirky (nearly to the extreme) series.
The show begins with Eleanor (played by Bell) opening her eyes to a big sign on a wall: “Welcome! Everything is Fine!” A man named Michael (Danson) soon informs Eleanor that she is dead. How did she die? Through a very “embarrassing” as Michael puts it, series of events. Michael makes it very clear to Eleanor that this isn’t Heaven or Hell. They don’t exist. The Good Place and The Bad Place do.
Because of Eleanor’s great deeds in her life, she made it to The Good Place – a “perfect Utopia” filled with lavish houses, beautiful scenery and numerous frozen yogurt shops. Eleanor lives in the first neighborhood that Michael (an architect and mentor) has ever been in charge of. Here, you are not allowed to curse, so instead of dropping an F-Bomb, Eleanor states, “What the Fork?” Cute the first time – tiresome after the fourth.
Eleanor thinks The Good Place is “cool”. Problem is – she soon realizes she doesn’t belong here. Her name is correct, but everything Michael believes she did on Earth is wrong, though he doesn’t know it yet. This “secret” will likely last the entire season.
Like the indie drama “The Lobster” earlier this year, “The Good Place” puts in too much effort into get its messages across. Bell and Danson’s opening scenes together in the pilot are solid, and both seem comfortable in their roles. But the gel of the series is immediately lost once they are separated.
Much of the material in The Good Place itself is way too corny for my liking. The celebrity references are forced and the scenery is too candy color-coated, with stereotypical, phony supporting characters. Episode 2 feels like an even more bizarre Tim Burton fantasy. The occasional flashbacks to Eleanor’s time on Earth work best.
“The Good Place” has a decent concept, and I’ll be curious to see how it delves into the concepts of a “perfect” society, if I can muster that enough interest to continue along.
LCJ Rating – Episode 1: C+
LCJ Rating – Episode 2: C-
“The Good Place” returns with its official “Series Premiere” – Episode 3 – this Thursday, September 22 at 8:30pm on NBC.