The Good Place: Season Two DVD Review: A Great Show

A huge twist made big changes in Season Two, but The Good Place remains one of the best comedies on TV.
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The Season One finale of The Good Place ended with a massive twist, one that is impossible to avoid while talking about Season Two. So if you have not seen all of Season One and do not want to be spoiled, now is the time to go away (and watch the darn thing).  But be sure to come back after.

You have been warned.

So, The Good Place is really The Bad Place.  Michael (Ted Danson) the Architect created an entire Good Place neighborhood, populated it with demons pretending to be good people, all so that he could torture our four heroes  - Eleanor, the dirtbag with a good heart; Chidi, the nerdy academic who cannot make a decision; Tahani, the pretentious socialite; and Jason, the lovable dope. Season One dealt with how these four not-so-good people managed being in The Good Place while knowing in their hearts they belonged in The Bad Place.

In the finale, they learn they are actually in The Bad Place, causing Michael to press the reset button restarting the whole scenario.  In Season Two’s opener, we see how that plays out.  Each of them start in The Good Place fresh only to eventually realize they don’t belong, that there has been a glitch in the system, and they must figure out what to do.  Because Elanor stuck a note inside the mouth of Janet - a humanoid computer program that acts as a guide to The Good Place- before the reset, she eventually remembers she's in The Bad Place.  Michael then restarts them again, then again. Then again.  And again.  Over 800 times he restarts the system, erasing the human’s memories of The Good/Bad Place and starts anew every time one of them eventually figures out they are in The Bad Place.

This switch was an incredibly bold, but probably necessary maneuver on the showrunner’s part.  The Season One conceit, that these four are anomalies in The Good Place, made for a really fun and interesting first season, but it's a difficult one to keep up.  In order to keep up tension, they would have to escalate the possibilities of others knowing they weren’t meant to be in The Good Place.  They’d get in more and more convoluted plots to avoid detection, which is a strain the concept couldn’t take.  But switching it up so that they are actually in The Bad Place adds in all sorts of plot possibilities.

The Good Place is exactly my kind of television comedy.  I’m not a big fan of comedies that are nothing but jokes.  I want interesting characters and a good story to go with my laughter.  I want to be invested in what’s happening first and then I want to laugh.  The Good Place has a pretty high concept, and lots of jokes, but it also made me invested in its characters and interested in where the story went.   It is still pretty concentrated on Eleanor and Michael (played wonderfully by Kristen Bell and Ted Danson), who get the most screen time, but Season Two delves a little more deeply into its other human characters and has some really great moments with Janet.  The acting is strong and the writing sharp.

In the Season Two finale (which I won’t spoil), they try to take yet another sharp turn and I’m not quite sure it works, this is especially true due to it basically dropping all of the characters out of the scene in order to concentrate on Eleanor.  It's an odd turn for a finale, one that made me really want to know what was happening to everybody else.  Which I suppose is what we’ll get when Season Three rolls out.  I know I’ll be watching.

Extras include some extended episodes, audio commentary on one episode from show creator Michael Schur, executive producer Drew Goddard, producer Megan Amran, and Ted Danson.  There is also a gag reel and a visual-effects reel.

The Good Place: Season Two will be released on July 17, 2018.

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