While watching Season One of The Good Place – a series in which four not-so-good humans find themselves in the heaven-like Good Place knowing full well they don’t belong – I both thoroughly enjoyed myself but kept wondering how long they would be able to keep up that concept. It is a great idea for a series, but one that didn’t seem sustainable. The writers seemed to agree as they created a twist at the season finale. Our four heroes learn that they are not in the Good Place, but rather the Bad Place which has been constructed to look like the Good Place in order to torture them with guilt.
I loved the twist and once again found myself enjoying Season Two while, once again, wondering how long they could keep up that scenario. The writers were with me this time as well for Season Two. Ending it by having Michael (Ted Danson) the demon, who created this Good Place scenario, talk his demonic bosses into letting him have a reset on the whole thing. The humans are then sent back to Earth just before they die whereupon Michael saves their lives giving them a second chance at being good.
Having now watched Season Three, I’m not only asking whether or not they can keep this new scenario from going stale, I’m actively believing they cannot. The whole concept, no matter how much they twist and turn it, is starting to show its seams. I still very much enjoyed this season, but I’m glad to see they are ending it after Season Four.
Let’s sum up. The four humans, who I suppose we should actually name now – there’s selfish Eleanor (Kristen Bell); Chidi (William Jackson Harper), a moral philosophy professor who can’t make a decision no matter how small; the rich, beautiful, and conceited Tahani (Jameela Jamil); and Jason (Manny Jacinto), the rather dumb but sweet kid who dabbled in drug dealing and petty crime – start their reset fairly well but quickly fall into their old bad habits.
Michael talks the all-knowing, all-powerful Judge Gen (the always great Maya Rudolph) into allowing him to slip down to Earth just once in order to push the four humans together which will cause them to become better people. This does not work, causing Michael to disobey the Judge’s orders and return to Earth on multiple occasions to meddle in the human’s affairs. Eventually, he gets caught sending himself, the humans, and Janet (D’Arcy Carden) – the all-knowing guide to the afterlife who is becoming more human the more time she spends with our heroes – on the run. This takes them to the accounting office where all human actions are tallied according to their relative goodness or badness, into Janet’s void (where everybody looks like Janet proving Carden is the true MVP of the series), and to the actual Good Place.
This is a very plot-heavy show and there is much I’m leaving out, not only to not spoil it, but because to try and sum even half of it up would take many more thousands of words. It is all a lot of fun, but Season Three definitely feels like the writers not having a great idea of where to take the show and instead of sending them through a hectic pace from place to place and scene to scene hoping we don’t think too much about what is actually happening.
What continues to make this series so enjoyable is the sharp dialogue, the great acting, and lots of laughs. I prefer my comedy to be more character-driven than simple joke factories and while the story here has started to break down a little, the characters are still nicely drawn and the jokes remain very funny. Season Three may have been a slight step down from the previous seasons, but it is still a ton of fun and I’m looking forward to seeing where they take it next.
Extras include a few extended episodes with extras moments not seen in its original televised run, a gag reel, and a visual effects reel.