BLU-RAY REVIEW / FRAME SHOTS
Kristen Bell stars as Eleanor Shellstrop and Ted Danson as Eternal Architect and Guide Michael, who shows Eleanor her new home in The Good Place. The NBC series ran for 50 episodes over four seasons.
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“THE GOOD PLACE – THE COMPLETE SERIES”
Blu-ray; 2016-2020; Not Rated; streaming via NBC.com; Apple; Gooogleplay; Vudu; YouTube TV
Best extra: The 2019 San Diego Comic-Con Panel
SHOWS ABOUT the afterlife such as “Ghost Whisperer” or “The Medium” dive right into the paranormal with all the spookiness. Then there are those that are strangely funny like “Pushing Daisies,” “Dead Like Me,” “Reapers,” and most certainly “The Good Place,” created by Michael Schur, co-creator of “Parks and Recreation” and “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.” He was also a producer and writer for “The Office.”
Co-starring Kristen Bell and Ted Danson, with William Jackson Harper, Jameela Jamil, D’Arcy Carden and Manny Jacinto, the show delivers a fantasy paradise for all faiths, where those who have led a righteous life receive their reward. It should mean an eternity of peace, love and goodwill, where every wish comes true. Except there’s a big problem. Bell’s Eleanor Shellstrop knows she doesn’t belong there. The more we find out about her life on earth, we know she doesn’t belong either.
Is she the only one? Maybe not. Eleanor confides in the man who’s supposed to be her soulmate, geeky philosopher Chidi (Harper), when events like a garbage storm and ever-expanding sinkhole descend on the neighborhood. Eventually, she recruits her neighbors Tahani Al-Jamil (Jamil) and Jason (Jacinto), at first thought to be a Buddhist monk, to keep her secret and help her learn to be a better person. Jason is initially called Jianyu Li, Mandarin Chinese for “in jail.” He’s a non-talker at first, but look out. Nearly every line this character speaks is comedy gold.
(1) Eleanor meets her soulmate, geeky philosopher Chidi (William Jackson Harper). (2) Eleanor and Chidi's neighbors Tahani Al-Jamil (Jameela Jamil) and Jianyu Li/Jason (Manny Jacinto). Eleanor and Chidi attend a party at Tahani and Jainyu Li's mansion.
“Claustrophobia? Who would ever be afraid of Santa Claus?” — Manny Jacinto as Jason Mendoza
Eternal Architect and Guide Michael (Danson) and his artificial intelligence assistant, Janet (Carden), can’t figure out what went wrong or how to solve it. This is Michael’s first try at building a “Good Place,” and he’s in a panic.
There’s also a Bad Place, home to demons, Bad Janets and Immortal Beings whose sole purpose is to torment and torture the humans who live there. It seems Eleanor may be destined to relocate there.
The four-season series has its ups and downs, but mostly it’s a clever, funny look at how people try to co-exist with one another. Schur’s idea was to blend religious elements to the show, but that changed quickly.
“It [was] very important to make clear in the first 30 seconds of the pilot, this is not one religion’s concept of the afterlife … There’s a line where [Eleanor] says to [Michael], ‘Who was right about all this, the Hindus, Buddhist, Muslims?’ And he says every religion got it about five percent right.” — Michael Schur, The Hollywood Reporter
Schur initially consulted with Damon Lindelof of “Lost” about world-building.
“The way I was imagining [the show] going was sort of the ‘Lost’ way of cliffhangers and big events and dramatic things that change the course of characters’ lives and stuff like that in every episode.” — Michael Schur, The Hollywood Reporter
Each of the 50 episodes average about 22 minutes, and are too good to ruin with spoilers. In a time when we could use some guidelines and a decent laugh at ourselves, this is the place to be.
(1&2) Episode Five: A sinkhole causes a Category 55 emergency and forces everyone to stay home. (3) Episode 12 - "Mindy St. Claire" Eleanor and her friends think about their fates.
The look is a little bit “Edward Scissorhands’” and a little bit “Prisoner,” with their flat, bright color and sense of isolation. Shout! Factory delivers another outstanding 1080p transfer (1.78:1 aspect ratio). Colors and effects are well saturated, whether in a set, costume or location. IMDb reports exteriors were shot at the Little Europe set at Universal Studios, California, and the Huntington Gardens in San Marino, California. Contrast and detail are very good.
“The Good Place” relies on sharp, comedic dialogue, delivered very well on Shout’s DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 channel audio mix. Effects come through cleanly and appropriately, whether its crowd sound, the “ding” of Janet’s appearance, trash falling or a smothered explosion.
David Schwartz wrote the score. He also composed themes/scores for “Trading Places,” Northern Exposure,” “Reapers” and “Deadwood.” Additional music includes Chicago’s “25 or 6 to 4,” Cass Elliot’s “Don’t Let the Good Life Pass You By,” Cher’s “Believe,” Bruno Mars’ “Uptown Funk,” and “How Sweet it Is,” from Jr. Walker and the All Stars.
Shout! includes a good selection of bonus features including three audio commentaries, extended episodes, gag reels and visual effects reels. Also find a table read on Episode 112, “Mindy St. Claire,” and the 2019 San Diego Comic-Con Panel with Schur, Executive Producer Drew Goddard, and the actors.
Missing is the 13.5 minute, six-part fan-favorite “The Good Place Presents: The Selection,” that acts as a storytelling bridge from season three to season four. It’s available at Youtube.com, but you should skip until after Seasons One, Two and Three.
“Spiritual and ethical is how I thought of it.” — Michael Schur, The Hollywood Reporter
“The Good Place” is highly recommended.
— Kay Reynolds
(1&2) Episode 1: Season Two "Everything is Great!" - Shawn (Marc Evan Jackson) asks Michael if everything is ready for version two of the Good Place. Michael erases their memories to re-start Eleanor, Chidi, Tahani, and Jason in the Good Place again.