Wednesday, July 18, 2018

TV Show Review: The Good Place - Season 2

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Lots and lots of laughs
Cons: A couple of slower episodes at beginning and end
The Bottom Line:
Get ready to laugh
With afterlife comedy
Creative and fun

“I Call Them Opposite Tortures.”  “You Mean Presents?”  “Yes, That’s Better.”

Last summer, I got hooked on The Good Place, a comedy set in the afterlife.  I did my version of binge watching – watching one or two episodes a night – until I was ready for season two.  I loved it so much, I got some friends watching it as well, and we all watched season two, waiting to find out what would happen next and laughing along the way.

Before I go further, I have to issue a MAJOR SPOILER WARNING FOR SEASON ONE of the show.  There is no way to talk about this season without discussing a major twist from season one.  If you want to watch the show from the beginning unspoiled, just know I still recommend the show completely and go watch the first season.  If you’ve seen the first season or don’t care, we can move on.

This season picks up after the revelation that ended season one.  Eleanor (Kristen Bell), Chidi (William Jackson Harper), Tahani (Jameela Jamil), and Jason (Manny Jacinto) have all had their memories wiped by Michael (Ted Danson) in his attempt to reset his torture experiment.  You see, despite what they’ve been told, these four dead humans are in the Bad Place, but instead of traditional torture, Michael is trying to prove that these four will torture each other for eternity better than the demons could normally torture them.  He’s really on edge because he is under orders from his boss that he can’t reset things again, and if they figure out the truth one more time, everything will be shut down, they will go about being tortured traditionally, and Michael will be dissolved.

With the stakes so high, our dearly departed human foursome finally try to gain an ally in hopes to get out of the Bad Place and get to the real Good Place.  Will they be able to keep the fact that they know the truth a secret?  Can they even escape?  Have they changed enough to make it to the Good Place?

Before we go any further, I need to make one thing perfectly clear.  I don’t agree with this show’s theology at all.  So, my endorsement of the show isn’t an endorsement of the theology.

But I absolutely endorse the show as a comedy show.  This show is hilarious!  All of the actors are given a chance to shine at some point in the season, and they all take full advantage of it.  The writers are geniuses at finding the comedy from the creative premise and milking it for all it is worth.

Because I didn’t find a way to work her into the teaser earlier, I will give a special shout out to D’Arcy Carden, who plays Janet, the robot afterlife assistant.  She is absolutely hilarious and spot on in the way she brings the character to life.  And yes, Janet is a complete character with her own complications and stories this season.

And again, the rest of the cast is absolutely wonderful.  While a character or two are on the annoying side, everyone gets their moments to shine and all produced genuine laughter from me over the course of the season.

I felt the first couple episodes of the first season were a tad slow as they were setting things up, and I felt that was true here as well.  The last couple of episode, likewise, transitioned to next season and were a tad slower on laughs.  Not to say they weren’t good episodes, but they weren’t to the level of the rest of the season.  But the majority of the episodes were filled with laughs and fun.  Not to mention some great cliffhangers that kept me coming back week after week.  We even finally learn how Tahani died, and it was worth the wait.

Being a comedy set in the afterlife, this show has something you don’t see often in TV comedies, lots of special effects.  And they are perfectly rendered, helping us believe the things we are laughing about.

One thing that is interesting about the show is that, while we are laughing, we are getting bits and pieces of philosophy and thoughts about good and evil and the true nature of both.  No, the show never forgets that it is a comedy, but for all the silliness on screen, there can be some surprisingly deep moments between the great gags.

Like the first season, this season consisted of only 13 episodes.  If the result is the strong comedy we get here, I’m perfectly find with the lower number of episodes.

I can’t see how The Good Place will run for a long time, but the writers seem to have a plan in place for each season, and I’m going to enjoy the ride for as long as I can.  Fans of the show will be happy to laugh along with season two.

Season 2 Episodes:
1. Everything is Great! (Two-episode season premier)
2. Dance Dance Resolution
3. Team Cockroach
4. Existential Crisis
5. The Trolley Problem
6. Janet and Michael
7. Derek
8. Leap to Faith
9. Best Self
10. Rhonda, Diana, Jake, and Trent
11. The Burrito
12. Somewhere Else

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