Monday, May 25, 2020

TV Show Review: The Good Place - Season 4

Stars: 2 out of 5
Pros: A few laughs, the cast
Cons: Too many annoying characters, maudlin ending
The Bottom Line:
Fate of the world stakes
Misses the comedy mark
Doesn’t stick landing

“Everything I Do Blows Up in My Face. I’m Like a Hot, Blonde Wile E. Coyote.”

I had a mixed reaction to the news that The Good Place was going to end with season 4.  While part of me was sad that a show I loved was ending so soon, I was happy to know they were going to go out as planned when they felt they were out of stories to tell.  Unfortunately, I felt the final season was a letdown.

If you haven’t seen the show, not only will jumping in here be confusing, but it will contain some spoilers for fun twists and turns to the story.  You really don’t want to start here.  Or read this review yet either, for that matter.  So go back and watch season 1, which I most definitely do recommend.

This season picks up exactly where season 3 left off.  Former demon Michael (Ted Danson), After Life Assistant Janet (D’Arcy Carden), and the Soul Squad, aka Elanor, Chidi, Tahani, and Jason (Kristen Bell, William Jackson Harper, Jameela Jamil, and Manny Jacinto) are getting ready for their experiment to prove that humans can improve.  Unfortunately, The Bad Place has chosen humans who are not only the worse people imaginable but also will personally annoy our heroes.  Among them is Chidi’s ex-girlfriend (Kirby Howell-Baptiste), so Chidi has had his memories erased and becomes part of the experiment as well.  Will Elanor and the others be able to prove that humans can get better?  Or is everyone doomed to be wiped out?

So, what went wrong this season?  For starters, the new characters who are part of the new experiment.  They aren’t funny.  They aren’t endearing.  They are painful to watch.  While Elanor could be painful at times in season one, she was also sympathetic enough to make us root for her.  These new characters are just plain painful.  I get that we were supposed to find them funny, but they weren’t.

Then there’s the ending.  No, I’m not going to spoil it, but I saw it coming an episode or two before it aired, and I was sorry to be right.  It was sad.  In fact, the entire finale was more maudlin than funny.  It was not the upbeat ending I was looking for.  I get what they thought they were doing with it, but it didn’t work at all.

Now, this isn’t to say that there weren’t good moments this season.  I still laughed in most episodes.  But those moments were fewer and further between than normal in these final thirteen episodes.  The strongest batch of episodes were a bunch in the middle that focused on the characters we’d seen in earlier seasons.

And the acting was still top notch.  I can’t fault the cast.  In watching some interviews around the time the series wrapped up, you can tell how much the actors enjoyed working together, and that chemistry and love comes through on the screen.

I always hate it when a show I love doesn’t stick the landing.  I had such high hopes for The Good Place, but season 4 left me disappointed.  I will enjoy the brilliance of the earlier seasons, but I doubt I will revisit this one very often.

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