Review: "The Good Place" makes Heavenly Debut

The Good Place

REVIEW: "THE GOOD PLACE" MAKES HEAVENLY - A place like Heaven should run a pretty tight ship, right? But what if the good people employed at the “The Good Place” made a mistake? A shuffle of paperwork, a missing document or two, and someone is granted access to paradise, without the heavenly credentials? Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell) isn’t “bad.” But you wouldn’t call her “good” either. Either way, she slipped through the cracks and is enjoying eternity in “The Good Place.” One small issue; it’s hard to keep a low profile in Heaven when your not-so-good behavior has a ripple effect on the environment.

Eleanor’s new neighborhood is quite comfortable. Its architect, Michael, (Ted Danson) has designed the town specifically for those dwelling in it. The streets are lavished with beautiful landscaping and stores like, “Everything Fits” and “Warm Blankets.” It even has an ungodly (pun intended) amount of frozen yogurt shops. In such a lovely place, lovely behavior is not only expected but mandatory. In fact, real life auto-correct is built into the language. Which of course Eleanor thinks is some real bull-shirt.

Can she be taught to be “good” in “The Good Place?” Eleanor guilts her assigned soul mate Chris, (William Jackson Harper) who was an ethics professor during his earthly life, into teaching her to be good in a last-ditch effort to avoid being deported to “The Bad Place.” Which we learn from an audio clip, certainly sounds bad. But what does it mean to be good anyway, when you’re not that bad in the first place? Eleanor considers herself a “medium” person. Shouldn’t there be a “medium place”? The show attempts to navigate those grey areas in our lives that are somewhere between good and bad.

Kristen Bell (Veronica Mars, Forgetting Sarah Marshall) -who interestingly has ties to Cleveland as her grandfather, Eddie Bell used to work for WKYC- plays the perfectly imperfect and selfish slacker in all of us. Incapable of a filter, she says what’s on her mind while grabbing fistfuls of free shrimp. Her on-screen chemistry with co-star Ted Danson (Cheers, Becker) is the quirky and unexpected pairing you didn’t know you needed until now. The fact that the show is brought to us by Michael Schur, the executive producer of Parks and Recreation and Brooklyn Nine Nine, makes it not only silly and warm-hearted, but also a very smart comedy.

Catch the divine series premiere of The Good Place on NBC September 19 | 10/9c


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