Courtesy: NBC/Shout! Factory
On September 27, NBC’s quirky new comedy The Good Place returns for its third season. The renewal came as a surprise to many when it was originally announced, and now the show’s heads are promising plenty of surprises from the series in its upcoming season. While audiences wait for Season Three’s premiere, they can catch up with the story so far thanks to the recent release of the series’ second season on DVD. Season Two proves to be a notable improvement from Season One, despite the clear ratings drop between the two seasons. That is proven in part through the series’ writing, which will be discussed shortly. The work of the series’ cast is just as notable as that of the series’ writers. It will be discussed later. While writing and acting anchor the second season of The Good Place, the two-disc set’s average price point does just as much to make audiences appreciate this season as its content. When it is considered alongside said content, the whole of this season’s home release proves to be a presentation that is an enjoyable installment of The Good Place.
The second season of NBC’s the Good Place is an enjoyable new installment of what is one of the network’s most notable series, and now thanks to Shout! Factory, it is available on DVD. Season Two is actually an improvement over the series’ debut season, despite what the ratings may lead some to think. That is proven in part through the season’s writing. This season launches with Michael struggling to constantly reboot his project because Eleanor, Chidi, Jason and Tahani keep figuring out that they’re really in the bad place instead of the good place. Seeing Michael’s reaction each time is worth its own share of laughter, so compliments to the writers are deserved there. His reaction at trying to cover up his constant failures is just as entertaining as another of the town’s demons basically blackmails him on one side and then the humans blackmail him on the other side, only to befriend him. That reaction ties into another element of the writing that stands out this season – the character development – which will be discussed momentarily. Staying on the matter of the story development, audiences see Michael and company eventually leave “The Good Place” and make their way to a “limbo” of sorts and eventually to “Bad Place Headquarters” before even being sent back to Earth, not to give away too much. This is all important to note because it shows the writers’ ability to keep the story progressing, knowing that if they kept the whole thing in “The Good Place,” that it wouldn’t take long for ideas to dry up and in turn for the show to end. Considering this, the way in which the writers progressed the story, moved it away from the “Good Place” and into other venues in itself keeps the story fresh and interesting, showing the show’s promise. It’s just one part of what makes the writing stand out this time. The character development, as noted earlier, plays into the writing, too.
This time out, the writers created far more character development not only for Michael, but also for Chidi, Eleanor, Jason and Tahani. It’s nice to see all five figures grow and interact together throughout the course of this season. One of the most notable moments of the group’s interactions comes as Michael has an existential breakdown after realizing what humans deal with on a philosophical level. It’s such a brief moment, but so entertaining to see the ability to use philosophy to generate laughs and also to show the reach of star Ted Danson’s acting abilities (which will be discussed later). Staying on that same page (and not to give away too much), when Michael “turns” and “shows his true colors” it’s nice to see that the writers didn’t take the usual route, but instead leave viewers wondering which side he is on at first. Of course it does become obvious which side he’s on as the demons tear down the town, but the overall execution of that part of that story arc is to be commended, too. It shows that Michael really has the potential (and maybe even hidden desire) to be good just like his human friends. This plays out even more later in the season, leaving audiences to see even more development from Michael that is certain to be a key point in Season Three. That character development aspect won’t be given away here for the sake of those who have yet to see Season Two. It is a nice element, though and is certain to entertain audiences plenty. On a lesser note, Janet develops as a character this time out, too, and while at first this development is somewhat annoying – considering it takes that all-too-familiar romance story line – it’s good to see that said story line isn’t allowed to take over the season’s developments. The same goes to the relationship between Eleanor and Chidi. If either of these story lines had been allowed to have any more prominence than they did, they would have ruined Season Two. Luckily though, they were kept under control, so compliments to the writers for keeping those story elements to a minimum. Each writing element does its own part this season to entertain audiences. When they are joined, they form a strong foundation for Season Two that gives audiences plenty to appreciate. Of course the writing is just that, a foundation. The work of the cast on camera strengthens that foundation even more.
As has already been noted, Ted Danson’s “Michael” is given more development over the course of Season Two. That development also leads to some of the best acting this season. His noted existential breakdown late in the season’s run is one of the season’s funniest moments. That is especially the case as audiences see the result of that breakdown. Not to give away too much, but it leads Michael to have something of a mid-afterlife-crisis that includes Janet and a sports car. These moments are some of Danson’s shining moments in Season Two, but not his only highlights. His subtle cues to his human friends during the roast make this moment entertaining, too. That’s because he doesn’t go over the top in pointing out his clues. Even viewers who pay the closest attention might miss them, adding to the enjoyment later after they are revealed. The moment in which he reveals the truth of his plan to get the humans to the real “Good Place” is another wonderful moment in which Danson’s acting shines this time out. It would have been so easy for him to ham it up in this clearly key emotional moment, yet he handled the moment expertly, revealing to viewers just as much to the humans that maybe, just maybe there is a desire to be good. It’s a moment that makes him much more of a sympathetic character. When it is considered with all of his laugh riot comedic moments, the whole of those moments (including those not noted here), they make Danson’s performances one of the best this season of any of the cast.
While Danson’s performance throughout Season Two stands out, one cannot ignore the performance of William Jackson Harper. Harper’s presentation of the high-strung ethics professor Chidi is another highlight of the season’s performances. His reaction at trying to teach his counterparts (and even Michael) different ethical and philosophical topics makes for just as much reason to watch as Danson’s work on camera. This is especially apparent in his interactions with fellow co-star Manny Jacinto (who plays Jason). The juxtaposition of Jason’s less than intelligent mindset to Chidi’s too-smart-for-his-own-good persona hints back at the likes of Laurel and Hardy or even the Skipper and Gilligan (which was in its own way, an updated take on Laurel and Hardy). One could even make a comparison with this pairing to Abbott & Costello’s back and forth. Every time the pair interacts, each man puts on his best face, giving such a wonderful performance and plenty of laughs. This is just part of what makes Harper’s performance memorable this season. His deadpan reaction to Michael as Michael gives a rather incorrect remark about the trolley predicament is another great moment. Again, no to give away too much, but what he makes Michael do as punishment will have any grownup laughing. On another note, when Chidi reveals his feelings to Eleanor, it shows Jackson’s ability to handle dramatic acting just as well as comedic acting. It would have been easy for him to ham up the moment way too much, but he didn’t let the scene get away from himself. Rather, he made the most of the moment, and truly made the revelation one of the season’s most shocking and powerful moments. Considering this and his outright comedic prowess (which hints somewhat at his work on PBS’ short-lived reboot of The Electric Company – yes, Mr. Harper, this critic appreciates that work, too), Jackson’s performance is another highlight this season. It still is not the last of the performances worth noting. D’Arcy Carden’s (Broad City, Barry) is another notable performance.
Carden’s take on Janet as Janet develops presents its own share of interest. One of her most notable moments comes as she tries to come to terms with the revelation of a previous relationship with Jason. Again, not giving away too much here, but her deadpan, mechanical reaction (since Janet is supposed to be a robot) as she tries to process the situation and her feelings lends itself to comparisons with Brent Spiner’s take of Data trying to understand human emotions on Star Trek: The Next Generation. Watching her take in the reality despite knowing that she is an artificial intelligence so casually will definitely keep viewers engaged. The same applies as she realizes that her glitching is tied to the aforementioned revelation. On another note, her struggle to become a “Bad Janet” as the group makes its way to the “Bad Place Headquarters” and tries to navigate the party there is worth its own share of laughs. Seeing her do something that is so out of place for her and seeing her discomfort shows her own growth as a character while also offering plenty of laughs. She of course finally handles the needed change in a surprise twist that won’t be revealed here. It is just as surprising as Chidi’s revelation of his feelings for Eleanor and helps the story advance nicely in the process. When one considers Carden’s acting alongside that of Jackson and Danson (as well as the rest of the cast), it goes without saying that the cast’s work presents its own positives to Season Two’s presentation. When those positives are coupled with the positives in the season’s writing, both elements show so much overall growth this season. That growth, in turn, presents plenty of hope for Season Three. Keeping all of this in mind, the average price point for Season Two’s two-disc set makes all the laughs and overall entertainment worth it.
Using the nation’s biggest retailers – Best Buy, Target, Wal-Mart and Amazon – and Shout! Factory’s own store – since the set has been distributed via Shout! Factory – the average price point of The Good Place: Season Two comes in at $14.68. With taxes, that brings the set’s average price point to just over $15. That is not an overly expensive price point, considering so many DVD box sets run anywhere from $30 – $40. Paying on average $15 for two discs means that on average the set is a little more than $7 per disc or roughly $1.25 per episode. Again that is a relatively affordable price. Considering how much growth is displayed in this season both in regards to its writing and the cast’s work, that is saying plenty, too. Keeping all of this in mind, this season’s set is one that clearly proves worth the purchase whether one is a fan of The Good Place or a new viewer.
The second season of NBC’s quirky ethics-based series The Good Place is a welcome new entry to the series. It is an entry that new fans and those who have watched from the first season will appreciate. That is due in no small part to the season’s writing. the writing displays plenty of growth from the characters and in the story itself. The work of the series’ cast shows its own growth, too, offering just as much entertainment. The set’s average price point is relatively affordable at $15. That is not a bad price for the entertainment offered by the noted writing and acting. Keeping all of that in mind, the second season of NBC’s The Good Place proves worth the purchase for fans of this quirky young comedy. It is available now in stores and online and can be ordered direct via Shout! Factory’s online store now. More information on The Good Place is available online now at:
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