The funniest show about philosophy and ethics on TV
The Story So Far...
Off the bat in its second go-round, the show got stuck in a bit of a rut, which only makes sense considering where the show went in terms of story. But in the third episode, the show shows it knew where it was headed, and things get moving in a strong direction, focusing on Michael, rather than the core four, as their experience in The Good Place starts to have an effect on him, which only creates more problems than there were in the first season. The result is a very different show than the first season, though it still maintains its sense of humor (D'arcy Carden remains the show's secret comedy weapon as the ever-ready and ever-hilarious digital assistant) and its integration of ethics, as the ideas of good and bad are discussed and debated throughout the 13 episodes without becoming too high-minded.
As the show went in a new and different direction (to some degree), it only made sense there would be some changes, mainly in the form of new cast members, and they are wonderful additions, starting with Maribeth Monroe, who brings a disturbing energy as Misty St. Claire, the only human who exists in The Medium Place, a bland halfway between The Good Place and The Bad Place. Putting her up against Bell and William Jackson Harper (Chidi) makes for some truly unusual moments, which still forward the plot in a number of ways. Less vital to the storyline, but no less enjoyable, is Jason Mantzoukas' introduction as Derek, a man Janet created to serve as her boy toy (per Eleanor's questionable suggestion.) Mantzoukas is always bizarre, but freed from any sense of reality (for example, his genitals have been amusingly misdesigned) he can bring the weird like no one's business, and paired with Carden it's a dream duo. Topping things off is the great Maya Rudolph, who comes along to play an afterlife judge who holds the main crew's fate in her hands. Rudolph knows no way to do wrong, and here she's so very right, being silly and fun, bringing a light touch to a character with such a dramatic role in the mythology of the series. It's great to watch her interact with the rest of the cast, as everyone's game is raised a few notches.
Though the show is brilliant, funny and so delightfully smart, at the end of the second season, there's not that same sense of wonder as to where it goes next. Perhaps that's a good thing, as this season got off to a slow start as it re-established the concept, but right now it's difficult to see where the show goes that can maintain the same sense of wonder it managed earlier in its run. Perhaps the show's creators feel comfortable just following the beloved characters they have developed, and the high-concept structure will become less important than characterization. There may not be a lot of "wow" in that, but after two seasons of great television, the folks behind The Good Place have earned the benefit of the doubt.
Note: Several of the episodes included are extended producer cuts, created before the show is cut down to fit the strict limits of network television time slots. There's nothing that affects the overall storyline, but there are jokes and moments that you may not have seen before.
Like last time, the Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks do what's necessary to deliver the dialogue clearly n the center channel, while the surrounds handle the show's score and effects well, with some low-end in the mix to enhance the audio's impact A solid-sounding set of discs with no noticeable issues..
Like last season, there's a gag reel from the show's wrap party (7:!4) this time hosted by Mindy St. Claire from The Medium Place. It's the same kind of flubs, with the obligatory dance segment, but there's a lot of swearing (try to guess who cusses most) and some very funny moments (better than most gag reels.)
Also returning from the previous set is the brief "A Look at Visual Effects" running 58 seconds, which shows how scenes look before and after CG effects are applied to the footage, for anyone interested in such matters.
Sadly, there's no table read included this time around.
The Bottom Line