Sunday, June 18, 2017

The Good Place

(2016- )
Created by
Michael Schur
Starring Kristen Bell, Ted Danson, William Jackson Harper, D'Arcy Carden, Jamella Jamil, Manny Jacinto
IMDB Entry

It's rare that I talk about a TV show currently in production; I've only done it once. But I'm going to add another with what is both the funniest and cleverest TV currently on major network TV:  The Good Place.

The premise of the show is a little different: the main character dies in the very beginning.  Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell) finds herself in the Good Place, where you go where you live is particularly exemplary. She is briefed by Michael (Ted Danson), who is the architect of the place, designed for eternal bliss and is given a house and a soul mate Chidi (William Jackson Harper).  There's only one problem:  She's there by mistake.

Eleanor's life was far from exemplary, and she knows it. She confesses this to Chidi and learns that there's also a Bad Place, which is just plain awful. So she enlists him to help her pass.

They are next door to Tahani (Jamella Jamil), a woman who raised billions of dollars for charity and her soul mate Jianyu, a Buddhist monk who's kept a vow of silence since he was a child.  Eleanor takes a dislike to Tahani for her goody-goody unctuousness, but doesn't want to risk being found out. She also gets information from Janet (D'Arcy Carden), an information assistant who is there to answer questions.

Things are bad enough for Eleanor, but she discovers that, because she doesn't belong there, bad things start to happen.

One great thing is that the show is really an ongoing story. And creator Michael Schur is not afraid to tighten the screws on Eleanor and make changes in the situation. It quickly goes beyond the original setup, and Schur is a master of dropping a bombshell at the end of each episode.

And it's funny.  Tahani's constant namedropping, Chidi's frustration with Eleanor's self-centeredness, Michael's frustration with things going wrong -- all are a constant source of funny lines.  One of the cleverest running gags is the fact that you can't swear in the Good Place, which allows Eleanor to be foulmouthed without making the FCC mad. 

Another very funny gag is the list of the point system that gets you into the Good Place.**

Good things

It's hard to talk about the show without giving away too much, but I will say that it's even funnier if you watch it all a second time.

NBC has the entire first season (13 episodes) on line. Watch it, and then go back and watch it again.  You won't be disappointed.

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*For example, "Holy motherforking shirtballs!"

**There's also a serious discussion of philosophy and what makes someone "good" hidden among the jokes and plot.

Note: Any comment containing spoilers will be deleted.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

In Memory of John Avildsen

Known best for Rocky and The Karate Kid, John Avildsen has a long list of good movies and great performances, guiding several actors to Oscar nominations and giving several household names at start.

Cry Uncle

Neighbors