Thursday, September 22, 2016

Pilot Review: The Good Place

The Good Place (NBC)
Premiered September 19 at 10pm

If I didn’t watch every pilot, there are two people involved with this show who probably would have compelled me to check it out. The first is Kristen Bell, who most love from her breakout role on UPN’s “Veronica Mars” and who I’ve recently enjoyed a lot during her five-season gig on “House of Lies.” The second is Michael Schur, who serves as creator of the show and made two of NBC’s biggest hits, “The Office” and “Parks and Recreation.” This show is nothing like those, though it definitely has its interesting elements. The show’s title is a bit lackluster, referencing its purposely casual definitions of the two possible destinations available to the newly deceased after their time on Earth is done. Casting Ted Danson, who turned in entertaining TV performances on “Bored to Death” and “Fargo,” as the architect of the “community” that they all live in is a strong choice since he has a certain affect that makes him seem put together and positive even if that’s not exactly how he’s feeling. This show has a weird childishness to it in that Bell’s Eleanor throws a tantrum of sorts and then her emotions are literally rained from the sky since her untruthful presence is causing such a disturbance. Her inability to curse despite repeated attempts signals the muted, somewhat immature nature of the show, and I think that might eventually become grating. For now, Bell and William Jackson Harper, who plays Chidi, are doing well opposite each other, and I’m definitely up for seeing where this show goes. If it becomes more sophisticated in the near future, I’ll be very pleased. If not, we’ll have to see how long it truly deserves.

How will it work as a series? Bell has proven herself to be more than capable of playing a conniving operator, and seeing her try to transform from that mode to an actual thoughtful human being should be fine. I’m not so sure about the show’s visual effects, but I imagine that those will end up being truly supporting to the show’s comedy and plot.
How long will it last? The show premiered with two back-to-back episodes starting at 10pm on Monday night and is going to air regularly beginning tonight at 8:30pm, so its initial airing shouldn’t provide terribly accurate data. What’s good is that this double-decker debut was received both in terms of audience numbers and critical reviews. For now, I’d give this one a good chance of getting renewed.

Pilot grade: B

No comments: