Monday, September 19, 2016

NBC Fall Pilot Review: The Good Place - Premieres Tonight (Sept. 19); 68th Annual Primetime Emmy Award Winners

The Good Place

The Good Place - Thursdays at 8:30PM ET/PT on NBC
Series Preview Monday, September 19, 2016 at 10:00PM & 10:30PM ET/PT; Timeslot Premiere on Thursday, September 22, 2016 at 8:30PM ET/PT


by Vincent

The Good Place is a unique new comedy that follows Eleanor Shellstrop, an ordinary woman who, through an extraordinary string of events, enters the afterlife where she comes to realize that she hasn't been a very good person. With the help of her wise newfound afterlife mentor, she's determined to shed her old way of living and discover the awesome (or at least the pretty good) person within.

Cast Details:

Kristen Bell as Eleanor
Ted Danson as Michael
Jameela Jamil as Tahani
William Jackson Harper as Chidi
Manny Jacinto as Jianyu
D'Arcy Carden as Janet

Kristen Bell (Eleanor) is known for her role as the titular character in the cult teen drama series Veronica Mars. She is also well-known for her voice role as Ana in the smash hit animated Disney film Frozen. She also starred as Jeannie in the Showtime drama series House of Lies and has appeared in guest roles on shows such as Party Down, Parks and Recreation, and The Simpsons.

Ted Danson (Michael) is known for his role as Sam Malone on the long-running NBC sitcom Cheers as well as the 2000s sitcom Becker. He also spent multiple years in a lead role on CSI and most recently had a major part in the second season of FX's Fargo adaptation. He has also appeared on shows such as Curb Your Enthusiasm, Bored to Death, Help Me Help You and Damages.

Jameela Jamil (Tahani) is an English actress and television/radio presenter. She is best known as the host of the UK radio show The Official Chart as well as several TV music programs such as Music Zone and Freshly Squeezed. The Good Place will be her first major starring role as an actress.

William Jackson Harper (Chidi) is an actor who is best known for his role as Danny on The Electric Company. He has also appeared on shows such as 30 Rock, Person of Interest, and High Maintenance,

Manny Jacinto (Jianyu) is an actor who has previously appeared in guest roles on shows such as The 100, iZombie, and Bates Motel.

D'Arcy Carden (Janet) is a comedic actress known for her roles on Broad City and Comedy Bang! Bang! She also appeared in a guest role on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the indie film Other People, and is a regular in CollegeHumor online videos.

Pilot Plot:

"Pilot/Flying" (Airs September 19 at 10:00PM & 10:30PM ET)

Thanks to some kind of error, Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell), an ordinary woman, enters the afterlife and is sent to the Good Place -- which is definitely not where she belongs. While hiding in plain sight from Michael (Ted Danson), the wise architect of the Good Place who is unaware that he's made a mistake, she's determined to shed her old way of living and discover the awesome person within. Helping Eleanor navigate her new surroundings are Chidi (William Jackson Harper), her kind, open-hearted "soulmate" who sees the good in people but finds himself facing quite a dilemma; her frustratingly perfect new neighbors, Tahani (Jameela Jamil) and Jianyu (Manny Jacinto); and Janet (D'Arcy Carden), a walking, talking source for all the knowledge in the universe.

Analysis:

The Good Place has perhaps the highest pedigree of any new sitcom this fall. It comes from Michael Schur, former Office staff writer and the man behind critically acclaimed and fan beloved Parks and Recreation and Brooklyn Nine-Nine. It also stars Kristen Bell and Ted Danson, two of the most talented actors working in TV right now. So, needless to say, my expectations for The Good Place were sky-high, even with a somewhat off-kilter premise that seems better-suited for a quirky indie film than a network television series. And while I do have some concerns about the sustainability of its premise over long periods of time, the first five episodes of The Good Place are charming, confident, funny, and a great use of its talented cast. It's pretty rare to see a network comedy as fully-formed as The Good Place is from the start – the show's pilot, while somewhat exposition-heavy (which is hard to avoid with a premise like this), is a great, funny, and entertaining introduction to an incredibly unique world, and the show only builds upon its that over the next four episodes, each of which do a little bit to expand our knowledge of the show's universe and the characters that populate it.

Although The Good Place is one of the more ambitious network comedies I've seen in recent years, the show does mostly settle into a formula after its whimsical, sci-fi-heavy pilot. Each episode loosely revolves around Eleanor attempting to be a good person, failing for some various reason, and then learning some kind of "lesson" by the end of the episode. This isn't a criticism whatsoever – every sitcom, even the very best ones, finds some kind of formula they can easily repeat to sustain themselves year after year, and it's actually encouraging to see that The Good Place has already found a way to lend its creative premise into network-TV friendly storylines each week without losing what makes it so interesting in the first place. In fact, The Good Place is really smart about getting around the fact that it's a network sitcom with a more cable or streaming-esque premise (there's an amusing runner dealing with how the foul-mouthed Eleanor can't curse in the afterlife, and all of her f-bombs turn into "forks"). Still, if there's a key to The Good Place remaining fresh through-out the rest of its first season and into any potential future seasons, it's to dig a bit deeper into its supporting characters and the world its created alongside the "Eleanor tries to be a good person" narrative. The show already seems to be doing this by the end of these five episodes, and you can certainly see the Parks & Rec­-esque world-building beginning to form, but I think the show could use just a bit more of it, as it's likely its best chance at sustaining a premise that's fascinating but could run out of steam fast. Still, for now, I'm liking just about everything The Good Place has to offer.

Conclusion:

The Good Place is a highly creative and nearly fully-formed new sitcom with great talent both in the writing room and on screen. The show's premise is incredibly unique and yet still lends itself well to the confines of a network sitcom, and the performances from both Kristen Bell and Ted Danson as well as the mostly-newcomer supporting cast are some of the best you'll find on TV this fall. There are certainly questions to be had about the sustainability of a premise like this over long periods of time, and it would be nice to see the show dig deeper into its world-building and supporting cast a bit more in future episodes, but overall there's not much about The Good Place right now that isn't...well, good.

Final Numbers (out of 5 stars):

Watchability: 5/5
Funniness: 4.5/5
Overall: 4.5/5

Discuss the show after you watch it on Monday, September 19, 2016 at 10:00PM & 10:30PM ET/PT on our message board.

Related Links:

  • Fox.com Official Site
  • TV.com
  • epguides.com
  • Internet Movie Database
  • Wikipedia
  • The Good Place Photo Gallery

    Preview:





  • The 68th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards aired last night on ABC. Here are the winners!

    OUTSTANDING COMEDY SERIES
    black-ish (ABC)
    Modern Family (ABC)
    Master Of Non (Netflix)
    Silicon Valley (HBO)
    Transparent (Amazon)
    Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix)
    Veep (HBO)
    WINNER: Veep (HBO)

    OUTSTANDING LEAD COMEDY ACTOR
    Anthony Anderson, black-ish (ABC)
    Will Forte, The Last Man on Earth (Fox)
    Aziz Ansari, Master of None (Netflix)
    Louis C.K., Louie (FX)
    William H. Macy, Shameless (Showtime)
    Thomas Middleditch, Silicon Valley (HBO)
    Jeffrey Tambor, Transparent (Amazon)
    WINNER: Jeffrey Tambor, Transparent (Amazon).

    OUTSTANDING LEAD COMEDY ACTRESS
    Lily Tomlin, Grace and Frankie (Netflix)
    Amy Schumer, Inside Amy Schumer (Comedy Central)
    Tracee Ellis Ross, black-ish (ABC)
    Laurie Metcalf, Getting On (HBO)
    Ellie Kemper, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmid (Netflix)
    Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep (HBO)
    WINNER: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep (HBO).

    OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING COMEDY ACTOR
    Andre Braugher, Brooklyn Nine-Nine (FOX)
    Louie Anderson, Baskets (FX)
    Keegan-Michael Key, Key & Peele (Comedy Central)
    Ty Burrell, Modern Family (ABC)
    Tituss Burgess, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix)
    Tony Hale, Veep (HBO)
    Matt Walsh, Veep (HBO)
    WINNER: Louie Anderson, Baskets (FX)

    OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING COMEDY ACTRESS
    Niecy Nash, Getting On (HBO)
    Judith Light, Transparent (Amazon)
    Allison Janney, Mom (CBS)
    Kate McKinnon, Saturday Night Live (NBC)
    Gaby Hoffmann, Transparent (Amazon)
    Jane Krakowski, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix)
    Anna Chlumsky, Veep (HBO)
    WINNER: Kate McKinnon, Saturday Night Live (NBC)

    OUTSTANDING DRAMA SERIES
    Better Call Caul (AMC)
    Downton Abbey (PBS)
    Game of Thrones (HBO)
    House of Cards (Netflix)
    Homeland (Showtime)
    Mr. Robot (USA Network)
    The Americans (FX)
    WINNER: Game of Thrones (HBO)

    OUTSTANDING LEAD DRAMA ACTOR
    Bob Odenkirk, Netter Call Saul (AMC)
    Kyle Chandler, Bloodline (Netflix)
    Kevin Spacey, House of Cards (Netflix)
    Rami Malek, Mr. Robot (USA Network)
    Liev Schreiber, Ray Donovan (Showtime)
    Matthew Rhys, The Americans (FX)
    WINNER: Rami Malek, Mr. Robot (USA Network)

    OUTSTANDING LEAD DRAMA ACTRESS
    Taraji P. Henson, Empire (Fox)
    Claire Danes, Homeland (Showtime)
    Robin Wright, House of Cards (Netflix)
    Viola Davis, How To Get Away With Murder (ABC)
    Keri Russell, The Americans (FX)
    Tatiana Maslany, Orphan Black (BBC America)
    WINNER: Tatiana Maslany, Orphan Black (BBC America)

    OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING DRAMA ACTOR
    Jonathan Banks, Better Call Saul (AMC)
    Ben Mendelsohn, Bloodline (Netflix)
    Kit Harrington, Game of Thrones (HBO)
    Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones (HBO)
    Michael Kelly, House of Cards (Netflix)
    Jon Voight, Ray Donovan (Showtime)
    WINNER: Ben Mendelsohn, Bloodline (Netflix)

    OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING DRAMA ACTRESS
    Maura Tierney, The Affair (Showtime)
    Lena Headey, Game of Thrones (HBO)
    Emilia Clarke, Game of Thrones (HBO)
    Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey (PBS)
    Maisie Williams, Game of Thrones (HBO)
    Constance Zimmer, UnReal (Lifetime)
    WINNER: Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey (PBS)

    OUTSTANDING LIMITED SERIES
    American Crime (ABC)
    Fargo (FX)
    The Night Manager (AMC)
    The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story (FX)
    Roots (History)
    WINNER: The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story (FX)

    OUTSTANDING LEAD LIMITED SERIES/MOVIE ACTOR
    Bryan Cranston, All the Way (HBO)
    Idris Elba, Luther (BBC America)
    Tom Hiddleston, The Night Manager (AMC)
    Courtney B. Vance, The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story (FX)
    Cuba Gooding, Jr., The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story (FX)
    Benedict Cumberbatch, Sherlock: The Abominable Bride (PBS)
    WINNER: Courtney B. Vance, The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story (FX)

    OUTSTANDING LEAD LIMITED SERIES/MOVIE ACTRESS
    Felicity Huffman, American Crime (ABC)
    Lili Taylor, American Crime (ABC)
    Kerry Washington, Confirmation (HBO)
    Kirsten Dunst, Fargo (FX)
    Keri Russell, The Americans (FX)
    Audra McDonald, Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill (HBO)
    Sarah Paulson, The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Stor (HBO)
    WINNER: Sarah Paulson, The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Stor (HBO)

    OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING LIMITED SERIES/MOVIE ACTOR
    Jesse Plemons, Fargo (FX)
    Bokeem Woodbine, Fargo (FX)
    Hugh Laurie, The Night Manager (AMC)
    Sterling K. Brown, The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Stor (HBO)
    David Schwimmer, The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Stor (HBO)
    John Travolta, The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Stor (HBO)
    WINNER: Sterling K. Brown, The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Stor (HBO)

    OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING LIMITED SERIES/MOVIE ACTRESS
    Melissa Leo, All the Way (HBO)
    Regina King, American Crime (ABC)
    Sarah Paulson, American Horror Story: Hotel (FX)
    Kathy Bates, American Horror Story: Hotel (FX)
    Jean Smart, Fargo (FX)
    Olivia Colman, The Night Manager (FX)
    WINNER: Regina King, American Crime (ABC)

    View the full list of winners.


    Sitcoms Airing Tonight

    Monday, January 25

    The Neighborhood - "Welcome to the Property" (CBS, 8:00PM ET/PT)
    When Calvin discovers a member of the community plans to sell to greedy developers, he vows to find a buyer closer to home instead. However, the Butlers and Johnsons soon realize that the dilapidated property will require more work than they expected.

    Bob Hearts Abishola - "Honest Yak Prices" (CBS, 8:30PM ET/PT)
    With Abishola’s husband adamant that he’ll never agree to a divorce, Bob and Abishola grow disheartened that they will never be able to get married.

    Complete TV Listings


    Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of January 25)

    Monday, January 25

    • Dax Shepard (Bless This Mess) - Watch Dax on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
    • Jane Lynch (Angel from Hell) - Jane appears on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:35pm on NBC.
    • Kate Flannery (The Office) - Kate is a guest on Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
    • Nicole Byer (Loosely Exactly Nicole) - Nicole will be on Conan at 11pm on TBS.
    • Yara Shahidi (grown-ish/black-ish) and Trevor Jackson (grown-ish) - Yara and Trevor talk about grown-ish on Tamron Hall, so check your local listings.
    • Dakota Johnson (Ben and Kate) - Dakota discusses growing up in the spotlight, how she's spent her quarantine and reveals the famous person's name she uses to get reservations on The Drew Barrymore Show, so check your local listings.
    • Rob Lowe (The Grinder/Parks and Recreation - Rob talks about his hit show 9-1-1: Lone Star, and even shares some behind-the-scenes scoop on what it’s like working with his son who is a writer on the show on Rachael Ray, so check your local listings.
    • Stanley Tucci (Central Park) - Stanley talks about Supernova on ABC's Good Morning America sometime between 7-9am.
    • Mark-Paul Gosselaar (Saved by the Bell/mixed-ish/Truth Be Told) and Tika Sumper (mixed-ish/The Game) - Mark-Paul and Tika talk about mixed-ish on ABC's Good Morning America sometime between 7-9am. Mark-Paul will also be on The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
    • Daveed Diggs (Central Park/black-ish) - Daveed talks about TNT's Snowpiercer on NBC's Today sometime between 7-9am.
    • Lily Tomlin (Grace and Frankie/Malibu Country) - Lily talks about Radium Girls on NBC's Today in the 10am hour.


    New on DVD/Blu-ray (September-January)

    Young Sheldon - The Complete Third Season Mom - The Complete Seventh Season The Flintstones - The Complete Series (Blu-ray) Head of the Class - The Complete Second Season The Office - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)

    09/01 - It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia - Season 14
    09/01 - What We Do in the Shadows - The Complete Second Season
    09/01 - Young Sheldon - The Complete Third Season (Blu-ray)
    09/15 - Mom - The Complete Seventh Season
    09/15 - South Side - Season 1
    09/22 - Brockmire - The Complete Second Season
    09/22 - Brockmire - The Complete Third Season
    09/22 - Brockmire - The Complete Fourth Season
    09/22 - Man with a Plan - Season Three
    09/29 - The Bob Newhart Show - The Complete Series (2020 Release)
    10/13 - The Jetsons - The Complete Series (Diamond Collection)
    10/13 - Our Cartoon President - Season Two
    10/23 - Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em - The Complete Collection
    10/27 - The Flintstones - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
    10/27 - Head of the Class - The Complete Second Season (WBShop.com)
    11/10 - Letterkenny - Seasons 5 & 6
    11/10 - The Office - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
    11/10 - Schitt's Creek - The Complete Collection
    11/17 - Carol's Second Act - The Complete Series
    11/17 - Robbie - Season 1
    11/24 - Corporate - Season 1
    11/26 - Man with a Plan - Season Four
    12/01 - The Neighborhood - Season Two
    12/15 - Avenue 5 - The Complete First Season

    More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


    Recent SitcomsOnline.com News Blog Posts

    01/24 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of January 25, 2021)
    01/23 - SitcomsOnline Digest: America's Most Wanted to Return; John Krasinski and Regina King Among Upcoming SNL Hosts
    01/22 - Fri-Yay: The Network Sitcom Is In Crisis - Can It Be Saved?; TBS Announces Dates for New Series Chad and Return of American Dad!
    01/21 - The CW Creates Super Tuesday Event on Feb. 23; More Than Miyagi: The Pat Morita Story Arrives Feb. 5
    01/20 - Saved by the Bell Renewed for Season 2 on Peacock; The Muppet Show Coming to Disney+ in February
    01/19 - TheGrio.TV Launches with 2 Sitcoms; 26th Annual Critics Choice Awards Nominations
    01/18 - NBC Schedules Young Rock and Kenan on Tuesdays; Remembering Peter Mark Richman of Three's Company and Dynasty
    01/17 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of January 18, 2021)
    01/16 - SitcomsOnline Digest: More Jeopardy! Guest Hosts Announced; NBC Sets Premiere Date for Kenan
    01/15 - Fri-Yay: What Does the Future Hold for Sitcoms on Streaming Services?; Disney+ Has Its Teenage Doogie Howser
    01/14 - HBO's Insecure Gets 5th and Final Season; Disney's Big City Greens Returns for 3rd Season
    01/13 - NBC Orders 3 New Series for 2021-22 Season; Lifetime Slates Winter 2021 Original Movie Slate, Including 400th Original Movie
    01/12 - Netflix Gives Us More Bonding Time; Lifetime Movie Club Gets First Original Movie
    01/11 - And Just Like That...We Get a Sex and the City Revival Series on HBO Max; Are You Afraid of the Dark? Season 2 Date Revealed
    01/10 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of January 11, 2021)
    01/09 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Roku to Acquire Much of Quibi Library; ABC Sees Success in Thursday Night Game Shows
    01/08 - Fri-Yay: Why One Day at a Time Cancelation Is a Mistake; COZI TV Remembers Tanya Roberts with Charlie's Angels Special
    01/07 - New Punky Brewster Series Drops Feb. 25 on Peacock; Solar Opposites Returns for 2nd Season on Hulu March 26
    01/06 - NBC Midseason Pilot Review: Mr. Mayor - Premieres Thursday (Jan. 7); One Tree Hill Duo Return for Comedy Series on Hulu
    01/05 - MeTV Network Pays Tribute to Dawn Wells; The Waltons Cast Reunite This Thursday
    01/04 - Lifetime January 2021 Schedule with Rizzoli & Isles; Remembering Tanya Roberts of Charlie's Angels and That '70s Show

    01/03 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of January 4, 2021)
    01/02 - SitcomsOnline Digest: COVID-19 Shuts Down Production of Several Series; Busy Week of New Premieres
    01/01 - Happy New Year!; Murphy Brown Star Heads to The Conners
    12/31 - In Memoriam: Remembering Dawn Wells and the Other Sitcom Stars We Lost in 2020
    12/30 - New Year's Eve 2020 and New Year's Day 2021 TV Marathons
    12/29 - getTV January 2021 Schedule Adds 4 New Series; The Netflix Afterparty Premieres Jan. 2
    12/28 - HBO Max Adds More Library Titles in January; The Great North Gets Special Preview This Sunday on Fox
    12/27 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of December 28, 2020)
    12/26 - SitcomsOnline Digest: ABC Most-Watched Network of 2020; B Positive Gets Full Season Pickup
    12/25 - Merry Christmas from SitcomsOnline; Cobra Kai Season 3 Premiere Moved Up!
    12/24 - 2020 Christmas Eve and Christmas Day TV Marathons & Movies