Better than Froyo. THE GOOD PLACE the Complete Series Blu-ray

Witness the forking brilliance of the show in this Shout! Factory collectors edition

Several years ago I reviewed the first season of The Good Place and stated “Every few years, our TV screens are graced by a comedy show that connects in a special way. TGP takes a smart concept and crafts a brilliant piece of entertainment. Warm and funny, with a healthy dose of snark and cynicism, it’s wonderfully scripted, constructed, and performed, with a twist that elevates the whole show to another level”. It’s a sentiment that remains true, as the show continued on for another 3 seasons, each flipping aspects of the show in it’s head, while remaining true to the underlying themes of mortality and morality. If you missed out on one of the best comedies to grace us in recent years, now is the time to correct that oversight with this complete collection coming from Shout! Factory.


Welcome! Everything Is Fine!

What happens when we die? It’s a question everyone has asked, since the beginning of time. But when Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell, Veronica Mars) dies tragically, she finds out that the afterlife is amazing: full of frozen yogurt, soulmates, and wonderful people who have done incredible things with their lives. It is absolutely perfect. The only problem is Eleanor herself. She isn’t supposed to be in The Good Place. In fact, her life decisions wouldn’t have gotten her even close. But due to a clerical error, she’s been given someone else’s reward and now has to struggle with being good in order to make sure her secret isn’t discovered.

The acerbic Eleanor (Kristen Bell) suffers an accident and awakens in the afterlife. An idyllic ecosystem crafted by the angelic architect Michael (Ted Danson) to give her the perfect home, perfect partner in Chidi (William Jackson Harper), and perfect society within which to spend eternity. There’s just one problem, they have the wrong Eleanor. The old adage “one man’s meat is another man’s poison” applies, and comedy ensues, for us the viewer at least. For Eleanor, a retrospection at her life and acts forcing her to choose between embracing the misery of an after-life in someone else’s shoes, or the (possibly) worse fate of being sent to the Bad Place.

In itself, the synopsis is ripe for entertainment value, but The Good Place takes the concept and flips it around both during and between seasons, to dive into philosophical questions of life and death, right and wrong. It’s not just simply good vs evil, or a focus on a particular faith, but more how our society views what makes a person decent or not, with a healthy smattering of old Testament stuff. Nor does it lean into the preachy, progressive fare some may fear, in fact the show places under scrutiny attributes more liberal folk may regard as positive, albeit while pushing them to excess or skewing motives. Chidi’s naive idealism is perhaps the best example, while the rest of the main cast have their own issues with selfishness, vanity, amorally, indecision, jealousy, ambition, and arson by way of Molotov cocktails. A dysfunctional group of people, on their journeys of retrospection and self-improvement, discovering that our worth is not just about ourselves, but our interactions with others too. It sounds like heady, sobering fare, but the deeper themes are effortlessly woven into a relentlessly entertaining comedy.

Michael Schur, best known as creator/writer of the brilliant Parks and Recreation and Brooklyn 99, and the rest of the writing team should be applauded for crafting such a balance between the philosophical and the farcical. The Good Place often feels like a classic sit-com, but frequently subverts expectations, largely in terms of ongoing character development/epiphanies over maintaining the status-quo. Smart, layered comedy, that has no hesitation to embrace the silly or absurd at times. Aided by whimsical ideas and production design and frankly one of the best wardrobes outfitting the ever dapper Ted Danson. The whole cast shine, but it’s worth singling out the marvel that is D’Arcy Carden as Janet, a knowledge bank in the Good Place who ends up being one of the greatest TV comedy creations in recent memory. There are instances where it feels like the show is no so much stretching things out, as retreading old ground, the beginning of season 3 marks perhaps the bumpiest transition. But these are mild grumbles about a show that is a sheer delight, one that is soulful and often moving and never not entertaining.

The Package

Shout! Factory present the complete The Good Place in a double thick Blu-case, housing 9 discs, with all 53 episodes and a host of extra features. The episodes themselves look great. Sharp, detailed transfers that pop with vibrant color. The extra content, mostly collected on the 9th bonus disc, is reasonably impressive, although some appear to be upscaled SD video rather than HD:

  • Extended Episodes: NBC habitually released longer versions of several episodes of the show online after airing. Those are included here
  • Audio Commentary On The Season One Episode “Everything Is Fine/Flying” With Creator Michael Schur, Executive Producer Drew Goddard, And Co-Stars Jameela Jamil And D’Arcy Carden
  • Audio Commentary On The Season One Episode “Mindy St. Claire/Michael’s Gambit” With Creator Michael Schur, Executive Producer Drew Goddard, And Co-Stars Jameela Jamil And D’Arcy Carden
  • Audio Commentary On The Season Two Episode “Dance Dance Resolution” With Creator Michael Schur, Executive Producer Drew Goddard, Producer Megan Amram, And Actor Ted Danson
  • Finale Special Hosted By Seth Meyers: ~12min of the cast chatting about the finale and their experiences during production
  • 2019 San Diego Comic-Con Panel: Running just under an hour, it largely serves as a introduction/retorspective/promo piece fore the final season
  • Gag Reels: Each running around 10 minutes, with the first season introduced by Adam Scott (in character as Trevor), the second by Mindy St. Claire herself, and the fourth by Brent Norwalk
  • Visual Effects Reels: Limited to seasons 1–3. The featurettes are pretty cool in terms of showing pre/post CGI addition, but sadly are very short and don’t dive into one of the more playful aspects of the show
  • Table Read For The Season One Episode “Mindy St. Claire”: Interesting if you’re into that sort of thing. The most fun aspect is the cast getting into character for their lines

The Bottom Line

Religious figures and philosophers have for generations considered how do we gauge whether we have lead a worthwhile and good life, and it is surprising how in our current era, a TV show tackles such heady ideas not just with admirable profoundness and heart, but without sacrificing laughs either. The Good Place is a rare, whimsical, work that gets a forking brilliant release from Shout! Factory, well deserving of your attention.

The Good Place the Complete Series is available via Shout! Factory from 19th May

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