I just got through watching season one of The Good Place on Neflix. There were enough .gifs and video clips on the internet that I knew the general beats, but even knowing most of the twists, I was really impressed with this show.
It’s a network sitcom. It’s got all of the characteristics of a network sitcom: bright colors, characters who kind of like each other and kinda don’t, and Ted Danson.
The premise is that our main characters–Elanor, Chidi, Tahani, and Jianyu are dead. They and 318 other dead people go to a personalized neighborhood in The Good Place to enjoy eternal happiness.
The kink in that plan–at least initially–is that Elanor doesn’t belong in The Good Place. A clerical error gave her the points (karma, basically) of another person. And if she’s found out, she goes to The Bad Place.
Elanor isn’t evil; she’s just a bad person who’s embrace an life aggressive immorality and selfishness. When disasters that reflect Elanor’s shitty behavior beset the neighborhood, Elanor has to learn to become a good person before the neighborhood’s all-powerful architect, Michael, can connect her to the disasters.
In true sitcom style, the ring of conspirators in Elanor’s misplaced status widens and the situations get wilder, but the tension never releases: the season’s penultimate moment is an emotional roulette wheel of characters arguing over trips to The Bad Place to save each other.
This is another one of Season 3’s signature solid episodes. I think it’s a bit underrated by the fan base, honestly. Maybe because the stylistic choices are so bold it gets cringey for some folks. Honestly, this thing gets high marks for me for conflict, villain, universe building, continuity, and characterization. It tells us so many things about all of the working parts in it that the worst criticism I can give it is that it’s not longer.
The auction house I was thinking of was Christie’s. I don’t feel bad for blanking; I mean, who uses Christie’s when eBay exists?
Before every episode, Derek and I warm up a bit and do some planning–that’s where I get the SoundCloud teasers from. Part of the discussion for this episode was about serialized series versus episodic series. This is a smart, self-contained episode that would lose a lot of momentum if these Data/Fajo scenes only happened once per episode over three or four episodes or if we filled those same episodes with failed escape attempts. On the other hand, the concept of Data’s death is big enough that we should see its effects on the Enterprise.
I dunno, it seems like TNG and DS9 balanced the serialized/episodic divide much, much better than Voyager and (or so I’ve heard) Discovery. This is a good episode to demonstrate that, right?
Like, there’s a strong presumption in society that the people the police arrest are guilty and that defending them is something unsavory or perfunctory. It’s weird and shitty, but funding public defenders requires accepting the systemic failure or malice of a major pillar of order in our society so I guess we don’t because it’s unpleasant to think about and cheaper to let poor people go to jail.