The Good Place Series Premiere Review
The show quickly establishes its premise, wasting absolutely no time. It is also very funny while setting itself up. The writers definitely put a lot of thought into how everything in the good place works, and they show us all of that in an entertaining way. Often times, pilots focus solely on setting up the premise, and forget everything else, especially in the first act. What's great about The Good Place's writing is that it makes plenty of jokes while introducing us to a world we are unfamiliar with, which is very impressive.
The second act focuses on showing how Eleanor doesn't belong and doesn't fit in, and it has some hilarious jokes. Her soulmate has a great "straight man" type of performance, with great reactions to finding out about Eleanor's real life and all of the things that she does at the party and when drunk. She doesn't really fit in, but that's not a big deal, right? I mean, she's in the good place. But, in the morning the real problem arises, Eleanor ending up in the good place causes havoc.
The first episode ends with hints at ethical questions, if the system with this good place and bad place is fair, and there is a hilarious joke about Eleanor wanting a medium place, such as Cincinnati. She convinces her soulmate to make her a good person, which is a great set up for the series.
Things in the good place get back to normal (though I doubt this will last with Eleanor there), and there is a hilarious scene where Michael learns about sweat and what to do with it. Eleanor's soulmate makes her volunteer for picking up trash instead of flying. Stories like this will work if they happen sometimes, but if every week is Eleanor learning one way to be a good person, the show is going to feel very procedural-y and repetitive.
With episode two's subplot, The Good Place proves that it can have a story with conflict without having Eleanor screw up. Michael's character is also further developed through this subplot, with him being worried about the flaws in his neighborhood. It was so funny when he kicked the dog into the sun, thinking it didn't belong, and then discovering that it did belong.
The second episode did a great job of building on the first, it's really great that the two episodes got to air together. In the first episode, Eleanor is introduced to the good place, and faces not fitting in. In the second episode, she tries to be good, and really doesn't do a great job of it, but she makes a sliver of progress. The episode ended building on its serialization, with a great cliffhanger of Eleanor discovering that someone knows she doesn't belong.
This show is off to a strong start, with the best comedy pilot I have ever seen (yes, I think its pilot just barely beats out that of Friends, due to the pace of setting up premise). The second episode was great as well, building on the first episode nicely.
Score: 10/10 (episode 1)
Score: 9.5/10 (episode 2)
What did you think of "Pilot" and "Flying"? Leave your thoughts in the comments!