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Thursday, February 06, 2020

TV - The Good Place - The Final Chapter - Whenever You're Ready

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The Good Place
The Final Chapter - Whenever You're Ready
Season 4, Episode 13
January 30, 2020

Man, there are a lot of callbacks and references in this episode. Michael recording "attempt #803" was a silly fakeout, and his song lyrics go back to season one.

Doug Forcett replaced on Michael's wall with the four humans is a nice touch. So is having a few of the philosophy consultants for the show in Chidi's class.

Jeff the Doorman is much busier in the new system. Good running bit with him and the frogs in this episode. And there's a niednagel down below the bridge.

I see that they did eventually track down the Good Place Committee and one of them is Joint Council, but didn't get any dialogue.

Jason's story first. His goals to satisfaction were always the simplest. Perfection in his video game, reuniting his dance group and spending time with his friends. And we get young Doug Forcett, Donkey Doug and Pillboi. And the last time we get the full cast together...

Tahani had a lot more goals, but reached them eventually, while waiting to fulfill the most important goals with her family relationships. And then she finds something else to do. Plus we get quick bits with John, Brent, Trevor, Glenn and even Beadie, the Good Place architect who did Mindy's welcome video. Michael giving her his original bowtie and planning to brag about knowing her was the first time I teared up this episode.

Next is Chidi's passage. A few more returnees, with Simone and some of Eleanor and Chidi's Earth friends. This is quite a journey, especially the way it uses some different filming techniques to the standard for the show.  Listen to the podcast for a detailed discussion about the long shot following Eleanor from their house to Michael's office and back, including how they got Janet to appear without the usual cut or effects. Then a trip to Europe for some location filming. I have to skip the final Chidi/Eleanor goodbye most times because it breaks my heart.

Chidi's final scene with Janet is a nice coda, with the way he's immediately able to say he's ready. And bringing Jason back at this point is a masterstroke. It brings some needed levity to the story after some heavy stuff. "Kind of like a monk." "What do you mean?"

And then Eleanor tying up her loose ends. First with Mindy, which also gives us Maximum Maximum Derek, and provides a nice final look at Tahani and Shawn. Finally figuring out what Michael needs. Janet's farewell scene with Michael is a nice endcap to their story, going back to the classic "The reason is friends" scene years ago. And then Janet and Eleanor at the final door, with the scenes of Michael on Earth, appropriately ending with his guitar teacher Mary. And through the door...

Which leads back to Earth, and however you want to interpret the floating lights. A final goofy joke with Michael's human name, "Michael Realman", and a callback to season one and his joy at getting a rewards card, and the final line:

"I'll say this to you, my friend, with all the love in my heart and all the wisdom of the universe. Take it sleazy."

And the podcast is an appropriately long two-part three hour talk with Marc Evan Jackson (he played Shawn) talking with creator/writer/director Mike Schur and producer Drew Goddard. Fascinating stuff, especially on some of the things they took out of the episode or changed late in the production.

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Wednesday, February 05, 2020

TV - The Good Place - Chapter 51 - Patty

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The Good Place
Chapter 51 - Patty
Season 4, Episode 12
January 23, 2020

And we finally get to The Good Place (well, except for the mailroom visit).

Loved how casually Jason hides Michael's weed.

The Jason and Eleanor aspects of the party really do seem to overwhelm the more understated Chidi and Tahani elements.

Knew that Good Place Committee couldn't be trusted, but still surprised by what they did. Loved their whiteboard of ideas, especially "Giant Mini Donuts (not just regular donuts. Dave will explain)".

Lisa Kudrow was a pretty good guest star to pull at this point, especially for someone whose brain is a little mushy. Especially with the on-going joke about Michael's obsession with the show Friends.

And a final afterlife problem for our team to figure out. The solution and how it was presented have been and will continue to be debated for a long time, but after seeing the finale multiple times in the last week, I'm pretty happy with it. Part of me wonders what they would have done if they took a full season to explore and fix The Good Place, but that might have opened up all sorts of other problems.

A very satisfying conclusion to set up a very different denouement for the finale.

And on the podcast with Marc Evan Jackson is producer/director Morgan Sackett and writer Andrew Law (he plays Drew on the Good Place Committee).

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Monday, February 03, 2020

TV - The Good Place - Chapter 50 - Mondays, Am I Right?

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The Good Place
Chapter 50 - Mondays, Am I Right?
Season 4, Episode 11
January 16, 2020

And back to the Bad Place to begin training for the new system.  Didn't realize until I listened to the podcast that Megan was one of the demons they met at the museum back in season two.

Loved Jason's rattling off of his bizarre choices for "very best people", and Eleanor and Chidi's reaction to it. Interesting that "Wendy from Wendy's" was on the list and Michael later included the "Where's the beef" lady in a list of notable people who passed the test.

That training video, and then Janet and Michael singing... wow. Hope we someday see all the outtakes from that.

Vicky's entrance is great, and she really steals the show this episode.

"Chainsaw Bear!". That one really cracked me up the first time. And then smaller, more relatable Chainsaw Bear.

Jason fooling Chidi to apply his own logic on the Jason/Janet relationship to himself was wonderfully convoluted. "Chess... mate".

And then, the return of the golden balloon to the real Good Place.

Podcast has Marc (he plays Shawn) talking with D’Arcy Carden (she plays Janets), Tiya Sircar (she plays Vicky) and writer Jen Statsky (she plays Susan the restaurant cashier in season one).  Stories about the Janet/Michael song, Vicky's earlier singing number and a generally looser tone as they get close to the end, including a disturbing number of references to Marc as "daddy".

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Sunday, February 02, 2020

TV - The Good Place - Chapter 49 - You've Changed, Man

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The Good Place
Chapter 49 - You've Changed, Man
Season 4, Episode 10
January 9, 2020

Loved the various styles of Janet void, along with their individual computing systems (I'm not sure if any computer actually used 8-tracks like in the Disco Janet void). I'm not sure why NBC doesn't already have a Bad Janet Scarface poster for sale...

"I agree. Chidi should hook up with the Judge to get us out of trouble. I've done that a bunch of times. It's called a Jacksonville plea bargain."

Newly confident Chidi, with his many lifetimes fully integrated, is great. Especially his reaction to the Good Place Committee.  And of course we'll know why the Committee is so infuriating in a few weeks.

The Timothy Olyphant guest bit was pretty odd. Still not sure how I feel about it, but there are some very funny bits in there.

I liked Shawn finally, reluctantly, giving in to change.

"There are still some kinks to work in."
"Out. Sorry. Old habits."

Podcast has Marc Evan Jackson talking with Kristen Bell and writer Matt Murray about the episode and the show in general, including Kristen's directorial debut a few episodes earlier, plus the filming time lost thanks to Jason's delivery of the title line of the episode.

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Thursday, January 09, 2020

TV - The Good Place - Chapter 48 - The Answer

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The Good Place
Chapter 48 - The Answer
Season 4, Episode 9
November 21, 2019

Well, they definitely went into their final hiatus on a high note.

Getting flashbacks to Chidi's whole life is a great way to explain how he got that way, and presumably what he'll do in the few remaining episodes we have.

I liked the mix of old and new scenes from the past. Think they might have set a series record for callbacks.

"Esmerelda, you don't bring knives to a friendly game night. I mean, who does that?"
"The prepared."

How have they kept Esmerelda from us for four seasons? "These trivialities demean me. I must away and tend to my ravens."

The Chidi/Janet scene in the coda to the movie night from "Pandemonium" is just perfect.

And finally we get a new Chidi, a synthesis of 800+ lives and over 300 years. Only a few hours until we hopefully find out something about what that means, and the significance of the note.

If I hadn't decided to to a series rewatch, I probably would have watched this one at least a dozen times in the seven weeks they took off, instead of deliberately not watching it no matter how often I was tempted, whenever there was a previous scene they referenced in here. It's very tempting to make up for lost time and watch it 8 more times in the three hours until Chapter 49 starts...

Right now it looks to me like the series is pointing towards some sort of reincarnation scenario, with the emphasis on being able to do better tomorrow than you did today. On the other hand, given my track record of predicting where they're going to go, that might be the one possibility you can rule out.

And for the podcast, Marc is obviously joined by William Jackson Harper, plus editor Eric Kissack and co-producer Frank Sackett.

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