TV Review | The Good Place | Season 2
Season summary: Michael repeatedly attempts the experiment in human torture again with variations of the neighbourhood, but the group figures out the truth each time. After 802 fruitless attempts, the other demons stage a coup against Michael and threaten to inform his boss about the repeated failures if he doesn't implement their ideas instead. (Wikipedia)
The Good Place is one of the best TV shows I have seen in recent years and the second season almost matches the first for quality, and even if it is lacking that freshness simply due to the fact that a second season can't ever be fresher than a first, it's still fantastic fun to watch.
Reviewing a TV show on a per-season basis also brings up an issue for me that relates to (guess what?) the MCU. The Good Place's second season is much more plot-focused than the incredibly character-focused first season.
This isn't a criticism because I've seen the first season and I know these characters, so there's no need to be quite as in-depth regarding who they are and the story can move along faster. Now, you might be thinking "that makes sense" and also "how does relate to the MCU?"
Well, if you were to take this season on its own merits, ignoring what come before, then you might score this quite a bit lower because you probably wouldn't understand why the characters make the choices they do or why the behave in certain ways.
This is the same as if you count Avengers: Infinity War as its own separate thing and ignore everything that came before: it doesn't really make any sense to do, but many critics do so in order to remain snobbish about superhero movies. Now, i don't want this review of a fantastic TV show to be mainly about the MCU, so I'll move on.
What I will say is that if you have been hearing good things about The Good Place, which you probably have because pretty much everyone who sees it loves it and justifiably so, don't try and jump in mid-series - start with the first episode of season 1 and watch it in order.
I don't imagine it would be bad to watch if you did jump into season 2 because it's pretty easy to pick up the premise and understand a lot of the (fantastic) humour. But this really is a plot-driven season and you might not care about the characters as much if you don't know them as well as you should.
Especially as the season starts off with us seeing things from the opposite side to how events unfolded in the first season, which I really appreciated with Michael (Ted Danson) becoming a much bigger character this around as a result.
Another positive of this season being more story-driven is that it files off some of the rougher edges of the characters, such as Manny Jacinto's Jason. For me, he was the biggest flaw in season 1, but he's so much more enjoyable here because we don't have to spend quite as much time with him.
That might sound like damning with faint praise, but it does mean now that there isn't a single weak link in the central cast anymore. I would count the four humans, Michael and Janet as the main characters and they're all pretty much flawless this season, without a weak moment among them.
And I think that's something very much worth respecting - half a dozen major characters without a poor moment, scene, sequence or story-line between them? That's an incredible feat and comes about because of the groundwork laid in that first season.
If there are any criticisms to be had, it's that it feels like there's a few more pop culture references than before that might date the season a little, although there's an excellent joke about Millennials that doesn't go where you think it might - which is pretty much the standard operating procedure for this show.
I do want to reserve special praise for Kristen Bell and William Jackson Harper, whose characters' relationship plateaus a little here, but do still move forward and are still consistently enjoyable and fun to watch and spend time with.
It really does feel a lot more here like Bell's character, Eleanor, is pansexual, but it never goes over the top and is just a part of who she is - Eleanor's a horn dog for sure, but Bell plays it perfectly that it never comes across as tacky or laboured.
Likewise, i want to repeat my praise of Harper from the first season for his performance as Chidi. This is a character who would be irritating by the end of a single episode in other shows, but the writing and performance here makes Chidi one of my favourites - and one of the funniest in the show.
From start to finish, top to bottom, back to front, The Good Place continues to be a fantastic show that is simply staggering in how consistently high-quality it is. Just about every joke lands, and lands big, and I can't wait for season 3 to finish airing so I can binge the entire thing and be entirely up-to-date.
The Good Place's second season isn't quite as brilliant as the first, but isn't that far off. It does focus more on plot rather than character development this time, but that doesn't mean there's none of the latter. Oh, and it's still very smart and very, very funny.