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REVIEW: The Good Place S03E07-08 – “The Worst Possible Use of Free Will” and “Don’t Let the Good Life Pass You By”

The Good Place - Season 3In my last review, I mentioned that I wasn’t in love with the past few episodes of The Good Place. I felt like having all our characters trapped on Earth with no connection to the afterlife had resulted in the show losing a big part of what made it feel special and, subsequently, had started to feel like any other network sitcom. I’m happy to report that both The Worst Possible Use of Free Will and Don’t Let the Good Life Pass You By make great strides towards rectifying that problem. Both of these episodes feel like classic episodes of The Good Place. The humor is on point, there’s some good character development, and most of all, there’s the return of a bunch of fantastical elements! (This review features full spoilers for episodes 7 and 8 of season 3: The Worst Possible Use of Free Will and Don’t Let the Good Life Pass You By!)

Episode 307: The Worst Possible Use of Free Will (written by Cord Jefferson and directed by Claire Scanlon)
Eleanor (Kristen Bell) recalls some forgotten events from her past.

Episode 308: Don’t Let the Good Life Pass You By (written by Andrew Law and directed by Dean Holland)
Michael (Ted Danson) and Janet (D’Arcy Carden) take an important journey. Eleanor ponders whether she should share a secret.

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The Good Place Desperately Needs to Return to the Afterlife or it Risks Losing a Big Part of What Made it Special

The Good Place - Season 3When The Good Place first premiered on our TV screens, we were introduced to a whole cast of characters who were dead and had awoken in the titular Good Place, an afterlife loosely based on the concept of heaven. As the series progressed, we found out that only four of them had ever been humans and they were actually in the Bad Place, being tortured for all eternity by demons, led by Michael (Ted Danson). From there, things only got stranger until the show decided to resurrect our main cast and give them a new chance at life. And this is where things started to go wrong. While giving your main characters a second shot at life as a way for them to actually earn their place in the Good Place isn’t a bad idea, it’s not one that can really be sustained for a long period of time when a huge part of your show has built itself on the whimsical weirdness of the afterlife. Take out a lot of that whimsical weirdness and you just have… any other comedic show with a cast of likable characters trying to do good things. That’s the problem The Good Place has found itself in these last few episodes and it’s one the show and its writers are gonna have to fix asap before the show stops feeling as special as it is. (This review/editorial covers episodes 4-6 of season 3: Jeremey Bearimy, The Ballad of Donkey Doug, and A Fractured Inheritance) 

Episode 304: Jeremy Bearimy (written by Megan Amram and directed by Trent O’Donnell)
The group explores the three main branches of ethical thought.

Episode 305: The Ballad of Donkey Doug (written by Matt Murray and directed by Rebecca Asher)
Jason (Manny Jacinto) visits with some people from his past while Chidi (William Jackson Harper) gets help in resolving a problem.

Episode 306: A Fractured Inheritance (written by Kassia Miller and directed by Beth McCarthy-Miller)
Eleanor (Kristen Bell) makes a startling discovery that tests her resolve, Tahani (Jameela Jamil) looks to make amends and Janet (D’Arcy Carden) does some bonding.

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REVIEW: “The Good Place” S03E03 – The Snowplow

The Good Place - Season 3I really love how the writers of The Good Place don’t dawdle with this series. They never drag their feet when it comes to moving the story along. Last season featured Michael rebooting the neighborhood over 800 times in a single episode. Tonight’s episode featured a similar thing as more than a year passes within a single 22-minute episode, rapidly advancing the plotline of the season while also showing the continuing evolution of our favorite awful humans.

Episode 304: The Snowplow (Written by Joe Mande and Directed by Beth McCarthy Miller)
After the shocking events of last week’s episode, Michael and Janet are, essentially, trapped on Earth as they continue to supervise Eleanor (Kristen Bell), Chidi (William Jackson Harper), Tahani (Jameela Jamil), and Jason (Manny Jacinto) as the four of them continue to try and improve upon themselves. As a year goes by, Chidi’s thesis project comes to a close and Tahani gets engaged to Larry Hemsworth, Michael and Janet start to fear that all their work has come to naught and frantically try to keep the group from going their separate ways.

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REVIEW: “The Good Place” S03E02 – The Brainy Bunch

The Good Place - Season 3After last week’s excellent cliffhanger featuring the return of everyone’s favorite demon, Trevor (Adam Scott), I was really excited to see just what would happen next and how it would live up to the season premiere. As expected, The Brainy Bunch continues to push this season into new, exciting, and hilarious situations. Plus, it’s always fun to get to see Adam Scott interact with this cast again.

Episode 303: The Brainy Bunch (Written by Dan Schofield and Directed by Jude Weng)
After Trevor (Adam Scott), a demon sent by Shawn to infiltrate and break up Chidi’s new study group in order to ensure their return to the Bad Place, joins the study group, Michael (Ted Danson) and Janet (D’Arcy Carden) must figure out a way to get him to leave before he can tear the group apart and ruin the experiment.

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REVIEW: “The Good Place” Season 3 Premiere – Everything is Bonzer!

The Good Place - Season 3After a lengthy hiatus, my favorite comedy on TV is finally back! After a pretty stunning season 2 finale that featured our four humans being given a second shot at living a decent life, aided by their guardian demon, Michael (Ted Danson), The Good Place has returned even better than before! With lots of new jokes, lots of emotional scenes, and lots of really fun surprises, this premiere episode of the show is as good as you could hope for!

Episode 301-302: Everything is Bonzer! (Written by Michael Schur and Jen Statsky and directed by Dean Holland)
After the surprising events of the season 2 finale, Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell) finds herself returned to Earth, no memories of her time in the Bad Place, given a new chance to live a good life. Realizing she’s gonna need some help in order to be a good person, Eleanor travels to Australia in order to meet Chidi Anagonye (William Jackson Harper), a professor of ethics at a local university, in order to convince him to teach her how to be a good person. Nudged along by Michael and Janet (D’Arcy Carden), elegant Pakistani-British socialite Tahani Al-Jamil (Jameela Jamil) and dance-obsessed Floridian Jason Mendoza (Manny Jacinto) also make their way to Australia in order to join a new study, headed by Chidi, in which he studies the brains of people who have survived near-death experiences.

Unbenknowst to them, Shawn (Marc Evan Jackson), a demon from the Bad Place, is hellbent on hacking into the Judge’s (Maya Rudolph) computer in order to find out where Eleanor, Chidi, Tahani, and Jason are so that he can get them back to the Bad Place.

Can Michael and Janet help the humans lead better lives and get into the Good Place, or will all of them fail?

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Spoiler Free Preview for “The Good Place” Season 3

The Good Place - Season 3Last season of The Good Place turned that show into one of my absolute favorite shows currently airing on TV. It had brilliant world-building, superb characters, and genuinely funny situations. Not to mention a whole lot of genuine emotions. It’s such a well-written show that it’s always a little worrying to think about how the cast and crew could possibly live up to, or even top, all that had already happened. Would this third season be a bit of a disappointment after how last season’s finale ended? The short answer is: Nope! The longer answer requires a bit more time to get into. I’m gonna try and keep this preview/review as spoiler-free as possible, restricting any potential spoilers to things that have already been revealed (the clip of the first three minutes of the premiere revealed by NBC a few weeks ago, the official sneak peek of season three released about a week and a half ago, the Entertainment Weekly first look images, or any other public information from Comic-Con or other interviews).

From creator Michael Schur comes a unique comedy about what makes a good person. The show follows Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell), an ordinary woman who enters the afterlife, and thanks to some kind of error, is sent to the Good Place instead of the Bad Place (which is definitely where she belongs). While hiding in plain sight from Good Place Architect Michael (Ted Danson), she’s determined to shed her old way of living and earn her spot.

The first two seasons featured surprise after surprise and twist after twist, including a world-upending season one finale that threw everything up in the air. At the end of season two, Michael appeared in front of the Judge (Maya Rudolph) to argue that the humans may have been judged unfairly, and deserve a second chance. With a snap of her fingers, the Judge sent the humans back to Earth, in a new timeline where they never died.

Also seeking redemption, along with Eleanor, are Senegalese philosopher Chidi Anagonye (William Jackson Harper), who is tortured by decision-making; elegant Pakistani-British socialite Tahani Al-Jamil (Jameela Jamil) and dance-obsessed Floridian Jason Mendoza (Manny Jacinto).  Michael is aided by Janet (D’Arcy Carden), a human-esque repository for all of the knowledge in the universe.

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The Season Finale of “Trial & Error: Lady, Killer” is a Delightful Hour of TV Filled With Twists and Satisfying Answers (SPOILERS!)

Trial & Error: Lady, Killer - Season 2All good things must come to an end, and it’s a shame that it’s looking like this might be more than a season finale for Trial & Error. If this is the final ending for this great show, at least it’s a stellar one. Trial & Error: Lady, Killer is the second season of Trial & Error, a comedy mockumentary created by Jeff Astrof and Matt Miller, and follows lawyer Josh Segal (Nicholas D’Agosto) and his associates, Dwayne Reed (Steven Boyer) and Anne Flatch (Sherri Shepherd), as they defend someone from murder charges being brought about by Carol-Anne Keane (Jayma Mays). In these episodes, Josh is trying to prove that Jesse-Ray Beaumont (Michael Hitchcock) wasn’t responsible for the murder of Lavinia Peck-Foster’s (Kristen Chenoweth) brother, Chet, and that it was really Lavinia who was his murderer.

“A Big Break”: Josh and his team continue to find themselves at literal dead ends in their casework until they unearth game-changing evidence with the help of Jesse Ray Beaumont. Meanwhile, in court, Carol Anne tries to finish the case before she has the baby. (Written by Jeff Astrof and directed by Jeffrey Blitz)

“Barcelona”: As Jesse Ray Beaumont’s trial begins, the team struggles to keep him under control while they discover more of Lavinia’s secrets. Now that the baby is born and awaiting the DA election results, Carol Anne discovers who is the baby’s father. (Written by Jeff Astrof and directed by Jeffrey Blitz)

This review will contain spoilers for the season finale of Trial & Error. Read at your own risk…  (more…)

Kristen Chenoweth is Killing It on “Trial & Error: Lady, Killer” (S02E05-06 Review)

Trial & Error: Lady, Killer - Season 2Tonight’s episodes of Trial & Error: Lady, Killer were unexpected in the best possible way. It would have been so easy for the show to just do what it did last year and have the trial last the entirety of the season, but nope. That’s too easy for this team and Trial & Error is a better show because of it. Created by Jeff Astrof and Matt Miller, Trial & Error: Lady, Killer follows the fictional trial of Lavinia Peck-Foster (Kristen Chenoweth) as she’s defended from murder charges by lawyer Josh Segal (Nicholas D’Agosto) in the town of East Peck, South Carolina.

A Change in the Team: After Dwayne testifies on the prosecution’s behalf and dismantles the timeline they established, Lavinia pressures Josh to fire Dwayne. Dwayne redeems himself when he stumbles onto a big break in the case leading to a shocking confession and Josh winning Lavinia’s case. (Written by Patrick Kang and Michael Levin and directed by Jeffrey Blitz)

New Case, Old Murder: In the aftermath of winning Lavinia’s case, the town finally embraces Josh as a real Pecker. However, Josh agonizes over whether or not Lavinia may have done it and, unable to try Lavinia again for Edgar’s murder, Josh takes a big swing by trying to open an old case. (Written by Melanie Boysaw and Nora Nolan and directed by Jeffrey Blitz)

(Spoilers ahead)

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“MTowne: Where Murder Happens” – Trial & Error: Lady, Killer’s official podcast – is a whole lot of fun

MTowne_ Where Murder HappensSince there are no new episodes of Trial & Error: Lady, Killer airing this week, I thought I’d dedicate a post to talking about the official companion podcast to the show, MTowne: Where Murder Happens. Hosted by Nina Rudolph (played by Amanda Payton), MTowne is a podcast that’s set within the universe of Trial & Error. It’s frequently mentioned throughout the second season and the host of the podcast, Nina Rudolph, is a main character in the season. In the same way that Trial and Error parodies true-crime TV documentaries, MTowne parodies true-crime podcasts (such as Serial). It’s a whole lot of fun and really offers a lot of new information about this season of Trial & Error.

“M-Towne: Where Murder Happens” is a narrative podcast companion series to the NBC summer comedy “Trial & Error: Lady, Killer.” Hosted by podcast producer character Nina Rudolph, “M-Towne” parallels the on-air season, exploring juicy details in the murder case of Lavinia Peck-Foster, the honorary matriarch of the small Southern town of East Peck. Parodying podcasts like “Serial,” “M-Towne: Where Murder Happens” pokes fun at all the tropes of the true crime podcast genre in this hilarious, yet bonus-content-rich send-up.

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NBC’s “Trial & Error: Lady, Killer” is Full of Delightful Plot Twists (S02E03-04 “The Murder Clock” and “A Hole in the Case” REVIEW)

Trial & Error: Lady, Killer - Season 2A good ongoing mystery show is only as good as its twists, turns, and red herrings. Trial & Error: Lady, Killer continues to provide us with countless twists and turns and cliffhangers. Created by Jeffrey Blitz and Matt Miller, Trial & Error: Lady, Killer is the second season of NBC’s true-crime satirizing comedy Trial & Error. This season follows the trial of Lavinia Peck-Foster (Kristen Chenoweth) as Josh Segal (Nicholas D’Agosto) and his Associates (Anne (Sherri Shepherd) and Dwayne (Stephen Boyer)) defend her against prosecutor Carol-Anne Keaton (Jayma Mays).

“The Murder Clock”: Josh’s team continues to hunt for the potential murder weapon that would seal their timeline. The case takes a dramatic turn as their search leads them to two new suspects and some shocking news about Lavinia. (Written by Liz Astrof and directed by Jeffrey Blitz)

“A Hole in the Case”: As the trial begins, Josh and his team experience some hiccups in proving Lavinia’s innocence to the judge. As soon as Josh thinks he’s been able to find cause for dismissal of the case, Carol Anne argues to test the timeline herself, leading them to uncover a hidden passageway on Lavinia’s property. (Written by David Booth and directed by Yana Gorskaya)

NOTE: There will be spoilers for episodes 3 and 4 of Trial & Error: Lady, Killer.

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