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Blu-ray Review: THE GOOD PLACE: THE COMPLETE SERIES

May 18 Posted by in DVD/Blu-ray, Reviews | Comments

All Good things must come to an end, and after four seasons, NBC’s hilarious and delightful afterlife comedy The Good Place wrapped up with a satisfying conclusion. While Shout! Factory had previously released the first three seasons of the series only on DVD, it has now released the complete series on one big Blu-ray set (along with a separate season 4 DVD release, for those just wishing to complete their DVD collections).

The first season of The Good Place introduces viewers to this wacky world and its inhabitants. Humans Eleanor (Kristen Bell), Tahani (Jameela Jamil), Jason (Manny Jacinto) and Chidi (William Jackson Harper) weren’t the best people on Earth, but when they died, they were sent to “The Good Place”. However, they all quickly realize that there must have been a mistake—that they have been accidentally miscategorized and should have been sent to “The Bad Place”.

On Earth, Eleanor was a selfish scammer who didn’t really care about her fellow human beings, Tahani was self-centered and cared more about wealth, status and appearances, Jason was a simple-minded thief, and Chidi was too focused on his academic accolades. Once they figure out they are all in the same boat, Chidi tries to teach the group philosophy and morals in hopes that they could become better people before Michael (Ted Danson), the man in charge of “The Good Place”, figures out that they don’t belong. Assisting Michael and the others in “The Good Place” is Janet (D’Arcy Carden), Michael’s android assistant, who is like Google-meets-Jeannie, with the knowledge of the universe at her fingertips, and the ability to make anything appear at the blink of an eye. The first season ends with a major twist that shakes everything up.

In the second season, “The Good Place” gets an overhaul, with our favorite group of afterlife residents being assigned new soulmates, but no matter how many times the system is rebooted, things always eventually turn out the same. Michael is desperate to keep his failure hidden from boss Shawn (Marc Evan Jackson) and the ambitious demon Vicky (Tiya Sircar), and eventually must do the unthinkable, teaming up with the humans. In the first season, the characters were focused on becoming good so that they wouldn’t be discovered, but in the second season, the characters are truly trying to become better people to be welcomed into “The Good Place”.

In the show’s third season, the humans find themselves back on Earth, in a new timeline, in an experiment to prove that humans can learn to be good people if just given the chance. While they each start off on their own separate paths, it isn’t long before the strangers find each other again (thanks to some divine assistance) and get the old gang back together. But when this Soul Squad once again learns the truth about “The Good Place” and its point system, they decide to use their time on Earth to try to help their loved ones get to “The Good Place”. Meanwhile, Shawn (Marc Evan Jackson) is plotting ways to put a stop to Michael’s experiment.

In the show’s final season, with the fate of the world in their hands, The Soul Squad is tasked with proving that a new group of four test subjects can be turned around and made worthy of “The Good Place”. However, this group includes entitled male chauvinist Brent (Benjamin Koldyke), despicable celebrity gossip blogger John (Brandon Scott Jones), and another “new” resident who really puts Eleanor to an emotional test. Can they save “The Good Place”, and the Earth itself, before it’s too late?!

I absolutely loved the first season of this series, so I was both excited by and nervous about the big twist at the end of the first season. However, it isn’t long into the second season until the character relationships of our core four “Good Place” residents are back to the status quo—though it doesn’t feel like a cheap cop-out in the way that they get there. Over the course of the four seasons, the series is constantly reinventing itself, throwing surprising new curve balls into the mix, but at its core remaining the same delightful and hilarious series that I looked forward to each week. It was such a joy to be able to re-watch the episodes again in their extended form, and in full HD glory on this Blu-ray set.

This series is so well-written, taking viewers on an emotional and thought-provoking journey, while also making them laugh hysterically along the way. There are so many layers to each episode—not just the smart, witty dialogue, but also the many sight gags in the backgrounds of every scene. You can watch these episodes over and over and always notice something new. The characters really grow and transform over the course of the series, and the writers have also done an excellent job of planting seeds and seemingly-minor mentions in the earlier seasons that pay off nicely in the later seasons.

Shout! Factory had previously released the first three seasons of The Good Place on DVD, but now the seasons are finally getting an HD release, and they look phenomenal—even better than I remember the series looking when it originally aired. The picture looks pristine and detailed, and really showcases the colorful palette of the fantasy-like “Good Place”. The audio track provides clear dialogue, and also makes nice use of the surround and stereo channels to provide a more immersive viewing experience. Each season’s episodes are spread across two discs, with a Play All option on each disc, and all of the bonus material, except for the audio commentaries, can be found on the ninth disc. The discs are packed in a thick multi-disc Blu-ray keepcase, with plastic trays to house the discs. The release ports over all of the bonus material from the previous DVD releases, and adds some new content for the fourth season. All told, the supplemental material includes audio commentaries for three episodes, gag reels for all four seasons, visual effects reels for the first three seasons, a table read for the first season’s penultimate episode, the full 2019 San Diego Comic-Con panel, and the after show special that aired following the season finale on NBC. The one thing that’s sadly missing from this release is the 6-episode web series, The Good Place Presents: The Selection, which NBC released online between the third and fourth seasons.



What’s Included:

Episodes: (20:53:48)

    (Episodes airing on NBC were typically 21:30 in length, the times are listed here to show that these are nearly all extended cuts.)

  • Season 1 (2016–17) – Chapters 1-13: (5:12:36)
    Disc 1: “Everything Is Fine/Flying” (42:42), “Tahani Al-Jamil” (24:54), “Jason Mendoza” (22:33), “Category 55 Emergency Doomsday Crisis” (26:18), “What We Owe to Each Other” (26:21), “The Eternal Shriek” (24:14)
    Disc 2: “Most Improved Player” (25:14), “…Someone Like Me as a Member” (24:53), “Chidi’s Choice” (23:47), “What’s My Motivation” (26:37), “Mindy St. Claire/Michael’s Gambit” (45:01)
  • Season 2 (2017–18) – Chapters 14-26: (4:42:56)
    Disc 1: “Everything Is Great!” (42:41), “Dance Dance Resolution” (24:16), “Team Cockroach” (23:55), “Existential Crisis” (25:23), “The Trolley Problem” (24:39), “Janet and Michael” (23:17)
    Disc 2: “Derek” (23:43), “Leap to Faith” (23:59), “Best Self” (24:48), “Rhonda, Diana, Jake, and Trent” (22:47), “The Burrito” (23:28), “Somewhere Else” (24:20)
  • Season 3 (2018–19) – Chapters 27-39: (5:16:09)
    Disc 1: “Everything Is Bonzer!” (42:57), “The Brainy Bunch” (24:40), “The Snowplow” (24:40), “Jeremy Bearimy” (26:49), “The Ballad of Donkey Doug” (22:40), “A Fractured Inheritance” (27:05)
    Disc 2: “The Worst Possible Use of Free Will” (24:32), “Don’t Let the Good Life Pass You By” (25:04), “Janet(s)” (24:25), “The Book of Dougs” (23:42), “Chidi Sees the Time-Knife” (24:11), “Pandemonium” (25:24)
  • Season 4 (2019–20) – Chapters 40-53: (5:42:07)
    Disc 1: “A Girl from Arizona, Part 1” (26:03), “A Girl from Arizona, Part 2” (23:18), “Chillaxing” (24:33), “Tinker, Tailor, Demon, Spy” (23:21), “Employee of the Bearimy” (23:47), “A Chip Driver Mystery” (24:55), “Help Is Other People” (21:32)
    Disc 2: “The Funeral to End All Funerals” (23:50), “The Answer” (23:36), “You’ve Changed, Man” (22:49), “Mondays, Am I Right?” (23:57), “Patty” (24:27), “Whenever You’re Ready” (55:56)
  • 1080p / Widescreen 1.78:1
  • Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
  • Subtitles: English

Extras:

  • Audio Commentaries
    Three audio commentaries can be found on the discs with their respective episodes.

    • Chapters 1 & 2. Everything Is Fine/Flying (42:42)
      Series creator Michael Schur and executive producer/director Drew Goddard provide a fun and informative commentary for the double-episode series premiere. They share behind-the-scenes stories about the production, discuss the origin of the series, the cast and the characters, and point out some Easter eggs in some of the scenes. Stars Jameela Jamil and D’Arcy Carden join the commentary for the second episode, and talk about their characters and how they were cast on the series.
    • Chapters 12 & 13. Mindy St. Claire/Michael’s Gambit (45:01)
      Series creator Michael Schur, executive producer Drew Goddard, and stars Jameela Jamil and D’Arcy Carden provide a fun an informative commentary for the double-episode first season finale. Some of the things they discuss include actor Marc Evan Jackson, “The Medium Place”, and the big twist at the end of the season.
    • Chapter 16. Dance Dance Resolution (24:16)
      Series creator Michael Schur, executive producer/director Drew Goddard, writer Megan Amram, and star Ted Danson (“Michael”) provide a fun and informative audio commentary for the third episode of the second season. They share some behind-the-scenes stories, talk about shooting all of the rapid-fire crazy scenarios and some of the alternate ones they considered, Janet’s ever-changing outfits, some of the episode’s deleted scenes, the use of visual effects, and more.
  • Season One Gag Reel (10:05)
    Trevor (Adam Scott) from “The Bad Place” provides an introduction and closing to this fun gag reel where the cast flub/forget their lines, throw down alternate lines, crack each other up, fart, and curse (a lot). Positive and negative points appear on the screen based on the actors’ actions.
  • Season One VFX (1:17)
    Montage of scenes play while split screens and wipes are utilized to show all of the special effects that were added.
  • Episode 112 -Mindy St. Claire – Table Read (28:46)
    A static view of the ballroom as the cast and crew gather to read through the penultimate episode of the first season. Includes some material that’s not in the aired version of the episode.
  • Season Two Gag Reel (7:14)
    Mindy St. Claire (Maribeth Monroe) of “The Medium Place” provides the intro and closing for this fun gag reel where the cast flub/forget their lines, crack up, and curse (a lot). Plus, there’s a music montage of the cast having fun on set.
  • Season Two VFX (:58)
    A quick look at some of the season’s scenes with and without the visual effects. Sequences include “Let There Be Dragons”, “Abracadabra Room”, “Now Reappear”, “Kink in the Neck”, “Next Stop”, and “Balloon From Above.”
  • Season Three Gag Reel (8:50)
    Shawn (Marc Evan Jackson) from “The Bad Place” provides the intro and closing for this fun gag reel (with lots of uncensored profanity) which finds the actors flubbing their lines, misplacing props, improv-ing lines, and making each other crack up during takes. And it finishes out with a dance montage.
  • Season Three VFX (2:27)
    A quick look at some of the season’s scenes with and without the visual effects, showcasing what a big difference they make. Sequences include “The London Bridge Ahead”, “Savage Taxi Smash”, “Centaur Tahani”, “Janet, Janet, Janet”, “Endless Office”, “Chaos Kiss”, and “The Bridge To IHOP”.
  • 2019 San Diego Comic-Con Panel – The Good Place (50:45)
    The full 2019 San Diego Comic-Con panel, moderated by star Marc Evan Jackson, and featuring panelists executive producer/director Drew Goddard, series creator Michael Schur, and stars Ted Danson, Kristen Bell, William Jackson Harper, Jameela Jamil, D’Arcy Carden and Manny Jacinto.
  • Season Four Gag Reel (9:25)
    Brent Norwalk (Benjamin Koldyke), CEO and P.I.M.P. of Norwalk Industries provides the intro and closing for this fun gag reel that finds the actors dealing with misbehaving props, flubbing/forgetting their lines, and cracking each other up. There’s also lots of profanity and a dance montage.
  • Season Four Finale – After Show (11:54)
    Seth Meyers hosts this emotional special that originally aired immediately following the series finale on NBC. He interviews cast members Manny Jacinto, Jameela Jamil, Ted Danson, Kristen Bell, William Jackson Harper, and D’Arcy Carden about their thoughts on the finale, the ending, and working with one another.

 


Final Thoughts:

My Rating
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Audio:
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Must Own

The Good Place will most certainly go down as one of my all-time favorite TV shows. It is so delightful, hilarious, and cleverly written, and each season takes the viewer on a roller-coaster ride of emotions. There are so many great, unexpected twists and turns, starting with the bombshell dropped in the first season finale. Shout! Factory’s new Blu-ray release looks and sounds fantastic. The set includes all of the bonus material from the previous DVD releases, along with some new material for the fourth season. This set is a must own for any fan of the series, and highly recommended for anyone looking for a smart comedy that is highly bingeable and rewatchable.