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The Good Place: The Complete Series (Blu-ray Review)

On January 30th of this year, Michael Schur’s The Good Place came to its natural conclusion. Schur may not be a household name, but the guy is responsible as a writer or producer for unarguably some of the best television comedy of the last decade. While his name might not ring a bell, perhaps The Office, Master of None, Parks and Recreation or Brooklyn Nine-Nine ring a bell? And if you’ve not indulged in those, well you may want to start taking a gander. Of all his creations and efforts, The Good Place might just be he’s crowning jewel. More than character, more than comedy, its a bit of discovery, mystery and a full on philosophical exploration of a good many things regarding the human life and afterlife. The great people at Shout! Factory are doing us all a good solid and making sure this series gets its rightful do on Blu-ray instead of finding itself on a lame DVD or sentenced to be found on streaming services only. You’ll be able to pick up their complete series set complete with some bonus features and all episodes when it arrives on May 19th!

Series

What happens when we die? It’s a question everyone has asked, since the beginning of time. But when Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell, Veronica Mars) dies tragically, she finds out that the afterlife is amazing: full of frozen yogurt, soulmates, and wonderful people who have done incredible things with their lives. It is absolutely perfect. The only problem is Eleanor herself. She isn’t supposed to be in The Good Place. In fact, her life decisions wouldn’t have gotten her even close. But due to a clerical error, she’s been given someone else’s reward and now has to struggle with being good in order to make sure her secret isn’t discovered.

Admittedly, I didn’t hop on board The Good Place until Season 2. I sorta placed it in the “Maybe I’ll get to it” bin for Season 1. As luck would have it, I did “get to it” and found I was an idiot as I show I would easily love was right in front my face the whole time. Had ANYONE that was recommending it to me mentioned “Hey! Its a comedic spin on The Prisoner“, I would have friggin’ made it appointment viewing from the start. Then again, I’m weird (Or old) maybe, still considering the short run 1969 Patrick McGoohan as one of the finest achievements of television still to this day. But, that’s me.

The first season of The Good Place goes in the television hall of fame as one of the most perfect seasons of television ever created. While there surely is a cliffhanger, it actually works as a complete work (In a bit of dark way, sure). Michael Schur constructs the best kind of serialized storytelling, not so much weaving heavily on mythology episodes, focusing on character continuation and growth while also slowly chipping away at who people are, answering mysteries in a timely fashion while also gently bring forth some newer questions. And in the end, it has a fantastic, shocking turn that fully rewards everything you just watched and slaps you in the face. Its utter brilliance.

A second season for the show would have a lot to live up to and it managed to keep everything going just as well enough, pretty much equaling the greatness of the first season. And luckily enough, it doesn’t sit and try to stretch out the machinations brought forth in the previous season as long as a lesser show may have. Its also very innovative, imploring much newer discovery and angles with plenty of great fun. Unfortunately the third season that follows, loses a bit of its steam attempting for a different way and landscape for the storytelling. It starts hot and fresh, but slowly tires, making one realize (And maybe Schur himself) that the concept is a bit limited and can only go a bit so far.

Luckily, they total bring the show back to what makes it tick for the final season, with such a natural and wonderful directive. Everything in the show feels both relaxed and carefully calculated and executed. As if it had a plan all along (And maybe it did). Finishing off, it knew we were there for these lovely characters and it hit some philosophical and emotional heartstrings with such a poignant and beautiful farewell, locking it in to start to finish greatness.

The Good Place is headlined by Kristen Bell and Ted Danson. And it must be said (With ease) that this is the BEST Ted Danson role and performance since Cheers, if not better. He is truly amazing and showcases such talents and range you never realized he had. Bell once again gives us another character with great leadership and heart in her closet for of memorable television personalities. But, it doesn’t just stop there, it gives spotlight (or possibly introduces) to such talents of Jameela Jamil, D’Arcy Carden, William Jackson Harper and Manny Jacinto. All of which surprise and impress, and Jacinto could launch as a comedic powerhouse after this. Tack on some outstanding recurring guest players like Maya Rudolph and you can just watch these folks chew scenery for 24 minutes.

Perhaps I sound like a Blu-ray peddler. But in an era of digital “ownership” or streaming service subscriptions as well as an ungodly amount of new content tossed your way every day, The Good Place is one you should honestly OWN (Buy a Blu-ray/DVD). Its worth returning to and will reward multiple views. Its clear, concise and a finite work that won’t take long to watch again and enjoy. Michael Schur’s genius show is as complete to have as any movie. Definitely one of the best shows gifted to us in the former decade.

Episodes

The Good Place: The Complete Series contains every episode from the show’s 4 season run. The episodes are presented in their extended form.

Video

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail:  The Good Place easily transfers over from HD television to Blu-ray and you can see a noticeable uptick in detail, color and sharpness from the broadcast and streaming counterparts. The image is a bit brighter, textures are more apparent and the image showcases much more dimension. Nice work on the image from the folks as Shout! Factory.

Depth: Depth of field is pretty solid, with some good pushback and spacing, equal in both the interiors, exteriors and CGI backs environments. Movements are natural, smooth and have no issues with distortions.

Black Levels: Blacks are a little light, but work well with the overall picture and what’s given in the frame. Hair follicles, surface texture, clothing patterns and more all retain their finer details. No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction:  This show relishes in its bright, vivid colors that pop right up off your screen with no issues regarding any bleeding or such. They are plenty well saturated and showcase lovely, reds, greens, blues and yellows.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and consistent from start to finish of the film. Facial features and textures are easily discernible from any reasonable distance in the frame.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean.

Audio

Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English

Dynamics: The Good Place provides some terrific surround for the show, that wonderfully compliments its spirit and the rooms and outdoor environments presented on screen. It features a top notch balance of vocals, music and sound effects to give a real genuine feel to this fictional television landscape. Overall, its engaging as a comedy show can be from an audio angle, with good surprise and punch when its called upon to do so.

Height: N/A

Low-Frequency Extension: The subwoofer does an above average job of grabbing the booms of music, crashing, explosions, train engines and more. Not overbearing, but not a slouch either.

Surround Sound Presentation: A lot of this hangs out up front, but it is pretty sly with some good environmental building sounds with unique contributions from the rear speakers. Music, crowds, action scenes and full arenas do get more playful with intensity, off screen awareness and travel.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and crisp with good attention to diction and actor mouth sounds and inflections. Always plenty present without upstaging from the quietest room to the loudest pandemonium.

Extras

The Good Place: The Complete Series is 9-Disc set. The inside of the cover insert features an Disc/Episode listing. While all the bonus features are encoded as HD, it does appear that they were mastered in SD for the DVD releases and just simply plucked from that over here, rather than just present them in HD.

Season One – Disc 1

Audio Commentary

  • Everything Is Fine/Flying – With Creator Michael Schur, Executive Producer Drew Goddard, And Co-Stars Jameela Jamil And D’Arcy Carden

Season One – Disc 2

Audio Commentary

  • Mindy St. Claire/Michael’s Gambit – With Creator Michael Schur, Executive Producer Drew Goddard, And Co-Stars Jameela Jamil And D’Arcy Carden

Season Two – Disc 1

Audio Commentary

  • Dance Dance Resolution – With Creator Michael Schur, Executive Producer Drew Goddard, Producer Megan Amram, And Actor Ted Danson

Bonus Disc: Special Features (Disc 9)

Season One Gag Reel (HD, 10:05) – Features an introduction by Adam Scott (In character as Trevor).

Season One VFX (HD, 1:17) – Displays 2 scenes that back and forths and split screens between the original footage and the final footage with visual effects shots added in.

Episode 11: Mindy St. Claire: Table Read (HD, 28:46) – Full table read of the episode. Only one camera angle that focuses on most of the table, with our lead cast in full view.

Season Two Gag Reel (HD, 7:14) – Mindy St. Claire of The Medium Place introduces the blooper reel.

Season Two VFX (HD, :58) – Similar to the VFX for Season One.

Season Three Gag Reel (HD, 8:50) – No introduction this time.

Season Three VFX (HD, 2:27) – Third verse same as the first (and second).

2019 San Diego Comic-Con Panel: The Good Place (HD, 50:45) – The entire comic con panel to promote the final season, in its entirety, hosted by series star Marc Evan Jackson.

Season Four Gag Reel (HD, 9:25) – Brent Norwalk introduces the bloopers from the final season.

Season Four Finale: After Show (HD, 11:54) – Seth Meyers hosts a little show with cast of the show to get their reactions and anecdotes on the final episode and wrapping up the series.

Summary

The Good Place winds up a fantastic, concise and complete thought of a story that wound up on comedic television. As a finite piece, its going to wind up very successful when more people discover it in the coming years and will age well as a result. Shout! Factory’s release of the complete series features a terrific presentation in both audio and visuals. No real new features or interviews have been added for this set, using what pretty much promotionally was available for extras. Nonetheless, the show speaks for itself. And in an era of so much damn content, this is one to own, collect and easily find time to return to.

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Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com) on the Creative Zombie Studios Network. At Why So Blu he is a Writer/Reviewer. Brandon is a lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash. You can also find older essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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