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  1. Chapter 12 - Mindy St. Claire Season 1, Episode 12 January 19, 2017 We get to see the previously described death of Eleanor, right down to the Lonely Gal margarita mix and Celebrity Baby Plastic Surgery Disasters magazine (right next to a magazine with Tahani on the cover). Shawn playing the judge and Bad Janet are a formidable team. "I rule the fart inadmissible as evidence." And then we meet Mindy in the medium place. A little while ago my DVR picked up some repeats on a free preview of the Family Channel. I watched part of this one, and it was weird to see Mindy's lift story carefully edited to remove any mention of cocaine. I wonder if that's also the version of this show they get in The Medium Place... Man, that screen of Eleanor's biggest point drops is some fun reading for the freeze framers. Bad Janet in walkie talkie mode always cracks me up. Jason sure does find a lot of reasons to use Molotov cocktails. Janet's "ride or die protocol" is adorable. And everything is finally set up for the big season finale. Podcast this time is Marc talking with Mindy herself, Maribeth Monroe visual effects supervisor David Niednagel. Lots of talk about how they get those effects done on a TV timeline and budget.
  2. Chapter 11 - What's My Motivation Season 1, Episode 11 January 12, 2017 I really do love "real Eleanor" and Chidi's egg scene. "I love you too, egg". Jason and Pillboi and finally finding out how Jason died. "We'll just get married and then no one can testify against us". Michael finds out about Jason. Well, pretends to find out about Jason. Now there are no more secrets, none at all... And the existence of a "Medium Place" is confirmed. And finally, enter Shawn. Speaking of Shawn, podcast this time is Marc (he plays Shawn) talking with episode writer Andrew Law and costume designer Kirston Mann. Talk of Michael's iconic feature bowtie, the inspirations for Janet and Bad Janet's looks, Eleanor's Good Place look vs. her Arizona look and creating the chaos sequence zig-zag outfits.
  3. Chapter 10 - Chidi's Choice Season 1, Episode 10 January 5, 2017 That was a rough two month wait... Man, Tahani is harsh when confronting Jason. But not inaccurate. Eleanor when she thinks "real Eleanor" is coming on to her "well, hooking up with someone with the exact same name is kind of a fun narcissistic fantasy" Young Chidi filibustering recess is a classic bit. And his death scene is surprising. I like the quick switching of who may or may not be soulmates with whom. Sort of taking classic sitcom plot complications but accelerating them and treating them in a more sophisticated manner. "Deirdre and Margaret", ran for 16 years, they did nearly 30 episodes. It feels more like the show now that we finally have Tahani in the loop on all of the secrets. Yep, that's right, no more secrets to be revealed... Oh, man, so much to love in the Jason/Janet wedding. Jason's ripping off his tuxedo sleeves, Eleanor's reactions, the wedding vows, Janet not able to eat the wedding cake (both a callback and setting up an important future bit). Chidi's reaction at the end when he finally decided to make a choice and sees that events have completely changed around him while he was deciding. Podcast this time is MEJ interviewing William Jackson Harper and episode writer Demi Adejuyigbe. I liked the bit talking about what props they'd like to take from the show, with William having a pair of Chidi's loafers (which he makes clear he asked if he could take)
  4. Chapter 9 - ...Someone Like Me as a Member Season 1, Episode 9 November 3, 2016 The show really moves into high gear with this episode. Loved Trevor and the Bad Place crew, and Vicky playing "Real Eleanor" is so perfect that I kind of find it hard to believe that the Vicky we come to know in later seasons could have pulled it off. There's something very odd about Kristen Bell playing high school Eleanor. That was a great little flashback sequence about her refusal to join groups. Payoff to all the weird little things in Eleanor's house being exactly what real Eleanor liked, and the hidden switch for the stairs. First Bad Janet, in a short but memorable bit. I especially like Tahani and Michael's exchange "What is even the purpose of a Janet who behaves in such a manner?" "Unclear." Man, that dinner is, intentionally, torture. Bad Place crew party is off the hook. Nixon Tapes karaoke. I remember thinking at the time that Michael getting into "Who Let The Dogs Out" was a bit out of character, but I guess it was just him letting the mask slip a bit. Michael making his stand against Trevor is a great scene, even knowing it's staged. And of course Tahani finally figures out Jason's secret, which was a painful way to go into a two-month hiatus. Fortunately no one in the future will have to experience that torture. Podcast this time is Marc in conversation with Tiya Sircar (Real Eleanor/Vicky) and writer Jen Statsky. Tiya talks about her original audition for the Tahani role, playing "Real Eleanor" without knowing the twist and filming the later Vicky reveal, and Vicky-as-Trump in later seasons. Lots of discussion about how the writing process on the show works.
  5. Chapter 8 - Most Improved Player Season 1, Episode 8 October 27, 2016 Rebooting Janet and the cactus gag is hilarious, especially as the number and variety of cacti in Michael's office explodes. The list of things that get you sent to the Bad Place is interesting. "Did you ever reheat fish in an office microwave?" I love the cube detecting a lie when Michael says Tahani's been a big help. The questioning of Jason takes on a whole other level when you learn Michael's secret. Adam Scott is great as Trevor, just annoying in so many ways. Chidi being decisive is a great moment. And the revelation of the "real Eleanor" at the end is one of the best cliffhangers the show has had. Podcast for this chapter is Marc Evan Jackson talking with Ted Danson and writer Dan Schofield. It runs pretty far afield of the actual episode, and Ted is very clearly as nice a guy as everyone has been saying he is for the last seven episodes.
  6. On one of the podcasts episodes they mention a deleted scene of Eleanor showing him how to link paperclips, something that never occurred to him (like the snapping suspenders).
  7. Chapter 7 - The Eternal Shriek Season 1, Episode 7 October 20, 2016 Janet's imitation of human crying is hilarious. So is the failsafe mechanism at the reset button, with her begging for her life. And the faceplant when she is shut down is great. Especially when they call back to it with the montage of resets in season 2. And the casual references to Janets updating with each reset, which becomes important later First Chidi flashback, with the story of the ugly boots, and how everyone hates moral philosophy professors. Chidi's flashbacks are a lot more understated than the rest of them, without the cartoon extravagance of Tahani's life, the insane version of Jacksonville in Jason's or Eleanor's basic rejection of common manners, but they were still enjoyable, and might end up being more important to the big picture than expected. "Can we somehow throw Tahani under the bus? That would be a classic two birds with one stone scenario. Plus, I'd get her house. Three birds". I love the delivery of "three birds". And Eleanor's confession at the end opens up a whole new act for the show, right in the middle of the season. Podcast for this chapter is Marc talking with D’Arcy Carden and writer Megan Amram. D'Arcy has one of the weirder casting stories, since the character was so nebulous in concept from the beginning.
  8. I did that for most of the long gap between seasons. I think there was one solid month where the only TV I watched was episodes of this show.
  9. Chapter 6 - What We Owe to Each Other Season 1, Episode 6 October 13, 2016 The "sexy mailman" became a surprisingly persistent running joke. Michael faking a breakdown is always funny. I like the bit where he talks about one of the rocks hiding something, mocking him, is really him talking about himself. And of course the Eleanor teaching Michael to relax and going to karaoke is classic. The whole subplot of Chidi trying to keep Tahani from finding out about Jason isn't my favourite, it's more of a placeholder until they get where they're going, but there are always some good gags. Jason thinking Tahani meant Frank Caliendo when talking about "impressionists" is just the right level of dumb. The Eleanor dog sitting flashbacks are pretty funny. The "Wow, I'm ready to be a mom" line takes on new meaning when we finally get to know Eleanor's mom. Podcast this time is Shawn (he's played by Marc) talking to writers Josh Siegal & Dylan Morgan. Lots of general topics, including how hard Michael Schur and the other writers pushed to have Josh play Glenn.
  10. Chapter 5 - Category 55 Emergency Doomsday Crisis Season 1, Episode 5 October 6, 2016 First flashbacks to Tahani's life and how her sister Kamilah and their wanker parents shaped her. Those are always enjoyable, sort of like the exact opposite world to the Jason flashbacks. That's a lot of frozen yogurt flavours. First reference to Donkey Doug. Also first "Ya basic". The scenes with Bart and Nina are funnier when you've seen the later call-back on them from the demon perspective. Podcast for this chapter is Marc interviewing Kristen Bell and producter/director Morgan Sackett. We get the casting story from Kristen, talk about having to keep the secret for the first season and some early talk about David Niednagel's preview effects using his kids.
  11. Chapter 4 - Jason Mendoza Season 1, Episode 4 September 29, 2016 Obviously Jason gets the focus this time, as well as the first Earth flashbacks from anyone but Eleanor. He's pretty epic in his stupidity. Sometimes in the future the writers get a little too extreme in how stupid they present him, so you wonder how he's able to function in society at all, but this time they strike a good balance. Plus, obviously, they place him in this cartoon version of Jacksonville where stupidity is a requirement. The "Bud-hole" line never fails to amuse the 8-year-old in me. The Tahani subplot, planning the party at Good Plates, was pretty fun, especially given how much the whole party planning thing became both a weakness and a strength for her in later seasons. Podcast episode for this chapter is Marc Evan Jackson interviewing Manny Jacinto and writer of the episode Joe Mande (also later playing Todd the lava monster). Lots of great stuff, including how Joe had to beg to include the "Bortles" line when Jason tossed the Molotov cocktail, which is funny given how iconic it's become, and since this was taped in 2018 by that point the two of them had already been to Jacksonville to see the Jaguars in the playoffs. Interesting to hear how much of Jason's character, like the dancing, came after they cast Manny.
  12. Chapter 3 - Tahani Al-Jamil Season 1, Episode 3 September 22, 2016 We start to get to know the rest of the cast a little more now, with Eleanor going off to try to prove Tahani isn't as perfect as she appears, while Michael tortures Chidi by getting him to explore other options to his endless dissertation in the afterlife, while Janet tries on a few alternate personalities. I really liked this one. It was great to see Eleanor and Tahani play off one another, with Eleanor being exactly the two-faced and duplicitous phony that she accuses Tahani of being. I especially liked how she drops the act and can't help but show her real attitude every time Tahani turns away. And Kristen Bell doing the exaggerated British accent is hilarious. The prop of the plant that Tahani gives Eleanor reflecting their relationship is pretty funny, especially when it bursts into flames ("Huh. What do you think that means?"). Even funnier when you watch it knowing it's part of Michael's torture matrix. Tahani's name dropping continues with her time as Baz Luhrmann muse and her diary with an introduction by Malala Yousafzai and Kylie Minogue. That's quite a combination. I love the running joke about Chidi's dissertation that start here. The whole b-plot is pretty funny, with Janet trying on various personalities, giving D'Arcy Carden a lot more to do than she had in the first two episodes. And of course at the end we have the revelation of Jason. Unfortunately as I watched this out of order the first time I already knew it was coming, but it must be quite a surprise to those who come in unspoiled. I'm still not sure I buy Jason being able to pull off the silent monk act for as long as he did, with what we see of his impulse control and intelligence later on. Podcast for this chapter is MEJ interviewing Jameela Jamil and set designer Camille Bratkowski. Jameela is always delightful on these, especially in the ways she deviates wildly from Tahani, and the look behind the scenes of TV production we get from the production people is fascinating, especially as Marc seems genuinely curious about it all.
  13. They could always bring back Miley Cyrus‘ ex-husband’s brother’s brother, what’s his name, for Tahani.
  14. Chapter 2 - Flying Season 1, Episode 2 September 19, 2016 It occurs to me re-watching this now that it may have been a mistake for them to air the first two episodes as a one-hour block. I think they work much better if you have some time to sit with the first episode in your head for at least a day, maybe ideally a week, before getting some more. Of course, now that it's going to live forever mostly on either on-demand streaming or physical media, instead of scheduled broadcasting, most people will probably watch the first few episodes without even so much as a commercial break between them. So I didn't like this quite as much as the premiere, but still enjoyed it. It's mostly elaborating and expanding on the premise, and then moving it quickly forward with the cliffhanger of the mysterious note. After hearing later podcast episodes, I do have a greater appreciation for some of the visual touches, like the yellow and blue outfits all being specially tailored to match the styles of the normal clothing of the characters, just made of the custom fabric they had made. We see the beginnings of Tahani's name dropping in this episode, with her godmother Diana. Doesn't really matter what she's the princess of, not really important. Still can't believe they had Ted Danson kick a dog into the sun... It's always kind of weird on re-watch to see the other Good Place residents and their cartoon cheeriness now knowing that they were demons putting on an act. Podcast episode for this chapter is Marc (he plays Shawn) speaking with casting directors Allison Jones & Ben Harris and writer Alan Yang. Some good stuff about how the actors were chosen that would get elaborated on in later episodes, and about how Michael Schur explains the concept of the show to people. Also the first hints that Schur could start a cult if he was of a mind to, given how the loyalty and admiration he inspires in his people.
  15. Chapter 1 - Everything Is Fine Season 1, Episode 1 September 19, 2016 I have to admit, I watched this the week it came out and wasn't sold on the show. I liked a lot in it, but I don't think I saw how the concept could sustain a series. So initially I didn't continue past the second episode (broadcast the same night as this). But it stayed in my head, and a few weeks later, as every other new series of the season failed to impress me even more (such high hopes for Son of Zorn...) I went back to it (fortunately I kept it on my DVR schedule), liked the later episodes a lot and went back to catch up and wondered why I wasn't all-in from the start. It's pretty impressive, in retrospect, how much is in the first 23 minutes. We get a lot of Eleanor, of course, and that makes sense since we now know that she is the answer. All the selfishness and arrogance and ability to cover it up with endless charm, scheming and quick thinking. I love some of the facial expressions Bell pulls off. For Michael, it's impossible not to see it now with the knowledge that he's putting on an act, and how it informs the choices that Danson makes in subtle ways. We get enough of Chidi, with the stomachaches and everything, though it would take a few episodes to flesh him out. The rest do enough to be interesting, although they'd have to wait for their focus episodes to really come together. Some other things. Once you find out (from the podcast) that Ted Danson pronounces it "Eleaner", but didn't know he did, it's hard to un-hear it. It's very obvious in these early episodes. Eleanor on her parents: "Maybe they're being used to torture each other. It would work." Wow, talk about telegraphing the ending... The ridiculous lack of stairs to Eleanor's bedroom, her craving for shrimp, the clown paintings. All stuff that would really pay-off down the line. The jokes that need freeze-frame start early, with Michael's film about the points system. Which we now know he was just making up. I'm sure in the real system using "Facebook" as a verb costs way more than -5.55 points. And the substitute swear words are there from the start. And the audaciousness of the absolutely insane chaos sequence at the end is a good declaration that this isn't a normal network show. It's hard for me to believe that I didn't love it from the start. Podcast episode for this chapter was Marc Evan Jackson (he plays Shawn) interviewing creator Michael Schur for almost an hour, released June 1, 2018, so from the perspective of having finished filming most or all of season 3. Lots of fascinating stuff on the genesis of the series and evolution of the characters.
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