Bell says plot twist makes ‘Good’ even better
Last season, “The Good Place” turned out to be the Bad Place, but Kristen Bell still feels it's the best place for her to be. The “Veronica Mars” and “House of Lies” alum says she's “in love with” Season 2 of her current NBC comedy series about the afterlife, which has an hourlong start Wednesday at 10 p.m. Off the air since January, the show — normally to be seen on Thursdays again, beginning Sept. 28 — picks up after the climactic twist that saw Bell's character Eleanor discover the supposedly benevolent Michael (Ted Danson) had tricked her and others into believing they were in a heavenly place, when it actually was the opposite.
Filming on “The Good Place's” sophomore season was completed in July.
“We have to start shooting around March,” the spirited Bell explained, “in order to play in all of the special effects, of which we have even more this year. They need two months to do that, and they've really explored how to show this world.”
And that world is now turned around. Bell said that under creator and executive producer Michael Schur (“Parks and Recreation”), the show's first season amounted to “the challenge of how well we could keep a secret. It was a slower-paced season, so that we could reach the end goal of the reveal, but the second season has its foot on the gas from the first moment. Season 1 was the bad weather setting in, and Season 2 is the hurricane.”
Bell knew about the big plot twist from the beginning, but keeping it under wraps meant withholding it even from her husband, actor-writer-director Dax Shepard (“Parenthood,” “CHiPs”).
“He'd say, `I think Ted is a little underutilized, just kind of one-note,' ” Bell recalled. “I didn't spoil it for him, but I knew we were doing that for a very specific reason. There wasn't a shot in Season 1 where (Danson) was ever alone, because if he was, you'd see that he was Michael from the Bad Place. In Season 2, you get a lot more of Ted ... the right amount of Ted.”
As a parent of two young daughters with Shepard, Bell is grateful for the manageable shooting schedule of “The Good Place.” She also has the movie sequel “A Bad Moms Christmas” opening in November, and she already has started her voice work on Disney's “Frozen 2” for a late 2019 release, but she maintains she's still had substantial time at home.
“It's one of the reasons I wanted to do the show, among the lengthy list of reasons why I wanted to be involved,” Bell said. “It's really important to me to have enough time where I feel like I can be doing my No. 1 job, as a mom. This show gives me that opportunity, and (the set) is practically 10 minutes from my house, and it's very kid-friendly. It all works.”