`GOOD' RE­TURN

Bell says plot twist makes ‘Good’ even bet­ter

Boston Herald - - NEWS - By JAY BOB­BIN HEAVEN SENT: Kris­ten Bell and Ted Dan­son re­turn for the sec­ond sea­son of ‘The Good Place.’

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.”

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