This week’s TV: Goodbye ‘Good Place,’ hello Super Bowl and Taylor Swift

D'Arcy Carden (left) as Janet and Jameela Jamil as Tahani on "The Good Place," which ends its four-season run on NBC this week.
D'Arcy Carden (left) as Janet and Jameela Jamil as Tahani on "The Good Place," which ends its four-season run on NBC this week.Colleen Hayes/NBC

Your TV GPS, Globe critic Matthew Gilbert’s guide to what’s on television, appears at the beginning of each week at BostonGlobe.com. Today’s column covers Jan. 27-Feb. 2.


This week, Thursday at 8:30 p.m., what may be end up being network TV’s last great original and ambitious sitcom will be leaving the air with a 90-minute event. Before it gets tired and repetitive, NBC’s “The Good Place” is wrapping after four seasons, never having worn out its welcome. It’s a nice role model at a time when too many shows — “Modern Family,” “Will & Grace,” “Homeland” — haven’t much cared about overstaying their welcome.


Created by Mike Schur of “Parks and Recreation” and “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” “The Good Place” has been a creative adventure for viewers and, I’d bet, the writers. The seemingly single-gimmick story — a selfish woman winds up in heaven by mistake — evolved into a comic look into ethical dilemmas and their relationship to human nature. The writers essentially rebooted the show on a regular basis, taking the popular phrase “game-changer” to playful new heights, all in order to keep the characters — and the viewers — emotionally and philosophically challenged.

While ideas involving personal responsibility and utilitarianism gave the show its heady energy, the cast rose to the occasion beautifully. They formed a unique TV ensemble of characters featuring one Siri-like information bank — or, rather, with “Bad Janet,” “Neutral Janet,” “Disco Janet,” and the others, an army of Siri-like creatures. Ted Danson was perfectly cast as the recovering demon, Michael, and he and the flawed humans in his charge — including William Jackson Harper’s professor, Chidi, and Kristen Bell’s work-in-progress, Eleanor — all had a warm chemistry that grew from week to week. I’ll miss the show — or, rather, I’ll be happy to be missing the show rather than watching it fall apart.



1. The Super Bowl — perhaps you’ve heard about it — airs on Sunday on Fox starting at 6:30 p.m., as the 49ers will play the Chiefs. The most watched Super Bowl in history was in 2015, between the Patriots and Seahawks, with 114.4 million viewers, but each year the number has dropped, with last year bringing in 98.2 million. The event is followed by the third-season premiere of “The Masked Singer.”

2. No, impeachment has not been canceled, despite terrifyingly low ratings. I guess if you’re going to compel Americans to watch a long trial on TV, you’d better have a lot at stake — the presidency, for example, or the Constitution. Oh, um, wait. Maybe the low numbers represent denial, or active rejection, or boredom, or news exhaustion, or passivity, or frustration from the lack of witness testimony, or partisanship? Or maybe it’s because the end of the story line has essentially already been spoiled?

A scene from "Taylor Swift: Miss Americana."
A scene from "Taylor Swift: Miss Americana." Associated Press

3. Will the Netflix documentary “Taylor Swift: Miss Americana” get inside the head of the music star and reveal who she is behind her careful public facade? I’m a doubter, but an uninvested doubter, since I’m neither a fan nor a hater. The film is authorized and could well be a self-mythologizing biography of Swift, which reportedly includes Swift talking about having an eating disorder. We’ll see. It’s available on Friday.


4. J.J. Watt of the Houston Texans is hosting “Saturday Night Live” this week, with musical guest country singer-songwriter Luke Combs.

5. I wound up really liking the first season of Simon Rich’s “Miracle Workers,” as heavenly bureaucrats tried to get two humans to kiss. The anthology show returns for a second round as “Miracle Workers: Dark Ages,” once again with stars Daniel Radcliffe and Steve Buscemi, who plays a janitor instead of God this time. The action is set in the Dark Ages, as villagers deal with income inequality and poor health care. Wow, sounds like they need help. It’s on TBS on Tuesday at 10:30 p.m.

6. Ted Bundy is a ratings draw, alas. The serial killer has been the topic of many — too many — documentary TV shows. The latest one, “Ted Bundy: Falling for a Killer,” looks at Bundy’s crimes “from a female perspective,” as the press release puts it, with interviews with women including friends and relatives of Bundy victims as well as Bundy’s longtime girlfriend Elizabeth Kendall and her daughter Molly. The five-parter is due Friday on Amazon.


“Next in Fashion” Designers design in this new 10-episode fashion competition series hosted by Alexa Chung and Tan France. Netflix, Wednesday

“Night on Earth” A nature series about nocturnal life, hosted by Samira Wiley. Netflix, Wednesday

“Arrow” After eight seasons and four spinoffs, Stephen Amell’s series bids farewell. The CW, Tuesday, 9 p.m.

Awkwafina in a scene from the Comedy Central series "Awkwafina is Nora from Queens."
Awkwafina in a scene from the Comedy Central series "Awkwafina is Nora from Queens."Zach Dilgard/Comendy Central


“Awkwafina Is Nora From Queens” The comic-actress brings her own fearless twists to the slacker genre.


“Sex Education” Season two proves the high school comedy is among the best teen TV series.

“Avenue 5” A space comedy starring Hugh Laurie, from the creator of “Veep."

“Sanditon” Screenwriter Andrew Davies’s take on Jane Austen’s unfinished manuscript.

“The Outsider" An adaptation of Stephen King’s novel by Richard Price.

Matthew Gilbert can be reached at matthew.gilbert@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @MatthewGilbert.