Comic-Con: How Damon Lindelof Helped Bring Mike Schur's 'Good Place' to Life
As one of the showrunners behind Lost, Damon Lindelof is a very well-known name amongst Comic-Con attendees.
But it was still a surprise to hear the Lost executive producer's name come up in a panel about NBC's new comedy The Good Place. However, when previewing his new series, series creator Mike Schur revealed the important Lindelof played in the creation of the forthcoming series, which premieres this fall.
"Pretty early on, I called Damon Lindelof, who I knew a little bit," Schur said Thursday at the convention. "I took him out to lunch and pitched him the show and he was a very encouraging. … Once I got encouragement from Damon and other people whose opinions I trusted, I said, 'OK I think I can try and pull this off.'"
For those wondering why Schur – an Emmy and Golden Globe winner whose credits include The Office, Parks and Recreation and Brooklyn Nine-Nine – was so unsure about his idea, it's because it's more high-concept and serialized than his past workplace comedies.
The Good Place is an afterlife comedy centering on Eleanor (Kristen Bell), who dies and winds up in the "good place" because she has been mixed up with someone else. Eleanor becomes torn between staying in the afterlife or trying to figure out a way to return to the life she had before on Earth. Ted Danson plays Michael, her mentor who helps her make a smooth transition to the afterlife. (The pilot, which screened for the first time ever during Thursday's panel, enjoyed a warm reception from the crowd.)
Lindelof not only gave Schur encouragement to proceed with his idea, but suggested tapping Drew Goddard (The Martian) to direct the pilot. He is now also an exec-producer on the show. "I knew immediately I had to be a part of it," Goddard said.
The high-concept premise of the show is exactly what convinced Bell to sign on. "I was incredibly impressed with this absolutely bizarre idea he pitched," she said. "It really combines my two favorite things which is comedy and exploring what it means to be a good person."
Added Danson: "It really truly is about what it means to be good and what it means to be bad. How choices you make in life have a ripple effect. Its fun to be funny but hang your hat on something that's important."
Bell said the show will not only make viewers laugh, but educate them as well. "Each moment and each episode sort of individually delves into some sort of ethical dilemma," she said. "You're actually learning a little bit while you're watching it while you're also laughing."
When asked what viewers can expect for the rest of the first season, Schur was tight-lipped.
"We're pretty spoiler-phobic," he said. "Every episode has a huge twisty cliffhanger-y thing at the end. It takes a lot of forethought and careful planning but it’s a lot of fun."
He continued: "This is very different and very exciting to me at least. It feels very scary in the good way of things being scary."
The Good Place premieres Monday, Sept. 19 at 10 p.m. on NBC.