Tag Archives: dying

My Favorite Scene: The Good Place Season 2 (2017) “The Trolley Problem”

The Ethical Magnificence of The Trolley Problem

I have a proposal that I think will make Philosophy 101 more palatable for all college freshman: replace the course with a binge watch of The Good Place. Now, I do understand that there are people who enjoy deep philosophical arguments. I do get that. But, by and large, those people are already collegiate philosophy professors and are, in this context, the problem. Michael Schur, the brilliant creator of both Parks & Recreation and The Good Place, is the rare example of a person who finds philosophy fascinating and not terribly serious. The Good Place disguises is with humor and an afterlife landscape that seems like the sort of thing Douglas Adams would come up with after drinking a lot of off-label cough syrup, but the show is sneakily giving its viewers a more effective philosophical education than they’re likely to find anywhere in higher education. A perfect example of this is season two’s exploration of the trolley problem.

You see a runaway trolley moving toward five tied-up (or otherwise incapacitated) people lying on the tracks. You are standing next to a lever that controls a switch. If you pull the lever, the trolley will be redirected onto a side track, and the five people on the main track will be saved. However, there is a single person lying on the side track. You have two options:

  1. Do nothing and allow the trolley to kill the five people on the main track.
  2. Pull the lever, diverting the trolley onto the side track where it will kill one person.

Which is the more ethical option?

One of the pillars of The Good Place’s own philosophy is that anyone can change for the better. Season two, in large part, follows the journey of demon Michael (Ted Danson) as he learns more about what makes humans tick. The most hysterical example of this is when Michael plops the terminally indecisive Chidi into the middle of a real-life trolley problem and…ups the stakes. The Good Place isn’t just a good time. As it nears the end of its third season, The Good Place has become the best comedy of the decade and arguably the best show on television.

THE GOOD PLACE — “The Trolley Problem” Episode 206 — Pictured: (l-r) Kristen Bell as Eleanor, William Jackson Harper as Chidi, Ted Danson as Michael — (Photo by: Colleen Hayes/NBC)

My Favorite Scene: The Good Place Season 1 (2016) “How Your Life Is Scored”

I have rarely, if ever, been more wrong about a TV show than I was with The Good Place.  Honestly, it’s not entirely my fault.  The show’s advertising looked awful.  I couldn’t imagine how anyone was going to be able to sustain a show about the afterlife, but then I didn’t know how much of a genius Michael Shur was.  Not only did he manage to create a genius sitcom that takes place in religion-neutral Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory, but he’s written most of the episodes.  The show isn’t just funny, it’s seriously addictive.  I watched each of the first two seasons in two annual sittings.  Ted Danson is taking a victory tour as one of the best comedic actors in TV history as Michael, the architect of The Good Place.  In the show’s pilot, Michael gives an orientation to the recently deceased as to how their life’s actions have gained the entry to this elite post-death paradise.  As good as the orientation is, you need to pause and read all the hundreds of scoring criterion that pop up during his speech.  If you’re in a show hole during the summer TV doldrums, this is one you definitely need to catch up on.

The Good Place Season One

Killing Time is Back! Hiatus Ends; Project Re-boot Dave Begins!

The last picture taken of my wife and myself.
The last picture taken of my wife and myself.

Killing Time is back after a month-long hiatus!  While I’m excited by writing again and getting back to escaping into fantasy worlds aplenty, people have been so kind to me this last month that I wanted to give reality its due one more time before I resume my policy of keeping my personal life out of my writing altogether.  So I’ll begin with an update.  In the 26 days since my wife passed away, I’ve pretty much blown up my life.  I resigned my position, I sold,donated, or tossed most of my possessions and 98% of the ones remaining have been placed into storage.  For the last several years, I’ve taken on the role of care taker and it has been my honor.  My wife was a spectacular person and I can’t even find words to describe to you how much I miss her.  Caretakers fall, kind of by necessity, into a very regimented role and life.  You don’t often deviate from the norm, nor go anywhere or do anything unplanned or spontaneity.  To get though this, to even try to attempt to find another side, I needed to change literally everything I possibly could.

My way of doing things and handling things would had me hermited up in a cave somewhere in the Urals and flagellating myself with sheaves of wheat.  My wife was right 99.9% of the time, so I just asked myself what she’d do and I’ve tried to make myself follow the advice I’d know she’d flick me on the ear and give.  I surrounded myself with friends and family.  There hasn’t been a day that’s gone by since she died when I didn’t see someone to help me pack, distract me or just sit in the room.  I’m changing my surroundings.  I won’t be able to stare at X spot in the apartment or drive past Y restaurant with a great memory, because my end game is a place where I know NOTHING!  Every day for dozens of reasons for the past few years, I have been under tremendous stress to get a hundred things done all while worrying that this life necessities were robbing me of moments with the person that was doing all of this for after all.  That much stress and that much pressure for years and you start to burn out. I was running on fumes in the summer early fall and I just needed some form of relief soon.  Unfortunately, that was about the time my wife’s cancer shifted into its final stages

Everyone talks about the stages of grief, but they talk about them as if you shift through them like you were cruising along a Candyland board made of crappy days.  It doesn’t work like that.  You go from denial to angry to depressed to just a little acceptance right before you find yourself back expecting her to walk around the corner again.  I’m not happy my wife’s dead.  I’m happy she’s out of the pain that made her existence hell.  Selfishly, I want to talk to her a last time.  Ask her if I handled things this last month in  away she’d have wanted and ask to hear her say “I love you” just once more, but I had a decade of moments, grand and touching

She thought Killing Time was a great idea.  She like reading the articles, arguing points of reviews and voting in the polls.  She loved hearing what you all had to say, and she would have been as touched as I was by the responses to her obituary from site users.    She was so happy that it was helpful in helping me to deal with her disease and  more thrilled that I’m going to turn to it again to try to begin to heal after her death.  I am traveling with my faithful pug Frodo.  This week we’re in the Richmond area and I’ll keep you updated in the KT column on Thursdays as to where Frodo and I are and how we’re coping.  Thank you so much to all my friends and family.  Thank you for the cards and emails.  Thank you for every thoughtful word and prayer here, by email, Tweet, Facebook message, etc.  Each one was special to me and I didn’t respond directly, it’s not because I wasn’t touched.

But, as this is my only job right now, I’ve got a lot of articles to write, media to review, and just generally try to get back to having fun while I’m killing time.  Thanks for waiting for me and thanks for the support..

Dave  &  Frodo the Wonder Pug