Welcome! Everything is fine. Or is it?
San Diego Comic-Con attendees were welcomed into The Good Place, for what was hands down NBC’s best takeover of the Tin Fish area in the Gaslamp yet. While NBC typically re-brands the area and offers something cool to promote one of their newest offerings during San Diego Comic-Con, we’ve never seen lines as long as they were this year for The Good Place (and the subsequent “The Good Plates” restaurant, but more on that in a minute) – and we’ve also never seen people leave with more of a smile.
Attendees to the event were first ushered into a room with the trademark “Welcome! Everything is fine!” scrawled across it in friendly letters. Groups of about 10-30 individuals were then treated to a special video with “Michael” and “Janet” recorded specifically for the event, to welcome you to The Good Place.
Bad news: You died at Comic-Con in a mass stampede with Tatiana Maslany and a Pokemon Go were spotted in a Starbucks. Good news: The fact that you watched Suicide Squad eight times and it made you cry didn’t disqualify you from getting here!
That’s when the real fun started. NBC hired actors – and decent actors, to boot – to basically stand in as some sort of loose interpretation for all of your favorite characters from the series. There was a woman in a “Best Person” sash, a “nerd” discussing the trolley problem, and even a woman in a sun dress and oversized hat running around. For fans of the show, it was cool to see little nods to the series – but for everyone else, there was still plenty of fun to be had.
Several of the shops from The Good Place found their way into “The Neighborhood”, including Everything Fits! and of course, a few yogurt shops. You could also hop aboard a mini-carousel filled with shrimp, or stop and learn about The Trolley Problem. All of the “characters” would converse with you, and we had fun playing along.
Interesting things started happening shortly afterwards, though. There were a few people who “didn’t belong” – and a few SDCC attendees actually got what might be the coolest swag of all, a literal envelope that when you opened it told you “you don’t belong here”. During our session, one of the actors was incognito with our group, and was acting subtly strangely, like shaking our hands and then instantly reaching for some hand sanitizer (rude or hilarious all depends on the context!).
Eventually, just as in the show, this started to cause some problems. Our hand sanitizer friend was declared as really belonging in The Bad Place, and got “dragged out” to be taken The Bad Place where he’d only be allowed to watch Parks and Recreation – but only season one.
Quickly, full chaos broke out as the actors began running around and asking to make sure everyone really belonged here. More strange things started happening. A giant ladybug appeared over the activation and music from the series was blasted out, while the actors began shouting that they needed to get you to safety, and rushed you through “Infinite Light” to the other side – the exit. If it sounds insane, it’s because it was – but we dare you to leave with anything but a smile on your face.
The Good Place neighborhood was wacky, chaotic, but oh so fun – with lots of little nods to the source material while also making you feel like you were part of the action. There were even cool little hidden things within the event to make it unique, such as swag (but only if you asked or randomly got handed it!) like a foam shrimp and a The Good Place branded spoon. There were even The Good Place coins being handed out occasionally.
And of course, the perfect cap to the event was a quick stop at the Tin Fish – or, as it was known during Comic-Con week, “The Good Plates”. The menu was re-themed with items like “Greener Pastures Salads”, “Fountain of Life Beverages”, “Otherworldly Quesadillas”, and of course, plenty of shrimp and clam chowder.
The best offsites at San Diego Comic-Con are those that are interactive, fun, and still fit within the world of the thing they’re aiming to promote – which The Good Place nailed, on all levels. This was – in our humble opinion – the best offsite that NBC has ever brought to the convention, and hopefully a sign of more awesome things to come.