Emmy episode analysis: Ted Danson (‘The Good Place’) is devilishly funny as a demon with a heart of gold

It just wouldn’t be an Emmy race without Ted Danson. The two-time champion earned his 17th career nomination for playing an afterlife demon with a heart of gold on “The Good Place,” for which he previously contended last year. Prior to that, he won two trophies (1990 and 1993) out of 11 bids for “Cheers” and competed three more times for “Damages” and once for the 1984 television movie “Something About Amelia.”

For his Emmy submission, Danson has chosen the third season episode of Season 3, “The Worst Possible Use of Free Will.” In this installment, Michael (Danson) shows Eleanor (Kristen Bell) her romantic memories with Chidi (William Jackson Harper), confessing he has often failed to predict her behavior. He admits their experiment to place the gang back on Earth in an attempt to rework the afterlife is pointless if everything is predetermined, so he sends them to Canada to find “a blueprint for humanity.”

SEE Emmy episode analysis: Maya Rudolph (‘The Good Place’)

Can Danson win for this episode? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons:


Danson is a TV legend and an Emmy favorite, as evidenced by his multiple wins and nominations. In fact, he holds the record for the most bids in the Best Comedy Actor category with 13 (Alan Alda and his “Cheers” costar Kelsey Grammer are close behind him with 11 each). If anybody’s going to take down reigning champ Bill Hader (“Barry”), it kinda helps to be a little popular.

“The Good Place” has been steadily gaining in momentum, finally breaking into the Best Comedy Series and Best Comedy Writing races in its third season (Danson returned along with guest contender Maya Rudolph; the show has another bid . for creative achievement in interactive media). With the upcoming fourth season already announced as its last, voters may want to start showering it with accolades while they still can, and Danson seems like, well, a good place to start.

There’s some wonderful interplay between Michael and Eleanor here, with a good amount of pathos thrown in with the laughs. It’s a lovely episode that sets up the emotional season finale, and Danson shines as always.

SEE Ted Danson is aiming to achieve an incredibly rare feat in the Best Comedy Actor category


If Danson couldn’t beat Hader last year, why should we expect him to pull off an upset now, when “Barry” is stronger than ever? Honestly, is there anyone in the competition (which includes Anthony Anderson in “Black-ish,” Don Cheadle in “Black Monday,” Michael Douglas in “The Kominsky Method” and Eugene Levy in “Schitt’s Creek”) who can gain enough momentum to take down the man behind the 17-nominee comedy behemoth?

Though “The Good Place” more than doubled its nominations from last year (bringing its total to seven), it’s yet to actually win anything, calling into question just how popular it is with Emmy voters overall. And with one more season on the horizon, voters might just wait until next year to give it some farewell love.

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Be sure to make your Emmy predictions today so that Hollywood insiders can see how their TV shows and performers are faring in our odds. You can keep changing your predictions as often as you like until just before winners are announced on September 22. And join in the fun debate over the 2019 Emmys taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our television forums. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.

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