Overrated/Underrated: 'Star Wars' dilutes its own brand, and catch up on 'The Good Place'


‘The Good Place’ on NBC: An excellent streaming option while waiting for “Game of Thrones” to return, this newcomer created by Michael Schur of “Parks and Recreation” starts off slow, with a superficial, breezy look at the afterlife amid some mistaken-identity comedy for star Kristen Bell. But stick with it and its humor is increasingly revealed as coming from a much darker place. Among its many quick barbs is the revelation that Red Hot Chili Peppers concerts are indeed the path to ruin, along with strong performances from the ever-reliable Ted Danson, plus costars William Jackson Harper, Jameela Jamil and Manny Jacinto.

Floating Points’ ‘Reflections’: The recording alias of Britain’s Sam Shepherd earned raves for his 2015 album “Elaenia,” a crisp, steadily evolving blend of electronic sounds with an organic sense of adventure. For the follow-up, Shepherd headed for Joshua Tree, Calif., to record a combination widescreen album and film project that in its mood and grandeur recalls Pink Floyd’s “Live at Pompeii.” Surrounded by banks of keyboards and girded by a steadily driving rhythm section and two guitarists, Floating Points crafts a swirling, sweeping soundtrack to the drama of the desert with an atmospheric blend of melodies that stretch far enough to almost reach the horizon.


Dan Auerbach’s ‘Waiting on a Song’: As the Black Keys’ frontman, he’s got a track record for swaggering, impossibly catchy blues-rock, but Auerbach misses the mark with his glossy new solo record. Recorded in Nashville with the help of near-legendary figures like Mark Knopfler and John Prine, the album’s guest list roster is strong but still feels like a haphazard collection of poses as Auerbach mostly drifts into breezy singer-songwriter territory and, in the case of jangly first single “Shine on Me,” seems to crib from the worst of George Harrison’s cover of James Ray’s “I’ve Got My Mind Set on You.” We’re better off waiting on a new Black Keys record.

The infallibility for ‘Star Wars’: Remember when George Lucas’ creation was something special? While Lucas himself blew up that idea for many longtime fans with his cartoonish prequels, there remains an unearned sense of optimism surrounding the franchise despite the middling results of “The Force Awakens” and “Rogue One” and hand-wringing over Colin Trevorrow of the much-reviled “Book of Henry” directing an upcoming installment, along with Ron Howard, who takes over the Han Solo prequel from the recently fired Phil Lord and Chris Miller. Much like fast food, it’s almost as if upholding a standard of quality became more difficult once there were so many of these things.

See the most-read stories in Entertainment this hour »


Follow me over here @chrisbarton.


Copyright © 2018, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World