When you really get down to it, maybe moral philosophy is at the heart of every TV sitcom. People still argue over whether Ross from Friends was good or bad, for example, and there are probably forums out there where people chew over ethical dilemmas posed by The Big Bang Theory. A 50,000 word thesis on According to Jim according to Kant? Probably already been written.
Still, no other sitcom has made it so explicit, worn its moral philosopher influences on its sleeve, quite so much as The Good Place. If that makes it sound kind of nerdy – and it definitely is – then it's all the more remarkable that it's also one of the funniest and most easily enjoyable shows on TV right now.
The third season, which we are getting in old-fashioned weekly instalments on Netflix (it airs on NBC in the US), reinforces the show's status at the top of the modern sitcom pile.
Where the second season took the premise established by the first and turned it completely inside out, this one feels more like a gentle nudge along a new trajectory. And when your show is set in the afterlife, the number of directions it can go in is pretty much endless.
The Good Place is a weird and richly crafted world, one with Ted Danson at the center of it. As Michael, an immortal being in charge of designing his first bespoke afterlife for four unlikely subjects, he has spent two seasons interfering and breaking from bureaucratic afterlife protocols.
Now, countless clever twists and turns later, everyone finds themselves back in the real world – in Australia, no less.
The ultimate test of the characters' moral compasses is how they go when given another shot at life. Can they can help each other learn to be good on earth the same way they did in the afterlife? Using a series of disguises (and a monumentally bad Australian accent) Michael begins season three by contriving ways of getting the old team back together in real life. First he convinces ethics professor Chidi (William Jackson Harper) to take a job in Sydney, then encourages self-centred Eleanor (Kirsten Bell) to seek him out. Socialite-turned-spiritual influencer Tahani (Jameela Jamil) and archetypal "Florida Man" Jason (Manny Jacinto) inevitably follow, and we're away again.
In addition to the returning cast, Killing Eve sidekick Kirby Howell-Baptiste debuts as true blue Aussie neuroscientist Simone, while the surprise reappearance of a character last seen in season one only confirms this as one of the strongest ensemble comedies going these days. The opening double-episode (chapters 27 and 28 if you're going by the title cards) has to do a lot of hard yards to both wrap up the loose ends of the previous season and set the table for the new season to come. But by the end, which of course carries another tantalising twist, it's already humming again.
• The Good Place's third season is available for streaming via Netflix.