iTunes PODCAST – True Blood (MAJOR SPOILERS)

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A new podcast episode of Couch Potatoes Unite!, which is based on a blog of the same name hosted at couchpotatoesunite.wordpress.com. In this episode, recorded on July 12, 2015, our small but robust panel–including moderator Kylie, Eddie, and Andrew–gathered together for a slightly longer than usual podcast discussion in which we were Looking Back and reminiscing post-mortem about all seven seasons of True Blood, with particular focus on the final season. If you have not watched any of True Blood, be aware that there are MAJOR SPOILERS (though our memories were sometimes sketchy on the details, such as trying to remember “Warlow” from Season 6). Tell us what you think in the comments below and check out the blog and YouTube for other TV related discussions, in both podcast and blog format. Also, if there are other shows you’re interested in the blog covering, sound off below! Tell us what you like or don’t like. Keep the discussion going!

PODCAST! – Around the Water Cooler & Looking Back – “True Blood” – The Long-Delayed Post-Mortem and Seven Season Roundup (MAJOR SPOILERS)

THE SPECS:

Who: The show is available to HBO and HBOGo subscribers exclusively, as it is HBO produced original content, though it has been licensed to Amazon Prime.  Of course, there are other ways to find it, as it’s kind of massively popular.  And since it’s done now, that will only become more true.

What: “True Blood,” a drama wherein vampires have come out of the coffin after the manufacture of a synthetic blood substitute called TruBlood, and a Southern waitress named Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin), who is a telepath, is at the center of it all (for a more detailed Synopsis, read here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/True_Blood).

When: The Season 7 and series finale aired on Sunday, August 24, 2014, at 9:00 PM on HBO.

Where: The show is set in fictional Bon Temps, Louisiana, in or around present day.

Why: This show was recommended to me by a friend because I love all things with vampires in them and tend to gravitate toward story lines with fantasy, including supernatural, themes.  I have stuck with it because of 1) vampires; 2) the sense of humor; and 3) hot men, particularly Alexander Skarsgard, better known as Eric Northman, the 1000 year old Viking vampire, and Joe Mangianello, aka Alcide Herveux, the resident werewolf.

How – as in How Did It End? (THOUGHTS…a year later)

For a recap of season 6, the inaugural post on this blog, read here!

Stay true to the end.  That was your tag line entering into the seventh and final season. Stay true to the end.  Fans of True Blood, i.e. “Truebies,” were encouraged to retain their loyalty as the last ten episodes of the series aired over the summer of 2014.  True to the end.

As this viewer sits here now, one year (give or take) later, I find myself missing True Blood.  After all, it was an integral part of my summertime for several years.  Plus, I miss staring at some chiseled, naked, supernatural men.  Yet, I feel much the same today as I did when the show took its final bow in late August 2014.  In Looking Back at True Blood, and its consistent inconsistencies, I believe to this day, with a shred of gnawing disappointment, that the show’s writers were not quite “truebies” themselves who stayed true to the end when it came to the characters they created and adapted from Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse novels.

After six seasons of widely varying quality and engagement with the viewer, Season Seven limped toward the finish line, like a rabid dog that had been shot in its hind quarters.  There was no “oomph,” no flare.  It was mostly a boring recap of where we’ve been through with this series, which turned out to be yawn-inducing by itself, since the series had been all over the place since its inception.  What wasn’t boring was mostly shocking, and not in the “ooh twist!” kind of way.  Many of the characters were done a disservice by the writers and producers.  In the end, the whole thing totaled up to be a dissatisfying letdown of epic proportion, even if, in some ways, the series couldn’t have ended any other way.  That’s what happens when you dig holes you can’t crawl back out of in the end.

More to the point, season seven was one long stretch of denouement, after an anticlimactic, if more than tolerable, sixth season.  The mediocrity is, more or less, in keeping with the show’s general idiom of inconsistent story lines and bad character choices, but the disappointment stems from nostalgia over what was a stellar, alluring first season and sometimes good seasons that followed.  None of it felt right.  I once considered owning this series, but I don’t think it’s worth re-watching at this point, no matter how attractive I find Alexander Skarsgard or Joe Mangianello, though my sister did give me the first two seasons on DVD, which she owned and felt she could easily part with, having been so disgusted by the end of the series herself.

Because of my visceral reaction to the end of an era, however good or not quite so good, I asked some familiar fellow Couch Potatoes how they felt about the curtain call of True Blood, as we talked “Around the Water Cooler” while “Looking Back.”  This podcast was recorded on July 12, 2015, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as we cover major plot points throughout all seven seasons. Listen at your own risk, and let us know what you think by commenting below!

Questions, Impressions, and Bygone Wondering from Season Six

1) IS ERIC ALIVE?  He better be.  I hope Pam finds him in time and saves him, since we didn’t see what happened to her when Warlow met his end.

ANSWER: Eric’s alive.  He and Pam (Kristen Bauer van Straten) survive the sun and an onslaught of Hepatitis V.  In fact, they find the antidote to the vampire-killing virus and market it and themselves back into rich and successful territory, having lost Fangtasia to the Hep V infected vampires who raided it.

2) Sookie and Alcide?  Really?  What was the point of the pack story?  Why do the writers expect us all to forget how horrible Alcide was this season?

ANSWER: The relationship was short lived, if never convincing.  In episode two or three, Alcide was shot dead during a skirmish between “vampire vigilantes,” or humans against all vampires whether infected by Hepatitis V or not, and infected vampires after Sookie was used as bait by Bill to ensnare some of the latter.  It was very anticlimactic and ignominious, especially for someone so hot as Joe Mangianello.  So, whether we forgave Alcide and the horrible pack story or not, he was not long for the True Blood universe, Bon Temps, or Sookie.

3) Is Sookie really over Vampire Bill and Vampire Eric?  Will she never be with Sam?

ANSWER: No Sam, ever.  Sam (Sam Trammell) married the girl he impregnated and ran away from Bon Temps for a while, despite being mayor.  Another anticlimactic and ignominious end.  Sookie was over Vampire Eric by the end of the series; their love was not of the epic kind, but they cared about each other deeply.  Vampire Bill (Stephen Moyer), on the other hand, was one of her true loves, though it surprised at least this viewer (listen to the podcast). Unfortunately, Vampire Bill, as much as he loved Sookie, could not fathom continuing on as a cursed vampire and longed for the True Death, which Sookie gave to him in the end.  It was the only character choice that made much sense in the end, really.

4) I think Jason and Jessica are still sharing furtive glances and complicated emotions. Are they over for good?  And what’s with this Violet vamp?  I don’t particularly want to watch Jason eating her out over a whole season.

ANSWER: Jason (Ryan Kwanten) and Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll) were always in lust with each other, and if I recall correctly, they had another dalliance in the seventh season, but Hoyt (Jim Parrack) came back to town after his mother, a vampire vigilante, met a grisly end, and his glamour lifted for Jessica, who was apparently his true love. They ended up marrying each other.  Violet (Karolina Wydra), on the other hand, turned out to be the jealous type and detected that Jason was not that into her and was more into Jessica.  She kind of went crazy, kidnapped Holly’s son and Adelind, Andy’s fairy daughter, and brought them to her den of sexy torture, all for the sake of luring Jason there.  Violet, however, was not long for this world.  She met her end too. Lots of people did in the last season.

5) They aren’t really going to belabor the Tara/Lettie Mae thing, I hope.

ANSWER: They belabored it in an outrageous way that totally committed a disservice to the character of Tara (Rutina Wesley).  Listen to the podcast for more.

6) PLEASE GIVE LAFAYETTE MORE TO DO.  His one liners are great, but he is sorely underutilized.

ANSWER: Lafayette (Nelsan Ellis) had a fine final season.  He played beau to a sexy bisexual vampire who first had the hots for Jessica and then for Lafayette.  He also helped the fiasco that was the Tara story line.  All throughout, he remained classy and sassy.

7) Are Tara and Willa an item?  Willa really emphasized her ‘friendship’ with Tara to Lettie Mae.

ANSWER: Since Tara didn’t survive past the first or second episode, if she had a relationship or flirtation with Willa, it was never made clear.

8) Where did Fairy Grandfather Niall (Rutger Hauer) go?

ANSWER: I think he died or went back to the fairy realm.  He might have cameoed in season seven, but it was unmemorable if he did.

9) RIP Warlow.  The actor who played you was damn fine.

ANSWER: But he will be on The Frankenstein Code on FOX come this fall or winter.

10) Is Sam’s baby going to be a shifter?  Is Sam’s baby going to be born?

ANSWER: Sam’s baby was born and has shifter tendencies.  The question is: do we still care?

11) So, the new threat is the rabid, Hep-V infected vampires.  They now look like zombie vampires.  This could be very good or very bad.  Whatever else can be said, it’s not very original.

ANSWER: It wasn’t great, that’s for sure.

12) Arlene clearly kept the money.  Was there no investigation?  Terry purchased the policy three days before his death.  Not that I want to see the investigation onscreen.

ANSWER: Arlene (Carrie Preston) did undergo some investigation, but the Hep V vampire story line kind of took precedence over everything else.  She also cavorted with a sexy vampire, so if there was a resolution to this story, I can’t remember it.

PARTING SHOTS

By consensus of the podcast panel, though we all miss True Blood at least a little, the show was clearly on its last legs. While the writers, after Creator Alan Ball stepped down to fulfill only an executive producer role following the fifth season, did well to focus the action on the vampires the most, there were still some superfluous, uninteresting plot lines and characters.  Though the plethora of handsome men and naughtiness kept the show marginally interesting, two out of three of us watched because we felt like we had made it that far and should push through to the end, while the third just wanted to see a good end for the story and the characters. All three of us, however, agreed that the show had nothing left to give, as the quality of writing had declined to the point where the show had to end to retain some sense of dignity, for itself, the people who worked on it, and the fans.

THE FUTURE OF THE SHOW:

True Blood ended its seven season run in August 2014.  It is available for purchase on DVD and is available to stream on HBOGo and Amazon Prime.

iTunes PODCAST – Once Upon A Time (MAJOR SPOILERS)

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A new podcast episode of Couch Potatoes Unite!, which is based on a blog of the same name hosted at couchpotatoesunite.wordpress.com. In this episode, recorded on June 14, 2015, our Once Upon a Time panel– including moderator Kylie, Kristen, Eddie, and Amie–returns to the Water Cooler to discuss the second half of season four of Once Upon a Time – i.e. the “Queens of Darkness” arc. If you are not caught up on Once, be aware that there are MAJOR SPOILERS! Tell us what you think in the comments below and check out the blog and YouTube for other TV related discussions, in both podcast and blog format. Also, if there are other shows you’re interested in the blog covering, sound off below! Tell us what you like or don’t like. Keep the discussion going!

PODCAST! – Around the Water Cooler – “Once Upon a Time” – The Season 4 Wrap-Up Recap (MAJOR SPOILERS)

THE SPECS:

Who: “Once Upon a Time” airs on network TV, specifically on ABC, fall/winter/spring Sundays at 8:00 PM.

What: “Once Upon a Time,” a fantasy drama wherein storybook and fairy tale characters are not only real but are living in this world, away from their enchanted kingdoms and worlds beyond reality, and how they all interrelate (for a more detailed Synopsis, read here: http://www.aceshowbiz.com/tv/once_upon_a_time/summary.html).

When: The Season 4 finale aired on Sunday, May 10, 2015, on ABC at 8:00 PM.

Where: The show is set in fictional Storybrooke, Maine, as well as in “The Enchanted Forest,” the fairy tale kingdom from where most of the main characters originate. The action takes place primarily in present day, though there are flashbacks to the characters’ past lives, before they were whisked away to Storybrooke via curse wrought by the Evil Queen Regina (Lana Parilla) and before they were made run-of-the-mill real world residents with serious bouts of amnesia.

Why: Two primary reasons: one, I love fantasy and fairy tales, and the Disney network green-lit a live action serial television program about fairy tale characters that they would probably own the rights to, if the characters weren’t already public domain.  Two, the creators are Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz, two of the head writers of Lost. Whatever else may be said about the latter program, I don’t think anyone could argue that Lost wasn’t well written.  Once boasted some whopper ingredients that promised to result in an explosive and tantalizing mixture of story possibilities; the show has done nothing but live up to that expectation and then some.

How – as in How’s It Going? (THOUGHTS…at present)

For a recap of the first half of season 4 – the “Frozen” arc – provided by our lovely podcast panel of Eddie, Kristen, Amie (and me), read here!

The second half of season 4 saw a return to form for our Once characters in what became known as the “Queens of Darkness” arc.  Abandoning the conceit of jumping fairy tale realms, the show returned to Storybrooke and to our core characters, much to the elation of our podcast panel, to weave a tale surrounding the fairy tale villains’ desires to obtain their happy endings, believing that to do so was possible, regardless of what seemed to be their fate, given their natures and/or choices.  In order to achieve those happy endings, Rumpelstiltskin (Robert Carlyle), the ringleader of the movement toward happier villains, believed that he and his recruited accomplices – Ursula (Merrin Dungey), Cruella de Vil (Victoria Smurfit), and the newly resurrected Maleficent (Kristen Bauer von Straten) – must 1) find the Author of the “Book,” the “Once Upon a Time” storybook given to Henry by Snow White in the first season of the series, and convince him to change the courses of their stories; and 2) corrupt the Savior, Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison), in order to disrupt the tide of fate, since Emma seems to be the fulcrum on which good and evil must balance in this fairy tale inspired world.  The journeys, toward the future and into the past via the show’s trademark flashbacks, of each of our main characters, both hero and villain, were fraught with twists and unexpected plot developments, which resulted in a cataclysmic event in the finale to round out the season that promises to cast a significant spell on our characters in season five.  As a result, I asked the Once panel of fellow Couch Potatoes how they felt about the second half of season four “Around the Water Cooler.”  This podcast was recorded on June 14, 2015, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS. Listen, and let us know what you think by commenting below!

Questions, Impressions, and Future Considerations

Old Questions

1) Is baby Neal magical like his sister?

Answer: At this time, baby Neal’s “specialness,” if it exists, is still unknown.

2) What did Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin) and Prince Charming (Josh Dallas) do with Maleficent and her baby to ensure that Emma is imbued with a good heart and light magic?

Answer: Snow and Charming took Maleficent’s baby (who hatched from a dragon egg) and tossed the egg into a portal, which sent the egg to our world.  As it turned out, we’d met Maleficient’s daughter before…

3) How the hell did Cruella de Vil get magical?  Where does she come from?  How did she come to know Maleficent and Ursula?

Answer: Cruella came from London – clearly her accent gave her away.  Yet, the Author imbued Cruella with magical powers and exaggerated the seeds of the already mean spirit she seemed to possess because he met her and became quite taken with her – and even the Author wanted a happy ending for himself, not content to sit on the sidelines and record a story he never actually created.  The three “Queens” met each other as students of the Dark One, i.e. Rumpelstiltskin, who recruited them in the Enchanted Forest to begin invoking his plan of seeking out happy endings for all of them but particularly for himself.  But, he double crossed them initially.  Typical.

4) Why did these particular Queens of Darkness band together at any point?

Answer: See above.

5) How did Rumpel come to make their acquaintance?

Answer: He sought them out for his nefarious plans.  He had a nose for the magical; remember how he found Regina, Cora (Barbara Hershey), etc.

6) What did Rumpel do for the six weeks during which he was ousted from Storybrooke, without magic and disabled?

Answer: Seek out Ursula and Cruella.  How he managed it, we don’t know.  The show did a poor job of connecting the two thoughts, which we discuss in the podcast.

7) WHO IS THE AUTHOR? And can changing the book really change Regina’s, or anyone else’s, fate?

Answer: The Author (Patrick Fischler) is someone we hadn’t met yet.  The Author is appointed his task, largely by Fate but with help of the Sorcerer via his Apprentice.  The Author is bestowed with the specific instruction and charge of recording things as they happen; he is not supposed to change the fates or destinies of the characters.  Yet, the Author can change.  Who the original Author was, we don’t know, though one of the Authors was called “Walt.”  This Author, Isaac, chose to pervert his sacred task and the flow of the story by changing the original Cruella, so she would love him, and then by capitulating to Rumpel’s wily demands, though the Author wanted to create a world where he was a Hero as well as well known for his magical purpose.  In the season finale, the Author changed the book, rendering the villains heroes and vice versa.  So, Regina and Snow White, for example, switched places – Regina, a thief and champion of the people, ran from the machinations of Evil Snow (Black?), who saw fit to destroy Regina for causing the death of her “true” love, Charming’s twin brother, who we met in a prior season.  Rumpel became a knight, happy with Belle (Emilie de Ravin) and a new baby, and so on, but it was all put to rights in the end thanks to Henry (Jared S. Gilmore), who has since become the new Author.  Listen to the podcast!

8) Will Emma go bad? She has the potential; this we know.  Did everyone catch the Fantasiareference?

Answer: Our podcast panel caught the Fantasia reference.  The answer is yes. Emma (spoilerspoilerspoiler) ….. is the new DARK ONE!

9) Grown-up Pinocchio, August, is returning to the show.  Will he and Emma canoodle? They were kind of flirty in the past.

Answer: There was no canoodling of any type.  They’re just good friends.

10) How did Will Scarlett (Michael Socha), aka the Knave from Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, end up in Storybrooke and without Anastasia, the former Red Queen? And how did he and Belle decide to hook up?

Answer: As we discuss on the podcast, the show failed to provide an adequate explanation for this development.  Will provides some dismissive description of how he and Anastasia fought and stopped loving each other (presumably), so he left Wonderland and ended up competing with Robin Hood (Sean Maguire) for the Elixir for a Broken Heart, which was held by Zelena in Oz.  The panel, particularly your moderator and Chief Couch Potato, found the explanation less than satisfactory.

11) Will Rumpel and Belle ever reconcile?

Answer: They haven’t really reconciled yet, but Belle’s position has softened, considering that Rumpel almost died from the blackness that the Dark Shadow left on his heart.

12) Where are Robin and Marian nowadays?

Answer: They were trying to set up a new home for themselves, even though Robin is still clearly in love with Regina, but then Marian got pregnant!  And then – one of the most gigantic twists of the season – we found out that Marian was really Regina’s Wicked Witch of a sister Zelena (Rebecca Mader), who did not die in season 3 and, instead, followed Emma to the past in the Enchanted Forest, murdered the real Marian (rather than Regina doing it), and glamoured herself to look like Marian, just so she could hitch a ride back to Storybrooke and screw with her sister.  Sibling rivalry, man!  Fortunately, after Zelena revealed her true self, Regina had her conniving sis locked up in the cell formerly occupied by Belle, though she’s still pregnant, to our knowledge.  Rebecca Mader, as well as Sean Maguire, were promoted to series regulars, however, so this is not the last we’ve heard of this story or of Wicked Zelena.

13) Why does Emma keep talking about her “superpower” of being able to detect lies when she has actual real superpowers?

Answer: The world may never know.  It’s getting old, though.

14) Why have Snow and Charming chosen to lie to Emma?

Answer: They were trying to spare her feelings and her disappointment in them, but, instead, they fueled her darker nature.  She was mad at them for most of the back half of the season when she learned that Snow and Charming had stolen Maleficient’s baby.  They realized ultimately that, to be a family, they should not be keeping secrets from each other.

15) What is Rumpel’s endgame?  What power does he really want?

Answer: He wanted everything – his happy ending and his magic.  He couldn’t have both, as the Dark One’s magic nearly killed him.  The Sorcerer’s Apprentice saved Rumpel by drawing out the Shadow, harming the Apprentice in the process, but Rumpel survived, albeit in a stasis like coma, preserved until he could be helped by others’ magic, or, perhaps, the magic of medicine.  Where Rumpel will be now that this has happened will probably be one of the story explorations of season five.

16) The Frozen story was wrapped up neatly, so most of these questions come from the first episodes of the second part of this season.  What is the writers’ endgame now?

Answer: To make Emma an evil bad ass!  Oh, the tantalizing possibilities!!

New Questions

1) What’s going to happen now that Emma is the Dark One?  What we will she do? How will her descent into darkness affect the other characters, including her son (Henry) and her parents (Snow and Charming)?  Will they be able to save her?  And when?

2) Where did Maleficient go by the end of the season?  Will we see more of her?  Will she be involved in the arc to save Emma?  Will she reconnect with her daughter – who (spoilerspoilerspoiler) we find out is Emma’s childhood friend Lily – in a more meaningful way?

3) Will there be other evil Queens in our future?  The writers/producers have teased a trip to Camelot next season and are casting King Arthur and Queen Guinevere as well as Merlin.  Will they be good as we have traditionally known these characters to be? Or, will they be evil?

4) Is Merlin evil?  Is Merlin a dragon?  Is Merlin Lily’s father?  If not, who is Lily’s father?! Who else could be a dragon?  Or, is Maleficient kinky for dragons?

5) Will others get a hold of the dagger to control Emma as the Dark One?  What will happen, and who might be tempted to use Emma for evil purposes as opposed to good ones?  Will Hook get a hold of the dagger?  Will Henry?  Will Regina?  Will Rumpel?

6) Will Emma and Regina go head to head in what are tantamount to switched places, with Emma as the Dark One and “villain” and Regina as the “hero,” in an epic battle of magic?

7) Is Zelena really pregnant?  And how is she going to complicate matters, either with Regina and Robin or with everyone else, next season?  Will Robin succumb to his nearly stubborn sense of honor with respect to Zelena and the baby, provided that Zelena is really pregnant?  If she is pregnant, is the baby really Robin Hood’s?

8) Will Lily still seek revenge against the Charmings?  Or, will she turn good now that Emma is evil?  Will Lily try to save Emma, or will she let Emma assume the “evil” role in favor of having a better life?  Doesn’t that really make her evil in the end (or not necessarily all good…more human)?

9) Is Rumpel out of the woods?  Did “preserving” him save him from death?

10) Will the Once writers/producers provide a better, more detailed explanation for why Will Scarlett is on the flagship series and with Belle?  Will they provide a more significant flashback to explain why he and Anastasia are not together anymore? Would Emma Rigby be available to reprise her role of Anastasia?

11) Will a new Savior emerge now that Emma is the Dark One?

12) Will Snow and Charming be redeemed, particularly in Emma’s or Lily’s or Maleficient’s or Regina’s eyes, if they are able to save their daughter?

13) Will Henry get a new pen? Will he have to act as The Author anyway?  Will his role as the Author figure into redeeming/saving Emma?

14) Will Henry ever straddle the line of good and evil?

15) Henry’s a teenager now.  Will he meet a love interest?  He’s aging like Walt on Lost. Does he ever interact with kids his own age, rather than just his slightly dysfunctional family?

16) What Knights of the Round Table will we see in Camelot, if any?

17) Will the Camelot/Dark Emma layers be crammed into a half season, or will the writers percolate these plots throughout the whole of next season?  The panel votes for the latter scenario.

PARTING SHOTS

The podcast panel was generally much more favorable toward the “Queens of Darkness” story line, as everyone enjoyed the fact that the writers focused the story on our core group of main characters and the connections they have, rather than visiting other realms and introducing too many new characters (aside from the Queens and the Author, which were welcome variables to the normal Storybrooke landscape).  The panel is excited about season five and what it might mean for Emma and her family now that she is the Dark One, and what it might mean for Maleficient, Lily, and the trip to Camelot.  If we all maintained the comparison to the creators’ predecessor series – Lost  – we are entering the season comparable to the discovery of Jacob; the fifth season should be strong, given all of the possibilities Dark Emma presents.  The panel remains eager to see more of the Enchanted Forest and more flushing out of the Enchanted Forest flashbacks, in light of the season finale’s trip to “Bizarro Enchanted Forest,” either by incorporating more frequent or more expanded back stories or, perhaps, returning to the event series concept that motivated OUAT-Wonderland as a means of providing additional detail and dimension to those known and beloved characters.  In any event, many questions and predictions arose, most of which are reflected above, and the panel can’t wait to try to answer and/or confirm them in the coming season. Most happily, the writers/producers may have redeemed themselves a little, at least in the panel’s eyes, from the downhill spiral initiated by including Frozen as a story arc.

LOOKING AHEAD:

Once Upon a Time was renewed by ABC for a fifth season, slated to premiere on September 27, 2015.  Until next time and next podcast!