American Horror Story Series, Episode One, Season One: “Murder House” (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, our small but robust panel of casual horror fans–including moderator Kylie, Nick, and Sarah–gathered together to Look Back at the first season of American Horror Story, otherwise known as “Murder House.”  This is the first episode of an ongoing CPU! podcast series examining one of our favorite television programs throughout its anthology of various seasons depicting different and unique horror stories per season, and it was recorded in July 2016. If you have not watched American Horror Story: Murder House, 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! – Looking Back at “American Horror Story: Murder House” (American Horror Story Series, Episode 1, Season 1; MAJOR SPOILERS)

Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

Who: “American Horror Story” airs on cable TV, specifically on FX, Fall Wednesdays at 10:00 PM, though it is currently on hiatus (but is ongoing).

What: “American Horror Story,” a horror drama created by Ryan Murphy (Glee, Nip/Tuck) that tells a new horror story each season while featuring recurring actors and ensemble players.  This season is retroactively and colloquially subtitled “Murder House” and centers on a haunted house.

SYNOPSIS

“Murder House” takes place during the year 2011 and focuses on a family that moves into a house haunted by its deceased former occupants. The Harmon family is psychiatrist Ben (Dylan McDermott), his wife Vivien (Connie Britton), and their teenage daughter Violet (Taissa Farmiga).  They move from Boston to Los Angeles after Vivien has a miscarriage, and Ben has an affair. The Harmons move into a restored mansion and soon encounter the home’s former residents. These residents include the Langdons, including matriarch Constance (Jessica Lange); two of her four children, Tate (Evan Peters) and Addie (Jamie Brewer); and her ex-husband, the disfigured Larry Harvey (Denis O’Hare). Ben and Vivien try to rekindle their relationship, as Violet, suffering from depression, finds comfort with Tate. The Langdons and Larry frequently influence the Harmons’ lives, as the family discovers that the home is haunted by the ghosts of anyone who has ever died on the property. The season is primarily set in the modern day, with flashbacks to the 1920s, 1940s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s.

When: Season One aired from October 5, 2011, to December 21, 2011, on FX.

Where: Each season focuses on a different locale.  This season, the action is set largely in Los Angeles, California, with some flashbacks set in Boston, Massachusetts.

Why:  Nick and Sarah, two CPU! regulars, proposed that CPU! publish an American Horror Story podcast series, being big fans of the show, and your Chief CP, who has previously covered this program on the CPU! blog and enjoys the show quite a bit, agreed wholeheartedly to the idea. Thus, welcome to our new CPU! series revolving around AHS, with each episode in the series focusing on one season of the show.  The series will start at the beginning and will be ongoing as long as AHS stays on the air!

How – as in How Much Do We Love this Show?!

American Horror Story is a groundbreaking horror anthology series that airs on FX.  Not only did this program render the horror genre mainstream television fare, it also propelled anthology formats to popularity.  The show is widely watched and a tent pole for FX, becoming a Halloween/fall-time cable staple of disturbing imagery and grotesque scares.

Two of CPU!’s frequent panelists, and one of our resident married couples, Nick and Sarah, are big fans of the show and, as noted above, proposed that CPU! start a series discussing AHS throughout its seasons.  Thus, herein we offer the first episode of this new series covering Season One, retroactively known as “Murder House.”  Your Chief CP, per usual, serves as main moderator, but as the seasons are discussed and published, moderation duties will rotate among the members of our small but robust AHS panel.  We will cover all aired seasons, from “Murder House” to “Hotel,” and continue the series as long as new seasons of the show are created.  After all, though common cast members may return from season to season, the season story arcs are always, by design, different, and CPU! is nothing if not thorough when it comes to TV adulation!  In this episode, then, we discuss our favorite and least favorite moments within the “Murder House” season and our general impressions of the season’s success.

This podcast was recorded in July 2016, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as we cover major plot points throughout the “Murder House” season. Listen at your own risk, and let us know what you think by commenting below!

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter (@cpupodcast), Instagram (@couchpotatoesunite), Pinterest (@cpupodcast), or email us at couchpotatoesunitepodcast@gmail.com – or subscribe to this blog, the YouTube channel, our iTunes channel, our Stitcher Radio channel , and/or find us on Google Play to keep track of brand new episodes.  In the meantime, let us know what you think!  Comment or review us in any of the above forums – we’d love your feedback!

Remember, new episodes and blog posts are published weekly!  Next Wednesday, we’ll be around the water cooler discussing season 6 of Game of Thrones – belatedly but with gusto! Stay tuned!

RECOMMENDATION

American Horror Story is recommended to anyone who loves horror, to fans of Jessica Lange, and to fans of any of the AHS repertory of repeat players.  As we discuss in the podcast, this season is widely regarded as the series’ best (Nick and Kylie certainly vote this season their favorite, at least); it sets the tone for the other seasons to follow, even as the stories differ from season to season.  American Horror Story is groundbreaking for its successful use of the anthology format, though its horror premises are not necessarily boundary pushing; indeed, most if not all of the seasons pay significant homage to horror films of yesteryear, but the panelists regard this quality as part of the show’s charm. If you haven’t yet caught up on AHS and have a hearty stomach for the gruesome and grisly, the entire series is available at all of the streaming services, including Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon. Horror genre fans who seek more scares on TV would be remiss to miss this show!

LOOKING AHEAD

Our next episode in this series will cover season two, “Asylum,” and will be published in September in advance of the AHS season 6 premiere.  Stay tuned!

Six Feet Under, Looking Back (MAJOR SPOILERS)

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A new episode of Couch Potatoes Unite!, which is based on a blog of the same name hosted at couchpotatoesunite.wordpress.com. In this episode, recorded in July 2016, our panel, currently Six Feet (or so) Over – including Moderator Kylie, Sarah, Andrew, and Jeremy – talk all things Fisher and Sons and occasionally Diaz while Looking Back at the five seasons of the program Six Feet Under, which aired from 2001 to 2005 on HBO. If you have not watched Six Feet Under, 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! – Discoveries, Recommended by Viewers Like You, and Looking Back at “Six Feet Under” (MAJOR SPOILERS) + The Best Written TV (#18) + Time’s All TIME 100 TV Shows + Empire’s 50 Greatest/Best TV Shows (#27, 2008 & #36, 2016) + The Hollywood Reporter’s 100 Favorite Shows (#29)

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Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

Who: “Six Feet Under,” a drama that aired for five seasons on HBO from 2001-2005.

What: Created and produced by Alan Ball, “Six Feet Under” depicts members of the Fisher family, who run their funeral home in Los Angeles, and their friends and lovers. The series traces these characters’ lives over the course of five years. The ensemble drama stars Peter Krause, Michael C. Hall, Frances Conroy, Lauren Ambrose, Freddy Rodriguez, Mathew St. Patrick, and Rachel Griffiths as the show’s seven central characters.

SYNOPSIS

Nathaniel Samuel “Nate” Fisher, Jr.’s (Krause) funeral director father (Richard Jenkins) dies and bequeaths to him and his brother David (Hall) co-ownership of the family funeral business.  The Fisher clan also includes widow Ruth (Conroy) and daughter Claire (Ambrose).  Other regulars include mortician and family friend Federico Diaz (Rodriguez), Nate’s on-again/off-again girlfriend Brenda Chenowith (Griffiths), and David’s long-term boyfriend Keith Charles (St. Patrick).  On one level, the show is a conventional family drama, dealing with such issues as interpersonal relationships, infidelity, and religion.  At the same time, the show is distinguished by its unblinking focus on the topic of death, which it explores on multiple levels (personal, religious, and philosophical).  Each episode begins with a death – the cause of which ranges from heart attack to murder to sudden infant death syndrome – and that death usually sets the thematic tone for each episode, allowing the characters to reflect on their current fortunes and misfortunes in a way that is illuminated by the death and its aftermath through dark humor and surrealism.

When: The show aired for five seasons from 2001 to 2005 on HBO.

Where: The show is set in Los Angeles, California.

Why: Listen to the podcast for the panelists’ individual stories on how they found Six Feet Under.

How – as in How Was It? – THOUGHTS

Via a convoluted path, your Chief Couch Potato discovered Six Feet Under on Amazon Prime/HBO Go during the spring.  My individual, crazy journey started with The Americans and wanting to watch the shows that made its two stars famous. For Keri Russell, that was Felicity (reviewed here), but for Matthew Rhys, it was Brothers & Sisters, which, as you might know, also heavily featured Rachel Griffiths as one of the Walker siblings (sister to Rhys’ Kevin).  I decided to watch the shows that made other members of the Brothers & Sisters cast, several of whom were not appearing in their first television show, famous. Griffiths’ first major television success, prior to Brothers & Sisters, was this acclaimed drama, a show I’ve always wanted to watch but was never able to when it was on due to the fact that I was too poor to have HBO in the era contemporaneous to the first-run airing of this program.

In addition, several people in my life, knowing of my TV addiction, recommended this show to me, as it represented one of their all time favorite shows; some even called Six Feet Under “life changing.”  In fact, a few of those people – specifically Sarah, Andrew, and new panelist Jeremy – volunteered to look back at Six Feet Under around the family dinner table, chatting about how they felt about the quirky but profound drama while enjoying food and drinks and dissecting this critically acclaimed show, which garnered a number of major awards and has since been ranked on several best-of lists (many of which are listed in the title of this post).  This podcast was recorded in July 2016, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as we cover major plot points throughout all five seasons. Listen at your own risk, and let us know what you think by commenting below!

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter (@cpupodcast), Instagram (@couchpotatoesunite), Pinterest (@cpupodcast), or email us at couchpotatoesunitepodcast@gmail.com – or subscribe to this blog, the YouTube channel, our iTunes channel, our Stitcher Radio channel , and/or find us on Google Play to keep track of brand new episodes.  In the meantime, let us know what you think!  Comment or review us in any of the above forums – we’d love your feedback!

Remember, new episodes and blog posts are published weekly!  Next Wednesday, we’ll be around the water cooler while launching a brand new series covering all seasons of American Horror Story, featuring rotating moderators – beginning with the first season, Murder House!  You won’t want to miss it!  Stay tuned!

RECOMMENDATION

Six Feet Under is recommended by the entire panel universally.  The panelists feel that this TV show, more than most, has at least one thing that any viewer can connect with, in addition to extremely recognizable and interesting characters to which everyone can relate.  Also, there is a balance of light and dark that renders the show engaging.  The panelists further appreciate the “realness” of the subject matter, and the emotions it evokes as a window into others’ potential lives, lives that mirror people the viewer might actually know in real life, set against some of the surreal devices used within the program’s presentation.  The panel characterizes the show as intelligent “non-fluff;” it induces the viewer to think and to feel because it’s well-written, well-performed, and readily and profoundly draws the viewer into its unique world.

Six Feet Under is available to stream on Amazon Prime and HBO Go/Now.  The panelists also note that this drama is a pioneer that paved the way for the creation of some of the high quality television available today.  In fact, true to advertisement by those who have loved it for some time, this show is potentially life-changing and, as the panelists all agree, definitely worth the watch.

CPU! LIVE!: Top 5 TV Comedy Inspirations of No Outlet Improv Troupe

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LIVE PODCAST! – Welcome to three brand new features at CPU! combined into one fandangly premiere package! Inspired by the movie High Fidelity, and CPU!’s very own Nick, today’s episode kicks both features into high gear, aided and abetted by guest panelists from Grand Rapids based No Outlet Improv Troupe, specifically Mike, TJ, Eirann, Kristin, Sean, and none other than Nick himself!

The first new feature is our LIVE! podcast. From time to time, when people want us to drop by, CPU! will go LIVE! and LIVE STREAMED to its Facebook page, bringing podcasts to your computer screens like our favorite shows come to TV screens across the nation. Since we’re a very theatrical bunch, this promises to be a real treat – or, at least, it will be something to throw tomatoes at from the comfort of your very own couch. Or your jazzercycle. Fitness first!

The second new feature is our Top 5. Top 5 will channel panel members’ best Rob Gordons by asking them to come up with their own top 5 TV shows or TV-related items around a painstakingly chosen theme. Then, as a group, the panelists will be forced to come up with a consensus, using their individual lists as starting points, that represents the panel at large. It should make for some feisty discussion, depending upon the topic.

The third new feature is that we’ve dropped “iTunes Podcast” from the feed titles, as we’re now Android friendly and on Google Play!!  Now all titles will just be simple titles of episodes.  Dreams really do come true!

This podcast was live streamed on August 8, 2016, with associated video; this is the audio recording of the event! Find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google Play, iTunes, YouTube, and, naturally, our website, couchpotatoesunite.wordpress.com!

PODCAST! – CPU! LIVE!: Top 5 TV Comedy Inspirations of No Outlet Improv Troupe

nooutlet

Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

Who: No Outlet Improv Troupe (NOIT) is a Grand Rapids, Michigan, original entertainment group that is working throughout West Michigan to promote and perform improvisational theater. They’ve been on stage multiple times at The Lake Effect Fringe Festival, Lady Fest GR, and LaughFest. NOIT also hosts the weekly Comedy Outlet Mondays and is the originator of the Grand Rapids Improv Festival, the city’s largest improv event. Hosting monthly summer set shows and holiday specials, they have also appeared several times a year at the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum. No Outlet performs with high energy and versatility.

No Outlet is available for hire to entertain, create workshops, and more. Feel free to message them on Facebook, or check out their website for more information: http://nooutletimprov.com.

What: NOIT’s Top 5 TV Comedy Inspirations!

When: CPU! went LIVE! and live streamed at its Facebook page (for the very first time) on August 8, 2016!

Where: NOIT joined CPU! at Comedy Outlet Mondays at Dog Story Theater in Cool City Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Why:  Because we like you!  Because we’re all hams! And because CPU! and NOIT have an overlap: one of CPU!’s Top 5 panelists is also one of NOIT’s captains and founding members – Nick!

How – as in How’d It Go?

Welcome to two brand new features at CPU! – combined into one fandangly premiere package! Inspired by the movie High Fidelity, and CPU!’s very own Nick, today’s episode kicks both features into high gear, aided and abetted by guest panelists from Grand Rapids based No Outlet Improv Troupe, specifically Mike, TJ, Eirann, Kristin, Sean, and none other than Nick himself!

The first new feature is our LIVE! podcast.  From time to time, when people want us to drop by, CPU! will go LIVE! and LIVE STREAMED to its Facebook page, bringing podcasts to your computer screens like our favorite shows come to TV screens across the nation.  Since we’re a very theatrical bunch, this promises to be a real treat – or, perhaps it will be ham and cheese on rye…or, at least, it will be something to throw tomatoes (or potatoes) at from the comfort of your very own couch.  Or your jazzercycle.  Fitness first!

The second new feature is our Top 5.  Top 5 will channel panel members’ best Rob Gordons by asking them to come up with their own top 5 TV shows or TV-related items around a painstakingly chosen theme.  Then, as a group, the panelists will be forced to come up with a consensus, using their individual lists as starting points, that represents the panel at large.  It should make for some feisty discussion, depending upon the topic.  The consensus top 5 will be presented in the podcast description, which is kind of a big spoiler, but then you’re here to listen to the podcast episode and all of the meaty, juicy discussion (and potential arguments)….right?

This podcast was live streamed on August 8, 2016, and is embedded here and uploaded to our Facebook page and YouTube channel.

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter (@cpupodcast), or email us at couchpotatoesunitepodcast@gmail.com – or subscribe to this blog, the YouTube channel, our iTunes channel, and/or our Stitcher Radio channel to keep track of brand new episodes. In the meantime, let us know what you think! Comment or review us in any of the above forums – we’d love your feedback!

ANOTHER NEW FEATURE!  WOW! – CPU! is now available to listen to via Google Play. We’re so omnipresent!  If you have an Android device, we’re ready to assist you with all of your TV talking needs!  Find us via the Google Play app or the website linked above!

Remember, new episodes and blog posts are published weekly! In our next podcast episode, we will be taking a look back at the critically acclaimed HBO drama Six Feet Under in the show’s 15th year since its premiere.  Stay tuned!

NO OUTLET IMPROV TROUPE’S TOP 5 TV COMEDY INSPIRATIONS

  1. I Love Lucy
  2. Arrested Development
  3. Whose Line Is It Anyway?
  4. Saturday Night Live
  5. The Simpsons

NEXT CPU! LIVE!

CPU! will be joining COM again on September 26, 2016, at 7:00 PM with our Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt panel.  We’ll be talking Season Two, and surprises will be in store! Hashbrown! No Filter!

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NEXT TOP 5

CPU! is working on a little sumpin’ sumpin’ to roll out this feature in an even bigger way. Subscribe here or to any of our channels and social media outlets to keep abreast of new announcements!  At the very least, this is something we will probably do once every so often to keep us (and you) on our respective toes.  Stay tuned!

iTunes PODCAST – Supernatural (Seasons 9-11, 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 in July 2016, our panel of unabashed Super-Fans – including moderator Kylie, Nick, Jen, Kelsey, and Allie – is Around the Water Cooler and discussing Seasons 9-11, with particular emphasis on Seasons 10 and 11, of Supernatural, from Metatron playing God to the world dominated by the Darkness, God’s mischievous sister. If you have not watched any of Supernatural, 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!