American Horror Story Series, Episode Four, Season Four: “Freak Show” (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, and in honor of Halloween, our small but robust panel of casual horror fans (and rotating moderators!)–including moderator Kylie, Nick, and Sarah–gathered together to Look Back at the fourth season of American Horror Story, otherwise known as “Freak Show.”  This is the fourth 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: Freak Show, 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: Freak Show” (American Horror Story Series, Episode 4, Season 4; MAJOR SPOILERS)

Image result for american horror story freak show title

Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

COUCH POTATOES UNITE! WISHES YOU A HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!
(…If you celebrate it and publishes this AHS podcast in an effort to be festive! 🙂 )

THE SPECS:

Who: “American Horror Story” airs on cable TV, specifically on FX, Fall Wednesdays at 10:00 PM.

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 subtitled “Freak Show” and centers around one of the few remaining American sideshows or “freak shows,” fictionally encamped in Florida in 1952.

SYNOPSIS

The events of “Freak Show” transpire in 1952 in the quiet town of Jupiter, Florida, and follow a struggling freak show led by Elsa Mars (Jessica Lange). Decades have passed since the public has looked upon freak shows as a form of entertainment, but Elsa dreams of finding a home for her “monsters” as well as her own fame. When conjoined twins Bette and Dot Tattler (Sarah Paulson) are taken to the hospital, Elsa sees her chance to finally drum up some business for her sideshow, hoping the two sisters will save her troupe once and for all. Other members include Jimmy Darling (Evan Peters), a boy born with syndactyly who dreams of leaving the carnival behind and living a normal life. Jimmy’s mother, the bearded lady Ethel Darling (Kathy Bates), is Elsa’s second in command and maintains law and order under the tent. A strongman from Ethel’s troubled past named Dell Toledo (Michael Chiklis), and his three-breasted wife, Desiree Dupree (Angela Bassett), make waves when they arrive at the sideshow. In a time when the era of television is beginning to reign high above sideshow acts, these individuals must overcome those who persecute them based on their looks; however, as events unfold, it is revealed that multiple dark entities have taken up residence in Jupiter, with all of their eyes set on the freaks. Flashbacks are set in the 1940s, and there is a flash forward to the 1960s.

When: Season Four aired from October 8, 2014, to January 21, 2015, on FX.

Where: Each season focuses on a different locale.  This season, the action is set largely in Jupiter, Florida.

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.  We have already published our first episode in this series, chatting the first season of AHS, widely known as “Murder House;” the second episode discussing the second season, “Asylum;” and the third episode discussing the third season, “Coven.”  Listen here:

American Horror Story Series, Episode 1, Season 1, “Murder House”

American Horror Story Series, Episode 2, Season 2, “Asylum”

American Horror Story Series, Episode 3, Season 3, “Coven”

In today’s episode, the fourth episode of this series, we cover Season Four, “Freak Show.” As the seasons are discussed and published, moderation duties will rotate among the members of our small but robust AHS panel; however, for this episode, we’ve come back around, and your Chief CP is back at the moderating mic to talk this fourth season.

As we progress through this series, 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 “Freak Show” 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 “Freak Show” 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 will pause our American Horror Story series again until later this year.  In the next episode, we will replay the audio recording of our LIVE podcast held at Grand Rapids Comic-Con, which occurred on October 22, 2016.  At Comic-Con, we debated the “Top 5 DC and Marvel Live Action Heroes and Villains.”  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, the panel provides mixed reviews about the “Freak Show” season relative to other seasons; Kylie and Nick like it less (Kylie likes it better than “Asylum,” though), Sarah, perhaps, likes it a little more.  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 five, “Hotel,” and will be published later this year.  Stay tuned!

Orange is the New Black, Season 4 (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 panel–including moderator Chief Couch Potato Kylie, Kristen, Nick, Krista, Amanda, and new panelist Andrew–is Around the Water Cooler and Streaming Originals as we discuss and recap Season 4 of Orange is the New Black. This episode was recorded in October 2016, and if you haven’t seen OITNB through the fourth season, 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/podcast covering, sound off below! Tell us what you like or don’t like. Keep the discussion going!

PODCAST! – Around the Water Cooler & Streaming Originals: “Orange is the New Black,” The Season 4 Recap and Discussion (MAJOR SPOILERS)

Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

Who: “Orange is the New Black” is available to Netflix subscribers exclusively, as it is Netflix produced original content.

What: “Orange is the New Black,” a comedy drama about a Manhattan woman whose past catches up to her and for which she must serve time in federal prison.

SYNOPSIS

Taylor Schilling plays Piper Chapman, a seemingly run-of-the-mill woman and maker of homemade soaps. Unfortunately, Piper learns that she must serve a short sentence in federal prison after she is implicated in the bust of an international drug cartel, of which her former girlfriend, Alex Vause (Laura Prepon), was a member and who Piper aided and abetted. What’s more, Piper finds, at first, that she is wholly unequipped for prison. Though some, like unabashed, self-proclaimed “lesbian junkie” Nicky Nichols (Natasha Lyonne), are kind and helpful to her, others, like kitchen head Red (Kate Mulgrew) in the first season, show her no mercy, particularly after Piper accidentally criticizes the cooking. In addition, the guards, all men, are mostly drunk on their own power, the prison counselors play favorites and are easily offended, and the prison population is divided by race, unofficially but automatically, which offends Piper’s liberal sensibilities.  If all that weren’t complicated enough, Piper’s ex Alex is sent to the same prison, and Piper’s emotions are deeply conflicted, as she reasons that only Alex could have pointed the finger to get her in trouble in the first place, while at the same, the old attractions between the two women remain undeniably present.

When: All 13 fourth season episodes became available for viewing on June 17, 2016.

Where: The show is set in New York, though flashbacks for each of the prisoners who comprise the cast of characters sometimes venture away from New York.

Why: Many panelists saw the teaser trailers for the series while watching other programming on Netflix and also on network TV.  Listen to prior podcast episodes to discover how individual panelists found this show.

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

CPU! has been covering Orange is the New Black since its debut on Netflix’s ever growing streaming service.  You can read about the first season here and listen to podcast episodes about Seasons Two and Three below:

Orange is the New Black, Season Two

Orange is the New Black, Season Three, Part One

Orange is the New Black, Season Three, Part Two

This particular panel of fellow Couch Potatoes and Orange enthusiasts experienced a bit of change, not unlike our beloved inmates themselves, as we sat down to talk all things season four of the wildly popular Netflix drama for this latest podcast episode, including moderator and Chief Couch Potato Kylie, Kristen, Krista, Nick, and Amanda, as well as new panelist Andrew.  We engaged in heady and heavy discussion about some of the plot lines that we saw emerge in the dramatic and heartbreaking fourth season.  What do you think?  Do you agree? Do you disagree? What are your hopes, fears, expectations, speculations, or predictions for the resolution of some of the fourth season’s cliffhangers going into season five?

This particular CPU! episode was recorded in October 2016, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as the panelists cover key plot points of OITNB Season Four. 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! Our next episode will resume our American Horror Story retrospective series with a discussion about Season Four: Freak Show, just in time for Halloween!  Stay tuned!

Questions, Predictions, and Future Considerations

Old Questions

1) Is Alex dead?  Or, did she survive and how?  Did Lori Petty’s character, Lolly, swoop in and save her, as Kristen predicts in the podcast (part one)?

ANSWER: Alex is alive.  Even though this viewer recalls a shot being fired at the end of season three, Alex was able to fend off her attacker thanks to, as Kristen predicted, the help of Lolly, who cold-cocked the fake guard.  Unfortunately, this move did not kill the guard outright.  They hid an unconscious but alive fake guard under tarp and plastic in the gardening shed, but when Alex returned to check on the body during lights out and found the man breathing, she made the decision to suffocate him to death.  What’s more, she enlisted Red and Freida, one of Red’s gardening compatriots, to hide the body, which they elected to do by chopping it up and burying the bits in the garden, when Lolly couldn’t get her story straight (or keep her mouth shut).  Listen to the podcast for more details.

2) Will the guard who raped Pennsatuckey (Taryn Manning) do the same thing to Maritza now that Boo (Lea DeLaria) and Tuckey let him go?  Where will Boo and Tuckey’s new odd couple partnership take them next?

ANSWER: It turns out that the guard who raped Tuckey didn’t realize that he raped her. He sincerely believed that she liked him as much as he liked her, and that he had the go-ahead to do the business, adding timely commentary to the systemic rape culture dialogue.  Because his feelings for Tuckey were based in some kernel of sincerity, he showed no interest in Maritza, who had other concerns, such as smuggling drugs for Maria and the Dominicans via her role as new prison van driver.  In the meantime, Tuckey found herself conflicted about forgiving the guard for his male idiocy, while Boo railed against her acquiescence, thinking that it was a mistake to give the guard any inch. This dialogue dominated Boo and Tuckey’s odd couple friendship, but they remained friends nevertheless.

3) How can Caputo (Nick Sandow) save the prison now with the influx of max prisoners seen at the end of the season?  What kind of fallout will there be if the “old guards” walk out?

ANSWER: Caputo was forced to hire any guards available to fill the void of those who walked out, but the prison was overcrowded and, as a result, still understaffed.  The fallout mounted all season, with panelist Kristen’s famous dominoes being set up and toppling over, culminating with a prison protest, a prison riot, a death, and the threat of one prisoner shooting one of the more sadistic guards.  Listen to the podcast for details.

4) How will the landscape change with the influx of max prisoners?  Will we be introduced to tons of additional new characters, or will they be background/backdrop for our already established characters? Will it be “old characters” versus “new characters?”

ANSWER: Most of the max influx served as backdrop, though we met a few new characters, including Abdullah, who had ongoing conflict with Black Cindy (Adrienne C. Moore); Piper’s new Hawaiian bunk mate; Red’s snoring upper bunk neighbor; and a number of new white supremacists.  Sometimes, the new prisoners made friends. Mostly, there was ongoing tension between the two groups.  Listen to the podcast for details.

5) Does the influx from max mean we will see Nicky again?  How about Stella?

ANSWER: Nicky came back to Litchfield minimum after a period of good behavior and being clean from her heroin addiction for some weeks.  Before she returned, Stella (Ruby Rose) tried hitting on her, but Nicky shut her down, being fully aware of her antics involving Piper and Alex and the theft of Piper’s commissary (Nicky was on maintenance detail, and word traveled).

6) What will happen between Suzanne’s (Uzo Aduba) new love interest and her?  Will the new love interest calm her down?

ANSWER: After the prisoners broke through the fence and enjoyed a swim in the lake, Suzanne and her paramour tried to make a break for it, but Suzanne was disturbed by her admirer’s request to live independently in an imaginary fantasy kingdom of freedom; Suzanne seemed to think her friend was crazier than her and to balk at the idea of not being cared for by anyone, including the prison system.  So, Suzanne returned to prison and left her new love in the woods.  Her paramour was rebuffed. They tried to reconnect, especially because Suzanne felt the need for sexual contact, but her admirer used it as an excuse to get her hot and leave her hanging as revenge for dumping her in the woods behind the prison. At the end of the season, however, one of the more sadistic guards, “Humps,” threatened both women, instigating them to fight each other, seeding a riot that later flowed over into the cafeteria.  Listen to the podcast for details.

7) How will the prison/corporation deal with the aftermath of the lake and the breakout of so many inmates?

ANSWER: The corporation, via Caputo, managed to keep the escape quiet, rounding up every last prisoner, and quickly patching the hole in the fence.  It helped that the inmates had nowhere to go unless they were excellent swimmers.

8) Will Red and Healy (Michael Harney) become romantically involved?  Do we want that?

ANSWER: No, Red and Healy did not become romantically involved, and it’s better that they didn’t.  Healy’s issues with women reached a peak this season, as we discovered in flashback that Healy’s mother abandoned him after suffering profound mental illness, a similar affliction which seemed to affect Healy by season’s end.  He tried to channel this pain and sadness into helping Lolly, who demonstrated similar traits of paranoia as those experienced by his mother, but when Lolly seemed too far gone, confessing to murdering the guard that threatened Alex even though she did not deal the fatal blow, Healy found he had no choice but to commit Lolly to the psych ward, not being able to figure out if she was telling the truth or not.  His apparent failure with her and with others under his charge, in addition to his ongoing inability to relate to his Russian ex-wife, resulted in Healy voluntarily admitting himself into an institution in the season finale.

9) Will Pornstache’s mom return?  Will she suspect that Aleida (Elizabeth Rodriguez) lied about the baby being dead and being a boy?

ANSWER: Pornstache’s mom stayed away.  So far, she appears to believe Aleida’s tale, that her grandchild had died.  Still, Daya’s (Dascha Polanco) daughter is lost to the foster care system, given Cesar’s arrest in the third season finale.  Aleida was released from prison in the fourth season, paroled early for good behavior. She vowed to find her children and her grandchild for Daya but was momentarily derailed by the season ending events (listen to the podcast for details).

10) What happened to the baby?!  Where is Bennett?  Will he return?  And not be on How to Get Away with Murder so much?  How will Daya react once she finds out about their fates? What will Aleida do?

ANSWER: The baby is in the system.  Bennett is getting away with murder and has not yet returned.  Daya was distraught to learn of Cesar’s arrest but took heart when Aleida announced that she planned to fight for her daughter, until Aleida started to think of life after prison and consider ambitions for herself, including opening a nail salon. After Aleida was released, Daya was also wooed to the Dominican gang by Maria, who looked to shore up her numbers while also watching after a fellow Latina, against the wishes of Daya’s surrogate mom, Gloria (Selenis Levya).  This alignment set up the end of the season in a big way (listen to the podcast for details).

11) How will the already overrun prison deal with the addition of Blair Brown’s fake Martha Stewart character?  Will she be accepted?  Will Poussey (Samira Wiley) invite her into the family that also now includes Soso, since P is her biggest fan?

ANSWER: Judy King, the fake Martha Stewart, was afforded all sorts of special treatment.  She was given a private cell (a converted conference room), a begrudging Yoga Jones as her roommate, and all the amenities her charms could win her.  She was also the local celebrity, and while some, like Red, were unimpressed, others, like Poussey, were star-struck.  That is, until the prisoners learned of Judy’s one-time racist puppet show for kids, which aired on fictional Southern TV.  Her star tarnished, particularly in P’s eyes, but was never lost.  Ms. King also taught a cooking class at Healy’s insistence and invited Poussey to apply for a job with her company, upon P’s release, after P served as her classroom assistant.  Sadly, we’ll never know what may come of that… Also, Judy agreed to be part of a scheme to pose as Black Cindy’s interracial lesbian celebrity May-December lover in exchange for the cut of selling a black market photograph, courtesy of a cell phone smuggled into prison via Abdullah’s hajib, to the tabloids.

12) Are Soso and Poussey a couple?  Kristen and Nick think they are.

ANSWER: Kristen and Nick were right.  They were awkward but adorable…

13) How will Morello’s (Yael Stone) new husband and his beating of the erstwhile Christopher affect Morello’s continued prison stay?

ANSWER: No one found out about the assault on Christopher.  Morello continues to luck out in this regard.  The only effect her new husband had was to give her an excuse to gush about her wedding all season, relishing her position as center of attention, but also to become jealous and quasi-stalker-y again when she asked her sister to check up on her husband, thinking that he was stepping out on her with another woman (her sister included), only to discover that he was merely being cagey about living with his mom.

14) Will the “Norma” religion endure?  Will Red and Norma start season four on more equal footing?

ANSWER: The Norma religion lost its steam this season.  The character of Norma barely appeared, in fact.  Perhaps, she decided the religious life wasn’t for her after all.

15) If Stella stole Piper’s commissary, where will that leave Flaca (Jackie Cruz) and some of the more demanding entrepreneurs involved in the panty-sniffing business?

ANSWER: They quit.  They all quit.  Piper tried to stay in the game, but she was kind of an asshole to her workers, which drove them away, despite Piper’s best attempts to be a bad-ass gangsta’.  Flaca and Maritza defected to Maria when she decided to start poaching the panty business (and then when she converted said business to drug running and sales).

16) How will Black Cindy’s new religion affect her relationship with the rest of her “family” unit?

ANSWER: Her family was largely fine until max transplant Abdullah arrived on the scene, a professed member of the Nation of Islam, which also drew Janae into some family conflict (as she was a member of the same religion).  Mostly, it was bunk turf war, but religious observations were spicily made by Black Cindy, because she spicily comments about everything.

17) Will Piper be found out regarding her business?  Will it affect her prison stay?

ANSWER: Piper managed to stay out of the warden’s limelight, but the business dried up when all of her panty-wearing volunteers quit because she was posing as a gang leader. This was especially cemented when she started a “neighborhood watch” type group within the prison, for the purpose of ratting on Maria and company to eliminate her competition, only to attract the attention of the white supremacists, who thought Piper was leading an anti-minority charge.  This resulted in the Dominicans, led by Maria, to brand Piper with a swastika in a scene lifted straight from Oz, though Red came to her aid and turned the swastika brand into a window, to remind Piper of what she went through to CTFD, finally.

18) Are the OITNB producers planning to end the show at the end of Piper’s sentence? (That will be a question for awhile).  How much are the producers now relying on Piper Kerman’s original book?

ANSWER: According to panelist Krista, the book is all but forgotten at this point.  Piper hasn’t been released yet, so the remainder of this question is still a question.

New Questions

1) Are we to assume that Suzanne’s flashback this season provided the back story related to the reason for her imprisonment: involuntary manslaughter of a child?  Because her flashback episode was situated within the last three jam-packed episodes of the season, the panel assumed this to be the case but was not certain.

2) Where is the story in terms of Piper’s overall sentence, and how much longer does she have in prison?

3) Will we see Healy again?  Panelists Kristen and Kylie predict that we will, since he seems to have voluntarily checked himself into an institution (rather than being involuntarily committed).

4) Will Laverne Cox/Sophia be in season five, given that Cox is part of a show that has been picked up by CBS for the new TV season?  How will the prison or the show deal with the controversy of leaving Sophia in solitary for her “protection.”

5) Where will season five pick up given the end of the season?  Will it pick up right from the moment at which season four ended, or will time of any significance pass?

6) Will Daya shoot Humps?  Or, will another prisoner intervene?  Or, if she does shoot him, will someone go to bat and take the fall for her?  Will Humps survive this riot?  If he does, will anyone find out about what he did to Maritza, Suzanne, and others?

7) Will Judy King make it out of prison?  Will she grab the gun from Daya?  Will she be a casualty of that final riot?

8) Will Litchfield continue to run after all of the chaos at the end of season four?  Will the prisoners be split up?  Or, is that a way the series might end?

9) How will Soso and Taystee (Danielle Brooks) deal with their particular grief about Poussey?  Will they come to bond more?  Will Soso remain a part of P’s “family?”

10) Will Sister get out of solitary, or will she be left there?

11) Will Red have a better story line next season?

12) Do we still care about Piper and Alex as a couple?  Did Piper miss any of Alex’s written “confessions” that she hid around the prison in an effort to assuage her guilt?

13) How long will Nicky remain clean?  Have she and Tuckey just become friends, given Tuckey’s willingness to nurse Nicky through a cold turkey withdrawal from heroin during the prison lock down?

14) Will we see the young, nice guard Bailey again?  Will the old Litchfield guards return in light of all that has happened?  And what exactly did Piscatello do to which Caputo hinted at the end of the season?

15) Will we see Lolly again now that she has been transferred to the psych ward?

PARTING SHOTS

Our Orange is the New Black panel, slightly changed thought it was, continued to provide mixed reactions about the fourth season of the Netflix comedy/drama, though overall, the reaction appeared to be more favorable toward season four than season three, given the strong but devastating conclusion of the season.  The panel also started, ever so slightly, to warm up to Piper, believing that she is beginning to learn lessons that her real-life counterpart never had to learn because Piper Chapman makes less intelligent choices than Piper Kerman.  All in all, consensus was reached by the panel that the story trajectory beginning from the point at which Litchfield received the influx from max, and from the aftermath of the escape to the lake beyond the fence, was successful and compelling, even though season four started slowly but gained steam through its roaring and heartbreaking finale.  The new characters from max were meted out and introduced judiciously, there was not an overwhelming number of new faces and names to learn, and the tensions and conflicts that arose from pitting the two populations against each other were rooted in a calculated gamble that ultimately paid off.  All of the panel plans to continue to watch the show and season five to find out what happens, particularly in the wake of the passing of Poussey and given the fact that Daya, another well liked character, was squaring off against the sadistic guard Humps, pointing his own weapon at him.  At this time, the panel continues to acknowledge that the writing remains dynamic and top-notch, though, as a rule among most panel members, somewhat less “binge” watchable.  The panel also continues to maintain high hopes and expectations that season five will continue the overarching quality of storytelling, though some members are mildly nervous – or more nervous than others – about the current trajectory; at least one panelist feels “shark jumping” potential, while others are concerned about what the show will feel like and how engaging it will be without a beloved character like Poussey.

LOOKING AHEAD

Orange is the New Black was renewed for a fifth (as well as a sixth and a seventh) season, which is tentatively slated to premiere in June 2017.  Until then!

Supernatural (Seasons 9-11, MAJOR SPOILERS; RERUN)

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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!

DC Television Universe, Episode Three, The Flash (Seasons One and Two, MAJOR SPOILERS)

couchpotatoesunite

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 September 2016, our DC Television Universe or DCTU panel– including moderator Kylie, Jen, Hilary, Kyle, and Spencer – reunites and gathers Around the Water Cooler for the third episode of our DC Television Universe (or DCTU) ongoing series.  In this episode, the panel discusses Seasons 1-2 of the first universe spin-off, The Flash. If you have not watched any of The Flash, 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! – Pilots, Premieres, and First Looks and Around the Water Cooler: DC Television Universe Series, Episode 3, “The Flash” – Seasons One and Two, the DCTU Panel’s Review and Recap (MAJOR SPOILERS)

Image result for the flash title

Moderated by: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

Who:  “The Flash” is a superhero/action/mystery drama centered on events and characters inspired by The Flash franchise/DC Comic Universe, which currently airs on the CW, fall to spring Tuesdays at 8:00 PM.

What: “The Flash,” a series developed by Greg Berlanti, Andrew Kreisberg, and Geoff Johns, based on the DC Comics character Barry Allen / The Flash, a costumed superhero crime-fighter with the power to move at superhuman speeds. This series is considered a spin-off from Arrow. The series follows Allen (Grant Gustin), a crime scene investigator who gains super-human speed, which he uses to fight criminals, including others who have also gained superhuman abilities.

When: Season One aired on the CW from October 7, 2014, to May 19, 2015.  Season Two aired on the CW from October 6, 2015, to May 24, 2016.  The CW began airing Season Three last week.

Where: The action is set in fictional Central City, one of the primary settings of The Flash franchise.  The action does branch out in the occasional crossover with Arrow to Star City (formerly Starling City).

Why: To find out why individual podcast panelists started watching this show, listen to the podcast episode via the link below!  It should be noted that CPU! Chief Couch Potato Kylie previously picked up this show during the 2014 Fall Preview, noting,

The DC comics universe is attempting some major expansions now that Marvel is push and shove proliferating on big and small screens everywhere.  The Flash is a classic hero; he was given an appearance on Smallville, and there is some crossover with Arrow, which I’ve decided to catch up on, since the CW is offering DC Comics a chance to implement those crossovers. Also, I like the choice for the title role.  The Flash is a non-flashy guy, almost DC’s equivalent of Spider Man, given an extraordinary ability, as opposed to several.  It could be an engaging new take on an old superhero story.

How – as in How Was It?

The pilot/premiere rating scale:

***** – I HAVE TO WATCH EVERYTHING.  HOLY SMOKES!

**** – Well, it certainly seems intriguing.  I’m going to keep watching, but I see possible pitfalls in the premise.

*** – I will give it six episodes and see what happens.  There are things I like, and things I don’t.  We’ll see which “things” are allowed to flourish.

** – I will give it three episodes.  Chances are, I’m mainly bored, but there is some intrigue or fascination that could hold it together.  No matter how unlikely.

* – Pass on this one, guys.  It’s a snoozer/not funny/not interesting/not my cup of tea… there are too many options to waste time on this one.

The Flash = 4.9, by average of the podcast panel if rated right after the pilot.

Otherwise, it’s a resounding 5 stars from all five panelists, moderator included.

SYNOPSIS

After witnessing his mother’s (Michelle Harrison) supernatural murder and his father’s (John Wesley Shipp) wrongful conviction for the crime, Barry Allen (Gustin) is taken in by Detective Joe West (Jesse L. Martin) and his family. Allen becomes a brilliant but socially awkward crime scene investigator for the Central City Police Department. His obsession with his tragic past causes him to become an outcast among his peers; he investigates cold cases, paranormal occurrences, and cutting-edge scientific advancements that may shed light on his mother’s murder. No one believes his description of the crime—that a ball of lightning with the face of a man invaded their home that night—and Allen is fiercely driven to vindicate himself and to clear his father’s name. Fourteen years after his mother’s death, an advanced particle accelerator malfunctions during its public unveiling, bathing the city center with a previously unknown form of radiation during a severe thunderstorm. Allen is struck by lightning from the storm and doused with chemicals in his lab. Awakening after a nine-month coma, he discovers he has the ability to move at superhuman speeds. Dr. Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh), the disgraced designer of the failed particle accelerator, describes Barry’s special nature as “metahuman;” Allen soon discovers that he is not the only one who was changed by the radiation. Allen vows to use his gifts to protect Central City from the escalating violence of metahuman and other criminals. He is aided by a few close friends and associates who guard his secrets.

How – as in How Was It? – THOUGHTS

This is the third episode in CPU!’s DCTU series.  Our first episode covered the first two seasons of Arrow, and our second episode covered Arrow’s third and fourth seasons. Listen to each episode here:

DCTU Series, Episode 1, “Arrow,” Seasons One and Two

DCTU Series, Episode 2, “Arrow,” Seasons Three and Four

As discussed previously, since the Arrowverse/DC Television Universe is so closely interrelated, what with all of the spin-offs and character crossovers, it seemed like a universe ripe for the podcasting here at CPU!, especially since so many of our most frequent panelists are comic book/superhero franchise fans.  After all, it’s safe to assume that we would have started covering Arrow or The Flash individually, but since it was expected that the same panelists would keep coming back to discuss these shows, and since the shows themselves share an expanding universe that used to cross networks, though not so anymore, your friendly neighborhood Chief Couch Potato figured, “Why not make it a series?”

Thus, our DC Television Universe Series (or DCTU Series) was born, and all of our DCTU panelists should be familiar voices, namely Jen, Spencer, Hilary, and Kyle.  These panelists are all DC Comics experts in their own rights and, thus, joined me for this series, and now this third episode of said series, in which we cover seasons one and two of The Flash.

You’ll find that the love for these shows is strong with this panel – especially for this series about our favorite Scarlet Speedster.  You might even say the feedback is “gushing,” as an overall theme. Panelist Hilary fan-girls all over the mic at several key points, for example. Seriously, though, The Flash has become one of each panelist’s favorite shows on air currently, which is high praise indeed.

This particular CPU! episode was recorded in September 2016, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as the panelists cover key plot points of both Flash seasons. Listen at your own risk, and let us know what you think by commenting below!

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Remember, new episodes and blog posts are published weekly! Our next episode will revisit Orange is the New Black to discuss season four, released back in June! Stay tuned!

RECOMMENDATION

The Flash is recommended to fans of comic books, particularly from the DC universe, and of the Flash franchise.  Our panel can’t recommend this one enough, even to those who might be put off by superhero/comic book fiction, because the show is written, directed, and performed so well.  It is a perfectly executed story and a faithful and loving but ultimately groundbreaking adaptation of a hero who may not have received the same star treatment as his Justice League compatriots and co-founders, Batman and Superman, at least in modern memory. Also, fans of musicals might take heart to note that Grant Gustin, who appeared on Glee, and Jesse L. Martin, one of the original cast members of Broadway’s Rent, both sing on the show – and are forecasted to continue to do so.  See? THERE’S SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE!

THE FUTURE OF THE SHOW

The third season premiere of The Flash aired on October 4, 2016, and while it is too early in the season to hear about renewal announcements, The Flash is expected to be a network mainstay for some years.  CPU!’s next DCTU episode, which will focus on the first season of Legends of Tomorrowwill likely publish later this fall.  Like, follow, and/or subscribe to the blog, iTunes, YouTube, Stitcher Radio, Google Play, or our social media accounts to stay abreast of new episodes in the DCTU podcast series as well as of new episodes for all of our podcast panels!  And, if you feel so inclined, please leave us a review.  Thank you!🙂

NEXT CPU! LIVE!

As previously indicated, CPU! will next be LIVE at Grand Rapids Comic-Con on October 22, 2016, at 7:00 PM!  We will be one of the Con’s fan panels; in that live podcast (also streamed to our Facebook page), our DCTU and Marvel’s Defenders panels will join forces to discuss and debate the Top 5 DC & Marvel Live Action Heroes and Villains.  This debate promises to be a raging one, and I’d be surprised if Grant Gustin’s Flash or one of the myriad of feisty Flash villains and their portrayers don’t crop up on a few panelists’ lists, so if you have any interest in the ongoing, decades-old comic book/comic universe competition, this is a panel you won’t want to miss.  Like our Facebook page to keep abreast of the event – which is now on the page!  Stay tuned!

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