That ’70s Show, 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 December 2016, our small but robust yet always happenin’ panel – including Moderator Kylie, Kristen, and Michael – partake of the Circle as we hang out, down the street, the same old thing, we did last week, while Looking Back at the eight seasons of That ’70s Show, which aired from 1998 to 2006 on Fox. If you have not watched That ’70s 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 “That ’70s Show” (MAJOR SPOILERS)

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Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

Who: “That ’70s Show,” a period situation comedy that aired on Fox from 1998 to 2006.

What: Created by Bonnie and Terry Turner and Mark Brazill, the series focuses on the lives of a group of teenage friends living in the fictional suburban town of Point Place, Wisconsin, from May 17, 1976, to December 31, 1979.

SYNOPSIS

That ’70s Show addresses social issues of the 1970s such as sexism, sexual attitudes, generational conflict, the economic hardships of the 1970s recession, mistrust of the American government by blue-collar workers, and teenage drug use, including underage drinking. The series also highlights developments in then-pop culture, including the television remote (“the clicker”), the video game Pong, MAD magazine, and Star Wars. The show has been compared to Happy Days, which was similarly set 20 years before the time in which it aired.  The show also features guest-starring actors from 1970s TV shows, such as Mary Tyler Moore, Valerie Harper, and Betty White (The Mary Tyler Moore Show); Tom Poston and Jack Riley (The Bob Newhart Show); Pamela Sue Martin (The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries); Tim Reid and Howard Hesseman (WKRP in Cincinnati); Eve Plumb, Barry Williams, and Christopher Knight (The Brady Bunch); Tom Bosley and Marion Ross (Happy Days); Monty Hall (Let’s Make A Deal); Gavin MacLeod (The Love Boat and The Mary Tyler Moore Show); Don Knotts, Richard Kline, and Jenilee Harrison (Three’s Company); and Danny Bonaduce and Shirley Jones (The Partridge Family). Series cast member Tanya Roberts also starred in a popular show in the 1970s, Charlie’s Angels.  The main teenage cast members are played by Topher Grace, Mila Kunis, Ashton Kutcher, Danny Masterson, Laura Prepon, and Wilmer Valderrama. The main adult cast members are Debra Jo Rupp, Kurtwood Smith, Don Stark, Tommy Chong, and Roberts.

When: The show aired for eight seasons from 1998 to 2006 on Fox.

Where: The show is set in the fictional suburban town of Point Place, Wisconsin.

Why: Listen to the podcast for the panelists’ individual stories on how they found That ’70s Show.

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

Admittedly, the idea to elect That ’70s Show as the next CPU! “Looking Back” candidate was entirely the Chief CP’s.  Call it nostalgia, call it guilty pleasure, call it what you will – but I love watching and re-watching this show, and on a recent re-watch, I wondered if there were others who wouldn’t mind hanging out, down the street, and chatting in the Circle (sitting “around the water cooler” forms a circle, ok???) about the lovable, and consistently stoned, goofballs of Point Place.

Fortunately, a small but robust panel of CPU!’s finest – panelist extraordinaire Kristen and Futurama panel graduate Michael – were willing to convene around our (basement) water cooler to do the same old thing we did last week.  Thus, in this current episode, we reminisce about the ’70s as perceived during the ’90s and discuss the trajectories of the then-teen stars who became cultural phenomena of varying degrees in their own rights. We talk about the subversive nostalgia that played as satire, despite its timeless and refreshingly loving look back at the days of polyester and of olive green and orange interior decor.  We also offer our own appreciation for a sitcom that has managed to stand the test of time, despite its auspiciously stoner comedy foundations.

This podcast was recorded in December 2016, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as we cover major plot points and comedic situations throughout That ’70s Show. 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 return to our mid-season check-ins once again by revisiting our Once Upon a Time panel around the water cooler, as we discuss Season 6A , focusing upon Regina and her Evil Queen other half, now completely independent of her body. In addition, our That ’70s Show podcast retrospective has inspired a host of new episodes, as we plan to follow some of the stars to new TV projects (we already cover Orange is the New Black, featuring Laura Prepon) as well as to look back at some of those TV shows producing timely guest stars for this particularly period piece.  Stay tuned as we introduce these new episodes, panels, and series!

RECOMMENDATION

That ’70s Show is recommended to anyone who will not be offended by non-overt but certainly unsubtle drug humor and sexual innuendo or by the lovably quirky but ultimately laid back decade that provides the backdrop for the show itself.  This program is also recommended to anyone who wants a reliably funny but ultimately superficial situation comedy to enjoy when the mood strikes. The panelists agree that this show holds up to multiple viewings due to its period setting and timeless coming of age shenanigans in ways that few other sitcoms do.  Even though the brand of comedy touted here may not be for everyone, chances are good that anyone could find something to like about That ’70s Show, even if that someone did not particularly enjoy the decade being depicted.  After all, for every roller disco, there is a Led Zeppelin concert; for every polyester leisure suit, there is a shiny new El Camino; and for every reference to hot rollers, there are twice as many references to the stash or the circle. That ’70s Show is what you make of it, in the end, but for us at CPU!, it remains a consistently hilarious sitcom worth every watch.

The 100 (Seasons 1-3, MAJOR SPOILERS)

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A new (and, yet again, unusually long!) 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 December 2016, our panel of CPU! Skaikru – including moderator Kylie, Allie, Kelsey, and Selene – is Around the Water Cooler and catching up on Seasons 1-3, with particular emphasis on Seasons 2 and 3, of The 100.  We discuss everything from the 100 teen criminals banding together to fend off Grounder attacks, to the introduction of the Grounder clans (and their leader, Lexa), to the exploration of Mount Weather and those humans sheltered from the apocalypse (and the war for the ground), to proliferation of ALIE and the effect that this particularly aggressive artificial intelligence has on Skaikru and Grounder and Mountain Man alike.  If you have not watched any of The 100, 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: “The 100” – Reflections on Season One and Recapping Seasons Two and Three (MAJOR SPOILERS)

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Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

Who:  “The 100,” currently airs on network TV, specifically on the CW, Wednesdays at 9:00 PM.

What: “The 100,” a science fiction drama set nearly 100 years into the future.  According to the preliminary season one voice-over, in the fictional near future, Earth is ravaged by nuclear warfare, irradiating the planet’s surface. Survivors flee to space stations orbiting the Earth; 100 years into the future, the lives of the mere thousands of the survivors’ descendants aboard the “Ark” are threatened again, as the oxygen and life support reserves dwindle, and the machinery aboard the conglomeration of space stations degrades.  The only hope for the human race centers on the heartiness of 100 adolescent prisoners, chosen for their penchant for breaking the rules, who are sent to the planet’s surface to sniff out whether humanity can return to its original home and persevere.  The 100 are a mixture of society’s elite and its most oppressed; the resulting stew becomes something very similar to Lord of the Flies – except, as the 100 accept and embrace their new-found freedom, they realize they are not alone.

SYNOPSIS

Humanity survives a nuclear holocaust in the fictional near future that irradiates the planet’s surface, sending what remains of the human race into space to fend for their lives aboard several international space stations, which are eventually joined together to become the “Ark.” One hundred years into the future, humanity is in danger once again, as the century-old machinery fails, and oxygen supplies dwindle.  The society aboard the Ark is run under strict rules and laws, including population control and discouragement of defiance of the ruling council and its decrees in any way.  The Council is comprised of, among others, Chancellor Thelonius Jaha (Isaiah Washington) and his Vice Chancellor Marcus Kane (Henry Ian Cusick).  They and the chief medical officer, Dr. Abigail Griffin (Paige Turco), decide to send 100 involuntary participants deemed criminals – adolescents incarcerated for various crimes, including illegal space walks and being an unauthorized second child – in order to test the viability of the planet’s surface to sustain human life. Unfortunately, some of the 100 include the chief medical officer’s daughter and the chancellor’s son, among others.  In addition, once the 100 reach the Earth’s surface, despite the fact that they wear bracelets monitoring their health and vital signs, most of them see their situation as a new lease on life and freedom and remove their bracelets in the hopes that the Ark will leave them for dead.  Only Abby’s daughter, Clarke (Eliza Taylor), fights to communicate with the Ark, while others are content to run wild in a new, anarchic society. These two schools of thought are at odds, even as the 100 confront unexpected inhabitants of the new old world.

When: Season One aired from March 19, 2014, to June 11, 2014; Season Two aired from October 22, 2014, to March 11, 2015; and Season Three aired from January 21, 2016, to May 19, 2016.

Where: The action is set in two locations at the outset of the series: in space, aboard the fictitious space station amalgamation known as the “Ark,” and on Earth, in an unknown location at an unidentified crash site.  The adults eventually travel to Earth, foregoing the dying Ark, and set up a settlement, first called “Camp Jaha” and then “Arkadia.”

Why: The Chief CP is always on the hunt for good science fiction; this show offers less science and more fiction, except where the space station is concerned.  Also, it features Henry Ian Cusick, better known as Desmond from Lost, and I have a great affinity for the Lost alumni.  The podcast panelists that I invited to talk about this show with me all found this program in diverse ways.  Listen to the episode for details.

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

It’s been a while since CPU! covered The 100, as this is yet another show that CPU! Chief Kylie briefly covered in blog format during season one, here, though below are some key passages reprinted, as I am particularly proud of this review, which provides some relevance and foundation for the beginning of the podcast episode:

“Comparing The 100 to Lord of the Flies is not unfair: this show is essentially William Golding’s classic novel, set in the future and partially in space.  Aboard the Ark, there are two factions of ruling adults: those who mercilessly follow the rules, and those who bend them or break them in favor of following the tenets of compassion and humanity.  On the planet’s surface, there are those juveniles who see following the instructions given to them as the only ticket to salvation, while another school of thought and its members are willing to embrace their more primal instincts, including violence and allowing their rampant hormones to run free.  No one’s wearing animal blood yet, and their survival is threatened by more than the elements and mutated creatures evolved from the fictional nuclear holocaust, but The 100 borrows liberally and unmistakably from an obvious source.

“On the one hand, the tweaked premise shows promise: after all, with shows like Survivor on the air, there is a certain freshness to this story and a real sense that though this is set in the fictional future, it’s a not-too-far-distant future where something like the situation being depicted – the planet, ravaged by humanity’s neglect and misuse of technology resulting in potential survivors to flee to space – might be possible.  Presumably, the target audience is the CW’s usual viewership, the 18-34 set, and there is plenty of teenage angst to pepper the story of individual and global survival.  On the other hand, the characters are rather cookie cutter and caricature-like, particularly Cusick’s Kane, who plays an unfeeling bureaucrat in idiosyncratic surroundings with an over the top flourish (and a passable American accent).  In fact, most of the Ark residents are American – a troubling and narrow vantage point for the show to start from, even if it’s an American-made show.  It seems a bit too convenient that the producers did not invest in a pretend future world with a bit more geographical diversity, even if 100 years somehow unified speaking patterns to be more American aboard the Ark.

“Then, there are the actual adolescents, a veritable mixed bag of acting ability.  Taylor is decently convincing, approaching her role with conviction, as is Thomas McDonell as apparent love interest Finn, but the actor portraying the Chancellor’s son and most of the random supporting cast in the younger bracket seems to be angling for after school special or perhaps B-horror film rather than a thrilling kill-or-be-killed survival tale.  The result is that most of the 100 young adults are simply uninteresting, if not unsympathetic, while the adults, in the two episodes that this viewer has watched, though competent in their performances, offer no complexity, playing their two-dimensional roles well within their two dimensions.  Perhaps time and comfort will permit them to stretch…”

As always, blame it on starting the podcast side of CPU! for the long wait for re-visitation of The 100 and then happily promote the show to podcast panel-ship, along with interested CPU! panelists on board to catch us up.  And we’re getting caught up, finally, which you might notice if you follow our “What We’re Currently Watching” page!

In lieu of that crashed and burnt introduction, then, get a load of our new CPU! podcast episode, as CPU! regulars Allie and Kelsey and brand new panelist Selene gather Around the Water Cooler to chat about this newest entry into the annals of teen dystopian fiction. We play catch up with those that crashed aboard the drop ship on a newer, less apocalyptic Earth of the future and with those who tried to survive in space aboard the Ark before choosing to follow the juveniles they sent ahead of themselves, spanning the time since CPU! last checked in on the first season.  We cover major plot points from seasons one through three: from the 100 teen criminals banding together to fend off Grounder attacks, to the introduction of the Grounder clans (and their leader, Lexa), to the exploration of Mount Weather and those humans sheltered from the apocalypse (and the war for the ground), to proliferation of ALIE and the effect that this particularly aggressive artificial intelligence has on Skaikru and Grounder and Mountain Man alike.  Our panel’s devotion to The 100 admittedly waversas the panelists feel that the quality of this show has, itself, wildly wavered, possibly thrusting its best foot forward in the second season, as the writers toy with a revolving door of violent character deaths in a bleakly harsh world.  Give this latest CPU! episode a listen, with an ear to the ground and an eye toward the sky, and see if you agree or disagree with our thoughts.

This podcast was recorded in December 2016, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as the panelists cover key plot points of the first three 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! Our next podcast episode will take another break from our mid-season progress reports as we pause to appreciate an oldie but a goody.  We hang out, down the street, the same old thing, we did last week as we sit in the Circle, in our CPU! sponsored basement, and pontificate nostalgically about (i.e. look back at) That ’70s Show. Stay tuned!

Questions, Impressions, and Future Considerations

1) Is Lexa’s essence, as preserved in ALIE’s construct known as the “City of Light,” truly gone?  Or, did she escape the oncoming onslaught of hostile and devoted chipped humans within the construct? If so, where did she go?

2) Is the entire fourth season going to be centered on a hunt for decaying nuclear power plants?  How can Clarke and company possibly solve the conundrum described by ALIE’s creator, who posed that the nuclear power plants would implode within six months?

3) Are there human survivors in other parts of the former USA?  Other parts of the world? Will we meet any of them in this season?  Are there other Grounder clans (aside from Ice Nation, Treekru, etc.)?  Will we meet them?

4) Why should we care that the Earth is dying, given all of the violence and poor judgment of so many characters on this show?  The writers and producers have to convince several members of our panel to keep watching by giving us a reason to care.

5) Will other characters die?  Will they all die?  Will they survive?  Will they have to go back to space to escape the failing nuclear power plants?

6) Does this show possibly have a fifth season in it?  Our panel votes not so much.

PARTING SHOTS

The 100 seems to have burned bright and fast only to fizzle into wisps of smoke and ash, confronted as it is by a myriad of puzzling writing decisions that may have painted the show into a corner without chance for entertaining recovery.  The panelists in this podcast episode universally agree that this show starts off with a rocky foundation, relying on minimal and lacking character development as the writers and executive producer, Jason Rothenberg, drive quickly toward the main plot arcs without taking time to lay essential character groundwork.  The panelists also universally agree that the second season may have been the program’s best, with a tightly focused, intense, and brutal depiction of a war for the planet that humanity left behind, except and involving the humanity that remained, survived, and now fights for its home.  The panelists agree that the second season presents clear objectives for the many factions and staggering number of main characters that populate this cast.  Yet, the show falters again in the third season as several plot threads and character decisions remiss of logic established by the first two seasons create an impossible situation facing our characters as the season ends, and as the show tentatively embarks upon its fourth season.  In addition, the pacing of the third season is vastly uneven to the point of disengagement for every panelist, and the violence could be characterized as egregious, as most of the panelists feel that the show is striving to be network television’s Game of Thrones equivalent but for the less interesting story motivating the violence.  In fact, overall, the panelists find The 100 derivative of many sources and inspirations (apart from Lord of the Flies) and hampered by the seeming aim of the writers to try to “one up” themselves with each passing episode, to a point that the fourth season must now rely upon Clarke and the rest of her cohorts to prevent a second nuclear annihilation, despite all of the harrowing life and death drama that the characters have faced up until this point. This far-reaching story goal leaves the panel lukewarm and not looking forward to the fourth season; in fact, two of the panelists have nearly entirely jumped the shark, while the other two panelists are electing to persevere for completion’s sake and nothing else.  Will the writers absolve the show’s weaker aspects as The 100 cruises toward season’s end, thereby preventing cancellation?  Or, will the “all over the place” nature of the storytelling continue, despite a lack of consistent success, paving the road toward a series rather than a season end?  How’s the season going so far, since this episode is being published on the night that the third episode of the fourth season airs?  Tell us in the comments!

LOOKING AHEAD

The 100 was renewed for a fourth season, which premiered on February 1, 2017.  Does this yet again delayed premiere, and the show’s inconsistent schedule, signal a death knell for this series? Time will tell, since this program was not one of the CW network’s early renewals. Because of the delayed season premiere, CPU! will not revisit The 100 again until after the fourth season finale, most likely in summer 2017.  As always, CPU! will keep you informed of news and additional 100 coverage.  Until then!

The Vampire Diaries, Season 8A (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 January 2017, our less small but more robust panel– including moderator Kylie, Jen, Kelsey, and Allie – is Around the Water Cooler and discussing Season 8A of The Vampire Diaries, including two Siren Sisters and this show’s version of the “Devil.” If you have not watched any of The Vampire Diaries, 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: “The Vampire Diaries” – The Season 8 Mid-Season Recap and Progress Report (MAJOR SPOILERS)

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Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

Who: “The Vampire Diaries” airs on network TV, specifically on the CW, Fridays at 8:00 PM.

What: “The Vampire Diaries,” a supernatural teen drama focused on a young woman, Elena Gilbert, who becomes entangled with two brothers who are vampires–-one a soulful, conflicted type who wants to repress his vampire urges to be more human; the other a sarcastic, ne’er-do-well who embraces the nature of his nocturnal condition, except for when his love for Elena interferes. In addition, these two vampire brothers were sired by Elena’s doppelganger, a vampire for the centuries named Katherine Pierce (for a more detailed Synopsis, read here:http://www.aceshowbiz.com/tv/vampire_diaries_the/summary.html).

When: The Season 8 premiere aired on Friday, October 21, 2016, at 8:00 PM on the CW.

Where: The show is primarily set in the fictional town of Mystic Falls, Virginia.

Why: Two reasons: vampires and Ian Somerhalder, formerly of Lost and Smallville fame. CPU! Chief Couch Potato Kylie loves non-sparkly vampire television, and Ian Somerhalder is too beautiful a man not to find an excuse to watch.  My fellow panelists found the show due to the vampires as well, and at least thirty-three percent of them stayed for Ian…

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

In 2016, our Vampire Diaries panel helped to catch CPU! up on this program by discussing seasons five, six, and the first half of season seven.  We also covered, in great detail, the second half of the seventh season in a second episode.  To hear our thoughts, or to catch yourself up, listen to the embedded links below:

Seasons 5-7A

Season 7B

Halfway into what has been announced to be this long-running vampire fiction program’s eighth season, our less small but continuously robust panel–Jen, Kelsey, and Allie–reconvened to discuss the dysfunctional but smoldering brothers Salvatore and the rest of the motley crew hailing from fictional Mystic Falls as The Vampire Diaries winds down toward its series finale.  Feast your ears and/or your fangs on this new episode, in which we cover major plot points from the first half of season eight, as the audience is introduced to the monster from the Vault: a siren sister with a stronghold on Damon (Ian Somerhalder) and buddy Enzo (Michael Malarkey).  While our panel’s particular devotion and/or sire bond is frequently tested in TVD’s later seasons, we still have lots to think and to talk about, particularly as we speculate upon the show’s near and final future.  Give us a listen with your vampire super-hearing, and see if you agree or disagree with our thoughts.

This podcast was recorded in January 2017, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as the panelists cover key plot points of the first half of the eighth 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 introduce an all new podcast panel, as we catch CPU! up on the dystopian post-apocalyptic science fiction drama, also from the CW, entitled The 100, for a longer-than-usual and highly passionate episode.  Stay tuned!

Questions, Impressions, and Future Considerations

Old Questions

1) Will Matt return?  Will Tyler?  Will Jeremy?  Will Elena?

ANSWER: (see below)

Matt Donovan (Zach Roerig) returns.  He steers clear of Mystic Falls for a short while, as he sought out his dad, who had left him, his mom, and Vicki when Matt was younger.  Matt protects his dad with vervain, but Damon looks for Matt’s dad as he hunts for an artifact that Matt’s dad possesses as a member of one of the Mystic Falls founding families, which forces Matt to become involved in the goings-on of Mystic Falls once more.

Tyler Lockwood (Michael Trevino) confronts Damon while Mr. Salvatore is on the road during his siren-induced vampire binger.  Damon responds to Tyler’s hesitant confrontation by snapping his neck and killing Tyler during his two second guest spot. So…RIP Tyler.  Matt is particularly distraught after learning of the death of his best friend and vows vengeance against Damon after this event.

Jeremy Gilbert has not yet returned – he’s hanging out on the “Chicago” franchise, over on another network, apparently. Will he yet return?  There’s always hope.

Elena Gilbert (Nina Dobrev) WILL return.  It was announced in January that Nina Dobrev would return to film the series finale, and Dobrev herself Instagram-ed a picture of her script.  I’m assuming this means that Elena will awaken from her magical coma.  I assume this also means that Bonnie (Kat Graham) might die, since Elena’s life and consciousness is inversely related to Bonnie’s ability to survive.

2) Is Season 8 the show’s last, considering that Ian Somerhalder has told the press that he can’t see doing more than eight seasons of the show (and the podcast panel can’t see the show surviving without Somerhalder/Damon)?

ANSWER: The show’s producers and the network have all confirmed that season 8 will be the final season of The Vampire Diaries.

3) What is in the Vault?  What has possessed Damon and Enzo?

ANSWER: One member of a pair of deadly sirens, i.e. the mystical beings first introduced in Homer’s Odyssey that magically sing and lure men, usually aboard ships at sea, to their demise.  The particular siren in question sports the moniker Sybil and takes a special interest in Damon and Enzo by singing her way into their enraptured brains and forcing them to murder people, as she is required to eat flesh to maintain immortality, youth, and beauty while harvesting the damned souls of these poor sods for a larger, darker power.  Damon and Enzo react differently to her particular form of sway: Damon elects to turn off his emotion switch, despite entering a safe space in his brain on which he focuses upon Elena.  When Sybil discovers this, she performs psychic surgery and replaces memories of Elena with similar memories featuring Sybil instead, ensuring Damon’s enduring fealty to her (at least for awhile). Enzo, on the other hand, is so devoted to Bonnie, he combats the siren’s cry for a time, at least until Damon and Sybil conspire to trick Enzo into turning off his own emotion switch, leaving Bonnie to decide that she must risk burning herself alive to entice Enzo back to humane vampirism in order to preserve their love. Listen to the podcast for details.

4)  Why was Reina a red herring for Elena/Katherine?  Cheap shot, writers!

ANSWER: We’ve decided, on the panel, that Damon has a type.  Sybil looks remarkably like Elena as well…

5) Will Alaric return?  Will his children return?  Will they be evil Children of the Corn, half siphon/half vampire children?

ANSWER: Alaric (Matt Davis) returns as does his children, so that he and Caroline (Candice King) can co-parent the girls.  One of the siren sisters, Seline, tries to offer up the twins to be the keeper of the sirens’ immortal Faustian deal, but Stefan (Paul Wesley) intervenes and prevents that deal from going down, so the twins remain innocent (but definitely siphons) as ever.

6) Are Damon and Enzo collecting bodies in sacrifice or in ritual to the thing from the Vault?  Is there a purpose to the warehouse of suspended but highly dead bodies?  Is the Vault thing controlling them, or are they acting of their own free will but in service of the thing in the Vault?

ANSWER: The siren’s cry tends to obfuscate free will and spellbound enslavement. Arguably, as Damon and Enzo show us, the siren’s cry is strong, but enough strength and will to resist can break the spell for some time, as it did with Enzo, in lieu of his love for Bonnie.  Damon could have done the same, if he didn’t feel beholden to a comatose Elena and a sense of guilt for his sins; he believes his service to Sybil is penance for his misdeeds as a vampire, so he opts to flip his emotion switch to withstand the poor judgment and murder sprees in which Sybil has him engage.  The warehouse scene merely serves as a grisly end button to season seven, but the bodies are a sacrifice to Sybil’s siren-infused flesh-eating appetite.

7) Are Damon, Stefan, and/or Enzo connected to the Vault thing somehow?  Or, is Bonnie connected to it?

ANSWER: There appears to be no connection, per se, between any of our beloved characters and Sybil, except insofar as Damon and Enzo are under her spell, and Bonnie’s family provided the sealant magic for the Armory Vault that hitherto contained her.  Still, Sybil, Seline, and their boss Cade, possibly The Vampire Diaries’ analog for the Devil, repeatedly draw stark parallels between the brothers Salvatore and the Siren Sisters, showing that there is a blurring of what is good and evil among them, particularly as it relates to who is the good sibling and who is the evil one.  Listen to the podcast for details.

8) Is the Vault thing something akin to the First Evil or the First Supernatural Something, a la Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Supernatural?

ANSWER: The sirens are not the First, nor are they the Darkness (as Supernatural depicts).  Cade created the Sirens.  We know that Cade was a psychic, martyred for being different by suffering stoning and burning at the hands of his fellow villagers.  Their negative energy created a so-called “hell.”  What this “hell” is or how Cade became psychic we don’t know.  We also don’t know who came first: Cade or the Originals, i.e. the family Mikaelson as the first vampires, or the Mikaelson matriarch Esther and her family of magical witches.  The history, to the members of the podcast panel, is unclear.

9) Are Caroline and Stefan really in it and together for the long haul?

ANSWER: Well, Stefan pops the question, in a rather anticlimactic way, and Caroline answers yes.  Trouble is, as of the season finale, Stefan, to save the twins and Damon, makes a deal with Cade: he and Damon will take the place of the Siren Sisters, harvesting souls for him.  In the meantime, Stefan is required by Cade to flip his emotion switch and to become Ripper Stefan, a side of soulful Stefan that intrigues Cade.  Cade promises that Stefan can return to Caroline one year after living under these conditions – but the dark figure bets that Stefan will not want to stop being the Ripper, since Ripper Stefan seems to relish his evilness even more than an emotionless Damon.  The last moments of the mid-season finale show Stefan and Damon driving away to do Cade’s bidding, the cold dark eyes of Ripper Stefan becoming apparent as Stefan’s emotion switch visibly flips.  Will Stefan make it back to Caroline?  Do we care? These are the questions that follow us into the show’s final half season.

New Questions

1) What is the artifact that Matt’s dad had, and what does it do?  Who has it now?  Do we still care about it?

2) Will Jeremy (Steven R. McQueen) return to The Vampire Diaries to see it off as one of the original cast members?

3) So, Elena will return.  How?  Kylie predicts that, in order to save Damon, Bonnie will sacrifice herself, so that Elena might awaken from her coma and draw Damon away from the darkness of his emotional void once more.  Kelsey predicts that Enzo and Bonnie might snuff themselves together, in a fantastic Thelma and Louise or, perhaps, Romeo and Juliet type fashion.  Kylie further predicts that Stefan might not survive the series – he may decide to remain the Ripper, and the other Mystic Falls residents, Caroline included, may be forced to stake him; or, the writers will cop out, and Stefan and Caroline will reunite for their happily ever after.  What will happen?  How will it all end?

4) Will the twins be factors in saving the brothers Salvatore from themselves or Alaric/Caroline/anyone else from Stefan and Damon?

5) Damon ripped out Sybil’s heart on his way out of town with Stefan in the mid-season finale, but we know that Sybil can heal due to her magical deal to keep her immortality, which she made with Cade in exchange for selling out Stefan and Damon.  Will we still see Sybil, and how will she factor into the overall end?  Where did Seline go?  Are we done with the Siren Sisters?

6) Who or what is Cade – really?  Who came first: him, the Originals, or the Witches?  Will we see a mutual crossover with The Originals, the spin-off of The Vampire Diaries, this half season?  If so, can it be the whole cast and not merely an exchange of one character, like Klaus and Stefan, as happened last season?

7) What will Damon and Stefan do as Cade’s new soul harvesters?  How will their brotherly bond be affected?  Ripper Stefan is kind of a dick, but Damon also has his emotion switch off.  We’ve never seen both brothers with their emotion switch off at the same time except during flashbacks of their initial days as vampires.  How will this manifest, and what will they do?

8) What will the Mystic Falls Scooby Gang, particularly Caroline, do to try to save the brothers from themselves?

9) Why was Cade not introduced sooner, if he’s truly the “devil?”

10) What is “hell” truly?  How did the pre-devil version of Cade become psychic?

PARTING SHOTS

The Vampire Diaries definitely has its best years behind it; the panel believes that though the show has lost much of its initial magic, not unlike Bonnie herself, the first half of season eight made a valiant effort to recapture some of that former glory in time to send the series off with a bang (and a few fangs!).  Most if not all of the panelists are ready for The Vampire Diaries to be done but are simultaneously excited by the second half of season eight and what the final half season will bring to end this epic story of two vampire brothers and the women that came between them, which is what, ultimately, TVD was all about in the end.  We think that the talented writing team will offer up a satisfying conclusion, which ought to include Damon and Elena back together, Bonnie resting and at peace (that poor girl), and everyone else in a place that makes sense.  If anyone can do it, Julie Plec and company should be able to do it!  We also hope the wrap party following these eight interesting seasons is as epic as the series itself.

LOOKING AHEAD

The Vampire Diaries returned from mid-season 8 hiatus on January 13, 2017. The Vampire Diaries podcast panel will next reconvene following the eighth season and overall series finale of TVD, which will likely air in or around May 2017, with a two-part goodbye series of podcast episodes. The first of these episodes will review the show’s final half season; the second will look back at the show as a whole.  Of course, the announcement that this will be the show’s final season was made as of early fall 2016. As always, even for the limited amount of time remaining, CPU! will keep you informed of news and additional TVD coverage.  Until then!

Gotham (Season 3A, “Mad City,” 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 January 3027, our panel of staunch Batman and comic book enthusiasts – including moderator Kylie, Hilary, Kyle, Spencer, and introducing Nick – is Around the Water Cooler and discussing Season 3A, otherwise known as “Mad City,” of Gotham. If you have not watched any of Gotham, 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!