Looking Back at The Vampire Diaries (Part Two of the CPU! Goodbye to The Vampire Diaries, MAJOR SPOILERS)

CPU! final-01

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 October 2017, our smaller (again) but always robust panel – including moderator Kylie, Jen, and Kelsey – is Looking Back at The Vampire Diaries, in the second part of a two-part miniseries in which CPU! says goodbye to this long-running, supernatural, fantasy-horror series. 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!

Editor: Kylie C. Piette
Logo: Rebecca Wallace

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PODCAST! – Looking Back at “The Vampire Diaries:” The Goodbye Series, Part 2 (MAJOR SPOILERS)

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Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

Who: “The Vampire Diaries” aired on network TV, specifically on the CW, for eight seasons, from 2009 to 2017.

What: “The Vampire Diaries,” a supernatural teen drama focused on a young woman, Elena Gilbert (Nina Dobrev), 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 show aired in its entirety on the CW from 2009 to 2017.

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 Much Do We Love this Show?!

Couch Potatoes Unite!’s Complete The Vampire Diaries Coverage

The Season 5 Premiere

Seasons 5-7A

Season 7B

Season 8A
 


Season 8B
 

Our ever small but ever robust Vampire Diaries panel – Jen and Kelsey – could not leave Vampire Diaries behind forever without spending some quality time saying a long and (somewhat) loving goodbye to this show, which has been in our lives for eight years. After our Season 8B discussion, we agreed to reconvene to discuss the show as a whole, including all of its ups and downs, for part two of our two-part CPU! series in which Couch Potatoes Unite! says goodbye to this fantastic, fantastical program. In this second part, our panelists reminisce about what we loved and what we did not like as much from TVD’s eight seasons and about whether we think this series will hold up over time or whether it was a bit of lightning in a bottle or as seemingly fleeting as the popularity of Twilight.
This second part of our two-part Vampire Diaries goodbye was recorded in October 2017, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as the panelists cover key plot points of all eight seasons of the series and give the brothers Salvatore, the doppelgangers who loved them, and all of the supporting characters their final, deserved due.  Give the new episode a listen, see if you agree or disagree with our thoughts, 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 week, and continuing our CW vampire trend, our Originals panel, of slightly new composition with a new member replacing a departing one, returns to the Water Cooler after over a year’s hiatus, diving into discussion about the fourth season, which is ultimately the show’s penultimate season, as Season 5 was announced to be the show’s last. Stay tuned!
RECOMMENDATION
The Couch Potatoes Unite! Vampire Diaries panel reluctantly and cautiously recommends TVD, particularly to fans of Ian Somerhalder, who remained the bright spot in the cast of this soapy supernatural drama for all eight seasons, as well as to fans of vampire fiction.  As a note to the latter population: on a sliding scale, though Vampire Diaries might be better than True Blood in terms of how it played out in the end and though TVD is certainly better than the Twilight series for any serious vampire enthusiast, there are still far better vampire properties in existence in which to sink one’s fangs.  In fact, our panelists generally felt that the show ran for too long, far past its prime, as it should have ended with Nina Dobrev’s abrupt sixth season departure, and some of our panelists felt that though the show began with an amazing story, full of twists and fast, engaging pacing, the show’s quality deteriorated enough that our panelists struggled in later seasons (though the Chief CP did not struggle as much).  In any event, all of our panelists would be hard pressed to recommend this program to anyone who is not at least a fan of the genre (teen/horror/supernatural/fantasy/drama), particularly since some of our panelists even felt that they “wasted time” or “hate watched” this series in the latter years of its life.  In fact, one panelist said, “I wish I had the feelings I had that came with watching the first few seasons…they can’t be felt again.” 
Most if not all of the panelists are both happy and sad that The Vampire Diaries is done, and while some of us might re-watch the series in future, none of us will be quite ready to do so for some time – which is not to say the series is bad or lacks entertainment value as much as the series ending landed messily and without leaving any of us with much satisfaction at the last.  Plus, given that the twists are known in this eventuality, when watching a second time, some of the impact would definitely be lost upon re-watch.  The panel believes that TVD became guilty pleasure TV that ultimately did not follow its own logic/story rules by the end, so much so that a lingering disappointment mars the engagement and devotion our panelists directed toward this series for eight seasons.
The Vampire Diaries is currently available to stream on Netflix in its entirety.  Did you watch The Vampire Diaries?  Let us know in the comments, and tell us what you thought of any or all of its eight seasons!  And stay tuned!  Though our TVD coverage is primarily done, don’t be surprised if it makes an appearance or two in coming discussions, from time to time.  CPU! has some new plans to expand our panel formats in new and exciting ways. Details coming soon (as we work them out)! 🙂
In the meantime, from our TVD panel of devoted vampire diarists to you, thank you for listening to our ongoing The Vampire Diaries series, which now officially comes to a close.  To discover other shows discussed by CPU!, check here.  For now, we bid you adieu!
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One of the final frames – Stefan and Damon embrace in the “Afterlife Montage”

Panelists Jen and Kelsey!

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The Vampire Diaries, Season 8B (Part One of the CPU! Goodbye to The Vampire Diaries, 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 June 2017, our smaller (again) but always robust panel – including moderator Kylie, Jen, and Kelsey – is back Around the Water Cooler and discussing Season 8B of The Vampire Diaries, including this show’s version of the “Devil” and two Salvatore brothers in full-on, emotionless vampire mode, in the first part of a two-part miniseries in which CPU! says goodbye to this long-running, supernatural, fantasy-horror series. 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!

Editor: Kylie C. Piette
Logo: Rebecca Wallace

PODCAST! – Around the Water Cooler: “The Vampire Diaries” – The Goodbye Series, Part 1: The Season 8 End of Season Recap and Review (MAJOR SPOILERS)

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Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

Who: “The Vampire Diaries” aired on network TV, specifically on the CW, for eight seasons, from 2009 to 2017.

What: “The Vampire Diaries,” a supernatural teen drama focused on a young woman, Elena Gilbert (Nina Dobrev), 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 finale – the series finale – aired on Friday, March 10, 2017, 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, and in a third episode, we talked about the first half of season eight.  To hear our thoughts, or to catch yourself up, listen to the embedded links below:

Seasons 5-7A

Season 7B

Season 8A
 

Our smaller (again) but continuously robust panel – our TVD “originals,” Jen and Kelsey – reconvened to discuss the dysfunctional but smoldering brothers Salvatore and the rest of the motley crew hailing from fictional Mystic Falls as our panel engaged in part one of a two-part CPU! series in which Couch Potatoes Unite! says our own protracted goodbye to The Vampire Diaries.  In the first part of this miniseries, our panelists delve deep into recapping TVD’s final half season, in which our characters battle the Devil named Cade, his siren servants, and the Salvatore brothers, no longer engaged with their “emotion” switches and, therefore, their innate humanity, as they go on vampire binges to harvest souls at Cade’s behest. The supporting characters, meanwhile, attempt to move on with life in their own ways, though no none in Mystic Falls can stay away from the Salvatores for long.

In the second part of our miniseries, which will publish next week, CPU!’s TVD panel will engage in one of our “Looking Back” discussions, during which we will reflect upon TVD as a whole and whether we think this series will hold up over time or whether it will age, wither, and decay like a staked vampire in Mystic Falls.  While our panel’s particular devotion and/or sire bond were frequently tested in TVD’s later seasons, we still have lots to think and to talk about, particularly as we reflect upon the show’s ending moments.  Give this first episode a listen with your vampire super-hearing, and see if you agree or disagree with our thoughts.

This first part of our two-part TVD goodbye was recorded in June 2017, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as the panelists cover key plot points of the second half of the eighth and final 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 week, we will publish the second part of this two-part goodbye series, in which our TVD panel Looks Back at the show as a whole in one last chat, for this particular panel and for this particular show, around the water cooler. Stay tuned!

 

Questions, Impressions, and Future Considerations

Old Questions

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

ANSWER: After wracking my brain and after searching Vampire Diaries wiki pages for the information, I do not have an answer for this question.  Damon (Somerhalder) “found” it in Peter Maxwell’s garage, but whether it was actually used, I am not sure.  Was it related to the Maxwell Bell?  Was it an amulet or talisman?  If you remember, let us know in the comments.  Considering that it was so unmemorable, though, we probably do not need to care about it anymore.

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

ANSWER: Jeremy made the briefest of cameo appearances in the series finale, without speaking lines, as an ending montage showed the viewer glimpses into each of the characters’ futures.  The panel felt that this appearance was both anticlimactic and probably unnecessary, considering that he did not even get to speak and did not even appear in the “heaven” part of the montage.  Listen to the podcast episode for details.

3) So, Elena will return.  How?  Kylie predicts that, in order to save Damon, Bonnie (Kat Graham) 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 (Michael Malarkey) and Bonnie might snuff themselves together, in a fantastic Thelma and Louise or, perhaps, Romeo and Juliet type fashion.  Kylie further predicts that Stefan (Paul Wesley) might not survive the series – he may decide to remain the Ripper, and the other Mystic Falls residents, Caroline (Candice King) 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?

ANSWER: Kylie’s first prediction was half right.  Enzo emerges from the sirens’ grasp, and Bonnie, with his help, protects Elena’s magically comatose body by hiding her coffin in a bed and breakfast that Bonnie and Enzo purchased for this purpose alone.  Damon, fighting for his freedom from Cade and attempting to protect his epic love, wants to extract Elena’s blood to recycle the vampire Cure by using it on Cade, in an epic Hail Mary to end the Devil’s attacks on Mystic Falls and on innocent souls the world over.  Ripper Stefan, in service of Cade, susses out this plan and shows up to put a stop to it.  One way in which he derails it is by ripping out Enzo’s heart in front of Bonnie.  Bonnie immediately retaliates by injecting the newly extracted Elena’s-blood-infused Cure into Stefan. 

In the meantime, Bonnie’s magic, though largely dormant, along with her deep feeling and passion for Enzo, ensures that his soul/essence/consciousness is still around and still psychically linked to Bonnie after his unfortunate death. Katherine (also Dobrev), however, returns from hell to wreak her own brand of havoc and wants to ring the Maxwell Bell, a talisman and town historical artifact used to seal the gates of Hell by the Bennett witches when Mystic Falls was founded. Katherine, basically, seeks to unleash hell-fire on Mystic Falls.  Bonnie’s heartbreak over Enzo’s death is so palpable, he realizes that her love plus some element of her magic must be keeping him from moving on.  He ultimately encourages her to sacrifice their psychic link in order to restore her magic fully in an effort to stop Katherine.  Bonnie does so with aid from Enzo in the the almost-beyond, and this act serves also to break Kai Parker’s (Chris Wood) magic, responsible for trapping Elena within her magical coma since Season 6.  So, Bonnie sacrifices herself (not expecting to survive) and her link to Enzo to save Elena and everyone else, but she ultimately does survive, and Elena further awakens, human and alive.

Kelsey’s prediction – though it was probably more of a hope – was not correct.

Kylie’s prediction that Stefan would not survive the series was correct.  Katherine achieves the ringing of the Maxwell Bell via the cursed, hell-bound spirit of Vicki Donovan, Matt’s long-dead sister who is on earth due to the weakened barrier/gates between Hell and Earth, but Damon and Stefan concoct a plan to redirect the hell-fire through the magically imbued Armory tunnels (even though the Armory above is destroyed), so that Bonnie can use her magic to send the hell-fire back to Hell.  The catch?  Katherine has to be back in Hell also in order to be trapped there once the hell-fire is magically returned by Bonnie, as Hell’s gates will firmly close once more, meaning someone must sacrifice her/himself to stab Katherine, with a very handy knife, as hell-fire incinerates them both.  Damon initially volunteers, ever the older protective brother but, guilt-driven, also convinced that he must atone for his many sins and misdeeds; he attempts to compel Stefan, who has been human since Bonnie installed the Cure via retaliatory syringe in the wake of Ripper Stefan’s murder of Enzo, to leave the tunnels.  Stefan, however, has been ingesting vervain since reacquiring his humanity.  The compulsion, therefore, does not work, so the viewer discovers in a twisty reveal.  What is more, Stefan injects Damon with his blood, redirecting the vampire Cure to Damon and transforming the elder Salvatore vampire brother into a human in the end.  Stefan thereafter grabs Katherine, stabs her, and jumps into the path of the hell-fire flames, sacrificing his very human existence to save everyone else.  

Stefan, as of the end of The Vampire Diaries, is no more.

Cue montage.

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

ANSWER: The twins, though present and magical and siphon-y, do not really play any part in any events involving the Salvatores.  Bonnie saves Stefan by making him human; Stefan sacrifices himself to save Damon and everyone else, after curing Damon’s vampirism, which allows Damon to live a normal life until his death and until the brothers’ eventual reunion in the afterlife.

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?

ANSWER: Sybil and Seline return momentarily to lord their newfound freedom from Cade over Mystic Falls in their own special ways.  Sybil particularly, who retains her Siren powers to some extent, even attempts to mess with Damon and Stefan during their soul harvesting phase.  Anticlimactically, however, and though the sisters eventually agree to help the Mystic Falls Scoobies in their attempt to fend off Cade, because he is angered by their ultimate betrayal, Cade magically snaps their necks, simultaneously ending the reigns – and the long lives – of 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?

ANSWER: Cade is, quite simply, the Devil in The Vampire Diaries universe.  He is the most evil being, determined to retaliate for his martyrdom by harvesting souls in order to grow his psychic prison, what the show deems to be “Hell.”  Because TVD aired before The Originals this past season, we do not get to see any crossovers on TVD, except by reference, as Klaus donates a sizable sum of money to Caroline and Alaric’s new Hogwarts school of Special Supernatural children, which is not its actual name but which is featured in the ending montage.  As far as who came first, Cade, the Originals, or the Witches, TVD does not answer that question.

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?

ANSWER: The brothers mostly get along great, at least early on in their harvesting careers.  For the first time, both brothers are vampires without the governance of their emotion switches, and even though they occasionally disagree about tactics, this mutual state allows them to simultaneously enjoy the kill and each other’s company, at least for a time.  With Damon, though, we know his love for Elena and her general influence on him have ever changed him, and he quickly grows bored, particularly since Ripper Stefan, as was mentioned, is kind of a dick.  Damon’s boredom and wist for Elena, plus some helpful persuasion from Bonnie, ultimately spurs him to defect, even as Ripper Stefan takes his Ripper-ness to new heights in the second half of Season 8.

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

ANSWER: Bonnie and Enzo attempt to help Damon and, for the most part, mutual forgiveness goes along way to help Damon reengage his emotion switch.  Caroline does not really participate in any saving of anyone; in fact, during Stefan’s latest Ripper phase, she throws her engagement ring back in his face.  It is not until Stefan becomes human, through Bonnie’s actions, that Stefan begins his short-lived road to recovery.

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

ANSWER: Still a question.  The panel feels that he is an intriguing character that probably should have been flushed out over more of the series, rather than over one shortened season.

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

ANSWER: Questions without answers, actually.  Hell is a psychic prison but also, seemingly, a physical place.  The show never parsed out these metaphysical concepts in more detail, since they were introduced so late into the series’ life.

Lingering Questions

1) The chronology of who was created first: Witches/Originals or Cade.

2) Why Cade was not made a bigger Big Bad for a larger part of the series.

3) The true meaning of Hell.

4) Cade’s back story.

5) Exactly how Heaven worked and why Elena’s moments were with all of her family but not Jeremy – and why they were all the same ages as when they died.

6) How long each character lived before the dead characters died and appeared in the ending montage.

7) Why Stefan and Lexie were never a couple.  Oodles of chemistry but no payoff.

8) Whether or not Caroline and Klaus will end up together on The Originals. Stay tuned.

PARTING SHOTS

The panelists all agree: it was time for The Vampire Diaries to end.  While all three panelists (your Chief CP included) are relieved that the show ended, decked out and tied up, in neat, fan-pleasing bows, many convenient story shortcuts and continuity breakaways occurred before the show was able to achieve its clearly sought after happy ending.  Stefan’s end on the show felt the most real and the most earned, while Damon and Elena’s reunion lacked any semblance of emotional punch, owing much to the actors’ behind-the-scenes drama and interpersonal dynamics – and apparent lack of professionalism.  Bonnie and Matt surviving the series – and Matt without ever becoming supernatural like all of his friends – surprised and relieved our panelists, while the ending montage felt hokey and largely forced, with so little Jeremy or actual through-line that did not confuse, even as it tugged at heartstrings and made us all feel and cry.  Most if not all of the panelists are both happy and sad that The Vampire Diaries is done, and while some of us might re-watch the series in future, none of us will be quite ready to do so for some time – which is not to say the series is bad or lacks entertainment value as much as the series ending landed messily and without leaving any of us with much satisfaction at the last.  The panel believes that TVD became guilty pleasure TV that ultimately did not follow its own logic/story rules by the end, so much so that a lingering disappointment mars the engagement and devotion our panels directed toward this series for eight seasons.

LOOKING AHEAD

The Vampire Diaries has officially ended, but the CPU! TVD podcast panel is not quite finished!  We will publish a second part to this mini podcast series saying goodbye to TVD, in which we will Look Back at the series as a whole, next week! Stay tuned, subscribe, like, and follow to keep abreast of that publication, and tell us what you think in the comment forums.  What’s more, review us on iTunes, Stitcher Radio, Google Play, or YouTube, and check out our other podcast episodes related to a growing array of TV shows!  Until next week!  Stay tuned!

Marvel’s Defenders Series, Episode Six, Marvel’s The Defenders, Season One (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 December 2017, our enthusiastic panel of comic book and superhero enthusiasts – including moderator Kylie, Kristen, Nick, Hilary, Kyle, and Spencer – is back Around the Water Cooler as the Marvel’s Defenders Series panel finally discusses Season 1 of Marvel’s crossover miniseries event, from which the panel derives its name, The Defenders. If you have not watched any of The Defenders (or its companion series, Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist), 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!

Editor: Kylie C. Piette
Logo: Rebecca Wallace

PODCAST! – Streaming Originals & Pilots, Premieres, and First Looks: Marvel’s Defenders Series, Episode 6, “Marvel’s The Defenders” – The Season One Recap (MAJOR SPOILERS)

Image result for the defenders title card

Moderated by: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

Who: “Marvel’s The Defenders” is a web television series based upon the Marvel Comics characters Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist, who form the eponymous superhero team.  It is also a Netflix original series, always available on Netflix.

What:  “Marvel’s The Defenders,” created by Douglas Petrie and Marco Ramirez, is set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), sharing continuity with the films of the franchise, and is the culmination of a series of interconnected shows from Marvel and Netflix. The limited series stars Charlie Cox as Matt Murdock aka Daredevil, Krysten Ritter as Jessica Jones, Mike Colter as Luke Cage, and Finn Jones as Danny Rand aka Iron Fist, all reprising their roles from their individual series. The miniseries also stars Eka Darville, Elden Henson, Jessica Henwick, Simone Missick, Ramón Rodríguez, Rachael Taylor, Deborah Ann Woll, Élodie Yung, Rosario Dawson, Scott Glenn, and Sigourney Weaver. 

When: The first season of the series was released in its entirety to the Netflix streaming library on August 18, 2017.

Where: The action is set primarily in the New York City, New York, borough of Manhattan, as depicted in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, though there are glimpses of other boroughs, including Hell’s Kitchen and Harlem.

Why: To find out why individual podcast panelists started watching this show, listen to the podcast episode via the link below – though I will say that all of the panelists are fans of the Netflix original library and/or superhero/comic book based shows in their own right and have found themselves eagerly anticipating new entries in Netflix’s “Defenders” series of releases, particularly the cross-over event for which our panel is named!  As a result, they’re committed to a CPU! series about same!

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.

Marvel’s The Defenders = 4.3, by average of the podcast panel.

SYNOPSIS

Set a few months after the events of the second season of Daredevil, and a month after the events of the first season of Iron Fist, the vigilantes Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist team up in New York City to fight a common enemy: the Hand.

How – as in How Was It? – THOUGHTS

As long-time listeners should know by now, CPU! is chock full of panelists with a proclivity for comic book and superhero TV shows and films, including your Chief CP. Our Marvel’s Defenders Series was born of this proclivity, as we have already covered the two available seasons of Daredevil, the one available season of Jessica Jones, the one available season of Luke Cage, and the one available season of Iron Fist.  Listen to the links below:

Marvel’s Defenders Series, Episode One, “Daredevil,” Season 1

 

Marvel’s Defenders Series, Episode Two, “Jessica Jones,” Season 1

 

Marvel’s Defenders Series, Episode Three, “Daredevil,” Season 2

 
Marvel’s Defenders Series, Episode Four, “Luke Cage,” Season 1
 
Marvel’s Defenders Series, Episode Five, “Iron Fist,” Season 1

 

As such, it was only right that we cover the next series in this universe, now the fifth in Netflix’s series of Marvel-centered shows and the culmination of creating the shows to begin with: “The Defenders” miniseries, featuring heroes Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist joining together to form a special force of the ilk of the Avengers or of the Justice League in the DC Universe. Thus, we bring you our first ever Defenders podcast episode – and the sixth episode of our Marvel’s Defenders Series – featuring Defenders panelists Nick, Kristen, Hilary, Kyle, and Spencer.

Our panel is, for the most part, warm to the crossover, with some panelists liking this climactic effort more than some of the solo entries leading up to it.  Generally, the panelists loved seeing the four Defenders together, taking down the Hand, even though some thought the series somewhat slow; too short, at eight episodes rather than thirteen, compared to predecessor programs; and fuzzy in storytelling continuity when matched up to the solo Defender series.  Also, many of our panelists construed the depiction of The Hand, the nefarious ninja organization that previously haunted Daredevil and Iron Fist, to be weak overall when compared to charismatic villain performances in solo series, particularly those of Vincent D’Onofrio as Kingpin and David Tennant as Kilgrave.  To hear us hash out these opinions further, listen to our discussion via the embedded link below.

This podcast was recorded in December 2017, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as we cover major plot points throughout the first season of The Defenders.  Do you agree or disagree?  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, at long last, our Vampire Diaries panel, slightly smaller, returns to the Water Cooler to begin the long advertised two-part goodbye series in which we pay homage to the long-running teen supernatural drama, which ended its eight season run in March 2017.  In the first episode/first part of our miniseries, we recap the second half of the final season.  Stay tuned!

RECOMMENDATION

The Defenders is recommended overall by our CPU! panel to fans of comic books, particularly from the Marvel universe; fans of the various Defenders series; and fans of the individual Defender characters.  The panel cautions that to truly appreciate what The Defenders offers as a program, it is best viewed after all solo Defender series/seasons released prior to the release of this miniseries have also been viewed.  The panel generally and universally agrees that The Defenders is well-performed and mostly well-written and directed but for some qualms from some panelists about pacing and continuity, particularly with reference to how the various show runners have treated The Hand as overarching villains for several of the solo and now the crossover series.  In any event, and despite the critiques described above, the panel universally had great fun watching this series and believes that anyone who considers themselves a fan of any or all of the individual Defenders would have fun watching it too.

THE FUTURE OF THE SHOW

The Defenders has not yet been renewed for a second season, though Netflix is no doubt preparing for subsequent solo series season releases as follows: Jessica Jones (Season 2) on March 8, 2018; Luke Cage (Season 2) in spring/summer 2018; Daredevil (Season 3) in summer/fall 2018; and Iron Fist (Season 2) in 2019. Netflix may be waiting to gauge reception to all of these new seasons as well as reviewing logistical considerations before jumping straight into a renewal commitment.  As always, CPU! will be following The Defenders throughout its series run as part of CPU!’s Marvel’s Defenders Series, so we will definitely return to podcast about a season two, should one be commissioned, and will keep you informed of all Netflix/Marvel coverage.  In addition, the CPU! Marvel’s Defenders panel will return very soon to review The Punisher, Season 1, which was released to Netflix on November 17, 2017.  Until then, stay tuned!

PODCAST! – Looking Back at “Angel,” Seasons 3-5 + The Panel’s Top and Bottom 10 Lists of Episodes from “Buffy” and from “Angel:” The Buffy-Verse Series, Episode 5, the Scoobies Edition (MAJOR SPOILERS)

AngelTitlecard

Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

Who: “Angel,” a cult supernatural, fantasy, action, and horror drama that aired on the Warner Bros. network, or “The WB,” from 1999 to 2004.

What: The ongoing trials of Angel (David Boreanaz), a vampire whose human soul was restored to him by gypsies as a punishment for the murder of one of their own. After more than a century of murder and the torture of innocents, Angel’s restored soul torments him with guilt and remorse. Angel moves to Los Angeles, California, after it’s clear that his doomed relationship with Buffy, the vampire slayer, cannot continue, where he works as a private detective with a variety of associates to “help the helpless,” restoring the faith and saving the souls of those who have lost their way.

SYNOPSIS

Angel (Boreanaz) is an Irish vampire who is over 200 years old and was known as Angelus during his rampages across Europe, but he was cursed with a soul, which gave him a conscience and guilt for centuries of murder and torture. He left Buffy the Vampire Slayer at the end of Season 3 to move to Los Angeles in search of redemption.

Angel is soon joined by Cordelia Chase (Charisma Carpenter), also a previous cast member of Buffy. Formerly a popular high school cheerleader, Cordelia starts her tenure on the show as a vapid and shallow personality but grows over the course of the series into a hero. Cordelia later acquires clairvoyant visions. Another character from the Buffy series also makes the jump to its spin-off in Angel’s first season: Wesley Wyndam-Pryce (Alexis Denisof) joins the team under the brave guise of “rogue demon hunter,” acting as comic relief and initially not well-accepted.

In Season 2 of the show, the trio are joined by Charles Gunn (J. August Richards), a young demon hunter who must initially adjust to working with and for a vampire. At the end of Season 2, they travel to the demon world Pylea, where they save Winifred “Fred” Burkle (Amy Acker), a young Texan physicist whose social skills have become stunted after five years’ captivity.   Season 3 saw the introduction of Connor (Vincent Kartheiser), the “miracle” human child of two vampires, Angel and Darla. Abducted into a Hell dimension as a baby, he is raised by Angel’s enemy Daniel Holtz. Only a few weeks after he leaves, he returns from the other dimension as a teenager and reluctantly comes to accept his lineage. Although introduced in Season 2, Lorne (Andy Hallett) joins the team during Season 4. An outgoing, pacifistic demon, Lorne’s predominantly supports the team.

Season 5, the show’s final season, introduces several new cast members, chief among them Spike (James Marsters), an old vampire ally/foe of Angel’s and regular character in Buffy. In this series, Spike (eventually) fights beside Angel as their rivalry continues, now further spurred by Spike existing as another vampire with a soul and by the romantic feelings both of them have for Buffy Summers. Finally, Harmony Kendall (Mercedes McNab), another Buffy alumna and a former friend of Cordelia, who was turned into a vampire. Resembling the old personality of Cordelia, Harmony is grudgingly accepted by Angel as his secretary when he takes over the Los Angeles branch of law firm Wolfram & Hart.

When: Angel aired on the WB from 1999-2004.

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

Why: Listen to the third episode of this series for the panelists’ individual stories on how they found Angel, though the running theme for all panelists’ discoveries of the series involves the show’s association and spin-off status as related to Buffy.

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

In honor of the 20th anniversary of the premiere of one of your Chief CP’s all-time favorite television shows, and since I know a few people in my life who love Buffy as much or (possibly) more than I do, I decided to invite some true Buffy-Verse scholars, in what has, again, become something of a family event, to participate in a five-part podcast series, during which we will take a critical look back at another couple of cult TV shows that fuel our respective imaginations and tug at our TV-loving hearts. In this five-part series, our panel – featuring CPU! regulars and semi-regulars Nick, Kyle, Sarah, and Kallie – look back at Buffy and its spin-off Angel, reminiscing about two shows that have withstood the test of time as personal favorites for several of us and as two of the most nationally and internationally acclaimed television series of all time.

We have already recorded four episodes in this series, Looking Back at Buffy Seasons One, Two, and Three; Looking Back at Buffy Seasons Four and Five; Looking Back at Angel Seasons One and Two; and Looking Back at Buffy Seasons Six and Seven.  You can listen to those episodes here or via our audio channels on iTunes, Stitcher Radio, and Google Play:

The Buffy-Verse Series, Episode One, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” Seasons 1-3

The Buffy-Verse Series, Episode One, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” Seasons 4-5

The Buffy-Verse Series, Episode Three, “Angel,” Seasons 1-2

The Buffy-Verse Series, Episode Four, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” Seasons 6-7

In this fifth episode of CPU!’s “Buffy-Verse” series, our panel discusses Seasons Three, Four, and Five of Angel, covering the series’ final, uneven, three years through the show’s untimely and somewhat controversial cancellation. We discuss our favorite and least favorite episodes within each season and our general impressions of the success of these three seasons, which aired on various nights but ended on Wednesdays at 9:00 PM on the WB.  In addition, each of our panelists compiled and now share their ten most favorite and ten least favorite episodes from both Buffy and from Angel, truly demonstrating not only our widely various opinions about both series but also how these shows manage to mean different things to different people, in different ways and to different degrees, thirteen and fourteen years, respectively, after their series finales aired.

This podcast was recorded in November 2017 and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as we cover major plot points throughout the final three seasons of Angel and further discuss the entire Buffy-Verse as we rehash our “best” and “worst” lists. Do you agree or disagree?  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, our Marvel’s Defenders panel triumphantly returns to the proverbial Water Cooler to discuss the first season of the crossover miniseries event for which our panel derives its catchy moniker, namely Marvel’s The Defenders, which was released to Netflix in August 2017.  Stay tuned!

RECOMMENDATION

Angel – if you somehow haven’t already watched it – is recommended to anyone who loves nerdy, cult science fiction and fantasy (and/or horror) series in the vein of Star Trek, The X-Files, and similar ilk and to any fan of Joss Whedon and, of course, of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  Do not, however, expect this show to be a duplicate of Buffy; Angel the series became something much different from its parent series, which either appealed or didn’t appeal to fans of the original show.  Still, fans of David Boreanaz would be remiss to neglect watching the series that, along with Buffy, catapulted him into TV recognition and stardom (and primed him for his role on Bones). Plus, the supporting cast is fun, and the show enjoys cameo appearances and crossovers from Buffy characters throughout, including from the titular vampire slayer herself.

The entire Angel series is available to stream at only Hulu, currently. Though the panel’s reviews about Angel are generally and widely mixed, Whedonverse/Buffy-Verse fans know that there is at least a few somethings to love about the spin-off featuring the brooding vampire, once a carouser named Liam.  If you enjoy Buffy, chances are, you’ll enjoy Angel too (though, perhaps, as we found out in our chat, some Buffy fans will enjoy it more than others). This Chief CP says watch it, and judge for yourself.