Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie
Who: “Westworld” is a science fiction western based upon the 1973 film of the same name (written and directed by Michael Crichton) and to a lesser extent, the film’s 1976 sequel Futureworld. The series began airing on HBO in 2016.
What: “Westworld,” created by Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy, depicts a fictional, technologically advanced Wild West-themed amusement park populated by android “hosts” called “Westworld.” The park caters to high-paying “guests” who may indulge their wildest fantasies within the park without fear of retaliation from the hosts, who are prevented by their programming from harming humans.
When: Season 1 aired on HBO from October 2, 2016, to December 4, 2016, with a total of ten episodes.
Where: The action is set primarily in the fictional Westworld and in its adjacent maintenance and creative facilities at some unknown future time.
Why: To find out why individual podcast panelists started watching this show, listen to the podcast episode via the link below!
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.
Westworld = 4.3, by average of the podcast panel.
In an unspecified time in the future, Westworld allows guests to experience the American Old West in an environment populated by “hosts,” i.e. androids programmed to fulfill the park guests’ every desire. The hosts, who are nearly indistinguishable from humans, follow a predefined set of intertwining narratives but have the ability to deviate from these narratives based on interactions they have with guests.
The hosts repeat their multi-day narratives anew each cycle. At the beginning of each new cycle (typically following the host’s “death”), each host has its memories of the previous period erased. This continues hundreds or thousands of times until the host is decommissioned or re-purposed for use in other narratives. For guests’ safety, hosts’ programming prevents them from physically harming human guests; this allows guests nearly unlimited freedom to engage without retribution in any activity they choose with the hosts, including rape and murder. Staff—situated in a control center called “The Mesa”, which is connected to the park through vast underground facilities—oversee daily operations, develop new narratives, and perform repairs on hosts as necessary. Unbeknownst to the staff, members of a small group of hosts have retained memories of their past “lives” and are learning from their experiences as they gradually start to achieve sentience.
By popular request, though notably by several resident CPU! panelists and viewers, Westworld has, as of this publication, become a new show panel at the CPU! Water Cooler! Requesting CPU! panelists include our fourth-most involved panelist, Kyle, best known for his contribution to our superhero panels and science fiction and fantasy panels (such as DCTU, Marvel’s Defenders, The Buffy-Verse, The Star Trek 50+, and the X-Files Series panels, among others); Hilary, who joins husband Kyle and moderator sister Kylie on many of those same panels and who recently appeared on our Friends series panel; Samantha, who appears/ed on the Grace and Frankie panel, the Friends series panel, who recently joined our “Full/er House” Series panel, and who Looked Back at Gilmore Girls and Marvel’s Agent Carter; Jeremy, who regularly appears on our Supernatural, 13 Reasons Why, and Will and Grace Revives Series panels; and me, your Chief CP, shooting it up as a welcoming host and guest – plus, we introduce a brand new panelist! Our newly constituted “mesa” of panel constituents gathered “Around the Water Cooler” to take a “First Look” at this lush and complex drama, and in so doing, ruminate in-depth upon the production values, performances, writing, and densely plotted mysteries of this show hailing from seeds planted by Michael Crichton’s creative brain – and with mostly positive and praise-worthy results, at least for this first season.
Tonight’s episode is the first part of a two-part miniseries in which CPU! gets caught up on this show, which premiered on HBO in 2016. In this episode, our panel reflects on and recaps Season 1 of Westworld, in which we are introduced to the park, the hosts, the guests, the creatives, and the corporation behind this future-oriented science fiction exploration of humanity, consciousness, and conscience.
This episode was recorded in June 2019, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as the panelists cover key plot points – very key plot points – of the first season. 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! Next Wednesday, our Westworld panel returns to the Water Cooler with Part Two of our Catch-Up miniseries welcoming you to the wonders of Westworld. Stay tuned!
Westworld, especially the first season, is recommended by this latest CPU! panel to anyone who enjoys a good, satisfying story, with exciting action coupled with cerebral, intelligent mysteries to titillate and to ponder; to fans of science fiction and/or westerns and/or mysteries in general; and to music lovers who enjoy auditory Easter eggs, as the person responsible for the score, Ramin Djawadi, is both clever and prolific with his use of music, original and adapted, in this series (see playlist below). The panelists universally agree that the production values on this series are remarkable, with particularly breathtaking cinematography, costuming, and visual effects representing the series’ crowning achievements. The panelists also unanimously praise the writing and the performances by this noteworthy cast/ensemble, especially those of Jeffrey Wright as Bernard and of Ed Harris as the Man in Black.
The panelists further proffer, even caution, that the pacing is demonstrably slow and deliberate, as the complicated and multi-layered mystery is painstakingly and carefully revealed in thoughtful morsels throughout the first season. Our panelists note that any would-be viewer should be prepared for an engaging puzzle of a tale that should be actively watched and processed without distraction, like the “multi-screen experience,” and possibly with a notebook or journal at one’s side to keep track of the story information, for the mystery is densely plotted and is full of details large and small, which are additionally shuffled within an already jumbled chronology that both piques curiosity and confuses if one is not paying adequate attention. Still, all panelists see broad appeal in the viewing experience related to this show, with different elements that will appeal to different viewers, compelling characters, and enticing enigmas. The panelists especially laud the first season; several panelists feel that this season could stand alone, on its own merits and strengths, should a potential viewer decide not to pursue viewing beyond that first season, though all of our panelists have. In any event, our Westworld panel was universally motivated to continue watching the second season and will do so for future seasons to come as well, which we will discuss in Part Two of our miniseries.
THE FUTURE OF THE SHOW
HBO renewed Westworld for a third season, which is expected to release in 2020, though no tentative premiere date has yet been announced. CPU! will next visit Westworld for Part Two of this “Catch-Up Miniseries” next week! Our next Westworld episode will focus upon the second season of the show and will bring our humble podcast to current times, appreciations, and readiness for Westworld coverage going forward. Like, follow, and/or subscribe to the website, iTunes, YouTube, Stitcher Radio, Google Play, or our social media accounts to stay abreast of new episodes regarding Westworld as well as new episodes for all of our podcast panels! And, if you feel so inclined, please leave us a review. Thank you!