The Americans, First Look & 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 October 2019, our cadre of sneaky sleeper agents – moderator Kylie, Samantha, and new panelist Aubry – gathered together Around the Water Cooler to simultaneously take a First Look while Looking Back at the highly lauded six season FX spy thriller, The Americans.  If you have not watched any of The Americans, be aware that there are MAJOR SPOILERS. Tell us what you think, and/or if there are other shows you’re interested in CPU! covering, below; email us at couchpotatoesunitepodcast@gmail.com; or check out our Guestbook at the website, our Facebook page, our Twitter (@cpupodcast), or our Instagram (@couchpotatoesunite). Until next time, until next episode…buh bye!

Executive Producer/Chief Couch Potato: Kylie C. Piette
Associate Producers: Krista Pennington and Selene Rezmer

Editor: Kylie C. Piette
Logo: Rebecca Wallace
Marketing Graphic Artist: Krista Pennington

Theme Song:
Written by: Sarah Milbratz
Singers: Sarah Milbratz, Amy McDaniel, Kelsey Sprague
Keyboard: Kelsey Sprague
Bass: Ian McDonough
Guitar: Christian Somerville
Engineer/Production: Kyle Aspinall/Christian Somerville

PODCAST! – Pilots, Premieres, and First Looks; Binge-Worthy and Behind; and Looking Back: The Americans (MAJOR SPOILERS)

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Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

Who: “The Americans” is an American period spy thriller series, which aired on FX for six seasons from 2013-2018.

What: Created by Joe Weisberg and set during the Cold War, “The Americans” follows the story of Elizabeth (Keri Russell) and Philip Jennings (Matthew Rhys), two Soviet KGB officers posing as an American married couple living in Falls Church, a Virginia suburb of Washington, D.C., with their children, Paige (Holly Taylor) and Henry (Keidrich Sellati).

When: The series aired for six seasons from 2013-2018. The first five seasons consisted of thirteen episodes each, while the final, sixth season consisted of ten episodes.

Where: The action is set in Washington, DC, and surrounding suburbs as well as in the Cold War Soviet Union, primarily Moscow, with occasional trips to other parts of the United States. The time span of the show’s events transpires from 1981 to 1987.

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.

The Americans = 3.7, by average of the podcast panel.

SYNOPSIS

The Americans explores the conflict between Washington’s FBI office and the KGB Rezidentura by following the perspectives of agents on both sides, including the Jennings’ neighbor Stan Beeman (Noah Emmerich), an FBI agent working in counterintelligence. The series begins in the aftermath of the inauguration of President Ronald Reagan in January 1981 and concludes in December 1987, shortly before the leaders of the United States and the Soviet Union signed the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.

THOUGHTS

The Americans was requested for podcast coverage in addition to being on several lists that CPU! follows, including a “Binge-Worthy and Behind” list published by the AV Club in 2013 (that’s how behind we always are…too much good TV!). The panel consists of one frequent CPU! panelist, Samantha, who appears on several active panels, including the Grace and Frankie panel, the Westworld panel, the“Full/er House Series” panel, The Crown panel, and who Looked Back at Friends, Gilmore Girls, and Marvel’s Agent Carter; one brand new voice; and me, your Chief CPIn this episode, we gathered “Around the Water Cooler” to take a “First Look” while “Looking Back” (hey, we’re complicated around here) at the six seasons of the critically acclaimed spy thriller, and in so doing, we ruminate in-depth upon the production values, performances, and writing choices of this original but unflinching homage to the Cold War as well as the reverberations and timeliness of the series, given today’s sociopolitical sphere.

This episode was recorded in October 2019, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as the panelists cover key plot points of the whole series. 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 Apple/iTunes channel, our Stitcher Radio channel , find us on Google Play, or on Spotify (!) 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, schedule permitting, our Schitt’$ Creek panel returns to the Water Cooler to digest, to quote, and to generally laugh at the penultimate season, Season 5, of the Canadian cult comedy.  Stay tuned!

RECOMMENDATION

The Americans is recommended by our CPU! panel to anyone who enjoys spy dramas or thrillers with multi-faceted levels of commentary and/or period pieces; The Americans does not shy away from subtext and subtle commentary about politics, history, and the role of gender in each of these areas.  The panelists unanimously agree that the show overflows with remarkable performances, particularly by leads Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys, and showcases good attention to detail related to period art direction and the curated music selection comprising the soundtrack. Yet, our panelists simultaneously struggled with some of the writing, which at times presented character choices that did not seem to align with some of the characters’ trajectories of the moment, as well as with the pacing, which could be uneven, particularly in the second half of the series. Yet, the panelists also feel that any perceived flaw or set of flaws offered by The Americans is outweighed by the good elements of the show, especially as the premise is so unusual and so fresh, humanizing a time in history, the Cold War, during which two world powers, the USA and the USSR, remained distinctly polarized, drenched as they were in bracing tension cultivated by philosophical and political differences. In the end, however, the panel expressed most enthusiasm regarding the performances and felt that Russell not winning an Emmy, and Rhys only winning one after the final season aired, was criminal on the part of television critics and pundits, at best. 

Nevertheless, the panel regards The Americans as solid television that inspires thought and dialogue; viewers who enjoy such reactions accompanying their television watching experiences will enjoy this series the most. The panel universally encourages at least one sincere attempt at viewing, in which you, gentle listener, can decide for yourself; of course, the panelists also universally agree that the first three seasons of the series represent the series’ best, while the last three seasons made each one of us question the purported excellence of the series. That is why it is best for any intrepid viewer to give it a watch and to gauge their own reaction(s); to quote LeVar Burton, you don’t have to take our word for it.

THE AMERICANS: THE SOUNDTRACK

Spotify user “colorsoflife” took the time to compile a playlist consisting of the songs used in this series. For an atypical collection of 80s music, feel free to give it a listen.

PODCAST! – Pilots, Premieres, and First Looks and Looking Back: “(Adios To) Jane the Virgin, a Retrospective Miniseries” – Part One, Seasons 1-2 (MAJOR SPOILERS)

Chapter Eight
another awkward Jane smile

Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

Who: “Jane the Virgin” is an American romantic comedy-drama and satirical telenovela, which aired on the CW for five seasons from 2014-2019.

What: Developed by Jennie Snyder Urman, Jane the Virgin is a loose adaptation of the Venezuelan telenovela Juana la Virgen, created by Perla Farías. The series stars Gina Rodriguez as Jane Villanueva, a devout 23-year-old Latina virgin, who becomes pregnant after an accidental artificial insemination by her gynecologist.

When: Season 1 aired on the CW from October 13, 2014, until May 11, 2015, with a total of 22 episodes. Season 2 aired from October 12, 2015, until May 16, 2016, with a total of 22 episodes.

Where: The action is set in Miami, Florida. The time is present day (relative to time of airing).

Why: To find out why individual podcast panelists started watching this show, listen to the podcast episode via the link below! Chief Couch Potato Kylie previously passed on this show during the 2014 Fall Preview, though the full post is (apparently) archived. I mainly passed on the series because I was afraid that the show would approach the “Virgin” concept with some sort of hearkening to immaculate conception, thereby entering into tricky terrain for what was teased to primarily be a comedy. As I say in the episode recording, however, I was very wrong in my initial assessment. And I’m okay to be so wrong!

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.

Jane the Virgin = 4.3, by average of the podcast panel.

SYNOPSIS

Set in Miami, Jane the Virgin details the surprising and dramatic events that take place in the life of Jane Gloriana Villanueva (Rodriguez), a hard-working and religious Venezuelan-American woman. Jane’s vow to save her virginity until marriage becomes complicated when a doctor mistakenly artificially inseminates her during a routine examination. To make matters worse, the biological father is a married man, a former playboy, and a cancer survivor, who is not only the new owner of the hotel where Jane works but was also her former teenage crush. In addition to adjusting to pregnancy and to subsequent motherhood, Jane is faced with questions about her professional future and the daunting prospect of choosing to be with either the father of her baby or her detective boyfriend.

THOUGHTS

By popular request, though notably by established CPU! panelists and viewers, we offer you this, our Jane the Virgin retrospective, in light of the departure of the popular CW comedy-drama and (naturally said in Rogelio de la Vega’s voice) exceptional telenovela!  Requesting CPU! panelists include Kristen, our most involved panelist; Samantha, who appears on several active panels, including the Grace and Frankie panel, the Westworld panel, the “Full/er House Series” panel, The Crown panel, and who Looked Back at Gilmore Girls and Marvel’s Agent Carter; Emily S, who appears on our American Horror Story, 13 Reasons Why, and Once Upon a Time panels, and who Looked Back at Glee; Emily D, who appears on our Will & Grace panel; and me, your Chief CPIn this episode, we gathered “Around the Water Cooler” to take a “First Look” at this satirical comedy-drama, which ended its five-season run this past summer, and in so doing, we ruminate in-depth upon the production values, performances, and general life affirmations of this bright, fresh, funny, and heartwarming homage to Latinx culture and the telenovelas popular within said culture.

Tonight’s episode is the first part of a three-part retrospective miniseries in which CPU! reminisces upon this audience-beloved, critically-acclaimed show.  In this episode, our panel reflects upon and recaps Seasons 1 and 2 of Jane the Virgin. Part Two will cover Seasons 3 and 4, while the third and final part will discuss the fifth season in-depth as we also comment upon the series as a whole.

This episode was recorded in June 2019, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as the panelists cover key plot points of the first and second seasons. Listen at your own risk, and let us know what you think by commenting below!

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

Remember, new episodes and blog posts are published weekly! Next Wednesday, our Jane the Virgin panel returns to the Water Cooler anew with Part Two of our (Adios To) Jane the Virgin Retrospective miniseries.  Stay tuned!

RECOMMENDATION

Jane the Virgin is recommended by our CPU! panel to just about anyone; our panelists believe that this series presents a wide potential appeal to a large cross-section of audiences because of the way the show incorporates and weaves in a multitude of pop culture references as well as utilizes several genre styles to depict its sometimes outlandish and unexpected twists and turns.  This is also a family-friendly program because of its focus on family, though the show is additionally infused with tongue-in-cheek satire and subtle adult humor that most children will not pick up on, even as most adults will get, and potentially laugh at, the jokes. The panelists unanimously agree that the show is smartly written, with quick, engaging pacing; thoughtfully planned story arcs; and an ensemble cast that effuses electric chemistry, none of which is ever lost over the course of all five seasons, these first two included. The panelists also proffer that, while later seasons might offer more emotionally impacting moments, the show, by and large, remains interesting, entertaining, and an overall joy to watch throughout all five of its seasons, even if some of the story lines spiral into tedium due to repetition and/or become so over-the-top in presentation because of the standard telenovela mechanic requiring constant twists. In fact, the panel expressed most enthusiasm regarding the moments in which such tropes were subverted by subtle, quieter plot progressions that surprised in how understated they were executed.  Nevertheless, the panel sees Jane the Virgin as solid, consistently entertaining television viewing that anyone of any creed, culture, gender, or otherwise could potentially enjoy, and the panel universally encourages at least one sincere attempt at viewing, in which you, gentle listener, can decide for yourself.

PODCAST! – Pilots, Premieres, and First Looks: “Westworld” – The Recap and Review of Season 1; Part One of CPU!’s “Catching Up on Westworld” Miniseries (MAJOR SPOILERS)

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Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

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.

SYNOPSIS

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.

THOUGHTS

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!

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 Westworld panel returns to the Water Cooler with Part Two of our Catch-Up miniseries welcoming you to the wonders of Westworld.  Stay tuned!

RECOMMENDATION

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!

PODCAST! – Pilots, Premieres, and First Looks and Streaming Originals: “The Crown” – The Recap and Review of Season 1; Part One of CPU!’s “Catching Up on The Crown” Miniseries (MAJOR SPOILERS)

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Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

Who: “The Crown” is a historical drama and web/streaming series available to Netflix subscribers exclusively, as it is Netflix produced original content.

What:  “The Crown,” created and principally written by Peter Morgan, is
a biographical story about the reign of Her Royal Majesty (HRM) Queen Elizabeth II.

When: Season 1 was released to the Netflix streaming library on November 4, 2016, with a total of ten episodes.

Where: The action is set primarily in the United Kingdom, England, and in London, where the Queen and the Royal Family by and large reside.

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.

The Crown = 4.2, by average of the podcast panel.

SYNOPSIS

The Crown traces the life of Queen Elizabeth II (Claire Foy, in Seasons 1 and 2) from her wedding in 1947 to Prince Philip (Matt Smith, in Seasons 1 and 2) through to the present day.

THOUGHTS

By popular request, though notably by established CPU! panelists and viewers, The Crown has, as of this publication, become a new show panel at the CPU! Water Cooler!  Requesting CPU! panelists include moderator Krista, best known for her appearances on the Orange is the New Black, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and Grace and Frankie panels as well as the erstwhile panels for British TV shows Downton Abbey, Broadchurch, and the recently published “The Tudors Vs. Wolf Hall;” Spencer, who hangs out most on our comic book adaptation panels; his wife Kristin T, who joined Spencer for Downton Abbey and Sherlock; Samantha, who joins Krista on the Grace and Frankie panel and who Looked Back at Gilmore Girls and Marvel’s Agent Carter, and me, your Chief CP, kicking back as a royally in-tune panelistWe gathered “Around the Water Cooler” to take a “First Look” at this lush biopic, and in so doing, ruminate in-depth upon the production values, performances, and general historical accuracy of this show about a living monarch, with some modestly mixed reactions and unevenly engaged suspensions of disbelief.

Tonight’s episode is the first part of a two-part miniseries in which CPU! gets caught up on this show, which premiered on Netflix in 2016.  In this episode, our panel reflects on and recaps Season 1 of The Crown, covering the period from the Queen’s marriage to Prince Philip to the disintegration of her sister, Princess Margaret’s (Vanessa Kirby), engagement to Group Captain Peter Townsend (Ben Miles) in 1955.

This episode was recorded in December 2018, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as the panelists cover key plot points of the first 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, schedule permitting, our Supernatural panel returns to the Water Cooler with a mid-season check-in, ready to respond and react to the first half of the fourteenth season of the long-running fantasy/horror drama.  Stay tuned!

RECOMMENDATION

The Crown is recommended by our CPU! panel to so-called Anglophiles; to fans of British/English history; to general history buffs; and to followers of the Royals.  The panelists mostly agree that the production values are notably expensive but predominantly worth the money, given the painstakingly remarkable recreations employed in costumes, art direction, and cinematography. The panelists also proffer that the performances are primarily good, particularly that of Foy, and that the first season (or series if you’re British) starts off slow but becomes more engaging as one continues watching. Chief CP Kylie found Season 1 to be almost laboriously slow for most of its run, even with an Anglophile predilection and disposition toward the history of the Commonwealth, and cautions that without love of something about the country, its history, or its monarchy, it might be difficult for such a viewer to stick with the series. 

The panelists additionally, by and large, struggle with Matt Smith’s depiction of Prince Philip, whether by virtue of performance, direction, and/or writing. They further wrestle with the overall historical accuracy – and inaccuracy – of depicted events and with some of the salacious overtones of the piece, as if the producers wanted to present this series as the definitive, if unofficial, authority on all things House of Windsor while, in the meantime, HRM the Queen has contradicted some of the filmed sequences in the press.  In any event, the panelists, particularly in lieu of the lush production values and of Foy’s performance, were universally enticed to continue watching the second season and will do so for future seasons to come as well, despite the cast changes, which we will discuss in Part Two of our miniseries.

THE FUTURE OF THE SHOW

Netflix renewed The Crown for third and fourth seasons, with the third season expected to release in 2019, though no tentative premiere date has yet been announced. CPU! will next visit The Crown for Part Two of this “Catch-Up Miniseries” this winter.  Our next The Crown episode will focus upon the second season of the show and will bring our humble podcast to current times, appreciations, and readiness for The Crown 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 The Crown as well as new episodes for all of our podcast panels!  And, if you feel so inclined, please leave us a review. Thank you!

Sense8, First Look & 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, (re)recorded in October 2018, our cluster of would-be homo-sensorium – moderator Kylie, Kelsey, Selene, and Chad – gathered together Around the Water Cooler to simultaneously take a First Look while Looking Back at canceled, high-concept Netflix science fiction series Sense8.  If you have not watched any of Sense8, 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
Marketing Graphic Artist: Krista Pennington

PODCAST! – Streaming Originals & Looking Back at “Sense8” (MAJOR SPOILERS)

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Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

Who:  “Sense8,” is a Netflix original series, always available on Netflix. The series is comprised of two total seasons released sporadically on the streaming service from 2015-2018.

What:  “Sense8,” a science fiction drama created by the Wachowskis (The Matrix, V for Vendetta, Cloud Atlas) and J. Michael Straczynski (Babylon 5). The plot revolves around eight strangers from different parts of the world, who suddenly and inexplicably become mentally and emotionally linked, and explores themes of religion, politics, identity, gender, and sexuality.

When: The final episode of the series, a wrap-up finale film, was released on June 8, 2018.

Where: The action is set, quite literally, all over the world.

Why: Listen to the podcast episode (embedded link below) for the panelists’ individual stories on how they found Sense8.

The first season was originally reviewed by CPU! Podcast Panelist Eddie in 2015.  You can read that review here.

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.

Sense8 = 4.9, by average of the podcast panel.

SYNOPSIS

Sense8 tells the story of eight strangers: Will (Brian J. Smith), Riley (Tuppence Middleton), Capheus (Aml Ameen/Toby Onwumere), Sun (Doona Bae), Lito (Miguel Angel Silvestre), Kala (Tina Desai), Wolfgang (Max Riemelt), and Nomi (Jamie Clayton), each from a different culture and part of the world. While living their everyday lives, they suddenly have a vision of the violent death of a woman called Angelica (Darryl Hannah) and discover that they are ‘sensates:’ otherwise normal humans who are mentally and emotionally connected and who are able to communicate, sense, and use each other’s knowledge, language, and skills. While trying to live their lives and figure out how and why this connection has happened and what it means, they are aided by another sensate, Jonas (Naveen Andrews), who is trying to protect them from “Whispers” (Terrence Mann), another sensate, who is similarly empowered and who is hunting them down by tapping into their psychic link.

THOUGHTS

Sense8 came to the Chief CP’s attention by way of CPU! panelist Eddie, who submitted a glowing written review of the first season, linked above and published in 2015.  He was so passionate about the show, I decided to check out the show for myself, particularly given the presence of the erstwhile Sayid from Lost, Naveen Andrews, as well as Daryl Hannah, of all former mermaids, who figured relatively prominently in the story, according to the review.  As I began to watch and to discuss the series offline, other CPU! panelists also periodically expressed interest in talking about what was becoming decidedly a cult favorite, and so a CPU! panel was “birthed” from this expanding cluster.

Unfortunately, our Sense8 panel has had about as much luck getting the conversation to the listening public as the show has had remaining a viable, produced series by Netflix, as, much to the controversy and shock of its fan base, Sense8 was canceled by the streaming giant in 2017.  Panelists came and went with the show’s uncertain future becoming more certain.  In addition, and sadly, we had some meaty Sense8 recordings in the can as of summer 2017, but they became victim to the cataclysmic CPU! equipment failure of winter 2018 and were lost.  Fortunately, frequent CPU! panelists Kelsey and Selene along with newer (but not brand new) panelist Chad found it in their hearts to gather Around the Water Cooler once more to Look Back – while taking their second First Look – at a show for which these panelists repeatedly express effusive passion as well as regret regarding its seemingly sacrificial cancellation by Netflix.  Though this series ended its critically acclaimed (if allegedly expensive) run early, it clearly made an impression on our panelists, which they wistfully dissect in the episode below.

This podcast was (re)recorded in October 2018, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as we cover major plot points in Sense8. 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!  This Saturday, at 7:00 PM, CPU! is going live again!  There (hopefully) should be an in-person audience, and we will (hopefully) endeavor to live-stream the whole shindig once more to our Facebook page.  We’ll be back at Grand Rapids Comic Con at DeVos Place in Grand Rapids, Michigan, with our spicy debate feature entitled “Vs,” when we go TREKKING THROUGH THE FINAL FRONTIER: THE CPU! VOYAGE INTO THE NEUTRAL ZONE!!! There, our 6 Trekkiest panelists will engage! in a multifaceted, multi-generational debate tackling the many entries in the universe of Star Trek. We will then publish an audio-only version next Wednesday, in our best rerun fashion. You won’t want to miss it! Here’s the link to the Facebook Event – plus, this panel will also seed a new ongoing Star Trek series panel for the podcast!  Like our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter and Instagram to keep abreast of all the details, but here’s the art for it for now!  Stay tuned!

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RECOMMENDATION
The panel enthusiastically, with all digits and vocal chords and shared senses, recommends Sense8, particularly to fans of the Wachowskis and their special oeuvre of high-concept storytelling; to fans of science fiction; to fans of inclusive TV; and to fans who will not be offended by sexual themes, violence, and/or coarse language.  The panel unanimously praised the performances, writing, direction, and overall production values of this show.  The panelists further believe that Sense8 is both exceptional and noteworthy for its originality, attention to detail, and focused (and achieved) goal of being an inclusive, all-encompassing tale that effectively, successfully, and without offense crosses racial, gender-based, sexual, religious, and other cultural lines/spectra.  In fact, they are simultaneously impressed with the breadth and scope of employed settings and locales; the carefully chosen, symbolic use of music (both source and thematic); and the unmitigated courage of telling a tale that delves deeply into philosophical, spiritual, cultural, and other realms, all of which may, unfortunately, have doomed the show to permanent cult status as well as indirectly induced its untimely demise.  All of the panelists also see this program as easily reviewed and watched again, despite some lingering questions and thirst for more story produced by the engaging overarching series framework, including the satisfying, if rushed, ending.  In any event, the show’s aesthetic imbues it with a potentially timeless charm, and the panel cannot recommend this unique series more highly, though the panelists also caution that a potential viewer’s heart might break, simply because the journey is so criminally short.
THE FUTURE OF THE SHOW
Canceled!  Sense8 was canceled in 2017 by Netflix after two seasons, which are still both available to stream on the service.  Fortunately, due to fan outcry, after the second season proper ended on a whopper of a cliffhanger, the streaming giant commissioned a two-and-a-half hour wrap-up film, which was released on June 8, 2018, and which provided an ending that (mostly) satisfies, at least for our four devoted panelists, the Chief CP included.  Thus, as above, the panelists cannot help but glowingly recommend this series, given its complete beginning, middle, and end, even though some lingering questions and mysteries remain.  Of course, if Netflix goes the unlikely route of jumping on the revival/reboot train and decides to be charitable to this high-concept science fiction show that it previously canceled, CPU! will readily reconvene its resident cluster and resume coverage of the original and intelligent Sense8 anew.