PODCAST! – Streaming Originals & Pilots, Premieres, and First Looks: “Grace and Frankie” – Recapping Seasons 1 and 2; Part One of CPU!’s “Catching Up on Grace and Frankie” Miniseries (MAJOR SPOILERS)

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Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

ADVISORY: Due to discussion of concepts like yam lube, we do make frank (but scientific) references to genitalia in this episode.  It’s the world of the show, people.

THE SPECS:

Who: “Grace and Frankie” is a comedy-drama web television and Netflix original series, always available on Netflix.

What:  “Grace and Frankie,” created by Marta Kauffman and Howard J. Morris, stars Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin in the title roles of Grace and Frankie, two unlikely friends who are brought together after their husbands announce that they are in love and plan to get married. Sam Waterston, Martin Sheen, Brooklyn Decker, Ethan Embry, June Diane Raphael, and Baron Vaughn co-star in supporting roles.

When: The first season of the series was released in its entirety to the Netflix streaming library on May 8, 2015, and the second season was released in its entirety to Netflix on May 6, 2016, each with a total of thirteen episodes.

Where: The action is set primarily in San Diego, California, and surrounding communities.

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.

Grace and Frankie = 4.1, by average of the podcast panel.

SYNOPSIS

The series follows Grace (Fonda), a retired cosmetics mogul, and Frankie (Tomlin), a hippie art teacher, whose husbands, Robert (Sheen) and Sol (Waterston), are successful divorce lawyers in San Diego.  Grace and Frankie’s lives are turned upside down when Robert and Sol announce that they are in love with each other and are leaving their wives. Now, the women, who have never particularly liked each other, are forced to live together and must learn to unite and to cope with difficulties in their new lives as 70-something divorcees.

THOUGHTS

By popular request, though notably by frequent CPU! panelists and viewers unlikely to be in the intended target audience for this quirky comedy-drama, Grace and Frankie has become a new show panel at the CPU! Water Cooler. 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 2015.

Ultimately, our requesting CPU! faithful think that Grace and Frankie is a charming comedy about growing old gracefully – but also about growing up gracefully – in these, our modern times.  Plus, with this vocal clamoring for coverage of this program, our panel grew to be comprised of a variety of voices, namely four frequent panelists, including Kristen, the reigning panel champ; Krista, who finds herself drawn most to British television like Downton Abbey and Broadchurch and dramas like Orange is the New Black, How to Get Away with Murder, and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Titus is a self-proclaimed drama queen!); Amie, most famous for her ongoing participation in our Once Upon a Time and 13 Reasons Why panels; and Samantha, who has joined us for our Gilmore Girls Life Series and for a Look Back at Marvel’s Agent Carter.  

In this episode, our panel reflects on and recaps the first two seasons of Grace and Frankie, reacting to the various quirky characters and the seemingly impossible situations in which they find themselves.  From husbands leaving their wives for each other, to the odd couple chemistry of 9 to 5 vets Fonda and Tomlin; from the melding of this peculiar Brady Bunch of offspring to the various significant others that connect to them; from “yes nights” to yam lube, our panel reacts to it all.

And because CPU! is always helpful – and because we wonder aloud in this episode about some of the inspirations for the situations depicted on this series – we offer you this handy link.  From farm to…well, you can read it for yourself (not an official sponsor):

This Stuff Is Real

This episode was recorded in March 2018, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as the panelists cover key plot points of the first two 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, we offer the second of our two-part Grace and Frankie miniseries, in which we will recap Seasons 3 and 4, which will render CPU! officially caught up to the current season.  Stay tuned!

RECOMMENDATION

Grace and Frankie is recommended overall by our CPU! panel to fans of the actors in the cast, particularly of Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Martin Sheen, and Sam Waterston, and to people who sincerely like to laugh.  Some of the panel cautions, however, that with frank discussion about lube (and later vibrators) as well as some salty language coming from these septuagenarians, not every potential viewer might find the show funny or be copacetic with the vernacular utilized therein.   Also, the panel generally praises the comedic performances of the four main actors and the writing while agreeing that there are better episodes than others; in fact, the panel voices a variety of reactions to the supporting characters, namely the four actors playing the grown up children of the couples in question.  In any event, our panel universally had great fun watching this series and believes that most with an open sense of humor will have fun watching it too.

THE FUTURE OF THE SHOW

Netflix released the fourth season of Grace and Frankie on January 19, 2018, and has renewed the show for a fifth season, though no tentative release date has yet been announced by the streaming giant.  Most pundits expect the show to return in 2019, in keeping with its traditional once per year release pattern.  CPU! will next visit Grace and Frankie next week for Part Two of this “Catch-Up Miniseries;” the new episode will focus upon the third and fourth seasons of the show and will bring our humble podcast to current times, appreciations, and readiness for ongoing Grace and Frankie 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 Grace and Frankie as well as new episodes for all of our podcast panels!  And, if you feel so inclined, please leave us a review.  Thank you! 🙂

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PODCAST! – Pilots, Premieres, and First Looks & Around the Water Cooler: “The Good Place,” Recapping Seasons One and Two (MAJOR SPOILERS)

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Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

Who:  “The Good Place” is a fantasy comedy series, which currently airs on NBC, fall/winter Thursdays at 8:30 PM.

What: “The Good Place,” created by Michael Schur, focuses on Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell), a woman who wakes up in the afterlife and is introduced by Michael (Ted Danson) to “The Good Place,” a Heaven-like utopia he designed, in reward for her righteous life.  She realizes that she was sent there by mistake; as a result, she must hide her morally imperfect behavior and try to become a better person. William Jackson Harper, Jameela Jamil, and Manny Jacinto co-star as other residents of “The Good Place,” while D’Arcy Carden plays Janet, an artificial being helping the inhabitants of the place in question.

When: Season One aired from September 19, 2016, to January 19, 2017, while Season Two aired from September 20, 2017, to February 1, 2018, on NBC.

Where: The action is set in the fictional Good Place and other times in the fictional Bad Place and yet other times in the fictional Medium Place.  All Places are construed to be in the afterlife – except when the action is not in the afterlife. To explain anymore than that here, however, would invite MAJOR SPOILERS!

Why: To find out why individual podcast panelists started watching this show, listen to the podcast episode via the link below!

As for CPU! Chief Couch Potato Kylie, I picked up this show when shopping for pilots during the 2016-2017 TV season (a yearly ritual for this viewer and this blog, no matter how far behind I am).  I said:

“On the strength of the trailer, and the fact that Veronica Mars/Ana from Frozen is playing the lead with Kristen Bell’s best comedic timing, I think anyone would be remiss to pass on this new sitcom.  The premise is unique, casting Ted Danson as the ‘Good Place’s’ resident bureaucrat is inspired, and frankly, I had to stifle laughter every few seconds as I sat awkwardly in a public waiting room watching the trailer. The substitute uses for various curse words as delivered by Bell warrant the look-see alone…”

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 Good Place = 4.7, by average of the podcast panel.  

SYNOPSIS

After her death, Eleanor Shellstrop (Bell) is welcomed into the afterlife by Michael (Danson), the facilitator and architect of Eleanor’s new neighborhood in a “perfect utopia” called the “Good Place.” When Michael tells Eleanor that she made it into The Good Place as reward for her life of selfless devotion to helping others, she realizes she must have been mistaken for someone else. She also learns that each person in The Good Place has a soulmate with whom s/he is matched and (accordingly) with whom s/he will live for eternity.

Hoping to stay in the Good Place, Eleanor confesses her plight to her assigned soulmate, Chidi Anagonye (Harper), a university ethics professor.  Despite the moral quandary doing so presents to someone specializing in ethics, he agrees to teach Eleanor to become a better person, so she might earn her apparently mistaken spot in utopia. She also interacts closely with her neighbors: Tahani Al-Jamil (Jamil), a wealthy philanthropist who raised billions through charities in life, and Tahani’s soulmate, Jianyu Li (Jacinto), seemingly a silent Buddhist monk from Taiwan, who turns out to be a dimwitted DJ from Florida named Jason Mendoza. Michael and the Good Place inhabitants are further assisted by Janet (Carden), an artificial being in charge of helping and informing them.

How – as in How Was It? – THOUGHTS

Do you follow our CPU! social media accounts?  Did you ever see a posting or advertisement for panelists at large to join this panel?  No, you didn’t.  That may be because The Good Place was a runaway hit with the CPU! core and a few close friends and family; apparently, many united couch potatoes consider this show to be forking fantastic.  Thus, this panel quickly filled to supersized proportions.

Why, you might ask?  Well, I might answer.  Common reactions describe the show as hilarious, original, smart, well-written, well-directed, well-performed…you get the drift.  In other words, many CPU! faithful think that The Good Place is one of the freshest comedies to hit the airwaves in years, especially and particularly on network TV and, especially and particularly, on the Peacock network, which has long been struggling to regain some of its “Must See” reign of yesteryear and yore but is giving a good go of it with this heady, philosophical comedy.  Plus, with this seemingly popular appeal, our panel grew to be comprised of a variety of voices, starting with four frequent panelists, including Kristen, the reigning panel champ; Michael, who typically delights in our Looking Back series and a few Stranger Things; Kelsey, who weathers many of our Supernatural and Unfortunate Events; and Selene, who brings her unique feminist perspective to panels for Person of Interest, The 100, and Marvel’s Agent Carter.  The panel also features two brand new voices, Joey and Gabe, who we are excited to welcome to the CPU! fold!

What’s more, this panel spent most of the chat gushing about this series’ first two seasons. In fact, there was little bad or negative to say apart from nitpicks of a typically individual and personal type among each panelist.  Everyone universally agreed that the creator and show-runner has produced something totally new, totally kick-ash awesome, at the top of its comedic game, and accessible to most everyone despite its heady premise, all while avoiding the typical tendency of pandering to a larger audience by muting or undercutting the intelligence of the premise and of the situations in which the characters find themselves.  To wit, if you are part of The Good Place fan club, this discussion will only serve to validate your adoration for this decidedly traction-gaining cult hit.  With all this said, have I convinced you (yet) to listen via the embedded link below?

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

Remember, new episodes and blog posts are published weekly!  Next Wednesday, we offer the first of a new, two-part miniseries featuring a brand new panel around the CPU! Water Cooler, as we begin ongoing coverage of Netflix comedy Grace and Frankie.  In our first episode of this miniseries, we will recap Seasons 1 and 2 in an effort to catch up to the current season.  Stay tuned!

Questions Going Forward

1) Is the soulmate construct a fake representation of a concept, i.e. soulmates, that is not real or does not exist?  Or, did Michael, as architect of this purported torture chamber, merely build in the soulmate aspect incidentally, as a mere device, missing the point of soulmates entirely – in other words, “getting it wrong?”  Is the show advocating that soulmates are real and/or something worthy of considering as possible, or is the show presenting a cynical view of “soulmate” love, platonic or otherwise, by inferring that soulmates are something made up, whether by Michael, by someone or something like him, and/or by the rest of us?

2) Are the four main characters apart from Michael and Janet – Eleanor, Chidi, Tahani, and Jason – really members of a “soul cluster,” i.e. four so-called soulmates who cannot exist apart from the others and hope to be better people because they, whether fatalistically or not, happen to make each other better naturally, as panelist Michael advocates?

3) Why is Chidi’s paralyzing inability to make a decision worthy of him being sent to the Bad Place?

4) Is the show advocating Eleanor as its “moral center?”  Michael comes to the conclusion that the afterlife determination system is flawed based upon the four main characters’ personal growth, especially Eleanor’s, even as Eleanor struggles to maintain that growth in the second season finale.  Where will Eleanor land in the end? Will she ever be “Real Good Place” worthy?

5) How will Eleanor and Chidi find Tahani and Jason again, if they do it all, in their brave new world?  How quickly?

6) Where will Michael and Janet end up, Good or Bad Place, particularly since Demon Michael seems to have attained some positive personal, and somewhat human, improvement, and since Good Janet, given Michael’s 802 reboots of his construct and of her stolen self, is the most advanced version of Janet ever, with her newfound capability of lying, of loving, and of experiencing some human emotions?

7) Will Michael and Judge Gen’s experiment result in the creation of other possible places – such as more Medium Places, where someone bad can improve, as panelist Selene hopes?

8) Will Michael end up becoming a Judge like Gen, as panelist Joey predicts, possibly with Janet as his assistant-friend?

9) Were Eleanor and Chidi actually brought back to life, or are they being run through some sort of test simulation, to gauge the measure of personal growth attainable without the promise of “moral dessert?”  Or, are they in a new construct similar to purgatory, where borderline bad people can try to be good people, as panelists Joey and Kristen surmise?

10) Did Michael’s “torture” plan fail because of Janet, as panelist Gabe guesses?

11) Will the four main characters continue to torture each other without Michael and Janet present, provided that they meet again in their new “near death” version of Earth?  Are Michael and Janet the reason why the characters did not attain further personal growth than they already achieved (or, at least, Janet because we know Michael was trying to torture them for at least some time)?  Is Janet actually a corrupted computer-like matrix, or is she evolved artificial intelligence?

12) If Eleanor finds Chidi, Tahini, and Jason again, how do the latter three escape death in this new version of their world?

13) Is this new version of the world a new Medium Place, as panelist Kristen posits?

14) Who is actually in the real Good Place?  Are there any actual good people, or angels, since there are demons in this universe?  Or, are the alleged good people actually morally complicated, similar to the angels on Supernatural, as panelist Gabe theorizes?

15) Why does watching the Red Hot Chili Peppers in concert qualify for Bad Place entry?  Is it all about the socks?  Give it away, now.

16) Is Michael really a demon?  Where do demons come from on this show?  What is Michael’s back story?  What is boss Shawn’s back story?  Why is the Bad Place largely set in an office?  Is this a reference to The Office, for which Michael Schur wrote and on which he also appeared (as Dwight’s cousin Mose)?

RECOMMENDATION

The Good Place is universally, effusively, and glowingly recommended by all seven panelists, your main moderator included, because of its original, quality premise; complex, layered writing; stellar performances; and fresh take on an intellectual concept that does not meander into trope-filled, didactic territory, despite its meditation on moral and ethical principles and philosophy.  One panelist compared the humor of this show to cult favorite Better Off Ted, less the cynicism of that particular workplace satire.  The panelists note that each available season is tightly constructed, with rapid-fire pacing, superior wit, enticing and engaging cliffhangers for episode endings, and a refreshing lack of filler episodes.  Several panelists described this show as easy to recommend, easy to binge-watch, and easy to which to become addicted, even as the premise is “hard to explain.”  The panelists further praise the program’s ability to intellectually challenge the viewer while remaining both accessible and hilarious high-concept comedy; in fact, several panel members deem the show as having significant re-watch value, based upon personal experience (already!).  In fact, the entire panel basically recommends The Good Place to anyone, anywhere, with a hearty “Just watch it!” as the overall recommendation refrain.

THE FUTURE OF THE SHOW

The Good Place was renewed for a third season by NBC and is tentatively expected to return in fall 2018.  Currently, Season One is available to stream fully on Netflix, while the five most recently aired episodes of the show are available on Hulu and on NBC’s streaming app and website.  In the meantime, the CPU! Good Place panel will return to the Water Cooler following the airing of the Season Three finale. Until then – stay tuned!

PODCAST! – Streaming Originals & Pilots, Premieres, and First Looks: Marvel’s Defenders Series, Episode 7, “Marvel’s The Punisher” – The Season One Recap (MAJOR SPOILERS)

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Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

Who: “Marvel’s The Punisher” is a web television series based upon the Marvel Comics character of the same name.  It is also a Netflix original series, always available on Netflix.

What:  “Marvel’s The Punisher,” created by Steve Lightfoot, is set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), sharing continuity with the films of the franchise. The series revolves around Frank Castle, who uses lethal methods to fight crime as the vigilante “The Punisher,” with Jon Bernthal reprising the role from Marvel’s Daredevil. Ben Barnes, Amber Rose Revah, Jason R. Moore, Ebon Moss-Bachrach, Daniel Webber, Paul Schulze, Michael Nathanson, Jaime Ray Newman, and Deborah Ann Woll also star.

When: The first season of the series was released in its entirety to the Netflix streaming library on November 17, 2017, with a total of thirteen episodes.

Where: The action is set primarily in New York City, New York, as depicted in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

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, including this first spin-off the series!  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 Punisher = 4.2, by average of the podcast panel.

SYNOPSIS

Frank Castle (Bernthal), known throughout New York City as “the Punisher” after exacting revenge on those responsible for the deaths of his wife and children, uncovers a larger conspiracy beyond what was done to him and his family.

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 first season of Jessica Jones, the one available season of Luke Cage, the one available season of Iron Fist, and the one available season of the crossover event miniseries, The Defenders.  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

Marvel’s Defenders Series, Episode Six, “The Defenders,” Season 1

As such, it was only right that we cover the first spin-off series of this universe, now the sixth in Netflix’s series of Marvel-centered shows. Thus, we bring you our first ever Punisher podcast episode – and the seventh episode of our Marvel’s Defenders Series – featuring Defenders panelists Nick, Kristen, Hilary, Kyle, and Spencer.

Our panel is, for the most part, highly complimentary of The Punisher solo series, though some panelists like this spin-off effort more than others.  Generally, all panelists love Bernthal and his charismatic portrayal of Marvel’s consummate antihero as well as Barnes’ version of prenatal villain Billy Russo and Bachrach’s performance as Frank’s undercover partner Micro.  Yet, most of us also found the show to suffer from a slow start, though this start was markedly offset by a speedy and powerful crescendo in action and suspense, as well as an off-putting supporting character in Agent Dinah Madani (Revah), on whom the panelists felt the story focused too much when she added so little to the overall pacing and relevance of the plot in the end.  To hear us hash out these opinions further, listen to our discussion via the embedded link below.

This podcast was (re)recorded in March 2018 as one of our lost episodes, erased via the much ballyhooed equipment failure previously advertised, though we think we recovered nicely.  Also, there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as we cover major plot points throughout the first season of The Punisher.  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 Once Upon a Time panel returns to the Water Cooler, also affected by the aforementioned equipment failure, and will offer a re-recorded dissection of Season 7A in one of our twisty mid-season formats, which will include some of our “Newlywed Game” type hi-jinks to add spice to our already spicy group.  This recording follows the ABC network announcement that Once Upon a Time will end after this seventh season, and so this recording is one of the last three times our lively Once panel will gather together as a group.  As such, stay tuned for this funky and somewhat bittersweet “lost” episode!

RECOMMENDATION

The Punisher 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 Punisher character.  The panel cautions that to truly appreciate what The Punisher offers as a program, it is best viewed after all solo Defender series/seasons released prior to the release of this series have also been viewed, particularly Marvel’s Daredevil Seasons 1 and 2, as the Punisher’s back story is primarily established in “Daredevil” Season 2 (which does not make sense without viewing that series’ first season).  The panel also cautions that The Punisher is highly graphic and gory, featuring much violence and blood as befits a gun-toting antihero on a vendetta, so if you are an easily squeamish viewer, begin watching while prepared that you will see much in the way of blood and guts.  The panel also generally and universally agrees that The Punisher is well-performed, well-written, and well-directed but for some qualms from some panelists about pacing and about Revah’s Madani character, which failed to connect to any of our six panelists, your Chief CP included.  In any event, and despite the critiques described above, the panel almost 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 Punisher was automatically renewed by Netflix for a second season, though no tentative release date has yet been announced by the streaming giant, as the producers of the series are currently vetting scripts, according to panelist Kyle.  As always, CPU! will be following all Defenders series, solo and crossover and related spin-offs, throughout all of the series’ runs as part of CPU!’s Marvel’s Defenders Series, so we will definitely return to podcast about Season Two following its release.  In addition, the CPU! Marvel’s Defenders panel will return very soon to review Marvel’s Jessica JonesSeason 2, which was released to Netflix today!  Until then, stay tuned!

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! – Streaming Originals & Pilots, Premieres, and First Looks: “A Series of Unfortunate Events” – The Season One Recap (MAJOR SPOILERS)

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Moderated by: Nick

THE SPECS:

Who: “A Series of Unfortunate Events” is an American black comedy-drama television series developed by Mark Hudis and Barry Sonnenfeld, which is based upon the children’s novel series of the same name authored by Lemony Snicket.

What: “A Series of Unfortunate Events,” the first season, consists of eight episodes and adapts the first four books of Lemony Snicket’s series. It stars Neil Patrick Harris, Patrick Warburton, Malina Weissman, Louis Hynes, K. Todd Freeman, and Presley Smith.

When: The first season of the series was released in its entirety to the Netflix streaming library on January 13, 2017.

Where: The action takes place in various fictional locales, not always specifically named, but always housing the Baudelaire children’s (Weissman, Hynes, and Smith) “closest, living relatives.” Geographically speaking, that is.

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.

A Series of Unfortunate Events = 3.8, by average of the podcast panel.

SYNOPSIS

When a mysterious fire kills their parents, the Baudelaire children are placed into the care of their distant relative Count Olaf (Harris), an actor who is determined to claim the family fortune for himself. Following Olaf’s initial failed attempt to do so, the Baudelaires set out to elude Olaf and to uncover the mystery behind a secret society from their parents’ past.

How – as in How Was It? – THOUGHTS

Frequent CPU! contributors and panelists often suggest shows for CPU! to cover in our podcast episodes – loyal listeners should have picked up on this particular trend by now. Well, when streaming service Netflix (they owe us free subscriptions, we think!) decided to adapt Lemony Snicket’s acclaimed book series, this time in a television/long-form format as opposed to a feature film, at least one frequent CPU!er became decidedly atwitter and began encouraging Lemony Snicket podcast coverage in short order.  In addition, while Chief CP Kylie enjoys the film adaptation from 2004 starring Jim Carrey and Meryl Streep, my passion for the television series adapting same, despite the presence of fan favorite NPH, did not quite reach the same heights as some of tonight’s panelists’.

As it turns out, I find the show interesting, with an interesting mystery and a fun visual pastiche, but I think I lack passion for it. Frequent contributor and panelist Nick, on the other hand, abounds in said passion.  In fact, it was Nick, specifically, who saw an opportunity for a CPU! episode “around the water cooler” discussing the newest telling of the Streaming Original Series of Unfortunate Events. Thus, herein we offer our Season One recap, with the Chief CP stepping aside from the moderating microphone, so that Nick may serve as main moderator with the kind of passion these unfortunate events deserve. I instead participate as a regular old panelist to remark upon the unfortunate-ness of the whole affair. Nick and I are, in turn, joined by frequent CPU! panelists Kristen, Kelsey, Selene, and Jenn for this probing, passionate, and, at times, pithy discussion about the Baudelaires and their trials and tribulations.

This podcast was recorded in November 2017 and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as we cover major plot points throughout the first season of A Series of Unfortunate Events. 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 Buffy-Verse panel will return to the Water Cooler for Episode Five, the final episode, of our retrospective series Looking Back at Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel.  We will be discussing Seasons Three, Four, and Five of Angel and presenting our best and worst 10 lists of episodes from each seriesStay tuned!

RECOMMENDATION

A Series of Unfortunate Events is universally recommended by all of our panelists, despite a wide variety of opinions about, and individual receptions toward, the series.  The panel particularly recommends Lemony Snicket’s Unfortunate Events to fans of the original book series; of the 2004 film adaptation of same; of Neil Patrick Harris and of Patrick Warburton, who portray Count Olaf and Mr. Snicket, respectively, and do so with flourish and aplomb; and to fans of the type of dark, sardonic humor offered by the likes of Tim Burton or Barry Sonnenfeld, the latter of whom is credited as a creator and an executive producer of this series.  Panelists Kelsey and Selene recommend this program for family viewing along with young children, while Chief CP Kylie, the only true member of Gen X on this panel, cautions that the series may be more palatable to Millennials and younger generations, who had a chance to grow up with the original series of children’s books and who might relate to the program more easily, despite the fact that the erstwhile Doogie Howser MD plays a lead character.  The panelists universally praise the visual presentation and technical aspects of the show, even as they offer wide-ranging reactions to the story/adaptation execution and to the overall direction.  Still, all panelists look forward to what Season Two might bring in terms of not only ironing out the kinks in story presentation but also of sprinkling in further clues to help our eager set of viewers solve the unfortunate mystery of this series of events.

THE FUTURE OF THE SHOW

A Series of Unfortunate Events was quickly renewed for a second season, though a tentative release date has not yet been announced by Netflix, except that Season Two will likely drop in early 2018.  As always, CPU! will keep you informed of all Lemony Snicket coverage, and this panel will, as such, likely return some time after the release of Season 2 to recap the new season. Until then!

Marvel’s Agent Carter, First Look & Looking Back (MAJOR SPOILERS)

couchpotatoesunite

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 July 2017, our empowered, all-female panel–including moderator Kylie, Kristen, Selene, and Samantha–gathered together Around the Water Cooler to simultaneously take a First Look while Looking Back at recently canceled spy-centered Captain America spin-off Marvel’s Agent Carter.  If you have not watched any of Agent Carter, be aware that there are MAJOR SPOILERS.  Tell us what you think in the comments below, and check out the blog and YouTube for other TV related discussions, in both podcast and blog format. Also, if there are other shows you’re interested in the blog covering, sound off below! Tell us what you like or don’t like. Keep the discussion going!

PODCAST! – Pilots, Premieres, and First Looks & Looking Back at “Marvel’s Agent Carter” (MAJOR SPOILERS)

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Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

Who: “Marvel’s Agent Carter,” an action/adventure, superhero-inspired drama that aired on ABC from 2015-2016.

What: Created for ABC by Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely, and inspired by the 2011 film Captain America: The First Avenger, and the 2013 Marvel One-Shot short film of the same name, the series features the Marvel Comics character Peggy Carter, with Hayley Atwell reprising her role from the Captain America film series and One-Shot, as she must balance life as a secret agent with that of a single woman in 1940s America.

When: The show aired for two seasons from 2015 to 2016 on ABC.

Where: The show is set in New York City, New York, in 1946, in the first season and in Los Angeles, California, in 1947, in the second season.

Why: Listen to the podcast for the panelists’ individual stories on how they found Marvel’s Agent Carter.

During the annual Fall TV Preview for the 2014-2015 season, CPU! Chief Kylie picked up this show for viewing.  When I picked it up, I said:

I always wondered what happened to Peggy after Captain America was hurtled forward in time to be an Avenger.  Finally, the answer will be revealed!  I liked her character, and I want to know about the sixty plus years in between Captain America’s jaunts as protective patriot.  Thank you, ABC, Marvel, Disney, for filling this void.  I’m not even being sarcastic!  Hence, the pick up.

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 Agent Carter = 3.9, by average of the podcast panel.

SYNOPSIS

The first season takes place in 1946, with Peggy Carter (Atwell) having to balance the routine office work she does for the Strategic Scientific Reserve (SSR) in New York City with secretly assisting Howard Stark, who finds himself framed for supplying deadly weapons to enemies of the United States. Carter is assisted by Stark’s butler, Edwin Jarvis (James D’Arcy), to find those responsible and dispose of the weapons.  In the second season, Carter moves from New York City to Los Angeles to deal with the threats of the new Atomic Age by the Secret Empire in the aftermath of World War II, gaining new friends, a new home, and a potential new love interest.

THOUGHTS

A group of powerful CPU! regular panelists – all strong, kick-ass women with a penchant for Marvel heroines of a similar type – were ready to don red hats, blue smart suits, and Look Back at Marvel’s Agent Carter, which was unceremoniously canceled after two short seasons by ABC.  Specifically, regular CPU! panelists Kristen, Selene, and Samantha gathered “Around the Water Cooler” to take a “First Look” while “Looking Back” (we’re complicated around here!) at the Captain America spin-off, from Peggy’s return to New York City from the war and the devastation of believing Steve Rogers to have died, to her encounter with zero matter and its destructive effects in LA.  Though this program’s two seasons came and went somewhat quickly, depending upon one’s point of view, they clearly made an impression, which the panel wistfully dissects in the episode below.

This podcast was recorded in July 2017, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as we cover major plot points in Agent Carter. 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 – another schedule change! – we’ll return to our Buffy-Verse Series around the Water Cooler when our panel Looks Back at the first two seasons of Angel, with admittedly, moderately lukewarm results.  Stay tuned!

RECOMMENDATION

The panel recommends Agent Carter to all but particularly to women, as Peggy Carter is a strong, smart female lead who can take of herself and save the day when all else fails, all with a keen 1940s fashion sense.  The panel proved particularly effusive about the visual presentation of this show, from art direction to costuming, from cinematography to visual direction (not necessarily including pacing and other aspects of the direction, which particularly faltered near the middle of each of the available seasons). Several of the panelists also see this program as easily reviewed and watched again, with only 18 high quality episodes to digest, marked notably by Atwell’s strong, charismatic performance as the titular character, guiding the proceedings.  Agent Carter also keeps its tongue firmly in cheek, containing gratifying winks and nods to the Captain America films and other aspects of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Plus, the chemistry between Atwell and D’Arcy is highly enjoyable as the odd couple of unlikely spies that they become.  Though each season is self-contained, the second season unfortunately ends with the briefest of teasers featuring a loss of a major character at the hand of a mysterious, unidentified figure, meaning the show ends on somewhat of a cliffhanger, unlikely to be resolved in the near future.  The panel, therefore, qualifies its recommendation with caution, as the button cliffhanger left the panel with a lack of closure or easy satisfaction, which we expect would be a common reaction.

THE FUTURE OF THE SHOW

Canceled!  Agent Carter was canceled after two seasons by ABC.  What’s worse: it gets no streaming love!  You are able to purchase the season separately on Amazon.com as a digital streaming copy or as DVD/Blu-Ray.  There is no neat button ending on this series, so while the panel generally recommends the show as above, the panelists do so with caution, given the less than satisfactory cliffhanger ending attached to the final moments of the second season.