Progress Report: Mid-Season Report Card for 2018-2019 Pilots

It’s that time of year!  Call it CPU!’s Holiday Present to you!  Or a New Year present! Time to check in on the progress of shows and see which shows are surviving this season and beyond on the major networks.  Is your show on the list? Did it survive cancellation? Read below.

Thanks to TVLine and other sources for helping a girl out.

*Note: with the expansion of CPU!, these initial thoughts are based upon the CPU! Chief’s assessments.  As with last season, a growing number of CPU! members may find shows initially passed by the CPU! Chief and choose to review them.  CPU! readers will be informed if the show’s status changes regarding coverage as the season progresses through the handy CPU! Progress Reports, and all written reviews will be published!

Also, in another noteworthy TV year, the networks have proven slow to cancel, while the streamers, particularly Netflix, have been quite merciless with some of the cuts.  Let’s see how it all shakes out in the wash.

A Million Little Things

A MILLION LITTLE THINGS, ABC

WHEN: Wednesdays at 10/9c

WHO: James Roday (Psych), David Giuntoli (Grimm), Romany Malco (Weeds), Ron Livingston (Sex and the City), Christina Moses (The Originals), Christina Ochoa (Valor, Blood Drive), Allison Miller (Incorporated, Go On), Stephanie Szostak (Satisfaction), Lizzy Greene (Nicky, Ricky, Dicky & Dawn), Grace Park (Hawaii Five-0)

WHAT: They say friendship isn’t one big thing, it’s a million little things; and that’s true for a group of friends from Boston who bonded under unexpected circumstances. Some have achieved success, others are struggling in their careers and relationships, but all of them feel stuck in life. After one of them dies unexpectedly, it’s just the wake-up call the others need to finally start living. Along the way they discover that friends may be the one thing to save them from themselves.

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PICK UP OR PASS?

VERDICT: Pick Up.  Welcome to the 2018-2019 CPU! network pilot review!  We start off on a strong note, with a pick up for this drama from ABC, but also with a guilty admission by your Chief CP (author of these annual reviews).  Honestly, I’m personally most interested in David Giuntoli and everything about him – outside of a Grimm context, that is – more than I am interested in the basic premise of this plot.  I think this is the Alphabet’s attempt at an answer to ratings juggernaut and NBC success This Is Us; on the other hand, the cast seems strong.  Watching these two minutes also inspires some The Big Chill nostalgia with a modern, Millennial set of characters at the forefront, dealing with the evolution and metamorphosis of friendships into adulthood.  That idea, punctuated by the suicide that starts the series off, connects strongly with this viewer, and I can see some of our other Couch Potatoes also finding some interest in and connection to it.  The trailer left me feeling hopeful for the series, at any rate, so let’s give this one a try, our first pick up for the year.  Hooray for good signs and strong starts!

STATUS: On October 26, 2018, the network ordered a full season of 17 episodes, of which 10 have aired as of the publication date of this post. The pundits think renewal is a “safe bet” or “very likely” as a result of this show of support and modestly decent ratings.

CPU! STATUS: The podcast has received at least one request for coverage of this program, so this pick up is definite and permanent.  Not yet viewed.

Abby's

ABBY’S, NBC

PREMIERE DATE: Spring 2019

WHO: Natalie Morales (Parks and Recreation), Neil Flynn (The Middle), Nelson Franklin (Veep), Jessica Chaffin (Search Party), Leonard Ouzts (Master of None), Kimia Behpoornia (Modern Family, Adam Ruins Everything)

WHAT: Set in the best bar in San Diego, home to good prices, great company and, of course, Abby. This unlicensed, makeshift bar nestled in her backyard is the opposite of everything annoying about today’s party scene. As the oddball cast of regulars will tell you, hanging out at Abby’s is a coveted honor. But once you’re in, you’re family.

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PICK UP OR PASS?

VERDICT: Hesitantly Pick Up.  Without a trailer, this viewer is reluctant to get enthusiastically on board, but two things convinced me to take a look: it’s produced by Michael Schur – creator of The Good Place and Mose Schrute on The Office – and it’s filmed entirely outside.  Though it feels very Cheers-esque, with a female barkeep knowing everyone’s name, early upfront reviews seemed hopeful, so it’s worth a look.  A quick one, anyway.

The Alec Baldwin Show

THE ALEC BALDWIN SHOW, ABC

WHEN: Sundays at 10/9c

WHAT: The one-hour talker will showcase Baldwin’s in-depth conversations with compelling personalities.

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PICK UP OR PASS?

VERDICT: Pass.  The CPU! podcast does not talk about talk shows.  How do you feel about Alec Baldwin at the helm of a prime time talk show?

STATUS: In March 2018, the network ordered nine episodes, of which eight have aired as of the publication date of this post. The pundits believe renewal is a “long shot” or “very unlikely,” particularly given some legal troubles that titular talker Alec Baldwin has faced in recent months.

CPU! STATUS: It’s still a talk show, right?  We’ll cover it for this season in this Progress Report format only, however.

All American

ALL AMERICAN, The CW

WHEN: Wednesdays at 9/8c

WHO: Daniel Ezra (The Missing), Taye Diggs (Private Practice), Cody Christian (Teen Wolf), Samantha Logan (13 Reasons Why), Monet Mazur (Castle), Karimah Westbrook (Shameless, Aquarius), Michael Evans Behling

WHAT: When a rising high school football player from South L.A. is recruited to play for Beverly Hills High, the wins, losses and struggles of two families from vastly different worlds — Crenshaw and Beverly Hills — begin to collide. Inspired by the life of pro football player Spencer Paysinger.

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PICK UP OR PASS?

VERDICT: Pass.  Despite the presence of always gorgeous Taye Diggs, this sports-ball drama feels incredibly trope-y, including hashed and rehashed concepts of several TV and film properties past: poor, urban kid of color finding himself in a rich, largely white district; the story about a kid who has nothing but talent, heart, and a bit of luck with the offer to test his prowess on a suburban high school football team; and so on.  The trailer does not “wow” in its presentation of these recycled story concepts, and none of the actors apart from Diggs inspire confidence that this property will offer stellar production value beyond the typical good looks of a made-for-the-CW cast.  Plus, our current roster of Couch Potatoes has currently and definitely shied away from TV about sports.  Seriously, way more nerd types and way less jock types populate our own ever-growing cast.  If you want to change that, though, please drop us a line.

STATUS: The network, in a cautious fashion, ordered a full season of 16 episodes, of which 8 have aired as of the publication date of this post. The pundits give 50/50 odds to the possibility of renewal.

CPU! STATUS: We have heard zero buzz about this loosely-biographical sports-ball program.  Are you buzzing in an “All-American” way – or is it just Taye Diggs’ abs?  Let us know.  For now, we stay in the passing lane.

Charmed

CHARMED, The CW

WHEN: Sundays at 9/8c

WHO: Sarah Jeffery (Shades of Blue), Melonie Diaz (The Breaks), Madeleine Mantock (The Tomorrow People), Rupert Evans (Man in the High Castle), Ser’Darius Blain (Survivor’s Remorse, Jane by Design), Charlie Gillespie (Degrassi: Next Class), Ellen Tamaki

WHAT: After the tragic death of their mother, three sisters in a college town are stunned to discover they are witches. Soon this powerful threesome must stand together to fight the everyday and supernatural battles that all modern witches must face: from vanquishing powerful demons to toppling the patriarchy.

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PICK UP OR PASS?

VERDICT: Very Hesitantly Pick Up.  Networks: “What do we want?” Answering themselves: “More reboots!” “When do we want them?” “Now! Because we literally have no other ideas!”  Charmed, the original starring Shannen Doherty, Holly Marie Combs, Alyssa Milano, and later Rose McGowan, was a WB staple for eight seasons, now airs frequently in syndication, and enjoys a healthy streaming afterlife.  Charmed has already been requested as a possible “Looking Back” candidate for the podcast because its loyal fan base endures to this day.  Charmed was a show that this viewer watched voraciously and enthusiastically in its original run.  It was a bit cheesy at times and occasionally suffered from the mismatch of acting talent among the women playing the Halliwell/Matthews sisters, but it was reliable, interesting, and sort of kooky in an entertaining way for a long time.  Like all the other major networks and some streaming outlets, WB offspring The CW could not wait to look into past properties for its own go at a rebooted show from an earlier success, so here, we have Charmed Redux with a new set of sisters exercising a new era of The Power of Three.  I can’t help feeling that this reboot is near blasphemy at its core, given that the original was pretty well loved and still enjoys a loyal, continuing fan devotion.  Plus, the actresses playing the sisters are nowhere near equal to the four who played the Halliwells/Matthews, even if the original four could not be described as amazing performers themselves.  This reboot also seems to be an even darker take, with mom’s death being characterized as outright murder from the jump.  Still, sheer morbid curiosity, a love of fantasy (and supernatural fantasy to boot), and a “can’t look away” feeling propel me to say that CPU! has little choice but to pick this up.  Though you better bet that this will be a “Look Back to Look Forward” setup, and that the two versions of the series will be hotly compared and contrasted by feisty and spicy Couch Potatoes.  Mark my words, gentle reader: the Power of Three may not set you free.

STATUS: On November 8, 2018, the network ordered a full season of 22 episodes, of which 9 have aired as of the publication date of this post. The pundits think renewal chances hover at 50 percent, however.

CPU! STATUS: The podcast has received requests from Viewers Like You as well as some of our resident panelists to cover Charmed in a “Look Back to Look Forward” series, as I expected would likely happen.  Expect a CPU! trademark look at Charmed and its varied and sorted history in the spring or summer of 2019.  Otherwise, not yet viewed.

The Code

THE CODE, CBS

PREMIERE DATE: TBA

WHEN: Midseason

WHO: Anna Wood (Falling Water, Reckless), Ato Essandoh (Chicago Med), Phillipa Soo (Broadway’sHamilton), Raffi Barsoumian (The Vampire Diaries)

WHAT: The military’s brightest minds take on our country’s toughest challenges, inside the courtroom and out, where each attorney is trained as a prosecutor, a defense lawyer, an investigator — and a Marine.

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PICK UP OR PASS?

VERDICT: Pass.  There is no trailer, and there is scant information available for this drama, which, mind you, is a military drama and a seeming holdover from the rash of military dramas that debuted last season on the networks, most of which were ultimately canceled.  Plus, Mira Sorvino was attached to this program as its lead for awhile before leaving the role, which is not typically a great sign, and there is very little to be excited about when reviewing the cast list or plot synopsis, so we’ll leave this code non-cracked this season.

The Conners

THE CONNERS, ABC

WHEN: Tuesdays at 8/7c

WHO: John Goodman, Laurie Metcalf, Sara Gilbert, Lecy Goranson, Michael Fishman

WHAT: In the Roseanne spinoff, the Conners are forced to face the daily struggles of life in Lanford in a way they never have before after a sudden turn of events. The iconic family — Dan, Jackie, Darlene, Becky and D.J. — grapples with parenthood, dating, an unexpected pregnancy, financial pressures, aging and in-laws in working-class America. Through it all, the fights, the coupon cutting, the hand-me-downs, the breakdowns — with love, humor and perseverance, the family prevails.

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PICK UP OR PASS?

VERDICT: Very Hesitantly Pick Up. Last season, CPU! picked up the Roseanne revival based on the fact that several of our Couch Potatoes, the Chief among them, enjoyed the original series, more or less, and were curious to see how this particular family would weather the reboot/revival treatment.  Though many of us have not yet watched, the ratings seemed to speak for themselves – but then so did Roseanne Barr via her Twitter account.  All politics aside, Roseanne has always been an “x” factor, erratic and sometimes harmful to the public in how she has chosen to wield her influence, but no one can deny that Roseanne would not have been what it was without her.  Now, in a move that sounds, smells, and tastes a bit like “cash grab,” notwithstanding the advocacy for the jobs of those that would otherwise not have had them without Roseanne’s poor life choices (and prejudicial views) mucking up the works, the Alphabet is moving forward with what would ultimately be a spin-off, sans the titular matriarch.  On the one hand, it could be compelling: the rest of the cast are no slouches, especially Laurie Metcalf, and the character of Darlene, particularly, has always served as an interesting focal point for the show.  On the other hand, if the writers don’t hit this one out of the park straight from the dugout, it will not survive all of this melee and ado and will become a truly unfortunate, if not tragic footnote in entertainment history.  The real question is: would this footnote be any more unfortunate or tragic than the original ending, including Dan’s purported death following the family winning the lottery?  CPU! is willing to bet probably not, and we believe the network sees this whole game playing out the same way, so, in the end, we’re left asking “why not?”  Again, it could also be sheer morbid curiosity.  Time, and the rest of the Conners, will tell.

STATUS: The network ordered a season of 11 episodes, of which 8 have aired as of the publication date of this post. The pundits think renewal is a “sure thing” or “all but guaranteed,” as it was widely reported that ABC has entered into renewal negotiations with the show’s producers as of October 2018, and as the spin-off/sequel enjoys the network’s second highest ratings after Grey’s Anatomy.

CPU! STATUS: The interest in the various iterations of Roseanne and her family has been mild, but there is interest.  CPU! will cover all iterations at some point, though it may be later rather than sooner.  Otherwise, not yet viewed.

The Cool Kids

THE COOL KIDS, Fox

WHEN: Fridays at 8:30/7:30c

WHO: Vicki Lawrence (Great News, Mama’s Family), David Alan Grier (The Carmichael Show), Leslie Jordan (Will & Grace), Martin Mull (Roseanne)

WHAT: Three guy friends in a retirement community are the top dogs until they’re blown out of the water by the newest member of the community, a female rebel whose ready to challenge their place.

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PICK UP OR PASS?

VERDICT: Very Hesitantly Pick Up. To cut to the chase, if it wasn’t for this cast, I am not willing to bet that either this viewer or fellow potential panelists would find this sitcom premise potentially amusing.  Most of us are not in the target audience, and there are some very flat moments in this trailer that should have offered more and better laughs with the players in this cast.  But, holy wow, look at this cast!  Vicki Lawrence! Leslie Jordan! David Alan Grier! And the erstwhile Colonel Mustard himself, Martin Mull!  They’re charming, they’re funny, they’re veterans – but do they have chemistry, and can a sitcom about residents of a retirement community be potentially appealing to the average and/or typical listeners of podcasts?  The conundrum we face here is why we are so hesitant to be as totally cool as these alleged kids.

STATUS: On October 19, 2018, the network ordered a full season of 22 episodes, of which 9 have aired as of the publication date of this post. The pundits think there is a “safe bet” that the show will be renewed.

CPU! STATUS: Not yet viewed.

Dancing With the Stars: Juniors

DANCING WITH THE STARS: JUNIORS, ABC

WHAT: The offshoot will pair celebrity kids with professional junior ballroom dancers to perform choreographed routines, which will be judged by a panel that will include renowned ballroom experts.

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PICK UP OR PASS?

VERDICT: Pass.  CPU! does not dance along with reality competition shows on our podcast, at least for now.  But, this one’s new this year, so we list it.  Godspeed, DWTS fans!

STATUS: The Season 1 finale aired on December 9, 2018, after a total of 9 episodes.  There is no word yet as to whether this DTWS offshoot will be renewed, but the pundits say “long shot” or “very unlikely.”

CPU! STATUS: It’s still a reality competition show, right?  Still, we’ll track it for its first year.  It’s what we do. (Also, how many reality game shows do we really need?)

The Enemy Within

THE ENEMY WITHIN, NBC

PREMIERE DATE: February 25, 2019

WHO: Jennifer Carpenter (Dexter), Morris Chestnut (Rosewood), Raza Jaffrey (Code Black), Kelli Garner (Pan Am)

WHAT: In spy-hunting thriller, Erica Shepherd is a brilliant former CIA operative, now known as the most notorious traitor in American history serving life in a Supermax prison. Against every fiber of his being but with nowhere else to turn, FBI Agent Will Keaton enlists Shepherd to help track down a fiercely dangerous and elusive criminal she knows all too well.

Watch trailer here.

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PICK UP OR PASS?

VERDICT: Pass.  Despite the presence of gorgeous Morris Chestnut, and even with a trailer, this particular mid-season thriller feels very hackneyed in terms of its premise, all around, and the snapshot of performances seen here falls sadly flat.  Some early reviews compare this show to Homeland or The Blacklist: Espionage, neither of which resemble current CPU! discussion subjects or ones requested by our panelists and potential panelists.  Really, it’s a show that I can see several of us wanting to like – because we’ve liked something like it before – but not being able to go the distance because it will not be as good as similar properties from which it is heavily borrowing its influence and tone.  If buzz or steam picks up around this mid-season entry, we’ll be open to reviewing our high standards, but for now, we pass.

Fam

FAM, CBS

PREMIERE DATE: January 10, 2019

WHO: Nina Dobrev (The Vampire Diaries), Odessa Adlon (Nashville), Tone Bell (Disjointed), Brian Stokes Mitchell (Mr. Robot), Sheryl Lee Ralph (One Mississippi, Instant Mom)

WHAT: A woman’s dreams of an upstanding life with her new fiancé and his upstanding family are dashed when her younger train wreck half-sister comes to live with her to escape their train wreck of a father.

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PICK UP OR PASS?

VERDICT: Pass.  There is no trailer for this show and very little information to go on to determine whether or not this program is worth a watch; not even TV pundits with connections have been given a glimpse, but then again, it’s CBS, and they’ve become kind of idiosyncratic as far as the major networks go – and not in a good way.  A few of us at CPU! just spent the last few seasons of The Vampire Diaries NOT watching Nina Dobrev, so she certainly would not be the primary draw here, but as the situational premise of this situation comedy is pretty thin, I am not convinced that it would be enticing to most of the potatoes I know.  If they start talking about it positively, though, we can always rethink the logic.

FBI

FBI, CBS

WHEN: Tuesdays at 9/8c

WHO: Missy Peregrym (Rookie Blue), Jeremy Sisto (Law & Order), Zeeko Zaki (Valor, 24: Legacy), Ebonée Noel (Still Star-Crossed), Sela Ward (CSI: NY)

WHAT: The Dick Wolf-produced drama explores the inner workings of the New York office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

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PICK UP OR PASS?

VERDICT: Pass.  Despite a decently packaged trailer and a potentially unusual and compelling turn by Missy Peregrym in the lead role, if Dick Wolf has his stamp on this, it will likely be a crime-of-the-week, neatly wrapped up in an episode (or two) procedural show, this time exploring the inner workings of one of the federal law enforcement agencies.  We are not covering procedural TV (much) here at CPU!, and when we do, we’ll have to recruit a reviewer or moderator to do it because this Chief CP likely won’t be watching, at least not without an interesting gimmick to make it seem different from others of its genre.  I can’t imagine this to be something entirely different than Law & Order and its franchise of shows, even if this series is, also, not entirely the same.  CPU! will pass for now.

STATUS: On October 11, 2018, the network ordered a full season of an unknown number of episodes, though it will be greater than the initial order of 13 episodes, of which 10 have aired as of the publication date of this post. The pundits think there is a “safe bet” or a “very likely” chance of renewal.

CPU! STATUS: The talk lines are silent.  Maybe our podcaster roster and/or listeners don’t want to be wiretapped?  Bad joke.  Procedural TV does not fare well in our corner currently.  If you want to change that, drop us a line.

The Fix

THE FIX, ABC

PREMIERE DATE: March 18, 2019

WHO: Robin Tunney (The Mentalist), Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Ten Days in the Valley, Lost), Mouzam Makkar (The Exorcist), Breckin Meyer (Franklin & Bash), Merrin Dungey (Big Little Lies, The Resident), Scott Cohen (Gilmore Girls), Marc Blucas (Underground, Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Adam Rayner (Tyrant), Alex Saxon (The Fosters)

WHAT: Follows an L.A. district attorney who suffers a devastating defeat when prosecuting an A-list actor for double murder. With her high-profile career derailed, she flees for a quieter life in Washington. Eight years later when this same celebrity is under suspicion for another murder, Maya Travis is lured back to the DA’s office for another chance at justice.

Trailer available at ABC’s YouTube channel.

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PICK UP OR PASS?

VERDICT: Pass.  Though this cast is teeming with familiar faces from large and small screen (was that Robin Givens in the trailer?), this show seems (un)remarkably like a romanticized version of the O.J. Simpson criminal trial given a fantasy makeover, wherein the put-upon district attorney who failed her job the first time gets a second chance to re-try the case, with a different fact pattern in which to dig her bared teeth.  Since the executive producer is Marcia Clark, one of the DA’s who lost the criminal trial of the disgraced ex-NFL star and, therefore, probably felt like she failed at life for many decades to come, the premise of this show, still more, smacks of the playing out of her own revenge fantasy, one in which she can finally take down the elusive defendant who broke her career and her spirit.  OJ was probably guilty, but hey, I guess the glove didn’t fit or something.  I lived through the debacle that was that trial, when it created and fueled the news glut we still enjoy today (without so much internet) and which divided the nation again/still by race and by class.  While the trial itself inspired a critical examination of the judicial system, I, frankly, do not need to live through a fantasized version of the same story, this time delving into an “It’s a Wonderful Life” concept of do-overs to redeem the poor, put-upon, plucky, but intelligent DA who couldn’t get her conviction in the end.  I also worry that the character played by the erstwhile Mr. Eko from Lost could become a caricature quickly if not handled properly and with sympathy, given the obvious parallel to real life that he presents.  All in all, suspension of disbelief would certainly be difficult for this particular potato’s personal palate, but if you watch and disagree, let us know.  My curiosity simply isn’t morbid enough to need this fix.

God Friended Me

GOD FRIENDED ME, CBS

WHEN: Sundays at 8/7c (beginning Oct. 7)

WHO: Brandon Micheal Hall (The Mayor), Joe Morton (Scandal), Violett Beane (The Flash), Javicia Leslie (MacGyver), Suraj Sharma (Homeland)

WHAT: Questions of faith, existence and science are explored in this dramedy about an outspoken atheist whose life is turned upside down when he is “friended” by God on social media. Unwittingly, he becomes an agent of change in the lives and destinies of others around him.

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PICK UP OR PASS?

VERDICT: Pick Up.  Now, maybe I’m feeling really vulnerable right now, but I teared up at the trailer, which means this one got to me in 3-4 minutes, and that’s not something to sneeze at when doing the quick math here.  Properties with pure religious motifs have not fared well on prime time network television in recent years, but perhaps what makes this one a bit different is that the show will attempt to explore the tough but meaningful subject of faith and the spiritual through more of a focused dialogue, beginning with the main character who runs a podcast about atheism.  Adding in the social media spin for today’s modern audiences, this premise teases something potentially fresh and original without becoming too preachy.  In fact, the show may become the kind of feel-good comedy – and discussion of hope – that today’s audiences crave in these testy times of geopolitical conflict.  Plus, I found the main characters to be largely winning – one of them is the sometime Jessie Quick from CPU! fave The Flash – so, all in all, it feels like this program deserves a leap of faith.  Friend request accepted.

STATUS: On October 19, 2018, the network ordered a full season of an unknown number of episodes; 11 have aired as of the publication date of this post.  The pundits give this series’ renewal chances 50/50 odds.

CPU! STATUS: Not yet viewed.

Grand Hotel

GRAND HOTEL, ABC

PREMIERE DATE: June 17, 2019

WHO: Roselyn Sanchez (Devious Maids), Demian Bichir (The Bridge), Chris Warren (The Fosters), Wendy Raquel Robinson (The Game), Shalim Ortiz (Heroes), Denyse Tontz (The Fosters), Bryan Craig (General Hospital), Lincoln Younes (Home and Away), Justina Adorno (Seven Seconds), Anne Winters (13 Reasons Why), Feliz Ramirez

WHAT: Set in the last family-owned hotel in multicultural Miami Beach. Charismatic Santiago Mendoza owns the hotel, while his glamorous second wife, Gigi, and their adult children enjoy the spoils of success. Wealthy and beautiful guests bask in luxury, but scandals, escalating debt and explosive secrets hide beneath the picture-perfect exterior.

Trailer available at ABC’s YouTube channel.

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PICK UP OR PASS?

VERDICT: Pass.  Produced by former Desperate Housewife Eva Longoria, this new sudsy soap screams telenovela for the now, with sex, sex, sex oozing from its Miami infused pores, a regular scandal (no, not that Scandal) in the making for the Disney-owned Alphabet network.  This will probably be a guilty, or not so guilty, pleasure for quite a few viewers, with an attractive cast, a colorful backdrop, and shocking secrets regularly revealed to appalled but enthralled gasps, but unless requested otherwise, CPU! will back away slowly, since soaps we cover are few and far between.  We will instead remember that the real Grand Hotel is on Mackinac Island in Michigan.  Granted, the clientele is probably very different all around.  All jokes aside, though, this show honestly has potential for success but is not the typical fare that appeals to too many of the CPU! Couch Potatoes.  Maybe they will surprise me, though.  You can request our coverage too, though, viewer – and did you know that you, too, could become one of our panelists?  Sign our guestbook to inquire as to how.

Happy Together

HAPPY TOGETHER, CBS

WHEN: Mondays at 8:30/7:30c

WHO: Damon Wayans Jr. (New Girl, Happy Endings), Amber Stevens West (Ghosted, The Carmichael Show), Felix Mallard (Neighbours), Stephnie Weir (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend), Chris Parnell (Grown-ish, SNL), Victor Williams (The King of Queens)

WHAT: A 30-something couple, tired of their mundane life, start to reconnect with their younger, cooler selves when a young pop star who is drawn to their super normal suburban life, moves in.

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PICK UP OR PASS?

VERDICT: Pass.  Canned laughter.  Pauses for the canned laughter.  Pregnant pauses.  Dozing.  That last one was me; I’m the one dozing.  This new sitcom seems like a one-note joke that cannot possibly sustain over 22 episodes, much less several additional seasons, and will probably get old in one.  It’s clear that this new program wants to rely on Damon Wayans, Jr.’s considerable charm and comedic timing, but he simply doesn’t have THAT much charm and comedic timing to overcome the ham and cheese on rye flavoring this bland soupy sauce of a sitcom is serving up.  Sure, we all want to be young and hip again, but how tired is the “we’re boring, so this cool rock star will make us cool too” trope?  I did not laugh once watching the trailer, and with such a recycled and rehashed premise, I don’t see anyone at CPU! (or beyond) requesting our in-depth discussion about this show.  Look, Damon’s dad had to try a few times to get a sitcom that lasted too.  Genetics or something, right?

STATUS: The network ordered 13 episodes and declined to order more as of November 2018; 11 have aired as of the publication date of this post.  The pundits believe this series’ renewal chances hover at “long shot” or “unlikely,” given the network’s reticence to order more episodes.

CPU! STATUS: Frankly, I am surprised that this show has a shot at all.  No one has watched a first episode around here, but the preview kind of said it all, and, most notably, no one is talking about it.  Anywhere.

I Feel Bad

I FEEL BAD, NBC

WHO: Sarayu Blue (No Tomorrow), Paul Adelstein (Private Practice), Zach Cherry (Crashing, Search Party), James Buckley (The Inbetweeners), Johnny Pemberton (Superstore), Aisling Bea

WHAT: Emet is a mom, boss, wife, friend and daughter who is just figuring it out like the rest of us. Sure, she feels bad when she has a sexy dream about someone other than her husband, or when she pretends not to know her kids when they misbehave in public, or when she uses her staff to help solve personal problems. But that’s OK, right? Nobody can have it all and do it perfectly.

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PICK UP OR PASS?

VERDICT: Pick Up.  First, the executive producer is Amy Poehler.  Win.  Second, sure the situations in this comedy probably have been done (and done, and done) elsewhere, but how many times have they been done honestly, with the kind of in-your-face humor that resonates?  Also win.  The Peacock has really made a comeback recently, at least in the comedy department, by choosing smart comedies with familiar premises but fresh elements developing those premises to something better than they might otherwise be.  Sarayu Blue and Paul Adelstein have clear chemistry; her parents will no doubt be the comic underdogs; and the social commentary will be relevant and up to date, unlike the last sitcom we reviewed in this pilot entry.  Perhaps, this “pick up” is somewhat inspired by a trailer that made me laugh, as opposed to the one that just failed at that basic task, but isn’t that what a sitcom should be – a show that makes the viewer laugh?  It’s worth a look, at least, because I can tell that this show already has a better chance of sustaining beyond one season than most in its genre.

STATUS: The Season 1 finale aired on December 27, 2018, after a total of 13 episodes.  The pundits think this series’ renewal chances are a “long shot” or “unlikely.”

CPU! STATUS: Frankly, I am surprised that this show doesn’t have a better shot.  There has been some modest positive feedback from the CPU! inner circles, and while the show has been labeled “not as funny as some,” the general reaction is that it is still funny.  The Peacock indicated that it would make a decision at a later date regarding renewal, which means it all comes down to money and potential next season pilots.  Otherwise, not yet viewed.

In the Dark

IN THE DARK, The CW

PREMIERE DATE: January 24, 2019

WHO: Perry Mattfeld (Shameless), Rich Sommer (Mad Men), Kathleen York (The Client List, The West Wing), Derek Webster (NCIS: New Orleans), Brooke Markham (Foursome), Keston John (My Kitchen Rules)

WHAT: A blind woman is the only “witness” to the murder of her drug-dealing friend. After the police dismiss her story, she sets out with her dog, Pretzel, to find the killer while also managing her colorful dating life and the job she hates at the guide dog school owned by her overprotective parents.

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PICK UP OR PASS?

VERDICT: Pass.  The trailer was apparently only screened at up-fronts, but this not-so-connected viewer needs a trailer to make an unbiased assessment of this show.  Without one, and given the above premise description, it sounds like a schmaltzy hodgepodge of lovable dog, inspiring tale of rising to meet the challenges of adversity, and murder-mystery procedural rolled into a saccharine goo.  Plus, there is no one in the cast that offers a draw, and it’s on the CW, which struggles outside of the fantasy/science fiction genre sometimes.  If buzz, accolades, or steam say this dark show is full of unexpected light, we might reconsider, but right now, this viewer offers a solid “meh,” and we unitedly move on.

The InBetwen

THE INBETWEEN, NBC

PREMIERE DATE: Some reports say January 2019; others say Spring 2019

WHEN: Midseason

WHO: Harriet Dyer (Australia’s Love Child), Paul Blackthorne (Arrow), Anne-Marie Johnson (In the Heat of the Night), Cindy Luna (The Last Ship), Chad James Buchanan (Star)

WHAT: Cassie Bishop can see and communicate with the dead, helping them with their unresolved problems, whether she likes it or not. When her longtime friend Det. Tom Hackett and his new partner, former FBI Agent Damien Asante, need help solving a darkly puzzling murder, Cassie agrees to use her abilities. Despite her reluctance, she may have found a way to keep her demons at bay, all while solving some of the city’s most challenging cases.

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PICK UP OR PASS?

VERDICT: Pick Up.  This new drama sounds like a cross between The Sixth Sense and garden variety procedural crime/murder mystery television, but new fantasy appears to be rather limited this season, and that’s what the CP’s live for around here (this Chief CP does, anyway).  Plus, Paul Blackthorne left CPU! covered Arrow to come be on this show, so we’ll give it a chance.  If the bend is more procedural than serial drama, though, we might lose interest, but we’ll see how this one shakes out in the end.

The Kids Are Alright

THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT, ABC

WHEN: Tuesdays at 8:30/7:30c

WHO: Michael Cudlitz (The Walking Dead), Mary McCormack (In Plain Sight), Caleb Foote (American Crime Story: The Assassination of Giani Versace), Christopher Paul Richards (Me, Myself & I), Jack Gore (Electric Dreams), Sawyer Barth (Public Morals), Sam Straley, Andy Walken, Santino Barnard

WHAT: Set in the 1970s, the ensemble comedy follows a traditional Irish-Catholic family as they navigate big and small changes during one of America’s most turbulent decades. In a working-class neighborhood outside Los Angeles, Mike and Peggy raise eight boisterous boys who live out their days with little supervision. The household is turned upside down when oldest son Lawrence returns home and announces he’s quitting the seminary to go off and “save the world.”

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PICK UP OR PASS?

VERDICT: Pass.  The Wonder Years meets That 70s Show with a dash of Modern Family and maybe All in the Family as well as Eight is Enough thrown into the mix to become The Kids Are Alright, which, incidentally, was the working title of That 70s Show. Though I wanted to like what this teaser trailer was serving, this new sitcom boasts much in the way of ham-fisted nostalgia, in spades, coupled with forced parallelism to our modern times, while depending on what seems to be a lackluster cast of mostly unknown quantities trying, hard, to elicit laughs.  It even has voice-over narration in the way Daniel Stern’s Kevin Arnold talked over the younger Fred Savage version of the character’s antics in The Wonder Years.  Perhaps, there is potential to appeal to viewers hungry for this type of on-the-nose comedy, and if there is something we’re missing here, you can always tell us, but again, nothing struck as particularly funny as much as “all been done before” while watching the trailer, so we’re not willing to say this one’s alright, at least for now.

STATUS: The network ordered 22 episodes and ordered an additional episode in December 2018; 8 have aired as of the publication date of this post.  The pundits think renewal is a “safe bet” or “very likely,” given the network’s confidence so far in the series.

CPU! STATUS: There is tons of TV to watch right now, and no one has talked about it, requested podcast coverage, or otherwise made mention.  I don’t know if these kids are alright are not, but I have not been convinced to pass the “pass.”  There are several opportunities, though…feel free to take one yourself by commenting on this post.

Legacies

LEGACIES, The CW

WHEN: Thursdays at 9/8c

WHO: Matt Davis (The Vampire Diaries), Danielle Rose Russell (The Originals), Quincy Fouse (The Goldbergs), Kaylee Bryant (Santa Clarita Diet), Jenny Boyd

WHAT: The Vampire Diaries and Originals spinoff follows the next generation of supernatural beings at The Salvatore School for the Young and Gifted, including Klaus Mikaelson’s daughter, 17-year-old Hope Mikaelson; Alaric Saltzman’s twins, Lizzie and Josie Saltzman; and other young adults come of age in the most unconventional way possible, nurtured to be their best selves in spite of their worst impulses. Will these young witches, vampires and werewolves become the heroes they want to be — or the villains they were born to be?

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PICK UP OR PASS?

VERDICT: Pick Up.  CPU! includes fans who talked for several episodes about The Vampire Diaries and another panel will be finishing up ongoing water cooler coverage of The Originals in the very near future, now that the series has recently ended.  I imagine, therefore, that a chunk of us will want to check out this spin-off of the Vampire Diaries universe, if for no other reason than that any one of us might have a tough time letting said universe go for good.  Still, it would be a tall order to imagine that any of these characters, or their portraying actors, will be as interesting as the leading casts of either TVD or The Originals, but since the theme of the season seems to be morbid curiosity, we’ll just carry that with us as we give this new entry in the annals of vampire/supernatural fantasy fiction a try (and even if Alaric’s school is the supernatural Hogwarts).  Plus, we might see guest appearances by anyone from either of the two casts, so, morbid curiosity for the win!

STATUS: The network cautiously and in a staggered fashion ordered a full season of 16 episodes; 7 have aired as of the publication date of this post.  The pundits give renewal odds in the 50/50 category, though the show is faring better than its parent spin-off, The Originals, did in its final season…

CPU! STATUS: Not yet viewed, primarily because our fans of The Vampire Diaries universe expressed in the last related podcast episode that they felt somewhat burnt out by this corner of their various fandoms. Still, after time passes…who knows?

Magnum P.I.

MAGNUM P.I., CBS

WHEN: Mondays at 9/8c

WHO: Jay Hernandez (Scandal, Last Resort), Perdita Weeks (Penny Dreadful), Zachary Knighton (Happy Endings), Stephen Hill (Luke Cage, Boardwalk Empire)

WHAT: An update of the classic television series set in Hawaii, the show follows Thomas Magnum, a decorated ex-Navy SEAL who, upon returning home from Afghanistan, repurposes his military skills to become a private investigator.

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PICK UP OR PASS?

VERDICT: Pass.  Do you see Tom Selleck anywhere?  Do you?!?!  The answer to this question is the same answer to the question, “Will you be watching this latest reboot?” From the network that also brought us reboots of Hawaii Five-O and MacGyver – and, hell, of the entire 1980s – we now have a reboot of Magnum PI. Rebooted theme song included.  I didn’t watch much of the original and can’t imagine watching a less awesome actor than Tom Selleck taking on the part of the titular Magnum.  Call me crotchety, but this reboot madness is, well, madness.  Of course, wait until you read just a bit further.

We pass, by the way.

STATUS: The network ordered a full season of an unknown number of episodes on October 19, 2018; 10 have aired as of the publication date of this post.  The pundits think renewal chances are squarely at fifty percent.

CPU! STATUS: We have had one request to talk about this show, which may later spark a “Look Back to Look Forward” series about this latest reboot/remake.  There is no clamoring currently, but Jay Hernandez seems to leave viewers weak in the knees. Still, with this request, that means we must change the status to “very hesitantly pick up, not yet viewed.”  We are a podcast by the people, for the people, after all. 

Manifest

MANIFEST, NBC

WHEN: Mondays at 10/9c

WHO: Josh Dallas (Once Upon a Time), Melissa Roxburgh (Valor), J.R. Ramirez (Jessica Jones, Power), Athena Karkanis (Zoo), Parveen Kaur (Beyond), Luna Blaise (Fresh Off the Boat), Jack Messina

WHAT: When Montego Air Flight 828 landed safely after a turbulent but routine flight, the crew and passengers were relieved. Yet in the span of those few hours, the world had aged five years and their friends, families and colleagues, after mourning their loss, had given up hope and moved on. Now, faced with the impossible, they’re all given a second chance. But as their new realities become clear, a deeper mystery unfolds and some of the returned passengers soon realize they may be meant for something greater than they ever thought possible.

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PICK UP OR PASS?

VERDICT: Pick Up.  Though the Peacock network may yet be trying for its next Lost, like so many other networks, ABC included, have tried before it, and though the trailer was not the best packaged presentation to tease the mystery being offered here, this new drama does offer some areas of interest, though this viewer’s immediate question was: “Did they fly over the Bermuda Triangle?”  Our Once Upon a Time panelists might be interested in the quick return of top-billed Josh Dallas, the once upon a time Prince Charming from the recently ended ABC fantasy.  Our Marvel’s Defenders panel may recognize J.R. Ramirez from the second season of Jessica Jones.  Ultimately, though, the core mystery is intriguing: where did the plane go, and why didn’t they age?  Though my vote is Bermuda Triangle voodoo, or maybe alien kidnapping, I’m intrigued enough to want to watch to learn the answers.

STATUS: On October 18, 2018, the network ordered additional episodes, bringing the first full season grand total to 16; 9 have aired as of the publication date of this post.  The pundits believe it is a safe bet that the show will be renewed (and, to the extent that we wear the pundit mantle, we agree).

CPU! STATUS: Manifest has been requested as a podcast candidate, and there has been some fairly emphatic buzz about this show – not Lost level buzz but unmistakable buzz, nonetheless.  Expect to see a Manifest podcast panel in the future.

Murphy Brown

MURPHY BROWN, CBS

WHO: Original stars Candice Bergen, Faith Ford, Joe Regalbuto and Grant Shaud, plus Tyne Daly (Cagney & Lacey), Jake McDorman (Limitless, Greek), Nik Dodani (Atypical)

WHAT: Bergen reprises her role as the investigative journalist, who returns to a world of cable news, social media, fake news, and a very different political and cultural climate.

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PICK UP OR PASS?

VERDICT: Pick Up.  It’s madness, I tell you!  But, hey, do you see Candice Bergen?  Do you?!?!  Well…that is the question, you got your answer, and so on, etc. que sera, fin. Of all the reboots to reboot, this one couldn’t be more appropriate or timely for today’s geopolitical circus, which, frankly, depresses this CP regardless of on which side of the aisle you prefer to hang your hat.  Back in the day, Murphy Brown was a hard-hitting situation comedy that challenged the tenets passing for the conservatism heading the country and the bumbling silence of the liberal answer, all while also holding the media complex, then far less complex, accountable for their contribution to the insanity.  Now, the world is a lot more insane, and, frankly, I could use Murphy’s brand of loyalty to the truth and skewering sarcasm to make me feel better about the state of things.  Though the reboot moves on without the inimitable Charles Kimbrough and the now deceased Robert Pastorelli, two ingredients we might end up missing more than we think, I believe the world is more ready for an older, sassier Murphy than they are for a Magnum PI who is not Tom Selleck.  Dan Quayle, eat your heart out!  Mike Pence: brace yourself!

STATUS: The Season 1 finale aired on December 20, 2018, after a total of 13 episodes.  Though the network has gone on record to indicate that the Eye is considering renewal, chances are not good (“long shot,” “unlikely”).  The ratings have been erratic, and the political platform of this program, though well placed in the George HW Bush era, might not land as deftly in the Trumpian era of American politics and media, particularly given the public’s widely varying regard for the press, currently.

CPU! STATUS: Not yet viewed.

The Neighborhood

THE NEIGHBORHOOD, CBS

WHEN: Mondays at 8/7c

WHO: Cedric the Entertainer (The Soul Man), Max Greenfield (New Girl), Beth Behrs (2 Broke Girls), Sheaun McKinney (Great News), Marcel Spears (The Mayor), Tichina Arnold (Survivor’s Remorse), Hank Greenspan

WHAT: The nicest guy in the Midwest moves his family into a tough neighborhood in L.A. where not everyone appreciates his extreme neighborliness.

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PICK UP OR PASS?

VERDICT: Very Hesitantly Pick Up.  With only a 30 second teaser available to assess this new comedy, this viewer is not particularly hopeful or confident that things will be all that good in this neighborhood.  Still, Cedric the Entertainer is reliably funny, and Max Greenfield’s sense of comedic timing (the erstwhile Schmidt on recently ended New Girl, of course) could be the winning ingredient, while lightly poking fun at some sociological phenomena of this day and age that will cross some important social and cultural boundaries.  Or, it could just be a hot mess, since Max was a last minute recasting, particularly if it relies on a traditional sitcom format, laugh track included, to elicit viewer laughs.  Still, we’ve given other pick ups to shows with less going for them, so why not?

STATUS: On October 19, 2018, the Eye ordered the “back 9” and brought the program’s full first season episode total to 22; 11 have aired as of the publication date of this post.  The pundits say renewal is likely.

CPU! STATUS: The CPU! Podcast received a request to cover this show in podcast format, so this pick up is definite and permanent.  Otherwise, not yet viewed.

New Amsterdam

NEW AMSTERDAM, NBC

WHEN: Tuesdays at 10/9c

WHO: Ryan Eggold (The Blacklist), Janet Montgomery (Salem), Freema Agyeman (Sense8, Doctor Who), Anupam Kher (Sense8), Tyler Labine (Reaper), Jocko Sims (The Last Ship)

WHAT: Inspired by Bellevue, the oldest public hospital in America, the medical drama follows the brilliant and charming Dr. Max Goodwin, the institution’s newest medical director who sets out to tear up the bureaucracy and provide exceptional care.

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PICK UP OR PASS?

VERDICT: Hesitantly Pick Up.  Okay, I’ll grant you: it’s another medical drama, which CPU! doesn’t cover much, and there are few genres that rely so heavily on formulaic tropes as the medical drama (outside of procedural TV).  Yet, there’s something a bit different about this medical drama, at least given what was presented in the trailer.  And NBC is on fire this coming season with some intriguing pilots and orders to season that sort of break mold – so why shouldn’t their selection for a medical drama be different, even if they might be looking to find their next ER, which was a tent pole staple of evening TV on this very network for nearly two decades.  The doctor in the lead has cancer, is appointed director of medicine at the oldest hospital in the nation, and wants to disrupt the system enough to get the hospital to return focus to actual medicine and not upon speedy service and expensive billing.  And really – isn’t that what we all want? Sure, this one could descend rapidly into schmaltz, but I don’t know.  There’s something a bit bolder here than the normal medical drama, and I think I’m here for it.  Let’s see if other Couch Potatoes feel the same.

STATUS: On October 10, 2018, the Peacock ordered the “back 9” of this drama, marking a full season of 22 episodes; 9 have aired as of the publication date of this post.  Yet, there is no consensus about predictions related to chances of renewal.

CPU! STATUS: Not yet viewed.

The Passage

THE PASSAGE, Fox

PREMIERE DATE: January 14, 2019

WHO: Mark-Paul Gosselaar (Pitch), Vincent Piazza (Boardwalk Empire), Brianne Howey (The Exorcist), Emmanuelle Chriqui (Entourage), Saniyya Sidney (American Horror Story: Roanoke), Jamie McShane (Bloodline), Caroline Chikezie (The Shannara Chronicles)

WHAT: Based on author Justin Cronin’s best‐selling trilogy of the same name, the drama centers around a secret government medical facility experimenting with a dangerous virus that could either cure all disease or cause the downfall of the human race. The series focuses on a 10‐year‐old girl named Amy Bellafonte, who is chosen to be a test subject for this experiment and Brad Wolgast, the Federal agent who becomes her surrogate father as he tries to protect her.

Trailer available at Fox’s YouTube channel.

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PICK UP OR PASS?

VERDICT: Pick Up. Though this CP thinks she might actually want to read these books first after watching the trailer, I am all sorts of intrigued by the story – which feels very movie-like, by the way, in terms of tension and mystery – being presented by The Passage.  First, I think Zach Morris is no longer the worst, for reals, though.  Mark-Paul Gosselaar seems to be putting forth a compelling effort in the lead character role for this show and more of a compelling effort than I’ve seen him put forth recently.  Second, what a tangled web of moral ambiguity we’re about to watch!  No wonder these books were bestsellers.  This show presents a heck of a lot of science fiction fueled potential, and that’s what we love here at CPU!, so pick this one up we shall – seems like easy passage to me.

Proven Innocent

PROVEN INNOCENT, Fox

PREMIERE DATE: February 15, 2019

WHO: Rachelle Lefevre (Under the Dome), Russell Hornsby (Grimm), Kelsey Grammer (Boss), Vincent Kartheiser (Mad Men), Riley Smith (Frequency, Nashville), Nikki M. James (BrainDead), Clare O’Connor (Easy)

WHAT: A legal drama set in an wrongful conviction firm. Led by a fierce and fearless female lawyer with a hunger for justice, the team reopens investigations, putting their own lives in danger to exonerate the innocent that were “proven” guilty.

Trailer available at Fox’s YouTube channel.

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PICK UP OR PASS?

VERDICT: Very Hesitantly Pick Up. There are medical dramas, and then there are legal dramas.  No TV season can be without 20 of each.  Though the trailer here presented a premise that promises to be manipulative and somewhat force-fed, this viewer is drawn to cast members this time out, particularly Russell Hornsby, who we loved on Grimm; Kelsey Grammer, who is more than a mere Boss; and Vincent Kartheiser, married to Alexis Bledel and sometime supporting star of Mad Men and Angel.  I will give this one a try for them, but if this drama falls into a nebulous sticky goo of manipulative feel-good lawyer-type stuff, it won’t last – for us or for the viewing public, at least not in an entertainment complex saturated with vehicles just like it.

The Red Line

THE RED LINE, CBS

PREMIERE DATE: Spring 2019

WHEN: Midseason

WHO: Noah Wyle (ER), Noel Fisher (Shameless), Michael Patrick Thornton (Private Practice), Emayatzy Corinealdi (Ballers, Hand of God), Vinny Chhibber (NoTomorrow), Aliyah Royale, Howard Charles (The Musketeers), Elizabeth Laidlaw (Boss)

WHAT: After a white cop in Chicago mistakenly shoots and kills a black doctor, we follow three vastly different families that all have connections with the case as the story is told from each perspective.

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PICK UP OR PASS?

VERDICT: Pass. There is no trailer available to watch for the TV pundits, so judging from the scant synopsis offered above, this particular new vehicle has the potential to be Crash, the TV show.  Or, perhaps it’s another go at Shots Fired, a limited series that aired on Fox and was canceled after one season of low ratings.  As easy on the eyes as Noah Wyle is, and as happy as we are to see him back on TV, there simply isn’t enough to go on to establish a connection beyond what seems visibly recycled.  If buzz, accolades, or steam start steaming up the joint, we’ll happily reconsider.  We’re really quite flexible around here.  There’s nothing preventing us from doing our yoga while we couch potato, you know.

Rel

REL, Fox

WHEN: Sundays at 9:30/8:30c (beginning Sept. 30)

WHO: Lil Rel Howery (Get Out), Sinbad (A Different World, The Sinbad Show), Jordan L. Jones, Jessica “Jess Hilarious” Moore

WHAT: Lil Rel, a prideful, self-made success who lives by the code to “always believe in yourself and great things will come,” finds that attitude put to the test when he learns his wife is having an affair with his own barber. He tries to rebuild his life post-divorce as a long-distance single father on the South Side of Chicago who’s on a quest for love, respect and a new barber.

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PICK UP OR PASS?

VERDICT: Pass. Holy crap!  It’s Sinbad!  Sinbad aside, though, Lil Rel feels a tad, a smidge, a smudge, a whit, an iota….you get the drift….just like a wannabe Tyler Perry or maybe an Eddie Murphy, the one of Nutty Professor days, without actually being all that funny.  I might not be in the target audience for this comedy, which I can respect, but this viewer also thinks that this new comedy might be trying too hard for laughs like some other new sitcoms on this list.  Anyway, I only laughed once at the trailer – at Sinbad – and just don’t feel that this show’s worth the look, but if you can convince us otherwise, by all means.  Give it a go.

STATUS: It looks as though Fox initially ordered 13 episodes; 10 have aired as of the publication date of this post.  The pundits think renewal is a long shot.

CPU! STATUS: The critics have not been kind to this sitcom, and the ratings have been altogether poor.  No one is talking about this comedy around the united couch potatoes, so we think we made the correct initial call.  Feel free to talk us out of it – if you can.

The Rookie

THE ROOKIE, ABC

WHEN: Tuesdays at 10/9c

WHO: Nathan Fillion (Castle), Melissa O’Neil (Dark Matter), Eric Winter (Rosewood, Witches of East End), Richard T. Jones (Wisdom of the Crowd), Mercedes Mason (Fear the Walking Dead), Afton Williamson (The Night Of, Banshee), Titus Makin (The Path, Pretty Little Liars), Alyssa Diaz (Ray Donovan, Zoo)

WHAT: Starting over isn’t easy, especially for small town guy John Nolan who, after a life-altering incident, is pursuing his dream of being an LAPD officer. As the force’s oldest rookie, he’s met with skepticism from some higher-ups who see him as just a walking midlife crisis. If he can’t keep up with the young cops and the criminals, he’ll be risking lives including his own. But if he can use his life experience, determination and sense of humor to give him an edge, he may just become a success in this new chapter of his life.

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PICK UP OR PASS?

VERDICT: Pass.  As much as a return of Nathan Fillion to prime-time TV is a sight for sore eyes no matter how you slice and dice this particular puree, unfortunately, he’s returning in a cop drama.  And while it is a cop drama with a twist, where he plays an older rookie being judged by younger members of the police force (and command), the trailer seems to indicate that, ultimately, it’s still a cop drama.  I think people will watch this show for him – this viewer momentarily contemplated it – and it might even do well.  Unfortunately, apart from the erstwhile Captain Mal, the erstwhile Captain Hammer, and the erstwhile Castle, not a captain, there is very little that connects for this particular potato, and I’m pretty doubtful the current CPU! panelist lineup will fare much better.  With all that said, we wish Mr. Fillion all the best and may be influenced to change our minds with the right amount of water cooler buzz.  Or, just contact us!  We like that.

STATUS: In November 2018, the Alphabet network ordered a full season, bring the first season’s episode total to 20; 8 episodes have aired as of the publication date of this post.  The pundits think renewal is likely.

CPU! STATUS: No one’s requested or talked about this show yet.  We want to watch Nathan Fillion most of the time.  Give us reasons why this time should be no exception, cop show or no cop show.

Roswell New Mexico

ROSWELL, NEW MEXICO, The CW

PREMIERE DATE: January 15, 2019

WHO: Jeanine Mason (Grey’s Anatomy), Nathan Parsons (The Originals), Tyler Blackburn (Pretty Little Liars), Michael Trevino (The Vampire Diaries), Heather Hemmens (Hellcats), Lily Cowles (BrainDead), Michael Vlamis (New Girl), Trevor St. John (Containment), Karan Oberoi (Notorious, NCIS)

WHAT: After reluctantly returning to her tourist-trap hometown of Roswell, New Mexico, the daughter of undocumented immigrants discovers a shocking truth about her teenage crush who is now a police officer: he’s an alien who has kept his unearthly abilities hidden his entire life. She protects his secret as the two reconnect and begin to investigate his origins, but when a violent attack and long-standing government cover-up point to a greater alien presence on Earth, the politics of fear and hatred threaten to expose him and destroy their deepening romance.

Trailer available at TVLine’s YouTube channel (here).

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PICK UP OR PASS?

VERDICT: Very Hesitantly Pick Up.  Oh, hey, CW, I see you.  You’re beefing up, not one, but two of the WB’s oldest, most cult-adored properties for this coming season, eh?  Even though you’ve traditionally done better than your big brother networks at aiming for the original and then sticking with it until you’ve bled it dry?  Unlike Charmed, Roswell has more of a cult following even than some of the WB’s – and the CW’s – most cult-y audience favorites.  It lasted for only a few seasons in its original run, but those that are in the Roswell fan club speak highly of it.  While I never caught that one, though I can’t say why for sure, as Roswell is the kind of vehicle typically up this viewer’s normal alley of weird and wacky sci-fi TV, and considering that this potato and CPU! in its early days gave Star-Crossed, a very Roswell-like science fiction romance that was canceled quickly by the CW, a chance, I do know that a few of our resident Couch Potatoes are big fans of the first version of this alien love story.  Will they be of this reboot?  Well, we will very hesitantly pick this one up and have what will, no doubt, be another judgmental look back to look forward series.  We may even talk about the Charmed reboot and this one in succession.  I will say that what this reboot has going for it more than anything else: Nathan Parsons.  He has romantic lead potential not fully tapped or explored so far, typically because his characters are short-lived, and he has acted in other popular genre entries like True Blood and The Originals.  So, the show is worth a wary look.  A very wary look.

Schooled

SCHOOLED, ABC

PREMIERE DATE: January 9, 2019

WHO: AJ Michalka, Tim Meadows and Bryan Callen (The Goldbergs)

WHAT: Set in 1990-something, the Goldbergs spinoff follows the hilarious teachers of William Penn Academy, who, despite their eccentricities and crazy personal lives, are heroes to their students.

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PICK UP OR PASS?

VERDICT: Pass For Now.  CPU! is not currently covering The Goldbergs, either on the podcast or in blog format, so before we consider even looking into a spin-off of said flashback comedy, which propels us from 80s to 90s, no less, we would want to take a look at the comedy that “schooled” this one into being.  We’ll keep an eye on it, though, given its spin-off status, and see how it fares.

Single Parents

SINGLE PARENTS, ABC

WHEN: Wednesdays at 9:30/8:30c

WHO: Taran Killam (SNL), Leighton Meester (Gossip Girl), Brad Garrett (Everybody Loves Raymond), Kimrie Lewis (Scandal), Jake Choi (Hawaii Five-O, Younger), Marlow Barkley, Tyler Wladis, Devin Trey Campbell, Grace Hazelett, Sadie Hazelett

WHAT: Follows a group of single parents as they lean on each other to help raise their 7-year-old kids and maintain some kind of personal lives outside of parenthood.

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PICK UP OR PASS?

VERDICT: Pass.  Though this sitcom actually has some solid potential to sustain, and more than some of the other new sitcom entries on the season, given some welcome use of sarcasm and irony to tell the jokes, the people who will find this funniest will, no doubt, be in the group referenced by the title, or at least parents in general, which this potato cannot currently claim to be.  If any parental panelist sprung forward, though, and said that they would like to talk about this one, I would probably quickly change my mind about this “pass.”  Honestly, the funniest characters may be everyone but Taran Killam’s, but there were some sincere laughs in the trailer, and that bodes well for these single parents all around – just think what 22 minutes might bring.  This is not a hard pass; it’s merely a practical one, that a little peer pressure could probably turn around.  Are you picking up what I’m putting down, potatoes?

STATUS: On October 17, 2018, ABC ordered a back ten, bringing the first season episode total to 23; 10 episodes have aired as of the publication date of this post.  The pundits think renewal possibilities are a safe bet.

CPU! STATUS: One CPU! panelist has offered an almost glowing recommendation (and request) to talk Elizabeth Merriwether’s new show on the podcast, and in the wake of the vacuum left by a departed New Girl, we cannot fight the logic.  Changing this status to “Pick Up.”

The Village

THE VILLAGE, NBC

PREMIERE DATE: March 12, 2019

WHO: LorraineToussaint (Rosewood), Michaela McManus (Seal Team), Warren Christie (The Resident, Chicago Fire), Moran Atias (The Resident, Tyrant), Daren Kagasoff (The Secret Life of the American Teenager), Grace Van Dien (Greenhouse Academy), Dominic Chianese (The Sopranos), Jerod Haynes (Southside With You), Frankie Faison (Banshee, The Wire)

WHAT: Follows the residents of a Brooklyn apartment building who have built a bonded family of friends and neighbors. Sarah’s a nurse and single mom raising a creative teen; Gabe’s a young law student who got a much older and unexpected roommate; Ava must secure the future of her young, U.S.-born son when ICE comes knocking; Nick’s a veteran who’s returned from war; and the heart and soul of the building, Ron and Patricia, have captivating tales all their own.

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PICK UP OR PASS?

VERDICT: Pass.  With no trailer publicly available, we of the lowly Michigan-based podcast have to rely on early reviews of the trailer – which are decidedly mixed.  What also seems decidedly true is that the Peacock might be searching for its next This Is Us, which would be great, if This Is Us wasn’t still on the air.  Honestly, maybe there are some feel-good or just feeling stories told well in this new drama, but, to this viewer and based on synopsis alone, it has the potential for saccharine, predictable storytelling that could descend into manipulative melodrama quickly.  If I am wrong, tell me.  I’m okay to be wrong.  We have to be ruthless with our choices around here, though, so unless buzz and water-cooler steam percolates from the hotness of this show, we will detour away from this village.

Whiskey Cavalier

WHISKEY CAVALIER, ABC

PREMIERE DATE: February 27, 2019

WHO: Scott Foley (Scandal), Lauren Cohan (The Walking Dead), Ana Ortiz (Devious Maids, Ugly Betty), Tyler James Williams (The Walking Dead), Vir Das (Go Goa Gone)

WHAT: Follows the adventures of tough but tender FBI super-agent Will Chase (codename: “Whiskey Cavalier”). Following an emotional break-up, Chase is assigned to work with badass CIA operative Francesca “Frankie” Trowbridge (codename: “Fiery Tribune”). Together, they lead an inter-agency team of flawed, funny and heroic spies who periodically save the world (and each other) while navigating the rocky roads of friendship, romance and office politics.

Trailer available at ABC’s YouTube channel.

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PICK UP OR PASS?

VERDICT: Hesitantly Pick Up.  I did not want to like this.  I did NOT want to like this.  It started off with some definite ham and cheese on rye with the overly fuzzy and tender-hearted main character who moonlights by day as an agent of the FBI – and oh my, how Scott Foley has aged (*fans self at the thirty second mark of the trailer*) – but as I continued to watch said trailer, I found that the presentation navigated into territory previously tread by, say, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Alias, Castle, and a pinch of The X-Files but in a way that felt fresh and new.  Plus, this show and Scott’s character have a catchy code name; it’s rare that the title charms, but charms it has done.  By the end of the trailer, I found myself ensconced in the witty repartee of the two main characters, who have real chemistry, even though I wasn’t expecting a high-octane government agent premise to be pockmarked with some sardonic romantic comedy.  It is because of this unexpected wit and twisty working that I find myself wanting to see more.  Go watch the few minutes worth of a sample, and tell me you don’t agree.  Is Mr. Foley married, though?

The following is a link to all premiere dates for shows covered beyond the main networks: http://www.metacritic.com/feature/tv-premiere-dates

Non-Broadcast Network Pick-Ups

Disenchantment (Netflix) – They had me at “Futurama but for fantasy rather than sci-fi.”

The latest animated series from The Simpsons creator Matt Groening is basically Futurama but for fantasy rather than sci-fi. Abbi Jacobson, Nat Faxon, and Eric Andre head a vocal cast that also includes Futurama vets Billy West, John DiMaggio, Maurice LaMarche, and Tress MacNeille.

STATUS: The streaming giant ordered a full season of 22 episodes, 10 were released on August 17, 2018, with the remaining 12 slated for some time in 2019.  Netflix has already renewed this program for Season 2!

CPU! STATUS: Not yet viewed.

The Innocents (Netflix) – “British,” “supernatural,” and “teen drama” are all pretty much up the podcast’s alley.

Guy Pearce stars in this British supernatural teen drama.

STATUS: The first season of 8 episodes was released on August 24, 2018.  There has been no word regarding the potential of renewal for additional seasons.

CPU! STATUS: Not yet viewed.

Jack Ryan (Amazon Prime) – All I saw was “The Office’s John Krasinski,” but I do enjoy a good Jack Ryan story.

In the first TV series based on Tom Clancy’s books, The Office‘s John Krasinski plays a modern-day version of the titular CIA analyst—previously portrayed on screen by Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford, Ben Affleck, and Chris Pine—as he embarks on his first field assignment that finds him attempting to thwart a terrorist attack. Lost vets Carlton Cuse and Graham Roland created and produce the eight-episode series, which also stars Wendell Pierce and Abbie Cornish. Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game) directs the opening episode, while others are helmed by Dan Sackheim (The Americans). The series has already been renewed for a 2nd season.

STATUS: The first season of 8 episodes was released on August 31, 2018.  Amazon renewed this series for a Season 2!

CPU! STATUS: Not yet viewed, but this series was requested for podcast coverage, and with John Krasinski starring in it, how can I resist?  This pick-up is definite and permanent.

Mayans M.C. (FX): The original “Sons of Anarchy” has been a recommended panel for some time, now, so we’ll keep an eye on this spin-off and see if our resident “Sons” fans feel as passionate about it.

Sons of Anarchy spinoff stars JD Pardo, Edward James Olmos, Clayton Cardenas, Sarah Bolger, Michael Irby, and Richard Cabral.

STATUS: The Season 1 finale aired on November 6, 2018, after a total of 10 episodes.  FX renewed the Sons of Anarchy spin-off for a Season 2!

CPU! STATUS: Not yet viewed.

The Purge (USA): Though we should probably make sure we’ve watched all of the movie franchise first…

Yes, it’s a series adaptation of the Purge movie franchise set within the same universe, where all crime is legal for a 12-hour period each year.

STATUS: The Season 1 finale aired on November 6, 2018, after a total of 10 episodes.  USA renewed this series for Season 2!

CPU! STATUS: Not yet viewed.

Kidding (Showtime): The Chief CP is a huge fan of Michel Gondry and has seen a few early teasers for this show.  I’m sold on all of the elements, from director to cast to premise.

It’s the first TV show from quirky film/video director Michel Gondry, who reunites with his Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind star Jim Carrey (himself returning to TV as a regular in a scripted, non-sketch TV series for the first time since 1984’s The Duck Factory). Carrey plays Mr. Pickles, the increasingly troubled host of a beloved children’s television series that looks like a cross between Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood and The Muppet Show. The terrific cast also includes Catherine Keener, Judy Greer, Frank Langella, and Justin Kirk. Gondry is a producer and directs multiple episodes of the series—you’ll definitely notice his handiwork in the trailer—which was created by Weeds writer Dave Holstein.

STATUS: The Season 1 finale aired on November 11, 2018, after a total of 10 episodes.  Showtime renewed this Michel Gondry vehicle for Season 2!

CPU! STATUS: Not yet viewed.

The First (Hulu): Solid potential between premise and cast, and we like science fiction around here.

A co-production between Hulu and the UK’s Channel 4, the latest series from House of Cards creator Beau Willimon takes place in the near future as it follows the development of the first human space mission to Mars. Sean Penn (in his first regular TV role) and Natascha McElhone head a cast that also features James Ransone, Oded Fehr, Hannah Ware, and Lisa Gay Hamilton.

STATUS: The first season of 8 episodes was released on September 14, 2018.  There has been no word regarding renewal or cancellation possibilities.

CPU! STATUS: Not yet viewed.

Forever (Amazon Prime): Fred Armisen and Maya Rudolph were two of the most solid SNL character players.  That reminds me, I need to catch up on “Portlandia.”

Fred Armisen and Maya Rudolph star as a married couple attempting to break out of their boring, suburban rut in a new Amazon comedy series from Master of None co-creator Alan Yang and 30 Rock‘s Matt Hubbard. Catherine Keener and Noah Robbins also star.

STATUS: The first season of 8 episodes was released on September 14, 2018.  There has been no word regarding renewal or cancellation possibilities.

CPU! STATUS: Not yet viewed.

Camping (HBO): All I saw was “David Tennant.”  Hearts hearts hearts.  I don’t even care what it’s about. (I hope it doesn’t suck).  Though Jennifer Garner was Sydney Bristow, and that’s pretty good too.

This adaptation of the British comedy series about a group of old friends on a back-to-nature group holiday at a lackluster campsite comes from the team behind HBO’s Girls, including creator Lena Dunham and producer Jenni Konner. Jennifer Garner (in her first regular TV role since Alias) and David Tennant lead a cast that also includes Juliette Lewis, Arturo Del Puerto, Brett Gelman, Ione Skye, and Bridget Everett.

STATUS: The Season 1 finale aired on December 2, 2018, after a total of 8 episodes.  HBO has not discussed the future of this series.

CPU! STATUS: Not yet viewed.

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (Netflix): It’s the “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” reboot, so there will probably be a look back to look forward series.  Plus, it’s got an early renewal.  That’s some brass, Netflix.

Mad Men‘s Kiernan Shipka stars as Archie Comics character Sabrina Spellman (aka Sabrina the Teenage Witch) in this Greg Berlanti-produced series that was originally developed as a spinoff from Riverdale for that show’s network, The CW. (Both shows were developed by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa.) Miranda Otto, Lucy Davis, Bronson Pinchot, and Ross Lynch also star. Netflix has already renewed the show for a second season.

STATUS: Season 1 was released on October 26, 2018, with a total of 10 episodes. Netflix subsequently released a holiday special for this show on December 14, 2018.  In addition, Netflix renewed this wildly popular new take on the Sabrina Spellman character for a Season 2, expected to release on April 5, 2019, and, as of December 18, 2018, for Seasons 3 and 4 as well!

CPU! STATUS: In our December 19, 2018, publication of CPU!, an episode devoted to A Series of Unfortunate Events, Season 2, it was announced that CPU! will officially be embarking upon a series devoted to one of the premiere Water Cooler shows of the year, coming soon (likely to be recorded spring or summer, 2019). It is my hope that the podcast series will a) be a “Look Back to Look Forward” affair, including the fluffier Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and that b) there will some cross-over potential with our, also, newly announced panel for Riverdale, which has been confirmed to be set in the same universe, both in the comics and on screen.  Stay tuned for all this nerdy, darkly comic goodness!

Homecoming (Amazon Prime): This has got a crazy good cast and stellar producer cred; plus, we’ll check out this podcast in solidarity.

Based on the hit Gimlet Media fiction podcast of the same name, this psychological thriller comes from Mr. Robot creator Sam Esmail and stars Julia Roberts, Sissy Spacek, Bobby Cannavale, Shea Whigham, Dermot Mulroney, Stephan James, and Alex Karpovsky. A second season will stream next year.

STATUS: The first season of 10 episodes was released on November 2, 2018.  Since Amazon ordered two seasons off the bat, this show was automatically renewed for Season 2!

CPU! STATUS: Not yet viewed.

The Kominsky Method (Netflix): Though Chuck Lorre needs to work on his overall sense of humor, at least for this couch potato’s edification, I think Michael Douglas and Alan Arkin earn a look.

The latest series from producer Chuck Lorre (who previously developed the short-lived Disjointed for the streaming service) is a single-camera comedy starring Michael Douglas as a Hollywood acting coach. Alan Arkin co-stars as his longtime agent and friend, while Nancy Travis plays a divorcée who enrolls in his acting class. Lisa Edelstein will also have a recurring guest role.

STATUS: The first season of 8 episodes was released on November 16, 2018.  There has been no word regarding renewal or cancellation possibilities.

CPU! STATUS: Not yet viewed.

Added to the List!

Haunting of Hill House (Netflix) 

STATUS: The “limited” season of 10 episodes was released on October 12, 2018.  There has been no word regarding renewal or cancellation possibilities, since it has been labeled a “limited series.”

CPU! STATUS: This other premiere Water Cooler series has also been highly requested at the podcast.  Stay tuned!

Others on radar: Good Omens and The Lord of the Rings series in development at Amazon; a “Narnia” series at Netflix; The Dark Crystal: the Age of Resistance at Netflix; Watership Down at Netflix; The Witcher at Netflix; The Chronicles of Narnia at Netflix; The Wheel of Time at Amazon; His Dark Materials at BBC/HBO; The Watch (BBC); Conan at Amazon; The Dark Tower at Amazon; Cursed at Amazon.

-*-

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Remember, new episodes and blog posts are published weekly!  Next week, Couch Potatoes Unite! with start the New Year 2019 with our first ever non-live “Vs.” discussion, pitting The Tudors v. Wolf Hall. Stay tuned for the royal madness and spicy-ethness!

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New Girl, Season 7 and Looking Back Series Review (MAJOR SPOILERS)

CPU! final-01

A new podcast episode of Couch Potatoes Unite!, which is based on a blog of the same name hosted at couchpotatoesunite.wordpress.com. In this episode, recorded in November 2018, our small but robust panel of True Americans – including moderator Kylie, Kristen, and Sarah – is Around the Water Cooler and discussing Season 7 of quirky sitcom New Girl as well as Looking Back at the now ended series as a whole. If you have not watched any of New Girl, 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! – Around the Water Cooler: The CPU! Goodbye to “New Girl” – The Season 7 Recap and Review + Looking Back at Seasons 1-7 (MAJOR SPOILERS)

newgirltitless5

Moderated by Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

Who: “New Girl” aired on Fox for seven total seasons from 2011-2018 .

What: “New Girl,” a situation comedy about goofy but lovable teacher (some have described her as ‘adorkable’) Jessica Day (Zooey Deschanel), who, after finding out that her boyfriend cheated on her, answers a Craig’s List ad and ends up living in a loft with three others guys, including metrosexual, yuppie womanizer Schmidt (Max Greenfield); grumpy but down-to-earth bartender Nick (Jake Johnson); and eccentric but loyal radio producer Winston (Lamorne Morris).  Also interwoven into this mix is Jess’ childhood friend CeCe (Hannah Simone), a deadpan model who has more street smarts than Jess but tends to make poorer choices (for a more detailed Synopsis, read here: http://www.aceshowbiz.com/tv/new_girl/summary.html).

When: Season 7 aired from April 10, 2018, to May 15, 2018, on Fox.

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

Why: Chief CP Kylie found this show on Netflix, having had some interest in it when it was first advertised, because I love Zooey Deschanel, but for some reason, I wasn’t able to catch it when it was on, and I didn’t place priority on it because it seemed like an updated rehashing of Friends for the Millennial generation.  Yet, so many people, both trusted friends and critics alike, said it was funny; therefore, once it became available on Netflix, I binge watched the first two seasons before watching it in real – or almost real – time. For this latest CPU! podcast episode, our continued pair of fellow New Girl fans joined me around the water cooler to recap New Girl Season 7 and to Look Back at the whole series, which ended its run this year.

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

CPU! previously covered New Girl in both blog and podcast format.  To catch up on prior coverage, click some handy hyper or otherwise embedded links for your reading and listening pleasure, provided below:

Season 3: Read here

Seasons 4 & 5

Season 6

Our small but robust panel of returning True Americans, namely Kristen and Sarah, once again struggles through the latest season’s antics of Jess (Deschanel), Nick (Johnson), Schmidt (Greenfield), Winston (Morris), and CeCe (Simone).  We cover notable situations from Season 7 and the final eight episodes, as the show closes the book on the relationships, romantic and otherwise, between our five beloved if erstwhile loft-mates. We also spend some time briefly looking back at the show as a whole and comparing all of the seasons, including how they made us feel and react as ready and willing viewers, though it can be fairly said that our panel’s particular level of devotion to this quirky sitcom definitely ended on a low note, which we discuss at length in the embedded episode below.

This particular episode was recorded in November 2018, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as the panelists cover key plot points, comedic situations, jokes, and sight gags of both Season 7 and really all of New Girl. 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 The Originals panel returns to the Water Cooler a final time themselves, and after nearly a year’s hiatus, to review and recap Season 5, the final season, of The Vampire Diaries spin-off and to Look Back at the entire series whilst saying goodbye to the handsome and charismatic family Mikaelson, at least as depicted on this particular series!  Stay tuned!

Old Questions

1) REPEAT QUESTION: If Jess and Nick get back together, can it be new and fresh?  The panel says: “will they or won’t they, and just move on!”

NEW ANSWER: If by new and fresh, we mean that they finally are committed to their commitment, then the answer is “they will.”  Jess and Nick are together at the start of Season 7 and seem to be fairly comfortable with the idea of it – so much so that Nick spends most of this brief final season planning how to propose to Jess, until he finally achieves his proposal in his consummately awkward, Nick-type way.

2) With an impending time jump, where will all of our characters be as the final eight episodes commence? Will Nick and Jess be together still?  Will Nick and Jess get married?  Will Winston and Aly still be together?  Will we see their wedding, or are we bypassing Winston’s inevitable nuptials?  What will CeCe and Schmidt’s adorable child be, look like, and be named?  Will they get pregnant again?

ANSWERS:

  • Nick and Jess are still together.  In fact, as Season 7 begins, they have toured the world for Nick’s massively popular young adult book series, “The Pepperwood Chronicles,” and have returned to LA, particularly as Nick’s publisher demands more from Nick.
  • Nick spends most of the season attempting to propose to Jess at just the right moment.  He never reaches the right moment, but he does eventually propose to her; she says “yes to the dress,” and they get married in the penultimate episode, auspiciously and awkwardly, as only they can.
  • Winston and Aly are not only still together; they’re married.  We do not get the benefit of seeing much of their wedding, except maybe via brief glimpse in a flashback, but Aly is pregnant at the beginning of Season 7.  They have a son by the end of the season, who Winston names, with conviction, Dan-Bill.
  • Schmidt and CeCe have a daughter, who they name Ruth and who favors CeCe in physical appearance, owing, no doubt, to a spot-on casting director.  Though they do not become pregnant again by series’ end, CeCe certainly wants to be.

3) Will Jess still be principal of the hippie new age school?

ANSWER: No.  Somehow, Jess chucks that job (or maybe she lost it at the end of Season 6) and decides to cavort around the world with Nick for awhile.

4) Will CeCe’s Boys be a successful modeling agency?  Will she take care of the children, or…?

ANSWER: The modeling agency is successful in a record three years, and CeCe is a high-powered corporate-type, meaning that Schmidt is needed to stay at home with Ruth.  Panelist Sarah struggles with this choice somewhat, as she feels that Schmidt being a house-husband and father is antithetical to the root of his character, but as we discuss in the podcast episode, characters evolve.  Schmidt is happy enough to stay home with Ruth; when he attempts to return to his old job during Season 7, he realizes that he is most content hanging out with his adorable daughter all day, and he ultimately resigns.  Schmidt, apparently, grows up a little.

4) …Will Schmidt quit his high-powered ad executive job and be a stay-at-home dad?

ANSWER: At the start of the season, he is technically on some type of sabbatical, but he is definitely playing stay-at-home dad.  He quits said job by the end of the season, though, and elects full time house-husbandry. 

5) Will Winston and Aly still be police officers?

ANSWER; Winston has achieved a desk job as a detective by the start of this final season.  Aly seems to on maternity leave when we first see her, and she is not so happy about it.

6) What will happen to the loft?

ANSWER: Nick and Jess are still living in the loft as Season 7 begins.  By the end of the season, and through what Winston deems to be the greatest prank of all time, they believe they are evicted from the loft.  Though the eviction is fake, Nick, Jess, and the rest of the gang simply resign themselves to climbing into the moving van and heading to the Millers’ new house.

7) Will Ferguson still be kickin’ it, for feline realz, y’all?

ANSWER: Apparently, one year before we reunite with our loft-mates, we learn that Ferguson kicked nothing but a bucket, owing to a kitty heart attack – though Jess believes she is responsible for his death for a long time, until Winston sets her straight at Ferguson’s funeral.

8) Will Coach return for any part of this next season?

ANSWER: Speaking of Coach, and Ferguson’s funeral, Coach returns for one episode, depicting Ferguson’s protracted funeral at what used to be Nick’s bar, but he and Nick are salty because, as it turns out, Nick loaned Coach a lot of money to start a business, but the business failed, and Coach has not been able to face Nick since.  Not only are things frosty between them, but the funeral, unsurprisingly, also gets weird.

9) Will we see any old and/or beloved recurring characters?

ANSWER: Rob Reiner and Jamie Lee Curtis return as Jess’ parents; Dermot Mulroney returns as Jess’ former fancy boyfriend turned boss; Nelson Franklin returns as Jess’ former boyfriend, current cousin, Robby; David Walton returns as Jess’ former boyfriend, Dr. Sam; Curtis Armstrong briefly cameos as former Principal Foster; and Steve Agee appears as Outside Dave.

10) How will the series end?

ANSWER: Nick and Jess get married; CeCe and Schmidt try to get pregnant; Schmidt decides to remain a stay-at-home parent; Winston and Aly have Dan-Bill and find a new cat named NAFTA; Jess attempts to encourage her loft-mates to say goodbye with many acknowledgements of feelings to the loft during Winston’s elaborate eviction prank, but the night of sentiment evolves into a final roaring game of occasional packing and “True American,” which then morphs into a flash-forward of a gathering of each of the couples and their burgeoning families, playing a PG version of the game.  Finally, Winston reveals his “ultimate prank,” complete with his photo plastered on the back of the moving van, but Nick and Jess decide that they’re moving anyway, and everyone goes along for the ride, presumably to live happily, if awkwardly and adorkably, ever after.

PARTING SHOTS

For this panel of New Girl fans, the “adorkable” Jess and her lofty pals still brought some laughs, but the panel universally agrees that the series lasted longer than it should have; in fact, the panelists, your Chief CP included, think the show’s first four seasons are its strongest, followed by a steady and marked decline beginning with the appearance of Megan Fox as a substitute for Zooey Deschanel while she was on maternity leave.  Even though this show started as a contemporary and relevant situation comedy that mixed a few atypical character archetypes into a wildly flavorful (and crunchy) salad of laughs, the lettuce got soggy, what with all the dressing in the form of “will they/won’t they” romantic antics between Nick and Jess.  Plus, the network and the producers left the salad out of the fridge for too long and continued the show far past its expiration date.  The final panel consensus is that the writers failed their presumed mission of providing this talented cast of performers and the characters they portray something more intelligent to do in the final season.  Though the season ended on a quaint if predictable note, and though the characters made our panelists smile at least once per episode, the CPU! panel sees New Girl as a milquetoast knockoff of Friends, as well as a series that could only be recommended to those with similar senses of humor that might, at some point, express interest in it.

THE FUTURE OF THE SHOW

Ended!  New Girl ended in 2018, by mutual agreement of Fox and the show’s producers, after seven seasons.  The first six seasons are available to stream on Netflix; the seventh is on Hulu and the FoxNow app, though the whole series can be purchased via the usual outlets of Amazon, YouTube, and so on.  The panel does not universally recommend New Girl now that the series has ended: panelist Kristen would recommend it only to individuals with similar senses of humor who are not put off by the less-than-subtle similarities to Friends; panelist Sarah would not recommend the show to others, as she feels that there are better shows in similar genres with similar oeuvres; and Chief CP and Moderator Kylie would encourage a watch of anyone who asked me if it was worth watching, but I would not go out of my way to recommend it, given the abject similarities to other sitcoms, such as Friends.  All in all, these responses left the panel with some anticlimactic feelings, as this comedy, which once felt new, fresh, and utterly “adorkable,” seemed to devolve into some level of mediocrity, with pleasantly awkward if empirically beautiful characters occupying a Los Angeles loft that most of them would not otherwise be able to afford in real life.  The panelists might miss the show, in the end, and we all love Zooey, Jake, Max, Lamorne, and Hannah (and some of us really like Damon Wayans, Jr.), but we would not rush to re-watch it (or to watch a reboot) anytime soon.  Take that, gentle viewer and listener, for what it’s worth. 

An image from the series finale of “New Girl” – Jess encourages the gang to properly grieve the loss of the loft in Winston’s self-proclaimed, greatest all-time mess-around.

(left to right) Max Greenfield as Schmidt, Jake Johnson as Nick, Zooey Deschanel as Jess, Lamorne Morris as Winston, Hannah Simone as Cece.
Panelists Sarah and Kristen give “True American” the old college try.
Our Not-So-New Girls, Kristen and Sarah: our “New Girl” panel.

Gotham: Season 4B, “A Dark Knight,” Part 2 (MAJOR SPOILERS)

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A new podcast episode of Couch Potatoes Unite!, which is based on a blog of the same name hosted at couchpotatoesunite.wordpress.com. In this episode, recorded in October 2018, our panel of staunch Batman and comic book enthusiasts – including moderator Kylie, Hilary, Kyle, Spencer, and Nick – is Around the Water Cooler and discussing Season 4B, covering the second half of the arc entitled “A Dark Knight,” of Gotham. If you have not watched any of Gotham, be aware that there are MAJOR SPOILERS! Tell us what you think in the comments below and check out the blog and YouTube for other TV related discussions, in both podcast and blog format. Also, if there are other shows you’re interested in the blog covering, sound off below! Tell us what you like or don’t like. Keep the discussion going!

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

PODCAST! – Around the Water Cooler: “Gotham,” the Season 4 End of Season Recap and Review (MAJOR SPOILERS)

Image result for gotham season 3 title

Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

Who:  “Gotham” is a crime drama centered on events and characters inspired by the Batman franchise/DC Comic Universe, which airs on Fox, though it is currently on hiatus.

What: “Gotham,” a crime series developed by Bruno Heller and primarily based upon the characters of to-be Gotham City Police Commissioner James Gordon (Ben McKenzie) and Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz), the real life identity of Batman. As originally conceived, the series would have served as a straightforward story of Gordon’s early days in the Gotham City Police Department. The idea evolved not only to include the Wayne character but also to tell the origin stories of several Batman villains, including the Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor), the Riddler (Cory Michael Smith), Catwoman (Camren Bicondova), Poison Ivy, Two-Face, the Scarecrow, Mr. Freeze, Hugo Strange, and the Joker.

SYNOPSIS

A new recruit in the Gotham City Police Department named James Gordon (McKenzie) is paired with veteran detective Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue) to solve one of Gotham City’s highest-profile cases: the murders of Thomas and Martha Wayne. During his investigation, Gordon meets the Waynes’ son Bruce (Mazouz), who is now in the care of his butler, Alfred Pennyworth (Sean Pertwee). Eventually, Gordon is forced to form an unlikely friendship with Bruce, one that will help shape the boy’s future in becoming Batman.

When: The Season 4 finale aired on Thursday, May 17, 2018, at 8:00 PM.

Where: The action is set in the fictional metropolis of Gotham City, the primary setting of the Batman franchise.

Why: To find out why individual podcast panelists started watching this show, listen to the podcast episodes embedded below!

As for CPU! Chief Couch Potato Kylie, I picked up this show when shopping for pilots during the 2014-2015 TV season (a yearly ritual for this viewer and this blog, no matter how far behind I am).  I said:

“This is one of the most anticipated pilots of the new season, by critics, fans, and this blogger.  First, as a DC girl, Batman is my second favorite of their properties, after Superman, of course. Second, picking up the story from this prequel point is potentially brilliant; this could be must-see TV for a long time to come, folding in a Smallville like examination of the rise of Batman and the foes he fights, all from the perception of to-be Commissioner Gordon.  I’m super excited for this one and can’t wait to see a full episode.

I asked some fellow panelists to join me in evaluating how effective Gotham is in its storytelling muster and how successful it has been serving as the “prequel” it has become. Scroll down, and take a listen!

How – as in How Was It? – THOUGHTS

If you haven’t caught up on CPU!’s Gotham coverage, which we’ve been covering (more or less) since its auspicious beginnings, listen via the embedded links below:

Seasons 1-2A

Season 2B, The Wrath of the Villains

Season 3A, Mad City

Season 3B, Mad City/Heroes Rise

Season 4A, A Dark Knight, Part 1

Earlier this year, our Gotham panel, consisting of Hilary, Kyle, Spencer, and Nick, compared notes on the first half of the fourth season, encompassing the first half of the arc entitled “A Dark Knight.” The season’s first half introduces Sofia Falcone (Crystal Reed), daughter of Carmine Falcone, as a new player vying for control of Gotham City’s criminal underworld; Penguin’s “Pax Penguina;” the Riddler’s perceived loss of his intellectual sharpness after being melted from the ice in Penguin’s Iceberg Lounge; Bruce Wayne’s dabbling in vigilantism and subsequent spiral into darkness, despite Alfred’s struggle to prevent otherwise; the plots of Ra’s al Ghul (Alexander Siddig), presumably preparing Bruce to be his successor; the new criminal alliance between Selina Kyle, Tabitha Galavan (Jessica Lucas), and Barbara Kean (Erin Richards); Harvey Bullock’s (Donal Logue) fall from grace and Jim Gordon’s ascension to captain of the central office of the GCPD; Lee Thompkins’ (Morena Baccarin) new role as gang boss who also happens to treat her charges medically; the introduction of Solomon Grundy, formerly Butch Gilzean (Drew Powell); and the appearance of new criminal sociopath Professor Pyg.  The second half of this season continues the “Dark Knight” arc by exploring Bruce’s redemption with Alfred and his rekindled friendship with Selina; Jim’s struggle to maintain order in the GCPD; Barbara’s hold over “The Demon’s Head” power; the reemergence of Butch’s consciousness from the Grundy shell; Edward Nygma’s ongoing struggle to master his “Riddler” half while pining for Lee Thompkins; and Jerome Valeska’s break from Arkham, with Penguin, Mad Hatter, and Scarecrow in tow, ready to cause Joker-Not-Joker chaos all over the streets of Gotham City. How did the panel regard the second half of the fourth season, given Gotham’s track record for lack of continuity and highly uneven storytelling?  Listen to the embedded link below to find out.

This podcast was recorded in October 2018, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as the panelists cover key plot points of the first half of the fourth season and all episodes that have aired to date. Listen at your own risk, and let us know what you think by commenting below!

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Remember, new episodes and blog posts are published weekly!  Next Wednesday, we finally launch a new panel – one which we’ve been advertising for over a year, though the panel’s recording luck has been about as robust as the luck of the show we’ll be discussing – when we Look Back at high-concept Netflix science fiction vehicle Sense8. Stay tuned!

Questions, Impressions, and Future Considerations

Old Questions/Predictions

1) REPEAT QUESTION: Will Penguin and Riddler have a falling out, which motivates them toward their most sociopathically driven selves?

ANSWER AS OF THE END OF SEASON 2: Surprisingly, Penguin and Riddler stayed friends, supporting each other on occasion in this half of the season.  Penguin ended up in Arkham after confessing to the murder of Galavan to cover for Jim. Strange brainwashed him (if you want to call it that) into submission; Penguin ended up finding his real dad (played by Paul Reubens), who had fallen victim to a gold-digging former waitress and her sociopathic children. When the presence of a biological son emerged, the new wife poisoned Penguin’s father, who seemed to understand Penguin as no other could.  This murder, once discovered by Oswald, brought out the old Penguin, rather suddenly and menacingly. In the meantime, when Lee began to ask questions about the deceased Miss Kringle not picking up her paychecks, making Jim aware that there was a possible crime to solve, Nygma embraced his most Riddler-esque tendencies and staged riddle-filled capers and committed more murders before Jim finally caught him, clearing Jim’s name and landing Nygma in Arkham.  The moral is: Penguin and Riddler found their psychoses independently of one another, which is a shame because they are infinitely watchable together.

NOT SO FAST! ANSWER AS OF MID-SEASON 3: Well…it seems their mutual affection and cordial friendship have taken a controversial turn.  Penguin, as it turns out, develops a romantic devotion to Edward after Ed offers Penguin some admiration and validation for achieving victory in running for mayor despite being a well-known criminal mastermind, enthralled as Ed is by Penguin’s ability to manipulate the people of Gotham.  In the meantime, Ed only has eyes for women, specifically any and all women who bear more than a passing resemblance to Miss Kringle, the GCPD employee with an affinity for poodle skirts that he strangled in season 2. When Barbara Kean informs Ed of Penguin’s misplaced devotion in an effort to start trouble, a devotion which causes Penguin to order a hit on the Kringle doppelganger Isabella, who could very well have been Ed’s sociopath soulmate, Edward vows to destroy good old Oswald in revenge.  I imagine Ed’s penchant for riddles and a war with Penguin are going to get him where he needs to go to be the fully realized Riddler, while Penguin is pretty much Penguin, angling for power and acceptance but struggling to attain and keep it, the thematic undercurrent of this particular antagonist. The panel hopes that a war between these future arch-villains would be great, but we’re more than a little worried about the ability of this show’s writers to capitalize upon their own potential.

ANSWER AS OF END OF SEASON 3: Ed’s gone full-on Riddler, and the two arch-villains’ enmity has peaked.  The show allowed the war: Ed works with Barbara, Tabitha Galavan, and Butch Gilzean to try to take down Penguin. Ed eventually gives up on those yokels and shoots Penguin, leaving him for dead, which gives him enough guilt, reluctant confidence, and logic loops to ascend? descend? toward adopting the official moniker of “The Riddler.”  Penguin, nursed back to health and the world of the living by a surprisingly botanical Ivy, declares his revenge, complicated by his love and devotion for Ed. Penguin manipulates Ed’s slavish devotion to completeness and detail – and his ego – such that Penguin freezes Ed, with the help of Mr. Freeze, noting that the chunk of ice known as “The Riddler” would feature prominently as a centerpiece in his to-be-opened Iceberg Lounge.  The podcast panel generally approves of most of this story-line and can’t wait to see “The Riddler” get out of the ice and cause his puzzling and enigmatic mayhem, with Penguin, Gotham City, and everyone.

ANSWER AS OF MID-SEASON 4: Ed’s number one fan, Myrtle, manages to unfreeze him from the titular iceberg in the Iceberg Lounge, but the effect of being flash frozen leaves Ed somewhat brain-addled himself.  He loses his sharpness of wit and intellect, at least temporarily, and cannot seem to evoke muscle memory related to the formulation, remembering, and/or deduction of the answers to the most basic, child-inspired riddles.  While Myrtle patiently nurses Ed back to some semblance of health (and pays for her devotion at the end of the barrel of one of Victor Zsasz’s well-aimed guns), Penguin, who reunites with a vengeful Ed fleetingly, decides not to kill him, figuring Ed’s apparent lack of smarts and presumed ensuing suffering, as he grapples with losing what made him arguably exceptional, to be the greater revenge than Ed’s out and out murder.  So, I guess that’s something.  Also, I think Penguin and Riddler are now, finally and officially, enemies or, at least, competitors… Thus, it may be time to abandon this question.

NOT SO FAST! ANSWER AS OF THE END OF SEASON 4:  Though Ed visits Penguin in Arkham, primarily to gloat about the fact that Ed successfully (in his mind) sublimated his Riddler side after falling in love with Lee, while Penguin remains incarcerated and tortured, somewhat, by his Arkham cell neighbor Jerome, Penguin sees signs of the more ruthless and calculating Riddler during this brief visit.  As a result, he sends Ed a note with an embedded riddle, which helps to evoke both the Riddler persona, back-seating the more benign Edward, but also Riddler’s loyalty to Penguin, such as it is.  Riddler, thus, breaks Penguin out of Arkham, and they seem to be friendly again – at least, until Penguin tries to manipulate Ed into double-crossing Lee; however, Ed/Riddler, two personalities in love with one woman, leaves Penguin vulnerable to arrest while robbing a bank originally targeted by new crime boss Lee, who is acting like a sort of Robin Hood by committing burglary to distribute wealth to the poorer residents of the Narrows in Gotham.  Where does this friendship land by the end of the season?  That answer is unknown, since Riddler finds himself highly obsessed with Lee, and Penguin’s fate intertwines with the chaotic and maniacal Jerome.  Listen to the podcast episode for details.

2) REPEAT QUESTION: Will Riddler’s riddles get more complex and mind-twisting?

ANSWER AS OF THE END OF SEASON 2: Riddler’s caper riddles, as he began to frame Jim for the murder of a police officer, were potentially more complex.  Mind-twisting? Eh.  Marginally more mind-twisting, perhaps.

NOT SO FAST! ANSWER AS OF MID-SEASON 3: Though Ed told fewer riddles in this half season, his ire has been irked (see above).  We can only imagine what a provoked and forlorn Ed might riddle when the riddles finally and continuously come.

ANSWER AS OF END OF SEASON 3: He got there!  He just needed a worthy adversary…which he finds in “Foxy” Lucius Fox (Chris Chalk) and secondarily in Penguin.  Now, if only Batman was around…

NOT SO FAST!  ANSWER AS OF MID-SEASON 4: As stated above, Ed suffers a minor cognitive setback as a result of being frozen by Mr. Freeze’s icy weaponry.  Lee informs Edward, however, that there is nothing physically wrong with his brain, and that his condition is presumably psychological, a fact made evident by the reemergence of Edward’s schizophrenic struggle with his Riddler identity, who returns to talk to him from the other side of the mirror again.  The panel expects a full return of the Riddler any day now, as long as he is able to sort out his feelings for Lee, even if she sorts them out for him.

ANSWER AS OF THE END OF SEASON 4: Once Riddler sublimates Edward Nygma, allowing his sociopath half free reign, he tells better riddles than the recently-frozen-now-thawed version of Ed, whose brain was affected by the flash-freezing process of Mr. Freeze’s freeze gun.  The panelists, however, still find Riddler’s riddles quite lackluster compared to riddles voiced by other versions of the Riddler that we have watched in the past.

3) REPEAT QUESTION: Are the writers going to treat the nascent Ivy character (who the podcast panel presumes will be Poison Ivy) better?

ANSWER AS OF THE END OF SEASON 2: Well…this answer is in the eye of the beholder.  Ivy was starting to grow plants in this half of the season and helped Selina and Bruce in some of their escapades, but the pundits have announced that the show is recasting the part. Ivy will apparently be older and sexier, like the Poison Ivy most people know.  The panel is at a loss as to how this could be rendered believable in the story, especially as the writers are not batting at any kind of decent percentage right now in terms of consistency with the source material or, even, with following any of the rules they set up for themselves in this version of the Batman mythology.

NOT SO FAST! ANSWER AS OF MID-SEASON 3: Is making her randomly grow into an awkward, teenage sexpot via the touch of an Indian Hill escapee with the power to make things rapidly age and to drain life constitute treating her better?  Listen to the podcast episode for our panel’s verdict.

ANSWER AS OF END OF SEASON 3: Ivy’s on the struggle bus; she’s strange, awkward, and not especially better as a teenage sexpot.  The panel struggles still…

NOT SO FAST!  ANSWER AS OF MID-SEASON 4: Ivy tries to help Penguin in the face of competitors who challenge his position, as the one and only crime boss in Gotham City, and of wavering police involvement, but he mistreats her, owing to the fact that she is kind of needy and not that bright.  As a result, Ivy decides to ally with a gang who tries to take down Penguin’s “Pax Penguina” license scheme by taking Penguin down himself and robs some sort of potion store or apothecary, in which the audience sees her drinking some of the inventory.  Plus, the producers have announced, through the typical TV pundits, that the part of Ivy is again being recast and will soon be played by Peyton List (Frequency, The Tomorrow People), a dire prospect for this Chief CP.  Moreover, panelist Spencer believes that the first episode returning from the mid-season hiatus will address Ivy’s newest transformation.  What the hell is going on with this character, you ask?  We ask the same question, repeatedly apparently.  Sadly, we also currently have no answer, so this particularly robust question and answer section grows and grows – in confusion and in length – and presumably like Ivy’s plants, if she ever gets that botanically savvy in the end.

ANSWER AS OF THE END OF SEASON 4: Peyton List plays a more adult, more “developed” version of Ivy, who, after ingesting all of the apothecary’s chemicals at mid-season, permanently alters her body chemistry, such that her kiss – and even the scent of her pheromones – are literal poison to anyone to whom she offers a smooch or a whiff of her natural scent.  Plus, Ivy, on a vendetta to avenge every put-upon plant in the concrete jungle that is Gotham City, grabs hold of a sample of Lazarus Pit water on hold and under experiment at Wayne Enterprises and uses it to create a lethal plant that she unleashes on a benefit dinner hosted by the Wayne Foundation.  Unfortunately, though her antics draw the focus of the GCPD and of a Bruce Wayne still contemplating life as a vigilante, the show does not make clear what happens to her after this ploy to let loose killer plants among Gotham’s elite.  The panel assumes she has been arrested and is probably subsequently thrown into Arkham, but this is not confirmed, and, frankly, the bigger infraction is the show’s continued interpretation of this character as some sort of plant-obsessed mutant with questionable sex appeal and very little brain.  Listen to the podcast episode for additional ranting.

5) REPEAT QUESTION: When will Bruce have his inspiration to be Batman?  And how will that happen if he didn’t see bats when he fell into the cave?

ANSWER: Still waiting… And it’s concerning.  Bruce, after his trials with the Shaman and Ra’s (and his League of Shadows) in Season 3, starts Season 4 by dipping his baby toes into vigilante crime fighting – with billowing black trench coat, balaclava, and the ability to quickly climb sides of buildings to boot – and, with a little help from Lucius Fox, who creates some conveniently fashioned bulletproof armor to protect Bruce’s adolescent bod.  Unfortunately, however, Ra’s distracts Bruce via his own side plot to ensure that Bruce will inherit the embalming knife of Demon’s Head status, thereby rendering Bruce Ra’s’ successor.  Thus, via manipulation and threat against another adolescent only trying to help and, in so doing, to befriend Bruce, Bruce ends up stabbing Ra’s with the knife, and it seems the seemingly immortal character of Ra’s wastes away into dust and ash as a result of the knife piercing his flesh.  Bruce takes his decision to murder Ra’s, even in an attempt to protect his friend (who Ra’s kills anyway), hard and descends into a dark void of guilt, self-pity, and belated grief for his dead parents, replete with hard partying and spoiled billionaire brat behavior. All the while, the young Mr. Wayne turns his back on his initial attempts at vigilantism and all while still seeing no bats, much to the chagrin of the podcast panel (listen to the episode for details…and rants).

NOT SO FAST! ANSWER AS OF THE END OF SEASON 4: Though Bruce’s vision does not seem to clearly indicate that he should later assume the persona of a crime-fighting man dressed as a bat, Bruce finally – FINALLY – sees bats this half season.  This alleged epiphany occurs after Bruce’s exposure to a duplicitous Ivy and her chemically altered physique, who visits Bruce (and Selina) at Wayne Manor for the purpose of obtaining access to Wayne Enterprises and to the aforementioned Lazarus water or, more accurately, to the division housing the project that just happens to be working with that water sample.  Bruce does not, however, seem to immediately process this vision of a swarm of bats and a hooded, dark figure, blurred by the effects of Ivy’s poison, beyond believing that he sees a shadowy, seemingly unaffected glimpse of his future.  Thus, it is quite unclear as to whether Bruce has connected the dots, especially since our panelists and discerning viewers are not clear that the dots have been connected for the audience.  Listen to the podcast episode for details.

6) REPEAT QUESTION: When will Selina have her inspiration to be Catwoman?  She can wait awhile, but since everyone is finding themselves much sooner than they should be, the writers might as well give Selina the idea to be a cat. Maybe she’ll take whatever drug Ivy’s got going on and get all sexy feline on us.

REPEAT ANSWER: Still waiting… but she continues to learn whipping skills from Tabitha and is quite the prodigy with this unusual weapon.  Also, she displays cat-like reflexes while walking the edges of rooftops and seems to be significantly smarter than gal pals and partners in crime, Tabitha and Barbara.  Yet, inspiration is fleeting for all of our junior Gotham characters so far, and this fleetingness disturbs the CPU! Gotham panel greatly.

7) Is Joker-Not-Joker Jerome really Proto-Joker, and will we see him again in Season 4?

ANSWER: This question forms the subject of some significant debate in this podcast episode.  Panelists Kyle and Spencer wholeheartedly believe that the producers, as well as Cameron Monaghan, the portraying actor behind Jerome Valeska, have gone on record to say that Jerome is not the actual Joker, and that the audience is slated to see the character and individual who would become the Joker in the coming half season.  Panelist Hilary, with some hesitant agreement by Nick and Kylie, feels that the rumored protesting of Jerome-as-Joker is a red herring or deflection from the fact that he really is the Joker or some early version of him, given the fact that Mr. Monaghan is really one of the best almost-Jokers (and real Jokers) our panel of Batman fans has ever watched.  In short, this is still a question, but we will see Jerome in Season 4B because we saw him in Season 4A talking to Penguin through the wall joining their adjacent cells in Arkham.

NOT SO FAST! ANSWER AS OF THE END OF SEASON 4: Jerome Valeska, after escaping from Arkham Asylum, initiates a grand-scale caper, fueled by a sense of anarchy and a tinge of revenge, with the intention of harming Bruce Wayne and his (SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER) surprisingly sane-seeming secret twin brother, Jeremiah Valeska (also played by Monaghan).  Jerome even goes to the effort of kidnapping city officials and wiring them with bombs, which, when triggered, explodes only their skulls.  He then places these hostages on display on the stage of a well-attended music festival in Gotham City, while demanding from Jim Gordon that he produce Bruce and Jeremiah.  Jim and officers of the GCPD pursue Jerome, however, and Jerome flees.  Jim chases him to a rooftop’s edge; Jerome topples over the edge and, before plummeting to his apparent death, tells Jim that he will not be forgotten because his antics planted a seed, an idea, that will live on in the dark alleys and mean streets of Gotham City. Plus, though Gotham’s producers recently claimed that Jerome is not the Joker, they pretended for a time that Jeremiah was, even styling Jeremiah after a cross between Jack Nicholson’s Joker from the 1989 Batman film and a comic version in which the Joker’s personality is inexorably altered after Batman falls into a long-term coma, which is somehow mirrored by Joker.  Now, the producers are proclaiming that Jeremiah is not the Joker either, though Jeremiah survives the season.  Thus, Jerome is dead, Jeremiah is crazy but allegedly not the Joker, and Gotham City is besieged by darkness and anarchy following Jeremiah’s efforts to destroy Gotham.  Where does that leave the prospect of an actual Joker appearing on Gotham?  Your guess is as good as ours.

8) Will Bruce finally see freaking bats already?

NEW ANSWER: Yes, Bruce finally sees the freaking bats this season.  Now – does he understand what the bats mean to him and his future in the end?  That answer is very unclear and very unknown.

9) Will Ra’s al Ghul be the “Big Bad” of Season 4?  What is the prophecy to which he referred, and what does it mean for Bruce?

NEW ANSWER: Though Ra’s makes his presence known, both in life and in alleged death, the arguable “Big Bads” of Season 4 are the Valeska twins, as their plans, schemes, and insanity dominate the second half of Season 4.

The prophecy, however, remains unexplained, though Ra’s al Ghul, who does come back to life temporarily owing to the mystical and magical efforts of his League of Shadows, repeatedly suggests that Bruce will become a “Dark Knight of Gotham,” and that it is the mission of Ra’s, with help from a doting Jeremiah, to help Bruce realize this destiny.  Unfortunately, Barbara, through her piece of this disjointed story, manages to manipulate Bruce into taking Ra’s al Ghul’s life again, so if this prophecy is to be explained, it is doubtful that the explanation will come directly from him any time soon.  Unless he is resurrected a second time in Season 5.

10) REPEAT QUESTION: Will Selina go full on Catgirl in Season 4?

SOMEWHAT REPEAT ANSWER: She has not so far, but she has made progress.  She’s got ambition, she’s got whip skills, and she’s got brains and survival instinct more finely honed than the brains and instincts of her partners, Babs and Tabby.  

11) REPEAT QUESTION: Where did Hugo Strange end up nowadays?

NEW ANSWER: Hugo was in the wind, but Penguin quickly tracks him down and appeals to him to help change a more conscious Butch from a Solomon-looking Butch to a Butch-looking Butch.  He appears in one episode in the latter half of Season 4.

12) Generally speaking, and notably, our Gotham panel is loathe to ask further questions or to make predictions because the writers, in their quest to be unpredictable and “non-canon,” have taken the story to wild places with little satisfying payoff for the viewer in the end.  Everyone is sort of bracing themselves for the coming season while cherishing the few truly enjoyable nuggets about this show, mainly in character/performances.

ANSWER: This is still true.  Though the panel feels that Season 4A improved upon and corrects for several of the ills of many of Gotham’s past half seasons, the writers and producers have also proven themselves to be less than adept at capitalizing upon story momentum or developments that offer some sense of logic and/or dovetailing with the Batman canon, even as the show and its creators profess to be off canon – a trend that returns with a vengeance in Season 4B.  This decline, again, stirs strong feelings in our panelists and makes for consistently spicy discussion.  

13) Where is Scarecrow?  Jonathan Crane achieves his full transition in this most recent half season, but what happened to him?  Was he caught and returned to Arkham Asylum?  Is he at large?  Where did he go?  Especially since the producers are also re-casting this part.  What the hell is going on with the Scarecrow character?

ANSWER: Scarecrow, as it turns out, was caught and returned to Arkham as of the mid-season hiatus. In addition, as it turns out, Scarecrow is fully Scarecrow, obsessed with creating gasses and liquids that produce the gamut of mind-altering effects, often punctuated by fear and/or impulses of insanity.  He does not have a huge part in this second half of the fourth season, but he does give Jerome Valeska a 100 percent guaranteed, Scarecrow-endorsed gas that Jerome tries to release, via a blimp, onto the city but for the in-the-moment heroics of Penguin.

14) How long will it take for Bruce to realize that he is spiraling and circling the drain known as rock bottom?  How much time must the audience wait for Bruce to find Alfred again?

ANSWER: Not long.  Bruce snaps out of his spoiled brat phase after about three episodes and tries to reach out to Alfred, though Alfred is reluctant to forgive his then-former master at first.  The panel cannot truly blame Alfred.  Bruce’s “wild child” phase was tedious.

15) Will Jim Gordon be able to maintain his position as captain of the Central GCPD without betraying his secret alliance and/or dalliance with the plotting Sofia Falcone?

ANSWER: He manages to not only remain GCPD Central Captain, but he also keeps his “relationship” to Sofia largely secret, though he does inform Harvey Bullock of the morally questionable manner in which he obtained said captaincy.  Yet, it is Harvey, who is understandably somewhat resentful of Jim in light of his own fall from grace and loss of respect in the eyes of his fellow GCPD officers, who convinces Jim to keep it all a secret and to “live with it,” so that it will motivate Jim to do better; to do right by the GCPD force, which works hard to maintain tenuous order in Gotham City; and to make amends for all of the rash decisions that this version of the Jim character has made prior to this point.  Jim, wishing for Harvey to stay un-retired/un-resigned, follows his friend’s advice.

16) Will we see Fish Mooney again?  The panel votes no and hopes she is dead for good and for real.

ANSWER: So far, Fish’s current iteration of death seems permanent.  Let’s hope it stays that way.

17) What is Sofia Falcone’s endgame, and how long will she hang onto to her position as leader of the underworld?  Will we watch her become her comic-inspired identity, The Hangman?

ANSWER: Ultimately, Sofia wants what all of Gotham’s various crime syndicates and crime bosses want: control of the power and the wealth (such as it is) of the City.  Unfortunately, her hold on Gotham is brief.  When she decides to go after Lee and her claim as “Doc” to the Narrows, manipulating their relationship as brief sisters-in-law until Lee’s fingers are broken while Sofia forcibly takes the Narrows from her, Lee enacts revenge, particularly when Sofia threatens to off Jim, by shooting Sofia in the head, which apparently puts her in a coma without killing her. If Sofia is destined to become her comic book persona, the Hangman, we have not yet seen this transition.

18) Is Ra’s al Ghul actually dead?  What was with his interchange with Barbara in prison?  Why did her hand glow?  Is his essence in the embalming knife?  Is it in Barbara’s hand?  Is it actually in Bruce, a reflection of his current darkness?  Has Bruce achieved the status of “successor to the Demon’s Head?”

ANSWER: Yes, at the start of the second half of Season 4, Ra’s is actually dead, though in a very mystical sense.  As it turns out, Ra’s did voluntarily offer the “power of the Demon’s Head” to Barbara while in prison in the first half of the season.  This means that though the essence of Ra’s al Ghul may be tied to the embalming knife, the “Demon’s Head” in Gotham’s vision is a manifestation of mystical power, not a translation of Ra’s al Ghul’s actual name.  We do not know if Bruce lives up to be Ra’s al Ghul’s professed successor or if he holds some of the darkness of the Demon’s Head close to his own heart; we do know that the League of Shadows resurrects Ra’s al Ghul for the purpose of retrieving the Demon’s Head power from Barbara, who does not know how to use it and who does not actually inspire confidence in her band of would-be ninja followers.  Imagine that.

19) Will the Riddler persona reemerge from the vexed and confused Edward Nygma?  Soon?

ANSWER: Yes, Penguin is able to coax the Riddler half of Edward Nygma to the forefront relatively quickly, within the first three episodes of the second half of Season 4.  Ed is still experiencing a psychological tug-of-war between these two distinct sides of himself, but the Riddler definitely has a claim to some of the territory of the shell housing both halves of this troubled but intelligent mind.

20) Is Jerome Valeska actually the Joker?  Or, is he the model for a watchful new individual who will be inspired by and who will adopt a Jerome-esque version of the Joker persona?  What will Penguin and Jerome do together after joining forces in Arkham?  Will they involve other well-known inmates in their plot(s)?

ANSWER: Since Jerome seems to have met his likely permanent end, and since he delivers a speech that addresses this very issue before meeting that grisly, permanent end, and since Jeremiah does not channel Jerome’s more maniacal and chaotic traits, the panelists believe that Jerome is most likely meant to be a model for some watchful individual, waiting to be inspired by his frenetic brand of hullabaloo.  Penguin and Jerome form an uneasy alliance after Jerome essentially tortures Penguin for fun while in Arkham, though he claims that he is testing Penguin to see if he is anything more than “boring.”  Though they ultimately have some well-timed help from Riddler, with Penguin’s prodding, both Penguin and Jerome break out of Arkham, along with Mad Hatter and Scarecrow.  Subsequently, Jerome forms a “Legion of Horribles,” of which Mr. Freeze and Firefly are also members.  This Legion of Horribles plans to assist Jerome in his attack on the City and in his quest of vengeance against his twin brother and against Bruce Wayne, after the latter’s confrontation with Jerome in the House of Mirrors in Season 3.  Fortunately or unfortunately, however, Penguin musters enough moral fortitude to narc on NotJoker; Jerome’s comrades, chiefly the Hatter, suss this duplicity out, and Penguin is thrown onto the blimp meant to crash land into the streets of Gotham with Scarecrow’s poison gas.  Yet, a quick thinking Jim gets cowardly Penguin to do the right thing in the end, though with Jerome’s apparent death, their friendship and alliance seems decidedly ended as well.

21) Will Lee and Jim reunite, and how?  Will Barbara Gordon be conceived on this show, and who will be her mother – Barbara Kean, even though she is crazy in this show, or Lee?

ANSWER: Lee and Jim do not reunite romantically, though both confess to each other how much they care for the other in this broken relationship. Unfortunately, for now, Edward Nygma obsesses over Lee, a fire which Lee only seems too happy to stoke, at least as long as it serves her sudden purpose of crime sprees and villainy.

So far, Barbara Gordon does not seem to be the speck of an iota of a concept on this show, at present.

22) Will Ed make a play for Lee?  Will her (inevitable, one would hope) rejection of him lead to the reemergence of the Riddler identity?

ANSWER: Yes, Ed makes a grand romantic move toward Lee after she impresses him by solving some of his riddles, when he hosts a sadistic sort of game show in the Narrows called the Riddle Factory, which often ends up in the contestants’ maiming or death.  Unfortunately – and somewhat revoltingly – Lee does not outright reject Ed, at least not at first.  She confesses that she does not love him, and though she later proposes that they run away from Gotham City together, as Jim once proposed to her, she changes her mind about that proposal, much to Edward’s stabbing chagrin.  As in, he literally stabs her and she him.  They do not die, however, but, instead, end up on tables in front of a salivating Hugo Strange.  The panelists are not happy or optimistic about this particular plot development.  Listen to the podcast episode for details.

23) Is Professor Pyg actually dead?  Alternatively, the producers have allegedly said that Michael Cerveris’ Pyg is not the true Pyg.  If he is not, who is, and will we see him?

ANSWER: So far, the Pyg, fake or not, is gone from Gotham. Will we see Pyg, either the version we have come to know or the alleged “real” version, before the end of the series?  Time will tell.  Maybe.

24) What happened to the young orphan cared for by Penguin, the boy known as Martin?  Will he become a factor in the future, assuming Victor Zsasz hid him as promised and as requested by Penguin?

ANSWER: Sofia Falcone imprisons Martin with some of her goons; however, with help from a newly reemerged Riddler on top of his game, Penguin is able to steal Martin back from Sofia’s clutches and to stow him in an allegedly safe place, the viewer knows not where.

25) Will we see Tommy Elliott, Bruce’s old/new friend, show some indication of his future Hush persona?

ANSWER: Tommy Elliott does not appear in the second half of Season 4.  Will we see Tommy take on a “Hush” like visage before the end of the series?  Time will tell.

26) Did Tabitha succeed in jogging what is left of Butch out of Solomon Grundy’s addled brain?

ANSWER: Yes, Tabby beat Butch right out of Solomon’s head.  Butch is lucid at the start of the second half of Season 4, though he is very much itching to be cured of his Solomon malady from a physical perspective.

27) Will Jim succeed in bringing Harvey back to the fold?

ANSWER: Yes, Jim is able to convince Harvey, who temporarily works as a bartender during his temporary resignation from the force, to return to the police department when Jerome Valeska lets loose on Gotham City.  Harvey is not exactly happy about it, though he seems to come around by the end of the season.

New Questions

1) Panelist Kyle indicates in our podcast episode that Season 5 will, largely, be based upon the series of Batman comics known as “No Man’s Land,” which tells the story of Gotham City in an anarchic state not regulated by a present Batman.  The main villain of this story, at least as inspired by the films directed by Christopher Nolan, is Bane, who will now be played by Shane West.  How can this story make sense when Batman has not yet been part of Gotham? How will Bane’s existence make sense?

2) Barbara, Tabitha, and Selina’s club, a redo of Penguin’s Iceberg Lounge, is called the “Sirens.”  At the end of the season, Barbara, leading the female half of the League of Shadows and with a newfound angst against men, declares war on men as the “Sirens.” Is this meant to be an Easter egg or homage to the Sirens of the comics – or do the producers intend to go through with the previously rumored transition of making Barbara some version of Harley Quinn?  How can the Sirens be the Sirens without an accurate (or free) version of Poison Ivy or a fully realized Catwoman?

3) Will we see Bruce Wayne become Batman in this coming season?  Panelist Kyle has learned that by the end of the season, the show will jump ahead ten years.  What will finally inspire Bruce to take that step toward the shadowy figure of his vision?

4) Will we see a third potential Joker (Not Joker) this season?  Who will it be?  Is Jeremiah Valeska gone for good?

5) What in blazes is Hugo Strange going to do to Lee and Ed?  PLEASE, DO NOT TURN THEM INTO SOME SORT OF SIAMESE TWIN/JOINED AT THE HIP MUTANT EXPERIMENT!

6) Will we see Sofia Falcone again?  Will she become the Hangman this half season?

7) Jeremiah Valeska shoots Selina near the end of the season.  Will this motivate Selina to become Catwoman to preserve her remaining eight lives (in homage to Batman Returns)?

8) Is Butch Gilzean/Solomon Grundy actually dead?  If so, does Gotham not know anything about the Solomon Grundy character?  Chief CP Kylie predicts that Butch/Solomon cannot possibly be dead, and that we will see him again before the end of the series.

9) Is Ra’s al Ghul permanently dead?

10) How can a small, ragtag group of cops led by Jim Gordon, and a nascent Batman/Bruce Wayne, possibly take on a city overrun with enterprising super-villains and otherwise unruly, unsavory anarchists?

PARTING SHOTS

The CPU! Gotham panel and all of its panelists continue to identify moments truly loved and moments truly hated while watching and while discussing the second half of Season 4 in this latest podcast episode, though the panel also universally feels that the show’s writers and producers once again failed to capitalize on positive momentum created by the first half of the season. As the panel discussion demonstrates, none of the panelists reacted positively to the second half of Season 4 overall, though some panelists responded better to certain moments, such as a larger role for Cameron Monaghan’s many versions of Joker/NotJoker, Bruce Wayne’s relationships with Alfred and with Selina Kyle, and Harvey Bullock’s personal redemption.  In fact, finally, all panelists have unanimously reached the point of hating the direction of the show and of being impatient with the show’s “two steps forward, four steps back” approach to character progression, an approach which proves more frustrating than titillating or, minimally, entertaining.  Still, all panelists persevere, finding our discussions about the controlled disorder of Gotham endlessly engaging, even when the show itself is not, and if we do say so ourselves.

Further, the previous unrest among the panelists, given the writers’ track record to date, still produces a variety of emotions and trust issues, preventing most if not all panel members from being able to recommend watching the show, in good conscience, to anyone, especially now.  The panel is still open to a story that seems to follow a consistent set of rules, no matter how much of a deviation it might be from the Batman comics or franchise proper, as long as the writers do not continue to change the direction of the show to compensate for “Twitter reaction.”  In fact, most of the panel finds this half of the fourth season to be the show’s new low point, even as it, still, contained some engaging moments of entertainment. The panelists, as such, continue to advise the writers to revisit not only the Batman comics but also their original blueprint for the show and to adhere to a structure and story continuity for the show that rightly capitalizes upon the amazing – and the strongest – performances of the cast, which the panel universally agrees are good if not phenomenal.  Also, the writers should continue to track their own continuity and not turn what is one of the tightest and most enjoyed (and most widely known) comic book properties into an absurdist’s take on the story, or they will alienate viewers.  The panelists implore Gotham’s writers to end on the best moment possible, and one safely based in the canon, while maintaining continuity with the paths already explored on this series, so as to provide at least our viewers and panelists with some sense that this exercise of watching five grossly uneven seasons, in terms of writing and direction, is all worth something in the end.

LOOKING AHEAD

Gotham has been renewed for a fifth and final season, albeit a shorter one at thirteen episodes, which is slated to premiere on Fox on Thursday, January 3, 2019, at 8:00 PM. The Gotham podcast panel will next reconvene following the series finale, at which time we will also Look Back at the show as a whole and offer our final, post-mortem ruminations related to the five tempestuously uneven seasons of this Batman prequel – which, unfortunately, could ultimately become a roast, if the show does not significantly and convincingly rebound in these up and coming, remaining thirteen episodes.  Stay tuned!

NEXT CPU! LIVE!

CPU! is going live again!!!  CPU! will next be LIVE at Grand Rapids Comic-Con. for our third annual appearance at the Con, on November 10, 2018, at 7:00 PM!  In that live podcast (also streamed to our Facebook page), a brand new panel will gather together to debate the multifaceted, multi-generational universe behind Star Trek. This panel will also seed a new ongoing 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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The X-Files, Season 11 (MAJOR SPOILERS)

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A new podcast episode of Couch Potatoes Unite!, which is based on a blog of the same name hosted at couchpotatoesunite.wordpress.com. In this episode, recorded in August 2018, our panel of X-Philes – including moderator Kylie, Sarah, Nick, Hilary, and Kyle – reconvene Around the Water Cooler after a cool two year hiatus to talk Season Eleven of the Revival of cult favorite The X-Files, including story lines surrounding the evolution of baby William, shocking Cigarette Smoking Man revelations, potential shocking character deaths, and a startling amount of forehead sweat.  If you have not watched any of the X-Files (and I mean, any of it!), 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! – Around the Water Cooler: “The X-Files,” the Season 11 Review and Recap (MAJOR SPOILERS)

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Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

Who: “The X-Files,” a cult science fiction horror drama that aired on the Fox network from 1993-2002, in 2016, and in 2018.

What: “The X-Files” revolves around FBI agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) investigating so-called X-Files, i.e. marginalized, unsolved cases outside of the FBI mainstream involving paranormal and/or extraterrestrial phenomena, as well as the government conspiracy to hide the truth about those phenomena.

SYNOPSIS

Agent Mulder wholeheartedly believes in the existence of aliens and the paranormal, while Scully, a skeptic, is assigned to apply scientific analysis to Mulder’s discoveries for the purpose of debunking his work and steering him back toward the FBI mainstream. Episodes consist of so-called mythology story arcs, devoted to the larger, nefarious conspiracy to cover up the existence of extraterrestrials (and their apparently hostile aims), as well as “monster of the week” episodes, i.e. standalone episodes exploring subjects of horror, science fiction, humanism, and, at times, humor.

When: Season Eleven aired from January 3 to March 21, 2018, on Fox with a total of ten episodes.

Where: The show is set primarily at FBI Headquarters (particularly in the basement) in Washington, DC, but the agents investigate X-Files all over the country and sometimes overseas and/or across international borders.

Why: Because the members of this panel, hardcore, love the The X-Files! If you don’t believe me, listen to our five-part X-Files podcast and retrospective series, the first of our “Look Back to Look Forward” series (embedded below).

How – as in How Was It?! (THOUGHTS)

When Fox decided to revive The X-Files, unofficially kicking off the wave of revival and reboot television currently dominating the airwaves and officially bringing back our two favorite agents, Mulder and Scully, and some of their allies and enemies for new episodes, the members of our CPU! panel – Nick, Sarah, Kyle, and Hilary – along with your frequently involved moderator and Chief CP, quivered with anticipation. So much so, we launched our X-Files series panel to deliver a comprehensive Retrospective covering the original series in-depth in four “Looking Back” episodes (below) as well as a fifth episode discussing the six episodes of Season 10, equally as in-depth.  The first three episodes of our four-part “Looking Back” series reviewed the nine seasons of the original show.  In the fourth podcast episode of CPU!’s X-Files series, our panel took our X-Files geekdom to a whole new echelon of super-fandom, as we closely examined the expanded universe (the films, graphic novels, and games) and provided our definitive top ten lists of our favorite and least favorite episodes of all time, including our favorite myth-arc and monster of the week episodes separately, in addition to what we considered to be the scariest, grossest, and funniest episodes of the series. Have you listened to them yet?

Looking Back at Seasons 1-3

Looking Back at Seasons 4-6

Looking Back at Seasons 7-9

The X-Phile Superfan Geek Edition

Season 10

In this new and final (for now) podcast episode of CPU!’s ongoing X-Files panel, our panelists discuss Season Eleven Around the Water Cooler, parsing through each of the latest ten episodes, ranking them from best to worst, and dissecting how they fit in the grand X-Files scheme, as compared to the original series and to Season 10.  We also consider the likelihood of the revival continuing, as star Gillian Anderson told the press earlier this year that she was done playing Agent Scully for now (though she enigmatically remains on the convention circuit…which is very unlike her past patterns…), so we offer a few questions, impressions, and future considerations, should a new season be ordered pending the availability of the producers, the writers, and the leads, Duchovny and Anderson.

This podcast was recorded in August 2018, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as the panelists cover key plot points of the eleventh 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 Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD panel, with a slight change of personnel, returns to the Water Cooler after a year’s hiatus to consider the most recent Season Five and to prognosticate upon what the unexpectedly ordered Season Six might have to offer, particularly given the bombast and seeming finality of some of the story lines in the fifth season of Marvel’s only major network offering. Stay tuned!

Questions, Impressions, and Future Considerations

Old Questions

1) How can the Cigarette Smoking Man (William B. Davis) be remotely alive?!  We saw his face incinerate in the series finale of the original series, “The Truth.”  Was it aliens? Is he a clone?  We need a supernatural/paranormal/extraterrestrial explanation, because the more mundane one suggested in the series was not seen as plausible by more than one panelist.

ANSWER: Still a question without an answer.  The show, as yet, has not seen fit to explain CSM’s miraculous recovery from incineration in the original series finale.

2) Where is William?  William, Mulder and Scully’s son, became a running theme this season.  Is William part alien – and if so, from whom did he inherit this alien part?  Is he, by any chance, in the UFO glimpsed in the final moments of the season finale?

ANSWER: William, as it turns out, was adopted by a family who gave him the name Jackson VandeKampe; the adoption was facilitated by Jeffrey Spender (Chris Owens), the CSM’s second-born child and half brother to Mulder.  As provided by the myth-arc of this season, it appears that William’s genetic makeup includes material considered to be extraterrestrial in nature; however, it is also revealed – whether it is the truth or a believable lie – that CSM, during the events of Season 7 episode “En Ami,” abducted Scully while she was sleeping for the purpose of extracting her DNA to combine with his and with alien DNA in a test tube somewhere, thereby producing William and rendering CSM William’s biological father, and Mulder his biological half brother, rather than Mulder being William’s biological father.  Whether or not any viewer can stomach this explanation is explored heavily in our podcast episode.

As for the UFO in the tenth season finale – that UFO was not real and/or has, perhaps, not yet come to pass.  We find out in the first episode of Season 11 that the events of “My Struggle II,” the tenth season finale, are part of an extended vision that Scully is having as she lies comatose in a hospital bed in “My Struggle III,” the eleventh season premiere, which she may be experiencing because of her biological link to William, who experiences visions of his own as part of his alien-influenced paranormal abilities.  Scully believes that this is a possible future, which she fears will result in catastrophe both for William and for Mulder.  Listen to the podcast episode for details.

3) Where did Reyes (Annabeth Gish) go?  Why did the writers cause her to make choices that went so far against her character as perceived from the original series?

ANSWER: The second question has no answer that satisfies our discerning bunch of X-Philes, not all of whom like the much reviled Reyes; yet, Reyes hangs around CSM all season, until he apparently (SPOILER) shoots her in “My Struggle IV,” the eleventh season finale.  The reasons why Reyes is included in the revival and for aligning with the show’s ultimate villain feel forced and entirely against her character, and even those of our panelists (Nick and Sarah) who like her are appalled by the treatment and use of Reyes in these revival seasons.  Is she dead now, is the real question, and should we continue to care about a character that remains as detested by many of the fans as she is misused by the writers/producers (well, mainly Chris Carter)?  You be the judge.

4) So, are there aliens, or aren’t there?  The “My Struggle” episodes suggested that aliens were a myth created by the government factions such as the Syndicate, and that the real enemy is biological, namely a (potential) viral outbreak that will only affect people who don’t have a DNA immunity to it.  Scully, however, theorizes that the DNA that provides such immunity is alien in origin, and that she has the DNA due to her abductions and cancer scare during the original series.  Mulder doesn’t seem to have it – but what about his exposure to the black oil in the original series?  Also, didn’t the original series suggest that all humans have alien origin, given the age of black oil remnants on Earth and the discovery of the UFO in Africa?  This new plot strand was highly confusing to most of us and did not gel – also, it was poorly executed in comparison to the episodes of the original series that it was trying to downplay.

ANSWER: There are aliens.  Season Eleven confirms that much.  It is, however, suggested by two new characters – Erica Price (Barbara Hershey) and a so-called Mr. Y – who explain that they are former members of the Syndicate, that the aliens’ colonization plan was derailed, particularly as humanity is quickly using up the planet’s resources, but the hostile alien factions introduce the ability to create a catastrophic virus with alien technology and properties, of which CSM currently has control, which would wipe out all life on Earth and would allow said aliens to reengage with their colonization designs once humans no longer present an obstacle to their conquest.  As usual, the explanations are confusing and convoluted, but isn’t this why we love the X-Files?

5) Are the Lone Gunmen actually alive, as panelist Kyle read was confirmed by the hallucinatory sequence affecting Mulder in “Babylon?”  If so, where the heck are they?

ANSWER: This question remains unanswered, though Langly’s (Dean Haglund) consciousness manages to survive, contrary to his desires, within the framework of a super-computer designed by the Syndicate as a defense to the alien virus and as a place where – select – people can live on and/or survive following the impending extraterrestrial viral apocalypse. Allegedly.

6) Where are characters like Marita Kovarubius?  Former assistant director Kersh?  Is Alex Krycek really dead?  Where is former Agent Jeffrey Spender, half brother to Mulder and legitimized son of the Cigarette Smoking Man?

ANSWER: Spender is on the run, helping to keep William safe, though it seems he checks in with his brother and with Scully from time to time.  Kersh (James Pickens Jr.) is still finger wagging at the FBI, and particularly at Skinner (Mitch Pileggi), in the Deputy Director position, as the latter half of the season demonstrates.  We have not seen Marita (presumably still on the run) or Krycek (presumably still dead) as of this publication.

7) Just how much should we care about Agents Miller (Robbie Amell) and Einstein (Lauren Ambrose)?

ANSWER: Apparently, not at all.  Agents Miller and Einstein appear briefly in “My Struggle III” and then do not return for the rest of the season.

8) Was the last shot of the cliffhanger in “My Struggle II” really that of a UFO?  If it is a UFO, did it ultimately save Mulder from the virus, since the vaccine didn’t somehow work on him (also really confusing)?

ANSWER: If Scully’s “vision” is to be believed, that UFO is real and a portent of future events.  Mulder’s fate, should this portent become real, is uncertain, but Scully fears that only William can save who is presumed to be his actual father (not CSM).

9) How did Agents Scully and Einstein produce and proliferate the vaccine so quickly?

ANSWER: Dream time magic.

10) So, how was AD Skinner able to approve Mulder and Scully’s return so fast, particularly given their highly touted hiatus from the FBI, highlighted in the second film, “I Want to Believe.”

ANSWER: Skinner’s got skillz and more sway with Kersh than most, apparently.

11) Will we ever get to meet Scully’s younger brother in person?

ANSWER: We have not so far.

12) Why does the Cigarette Smoking Man see fit to make Mulder so miserable all of the time?  Also, where the heck did he go?

ANSWER: A valid question without an answer.  Though his disappearance proved to be part of Scully’s vision-state when translated from “My Struggle II” to “My Struggle III,” CSM drops his truth bomb as noted above in “My Struggle III” and then continues to raise holy heck for poor Fox Mulder as the season progresses.  By the end of the season, however, William retaliates for months of trying to avoid his potential father/grandfather and the danger he presents with the use of his extraterrestrial abilities and a dash of violence. Does CSM survive? Listen to the podcast episode for details.

13) When will the new season premiere?  You know it’s going to happen.

ANSWER: Season Eleven premiered in January 2018. As yet, a Season Twelve has not yet been ordered or renewed….

14) The podcast panel, by and large, feel that six episodes just isn’t enough, but eight to ten might be a nice chunk, a la British TV.

ANSWER: The podcast panel believes ten is better than six, but many of them also feel that thirteen would be better than ten.  Of course, getting a single additional episode may be difficult as the future progresses…

15) Can Mulder and Scully please get back together?  This is just a rough patch, right?

ANSWER: Right.  Mulder and Scully tentatively make another go at romance this season and, by the end of it, confirm a pretty major spoiler that you are just going to have to listen to the podcast episode or watch “My Struggle IV” – or read below – to learn.  We would say, however, that Mulder and Scully seem committed to each other (finally) romantically, and that it has done nothing to diminish their relationship as colleagues and friends, particularly after all this time. Take that, Mr. Carter.

New Questions

1) Is CSM really William’s biological father?  There are two concerning pieces of information from the original series that make us question Carl Gerhard Busch’s rather definitive assertion of parentage over William.  First, to suggest that this violation of Scully’s womanhood, even though no sexual act was implied, was part of “En Ami” actually undercuts and undermines the power of that particular episode, which showed an interesting new side to CSM while enticing Scully to question whether or not CGB Spender was actually as evil as everyone, particularly Mulder, believed.  Second, there were several events in the original series that led up to the birth of William, earned by mysterious if not confirmed pieces of mystery sprinkled throughout Seasons Six through Nine, including the UFO fragment that augmented Mulder’s cognitive abilities, the implication that Mulder and Scully shared a night of passion after years of palpable sexual tension, and the responses that baby William seemed to show toward Mulder in the beginning, before and after Mulder as a character departed the show with the departure of David Duchovny during his contract disputes with the network and with Carter.  And really, just how believable is CSM/CGB/Cancer Man in the end, really?  He has screwed his children over so many times by now…isn’t it indubitably possible that he is trying to turn the screws once more for Mulder, his favorite target?

2) How true was Scully’s coma vision?  Sure, the show manages to posit in “My Struggle III” that the confusing and somewhat unsatisfactory ending of Season 10 is nothing more than a mere fever state dream of Scully’s if not a clairvoyant vision, but if true, have Mulder and Scully averted the alien virus apocalypse by the end of the season?  Did William’s final season act serve to do the same?  Or, is there someone carrying the torch of CSM’s nefarious scheming with the ability to spread a legitimate viral outbreak?  Also: are the aliens real?  The revival’s explanations around the extraterrestrial elements that informed the original series are truly dizzying in scope and in logic and might be losing some loyal viewers who particularly favored the original myth-arc of the show.  Or, so we guess.

3) Is Reyes really dead?  Is CSM?  Is <gasp> Skinner?

4) The Lone Gunmen mystery burns for our panelists, as these characters are popular with us and with X-Philes the world over. Are they really buried in Arlington?  Or, did they pull off the greatest faking of their deaths that the world has ever seen?

5) How is Scully <SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER> pregnant? Is her unborn fetus human?  Is s/he/they Mulder’s biological offspring?  Wasn’t she barren?  Plus, she’s an older woman who was not actively pursuing methods of fertilization/conception?  Are we to believe that God blessed her with a miracle (we’re okay with this explanation, if it is more than obliquely hinted at)?  Will we ever meet this child?

6) The final shot of the season depicts William, who was shot by CSM, his potential father/grandfather, emerging from murky, watery depths, presumably unscathed owing to his alien DNA.  What will William’s endgame be, regardless of who fathered him, should the series continue?  Will Scully ever be able to reach him?  Will he be swayed toward nefarious aims, particularly in light of the events of the episode “Ghouli” and of the revelation of his father being the ultimately evil CSM?

7) Will the show ever return?  The future is looking dicey – we need to “fight the future!”

8) If it does return, Deputy Director Kersh finishes the season by blustering about closing the X-Files again.  Was this a threat or a promise, and if the latter, how can Mulder and Scully justify their return with all of the life complications affecting their ability to investigate the X-Files cases themselves?

PARTING SHOTS

All of our X-Files super-fans and panelists heartily enjoyed and were excited by these latest episodes; there was virtual consensus on which episodes were the best and which were the worst.  All five panelists thought “The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat,” “Followers (in base code), and “Familiar” were the three best of the season, while “My Struggles III & IV” and “Nothing Lasts Forever” were the three worst (generally), though panelist Sarah was far less enthused overall by “Kitten,” featuring special guest star Haley Joel Osment. In any event, the entire panel continues to be grateful if not overjoyed to see Duchovny and Anderson back in action as Mulder and Scully and to see other familiar faces, including Cancer Man and Skinner.  We also look forward to any additional seasons Fox may choose to produce of a show that greatly influenced the television landscape as we know it and continues to do so; all panelists are committed to continue watching, should more seasons be produced. What did you think? Comment below!

LOOKING AHEAD

While no official announcement has yet been made, TV pundits believe that renewal for a possible Season 12 is a “long shot,” given the declining ratings of Season 11 and, particularly, given Anderson’s announcement to the media in January of this year that “this is it” for her and for Dana Scully.  Plus, the network and Carter have gone on record to say that while there are no plans to produce more episodes at this time, they are open to the possibility of making more, even though they also do not see, and rightly so, going on without Anderson/Scully.  Still, again, the show has not been officially canceled by the Fox network, and Gillian has been known to change her mind somewhat unexpectedly in the past – plus, what’s up with her and David’s latest joint appearances on the convention circuit?  One might theorize that they are taking fan temperatures, given Season 11’s lower ratings, in order to see if it is worth producing more seasons; those of us on this CPU! panel encourage demanding more at a fever pitch!  In any event, rest assured, gentle listener, that if a Season 12 is announced, CPU! will plan to reconvene our X-Files podcast panel, ready and willing to dissect any additional seasons of one of our all-time favorite shows. CPU! will also, as always, keep you posted on future developments. Stay tuned!

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Our X-Files panel spies possible suspicious UFO activity in the skies of West Michigan.

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Our X-Files panel (left to right): Sarah, Nick, Hilary, and Kyle

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A final (for now) look: Mulder and Scully embrace in the face of the loss of one (alleged) child and the potential gain of another in some of the last frames of Season 11 (prior to the credits).  The Truth Is Out There…unless Season 12 never comes to fruition.