PODCAST! – Shark Jumpers Anonymous: “The 100” (MAJOR SPOILERS)

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Interviewer and Commentator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

Who:  “The 100″ is currently on hiatus; Season 5 of the series will premiere on the CW on Tuesday, April 24, 2018, at 9:00 PM.

What: “The 100,” a science fiction drama set nearly 100 years into the future.  According to the preliminary season one voice-over, in the fictional near future, Earth is ravaged by nuclear warfare, irradiating the planet’s surface. Survivors flee to space stations orbiting the Earth; 100 years into the future, the lives of the mere thousands of the survivors’ descendants aboard the “Ark” are threatened again, as the oxygen and life support reserves dwindle, and the machinery aboard the conglomeration of space stations degrades.  The only hope for the human race centers on the heartiness of 100 adolescent prisoners, chosen for their penchant for breaking the rules, who are sent to the planet’s surface to sniff out whether humanity can return to its original home and persevere. The 100 are a mixture of society’s elite and its most oppressed; the resulting stew becomes something very similar to Lord of the Flies – except, as the 100 accept and embrace their new-found freedom, they realize they are not alone.

SYNOPSIS

Humanity survives a nuclear holocaust in the fictional near future that irradiates the planet’s surface, sending what remains of the human race into space to fend for their lives aboard several international space stations, which are eventually joined together to become the “Ark.” One hundred years into the future, humanity is in danger once again, as the century-old machinery fails, and oxygen supplies dwindle.  The society aboard the Ark is run under strict rules and laws, including population control and discouragement of defiance of the ruling council and its decrees in any way.  The Council is comprised of, among others, Chancellor Thelonius Jaha (Isaiah Washington) and his Vice Chancellor Marcus Kane (Henry Ian Cusick).  They and the chief medical officer, Dr. Abigail Griffin (Paige Turco), decide to send 100 involuntary participants deemed criminals – adolescents incarcerated for various crimes, including illegal space walks and being an unauthorized second child – in order to test the viability of the planet’s surface to sustain human life. Unfortunately, some of the 100 include the chief medical officer’s daughter and the chancellor’s son, among others.  In addition, once the 100 reach the Earth’s surface, despite the fact that they wear bracelets monitoring their health and vital signs, most of them see their situation as a new lease on life and freedom and remove their bracelets in the hopes that the Ark will leave them for dead.  Only Abby’s daughter, Clarke (Eliza Taylor), fights to communicate with the Ark, while others are content to run wild in a new, anarchic society. These two schools of thought are at odds, even as the 100 confront unexpected inhabitants of the new old world.

When: Season Four aired from February 1, 2017, to May 24, 2017, on the CW.

Where: The action is set in two locations at the outset of the series: in space, aboard the fictitious space station amalgamation known as the “Ark,” and on Earth, in an unknown location at an unidentified crash site.  The adults eventually travel to Earth, foregoing the dying Ark, and set up a settlement, first called “Camp Jaha” and then “Arkadia.”

Why: The Chief CP is always on the hunt for good science fiction; this show offers less science and more fiction.  The podcast panelists who remain (for now) all found this program in diverse ways.  Listen to the episode for details.

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

CPU! last covered The 100 in 2017, just prior to the premiere of Season 4, by recapping the first three seasons to get our resident Couch Potatoes caught up on the show.  If you need to get caught up too, listen to the embedded link below:

The 100, Seasons 1-3

Unfortunately, coverage of The 100 on the podcast is about to go the way of the dodo.  The remaining panelists, Kelsey and Selene, find themselves at a Fonzie-inspired crossroads: an inability and sheer lack of desire to proceed forward in watching this latest entry in teen dystopian science fiction.  As such, though they fleetingly visited the Water Cooler in the past to talk about a show they once loved, they now inaugurate a new interview-style feature on CPU! entitled “Shark Jumpers Anonymous,” in which panelists – and about to be former-panelists – explain why they are making leaps and bounds over predatory fish (or like trees and leaving).  Answering a script of questions, the two panelists explain why they have stopped watching the show, while Chief CP Kylie justifies why she has continued to watch – and to modestly like – The 100, including a babbling, poorly recollected recap of major plot points from the fourth season.  Hey!  It’s hard when you’re out there, doing it on your own.

If you feel sorry for me – and love this show to boot – never fear.  You can join CPU! as a panelist, for this and for other shows.  Scroll down to “Looking Ahead” for the details!

In the meantime, give this latest CPU! episode a listen, with an ear to the ground and an eye toward the sky, and see if you agree or disagree with our spicy thoughts.  The interviews were recorded in March and in April 2018, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as the panelists cover key plot points of all seasons of The 100. 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! In our next episode, our “Full/er House Series” panel returns to the Water Cooler – smaller and also with sharks circling their vociferous but tenacious group – to recap Season 3 (both parts). Stay tuned!

Questions, Impressions, and Future Considerations

Old Questions

1) Is Lexa’s essence, as preserved in ALIE’s construct known as the “City of Light,” truly gone?  Or, did she escape the oncoming onslaught of hostile and devoted chipped humans within the construct? If so, where did she go?

ANSWER: As Lexa did not appear in Season 4, it is presumed she is truly gone – though the Flame, which holds the remaining ALIE construct (and is the chip by which the Grounders choose a clan Commander) remains with Gaia, Indra’s daughter.  Could Lexa’s essence still be rolling around in that chip?  Considering that the actress moved on to appear in Fear of the Walking Dead, it is unlikely we will know the answer to that question any time soon.

2) Is the entire fourth season going to be centered on a hunt for decaying nuclear power plants?  How can Clarke (Taylor) and company possibly solve the conundrum described by ALIE’s creator, who posed that the nuclear power plants would implode within six months?

ANSWER: Fortunately, Clarke and the others realize quickly that there are too many reactors decaying and about to create “praimfaya,” or catastrophic destruction, to consider traversing the world or to hope to save everyone from annihilation.  Clarke and her mother (Turco) concentrate on a crazy plan to change regular human blood to radiation-resistant night-blood; Raven (Lindsey Morgan) concentrates on booting a dormant spaceship housed in one of the facilities formerly run by Becca, ALIE’s creator, in a crazy plan to use the ship to get to space as a plan Z for escaping the nuclear meltdown; and Clark and Jaha (Washington) concentrate on a crazy plan to find a bunker created by Earth’s previous civilization to withstand the nuclear catastrophe that occurred 100 years in the past.  The bunker can only house and sustain – with agroponic farming – 1200 occupants.  These three plot lines guide the season.

3) Are there human survivors in other parts of the former USA?  Other parts of the world? Will we meet any of them in this season?  Are there other Grounder clans (aside from Ice Nation, Treekru, etc.)?  Will we meet them?

ANSWER: We will never know for sure about survivors elsewhere in the world because praimfaya comes and goes.  Now, we can only know if there are on-surface survivors of the latest nuclear holocaust, in addition to a small group that flies in Raven’s space shuttle to space and to the 1200 representatives of the remaining clans, Skaikru included, led by Octavia (Marie Avgeropoulos) in the bunker.

4) Why should we care that the Earth is dying, given all of the violence and poor judgment of so many characters on this show?  The writers and producers have to convince several members of our panel to keep watching by giving us a reason to care.

ANSWER: The Chief CP ultimately sees the story being told as one of humanity’s perseverance and tenacity in the face of extinction, and perhaps, this main idea is the emotional connection that the writers are seeking to make with the viewing audience.  Yet, the death toll is so high on this show and so much more catastrophic (so far) compared to contemporaneous TV, like the superior Game of Thrones, it’s really, really hard to care or to be invested in any one or set of characters.  Everyone’s lives – and the fate of the planet – are always at stake, and that’s a lot of high octane tension that begins to wear on the viewer’s psyche after a time.

5) Will other characters die?  Will they all die?  Will they survive?  Will they have to go back to space to escape the failing nuclear power plants?

ANSWER: Other characters die in Season 4 (SPOILER: Jasper Jordan, played by Devon Bostick; Roan, played by Zach McGowan).  As of the Season 4 finale, Clarke is the only confirmed survivor.  And only a fraction of people, including Raven, Bellamy (Bob Morley), and Monty (Christopher Larkin) take the small shuttle found by Raven to space to escape the power reactors.

6) Does this show possibly have a fifth season in it?  Our panel votes not so much.

ANSWER: The network and the show’s producers disagree: Season 5 premieres this coming Tuesday.  But Chief CP Kylie is hard pressed to believe this show will survive to a Season 6.  Of course, this season’s renewal also surprised me, so what do I know?

New Questions

1) Who is in the spaceship that Clarke sees in the last five minutes in the Season 4 finale?

2) What kind of leader/Commander is Octavia?  Have all of the bunker inhabitants survived so far?  Will we see flashbacks to show us how everyone managed it?

3) Did our space flight group survive on the Ark remnant (was there enough oxygen for all that)?

4) Who is the little kid with Clarke?  Are there other on-surface survivors/night-bloods that emerged from praimfaya?

5) What is the show’s endgame?  Really?

6) Is it worth it to “ship” anyone anymore?

PARTING SHOTS

As we discussed last time we covered this show, The 100 seems to have burned bright and fast only to fizzle into wisps of smoke and ash, confronted as it is by a myriad of puzzling writing decisions that may have painted the show into a corner without chance for entertaining recovery.  Season 4 does fare better than Season 3, though this is only confirmed by Chief CP Kylie, as the other panelists jumped sharks. Panelists Kelsey and Selene cite many reasons for foregoing additional viewing, including a rocky foundation, relying on minimal and lacking character development as the writers and executive producer, Jason Rothenberg, drive quickly toward the main plot arcs without taking time to lay essential character groundwork.  All panelists recall a faltering third season, as several plot threads and character decisions remiss of logic established by the first two seasons create an impossible situation facing our characters as the season ends, with uneven pacing and egregious violence adding to the mess.  Our departing panelists lauded an original premise, even as the remaining panelist continues to struggle with its derivative influences.  Yet, as the Chief CP notes, the writers did – somewhat, though certainly not completely – absolve the show’s weaker aspects in Season 4 by focusing upon three, linear plot threads all aimed at the survival of the known populations of the human race, with an interesting season ending time jump that provided enough intrigue without testing the boundaries of suspension of disbelief.  Unfortunately, only Kylie is left standing as the show heads into Season 5…unless new panelists join.  Care to be one of them?

LOOKING AHEAD

The 100 was renewed for a fifth season, which is slated to premiere on the CW on April 24, 2018, at 9:00 PM.  Because the entire panel “jumped the shark” but for the Chief CP, CPU! will not return to the Water Cooler to discuss The 100 again, though Kylie, should she remain the last of the Couch Potatoes interested in the show, will provide a Moderator Post-Mortem following the series end.

Do you want CPU! to continue covering The 100 on the podcast?  If so, volunteer to be a panelist!  We are a podcast by the people for the people, or, for specifically the Couch Potatoes who wish to unite with us.  If you would like to join this panel (and bring a friend, as we need at least two to revive it), message us via Facebook or Twitter, via our website (couchpotatoesunite.wordpress.com), or via email at couchpotatoesunitepodcast@gmail.com.  Where ever you may be in the world, we are able to connect with you – via video conferencing or phone conferencing – or, if you want to submit a written review of the show, send it along!  In the meantime, CPU! will maintain surface coverage of goings-on in The 100’s universe, including reporting renewals or cancellations, until the series ends.  Stay tuned!

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The Good Place, Seasons 1-2 (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 March 2018, an eager, philosophical panel – moderator Kylie, Kristen, Michael, Kelsey, Selene, Joey, and Gabe – convenes for the first time around the CPU! Water Cooler to discuss the first two seasons of a heady comedy about the human condition, known as The Good Place.  As always, if you have not watched any of The Good Place, be aware that there are, most definitely, MAJOR (TWISTY) 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! – Pilots, Premieres, and First Looks & Around the Water Cooler: “The Good Place,” Recapping Seasons One and Two (MAJOR SPOILERS)

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Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How – as in How Was It?

The pilot/premiere rating scale:

***** – I HAVE TO WATCH EVERYTHING.  HOLY SMOKES!

**** – Well, it certainly seems intriguing.  I’m going to keep watching, but I see possible pitfalls in the premise.

*** – I will give it six episodes and see what happens.  There are things I like, and things I don’t.  We’ll see which “things” are allowed to flourish.

** – I will give it three episodes.  Chances are, I’m mainly bored, but there is some intrigue or fascination that could hold it together.  No matter how unlikely.

* – Pass on this one, guys.  It’s a snoozer/not funny/not interesting/not my cup of tea… there are too many options to waste time on this one.

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

SYNOPSIS

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

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

How – as in How Was It? – THOUGHTS

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

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

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

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

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

Questions Going Forward

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RECOMMENDATION

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

THE FUTURE OF THE SHOW

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

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

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A new podcast episode of Couch Potatoes Unite!, which is based on a blog of the same name hosted at couchpotatoesunite.wordpress.com.  In this episode, recorded in October 2017, our smaller (again) but always robust panel – including moderator Kylie, Jen, and Kelsey – is Looking Back at The Vampire Diaries, in the second part of a two-part miniseries in which CPU! says goodbye to this long-running, supernatural, fantasy-horror series. If you have not watched any of The Vampire Diaries, be aware that there are MAJOR SPOILERS! Tell us what you think in the comments below and check out the blog and YouTube for other TV related discussions, in both podcast and blog format. Also, if there are other shows you’re interested in the blog covering, sound off below! Tell us what you like or don’t like. Keep the discussion going!

Editor: Kylie C. Piette
Logo: Rebecca Wallace

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

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Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

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

What: “The Vampire Diaries,” a supernatural teen drama focused on a young woman, Elena Gilbert (Nina Dobrev), who becomes entangled with two brothers who are vampires–-one a soulful, conflicted type who wants to repress his vampire urges to be more human; the other a sarcastic, ne’er-do-well who embraces the nature of his nocturnal condition, except for when his love for Elena interferes. In addition, these two vampire brothers were sired by Elena’s doppelganger, a vampire for the centuries named Katherine Pierce (for a more detailed Synopsis, read here:http://www.aceshowbiz.com/tv/vampire_diaries_the/summary.html).

When: The show aired in its entirety on the CW from 2009 to 2017.

Where: The show is primarily set in the fictional town of Mystic Falls, Virginia.

Why: Two reasons: vampires and Ian Somerhalder, formerly of Lost and Smallville fame. CPU! Chief Couch Potato Kylie loves non-sparkly vampire television, and Ian Somerhalder is too beautiful a man not to find an excuse to watch.  My fellow panelists found the show due to the vampires as well, and at least thirty-three percent of them stayed for Ian…

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

Couch Potatoes Unite!’s Complete The Vampire Diaries Coverage

The Season 5 Premiere

Seasons 5-7A

Season 7B

Season 8A
 


Season 8B
 

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

Panelists Jen and Kelsey!

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The Vampire Diaries, Season 8B (Part One of the CPU! Goodbye to The Vampire Diaries, MAJOR SPOILERS)

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A new podcast episode of Couch Potatoes Unite!, which is based on a blog of the same name hosted at couchpotatoesunite.wordpress.com.  In this episode, recorded in June 2017, our smaller (again) but always robust panel – including moderator Kylie, Jen, and Kelsey – is back Around the Water Cooler and discussing Season 8B of The Vampire Diaries, including this show’s version of the “Devil” and two Salvatore brothers in full-on, emotionless vampire mode, in the first part of a two-part miniseries in which CPU! says goodbye to this long-running, supernatural, fantasy-horror series. If you have not watched any of The Vampire Diaries, be aware that there are MAJOR SPOILERS! Tell us what you think in the comments below and check out the blog and YouTube for other TV related discussions, in both podcast and blog format. Also, if there are other shows you’re interested in the blog covering, sound off below! Tell us what you like or don’t like. Keep the discussion going!

Editor: Kylie C. Piette
Logo: Rebecca Wallace

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

The_Vampire_Diaries_(title_card)

Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

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

What: “The Vampire Diaries,” a supernatural teen drama focused on a young woman, Elena Gilbert (Nina Dobrev), who becomes entangled with two brothers who are vampires–-one a soulful, conflicted type who wants to repress his vampire urges to be more human; the other a sarcastic, ne’er-do-well who embraces the nature of his nocturnal condition, except for when his love for Elena interferes. In addition, these two vampire brothers were sired by Elena’s doppelganger, a vampire for the centuries named Katherine Pierce (for a more detailed Synopsis, read here:http://www.aceshowbiz.com/tv/vampire_diaries_the/summary.html).

When: The Season 8 finale – the series finale – aired on Friday, March 10, 2017, at 8:00 PM on the CW.

Where: The show is primarily set in the fictional town of Mystic Falls, Virginia.

Why: Two reasons: vampires and Ian Somerhalder, formerly of Lost and Smallville fame. CPU! Chief Couch Potato Kylie loves non-sparkly vampire television, and Ian Somerhalder is too beautiful a man not to find an excuse to watch.  My fellow panelists found the show due to the vampires as well, and at least thirty-three percent of them stayed for Ian…

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

In 2016, our Vampire Diaries panel helped to catch CPU! up on this program by discussing seasons five, six, and the first half of season seven.  We also covered, in great detail, the second half of the seventh season in a second episode, and in a third episode, we talked about the first half of season eight.  To hear our thoughts, or to catch yourself up, listen to the embedded links below:

Seasons 5-7A

Season 7B

Season 8A
 

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

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

This first part of our two-part TVD goodbye was recorded in June 2017, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as the panelists cover key plot points of the second half of the eighth and final season.  Listen at your own risk, and let us know what you think by commenting below!

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

Remember, new episodes and blog posts are published weekly! Next week, we will publish the second part of this two-part goodbye series, in which our TVD panel Looks Back at the show as a whole in one last chat, for this particular panel and for this particular show, around the water cooler. Stay tuned!

 

Questions, Impressions, and Future Considerations

Old Questions

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

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

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

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

3) So, Elena will return.  How?  Kylie predicts that, in order to save Damon, Bonnie (Kat Graham) will sacrifice herself, so that Elena might awaken from her coma and draw Damon away from the darkness of his emotional void once more.  Kelsey predicts that Enzo (Michael Malarkey) and Bonnie might snuff themselves together, in a fantastic Thelma and Louise or, perhaps, Romeo and Juliet type fashion.  Kylie further predicts that Stefan (Paul Wesley) might not survive the series – he may decide to remain the Ripper, and the other Mystic Falls residents, Caroline (Candice King) included, may be forced to stake him; or, the writers will cop out, and Stefan and Caroline will reunite for their happily ever after. What will happen?  How will it all end?

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

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

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

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

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

Cue montage.

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

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

5) Damon ripped out Sybil’s heart on his way out of town with Stefan in the mid-season finale, but we know that Sybil can heal due to her magical deal to keep her immortality, which she made with Cade in exchange for selling out Stefan and Damon.  Will we still see Sybil, and how will she factor into the overall end?  Where did Seline go?  Are we done with the Siren Sisters?

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

6) Who or what is Cade – really?  Who came first: him, the Originals, or the Witches? Will we see a mutual crossover with The Originals, the spin-off of The Vampire Diaries, this half season?  If so, can it be the whole cast and not merely an exchange of one character, like Klaus and Stefan, as happened last season?

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

7) What will Damon and Stefan do as Cade’s new soul harvesters?  How will their brotherly bond be affected?  Ripper Stefan is kind of a dick, but Damon also has his emotion switch off.  We’ve never seen both brothers with their emotion switch off at the same time except during flashbacks of their initial days as vampires.  How will this manifest, and what will they do?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lingering Questions

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

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

3) The true meaning of Hell.

4) Cade’s back story.

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

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

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

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

PARTING SHOTS

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

LOOKING AHEAD

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