The Originals, Season 5 and Looking Back Series Review (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 September 2018, our panel of true CPU! originals and vampire enthusiasts – including moderator Kylie, Jen (S.), and Jenn (K.) – is back Around the Water Cooler and discussing the final season, Season 5, of The Originals, including another seven-year, in-show time jump; the ongoing threat of the Hollow; the thoughts, feelings, and hopes of a now teenage Hope, the daughter of Hayley and Klaus; and the unending reaches to which the Mikaelson siblings will go, by any means necessary, for their family. We also Look Back at the now ended series as a whole and say goodbye to this spin-off of The Vampire Diaries, one ultimately beloved by this panel, despite mixed reactions of the panelists to the series finale. If you have not watched any of The Originals, 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



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PODCAST! – Around the Water Cooler: The CPU! Goodbye to “The Originals” – The Season 5 Recap and Review + Looking Back at Seasons 1-5 (MAJOR SPOILERS)

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Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

Who:  “The Originals” aired on the CW for five total seasons from 2013-2018.

What: “The Originals,” a spin-off of supernatural drama The Vampire Diaries, centers on the Original (i.e. very first) vampires, the Mikaelsons, who initially appeared on the latter show.  The surviving siblings are hybrid werewolf/vampire Niklaus (Joseph Morgan), his older brother Elijah (Daniel Gillies), and baby sister Rebekah (Claire Holt).

SYNOPSIS

In a backdoor pilot that aired during season 4 of The Vampire Diaries, the viewer learned that the Mikaelsons essentially helped to create New Orleans.  Klaus (Morgan), running from various personal dilemmas including his own ego and Mystic Falls in general, returned to New Orleans where he encountered one of his prodigal sires, specifically Marcel (Charles Michael Davis), who had taken control of the French Quarter and had declared war on other supernatural beings, including a local coven of witches.  Klaus covets Marcel’s power and hold over the city.  Klaus’ brother Elijah (Gillies) follows Klaus to New Orleans, learning that a one-night stand that Klaus had with werewolf Hayley (Phoebe Tonkin) has resulted in her being mysteriously pregnant, as vampires, including vampire/werewolf hybrids, are not known to have children. This series follows Klaus and the other Original siblings as they work to protect their family and this unborn and unlikely child from the clutches of egomaniac Marcel, Klaus’ prized pupil, and other forces who threaten her.

When:  Season 5 aired from April 18, 2018, to August 1, 2018, on the CW.

Where: The show is set in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Why: This panel, feeling TVD to be a traditionally good show with some of the same creative influence, including Executive Producer Julie Plec as well as the charismatic Morgan and Gillies, saw no reason that The Originals could not be just as juicy and delicious as the show from whence it spun.  Also, have I mentioned…vampires?  The non-sparkly kind?  Played by ridiculously handsome men? With accents?  The members of this panel were helpless to resist.

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

In 2016, our Originals panel helped to catch CPU! up on this program by discussing Seasons 1, 2, and 3 in a first episode for this panel, which was followed by a second episode devoted to Season 4.  To hear our thoughts, listen to the embedded links below:

Seasons 1-3

Season 4

Our small but continuously robust and truly original Originals panel, including returning panelists Jen (S.) and Jenn (K.), reconvened to discuss the siblings Mikaelson, including noble but repressed – and amnesiac, to start this season – older brother Elijah, werewolf/vampire hybrid and narcissistic middle child Klaus, and the many supporting characters that hover in their orbit.  We cover major plot points from the fifth and final season following another seven-year, in-show time jump, including the angst of an even older, teenage Hope (Danielle Rose Russell), the daughter of Hayley (Tonkin) and Klaus, pining for her unsurprisingly absent father; the precarious peace in NOLA monitored by Hayley and representatives of each of the city factions, supernatural and otherwise; and the unending reaches to which the siblings will go, by any means necessary, for their family, even when they are supposed to remain apart in order to prevent world destruction, owing to the unstoppable magic of the Hollow.  Our panel’s devotion to The Originals remains mostly devout and still higher (more or less) and more fervent than for The Vampire Diaries, as the panelists feel that the plot of this show continues to be more sophisticated and the situations, therefore, more adult.  Give us a listen, with your secreted last piece of the White Oak nearby, and see if you agree or disagree with our thoughts.

This podcast was recorded in September 2018, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as the panelists cover key plot points of the fourth 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, our A Series of Unfortunate Events panel returns to the Water Cooler, just in time for Netflix to drop the third and final season of that series on January 1, 2019, with the panel being (unfortunately) ready to dive into discussion about the second season of the faithful adaptation of Lemony Snicket’s novels. Stay tuned!

Lingering Questions

Old Questions

1) REPEAT QUESTION: If werewolves in the bayou are connected to Klaus’ biological father, and some of those werewolves are Hayley’s family, does that mean there is the possibility that Klaus and Hayley are distant cousins, generations removed, as well as parents of a new kind of hybrid? Does this fact explain the possibility of the baby?

NEW ANSWER ADDENDUM: To answer the first question, the Hollow, a being without a soul, comes into existence during prehistoric times in this fictional universe, as explained in Season 4.  When her tribe recognizes her curious but ultimately murderous tendencies, unfazed by moral dilemmas or community mores, they attempt to bind her via an ancient spell; however, she manages to reverse the curse and, in so doing, creates the first werewolves and, in turn, the initial progenitors of the five or six werewolf families.  Since all werewolves descend from The Hollow or from her relatives, Klaus and Hayley may, very well, be distant cousins several hundred times removed. The show explains, in Season 5 and in an almost tragically off-handed way, that Klaus, at one point, ingested a serum that would allow him to be a father, despite also being a vampire/werewolf hybrid.  Frankly, this off-the-cuff and rushed explanation fails to satisfy in any kind of meaningful way, at least insofar as suggesting that Hope (Russell) is more special than the average magical werewolf/hybrid offspring, since, at last check, she is the only offspring of that kind.

2) REPEAT OBSERVATION: Davina (Danielle Campbell) is annoying.  Please make her go away.

NEW ANSWER: Though Kol and Davina ride off into a romantic, love-filled sunset at the end of Season 4, Davina marries Kol in these intervening seven years, rendering their departures temporary at best, since they return, as family should, for all important family reunions, like weddings and funerals…

3) REPEAT QUESTION: What is Hope really: a vampire, a werewolf, a witch, a hybrid, or a combination of any of the above?

NEW ANSWER: The show confirms that she is a “teenage tri-brid:” a witch and a vampire/werewolf hybrid just like her father, though she exhibits no obvious signs of being a vampire, which her father can manifest quite readily.  As for any potential werewolf tendencies that Hope might display, listen to the podcast episode for details.

4) Will the Mikaelson vampire siblings – now housing each of four Bones of Torment which are, in fact, the skeletal remains of the Hollow’s former vessel and are far separated, as a coming together of those Bones will reconstitute the Hollow to an unstoppable state – be reunited?  How?  Will Hope save them this time?

ANSWER: It all starts with Hope.  Hope begins the season by giving her blood to a vampire at the magical Mystic Falls school run by Alaric (Matt Davis) and Caroline (Candice King), two alumna from The Vampire Diaries, that Hope attends. She thereby transforms her vampire classmate into a hybrid and catches the attention of her doting but fearful (and feared) father, which was all part of her plan and conspiracy with her vampire friend, who wants to become a hybrid, to begin with.  A chain of events is then set into motion, which eventually leads to a family reunion. Hope ultimately casts a “chambre de chasse” spell, bringing the surviving Mikaelson siblings together into a magical representation of the family compound in New Orleans, so that she can, very much against her father’s wishes, draw the Hollow magic out of each of them and into herself, allowing them to coexist in the same city together without endangering the world.  Hope cannot, however, long term, control this magic, since the Hollow always sought to inhabit the powerful Hope; the magic begins to endanger her life, and someone else is needed to save her.  Listen to the podcast episode for details – or just keep reading.

5) At Elijah’s request, Vincent casts a spell to remove the influence of the Mikaelson family motto, “Always and Forever,” from Elijah’s mind, which the eldest living Mikaelson brother has taken so seriously throughout his long, un-dead life, though doing so has cost him his happiness and sense of independence from his family, as he is the sibling that runs most to save the others.  How will the absence of the influence of that trigger affect Elijah in the final season?  Will Klaus attempt to reach him to bring him back into the Mikaelson fold?

ANSWER: We see an Elijah, free of the burden of his family, playing jazz piano in a club in the south of France and falling in love with a vampire named Antoinette (Jaime Murray), who teaches Elijah to reconnect with the more carnal and positive pleasures of being a vampire, even though she figures out quickly that he is one of the Original vampires. Klaus and Rebekah each, separately, risk visiting their brother from time to time, missing his wisdom and counsel and appreciating his overall happiness, though the visits are short, due to the magical influence of the Hollow bones coming back within proximity of each other.  Fortunately or unfortunately, in order for the siblings to escape the aforementioned chambre de chasse spell, in the spell’s representational way, each sibling is required to locate a key that will unlock a door to their conscious selves.  Elijah’s key, as it turns out, is housed where all of his other secrets are housed: behind the infamous red door of his consciousness, along with the rest of his memories, both good and bad.  In order for Elijah to retrieve this key, he must force himself to trust Klaus, the brother he does not remember and about whom he has heard only horrible things in his amnesiac state, and to see the need to save Hope; Elijah is convinced to bust through this door by his brother Klaus, who promises to go through it with him.  The act of entering this door not only awakens the sleeping Mikaelson siblings but also awakens Elijah’s memories, locked away by the magical removal of the “Always and Forever” family motto pull.  

6) What is Hope?  How did Hayley even come to have her in the first place, since vampires do not often produce babies the old fashioned way (Klaus was a hybrid werewolf/vampire at the time of conception)?

ANSWER: Hope is a “tri-brid” – a vampire/werewolf hybrid like her father and a genetic witch like all of the other Mikaelsons, though she is not motivated by fangs, blood lust, and night-prone immortality like typical vampires.  As for her conception, the show suggests that Klaus at one time ingested a serum, presumably a magical one, that would allow him to conceive a child.  Did we ever see him take this serum, either on this show or when the Original vampires were on The Vampire Diaries?  Our panel certainly does not recall seeing this.

7) Will the Mikaelsons have to fight the Hollow in the end?  Will Marcel, now forgiven by Klaus and reunited with Rebekah, join the fight?

ANSWER: In a manner of speaking, yes.  Klaus ultimately decides to take on the Hollow magic to save Hope, but not even he can hold the powerful magic at bay.  His decision to save his child is cataclysmic: he decides to stake himself with one remaining White Oak stake, which he confesses to Alaric and Caroline he secreted away at some point in case he needed it. (SPOILER) He makes good on this decision, even if the appearance of this stake feels a bit contrived and deus ex machina in the endNeither Marcel and Rebekah nor Kol nor Elijah try to stop Klaus; they admire his choice, and (SPOILER) Elijah even decides to join him in this final sacrificial act.  Listen to the podcast episode for details.

8) Will Kol and Davina return?

ANSWER: Kol is drawn into the chambre de chasse, he is present (along with his now wife Davina) for Freya (Riley Voelkel) and Keelin’s wedding, and he is present for Klaus and Elijah’s final goodbyes.

9) Will the Originals survive their series?  Will they be forced to face the consequences of their millennium of vampire misdeeds?  Or, will they all find happy endings?

ANSWER: Klaus decides to stake himself to save his family, Hope included; Elijah decides to stake himself with part of Klaus’ secreted away White Oak stake, as he always saw his life’s purpose, at least after a time, to be his brother’s redemption.  Elijah, in fact, sees Klaus’ final noble act as proof that he achieved his purpose, and since (SPOILER) Hayley also dies this season, he feels that without either of them, he has nothing particularly to live for after such a long life and an immortality of which he tires.  Klaus and Elijah, therefore, stake each other in the show’s final scene. Rebekah survives; as Klaus’ final gift to her, he informs her that Caroline has the vampire cure in Mystic Falls.  He blesses her use of the cure and wishes her and Marcel a long and happy, if ultimately, mortal life together.  Kol returns to Davina; Freya and Keelin vow to live a happy life together as well.  Thus, in the end, Klaus ultimately accepts responsibility for his sins and repents through his personal sacrifice to save his family, particularly his daughter.  Elijah does the same, seeing Klaus’ redemption as his own.  The remaining Mikaelsons find happy endings.

10) What will Klaus do to keep busy during this separation?  Will he visit Caroline Forbes (Candice King) from The Vampire Diaries in Mystic Falls and at Alaric’s new school for special children? Press releases have suggested that Caroline will appear in the final season of The Originals.  Will she recur or become a series regular?  Will she and Klaus actually, finally, get together?  The panel mostly supports this coupling, though not necessarily with tons of excitement.

ANSWER: Klaus roams the world, stewing over the separation from his daughter and processing the unconditional love he has for her, an achievement he has never unlocked until his very existence endangered that of his child.  He does visit Caroline briefly, and Caroline also visits him.  Caroline recurs in Season 5 by appearing in four episodes, including the season premiere and the series finale.  Caroline and Klaus do not become a romantic coupling; she confesses that he turned her head for a time, but she also notes that her life and her sense of self changed in the intervening years, and that these changes prevent her from connecting to Klaus in a more formal way.  Still, she also tells him, particularly as he readies to end his own after-life, that she has always cared for him, and she gives him a heartfelt kiss goodbye, both as a kindness but also as a sense of closure, since Klaus’ head never stopped turning for her.

11) How will Marcel and Rebekah live out their part of the separation?

ANSWER: Marcel and Rebekah finally enjoy their whirlwind, century-long romance by touring the world.  In fact, in the season premiere, Marcel pops the question to Rebekah.  Unfortunately, goings-on back in New Orleans complicate the proposal.

12) What will Freya do to keep busy during this separation?  We suspect that she will most actively seek a spell to bring down the Hollow, with Vincent’s help, if such a spell should exist.

ANSWER: The panel was right.  Freya spends most of the intervening seven years searching for a way to quell the Hollow’s magic, to allow her family to reconvene.  Vincent reluctantly helps Freya, on occasion, though he is just as happy to keep the Mikaelsons away from New Orleans, as the city is quite peaceful in their absence.  Freya also enjoys a happy romance with Keelin for most of those years.

13) How will the series end?  Panelist Jenn K. reports that producers are forecasting another time jump, ten years into the future, to start the fifth season, in which the viewer will see a teenager version of Hope.  Who will play her, and what will Hope have become to Hayley and to everyone during that time?

ANSWER: Danielle Rose Russell plays fifteen-year-old Hope.  Hope is still the apple of her mother’s eye.  She is also close to her aunt Freya, who mentors her in the ways of magic, and to her aunt Rebekah, though we do not see Hope and Rebekah together much, since Rebekah houses one of the Hollow bones.  The series ends with Klaus and Elijah staking each other, to end the Hollow’s magical threat and in a noble agreement to face the “true” death together; Marcel and Rebekah vow to marry, with Rebekah deciding to take the vampire cure; Kol and Davina and Freya and Keelin enjoy new love-filled chapters; and Hope returns to her school in Mystic Falls and to a second spin-off of this universe, Legacies, which premiered this fall on the CW.

14) Will Hayley have to sacrifice herself to save Hope, who may yet be threatened by the Hollow?  Will Klaus?  Will either Hayley or Klaus end up a single parent?

ANSWER: Hayley does, in fact, sacrifice herself to save Hope, though the Hollow is not the threat that causes her to engage in this sacrifice at the time. Instead, leaders of a so-called vampire cult, with a vendetta against Klaus, capture Hayley and Hope.  After Hayley’s werewolf side is magically removed by a witch in the cult leaders’ employ, Hope’s life hangs in the balance as Klaus and Caroline enter the scene.  To prevent further harm to Klaus or to Hope, and because Elijah, who also arrives on the scene, does not remember her due to the magical lobotomy of “Always and Forever” that he previously underwent, and makes no move to help her, much to her stark realization and dashed hope, Hayley wrestles the cult leader into the sunlight, causing Hayley, now only a vampire, and her foe to burn, as vampires do, in the sun.  

As noted above, Klaus also sacrifices himself for Hope, taking on the Hollow’s magic to save her and then staking himself to save his family, her included.  Sadly, this one-two punch of Hayley and Klaus’ deaths leaves Hope an orphan, though she has her extended family.  Klaus does try to care for Hope following Hayley’s shocking end, but his future is short-lived, given the omnipresent threat of the Hollow’s curse.

15) Will Hayley and Elijah end up together?

ANSWER: With Hayley’s death and Elijah’s agreement to go into the void with Klaus, these two lovers become the epitome of star-crossed, destined never to be each other’s enduring soulmate.

Lingering Unanswered Questions

1) With Elijah’s decision to stake himself, does not this mean that all of the vampires in his sire-line are now gone?  As of the end of Season 3, Elijah was still connected to his sire-line, correct?  It feels like we should have seen something more definitive regarding the elimination of his sire-line, given all of the hoopla in Season 3 revolving around the idea of the sire-lines themselves (fortunately, Klaus was separated from his sire-line by Davina in Season 3, and all of the Mystic Falls vampires, including Caroline, are in his sire-line).

2) None of us understand, still, what exactly Marcel was – a hybrid, sure, but it seems the magical white oak barbs or thorns from Season 3 rendered him more powerful and more special, as evidenced by the vampire cult’s desire to drain his particular venom.  The panel feels that Marcel’s new state of being was never quite satisfactorily explained within the show.

PARTING SHOTS

The Originals, though not the twisty soap opera characterizing its parent program, remained engaging, superior television in the end, spinning an epic and seductive tale with increasingly engaging acting and beautiful actors doing the work, even if not all of the story satisfied all of our panelists.  The writers created a steamy and sophisticated mix of horror, revenge fantasy, and romance, capitalizing on all of the best elements of vampire lore, while providing a considerably more adult direction for this spin-off of angst-driven The Vampire Diaries and an unusual spin on the usual vampire fantasy.  While our panelists disagreed about the overall success of the final season, we still, at least, agreed in the end that the over-arching story was best when it was grand and twisty, and the panelists, some more than others, regard The Originals as completely accessible to anyone who has not watched TVD.  Two panelists, your Chief CP included, feel a sense of profound sadness upon reaching the end of this program, believing that the show was prevented from mining a trove of unexplored history and potential in our millennium-old characters, while the third panelist sees this final season as more disappointing than satisfying. All participating panelists believe, more or less, that the show became far better than The Vampire Diaries in fewer seasons, owing to the stellar portrayals of the family Mikaelson and the intriguing relationships between the familial characters on the series.  Though the panel does not enjoy universal consensus about the show’s end, our panelists at least believe that the writers did their best with a shorter episode order in this last season and with this talented cast of performers and the characters they portray, even if the end felt decidedly rushed and, therefore, not as satisfying as it could have been – though panelist Jenn K. really struggled with the “Twilight-esque fluttery stuff” in the end.

THE FUTURE OF THE SHOW

Canceled/ended! The Originals was canceled by the CW after five seasons. The series is available to stream on Netflix and available for purchase at the usual sites.  The panel, ultimately, universally recommends The Originals now that the series has ended.  Though both panelists Jen S. and Jenn K. feel that watching TVD is necessary to enjoy this show, Chief CP and moderator Kylie believes that The Originals can be watched and enjoyed on its own, with the caveat that watching at least the first four seasons of The Vampire Diaries, when the Original family first appears, would definitely make the watch experience of the spin-off much richer. All in all, our panelists mourn the end of the show, with Kylie and Jen S. perhaps mourning it more readily than Jenn K, and will miss the show in the end.  All of us love Joseph Morgan and Daniel Gillies, however, and are eager to follow them to other projects; Kylie and Jen S. particularly fan-girl for Daniel Gillies (hearts hearts hearts), while Jenn K. describes her affection for Nathaniel Buzolic (Kol) and her willingness to watch him in other vehicles.  So, if nothing else, if you love attractive men, especially men who wear suits well, and vampires, you will, at least, be moderately pleased with The Originals.

An image from the series finale of The Originals – Elijah (Daniel Gillies, left) informs his brother Niklaus aka Klaus (Joseph Morgan, right) that he is willing to die alongside his brother, and that they can face the unknown as they always have – together. The brothers subsequently each bury a halved piece of the remaining White Oak stake into each other’s hearts.
Our truly original The Originals panel: Jen S. (left) and Jenn K. (right).

 

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

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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.

Sense8, First Look & Looking Back (MAJOR SPOILERS)

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A new episode of Couch Potatoes Unite!, which is based on a blog of the same name hosted at couchpotatoesunite.wordpress.com. In this episode, (re)recorded in October 2018, our cluster of would-be homo-sensorium – moderator Kylie, Kelsey, Selene, and Chad – gathered together Around the Water Cooler to simultaneously take a First Look while Looking Back at canceled, high-concept Netflix science fiction series Sense8.  If you have not watched any of Sense8, be aware that there are MAJOR SPOILERS.  Tell us what you think in the comments below, and check out the blog and YouTube for other TV related discussions, in both podcast and blog format. Also, if there are other shows you’re interested in the blog covering, sound off below! Tell us what you like or don’t like. Keep the discussion going!

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

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

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Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

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

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

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

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

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

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

How – as in How Was It?

The pilot/premiere rating scale:

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

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

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

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

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

Sense8 = 4.9, by average of the podcast panel.

SYNOPSIS

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

THOUGHTS

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

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

This podcast was (re)recorded in October 2018, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as we cover major plot points in Sense8. Listen at your own risk, and let us know what you think by commenting below!

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!  This Saturday, at 7:00 PM, CPU! is going live again!  There (hopefully) should be an in-person audience, and we will (hopefully) endeavor to live-stream the whole shindig once more to our Facebook page.  We’ll be back at Grand Rapids Comic Con at DeVos Place in Grand Rapids, Michigan, with our spicy debate feature entitled “Vs,” when we go TREKKING THROUGH THE FINAL FRONTIER: THE CPU! VOYAGE INTO THE NEUTRAL ZONE!!! There, our 6 Trekkiest panelists will engage! in a multifaceted, multi-generational debate tackling the many entries in the universe of Star Trek. We will then publish an audio-only version next Wednesday, in our best rerun fashion. You won’t want to miss it! Here’s the link to the Facebook Event – plus, this panel will also seed a new ongoing Star Trek series panel for the podcast!  Like our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter and Instagram to keep abreast of all the details, but here’s the art for it for now!  Stay tuned!

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

The Will & Grace Revives Series, Episode One: Will & Grace, Looking Back (MAJOR SPOILERS)

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A new episode of Couch Potatoes Unite!, which is based on a blog of the same name hosted at couchpotatoesunite.wordpress.com. In this episode, recorded in July 2018, one of our sassiest panels – including moderator Kylie, Andrew, Jeremy, and new panelist Emily D – gathered together to Look Back and to reminisce about fan and CPU! favorite, the original eight seasons of so-called must-see sitcom Will & Grace.  This is the first part of a CPU! podcast miniseries examining one of our favorite television programs, which will connect to “Water Cooler” coverage of the revival NBC seasons of the show (which began in 2017).  If you have not watched any of Will & Grace, 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