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

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Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How – as in How Was It?

The pilot/premiere rating scale:

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

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

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

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

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

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

SYNOPSIS

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

THOUGHTS

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

This podcast was recorded in July 2017, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as we cover major plot points in Agent Carter. Listen at your own risk, and let us know what you think by commenting below!

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

Remember, new episodes and blog posts are published weekly!  Next Wednesday – another schedule change! – we’ll return to our Buffy-Verse Series around the Water Cooler when our panel Looks Back at the first two seasons of Angel, with admittedly, moderately lukewarm results.  Stay tuned!

RECOMMENDATION

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

THE FUTURE OF THE SHOW

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

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PODCAST! – Streaming Originals & Pilots, Premieres, and First Looks: “13 Reasons Why” – The Season One Recap (MAJOR SPOILERS)

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Moderated by: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

Who: “13 Reasons Why” is a drama-mystery web television series based on the 2007 novel Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher and is a Netflix original series, always available on Netflix.

What: “13 Reasons Why,” adapted by Brian Yorkey for Netflix, revolves around a high school student, Clay Jensen (Dylan Minnette), and his friend, Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford), who committed suicide after suffering a series of demoralizing circumstances, brought on by select individuals at her school. A box of cassette tapes recorded by Hannah before her suicide details thirteen reasons why she ended her life.

When: The first season of the series was released in its entirety to the Netflix streaming library on March 31, 2017.

Where: The action takes place in an unnamed, presumably Californian town (the series was shot in California) at fictional Liberty High School.

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

How – as in How Was It?

The pilot/premiere rating scale:

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

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

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

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

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

13 Reasons Why = 4.0, by average of the podcast panel.

SYNOPSIS

Teenager Clay Jensen (Minnette) returns home from school to find a mysterious box lying on his porch. Inside, he discovers seven double-sided cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker (Langford), his classmate and unrequited love, who tragically committed suicide two weeks earlier. On tape, Hannah unfolds an emotional audio diary, detailing the thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Her instructions are clear: each person who receives a package is one of the reasons why she killed herself, and after each person has completed listening to the tapes, they must pass the package on to the next person. If anyone decides to break the chain, a separate set of tapes will be released to the public. Each tape is addressed to a select person in her school and details their involvement in her inevitable suicide.

How – as in How Was It? – THOUGHTS

It seems like I am asking these questions quite often lately: 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.  Because, in what’s becoming a pattern around here, so many CPU! core panelists advocated for a 13 Reasons Why panel, I had to oblige and subsequently draw lots, since we had more volunteers than actual room on the panel – we have limits around here, as you know, and it’s easier on the ears and on the Chief CP’s editing efforts to observe those limits.

With that kind of popular appeal, I was again afforded the opportunity to appreciate the luxury of demand and (fairly) select a sampling of those requesting to discuss 13 Reasons Why to form this panel of CPU! faithful.  The winners, if they can be labeled as such, since this is not the typical lighthearted CPU! panel covering the typical lighthearted CPU! fare, are all CPU! vets in their own right, namely Kristen, Andrew, Amie, Jenn, Emily, and Jeremy.  In this episode, these conscientious six parse through the thirteen cassette tape sides of 13 Reasons Why and also delve into the ensuing controversies that this unflinching and graphic portrayal of social issues confronting today’s teens has wrought.

In the episode linked below, this panel spends considerable time with and meditates upon each of the deeply flawed characters (Clay and Hannah included) motivating the story within 13 Reasons Why.  The panel also reacts to the most pertinent debates and controversies arising from this critical and popular reception of the series: is the show responsible social commentary or irresponsible revenge fantasy? Does the show glorify suicide, or does it provide a stark and necessary depiction of it in order to provoke needed conversation around signs and triggers?  Does the streaming network provide enough trigger warnings?  Does the concept of recording, what is essentially, a lengthy suicide note on cassette tape feel hokey and undermine the seriousness of the topic, or is it a device to bridge generational gaps underlying comprehension of what today’s teens face compared with the teens of yesteryear?  The Chief CP does not know if our eager but admittedly garage podcast of vocal participants has all the answers, but as with the world at large, some strong reactions are voiced during this longer-than-usual discussion.  I contemplated breaking it into parts but decided that this, likely our longest single episode to date, was best left whole.  Take that as you will.

For those who find it difficult to listen to discussion about sexual assault (rape), suicide, and the other heady topics bridged by this program, please note that we do discuss much of it.  We don’t go into graphic descriptions of what has already been shown, but our discussion may call up those images all the same.

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 Grimm panel returns to the water cooler to recap the final season in the first of a two-part series in which we say goodbye to the long-running cult fantasy procedural drama. Stay tuned!

RECOMMENDATION

13 Reasons Why is recommended by our panel but with several caveats and disclaimers, not unlike the disclaimers that play starkly before each graphic episode of this in-your-face series.  Many of the panelists recommend this show for its ability to push the conversation about teen suicide, sexual assault, bullying, and other serious issues affecting today’s youth to the forefront.  Some of the panelists feel that the subject matter does not make it one of universal appeal for all potential audiences, while other panelists merely warn watching the show at one’s own risk, given some of the graphic portrayals previously mentioned, but encourage most if not all audiences to give it a chance.  Some panelists advise against binge watching the show, in light of its obviously heavy subject matter, while some panelists feel that the series could only be recommended to persons likely and reasonably able to handle said subject matter.  Some panelists also are reticent to recommend the show too readily for fear of over-hyping the series, when the show’s best impact will be (as it was for us) realized for viewers who walk into watching the episodes with zero preconceived expectations.  In any event, the panelists universally agree that the show was well performed, well adapted, and well directed; the almost unanimous “4” star rating by the panel (with one panelist awarding the show a 4.25) largely comes from two primary aspects: trepidation about whether a season two is really necessary and what would it look like, and concern that the show relies on manipulating the audience toward favoring some characters over others, particularly with some of the reasons described by the middle-episode tapes.  Again, for anyone who has not watched this series and is considering it, take this mixed-message recommendation for what it is: watch, and judge for yourself, but watch with caution all the same.

THE FUTURE OF THE SHOW

13 Reasons Why was renewed for a second season in pretty short order, though a tentative release date has not yet been announced by Netflix, except that Season Two will likely drop in 2018.  As always, CPU! will keep you informed of all 13 Reasons Why coverage, and this panel will, as such, likely return some time after the release of season 2 to recap the new season in 2018. Until then!

PODCAST! – Streaming Originals & Pilots, Premieres, and First Looks: Marvel’s Defenders Series, Episode 5, “Marvel’s Iron Fist” – The Season One Recap (MAJOR SPOILERS)

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Moderated by: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

Who: “Marvel’s Iron Fist” is a web television series based upon the Marvel Comics character Iron Fist and is a Netflix original series, always available on Netflix.

What: “Marvel’s Iron Fist,” created by Scott Buck, is set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), sharing continuity with the films of the franchise, and is the fourth in a series of shows that will lead up to a Defenders crossover miniseries. Finn Jones stars as Danny Rand aka Iron Fist, a martial arts expert with the ability to call upon the power of the sacred Iron Fist.

When: The first season of the series was released in its entirety to the Netflix streaming library on March 17, 2017.

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

Why: To find out why individual podcast panelists started watching this show, listen to the podcast episode via the link below – though I will say that all of the panelists are fans of the Netflix original library and/or superhero/comic book based shows in their own right and have found themselves eagerly anticipating new entries in Netflix’s “Defenders” series of releases.  As a result, they’re committed to a CPU! series about same!

How – as in How Was It?

The pilot/premiere rating scale:

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

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

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

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

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

Marvel’s Iron Fist = 4.2, by average of the podcast panel.

SYNOPSIS

Danny Rand (Jones) returns to New York City, after being presumed dead for 15 years, to reclaim his family company from Harold Meachum (David Wenham) and his children Ward Meachum (Tom Pelphrey) and Joy Meachum (Jessica Stroup). When a threat emerges, Rand must choose between his family’s legacy and his duties as the Iron Fist.

How – as in How Was It? – THOUGHTS

As long-time listeners should know by now, CPU! is chock full of panelists with a proclivity for comic book and superhero TV shows and films, including your Chief CP. Our Marvel’s Defenders Series was born of this proclivity, as we have already covered the two available seasons of Daredevil, the one available season of Jessica Jones, and the one available season of Luke Cage.  Listen to the links below:

Marvel’s Defenders Series, Episode One, “Daredevil,” Season 1

Marvel’s Defenders Series, Episode Two, “Jessica Jones,” Season 1

Marvel’s Defenders Series, Episode Three, “Daredevil,” Season 2

Marvel’s Defenders Series, Episode Four, “Luke Cage,” Season 1

As such, it was only right that we cover the next series in this universe, now the fourth in Netflix’s series of Marvel-centered shows leading up to a special “Defenders” miniseries, which will feature heroes like Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage joining together to form a special force of the ilk of the Avengers or of the Justice League in the DC Universe. Thus, we bring you our first ever Iron Fist podcast – and the fifth episode of our Marvel’s Defenders Series – featuring Defenders panelists Nick, Kristen, Hilary, Kyle, and Spencer. While our panel has formed an entertaining bond centered around these Netflix superhero shows, the bond is tested with the variety of opinions expressed about Iron Fist, though the panel universally liked this series better than Luke Cage, despite the warm reception of critics to the latter and the lukewarm reception to the former.  The panelists also agree that Iron Fist is largely fun and far more engrossing than its predecessor “Defender’s” solo series, but the panel differs on how effective this fun ultimately was, with some panelists preferring Iron Fist to Jessica Jones and others liking Danny Rend less (though all except one agree that Daredevil remains the best of the four series).  Nevertheless, while the panel’s overall stance may be somewhat controversial, as audience reception to Iron Fist is equally varied, we do have our supporting reasons – to find out what they are, 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, a new panel will sit “around the water cooler” to tackle – in record time – controversial new Netflix series 13 Reasons Why, based upon the novel of the same name.  Stay tuned for that and for some bonus content we recorded during our Iron Fist session…which should be published any day now (though not today)!

RECOMMENDATION

Iron Fist is recommended overall by our CPU! panel to fans of comic books, particularly from the Marvel universe; fans of the various Defenders series; fans of the character; fans of kung fu and karate movies; and fans of epic fantasy along the lines of Star Wars or, more on the nose, stylized martial arts epics like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.  The panel generally and universally agrees that Iron Fist is well-performed and aptly written and directed but for some noticeable execution flaws in pacing and in the fact that the panel feels Iron Fist Season 1, with its secondary focus upon the Hand, might have done better to come a bit earlier in the Defenders chronology–say, before Daredevil Season 2–given how the Hand was depicted in this series versus in Daredevil and given the fact that much of that depiction is open to interpretation. Still, the entire panel had fun watching this series and believes that some of the criticism from trade critics and viewers alike is harsh to the point of being unfair, as the panel uniformly asserts that many who find more than small faults with this series may have missed (or simply do not prefer) its tendency toward subtleties and foreshadowing.  They may also not understand or appreciate the fact that Jones is playing a childlike character in an adult’s body who is also meant to be a fish out of water – from an ethnic as well as a “this dimension, that dimension” perspective.  The panel, further, vehemently disagrees with the “white washing” controversy surrounding this show; while we acknowledge that white washing is prevalent in mainstream Hollywood and is a potential problem, Danny Rand as a character is white in the comics and is meant to be the “other” in the mystical village in which he spent his childhood as well as in Manhattan when he tries to reintroduce himself into his former life.  The entire panel, therefore, recommends re-watching with an open mind for those who struggled with some of these aspects and a first watch for those interested in the Defenders as a whole.

THE FUTURE OF THE SHOW

Iron Fist has not yet been renewed for a second season, though Netflix is no doubt preparing for its high profile release of The Defenders miniseries in August 2017 and may be waiting to gauge the reception to its much-hyped and long-in-the-making miniseries before planning futures for Iron Fist, considering that reception has been cooler to this series than to the other three overall.  CPU! will be following Iron Fist throughout its series run, though, as part of CPU!’s Marvel’s Defenders Series, so we will definitely return to podcast about a season two, should one be commissioned.  As always, CPU! will keep you informed of all Netflix/Marvel coverage.  In addition, the CPU! Marvel’s Defenders panel will return sometime after August 18, 2017, to review the first season of The Defenders in all of its splendiferous crossover glory.  Until then!

PODCAST! – Pilots, Premieres, and First Looks and Around the Water Cooler: “Sherlock” Series 1 and 2 Recap (Sherlock Series, Episode One; MAJOR SPOILERS)

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Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

Who: “Sherlock” is a crime drama series based upon Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes detective stories that airs on the BBC in the United Kingdom and on PBS in the USA; it is currently on hiatus (should the producers decide to make more episodes, an ongoing mystery for this unique fandom).

What: “Sherlock” was created by Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss and stars Benedict Cumberbatch as the title character and Martin Freeman as Doctor John Watson. The series is set in the present day, while a one-off special features a Victorian period fantasy resembling the original Holmes stories.

When: Series One aired in the USA from October 27, 2010, to November 7, 2010, while Series Two aired from January 1, 2012, to January 15, 2012, on public broadcasting or PBS.

Where: This show is primarily set in London, England, United Kingdom, with occasional visits to London’s surrounds.

Why: To find out why individual podcast panelists started watching this show, listen to the podcast episode via the link below – though it bears mentioning that Sherlock may very well be the most popular and most requested panel/show to discuss since the inception of this humble little podcast and aside from (as previously published) Stranger Things.

How – as in How Was It?

The CPU! “First Look” 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 [limited] 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 [even fewer] 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.

Sherlock = 5, by average of the podcast panel.

SYNOPSIS

Sherlock depicts “consulting detective” Sherlock Holmes (Cumberbatch) solving various mysteries in modern-day London. Holmes is assisted by his flatmate and friend, Dr John Watson (Freeman), who has returned from military service in Afghanistan with the Royal Army Medical Corps. Although Metropolitan Police Service Detective Inspector Greg Lestrade (Rupert Graves) and others are at first suspicious of Holmes, over time his exceptional intellect and bold powers of observation persuade them of his value. In part through Watson’s blog documenting their adventures, Holmes becomes a reluctant celebrity with the press reporting on his cases and eccentric personal life. Both ordinary people and the British government ask for his help.

Although the series depicts a variety of crimes and perpetrators, Holmes’ conflict with nemesis Jim Moriarty (Andrew Scott) is a recurring feature. Molly Hooper (Louise Brealey), a pathologist at St. Bart’s Hospital, occasionally assists Holmes in his cases. Other recurring roles include Una Stubbs as Mrs. Hudson, Holmes and Watson’s landlady, and series co-creator Mark Gatiss as Holmes’ elder brother Mycroft.

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.  Because so many CPU! core panelists advocated for a Sherlock panel, I had to oblige and subsequently draw lots, since we had more volunteers than actual room on the panel – we have limits around here; it’s easier on the ears and on the Chief CP’s editing efforts.

With that kind of popular appeal, I was again afforded the opportunity to appreciate the luxury of demand and (fairly) select a sampling of those requesting to discuss Sherlock to form this panel of CPU! faithful.  The winners were some of our most frequent panelists, including Kristen (L), Nick, Hilary, Kyle, and Spencer as well as occasional TV viewer (and Spencer’s significant other), Kristin T, returning after a long absence since the conclusion of our Downton Abbey series.  In this episode, these enthusiastic six begin a lavish and effusive singing of praises for this widely acclaimed and internationally honored modern adaptation of the Sherlock Holmes canon.

In the episode linked below, this panel spent most of the chat gushing about this series’ first and second seasons (or series, if you’re British). There was little bad or negative to say because everyone universally agreed that Sherlock is television of the highest quality, from performances to writing to direction to every other facet available. The panelists noted, unanimously, that while there are relatively weaker episodes within the thirteen total episodes produced, Sherlock’s weakest efforts are far superior to the strongest examples of other shows on television currently.  In fact, our resident Sherlockians agree that the narrative is woven tightly, with a loving eye to adaptive detail spearheaded by recognized “Sherlock” expert Gatiss at the helm; that the visual presence from art direction to cinematography is perfection; and that the performances are no less than stellar, garnering nominations for BAFTAs, Emmys, and a Golden Globe as well as some bona fide wins.  If you are part of the Sherlock fan club, this discussion will only serve to validate your commonly held adoration for this sparsely produced but richly produced international juggernaut.  With all that said, have I convinced you 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, two panelists will return to Look Back at a criminally underrated five season crime drama that aired on CBS and evolved into so much more, including a high octane action adventure story as well as high concept science fiction: Person of Interest.  Stay tuned!

RECOMMENDATION

Our CPU! Sherlock panelists are “Sher-locked” over Sherlock and indubitably recommend watching this show to anyone who breathes – or, at least, to anyone who watches and enjoys television.  Period.  The general consensus among the panelists is that this well crafted, well written, well directed, and well performed piece offers “something for everyone” and can appeal to young and old, man and woman, and everything in between.  What’s more, any self-respecting Sherlock Holmes fan will no doubt marvel, as several Holmes fans on this panel have, at the excellence of this series, including the loving attention to detail hailing from the source material. The only caution raised by the panel is that any new viewer will have to learn patience to appreciate Sherlock, as new series are created as the show-runners and cast have time.  Also, a standard series contains only three film-length episodes generally, aside from the solitary Christmas special produced after Series 3.  The creators certainly know how to keep their audience coming back for more, though, and the panel universally agrees that each return to a new series is well worth the wait (and the watch – and re-watch!).

LOOKING AHEAD

The CPU! Sherlock panel will return later this spring to address – probably even more excitedly – Series 3 and 4 of this acclaimed program.  In the meantime, Series 4 finished airing in the USA earlier in 2017, though no announcement related to a potential Series 5 has yet been made, if it will be made at all.  Still, should the BBC and/or Gatiss and Moffat succeed in collecting the cast and crew for another go-round, CPU! will undoubtedly pounce upon such potential future developments!  Until that time, Sherlock is available on the Netflix streaming service to be watched repeatedly and  to one’s heart’s content (and Series 4 is set to be released to the streaming library in question on May 15, 2017). Stay tuned for Episode Two in this CPU! series, coming soon!

PODCAST! – Streaming Originals & Pilots, Premieres, and First Looks: “Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life” Recap (The Gilmore Girls Life Series, Episode Two; MAJOR SPOILERS)

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Moderator: Kristen

THE SPECS:

Who: “Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life” is a web television Netflix original series, always available on Netflix.

What: “Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life” is a sequel to Gilmore Girls, created by Amy Sherman-Palladino and starring Lauren Graham and Alexis Bledel, which ran from 2000 to 2007 on the WB network and, later, the CW.  This new program sees the return of Sherman-Palladino and her husband Daniel Palladino as executive producers to the Gilmore Girls series after leaving the original run as show-runners prior to Season 7.  The “Year in the Life” miniseries consists of four 88 to 102-minute episodes; each episode follows the characters through one of the four seasons in one year’s time.

When: The four episode miniseries was released in its entirety to the Netflix streaming library on November 25, 2016.

Where: Like the original, this show is primarily set in fictional Stars Hollow, Connecticut, though the story frequently drifts to Hartford, Connecticut, where Lorelai’s (Graham) childhood home is; to New York City; and to London, where Rory’s (Bledel) ex-boyfriend and sometime lover lives.

Why: Listen to the podcast episode for the panelists’ individual stories on how they found Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life.  Notably, this is the second episode in our “Gilmore Girls Life” series; all panelists participated in the first episode of this podcast series, “Looking Back” at the original Gilmore Girls, and are fans and viewers of varying degrees of dedication of the original program.

How – as in How Was It?

The CPU! “First Look” 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 [limited] 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 [even fewer] 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.

Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life = 3.3, by average of the podcast panel.

SYNOPSIS

Due to her frequent travels as a freelance journalist, Rory Gilmore (Bledel) gives up her New York City apartment in favor of staying at her friends’ homes in New York, Stars Hollow, and London.  In London, Rory stays with Logan Huntzberger (Matt Czuchry) while working on a book for the eccentric Naomi Shropshire (Alex Kingston). Rory and Logan are in a no-strings-attached relationship, although Logan is engaged, and Rory has a boyfriend named Paul. When Naomi fires Rory, and Logan’s fiancee moves in, Rory struggles with her lack of a career and her relationship with Logan. She reconnects with Jess Mariano (Milo Ventimiglia), who encourages her to write her own book about her life with her mother.

Emily Gilmore (Kelly Bishop) grieves the recent death of her husband and tricks her daughter Lorelai (Graham) into starting therapy with her. Lorelai has also been feeling lost due to the death of her father, the career progressions of her long-time business partners, and her relationship with Luke Danes (Scott Patterson). Lorelai and Luke have been dating for over ten years but have yet to marry or to discuss children. After fighting with Rory about the potential of Rory writing the book about their lives, Lorelai spontaneously leaves home to hike the Pacific Crest Trail.

How – as in How Was It? – THOUGHTS

Frequent CPU! contributors and panelists often suggest shows for CPU! to cover in our podcast episodes – loyal listeners should have picked up on this particular trend by now. Well, when streaming service Netflix (they owe us free subscriptions, we think!) decided to rev up the passionate fandom of romantic dramedy Gilmore Girls by producing a revival miniseries for its service featuring every member of the original cast, some of the CPU!ers became decidedly atwitter and began encouraging a Gilmore podcast series in short order.

Our most frequent contributor and panelist Kristen, who abounds in passion for the original Gilmore Girls series and who suggested that CPU! take up the Gilmore Girls mantle, returns to moderate this second episode of our own miniseries covering the various versions of this popular, fast-talking, pop-culture-referencing program, which we at CPU! are calling our “Gilmore Girls Life” series.  Listen to our first episode, in which we Look Back at Gilmore Girls, via the embedded link below:

The Gilmore Girls Life Series, Episode One: Looking Back at “Gilmore Girls”

Once again, the Chief CP steps aside from the moderating microphone, so that Kristen may serve as main moderator with the kind of passion this quirky corner of Connecticut deserves, while again participating as a regular old panelist along with our other resident “Gilmore Girls” Krista, Chelsea (L.), and Samantha.  In this second episode of our “Gilmore Girls Life” series, we discuss our favorite and least favorite moments from the revival miniseries Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, covering the goings-on of all of the Lorelais, their friends, their neighbors, their family, and their romantic partners.

This podcast was recorded in March 2017 and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as we cover major plot points throughout the four seasons of the Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life miniseries. Listen at your own risk, and let us know what you think by commenting below!

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

Remember, new episodes and blog posts are published weekly!  Next Wednesday, we are back around the water cooler and checking in with our long-running Doctor Who panel, – when our discussion will include reactions to the 2016 Christmas special “The Return of Doctor Mysterio” and prognostications upon who Peter Capaldi’s replacement will be, as Doctor #12 has announced that Series 10 will be his last with the decades-long cult show. Stay tuned!

RECOMMENDATION

The CPU! Gilmore Girls recommend watching this “Year in the Life” if and only if you watched and enjoyed the original Gilmore Girls series, due to no small amount of long-running jokes, inside references, and continuity that only original Gilmore viewers will likely recognize and fully appreciate.  The general consensus of the panel is that the four miniseries episodes are “less than” in terms of quality and enjoyment than those of the original seven seasons, so much so that those panelists with the highest expectations experienced the deepest disappointment (though the converse of that relationship is also true).  The panel’s general/universal theory is that these four movie-length episodes suffer in light of the producer Palladinos’ apparently acrimonious split from the WB/CW networks during the seventh season of the original show, since Amy and Daniel largely ignored, by avoiding direct viewing of, the seventh season of the original series, which they did not write or produce.  The panelists also struggle with the present-day behaviors of the characters, which do not always seem to jive with our perceptions of the same characters from the six seasons of the original series, which the Palladinos did oversee. This is particularly true because, the panelists agree, the miniseries lacks sufficient backstory to help viewers understand fully how Lorelai and Rory and their closest loved ones arrive at the series starting point other than by providing current updates, some of which are far afield from how the characters ended the original series.  Thus, the best way for any Gilmore fan to enjoy these four episodes is twofold: lower expectations drastically, and view all four episodes as one extra long movie rather than four mini-movies told over four seasons of a year. In any event, if, as a viewer, you have missed these characters and desperately need to know what their futures bring/have brought, “A Year in the Life” is worth at least one viewing because all your favorites make some appearance and, for the most part, flex the once dormant muscles of their signature roles quite nicely.

THE FUTURE OF THE SHOW

Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life and its four episodes are all that Netflix originally intended for this much ballyhooed revival; however, the success of the series’ release helped to increase the streaming service’s viewing and subscription numbers so convincingly, pervasive rumors have sprung up suggesting that Netflix and the Palladinos are considering future installments of the lives of Lorelai, Rory, and all of their Stars Hollow compatriots.  As of the publication of this post, though, no official announcement or renewal order has been issued.  Should Netflix see fit to make more “Gilmore,” CPU!’s “Gilmore Girls” will assuredly reconvene to cover and to digest any new episodes.  Stay tuned for potential future developments!  Until that time, this miniseries is available on the Netflix streaming service to be watched and re-watched to one’s heart’s content.  Enjoy!

PODCAST! – Streaming Originals & Pilots, Premieres, and First Looks: “Stranger Things” – The Season One Recap (MAJOR SPOILERS)

Image result for stranger things title

Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

Who: “Stranger Things” is a science fiction-horror web television Netflix original series, always available on Netflix.

What: “Stranger Things,” created, written, directed and co-executive produced by the Duffer Brothers, as well as co-executive produced by Shawn Levy and Dan Cohen, stars Winona Ryder, David Harbour, Finn Wolfhard, Millie Bobby Brown, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin, Natalia Dyer, Charlie Heaton, Cara Buono, and Matthew Modine, with Noah Schnapp and Joe Keery in recurring roles. The first season focuses on the investigation into the disappearance of a young boy by his friends, older brother, and traumatized mother, as well as the local police chief, amid supernatural events occurring around the town, including the appearance of a psychokinetic girl who helps the missing boy’s friends in their own search.

When: The first season of the series was released in its entirety to the Netflix streaming library on July 15, 2016.

Where: The action is set in the fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana, during the 1980s.

Why: To find out why individual podcast panelists started watching this show, listen to the podcast episode via the link below – though it bears mentioning that Stranger Things may very well be the most popular and most requested panel/show to discuss since the inception of this humble little podcast.

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.

Stranger Things = 4.9, by average of the podcast panel.

SYNOPSIS

The Hawkins National Laboratory ostensibly performs scientific research for the US Department of Energy but secretly performs experiments into the paranormal and supernatural, including those that involve human test subjects, which start to affect the unknowing residents of Hawkins in calamitous ways.

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.  Because for the first time in CPU!’s history, I had enough regular panelists requesting this panel to form two panels. Some members even advocated actually forming two Stranger Things panels (that’s easy for them to say when they are not also the producer and editor of the podcast!).  Be that as it may, Stranger Things was a runaway hit with the CPU! core, just as it was with the nationwide water cooler that is America when it was first released in summer 2016.

Really, what’s not to love?  If you grew up in the 1980s, this show appeals to your sense of nostalgia.  If you are older, this show and its youngest characters remind you of your adult children when they were young.  If you are younger, the child stars and characters of the series are easy to relate to because they are timeless archetypes, amalgamations of similar characters that appear throughout the pop culture of the past thirty or forty years.  In fact, the Duffer Brothers deftly pay homage to the atmosphere of the decade; the influences of auteurs on this scifi/horror drama such as Speilberg, Lucas, Scott, Carpenter, Craven, and others; and the appeal of the vintage and the tactile to an increasingly expanding group of disaffected post-millennials, who see bits of themselves in the Dungeons and Dragons playing boys or the quiet and scared yet powerful Eleven (Brown).

With that kind of popular appeal, I was afforded the opportunity to appreciate the luxury of demand and (fairly) select a sampling of those requesting to discuss Stranger Things to become this panel of CPU! faithful.  The winners were Hilary and Kyle (most frequently appearing on our superhero/comic book adaptation panels), Chelsea and Rob (two of our Game of Thrones panelists), and Michael, who typically delights in our Looking Back series.  A representative bunch, if I say so myself.

What’s more, this panel spent most of the chat gushing about this series’ first season. There was little bad or negative to say because everyone universally agreed that the creators and show-runners produced something of a zeitgeist – a character driven, nostalgia-rooted story that appeals to our basic fears and nightmares.  The story is woven tightly with an organic and logical flow, the visual presence from art direction to cinematography is perfection, and the performances were no less than stellar – so much so that the entire cast won the Best Ensemble SAG award for television drama.  If you are part of the Stranger Things fan club, this discussion will only serve to validate your commonly held adoration for this unlikely sleeper hit.  Have I convinced you 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 begin a new series with a brand new panel around the CPU! Water Cooler, namely “The Gilmore Girls Life” series, beginning with a Look Back at the original seven seasons of popular cult romantic dramedy Gilmore Girls, moderated by frequent panelist and increasingly more frequent moderator Kristen. Stay tuned!

RECOMMENDATION

The CPU! Stranger Things podcast panel essentially recommends this show to anyone who breathes – or, at least, watches and enjoys television.  Period.  The general consensus among the panelists is that this well crafted, well written, well directed, and well performed piece offers “something for everyone” and can appeal to young and old, man and woman, people who like science fiction and horror and people who do not, and everyone and everything in between.  The only caution the panel would offer is that the program succeeds in providing some legitimate scares and moments of the disturbed or moments designed to unsettle the viewer.  With proper forewarning, though, even the most squeamish or the most overactive imaginations among the viewing audience can find something to enjoy in this perfect nosh of creepy nostalgia.

THE FUTURE OF THE SHOW

Stranger Things was (readily) renewed for a second season, which will be released to the Netflix streaming library on October 31, 2017 – Halloween, of course.  Our Stranger Things panel will reconvene some time thereafter to dissect Season Two, in or out of the Upside Down, and, as always, CPU! will stay abreast of and report all material Stranger Things coverage.  Until then!

PODCAST! – Streaming Originals & Pilots, Premieres, and First Looks: Marvel’s Defenders Series, Episode 4, “Marvel’s Luke Cage” – The Season One Recap (MAJOR SPOILERS)

Image result for luke cage title

Moderated by: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

Who: “Marvel’s Luke Cage” is a web television series based upon the Marvel Comics character Luke Cage and is a Netflix original series, always available on Netflix.

What: “Marvel’s Luke Cage,” created by Cheo Hodari Coker, is set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), sharing continuity with the films of the franchise, and is the third in a series of shows that will lead up to a Defenders crossover miniseries. Mike Colter stars as Luke Cage, a former convict with superhuman strength and unbreakable skin who now fights crime.

When: The first season of the series was released in its entirety to the Netflix streaming library on September 30, 2016.

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

Why: To find out why individual podcast panelists started watching this show, listen to the podcast episode via the link below – though I will say that all of the panelists are fans of the Netflix original library and/or superhero/comic book based shows in their own right and have found themselves eagerly anticipating new entries in Netflix’s “Defenders” series of releases.  As a result, they’re committed to a CPU! series about same!

How – as in How Was It?

The pilot/premiere rating scale:

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

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

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

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

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

Marvel’s Luke Cage = 2.6, by average of the podcast panel.

SYNOPSIS

When a sabotaged experiment gives him super strength and unbreakable skin, Luke Cage (Colter) becomes a fugitive attempting to rebuild his life in Harlem and must soon confront his past and fight a battle for the heart of his city.

How – as in How Was It? – THOUGHTS

As long-time listeners should know by now, CPU! is chock full of panelists with a proclivity for comic book and superhero TV shows and films, including your Chief CP. Our Marvel’s Defenders Series was born of this proclivity, as we have already covered the two available seasons of Daredevil and the one available season of Jessica Jones.  Listen to the links below:

Marvel’s Defenders Series, Episode One, “Daredevil,” Season 1

Marvel’s Defenders Series, Episode Two, “Jessica Jones,” Season 1

Marvel’s Defenders Series, Episode Three, “Daredevil,” Season 2

As such, it was only right that we cover the next series in this universe, now the third in Netflix’s series of Marvel-centered shows leading up to a special “Defenders” miniseries, which will feature heroes like Daredevil and Jessica Jones joining together to form a special force of the ilk of the Avengers or of the Justice League in the DC Universe.  Thus, we bring you our first ever Luke Cage podcast – and the fourth episode of our Marvel’s Defenders Series – featuring Defenders panelists Nick, Kristen, Hilary, Kyle, and Spencer.  While our panel has formed an entertaining bond centered around these Netflix superhero shows, the bond in question betrays a unified front consisting of a general dislike of this latest Defenders’ entry.  The common complaint among the panelists was that the pacing of this otherwise visually stunning piece rendered the show slow and mostly boring, though we understand that there is some popular approval of the series.  Nevertheless, while the panel’s overall stance may be somewhat controversial, we do have our supporting reasons – to find out what they are, 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 will try for “take two” (after more editing time) to rejoin our DCTU (DC Television Universe) panel–or, in other words, the Marvel’s Defenders panel taking off their Marvel hats and putting on their DC chapeaus–in a new but cheeky format, less around the water cooler and more within CPU!’s fractured fairy tale version of The Newlywed Game.  In the forthcoming episode, all panelists engage in a brief roundup of the progress of Arrow, The Flash, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, and Supergirl, at least through the mid-season cliffhangers/finales for all four shows, for the 2016-2017 season!  In this format, each panelist will separately touch base with Chief CP Kylie, providing thoughts and feedback about how the multiverse of DC Comic adaptations is faring on the CW this season.  With six panelists, that’s a lot of opinions (some might say hot air) to sift through! Stay tuned for the end result!

RECOMMENDATION

Luke Cage is tepidly recommended by our CPU! panel to fans of comic books, particularly from the Marvel universe; fans of the Defenders series who are completion-ists; and fans of the artistic and cultural contribution of Harlem, as the panel agrees that this series was, in many ways, a deft love letter to Harlem and its literal and symbolic position in this, our modern society.  By the same token, the panel generally and universally agrees that Luke Cage is by and large well-performed but poorly directed, with some good writing but questionable continuity and slow-to-the-point-of-drudgery pacing. There is also a universal dislike for the character and performance of Cornell “Cottonmouth” Stokes; even though the actor behind the role, Mahershala Ali, just won an Oscar, we feel that the central focus devoted to this character on the part of the directors (and producers) in the first half of Luke Cage, and Ali’s uneven performance, largely undermines the success of this first season of the series.  In fact, all on the panel agree that if not for the podcast, each and every panelist would have bailed on the show within the first six episodes, despite the fact that every panelist agrees that the last three episodes were decidedly the best of the season and markedly better than all of the episodes before them combined. Super-fan Kyle, who is the most familiar with this universe, thinks that the Luke Cage character is performed well but is changed so drastically, along with supporting characters and some story elements, from the source material, it is almost not worth watching this series; he recommends reading the comic books on which the show is based instead.

THE FUTURE OF THE SHOW

Luke Cage was renewed for a second season, though an official premiere/release date has not yet been announced.  Netflix has confirmed that the four Defenders’ individual character series will be released first, followed by the (first) Defenders miniseries, before Luke Cage’s second season is likely to drop (and CPU! expects that the third season of Daredevil and the second season of Jessica Jones may yet come first, as they did before the release of Luke Cage).  CPU! will be following Luke Cage throughout its series run, though, as part of CPU!’s Marvel’s Defenders Series, so we will definitely return to podcast about season two some time after it is released.  Until then!