Person of Interest, 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 April 2017, our relevant persons of interest – including Moderator Kylie, Spencer, and Selene – pine wistfully while praising effusively and Looking Back at the five intense seasons of Person of Interest, which aired from 2011 to 2016 on CBS. If you have not watched Person of Interest, be aware that there are MAJOR SPOILERS! Tell us what you think in the comments below and check out the blog and YouTube for other TV related discussions, in both podcast and blog format. Also, if there are other shows you’re interested in the blog covering, sound off below! Tell us what you like or don’t like. Keep the discussion going!

PODCAST! – Looking Back at “Person of Interest” (MAJOR SPOILERS)

Image result for person of interest title card

Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

Who: “Person of Interest,” a science fiction crime drama, created by Jonathan Nolan, that aired on CBS from 2011 to 2016.

What: “Person of Interest” features Michael Emerson (Lost) as Harold Finch, a technology and computer genius who, in the wake of 9/11, invents a Machine, which he sells to the government.  The Machine is designed to predict disasters and events with a high probability of catastrophic fatalities, except that Finch becomes aware that the Machine also predicts singular deaths, termed “acceptable losses,” that it discards or that are ignored by those associated with the Machine.  Consumed by several personal crises, including knowledge of the Machine’s capabilities, Finch hires former CIA-operative John Reese (Jim Caviezel, Passion of the Christ) as a vigilante responsible for saving the endangered lives predicted by the Machine.  In the first few seasons, Taraji P. Henson plays a police detective who first suspects and follows the mysterious operatives and then becomes an integral part of their operation. In addition, as the program progresses, the complicated lives and backgrounds of not only Finch and Reese but of everyone connected directly or indirectly to the Machine, as well as the Machine’s own complex programming, expose the corruption of higher powers, including federal government agencies, the New York Police Department, and the seedy underbelly and crime syndicates of greater New York City, (for a more detailed Synopsis, read here: http://www.aceshowbiz.com/tv/person_of_interest/summary.html).

When: The show aired for five seasons, from 2011 to 2016, on CBS.

Where: The show is set in New York City and follows Reese, Detective Fusco (Kevin Chapman), and Finch, as well as other characters that come and go throughout the series, as the Machine generates new numbers with associated lives to save or perpetrators to stop. Occasionally, the action leaves New York State if there is a larger story arc or a flashback providing character background.

Why: The Chief CP initially watched the show for three solid reasons: J.J. Abrams is an executive producer, Jonathan Nolan (i.e. Christopher Nolan’s writer brother) created the concept, and the show features Michael Emerson, best known as morally ambiguous Benjamin Linus on Lost, one of the truly great actors on that show.  I was also intrigued by seeing Jim Caviezel in a non-Jesus role and enjoyed Taraji P. Henson in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.  I kept watching because I never could have conceived what the program would ultimately become or how the high-concept premise would offer longevity and/or wildly entertaining and intellectually stimulating story possibilities.  I was pleasantly surprised by just how exciting, intelligent, and thoroughly engaging this show became.  I thought I was the member of a hidden minority, but after some searching, I found other POIs within the CPU! circles willing to chat about this show – and their admiration for it, as it turns out, matches my own.

How – as in How Do We Really Feel About This Show (in the End)?!

The Chief CP previously covered Person of Interestspecifically in blog form.  Read prior entries via clicking the helpful hyperlinks below:

The Season 3 Premiere

The Season 3 Mid-Season Progress Report

Despite these two articles/reviews, Person of Interest coverage lapsed a bit, per usual, as the Chief CP launched the podcast portion of CPU! (but look how we’re finally catching up!). Also, Person of Interest is intense.  It’s intense, I tell you! – and, therefore, sometimes hard to commit attention to watching, lest the intensity overwhelm.  Plus, following the major character death previously covered in the most recent review, it was hard for me to recover to watch this show again – no joke.  Boy, am I glad I persevered, though!

Also, as we often mention within the podcast episode hyperlinked below, this show was criminally – criminally – underrated.  This high octane action thriller with science fiction aspects embracing super intelligent artificial intelligence just might have been too much for the average TV viewer, as we tentatively discuss in the episode.  The ratings certainly seemed to reflect a wider trepidation in becoming invested in this truly well executed program; in fact, after tossing it around like a rag doll within its weekly schedule for the first few seasons, CBS, in the end, elected to cancel this headily premised show while ordering a shortened fifth season to tie up loose story threads. The good news: Person of Interest reached a grand total of 103 episodes, making it a candidate for syndication, should a benevolent network appreciate its quality and deft execution and elect to give it an afterlife.  The bad news: not enough people saw the show when it was actually airing, rendering the show’s pickup even for syndication a tough sell in the end.  At least Netflix (they really should pay us) can come to the rescue in the meantime.

Plus, though I originally posted about the show on social media as a podcast option over a year ago, no potential panelists emerged or volunteered.  It was only through the steady but exciting expansion of the podcast and the casual conversations one has about TV – it’s how the podcast was inspired, don’t you know – that I was able to assemble a small but super intelligent threesome to sift through the long-term relevance of Person of Interest and its story about super-computers, moral quandaries, and diverse characters with layers like onions and slick chemistry beyond measure. Thus, herein, familiar panelists Spencer and Selene gather “around the water cooler” for a long, loving look back at POI and all that it had to offer, from Caviezel’s expert hand-to-hand combat to Emerson’s riveting, philosophically challenging portrayal of Finch; from Amy Acker’s charming psychopath Root to Sarah Shahi’s steely sociopath Shaw; from the death of Carter (as Henson jumped to Empire on Fox) to the long life of Bear the German Shepherd.  The podcast panelists, your Chief CP and moderator included, spend some time wistfully pining for the days of an active Person of Interest – a special and largely overlooked five-year moment in TV history.

This podcast was recorded in April 2017 and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as we cover plot points throughout the Person of Interest series, including the rise and fall of Finch’s beloved Machine. Listen at your own risk, and let us know what you think by commenting below!

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

Remember, new episodes and blog posts are published weekly!  Next Wednesday, our Marvel’s Defenders panel will be back around the water cooler to start controversy over the latest solo Defender series, Marvel’s Iron Fist.  You won’t want to miss it. Stay tuned!

Questions, Impressions, and Considerations (from prior Person of Interest coverage)

1) Will Root (Acker) being holed up in Finch’s library last, or will the Machine bust her out of her newest prison?

ANSWER: In Season 3, the second half, Root’s ingenuity and zeal to “free” the Machine gives Root the tools needed to break out of this latest prison.  This breakout leads to Root’s capture by shadow government operation Northern Lights, which spawns Samaritan.  Root eventually becomes a bona fide part of the team when she surgically implants a device that allows her to hear instructions from the Machine directly after she is deafened via torture during her Northern Lights capture.

2) Will Elias (Enrico Colantoni) and the Machine ever cross paths?

ANSWER: Though Elias and the Machine never formally meet, Reese and Finch finally make Elias aware of the Machine just prior to Elias (spoiler) faking his death at the end of Season 4.  Elias aids Reese and Finch in their fight against Samaritan throughout the final season – though he does not survive the war.

3) Will Shaw (Sarah Shahi) smack some sense into Reese?  Will she ever get in touch with her inner human?

ANSWER: Shaw and humanity are not overlapping figures in this grand scheme; however, Shaw softens somewhat when she becomes romantically involved with Root later in the series.  As for helping Reese to emerge from the funk caused by Carter’s shocking and abrupt death, Shaw proves downright giddy to fill in for Reese during Reese’s absence as the resident brute muscle marching on behalf of the Machine, though she lobs a few sassy one-liners in Reese’s generally depressed direction for good measure.  As she does.

4) Will Fusco’s role in Finch’s merry band of misfits grow?  Will he be able to save Reese from himself and his spiraling self-destruction as he mourns Carter?

ANSWER: It is Fusco who slaps some sense into Reese in the end.  Fusco seems to make it his personal mission to help John come to grips with the reality of his situation – and then inherits that mission full time when the Machine re-purposes Reese as Carter’s NYPD replacement as a cover to shield Reese’s identity from the watchful digital eyes of Samaritan.  When Reese becomes Fusco’s police partner, Fusco becomes (more) integral to Finch’s overall operation.

5) Where do they go from here?  Will Reese recover?  What is the Machine (and, therefore, Root’s) endgame?

ANSWER: The short answer is that with the activation of Samaritan, Finch’s team is forced to work in secret – that is, under even further cover than ever before. Though Reese recovers, Finch, Reese, and the others are frequently thwarted by Samaritan, who becomes an efficient adversary of the Machine very quickly. Samaritan’s endgame is to manipulate global circumstances such that war, violent crime, disease, hunger, and poverty are eliminated.  Samaritan often orchestrates these improvements at the expense of collateral damage, in human life, while the Machine learns, via its programmer and master Finch, that human life should be valued. While the Machine’s designed endgame is not necessarily clear, at least as explained by Root and/or at the outset of its sentience, the actual fate of the Machine is tied closely to the defeat of Samaritan via what would be several sacrifices on the part of our misfit band of vigilantes.

6) What will Finch do to continue the quest when so much of his operation is in shambles following the cataclysmic confrontation with HR?

ANSWER: Finch eventually brings Root into the fold and eventually – although not until Season 5 – explains the stakes to poor hapless Fusco.  Finch also abandons his library and assumes the secret identity of an assistant professor at a local university while the Machine attempts to cloak the team from Samaritan.  The billionaire Finch also establishes an underground lair at an abandoned subway station, which allows Reese, Finch, and the team to continue to receive “irrelevant” numbers from the Machine while staying off Samaritan’s radar.  In short, the team rebounds, just in time for the final showdown…

7) Will Finch or any of the group have to destroy the Machine in the end?

ANSWER: The short answer – yes.  Finch pulls the proverbial kill switch, though his sentient Machine recognizes the need for the eventuality and cooperates with Finch’s decision because it is the only way to stop Samaritan.

8) Will the Machine continue to predict deaths, either individual or, in connection to its original purpose, larger/catastrophic disasters?

ANSWER: The Machine nearly loses its own sentience at the end of Season 4 when Samaritan is able to scale a full blown assault, causing Root and Finch to have to scramble to save the Machine’s core programming.  A reboot using a score of stolen Playstation 4’s, thanks to Root, allows the Machine to revive and to continue its purpose, even throughout a shortened Season 5.  Once Harold frees the Machine and allows it to expand its programming on the open net, its ability to predict everything broadens without tether, including its own demise in sacrifice to the greater good.

PARTING SHOTS & RECOMMENDATION

Person of Interest boasts riveting storytelling with threads that interweave, overlap, tie together, unravel, and come back together in the end.  Each episode is jam packed with so-called “holy shit” moments, culminating in some of the biggest and most mind-blowing plot developments in television (all hyperbole and exaggeration aside) bolstered by the fully formed and engaging chemistry between this ensemble cast of actors.  In fact, the podcast panelists see Person of Interest as one of the most exciting shows on TV in recent history, though not enough viewers tuned in to keep it going for the long term.

Further, the POI CPU! panelists recommend this program to anyone who likes fast-paced, serial television with easy questions, no easy answers, and witty and intelligent writing, not to mention solid performances from a stellar cast.  Those who enjoy science fiction thrillers like The X-Files, Fringe, and the “Terminator” series will likely and most easily find love for POI, though fans of Caviezel, Emerson, Henson, Acker, and others in the cast will not be disappointed by the performances of these actors on this show.  The panelists universally advocate that there might be something for everyone while warning that this is not “turn your brain off TV.”  Person of Interest makes you think, but the mental stimulation is satisfying and is paid off handsomely by the end of the series.  In fact, aside from the network’s wavering support for POI by the series finale, the podcast panelists, your moderator included, could find little bad to say about POI, nursing a high affection for the show and recommending it fervently to anyone seeking something new/old to add to their present watch lists.

The entire series of Person of Interest is available on Netflix.  I’ll take my free subscription now, thank you. 😉

PODCAST! – Pilots, Premieres, and First Looks and Around the Water Cooler: DC Television Universe Series, Episode 5, “Supergirl” – Season One, the DCTU Panel’s Review and Recap (MAJOR SPOILERS)

Image result for supergirl title card first season

Moderated by: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

Who:  “Supergirl” is a superhero action-adventure drama based on the DC Comics character Supergirl (Kara Zor-El), created by Otto Binder and Al Plastino, which currently airs on the CW fall to spring Mondays at 8:00 PM (though it initially premiered on CBS during the 2015-2016 season).

What: “Supergirl,” a series developed television series developed by Ali Adler, Greg Berlanti, and Andrew Kreisberg (the latter two having previously created Arrow and The Flash) and starring Melissa Benoist in the title role.  This series is considered a spin-off from Arrow and is part of the so-called “Arrowverse.” Supergirl is a costumed super-heroine who is the cousin to Superman and one of the last surviving Kryptonians.

When: Season One aired on CBS from October 26, 2015, to April 18, 2016.  Season Two premiered on October 10, 2016, on the CW and is currently airing but will not be discussed until a later “DCTU Series” episode.

Where: The action is primarily set in the fictional National City, presumably a West Coast location in the DC Comics Universe.

Why: To find out why individual podcast panelists started watching this show, listen to the podcast episode via the link below!  It should be noted that CPU! Chief Couch Potato Kylie previously picked up this show during the 2015 Fall Preview, noting:

Pro: Melissa Benoist doesn’t offend me.  As the erstwhile Marley on Glee, she’s actually the only [new] New Direction-er that didn’t annoy the pants off me.  Pro: Dr. Lexie Gray (Chyler Leigh) plays Kara Zor-El’s adopted sister, and her departure was one of a series of missteps that paved my shark-jumping abandonment of Grey’s Anatomy. I missed her.  I do believe the “adopted sister” motif deviates from the canon slightly, but then again, Supergirl does not enjoy the consistency of the threads underlying the Man of Steel’s long history.  Pro: James “Jimmy” Olsen (Mehcad Brooks) is black.  Hey, that doesn’t often happen.  Pro: this is not Smallville’s version of the same character.  I despised their take on Supergirl and the actress who played her.  Con: this seems very teen drama relatively speaking; despite Kara being 24, according to the synopsis, Marley grows into her cape in her own version of Smallville? Could get very old very quickly and be a bit too derivative of the Superman tellings.  Con: Ally McBeal herself (Calista Flockhart), post-face-lift and scary contacts, plays the editor.  Con: who could they possibly stunt cast as cousin Kal-El, i.e. Supes the Man himself? Because they should stunt cast him, even though they’ve already said they won’t.  I think they must (is that who Dean Cain is playing…someone freaking page Tom Welling already!?  Or, Henry Cavill if one must).  The pros outweigh the cons as far as adding it to my already miles long list, plus it’s a DC property, so I’m along for the ride.  I just hope that the earnestness that Melissa Benoist brings to her roles renders her a convincing “Kara Zor-El.”

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.

Supergirl = 4.1, by average of the podcast panel.

SYNOPSIS

Kara Zor-El (Benoist) was sent to Earth from the doomed planet Krypton as a 13-year-old by her parents Zor-El (Robert Gant) and Alura (Laura Benanti). Alura gave her instructions to protect her infant cousin Kal-El, and informed her that she, like her cousin, would have extraordinary powers under Earth’s yellow sun. Kara’s spacecraft was knocked off course by a shock wave from Krypton’s explosion and forced into the Phantom Zone, where it stayed for 24 years. During this period, time stopped for Kara, and when the spacecraft eventually escaped the Phantom Zone, she still appeared to be a 13-year-old girl. By the time the spacecraft crash landed on Earth, Kal-El had grown up and become Superman. After helping her out of the craft, Superman took Kara to be adopted by his friends, the Danvers family. The series begins eleven years later, when the now 24-year-old Kara is learning to embrace her powers after previously hiding them.

In the first season, Kara Danvers becomes Supergirl. Having hid her powers for more than a decade, believing that Earth didn’t need another hero, Kara is forced to reveal her powers to thwart an unexpected disaster, setting her on her own journey of heroism as National City’s protector.  Kara discovers that hundreds of the criminals her mother prosecuted as a judge on Krypton are hiding on Earth, including her mother’s twin sister Astra (also played by Benanti) and Astra’s husband Non (Chris Vance), who seek to rule the world. After briefly becoming suspicious of the true agenda of her boss, Hank Henshaw (David Harewood), she and her adoptive sister, Alex Danvers (Leigh), secretly discover that Henshaw is actually a benevolent alien refugee, J’onn J’onzz, who has resided on Earth for over fifty years after escaping a holocaust on his home world of Mars. J’onn infiltrated the government’s militaristic anti-alien organization, the DEO, to reform the organization, to watch over both Alex and Kara, and to guide the latter in the use of her powers due to his experience with his own abilities. Kara is also being targeted by Earth’s criminals as the result of her being related to Superman and, later on, encounters an emerging community of meta-humans and individuals from parallel universes. In the process, Kara accumulates her own rogues gallery, which seeks to defeat and destroy her. She is aided by a few close friends and family who guard her secrets—most notably her cousin’s longtime friend, James Olsen (Brooks)—which also serves as a major plot in high tech mogul Maxwell Lord’s (Peter Facinelli) scheme to expose Kara’s identity.

How – as in How Was It? – THOUGHTS

This is the fifth episode in CPU!’s DCTU series.  Our first episode covered the first two seasons of Arrow, our second episode covered Arrow’s third and fourth seasons, our third episode covered the first two seasons of The Flash, and out fourth episode covered the first season of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. Listen to each episode here:

DCTU Series, Episode 1, “Arrow,” Seasons One and Two

DCTU Series, Episode 2, “Arrow,” Seasons Three and Four

DCTU Series, Episode 3, “The Flash,” Seasons One and Two

DCTU Series, Episode 4, “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow,” Season One

As discussed previously, since the Arrowverse/DC Television Universe is so closely interrelated, what with all of the spin-offs and character crossovers, it seemed like a universe ripe for the podcasting here at CPU!, especially since so many of our most frequent panelists are comic book/superhero franchise fans.  After all, it’s safe to assume that we would have started covering Arrow or The Flash individually, but since it was expected that the same panelists would keep coming back to discuss these shows, and since the shows themselves share an expanding universe that used to cross networks, though not so anymore, your friendly neighborhood Chief Couch Potato figured, “Why not make it a series?”

Thus, our DC Television Universe Series (or DCTU Series) was born.  All of our DCTU panelists should be familiar voices, though after recent roster changes, the returning panelists after Episode 4 are Hilary, Kyle, Spencer, and newest panelist Kristen (though she is not new to CPU! by any stretch) for this fifth episode of our DCTU series, in which we cover season one of Supergirl.

In this episode, the panel is generally complimentary about Supergirl, regarding it to be a stronger show than another DCTU entry, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, and good enough to be nearly tied (in terms of quality) with universe originator Arrow. Several of the panelists are quick to point out some minor flaws in the story progression and possible CBS influence on the show, particularly in the romantic comedy/Devil Wears Prada vibes created by the interplay between Kara and Cat Grant (Flockhart), but are universal in their appreciation of Benoist’s portrayal of the title character.  Her winning charisma and “adorkable” pastiche, and, indeed, her earnestness, sold everyone convincingly and left each panelist feeling the show to be at least mildly enjoyable if not out and out binge-able TV.  Of course, these reactions are not taking into account the current season.  The CW is airing new episodes of the program’s second season presently; Supergirl is on its mid-season hiatus, but CPU! will evaluate Supergirl’s second season progress in future episodes.

In the meantime, this particular CPU! episode was recorded in November 2016, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as the panelists cover key plot points of the first season of Supergirl. Listen at your own risk, and let us know what you think by commenting below!

PS, to settle a debate within the podcast, Supergirl the film came out in 1984. Superman IV: The Quest for Peace was released in 1987.  I relied on the fact that I was alive during the time when citing those facts. 😉  Though, granted, it wasn’t released 40 years but 32 years ago. I never claimed that math was my strong suit. 😉

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! Our next episode will kick off CPU!’s mid-season revisits of the fall to spring dramas we cover, beginning with Marvel: Agents of SHIELD and the first half of the fourth season, focusing on “Ghost Rider.”  In addition, the mid-season “Progress Report” tracking the longevity of pilots introduced or to be introduced this 2016-2017 season will be published on Tuesday, January 3, 2017! Stay tuned!

RECOMMENDATION

Supergirl is recommended to fans of comic books, particularly from the DC universe, and of the character of Supergirl/Kara Zor-El (or even Superman/Kal-El/Clark Kent); to fans of the other Arrowverse shows (particularly since the crossovers started even when Supergirl was on CBS); to fans of comic books who can also tolerate romantic comedy formulas, as the first season is somewhat derivative of rom-com tropes; and to young girls and female fans who champion “girl power” and who might find a solid idol in Kara Danvers/Zor-El aka Supergirl.  The panelists universally felt that the quality of Supergirl vies with the quality of Arrow and handily surpasses that of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, which was released in the same season, though at mid-season and on the CW. All in all, the panel was generally complimentary toward this series and believes most who sit down to watch it will find something to like about it, regardless of whether or not those who do are fans of comic books or adaptations of said comic books.

THE FUTURE OF THE SHOW

Supergirl is currently airing its second season; the mid-season finale of Season Two aired on November 28, 2016, on the CW. The show will return from its mid-season hiatus on January 23, 2017.  CPU!’s next DCTU episode will be our DCTU Mid-Season Roundup, which will check on the progress of all four Arrowverse shows–Arrow, The Flash, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, and Supergirl–and which will publish after the New Year, schedule permitting. Like, follow, and/or subscribe to the blog, iTunes, YouTube, Stitcher Radio, Google Play, or our social media accounts to stay abreast of new episodes in the DCTU podcast series as well as of new episodes for all of our podcast panels!  And, if you feel so inclined, please leave us a review. Thank you!🙂

PODCAST! – Pilots, Premieres, and First Looks & Streaming Originals: “Fuller House” – Season One, the Full/er House Panel’s Review and Recap (Full/er House Series, Episode Two; MAJOR SPOILERS)

Image result for fuller house title

Moderator: Kristen

THE SPECS:

Who: “Fuller House,”an American family situation comedy and sequel to Full House, airing on the Netflix streaming service as an original series, which means, for the record, that is available to Netflix subscribers exclusively, as it is Netflix produced original content.

What:  The series centers around D.J. Tanner-Fuller (Candace Cameron Bure), a veterinarian and widowed mother of three sons, whose sister and best friend—the mother to a teenage daughter—provide support in her sons’ upbringings by moving in with her and into D.J. and Stephanie’s childhood home.

When: Season One was released to streaming service Netflix on February 26, 2016, to the tune of thirteen episodes.

Where: The show is set in San Francisco, California.

Why: Listen to the podcast for the panelists’ individual stories on how they found Fuller House.

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.

Fuller House = 3.4, by average of the podcast panel.

SYNOPSIS

After the sudden death of D.J. Tanner-Fuller’s (Bure) husband, Tommy, who was fulfilling his hazardous duties as a firefighter, D.J. accepts the help of her sister, Stephanie (Jodie Sweetin), and her best friend, Kimmy (Andrea Barber), as they move in to take part in raising D.J.’s three sons: 13-year-old Jackson (Michael Campion), 7-year-old Max (Elias Harger), and baby Tommy Jr. (Dashiell and Fox Messitt). Kimmy’s teenage daughter, Ramona (Soni Nicole Bringas), also moves in with D.J., Stephanie, Kimmy, and D.J.’s children.  Most of the Full House ensemble cast reprise their roles on Fuller House, either as regular cast members or in guest appearances, with the exception of Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, who alternated in the role of Michelle Tanner on Full House.

How – as in How Was It? – THOUGHTS

So many CPU! regulars, including frequent CPU! contributor and panelist Kristen, love Full House and were particular excited by the Netflix revival of this long dormant sitcom, creating a brand new chapter for the series, which the streaming channel calls Fuller House. In fact, Kristen saw an opportunity for a new CPU! podcast series in which CPU! panelists look back at the program that started it all while looking forward “around the water cooler” as new seasons of the reboot are released.  Thus, herein we offer the second episode of our series covering the various versions of this sitcom, which we at CPU! are calling our “Full/er House” series.  Listen to our first episode, in which we Look Back at Full House, via the embedded link below:

Full/er House Series, Episode One: Looking Back at “Full House”

In addition, lacking the ability to fully appreciate Full House (and Fuller House) age-wise by a few years, the Chief CP steps aside from the moderating microphone, so that Kristen may serve as main moderator with the kind of enthusiasm this juggernaut of nostalgia deserves. Kristen is, in turn, joined by series panelists Andrew, Allie, Amie, Leslie, and Jenn.  In this second episode of our “Full/er House” series, we discuss our favorite and least favorite moments from the inaugural season of the rebootwhich the panel watched with widely varying reactions.  Take a listen to the episode if you have watched the season and gauge whether you agree or disagree; chances are, you are bound to agree with at least one of the panelists but not necessarily a majority of them.

This podcast was recorded in December 2016, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as we cover major plot points and comedic situations portrayed in the first season of Fuller House. 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, as CPU! gets caught up at mid-season, we take a holiday break by taking a break from the holidays and will return to our DCTU series for a discussion of the first season of Supergirl, earlier than anticipated. If you are a DC fan or a loyal listener of our DCTU series, don’t miss the new episode!

In addition, per annual tradition, on Tuesday, CPU! will publish its first progress report of the 2016-2017 season gauging the progress of new shows and pilots that have been introduced by the major networks this season.  Stay tuned for that as well!

And from all us at CPU!, Happy Holidays to you and yours – and have a Happy New Year!

RECOMMENDATION

Fuller House is recommended by the entire Full/er House panel, mainly for the nostalgic appeal and “turn your brain off” level of entertainment resulting from the perennially saccharine premise of this well-loved cast and the tongue-in-cheek presentation of its “aw, shucks” humor. Most of the panelists would hesitate to recommend the show to anyone who has not seen the original Full House series; because Fuller House relies so heavily on meta throwback jokes and references to the original series, those who have not seen the original series will either not get the jokes or will groan at the particularly obvious fourth wall breaking and general mugging for fan service’s sake.  If that’s your bag, though, the panel, it’s safe to say, firmly gives you two thumbs up.

THE FUTURE OF THE SHOW

Netflix renewed Fuller House for a second season, which was released to the Netflix service in another thirteen-episode increment on December 9, 2016.  CPU!’s next Full/er House episode, which will focus on this second seasonwill record and publish some time after the New Year.  Like, follow, and/or subscribe to the blog, iTunes, YouTube, Stitcher Radio, Google Play, or our social media accounts to stay abreast of new episodes in the Full/er House podcast series as well as of new episodes for all of our podcast panels!  And, if you feel so inclined, please leave us a review (give us stars – many of them!).  Thank you!🙂

PODCAST! – Pilots, Premieres, and First Looks and Around the Water Cooler: DC Television Universe Series, Episode 4, “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow” – Season One, the DCTU Panel’s Review and Recap (MAJOR SPOILERS)

Moderated by: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

Who:  “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow” is a superhero/action-adventure drama centered on events and characters inspired by the DC Comic Universe, which currently airs on the CW, fall to spring Thursdays at 8:00 PM.

What: “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow,” a series developed by Greg Berlanti, Marc Guggenheim, Andrew Kreisberg, and Phil Klemmer, based on characters from DC Comics. This series is considered a spin-off from Arrow and is part of the so-called “Arrowverse.”

When: Season One aired on the CW from January 21, 2016, to May 19, 2016.  Season Two premiered on October 13, 2016, and is currently airing but will not be discussed until a later “DCTU Series” episode.

Where: The action is set in various locations throughout the DC Television Universe/Arrowverse and throughout time, as the heroes in this show travel through time and space in an attempt to stop villains who aim to alter significant events in past, present, and future.

Why: To find out why individual podcast panelists started watching this show, listen to the podcast episode via the link below!  It should be noted that CPU! Chief Couch Potato Kylie previously picked up this show during the 2015 Fall Preview, noting:

True it’s yet another comic book property in an entertainment complex completely inundated and saturated with them – super heroes are what’s cool nowadays.  True, the premise involves digging through the annals of the DC Comic Book Universe to put forth some of the company’s less omnipresent characters (The Atom, Firestorm, Hawkgirl, to name a few).  Yet: it also has Victor Garber, Wentworth Miller, and freaking Rory Pond – Arthur Darvill himself!…DC is behind in the comic book race against Marvel, and the company knows it…[it’s a] must watch.  It’s fate or something.

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.

DC’s Legends of Tomorrow = 2.8, by average of the podcast panel.

SYNOPSIS

When Vandal Savage (Casper Crump) murders Time Master Rip Hunter’s (Darvill) family, he goes rogue. Intending to stop Savage, Rip recruits a team consisting of Ray Palmer / The Atom (Brandon Routh); Sara Lance / White Canary (Caity Lotz); Martin Stein (Garber) and Jefferson “Jax” Jackson (Franz Drameh), who together become the hero Firestorm; Kendra Saunders / Hawkgirl (Ciara Renee); Carter Hall / Hawkman (Falk Hentschel); Leonard Snart / Captain Cold (Miller); and Mick Rory / Heat Wave (Dominic Purcell) to stop him. These so-called “legends” discover that the Time Masters are backing Savage in his domination of the world in 2166 in order to facilitate a successful repulsion of a Thanagarian invasion.

How – as in How Was It? – THOUGHTS

This is the fourth episode in CPU!’s DCTU series.  Our first episode covered the first two seasons of Arrow, our second episode covered Arrow’s third and fourth seasons, and our third episode covered the first two seasons of The Flash. Listen to each episode here:

DCTU Series, Episode 1, “Arrow,” Seasons One and Two

DCTU Series, Episode 2, “Arrow,” Seasons Three and Four

DCTU Series, Episode 3, “The Flash,” Seasons One and Two

As discussed previously, since the Arrowverse/DC Television Universe is so closely interrelated, what with all of the spin-offs and character crossovers, it seemed like a universe ripe for the podcasting here at CPU!, especially since so many of our most frequent panelists are comic book/superhero franchise fans.  After all, it’s safe to assume that we would have started covering Arrow or The Flash individually, but since it was expected that the same panelists would keep coming back to discuss these shows, and since the shows themselves share an expanding universe that used to cross networks, though not so anymore, your friendly neighborhood Chief Couch Potato figured, “Why not make it a series?”

Thus, our DC Television Universe Series (or DCTU Series) was born, and all of our DCTU panelists should be familiar voices, though we experienced a roster change on this panel since our last episode.  CPU! Panelist Jen departed this panel (though she remains on other panels, including Gotham, Marvel Agents of SHIELD, Supernatural, The Vampire Diaries, and The Originals)Hilary, Kyle, and Spencer, however, return to continue this series and are now joined by frequent CPU! regular (and formerly exclusive Marvel fan-girl) Kristen for this fourth episode of our DCTU series, in which we cover season one of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow.

As a teaser for this particular episode, unlike for Arrow and The Flash, I think it’s fair to say that the DCTU panelists generally felt incredibly lukewarm to LoT.  As gushing as the panelists have traditionally been about The Flash, and as complimentary as they typically have been about Arrow, the feelings toward this Arrowverse entry are almost entirely opposite – or, at least, far worse than for its predecessors in this universe. Much of the episode discussion linked below revolves around possible suggestions for improvement, dedicated by the panelists to the show’s producers.  Of course, these suggestions are not taking into account the current season; the CW is airing new episodes presently, and LoT is close to its mid-season hiatus.  CPU! will evaluate LoT’s second season success in future episodes.

In the meantime, this particular CPU! episode was recorded in November 2016, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as the panelists cover key plot points of the first season of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. 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! Our next episode will kick off another CPU! series!  This new series – Full/er House – will be moderated by Kristen and will begin with a Look Back at popular nineties sitcom Full House followed by the first episode of CPU!’s ongoing coverage of the Full House Netflix reboot Fuller House. If you are a fan of all things Tanner (ino), you won’t want to miss it!  Stay tuned!

RECOMMENDATION

DC’s Legends of Tomorrow is tenuously recommended to fans of comic books, particularly (and probably only) from the DC universe, and of the individual comic franchises being represented, including Firestorm, the Atom, and the Flash, given the presence of Captain Cold and Heat Wave; to fans of Doctor Who who are looking for some sort of comic book equivalent of their beloved long-running science fiction show, provided that they are not angered by rip-offs; or to fans of the other Arrowverse shows.  The panelists universally felt that if they hadn’t already been watching other Arrowverse shows and/or hadn’t already been involved in CPU!’s DCTU series panel, they would have stopped watching LoT sooner or altogether.  In fact, most if not all panelists were hesitant to recommend this show to most people, unless the people in question were already watching Arrow and The Flash and wanted to spend more time with characters like Captain Cold, Heat Wave, Dr. Martin Stein, Sara Lance, and/or Ray Palmer/The Atom, as all of those characters were first explored on one or both of the other two shows.  All in all, the panel was generally lukewarm toward this series, with most panelists awarding it 2.5 stars on the patented CPU! ratings scale (though panelist Spencer gave it 3 and moderator Kylie gave it 3.5 stars).

THE FUTURE OF THE SHOW

DC’s Legends of Tomorrow is currently airing its second season; the mid-season finale of Season Two will be airing tomorrow night, December 8, 2016. The show will return from its mid-season hiatus on January 24. 2017.  CPU!’s next DCTU episode, which will focus on the first season of Supergirlwill publish after the New Year.  Like, follow, and/or subscribe to the blog, iTunes, YouTube, Stitcher Radio, Google Play, or our social media accounts to stay abreast of new episodes in the DCTU podcast series as well as of new episodes for all of our podcast panels!  And, if you feel so inclined, please leave us a review.  Thank you!🙂

Pilots and Premieres and First Looks: “Constantine” (Officially Canceled by NBC, now on CW Seed; SPOILERS)

Image result for constantine title

Reviewed by: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

Who:  “Constantine,” which aired on NBC during the 2014-2015 season.

What: “Constantine” is based on the DC Comics property Hellblazer and features Matt Ryan as John Constantine, the title character, a British exorcist and occult detective who hunts supernatural entities.

When: The series aired from October 24, 2014, to February 13, 2015, over thirteen episodes. On May 8, 2015, NBC canceled Constantine after only one season due to poor ratings.

Where: The action is set anywhere in the world, though predominantly in the United States within the series, and anywhere with supernatural “hot spots” that hearken to Constantine via various signs and methods of foretelling.

Why: During the annual Fall TV Preview for the 2014-2015 season, CPU! Chief Kylie picked up this show for viewing, though it was canceled before I could ever get around to it, weighed down as it was by sagging ratings.  When I picked it up, I said:

Based on a DC comic (“Hellblazer”), this has all the trappings of being a great Friday fright night entry, mixing elements of The Exorcist, Supernatural, and, of course, the film of the same name (which starred Keanu Reeves and Rachel Weisz – and wasn’t very good) and based on the same comics. I’ll probably be watching this on the internet, mostly, but it sounds like a great possibility for television, and the fantasy/horror angle is very much my cup of tea.

Unfortunately, because someone who writes about (and podcasts about) TV is perpetually behind, I prioritized it lower on my TV watch list.  If I had viewed it in real time, it might not have mattered anyway because, sadly, though John Constantine remains one of my favorite DC comic characters, his development for this TV show, though better than for the Keanu Reeves vehicle, sputtered into the “too little/too late” category, despite the extremely charismatic and, really, best portrayal of him by Matt Ryan.  Read on.

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.

Constantine = ***1/2 by the end of the available thirteen episodes.  If I were to rate it following the pilot alone, it would have been three stars.

SYNOPSIS

John Constantine (Ryan), a demon hunter and dabbling master of the occult, must struggle with his past sins while protecting the innocent from the converging supernatural threats that constantly break through to our world due to the “Rising Darkness.” Balancing his actions upon the line of good and evil, Constantine uses his skills and a supernatural scry map to journey across the nation with the intent of sending these terrors back to their own world, all for the hope of redeeming his soul from eternal torment.

THOUGHTS

I chose to press forward with viewing this series for two primary reasons.  First, the character of Constantine appeared in the fourth season of Arrow, which I’m now caught up on and a big fan of, owing to CPU!’s DCTU podcast panel.  Since everything is so interconnected within the Arrowverse, I like the crossover finesse that comes with this universe and the many shared appearances of the characters of its constituent shows.

Second, because of Constantine’s past appearance on Arrow, and the tease of possible future appearances, the CW made the show available on the CW Seed.  Availability and efforts to get caught up on the DC Television Universe shows kept this doomed entry on the CPU! viewing list (and this viewer’s radar) despite its cancellation, and so I finally watched it before viewing the fourth season of Arrow.

Ultimately, this viewer’s perception is that Constantine’s cancellation is utterly unsurprising, but the cancellation itself is unfortunate because whatever was transpiring behind the scenes of the show, there was obvious course correcting that was starting to gain some story traction and engagement, but such course correction inevitably came too late.  If the flawed and teetery pilot did not outright lose viewers, the first six episodes probably achieved that effect handily; after the first six episodes, the show got better but also fatally presumed that a loyal audience had been following the program all along, when in fact, ratings show that viewers were disappearing from an already risky Friday night time slot in droves.

So, why the low ratings and why the after life?  Constantine was a complicated, unsteady mix of stuff, like a house of supernatural cards, but its foundations were good.  There were aspects to the show that were really quite promising, highlighted by a predictable but tantalizing twist at the now end of series that will never see satisfactory resolution in a television medium.  Unfortunately, the show was also plagued by some rather blatant problems that were never really solved.  Even if the show had survived into a second season, it would not have survived much longer because a middling genre show is a lot riskier for a major network to produce than a middling sitcom or a middling one-hour procedural drama.

Below, your friendly neighborhood couch potato (i.e. me) attempts to reason through the enigma that is Constantine – what was good, what was not so good, and what really should have been abandoned from the jump.  Then, per usual, I will make a recommendation – but I warn you, it’s going to be one of those unsatisfying recommendations that will probably not successfully convey a sincere recommendation to anyone.

I’m really selling it, aren’t I?

Image result for constantine meme matt ryan

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Let me start off with some disclaimers.  First, I’m a DC fan girl.  While I haven’t read a ton of comic books, I have more than a passing familiarity with many members of the DC legions of heroes (or antiheroes) and villains.  The Hellblazer comic premise and the character of Constantine have always been story possibilities about which I’ve wanted to read and explore, about which I’ve always been intrigued, and about which I have more than a passing knowledge, but there has never been a live action vehicle that has done the premise or the character justice.  I was hoping beyond hope that this TV show would buck that trend.

Second, this genre is my genre: fantasy/horror/supernatural and so on is where it’s at for me. Supernatural, which no doubt draws much of its inspiration from this comic book property (or, so say better experts than me), remains one of my all time favorite shows, and I generally get into things that involve magic, the spooky, the divine, and the extraordinary.  So, I walked in hopeful but, because I sat down to watch this program post-cancellation, with tempered hope.

Third, I watch a lot of TV.  I mean, obviously.  I also watch a lot of genre television.  If we are talking about science fiction, fantasy, light horror, or superhero, I will probably show up to watch it.  Thus, you will probably think me more lenient than the average critic. That’s fine.  Still, I am trying to be fair – and to be fair, Constantine was on the struggle bus from episode one.  Being on the struggle bus does not mean that it was all bad, however, and that’s the lens through which to focus your analysis of this review.

What Was Good

Matt Ryan is, by far, the best part of this program and is its most redeeming quality. The show would likely have been canceled much earlier, without additional episode order(s), if not for his dead-on, somewhat campy, but always charismatic portrayal of devil-may-care Constantine. This is the Constantine of the Hellblazer comics: he’s brash, he’s direct, he’s kind of a wanker, but he’s always sincere in his desire to save the world from forces unseen.  Ryan brought a bravado to the role that was always engaging, and he was the standout performer from the offing.  Unfortunately, none of the other performances matched his particular earnestness, leaving him to do literally all of the heavy lifting, from serious as a heart attack to comic relief emoting, while the rest of the ensemble tended to crowd around him woodenly.

The only other performance with any sort of likability factor belonged to Charles Halford as Chas Chandler, one of Constantine’s sidekicks.  Though he served as the deadpan half of this dynamic duo and, sometimes, the straight man to Constantine’s more extravagant antics, Halford was given some dialogue and a character arc that allowed him to explore both dramatic and comedic bends.  Plus, he was given an interesting backstory, where a bit of magic left him with more than the normal one life allowed to any being.  He was sort of immortal as a result, coming back to life when he should otherwise be dead and allowing himself to be a shield to Constantine and his other sidekick, Zed (Angelica Celeya), in the face of supernatural dangers.  Yet, he also left a life behind that involved a wife and a child, and these stories were flushed out, in some ways more than they were for the title character, giving Halford a chance to stretch his performance beyond repeated resurrections and being the bemused Constantine caretaker.

Also, the special effects were more than decent for a Friday night entry into NBC’s foundering schedule.  The Peacock network has been struggling to find mainstays on most nights and has been lagging behind the other networks, apart from days airing The Voice, so it was a surprise to see that all of the magical and the spooky on this program were rendered convincingly and sometimes amazingly.  This viewer particularly enjoyed the opening titles and theme music.  They really set the stage and tone for the show – that is, of course, until the tone was squandered by the goings-on of the episode that followed, at least for the first six episodes that aired.

What Was Bad

In the performance category, no one felt more miscast than Harold Perrineau as the angel Manny.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  I have enjoyed Mr. Perrineau in nearly all other projects in which I have seen him, including Oz, Lost, and The Matrix trilogy.  I am not sure if Manny’s portrayal was a conscious performance choice by the actor, the suggestion of a director, or a combination of the two.  In hindsight, particularly given the series-ending twist, the choice(s) may have been geared toward adding an element of mystery to Manny, encouraging the viewer to avoid forming any set opinion about him.  The problem is, the lack of back story and the inconsistency in quality of the writing and story progression (more on that in a minute) effectively created that mystery without Perrineau’s stilted line deliveries and contact-augmented stares.  What is hard to articulate, perhaps, is that if Manny was supposed to be an angel or being devoid of emotion, Perrineau failed to convey that because he is an expressive actor, both in facial features and in vocal inflection. If the intent was to hide Manny’s true nature through something affected, the affected-ness distracted from his performance.  It was hard to suspend disbelief and subconsciously subscribe to the idea that Perrineau was Manny, likely due to the dichotomy of wondering who Manny was coupled with a decidedly human (if clipped) portrayal that undermined the gravity and presumed formidable nature of Constantine’s alleged adviser from the heavens.

In addition, the pilot originally featured Lucy Griffiths as Liv Aberdeen, one of the mainstays from the comic mythology.  Sadly, she was also incredibly out of her depth in the role, and it was recast in the form of Celeya as Zed.  While she eventually won me over, the Zed character’s particular agenda, to search for the meaning behind her telepathic powers – she has visions that steer Constantine, particularly when she touches objects or visits places – was rooted, again, in a muddled character profile that was not helped by the writing or the performance.  Celeya seemed more consistent and believable than Perrineau, but it was difficult to like her or to come to realize why the viewer should care about her and if that eventuality was the actress’ fault or the fault of the writing.  This viewer believes that there’s blame to go around, though, ultimately, I believe she shoulders less of that burden.

What Was Ugly

Which brings me to the ugliness of the Rising Darkness that is the Constantine cancellation. A fellow podcast panelist suggested that network intervention gummed up the works here. Potentially, but I would argue, in simply how the story behaved and in the fact that publicly, the show-runners admitted to wanting to take the show in a “different direction” after the pilot, that it was not the network that failed this show in the end but the writers themselves.

The show creators and producers presumed, from the jump, for example, that anyone walking into this program knew who Constantine is: what his back story looks like, why he was hellbent on saving the world from the “Rising Darkness,” what his character quirks were.  There were mentions of Constantine’s past made at strategic points throughout the series; otherwise, the show just bypassed this piece altogether.  If the show-runners ever had a hope of maintaining a larger audience for the longer term, this lack of character foundation and the assumption that the average viewer entering into the series would know the source material was a grievous misstep on the part of the head writers.  Not everyone knows the Hellblazer comics, and the Constantine movie starring Keanu Reeves provided no good foundation for the story either, as it was its own middling adaptation. Which means, the writers and producers were banking on the formula they originally chose, and the natural charisma of Ryan, to sell the show’s premise.  This was a gamble that did not pay off.  Without a solid story foundation, Ryan was simply playing a charming Liverpudlian bloke with a lot of bad habits, a censored biography, and a few magic tricks.  His purpose and fit in the world – a world that was never flushed out completely in the thirteen episodes either, apart from episodic demon banishing and Zed’s vague visions – could have used some stage setting before jumping into the episodic storytelling format.  While such a layout may be formulaic and by rote, it might have also steadied this rocking ship earlier than it did; without such a foundation, viewers had to buy what the show was selling on the situations in which Constantine and his cohorts found themselves more than what motivated them to be in the supernatural fighting game to begin with.

Speaking of episodic storytelling, curiously, the tone did not change from pilot to regular season.  Matt Ryan’s performance did not change nor did Halford’s nor Perrineau’s.  The pilot intimated at something that was more serial in nature, rooted in Constantine’s back story.  Yet, with the elimination of the Liv character and the apparent retooling of the show, the plot was meted out more conservatively beginning in episode two. Sure, all of Constantine’s efforts were directed toward the defeat of the “Rising Darkness,” but this was a vague allusion, conveniently mentioned at ends of episodes, at least for the first half of the series.  The episodes themselves were more centered on a “monster of the week” format, which, frankly, has been done before in this genre, ad nauseum.  Supernatural, The X-Files, and several comic book inspired shows follow the same format.  Telling this story in this format felt half-hearted, noncommittal, and was also unlikely to entice the long-term viewer not already invested in the source material or the story.

Of course, another course correction around episode seven belied the fact that the writers likely realized that the larger story did have to be flushed out somehow.  Suddenly, the episodes seemed to be driving toward something more definite and more sinister, largely because the idea that there might be a heaven at work against the forces of hell had to be brought back into the fold somehow beyond the quixotic appearances of Manny, the grumpy guardian angel.  It was around episode seven when more tidbits of the characters’ back stories were introduced and in a more purposeful manner, no doubt due to the fact that the show’s ratings survival was precariously hanging in the balance at that point.  The pacing on the season, so uneven and disengaging to start, definitely lurched forward with the seventh episode, featuring a preacher with the power to heal his congregation, having obtained the feather of a fallen angel named Imogen, her wings damaged by the loss of the feather, who turns out to be something she does not seem to be. Plus, in subsequent episodes, between the nun who was once a love interest and fellow magic dabbler of Constantine’s, to an episode where the lurking evil threatens Chas’ daughter, to the riveting season finale, Constantine clearly found its groove at long last – but, by then, it was too late.  A wing and a prayer and a groundswell of some loyal followers convinced the network to order thirteen episodes but no more.

Apparently, though, the show’s creators thought this new resurgence of faith was enough to guarantee season renewal. The first and only season ends on a doozy of a cliffhanger following a twist that, in hindsight, one should really see coming from episode 7.  Yet, the implications of such a twist and what it might have meant for our main characters, including the less engaging ones, will never now be known.  At least, not unless some network more forgiving than NBC finds a reason to give it a chance, and, as time passes, such a possibility becomes less and less likely.

Personally, I think if John Constantine can meet Oliver Queen and the Green Arrow over on the CW in a season featuring the villain Damien Dahrk, I don’t see why some resolution for the story lines of the ill-fated Constantine solo series can’t be drummed up somewhere within the Arrowverse.  Unfortunately, however, said solo series was the result of some spectacular decision-making fumbles in writing and in series direction that, at least in this viewer’s perspective, pretty much guaranteed cancellation from the get-go.  Perhaps, if Greg Berlanti and the folks behind Arrow and The Flash could have taken some interest in it early on, things might not have ended the way they did, but The Flash premiered in the same season as Constantine and quickly became a juggernaut mainstay for the CW, particularly since the property is more well known overall than the Hellblazer story.  It’s possible that Constantine was, thereby, a victim to timing more than anything else, and though it might be tempting to blame network interference for its demise, the question becomes at which point could the network possibly have interfered in a way that doomed this series beyond what was already dooming it inherent within its presentation?  With such a rocky pilot and a clear struggle to find sure footing for the stellar character work of Matt Ryan, network interference seems to this viewer to be nothing more than a scapegoat for larger problems, the biggest being a lack of focus and a cohesive vision for the show itself. Maybe the network ordered the show sight unseen pilot-wise.  Maybe NBC was desperate enough to gamble on Constantine when the pilot offered little guarantee of success.  Either way, it’s hard to blame the network when the creators didn’t seem to have their ducks in a row, which makes Constantine luckier than most shows of similar quality, particularly on a cancel-happy network like the Peacock.

RECOMMENDATION

In the end, it’s hard to recommend Constantine to anyone other than fans of DC Comics, particularly of the Hellblazer comic itself.  I think longtime readers of John Constantine’s quirky antics will delight in Matt Ryan’s performance and probably be happily brought along for the ride, but anyone unfamiliar with the property, even genre fans, particularly those less forgiving than me, will be frustrated by Constantine. It doesn’t help that the show ends on a cliffhanger without resolution, especially when reaching that cliffhanger takes some work and devotion in watching episodes of considerably lesser quality in the first half of the show’s only season.  If one does want to watch the show, my advice is to proceed with caution and armed with all the facts.  You won’t be satisfied, but, at least, you can enjoy thirteen episodes of Ryan’s John Constantine, the cheekiest devil to get the live action comic book treatment.

THE FUTURE OF THE SHOW

Canceled!  Constantine was canceled after one season by NBC, though it enjoys a streaming afterlife on the CW’s “CW Seed” platform, an app or channel for streaming devices, which carries older shows, such as the 1990s version of The Flash, old episodes of Whose Line is it Anyway?, the web series Vixen, and other gems.  As above, proceed with caution if you choose to watch Constantine and enjoy it for what it is: an adaptation of uneven quality but a brilliant depiction of the title character as well as background for the character’s crossover appearances on Arrow.

PODCAST! – Pilots, Premieres, and First Looks and Around the Water Cooler: DC Television Universe Series, Episode 3, “The Flash” – Seasons One and Two, the DCTU Panel’s Review and Recap (MAJOR SPOILERS)

Image result for the flash title

Moderated by: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

Who:  “The Flash” is a superhero/action/mystery drama centered on events and characters inspired by The Flash franchise/DC Comic Universe, which currently airs on the CW, fall to spring Tuesdays at 8:00 PM.

What: “The Flash,” a series developed by Greg Berlanti, Andrew Kreisberg, and Geoff Johns, based on the DC Comics character Barry Allen / The Flash, a costumed superhero crime-fighter with the power to move at superhuman speeds. This series is considered a spin-off from Arrow. The series follows Allen (Grant Gustin), a crime scene investigator who gains super-human speed, which he uses to fight criminals, including others who have also gained superhuman abilities.

When: Season One aired on the CW from October 7, 2014, to May 19, 2015.  Season Two aired on the CW from October 6, 2015, to May 24, 2016.  The CW began airing Season Three last week.

Where: The action is set in fictional Central City, one of the primary settings of The Flash franchise.  The action does branch out in the occasional crossover with Arrow to Star City (formerly Starling City).

Why: To find out why individual podcast panelists started watching this show, listen to the podcast episode via the link below!  It should be noted that CPU! Chief Couch Potato Kylie previously picked up this show during the 2014 Fall Preview, noting,

The DC comics universe is attempting some major expansions now that Marvel is push and shove proliferating on big and small screens everywhere.  The Flash is a classic hero; he was given an appearance on Smallville, and there is some crossover with Arrow, which I’ve decided to catch up on, since the CW is offering DC Comics a chance to implement those crossovers. Also, I like the choice for the title role.  The Flash is a non-flashy guy, almost DC’s equivalent of Spider Man, given an extraordinary ability, as opposed to several.  It could be an engaging new take on an old superhero story.

How – as in How Was It?

The pilot/premiere rating scale:

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

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

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

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

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

The Flash = 4.9, by average of the podcast panel if rated right after the pilot.

Otherwise, it’s a resounding 5 stars from all five panelists, moderator included.

SYNOPSIS

After witnessing his mother’s (Michelle Harrison) supernatural murder and his father’s (John Wesley Shipp) wrongful conviction for the crime, Barry Allen (Gustin) is taken in by Detective Joe West (Jesse L. Martin) and his family. Allen becomes a brilliant but socially awkward crime scene investigator for the Central City Police Department. His obsession with his tragic past causes him to become an outcast among his peers; he investigates cold cases, paranormal occurrences, and cutting-edge scientific advancements that may shed light on his mother’s murder. No one believes his description of the crime—that a ball of lightning with the face of a man invaded their home that night—and Allen is fiercely driven to vindicate himself and to clear his father’s name. Fourteen years after his mother’s death, an advanced particle accelerator malfunctions during its public unveiling, bathing the city center with a previously unknown form of radiation during a severe thunderstorm. Allen is struck by lightning from the storm and doused with chemicals in his lab. Awakening after a nine-month coma, he discovers he has the ability to move at superhuman speeds. Dr. Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh), the disgraced designer of the failed particle accelerator, describes Barry’s special nature as “metahuman;” Allen soon discovers that he is not the only one who was changed by the radiation. Allen vows to use his gifts to protect Central City from the escalating violence of metahuman and other criminals. He is aided by a few close friends and associates who guard his secrets.

How – as in How Was It? – THOUGHTS

This is the third episode in CPU!’s DCTU series.  Our first episode covered the first two seasons of Arrow, and our second episode covered Arrow’s third and fourth seasons. Listen to each episode here:

DCTU Series, Episode 1, “Arrow,” Seasons One and Two

DCTU Series, Episode 2, “Arrow,” Seasons Three and Four

As discussed previously, since the Arrowverse/DC Television Universe is so closely interrelated, what with all of the spin-offs and character crossovers, it seemed like a universe ripe for the podcasting here at CPU!, especially since so many of our most frequent panelists are comic book/superhero franchise fans.  After all, it’s safe to assume that we would have started covering Arrow or The Flash individually, but since it was expected that the same panelists would keep coming back to discuss these shows, and since the shows themselves share an expanding universe that used to cross networks, though not so anymore, your friendly neighborhood Chief Couch Potato figured, “Why not make it a series?”

Thus, our DC Television Universe Series (or DCTU Series) was born, and all of our DCTU panelists should be familiar voices, namely Jen, Spencer, Hilary, and Kyle.  These panelists are all DC Comics experts in their own rights and, thus, joined me for this series, and now this third episode of said series, in which we cover seasons one and two of The Flash.

You’ll find that the love for these shows is strong with this panel – especially for this series about our favorite Scarlet Speedster.  You might even say the feedback is “gushing,” as an overall theme. Panelist Hilary fan-girls all over the mic at several key points, for example. Seriously, though, The Flash has become one of each panelist’s favorite shows on air currently, which is high praise indeed.

This particular CPU! episode was recorded in September 2016, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as the panelists cover key plot points of both Flash seasons. Listen at your own risk, and let us know what you think by commenting below!

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

Remember, new episodes and blog posts are published weekly! Our next episode will revisit Orange is the New Black to discuss season four, released back in June! Stay tuned!

RECOMMENDATION

The Flash is recommended to fans of comic books, particularly from the DC universe, and of the Flash franchise.  Our panel can’t recommend this one enough, even to those who might be put off by superhero/comic book fiction, because the show is written, directed, and performed so well.  It is a perfectly executed story and a faithful and loving but ultimately groundbreaking adaptation of a hero who may not have received the same star treatment as his Justice League compatriots and co-founders, Batman and Superman, at least in modern memory. Also, fans of musicals might take heart to note that Grant Gustin, who appeared on Glee, and Jesse L. Martin, one of the original cast members of Broadway’s Rent, both sing on the show – and are forecasted to continue to do so.  See? THERE’S SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE!

THE FUTURE OF THE SHOW

The third season premiere of The Flash aired on October 4, 2016, and while it is too early in the season to hear about renewal announcements, The Flash is expected to be a network mainstay for some years.  CPU!’s next DCTU episode, which will focus on the first season of Legends of Tomorrowwill likely publish later this fall.  Like, follow, and/or subscribe to the blog, iTunes, YouTube, Stitcher Radio, Google Play, or our social media accounts to stay abreast of new episodes in the DCTU podcast series as well as of new episodes for all of our podcast panels!  And, if you feel so inclined, please leave us a review.  Thank you!🙂

NEXT CPU! LIVE!

As previously indicated, CPU! will next be LIVE at Grand Rapids Comic-Con on October 22, 2016, at 7:00 PM!  We will be one of the Con’s fan panels; in that live podcast (also streamed to our Facebook page), our DCTU and Marvel’s Defenders panels will join forces to discuss and debate the Top 5 DC & Marvel Live Action Heroes and Villains.  This debate promises to be a raging one, and I’d be surprised if Grant Gustin’s Flash or one of the myriad of feisty Flash villains and their portrayers don’t crop up on a few panelists’ lists, so if you have any interest in the ongoing, decades-old comic book/comic universe competition, this is a panel you won’t want to miss.  Like our Facebook page to keep abreast of the event – which is now on the page!  Stay tuned!

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