Looking Back at “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” Seasons 4-5: The Buffy-Verse Series, Episode 2 (MAJOR SPOILERS)

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A new podcast episode of Couch Potatoes Unite!, which is based on a blog of the same name hosted at couchpotatoesunite.wordpress.com. In this episode, our panel of experts – including moderator Kylie, Nick, Kyle, Sarah, and Kallie – gathered together to Look Back at and to reminisce about Seasons Four and Five of CPU! favorite Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  This is the second part of a five part CPU! podcast series examining two of our favorite television programs, Buffy and Angel, aka “The Buffy-Verse.” If you have not watched any of Buffy or Angel (and I mean, any!), 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!

Stay tuned for Episode 3 of our Buffy-Verse series, in which we cover Seasons 1-2 of Angel!

PODCAST! – Cult TV! and Best Of! and Looking Back at “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” Seasons 4-5: The Buffy-Verse Series, Episode 2 (MAJOR SPOILERS) + Best Written TV (#49)

Image result for buffy the vampire slayer title card season 3

Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

Who: “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” a cult supernatural, fantasy, action, and horror drama that aired on the Warner Bros. network, or “The WB,” from 1997 to 2001 and on the United Paramount Network, or “UPN,” from 2001-2003.

What: “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” follows Buffy Summers (Sarah Michelle Gellar), the latest in a line of young women known as “Vampire Slayers” or simply “Slayers,” called or chosen by fate to battle against vampires, demons, and other forces of darkness.

SYNOPSIS

Buffy’s mystical calling endows her with powers that dramatically enhance physical strength, endurance, agility, healing, intuition, and that provide a limited degree of clairvoyance, usually in the form of prophetic dreams. She is known as a reluctant hero who wants to live a normal life; however, she learns to embrace her destiny as the vampire Slayer.  Buffy receives guidance from her Watcher, Rupert Giles (Anthony Stewart Head), a member of the Watchers’ Council, whose job is to train and guide the Slayers. Giles researches the supernatural creatures that Buffy must face, offers insights into their origins and advice on how to defeat them, and helps her stay in fighting form. Buffy is also helped by friends she meets at Sunnydale High School: Willow Rosenberg (Alyson Hannigan) and Xander Harris (Nicholas Brendon).

The cast of characters grows over the course of the series. A vampire with a soul, Angel (David Boreanaz), is Buffy’s love interest throughout the first three seasons. At Sunnydale High, Buffy meets several other students besides Willow and Xander willing to join her fight for good, an informal group eventually tagged the “Scooby Gang” or “Scoobies.” Cordelia Chase (Charisma Carpenter), the archetypal shallow cheerleader, reluctantly becomes involved. Daniel “Oz” Osbourne (Seth Green) – a fellow student, rock guitarist and werewolf – joins the group through his relationship with Willow. Anya (Emma Caulfield), a former vengeance demon (Anyanka) who specialized in avenging scorned women, becomes Xander’s lover after losing her powers and joins the group in season four. Spike (James Marsters), a vampire, is an old companion of Angelus (Angel) and one of Buffy’s major enemies in early seasons, although they later become allies and lovers.  In fact, Buffy features dozens of recurring characters, both major and minor, and additional regular characters introduced in later seasons.

When: The show aired on the WB from 1997-2001 and on UPN from 2001-2003.

Where: The show is set primarily in fictional Sunnydale, California, home of one of the series’ fictional entrances to hell, otherwise known as “The Hellmouth.”

Why: Listen to the first episode of this podcast series for the panelists’ individual stories on how they found Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  They are all personal and occasionally touching.

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

In honor of the 20th anniversary of the premiere of one of your Chief CP’s all-time favorite television shows, and since I know a few people in my life who love Buffy as much or (possibly) more than I do, I decided to invite some true Buffy-Verse scholars, in what has, again, become something of a family event, to participate in a five-part podcast series, during which we will take a critical look back at another couple of cult TV shows that fuel our respective imaginations and tug at our TV-loving hearts. In this five-part series, our panel – featuring CPU! regulars and semi-regulars Nick, Kyle, Sarah, and Kallie – look back at Buffy and its spin-off Angel, reminiscing about two shows that have withstood the test of time as personal favorites for several of us and as two of the most nationally and internationally acclaimed television series of all time.

We have already recorded one episode in this series, Looking Back at Buffy Seasons One, Two, and Three.  You can listen to that episode here or via our audio channels on iTunes, Stitcher Radio, and Google Play:

The Buffy-Verse Series, Episode One, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” Seasons 1-3

In this second episode of CPU!’s “Buffy-Verse” series, our panel discusses Seasons Four and Five of Buffy, covering the series’ middle years and the arguable apex of its popularity. We discuss our favorite and least favorite episodes within each season and our general impressions of the success of these two seasons, which aired on Tuesday nights on the WB network.

In addition, with this series, CPU! is introducing yet another brand new feature, which sort of combines some old features into one handily titled, efficiently truncated format. You may have noticed that we tend to favor some “best of” lists around here.  Well, in this new feature, called “Best Of!,” we are going to handily provide, right here, right now for Buffy but otherwise within the content entry for each podcast episode, the list of all of the “best of” acclaims a show receives.  In addition, we will be compiling those lists on separate bonus pages of our website (accessible by the menu at the top left of the header).  We’re not ready for the pages, as in they are under construction, but when it comes to Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s list of various acclaims accrued over the years, you’ll come to understand why this feature was introduced.

To wit, herein be the list of Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s Best Of!

  • #41 on TV Guide’s list of 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time
  • #2 on Empires “50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time” in 2008 and #22 in 2016
  • #27 on The Hollywood Reporters “Hollywood’s 100 Favorite TV Shows”
  • Time magazine’s “100 Best TV Shows of All-Time
  • #38 on TV Guide’s list of the “60 Best Series of All Time”
  • #38 on Rolling Stone’s list of 100 Greatest TV Shows of All Time

In addition, Buffy the Vampire Slayer is one of the most celebrated cult TV shows and TV fandoms, as the show ranks at #2 on Entertainment Weekly’s 2009 and 2014 Top Cult TV lists and at #3 on TV Guide’s Top Cult TV list.  Plus, Buffy ranked #49 on TV Guide’s Best Written TV list in 2013, as it is also considered one of the best written (scripted) television series of all time.

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’re back around the water cooler when our Marvel Agents of SHIELD panel, slightly larger and slightly more robust than before, reconvenes to dissect the jam-packed second half of Season 4.  Stay tuned!

RECOMMENDATION

Buffy the Vampire Slayer – if you somehow haven’t already watched it – is recommended to anyone who loves nerdy, cult science fiction and fantasy (and/or horror) series in the vein of Star Trek, The X-Files, and similar ilk and to any fan of Joss Whedon who hasn’t somehow discovered his first major and most critically and most popularly recognized work of screen fiction (beyond the vastly different film, for which he provided creative input and an early script later overruled by its producers).  As we discuss in this podcast series, this series broke ground for so many other series to come, including other popular shows for which writers and creators learned their trade working on this series originally, including shows like Once Upon a Time and even issue-based comedies, like the uneven but musical Glee. This show has a bit of everything, and, if you love solid, quality television – excellent television, in fact – and you have somehow missed this series, you should make time for Buffy. You will not be disappointed in the overall journey and entertainment value that this well written, well performed series provides.

The entire Buffy series is available to stream at only Hulu, currently. Watch it: you won’t regret it!

Grimm (Seasons 3-5, MAJOR SPOILERS)

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A new (and unusually long!) podcast episode of Couch Potatoes Unite!, which is based on a blog of the same name hosted at couchpotatoesunite.wordpress.com. In this episode, recorded in January 2017, our panel of CPU! supernatural and fairy tale enthusiasts – including moderator Kylie, Kristen, Nick, and Jen – is Around the Water Cooler and discussing Seasons 3-5, with particular emphasis on Seasons 4 and 5, of Grimm, from Adalind’s pregnancy with Diana and the consequences of the spell that she underwent to regain her hexenbiest abilities, to the introduction of Trubel, to Monroe and Rosalee’s wedding, to Juliette becoming victim to a spell of Adalind’s, accidentally rendering Juliette a newly born hexenbiest, to Renard’s ping-pong loyalties to Nick, and to Nick’s acquisition of the Grimm artifact that might change the whole game.  If you have not watched any of Grimm, 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! – Around the Water Cooler: “Grimm” – Reflections on Season Three and Recapping Seasons Four and Five (MAJOR SPOILERS)

Image result for grimm title

Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

Who: “Grimm” currently airs on network TV, specifically on NBC, Fridays at 8:00 PM.

What: “Grimm,” a supernatural/fantasy drama, wherein supernatural forces, the stuff of nightmarish fairy tales and legends, are disguised as human beings, and only those descended from the original Brothers Grimm, can see – and fight – those beings and their true natures (for a more detailed Synopsis, read here: http://www.aceshowbiz.com/tv/grimm/summary.html).

When: Season Three aired from October 25, 2013, to May 16, 2014; Season Four aired from October 24, 2014, to May 15, 2015; and Season Five aired from October 30, 2015, to May 20, 2016, on NBC.

Where: The show is set in Portland, Oregon.

Why:  The premise of this show has always been intriguing: Grimms are not weavers of fairy tales but are humanity’s last line of defense against the beasts and monsters that haunt our nightmares. This generation’s Grimm is a police detective who stumbles into his family legacy by accident and must adjust what is his mostly normal life to these new abnormalities.  The mythology in this show is steep, meaning it will always be a cult TV show at best, but cult TV tends to appeal to this group of CPU! panelists more than mainstream/non-cult TV, and none of us have been disappointed by Grimm so far…and we continue to be drawn into its mythical and magical world, as the show only gets better in the process.

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

It’s been a while since CPU! covered Grimm, another of the Chief Couch Potato’s favorite shows; in fact, CPU! Chief Kylie briefly covered the show in blog format during season three, here.  As with some other “catch up” panels, you can blame it on starting a podcast! Or, as before, we can just agree to make this cult favorite centered on supernatural hunters purportedly descended from the Brothers Grimm another candidate for the podcast, especially since your main moderator always plays catch-up but also since some CPU! regulars love this show as much as I do!

Thus, here we present another new CPU! podcast episode and panel, featuring frequent CPU! panelists Kristen, Nick, and Jen. In so doing, we play catch up with the world of Grimm Nick Burkhardt (David Giuntoli), and the merry band of wesen with which he comes into contact (both friend and foe), spanning the time since CPU! last checked in on the third season.  We cover major plot points from seasons three through five: from Adalind’s (Claire Coffee) pregnancy with Diana and the consequences of the spell that she underwent to regain her hexenbiest abilities, to the introduction of Trubel (Jacqueline Toboni), to Monroe (Silas Weir Mitchell) and Rosalee’s (Bree Turner) wedding, to Juliette (Bitsie Tulloch) becoming victim to a spell of Adalind’s, accidentally rendering Juliette a newly born hexenbiest, to Renard’s (Sasha Roiz) ping-pong loyalties to Nick, and to Nick’s acquisition of the Grimm artifact that might change the whole game.  Our panel’s devotion to Grimm is as steadfastly loyal as it is to other genre shows that CPU! coversbased upon the program’s roots to the Brothers Grimm and to the history of monster stories throughout the ages.  Give the new episode a listen, and see if you agree or disagree with our thoughts.

This podcast was recorded in January 2017, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as the panelists cover key plot points of the first three 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 podcast episode will revisit an ongoing CPU! panel in the same genre, as the newly full Supernatural panel returns to tackle Lucifer’s earthly antics and the return of Mary Winchester in Season 12A. Stay tuned!

Questions, Impressions, and Future Considerations

Old Questions from Prior Season Three Coverage

1) What do the Royals really want with Nick/any remaining Grimms, other than their extinction? Why not just kill him?

ANSWER: This is still a question.  The Royals have taken a back seat throughout Season Five, and in Seasons Three and Four, they were primarily concerned with ensuring that they retained possession of Diana, Adalind and Sean’s daughter, born during the third season.  The panel always believed that the Royals wanted all of the Grimms dead, but these alleged Royals, presumably wesen though the panel is unclear about this, don’t take very feisty actions against Nick as much as against those around him.  Will the Royals return in Season Six, Grimm’s final season, and if they do, what will be their aim? Since the King is dead, who will be in charge? Also, are the Royals actually wesen? Are they behind the pro-wesen terrorist organization Black Claw?  Will Sean, as the illegitimate heir to the wesen throne spearhead what remains of Black Claw and pit himself against Nick? We need some clarification.

2) Will Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio return as Nick’s mom this season [season three]?  The season preview seemed to suggest so.

ANSWER: Nick’s mom, Kelly, did return.  In fact, she helped to protect baby Diana from the Royals by taking custody of her and going into hiding to protect her, as a group known as the Resistance (wesen against the power and corruption of the Royals) saw Diana as a possible savior or weapon in support of their cause.  They also wanted to protect this powerful, magical baby from the clutches of her relatives (Sean is an illegitimate son of the King).

3) How will Juliette deal with all of this – she just started learning all of Nick’s heritage and seems to accept it, despite her pre-magically induced amnesiac doubts?

ANSWER: Juliette, a historically unpopular character, struggled with the truth about Nick to the point that the two were somewhat estranged for a time, though they loved each other deeply.  Unfortunately, events at the end of this season and during seasons four and five complicated their romance further.  Listen to the podcast for details.

4) Now that Adelind has her hexenbiest (witch-like creature) magic back, what is her endgame?

ANSWER: Well, she had it back for awhile, temporarily.  Then, because she needed Nick and his friends to help get Diana back from the Royals, and because she instigated a chain of events that led to Juliette’s accidental conversion to a hexenbiest, she agreed to suppress her abilities to help Juliette.  Unfortunately, it was not a permanent suppression.  Her endgame, though, since season three, has become exclusively about reuniting with and protecting her children (there is more than Diana….listen to the podcast for details).

5) Will the show veer away from “monster of the week” tales into a more mythology-focused storytelling structure?  It may be time to do so: how many new creatures can Nick encounter? Progress is key to longevity, after all.

ANSWER: Like The X-Files, Grimm has found a way to balance both formats, and to incredibly create new wesen concepts all the time, though in season five, the writers have allowed the mythology aspects to flourish.  It was the right call.  The MOW episodes effectively create and establish the world that Grimm inhabits, but it’s the mythology that draws all of the panelists, your moderator included, back repeatedly to watch the show for what will ultimately be all six of its seasons.

New Questions

1.) Will the Royals return in the sixth season?  If they do, what will be their aim?  Are they behind the wesen uprising organization known as “Black Claw?” Who is the ultimate head of “Black Claw?” Is Sean head of both now?  Why?

2) What is the stick that Nick found in the Grimm treasure chest, and what part will it have to play in the coming episodes?  Does it only work when he touches it?  Is it meant for him or for any Grimm?  Is it divine in origin?  Where was it found?  Why do the Grimms have it? Can wesen use it?  Does it heal but also take life away?  So many questions have been raised!

3) Will young Diana, who has grown at an alarming rate, be the “Big Bad” of the final season, with her bratty child demeanor and potent magical ability?  How will Adalind (and Sean) keep her in check?

4) Is Juliette still a hexenbiest? Will she be more Juliette-like since coming into contact with the magical Grimm healing stick?

5) Will there be a war between wesen and humans?  Did Black Claw and the resistance organization Hadrian’s Wall effectively incite one?  Are humans more aware of wesen now?

6) Will Nick end up with Juliette or will he be with Adalind, who he now also loves and who has custody of their son, Kelly (listen to the podcast for details)?  Will Adalind be able to return to Nick?

7) Does Sean really subscribe to Black Claw’s philosophies?  What will he do that he is now mayor, owing to the fact that he “got in bed” with Black Claw, who aims for wesen to live free as the creatures they are?  Who will be promoted to Captain of the South Precinct? Will Hank (Russell Hornsby)?  Will Wu (Reggie Lee)?  Will Nick?

8) Is there a cure for Wu’s lycanthrope condition?  Rosalee said there wasn’t one, but she’s pretty resourceful with spices and teas.  What will happen to him?  What is he, really?

9) Rosalee is pregnant.  Will the baby be half blutbaten, half fuchsbau, or one or the other? Will she be able to have it, since wesen mixing is uncommon?

10) Will baby Kelly be half hexenbiest (or zauberbiest), half Grimm, or one of the other?

11) Will Hank finally find a woman or fall in love with one who doesn’t leave him or physically threaten his life in some way?

12) What is at the end of the tunnels underneath Nick’s secret bunker apartment? Why did we spend so much time worrying about those tunnels, except to set up the other characters’ escape from Black Claw and Sean while Nick stayed behind to fight them when they descended upon the loft?

13) What will Sean do to Nick, since Nick took out all of the Black Claw that came to kill him?

14) What will Nick do to Sean, since Adalind was coerced into leaving Nick with Kelly to be Sean’s political trophy wife and Diana’s caretaker with the promise that Adalind could be reunited with Diana?

15) Will baby Kelly grow as fast as Diana?  Or, was Diana augmented by the spell that Adalind underwent in season three to regain her hexenbiest abilities?  Will these young but presumably magical siblings have to duke it out somehow?  Will Kelly grow at an alarming rate?  Or, will the show time jump during the final season?

16) How will the show end?  Will there be a “happily ever after” for our characters?  Will we lose someone this season?  How will these thirteen episodes shape up?

17) Are Nick and Trubel related after all?  What does the ancient Grimm registry reveal?

18) Will any of the characters end up dying?  The podcast panelists feel that Wu, Monroe, Rosalee, and Adalind are particularly susceptible to possible collateral self-sacrifice because of their histories (Wu has the strange lycanthrope disorder, Monroe and Rosalee constantly run into danger for Nick, and Adalind does the same for her children and may do something self-sacrificing for Nick or even for Juliette, as she has sometimes done in the past).

PARTING SHOTS

Grimm has become appointment television for our devout panelists, should they find themselves at home and with the appetite for a Friday fright night.  It’s still not a perfect program and will never be more than a cult favorite because of its steep mythological aspects and show-specific jargon, but the fan base it has cultivated in six years is voracious and loyal. NBC also continues to allow Hulu and other venues to air full seasons of the show, not just five or six episodes at a time for those looking to catch up, and the entire panel recommends Grimm to anyone who likes anything about the fantasy or horror genres and advises that such genre nerds consider catching up, since the show is almost finished and is available to stream on Amazon Prime and on Hulu. Grimm remains well written and worth the look and has only become better as the seasons have progressed. Also, for those who care, David Giuntoli is quite enjoyable to look at…Anyway, in the end, season six, officially the final season, consists of only thirteen episodes, but our panel believes, cautiously, that they may be the best episodes yet.  In fact, we can’t wait to find out if Grimm goes out on a high note, and we predict that it will.

LOOKING AHEAD

The sixth season of Grimm premiered on January 6, 2017, and has been announced to be the official final season.  The season will consist of a total of thirteen episodes, which will air Fridays on NBC from January through March 2017.  CPU! will return to talk about Grimm in a two-part goodbye series digesting the sixth season and looking back at the series as a whole following the airing of that finale.  Until then!

Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (Season 4A, “Ghost Rider;” MAJOR SPOILERS)

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A new podcast episode of Couch Potatoes Unite!, which is based on a blog of the same name hosted at couchpotatoesunite.wordpress.com. In this episode, recorded in December 2016, our continuously small but robust panel–including moderator Kylie, Kristen, and Jen–is Around the Water Cooler and discussing Season 4A of Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., with particular focus upon “Ghost Rider!” If you have not watched any of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, 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! – Around the Water Cooler: “Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” – The Season 4 Mid-Season Recap and Progress Report (MAJOR SPOILERS)

Image result for agents of shield season 4 title

Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

Who:  “Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” airs on network TV, specifically on ABC, fall to spring Tuesdays at 10:00 PM.

What: “Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D,” a serial television drama based on the comic/graphic novel and film universe of Marvel Comics.

SYNOPSIS

The mission of the Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division, i.e. S.H.I.E.L.D., is to monitor and collect rogue supernatural subjects, forces, and people and to control them.  The Division is kind of like the so-called Men in Black but is focused on any fringe element looking to create the next Tony Stark (Iron Man) or Captain America or Thor without the natural-born endowments (or the cool suit invented by a rich guy).  Of course, the mission has been complicated ten times over since the start of the series.

When: Season 4 premiered on ABC on September 20, 2016, at 10:00 PM.

Where: The show is set in the fictional Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and closely follows the events of “The Avengers” films, previously directed by series creator Joss Whedon (along with brother Jed).

Why: Two reasons for most of the panel: Joss Whedon and Disney’s first television production of a Marvel-type nature.  It seemed like a no-brainer, really.

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

CPU! has covered Agents of SHIELD since the beginning, though in podcast format only starting last year.  If you would like to catch up on our SHIELD coverage, click the embedded links below, or find the audio equivalents on iTunes, Stitcher Radio, and Google Play (links further below):

Seasons 1-3A

Season 3A Midseason

Season 3B (post-finale)

Our SHIELD panel, namely Kristen, Jen, and moderator Kylie, recently reconvened “around the water cooler” to discuss Season 4A and the introduction of “Ghost Rider” as well as to prognosticate upon possible future plot developments of the second half of the fourth season (and to speculate upon the likelihood that the show has moved markedly toward the bubble of cancellation). Listen to the podcast, and see if you agree or disagree with our comments, reactions, and predictions.

This podcast was recorded in December 2016, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as the panelists cover key plot points of the first half of the fourth season. Listen at your own risk, and let us know what you think by commenting below!

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

Remember, new episodes and blog posts are published weekly! Our next podcast episode will catch up on coverage of a CPU! favorite, in podcast format for the first time – and just in time for the program’s last season. Next week, CPU! introduces a new panel of old favorites as we talk about seasons three through five of NBC cult favorite Grimm.  Stay tuned!

Questions, Impressions, and Future Considerations

Old Questions

1)  Still a Question: Will we learn which planet it is (i.e .Hive’s home planet beyond Earth)?

ANSWER: We haven’t yet, and it’s one of the main questions of the podcast panel.

2) What happened in the six months prior to the third season time jump/epilogue?  How much could have really happened to change everything so much?

ANSWER: As we discuss in the podcast episode, not much back story was flushed out in this half season regarding the time jump.  In fact, the panelists universally felt that the time jump was largely meaningless and did nothing for the story.  What we do know is the following:

–Afraid that the events surrounding Hive, Lincoln’s death, and Daisy’s (Chloe Bennett) response to Lincoln’s death might lead the government to shut down SHIELD, even though the agency previously existed as a black ops division, Coulson (Clark Gregg) removed himself as director and appointed Jeffrey Mace (Jason O’Mara) as the new Director. Mace is (SPOILER) an Inhuman, as well as a public relations dream and a long-time camera-friendly politician, so Coulson felt that Mace was best positioned to legitimize SHIELD in the eyes of government figureheads and the public and to downplay some of the more high profile SHIELD missteps (or events that looked like missteps).

–Daisy, aggrieved by Lincoln’s death, went rogue and decided to go after Inhumans by herself, for reasons unexplained.  She used her powers openly and without discretion in the process, allowing the public to dub her, somewhat fearfully, with the “Quake” moniker.

–Coulson and Mack (Henry Simmons) searched for Daisy with Mace’s approval, but she consistently eluded them, trying the new director’s patience and vexing the paternal Coulson.

–Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) positioned herself to be promoted through the ranks at SHIELD and to earn the Director’s trust enough to be made an assistant within his inner circle.  As a result, she is subjected to random lie detector tests to ensure that she is not withholding secrets from him, which, of course, she is.  She’s also in the process of buying a place to live with Fitz (Iain De Caestecker), which is nice.

–May (Ming-Na Wen), Mack, Coulson, and Fitz are all agents tasked with securing Inhumans, aliens, and, by extension, Daisy/Quake.

–Holden Radcliffe (John Hannah) was pardoned by the government/SHIELD regarding his dubious cybernetics practices and is kept on as an adviser, though he is expressly prevented from working on robotics and cybernetic technology as part of his pardon. He doesn’t comply, of course.

In the end, not much happened in that ballyhooed six months, so none of the panelists understood why the jump was necessary or why a passage of time to demonstrate yet another chase for Daisy would add to the story.  Also, we felt that it was not executed well.

3) Is Daisy definitely “Quake” now?  What is her aim at this point?  Is she totally rogue?  Is she working undercover for SHIELD?  Is she off the reservation over mourning the loss of Lincoln?

ANSWER: Daisy is definitely Quake now, owing to the public’s Cisco Ramon (DC REFERENCE!) like ability to name superheroes.  Her aim at the start of the season is to track Inhumans and, particularly, Ghost Rider on her own.  She is totally rogue and totally off the grid and not working for SHIELD, finding the agency’s rules and bureaucracy “too confining.”  She is, in fact, or so it is implied by May later in the season, off the reservation because she is grieving Lincoln’s death.

4) If Coulson is no longer the director of SHIELD, who is?  Is May the new director? Why is Coulson no longer the director of SHIELD?  Did he break away over his personal (fatherly) feelings for Daisy or for another reason?

ANSWER: As above, Mace is the new director.  Coulson stepped down more to protect SHIELD itself from politicians who feel that SHIELD is sheltering (i.e. allowing to live/roam free) rather than containing Inhumans at humans’ expense. One side bonus of this move, however, is that he could track the hurting Daisy with more freedom as an agent under the radar than he could as SHIELD’s high profile director.

5) Will we find out about the “purpose” behind the Inhumans, as alluded to by Lincoln (RIP), and explore more of the mythology and connection between the Inhumans and the Cree?  Will we ever find out the true origin of the Planet?  Is the Planet important beyond being the place where Hive was exiled for millennia?

ANSWER: Still questions without answers.  The Inhumans/Cree story lines and alien mythology were subverted this half season in favor of creating the “Ghost Rider” story arc.

6) Will we ever learn more about the Cree themselves?  Are they related to any of the individual Avengers?

ANSWER: As above, still questions without answers.

7) Will we be returning to some “the team chases Daisy” motif as we already experienced in season 2?  The panel is against this idea.

ANSWER: The panel was not heeded, to a point, and the show was the worse for it (listen to us, man!). Some time was devoted to Coulson and Mack’s chase of Daisy. Fortunately, a frustrated Mace prevented Coulson from being distracted by this eventuality for too long, feeling that Daisy outmaneuvered Coulson and Mack every step of the way and to no avail and at a significant expenditure of SHIELD’s resources. Eventually, everyone catches up with each other in the end.  That’s usually how it works.

8) What or who will be the new “Big Bad” now that Hive has expired?

ANSWER: The “Big Bad” is as yet undefined.  It could be the Watchdogs, the anti-Inhuman terrorist organization that first appeared in season three.  It could be politicians like Senator Ellen Nadir, who seem to be funneling money and resources to the Watchdogs.  Or, it could have been Robbie Reyes aka Ghost Rider’s Uncle Eli, who toyed with quantum physics and got himself sucked into an inter-dimensional rift by playing with forces he did not understand.  As we discuss in the podcast episode, this half season was a bit messy.

9) Is Hydra really gone?  It can’t be, right?  New heads and so forth?

ANSWER: So far, so gone, though panelist Jen predicted that Senator Nadir could possibly be, or be connected to new heads of, Hydra, since she is holding captive Inhuman(s) undergoing terra-genesis for as yet unknown reasons (with Mace’s knowledge; listen to the podcast for details).

10) Will Bobbi and/or Lance ever be brought back to the show, since their purported spin-off was axed before airing?

ANSWER: So far, so gone, though it would be nice for SHIELD to accidentally bump into them at some point.  I can’t imagine they would stay gone for good, unless budgetary reasons prevent them from returning.

New Questions

1) Is Ghost Rider (GR) gone for good?  Why was he even brought on the show to begin with? What IS GR?  Who was the GR before Robbie Reyes? Is Robbie the last GR, should he never return from where ever he landed with his Uncle Eli? Does GR reap souls from the living?  How was GR able to touch the physicists trapped within the dimensional rift? Where do the souls or people slayed or reaped by the GR go?  Do they go to hell?  Why was the GR mythology not flushed out more on this show if such care and attention to bring him on the show was necessary to the overall story?  The podcast panelists felt that the GR arc combined with the several other story lines introduced or continued in this half season (Daisy as Quake, the humans vs. Inhumans, SHIELD as an evolving SHIELD) was ultimately a misfire in execution, mostly, on the part of the producers and writers.

2) Is Nadir affiliated with Hydra?  Could Hydra be coming back – since it seems foolish to eliminate them from the MCU completely?

3) Ada (Mallory Jansen), Radcliffe’s newest android creation, seems to have created a double for May.  Is the real May being held captive by Ada (we see a bloodied May in Ada’s storage closet)? Is the doubled May, back at SHIELD headquarters, an android? Or, is she some sort of inter-dimensional echo created by Ada with the knowledge from Dark Hold? Or, is double May an alien?  Because, when in doubt – aliens.

4) What was the Dark Hold book all along?  Some sort of window into Hell?  Is it alien?  Is it Cree?

5) What happened to the Inhuman undergoing terra-genesis that Simmons was blindfolded and squirreled away to help and, then, to abandon when the process was complete?

6) Is Mace going to remain SHIELD’s director?  Is he part of a new SHIELD Inhuman fighting force? What secrets is he hiding (since Simmons implied that there were secrets)? Will he be the “Big Bad” in the second half of the season as panelist Jen predicts?

7) Is Coulson really attempting to position Daisy as a possible future SHIELD director?

8) Are Mack and “Yo-Yo” aka Alana Rodriguez going to make a legitimate romantic go of it?  What pain is Mack nursing?  The loss of his brother?

9) Will we see any more Avengers or Avengers-related characters on the show?  The panel feels strongly that the show would benefit from an injection of movie-caliber quality, either in character appearances or in story reworking.

10) Was Ada truly affected by the Dark Hold?  Does her creation of double May mean she is evil or an insane robot now?  Will SHE be the “Big Bad” in the season’s second half? Does Holden know or having any inkling of what his creation has become?

PARTING SHOTS

By consensus, the podcast panel believes that the show’s critical crossroads has come and gone, and that in the case of Marvel Agents of SHIELD, in the heretofore described “make it or break it” scenario, SHIELD may be close to breaking it.  The panel felt that the show hit a low point in this half season, comparable to the first half of its first season, while rebooting its trajectory post-Hive and post-departure of Brett Dalton.  The panelists, though still willing to continue watching, feel that the show has become stale and somewhat boring as it flounders to find a new focal point, though we still have numerous questions, as above.  In addition, though Daisy would be a logical choice for that new focal point, the panel also universally felt that the writers have short changed one of the more popular characters this season by creating Daisy’s petulant, somewhat flat response to her grief, while the character herself is mired in a repetitive story line centered on her developing powers and Quake persona.  Furthermore, the fourth season’s first half has only served to confirm another panel perception: the time jump was anticlimactic and seemingly unnecessary in the grand scheme of things and did not create an enticing enough cliffhanger to convince fickle fans to continue watching, resulting in lower ratings overall. The panel still thinks it’s worth tuning in to SHIELD, even if the “tuning in” does not necessarily occur at the time of first airing, though, for the first time, all three panelists felt hard pressed to recommend the show to others, as all panelists believed strongly that SHIELD might not be able to recover from its current, disorganized, post-Hive path. In fact, viewers who stopped watching the show much earlier may finally be justified in their quick prejudgments, though the panel still asserts that the first three seasons are worth the watch.

LOOKING AHEAD

A full season of Marvel Agents of SHIELD was ordered upon renewal, but both our podcast panel and other TV pundits believe that renewal for a fifth season could go either way, meaning that the show has unofficially entered bubble territory; thus, no official announcement about the show’s fate has yet been made.  Agents of SHIELD returns from its mid-season hiatus on January 10, 2017. The podcast panel will revisit this program at the end of season, so keep checking back with CPU! for all the latest blog posts and podcast episodes. As always, CPU! will keep you informed of news and additional SHIELD coverage. Until then!

American Horror Story Series, Episode Four, Season Four: “Freak Show” (MAJOR SPOILERS)

couchpotatoesunite

A new podcast episode of Couch Potatoes Unite!, which is based on a blog of the same name hosted at couchpotatoesunite.wordpress.com. In this episode, and in honor of Halloween, our small but robust panel of casual horror fans (and rotating moderators!)–including moderator Kylie, Nick, and Sarah–gathered together to Look Back at the fourth season of American Horror Story, otherwise known as “Freak Show.”  This is the fourth episode of an ongoing CPU! podcast series examining one of our favorite television programs throughout its anthology of various seasons depicting different and unique horror stories per season, and it was recorded in July 2016. If you have not watched American Horror Story: Freak Show, 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!