Westworld, Season 1: Part One of the “Catching Up on Westworld” Miniseries (MAJOR SPOILERS)

A new podcast episode of Couch Potatoes Unite!, which is based on a blog of the same name hosted at our website: couchpotatoesunite.wordpress.com.  In this episode, recorded in June 2019, our panel of stoic hosts and wide-eyed guests – moderator Kylie, Kyle, Hilary, Samantha, Jeremy, and Ben – convenes for the first time around the CPU! Water Cooler to welcome you to Westworld by discussing the first season of the HBO science fiction western series based upon the movie of the same name, in this, Part One of our two-part “Catching Up on Westworld” Miniseries.  As always, if you have not watched any of Westworld, be aware that there are, most definitely, MAJOR SPOILERS! Tell us what you think, and/or if there are other shows you’re interested in CPU! covering, below; email us at couchpotatoesunitepodcast@gmail.com; or check out our Guestbook at the website, our Facebook page, our Twitter (@cpupodcast), or our Instagram (@couchpotatoesunite). Until next time, until next episode…buh bye!

Executive Producer/Chief Couch Potato: Kylie C. Piette
Associate Producers: Krista Pennington and Selene Rezmer

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

Theme Song:
Written by: Sarah Milbratz
Singers: Sarah Milbratz, Amy McDaniel, Kelsey Sprague
Keyboard: Kelsey Sprague
Bass: Ian McDonough
Guitar: Christian Somerville
Engineer/Production: Kyle Aspinall/Christian Somerville

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PODCAST! – Pilots, Premieres, and First Looks: “Westworld” – The Recap and Review of Season 1; Part One of CPU!’s “Catching Up on Westworld” Miniseries (MAJOR SPOILERS)

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Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

Who: “Westworld” is a science fiction western based upon the 1973 film of the same name (written and directed by Michael Crichton) and to a lesser extent, the film’s 1976 sequel Futureworld. The series began airing on HBO in 2016.

What:  “Westworld,” created by Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy, depicts a fictional, technologically advanced Wild West-themed amusement park populated by android “hosts” called “Westworld.” The park caters to high-paying “guests” who may indulge their wildest fantasies within the park without fear of retaliation from the hosts, who are prevented by their programming from harming humans.

When: Season 1 aired on HBO from October 2, 2016, to December 4, 2016, with a total of ten episodes.

Where: The action is set primarily in the fictional Westworld and in its adjacent maintenance and creative facilities at some unknown future time.

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

How – as in How Was It?

The pilot/premiere rating scale:

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

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

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

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

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

Westworld = 4.3, by average of the podcast panel.

SYNOPSIS

In an unspecified time in the future, Westworld allows guests to experience the American Old West in an environment populated by “hosts,” i.e. androids programmed to fulfill the park guests’ every desire. The hosts, who are nearly indistinguishable from humans, follow a predefined set of intertwining narratives but have the ability to deviate from these narratives based on interactions they have with guests.

The hosts repeat their multi-day narratives anew each cycle. At the beginning of each new cycle (typically following the host’s “death”), each host has its memories of the previous period erased. This continues hundreds or thousands of times until the host is decommissioned or re-purposed for use in other narratives. For guests’ safety, hosts’ programming prevents them from physically harming human guests; this allows guests nearly unlimited freedom to engage without retribution in any activity they choose with the hosts, including rape and murder. Staff—situated in a control center called “The Mesa”, which is connected to the park through vast underground facilities—oversee daily operations, develop new narratives, and perform repairs on hosts as necessary. Unbeknownst to the staff, members of a small group of hosts have retained memories of their past “lives” and are learning from their experiences as they gradually start to achieve sentience.

THOUGHTS

By popular request, though notably by several resident CPU! panelists and viewers, Westworld has, as of this publication, become a new show panel at the CPU! Water Cooler!  Requesting CPU! panelists include our fourth-most involved panelist, Kyle, best known for his contribution to our superhero panels and science fiction and fantasy panels (such as DCTU, Marvel’s Defenders, The Buffy-Verse, The Star Trek 50+, and the X-Files Series panels, among others); Hilary, who joins husband Kyle and moderator sister Kylie on many of those same panels and who recently appeared on our Friends series panel; Samantha, who appears/ed on the Grace and Frankie panel, the Friends series panel, who recently joined our “Full/er House” Series panel, and who Looked Back at Gilmore Girls and Marvel’s Agent Carter; Jeremy, who regularly appears on our Supernatural, 13 Reasons Why, and Will and Grace Revives Series panels; and me, your Chief CP, shooting it up as a welcoming host and guest – plus, we introduce a brand new panelist! Our newly constituted “mesa” of panel constituents gathered “Around the Water Cooler” to take a “First Look” at this lush and complex drama, and in so doing, ruminate in-depth upon the production values, performances, writing, and densely plotted mysteries of this show hailing from seeds planted by Michael Crichton’s creative brain – and with mostly positive and praise-worthy results, at least for this first season.

Tonight’s episode is the first part of a two-part miniseries in which CPU! gets caught up on this show, which premiered on HBO in 2016.  In this episode, our panel reflects on and recaps Season 1 of Westworld, in which we are introduced to the park, the hosts, the guests, the creatives, and the corporation behind this future-oriented science fiction exploration of humanity, consciousness, and conscience.

This episode was recorded in June 2019, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as the panelists cover key plot points – very key plot points – of the first season. Listen at your own risk, and let us know what you think by commenting below!

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

Remember, new episodes and blog posts are published weekly! Next Wednesday, our Westworld panel returns to the Water Cooler with Part Two of our Catch-Up miniseries welcoming you to the wonders of Westworld.  Stay tuned!

RECOMMENDATION

Westworld, especially the first season, is recommended by this latest CPU! panel to anyone who enjoys a good, satisfying story, with exciting action coupled with cerebral, intelligent mysteries to titillate and to ponder; to fans of science fiction and/or westerns and/or mysteries in general; and to music lovers who enjoy auditory Easter eggs, as the person responsible for the score, Ramin Djawadi, is both clever and prolific with his use of music, original and adapted, in this series (see playlist below).  The panelists universally agree that the production values on this series are remarkable, with particularly breathtaking cinematography, costuming, and visual effects representing the series’ crowning achievements. The panelists also unanimously praise the writing and the performances by this noteworthy cast/ensemble, especially those of Jeffrey Wright as Bernard and of Ed Harris as the Man in Black.

The panelists further proffer, even caution, that the pacing is demonstrably slow and deliberate, as the complicated and multi-layered mystery is painstakingly and carefully revealed in thoughtful morsels throughout the first season. Our panelists note that any would-be viewer should be prepared for an engaging puzzle of a tale that should be actively watched and processed without distraction, like the “multi-screen experience,” and possibly with a notebook or journal at one’s side to keep track of the story information, for the mystery is densely plotted and is full of details large and small, which are additionally shuffled within an already jumbled chronology that both piques curiosity and confuses if one is not paying adequate attention. Still, all panelists see broad appeal in the viewing experience related to this show, with different elements that will appeal to different viewers, compelling characters, and enticing enigmas. The panelists especially laud the first season; several panelists feel that this season could stand alone, on its own merits and strengths, should a potential viewer decide not to pursue viewing beyond that first season, though all of our panelists have. In any event, our Westworld panel was universally motivated to continue watching the second season and will do so for future seasons to come as well, which we will discuss in Part Two of our miniseries.

THE FUTURE OF THE SHOW

HBO renewed Westworld for a third season, which is expected to release in 2020, though no tentative premiere date has yet been announced. CPU! will next visit Westworld for Part Two of this “Catch-Up Miniseries” next week!  Our next Westworld episode will focus upon the second season of the show and will bring our humble podcast to current times, appreciations, and readiness for Westworld coverage going forward.  Like, follow, and/or subscribe to the website, iTunes, YouTube, Stitcher Radio, Google Play, or our social media accounts to stay abreast of new episodes regarding Westworld as well as new episodes for all of our podcast panels! And, if you feel so inclined, please leave us a review. Thank you!

Looking Back at “Star Trek: The Original Series,” Season 1: The Star Trek 50+ Series, Episode 1 (MAJOR SPOILERS)

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 resident CPU! Trekkers – including moderator Chief Couch Potato Kylie, Nick, Sarah, Kyle, and Michael – gathered together Around the Water Cooler to Look Back at the first season of The Original Series of Star Trek.  This is the first part of a multi-part CPU! podcast series – the biggest multi-part series we have ever undertaken – in which we venture into space, the final frontier, by covering each season of each series of the entire Star Trek franchise (the movies too)! This first “Star Trek 50+ Series” episode was recorded in June 2019, and, as always, if you haven’t seen any of Star Trek, TOS or otherwise – if that is even possible – be aware that there are MAJOR SPOILERS! Tell us what you think, and/or if there are other shows you’re interested in CPU! covering, below; email us at couchpotatoesunitepodcast@gmail.com; or check out our Guestbook at the website, our Facebook page, our Twitter (@cpupodcast), or our Instagram (@couchpotatoesunite). Until next time, until next episode…buh bye!

Executive Producer/Chief Couch Potato: Kylie C. Piette
Associate Producers: Krista Pennington and Selene Rezmer

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

Theme Song:
Written by: Sarah Milbratz
Singers: Sarah Milbratz, Amy McDaniel, Kelsey Sprague
Keyboard: Kelsey Sprague
Bass: Ian McDonough
Guitar: Christian Somerville
Engineer/Production: Kyle Aspinall/Christian Somerville

PODCAST! – Best Of! & Cult TV! & Looking Back at “Star Trek: The Original Series,” Season 1: The Star Trek 50+ Series, Episode 1 (MAJOR SPOILERS) + Best Written TV (#33)

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Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

Who: “Star Trek,” an American science fiction series created by Gene Roddenberry, which aired on NBC from 1966 to 1969 for three seasons until it was canceled.

What: “Star Trek” follows the adventures of the star ship USS Enterprise (NCC-1701) and its crew. The show later acquired the retronym of Star Trek: The Original Series (TOS) to distinguish this first series within the media franchise that it began.

SYNOPSIS

Star Trek is set in the Milky Way galaxy, roughly during the 2260s. The ship and crew are led by Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner), First Officer and Science Officer Spock (Leonard Nimoy), and Chief Medical Officer Leonard McCoy (DeForest Kelley).

When: The show aired on NBC from 1966-1969; Season 1 aired from September 8, 1966, to April 13, 1967.

Where: The show is set in “space the final frontier,” in what is allegedly the 2260s, though it should be noted that calculating star dates as quoted during “Captain’s Logs” on the show is an exercise that does not seem to be based upon rhyme or reason nor does it seem to correspond to our present-day time measurement system. Then again, there is probably an explanation in some fan encyclopedia somewhere. We’re not going to worry about that right now, though, gentle listener.

Why: Listen to the podcast for the panelists’ individual stories on how they found Star Trek – any Star Trek. They are all personal, familial even, and brimming with fantastic Trekker enthusiasm.

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

In 2017, Couch Potatoes Unite! appeared live at Grand Rapids Comic-Con in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where we engaged in one of our spicy “Vs!” debates, specifically the debate entitled “Star Trek v. Star Wars: Battle of the Stars!” During that special, our second most involved panelist, the infamous Nick, gave an impassioned speech in favor of the Star Trek universe, of which he is undeniably a huge fan. If you would like to hear that speech, or to enjoy the whole event (which was recorded as below), either click play or fast forward to the last fifteen minutes of the below video and watch the whole moving moment:

In light of Nick’s passion, then, and of his subsequent repetitive bouts of subtle encouragement dedicated to starting this series, we here at CPU! triumphantly launch our biggest – no, really, this will be our biggest – Retrospective Looking Back series of podcast episodes to date.  By popular request from our resident Trekkers, specifically our panel of CPU! super-regulars Nick, Sarah, Kyle, and Michael, who have, in turn, agreed to take on a likely “five year mission” to boldly go where (probably) no one has gone before, herein CPU! offers you the first episode of our “Star Trek 50+ Series.” In this feature, we will take a critical Look Back at a franchise that, perhaps somewhat unexpectedly, perseveres, despite occasional periods of dormant but simmering popularity and attempts to regroup in an effort to generate new entries in its over five-decade saga. In each episode of this multi-part series, our panel will Look Back at each season of each series of the Star Trek franchise and will consider how this universe has not only withstood the test of time, while simultaneously becoming timeless, but also continues to rank among the panelists’ personal favorites, not only as a series of television programs but as a favored fandom among many, while remaining one of the most nationally and internationally acclaimed series of television shows of all time.

In this first episode of CPU!’s “Star Trek 50+” series, our panel discusses the first season of The Original Series (TOS). We discuss our favorite and least favorite episodes in this season as well as our general impressions of the success of not only the first season of this program but the long-term success of the series as a whole.

Plus, Star Trek constitutes another entry in our “Best Of!” series. To wit, herein be the list of Star Trek’s (TOS) Best Of!:

  • #12 on TV Guide’s list of 60 Best Series of All Time
  • #43 on Empire‘s “50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time” in 2008 and #30 in 2016
  • #35 on The Hollywood Reporter‘s “Hollywood’s 100 Favorite TV Shows”
  • Time magazine’s “100 Best TV Shows of All-Time
  • #18 on Rolling Stone’s list of 100 Greatest TV Shows of All Time

In addition, Star Trek is one of the most celebrated cult TV shows and TV fandoms, as the show ranks at #1 on TV Guide’s Top Cult TV list in 2004 and 2007.  Plus, Star Trek ranked #33 on The Writer’s Guild of America’s Best Written TV list in 2013, as it is also considered one of the best written (scripted) television series of all time.

This particular CPU! episode was recorded in June 2019, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as the panelists cover key plot points and episodic stories of the first season of Star Trek (The Original Series)! 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, a new panel appears at the CPU! Water Cooler, convening for the first time to welcome you to Westworld by enthusiastically discussing the heady HBO drama’s first, powerful season. Stay tuned!

RECOMMENDATION

Star Trek (The Original Series) – if you somehow haven’t already watched it – is recommended to anyone who hasn’t somehow seen any portion of it in the over 50 years since it first premiered; who isn’t offended by yesterday’s context of sensibilities in today’s more “woke” world; and who enjoys well-written science fiction stories because Star Trek is pioneering in so many ways, not the least of which includes quality stories underlying each of the show’s imaginative episodes.  As we discuss in this podcast episode, TOS was clearly ahead of its time, even as it was hampered by societal resistances of the day, and influenced so many other science fiction and fantasy genre shows to follow, not to mention its own spin-offs and sequels. To wit, Star Trek remains a timeless, magical fusion of ensemble cast chemistry, particularly involving the three leads (Shatner, Nimoy, and Kelley), and out-of-the-box creativity advanced during a tumultuous cultural time period that is hard not to love, whatever flaws and dated special effects it might have. Indeed, Star Trek has a bit of everything, and, if you love the genre and/or if you love trying something new, and if you have somehow missed this series (please explain how this might be possible?), you should make time for Star Trek. The panelists only caution that The Original Series is, truly, a product of its time, situated as it was deeply within and sometimes at the mercy of the heart and height of the civil rights and women’s movements. In addition, TV in the 1960s was generally a different animal, with more melodrama, slower pacing, and less “B” or side stories to engage interest and/or short attention spans, as well as some famously primitive special and visual effects. Entering into your continuing mission with this information and an open mind will guarantee a journey unlike any other, where you have never gone before, and where you’ll always want to revisit, aboard the Enterprise NCC-1701 or otherwise.

All three seasons of TOS are currently available to stream on Netflix, Prime, and Hulu, and maybe some other services of which we are not aware. In the meantime, the CPU! Star Trek 50+ Series panel will return later this month, schedule permitting, with Episode 2 of this series, in which we talk Season 2 of TOS. Until then!

A Series of Unfortunate Events, Season 3 & “Goodbye”/Looking Back Review (MAJOR SPOILERS)

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A new podcast episode of Couch Potatoes Unite!, which is based on a blog of the same name hosted at couchpotatoesunite.wordpress.com.  In this episode, recorded in May 2019, our panel of veteran CPU! panelists and Unfortunate TV fans – including moderator Nick, Kristen, Kelsey, Jenn, Selene, and Kylie – is Around the Water Cooler, Streaming Originals, and chatting for the last time as a panel about the third and final season of Unfortunate hit and Netflix original program A Series of Unfortunate Events. If you have not watched any of said Unfortunate Events, be aware that there are MAJOR SPOILERS! Tell us what you think, and/or if there are other shows you’re interested in CPU! covering, below; email us at couchpotatoesunitepodcast@gmail.com; or check out our Guestbook at the website, our Facebook page, our Twitter (@cpupodcast), or our Instagram (@couchpotatoesunite). Until next time, until next episode…buh bye!

Executive Producer/Chief Couch Potato: Kylie C. Piette
Associate Producers: Krista Pennington and Selene Rezmer

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

Theme Song: 
Written by: Sarah Milbratz
Singers: Sarah Milbratz, Amy McDaniel, Kelsey Rezmer
Keyboard: Kelsey Rezmer
Bass: Ian McDonough
Guitar: Christian Somerville
Engineer/Production: Kyle Aspinall/Christian Somerville

PODCAST! – Around the Water Cooler & Streaming Originals: The CPU! Goodbye to “A Series of Unfortunate Events” – The Season 3 Recap and Review + Looking Back at Seasons 1-3 (MAJOR SPOILERS)

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Moderated by: Nick

THE SPECS:

Who: “A Series of Unfortunate Events” is an American black comedy-drama television series developed by Mark Hudis and Barry Sonnenfeld, which is based upon the children’s novel series of the same name authored by Lemony Snicket and which is a Netflix original series, always available on Netflix.

What: “A Series of Unfortunate Events” adapts the books of Lemony Snicket’s series of novels. It stars Neil Patrick Harris, Patrick Warburton, Malina Weissman, Louis Hynes, K. Todd Freeman, and Presley Smith.

SYNOPSIS

When a mysterious fire kills their parents, the Baudelaire children are placed into the care of their distant relative Count Olaf (Harris), an actor who is determined to claim the family fortune for himself. Following Olaf’s initial failed attempt to do so, the Baudelaires set out to elude Olaf and to uncover the mystery behind a secret society from their parents’ past.

When: Season 3 was released in its entirety to the Netflix streaming library on January 1, 2019, with a total of 7 episodes.

Where: The action takes place in various fictional locales, not always specifically named.

Why: To find out why individual podcast panelists started watching this show, listen to the podcast episode covering Season 1 via the link below.

How – as in How Was It? – THOUGHTS

Couch Potatoes Unite! has been reviewing and recapping this series from the beginning! If you need to catch up with us, listen to the prior episodes of this series via the embedded links below:

Season 1

Season 2

Frequent contributor and panelist Nick abounds in passion and, therefore, perseveres in his moderation duties while discussing the latest (and final) season of Netflix Streaming Original A Series of Unfortunate Events, in this latest chapter of CPU!’s podcast episodes about this #Unfortunate series. In this final season’s recap and review, yours truly, the Chief CP, again participates as a regular old panelist to remark upon the unfortunate-ness of the whole affair. Nick and I are, in turn, joined by returning CPU! and ASOUE panelists Kristen, Kelsey, Selene, and Jenn for this final probing, passionate, and, at times, pithy discussion about the Baudelaires and their trials and tribulations.

This podcast was recorded in May 2019, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as we cover major plot points throughout the third and final season of A Series of Unfortunate Events. 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 regularly scheduled review episodes will return to a brief hiatus (as spring moves into summer), so CPU! will continue the “On the Couch With…” feature with Associate Producer of Marketing and frequent panelist Krista interviewing Associate Producer of Special Projects and frequent panelist Selene.  Stay tuned until next week for more casual one-on-one, get-to-know hilarity!

Lingering Questions

1) Will the Baudelaire children survive their trials and tribulations? Will they get a happy ending? Will they reunite with the caring Justice Strauss (Joan Cusack) from Season 1? Will they find a happy home anywhere? Or, will they be marginally miserable but, at least, always together?

ANSWERS: (SPOILERS!!!) The Baudelaires survive and become quite self-sufficient in the end, needing no guardian, which might be the happiest ending that they could have expected or for which we, the viewers, could have hoped. They also reunite, briefly, with Justice Strauss, who the viewer learns has been searching for them for the length of the entire series, ever since the children were separated from the kind judge in the first season. Unfortunately, Justice Strauss is forced to preside over a trial during which the Baudelaires must answer for questionable, entirely inadvertent crime(s). The Baudelaires, as a result of a rigged system overseen by nefarious High Court adjudicators that Justice Strauss naively trusts, choose to run from the trial, particularly given some arson-related circumstances affecting the trial’s location, and find themselves on the ocean and sailing toward a mysterious island, surprisingly with Count Olaf and without Justice Strauss. After these wily children deal with Count Olaf on this removed island oasis, they make a temporary home for themselves in an abode, the interior of an apple tree, previously occupied by their parents; the island itself provides a very specific tidal window through which to sail that can only be accessed once per year. The Baudelaires, then, after a year of waiting for the turn in the tide, return to the mainland, together, where they presumably live out the rest of their days. Listen to the podcast episode for further details.

2) Will Count Olaf get his well-deserved comeuppance?

ANSWER: Well…Count Olaf does find himself on the receiving end of a poisonous fungus and a harpoon, which (SPOILER!!!) ultimately cause his death. Whether that ending feels satisfying as a proverbial “comeuppance” is debatable. Listen to the podcast episode for details.

3) What is the SUGAR BOWL? Why should we care about the sugar bowl? Is it Beatrice’s sugar bowl? Why does Esme Squalor (Lucy Punch) want it so badly?

ANSWER: The SUGAR BOWL is just a sugar bowl, as it turns out, though it becomes an important vessel for the VFD’s secret formula for a weaponized poisonous fungus called the Medusoid Mycelium, as well as the sugar-like form of the antidote to said poisonous fungus. Esme wants the bowl so badly because the SUGAR BOWL was originally her sugar bowl, part of a tea set that was very “in” for her when it was whole. Listen to the podcast episode for further analysis.

4) Who is Beatrice? Is she dead? If not, where is she?

ANSWER: The podcast panel believes that Beatrice, i.e. the subject of Lemony Snicket’s (Warburton) notes at the top of each pair of episodes, is the Baudelaires’ mother, played by Morena Baccarin, who is confirmed to be dead. Yet, Beatrice could also refer to Lemony’s niece, Beatrice Baudelaire II, who the Baudelaire siblings care for following the death of Beatrice II’s mom, and Lemony’s sister, Kit Snicket. Listen to the podcast episode for details.

5) Are the Baudelaires’ parents really dead? If not, will we see them again?

ANSWER: Yes. The Baudelaires’ parents are really dead, though we are treated to a glimpse of them in a series finale flashback.

6) If Lemony Snicket is telling the story, does he know the end?

ANSWER: No. Lemony does not know the end, and he makes a point of saying that readers/viewers are not meant to know all the answers to all the questions, either. In fact, the series finish is rather open-ended. Listen to the podcast episode for details.

7) Are the Quagmires’ (Avi Lake and Dylan Kingwell) parents officially dead?

ANSWER: Yes. The Quagmires’ parents are officially dead.

8) Who is Jacqueline (Sara Canning) – what is her goal?

ANSWER: Unknown. Jacqueline apparently leaves to be the new Duchess of Winnipeg, according to Mr. Poe (Freeman). We presume Jacqueline fulfilled her VFD duties in ensuring, sloppily, the protection of the Baudelaire children, but her disappearance ultimately feels forced and unsatisfying. Of course, maybe we are not supposed to care about whether or not Jacqueline has goals, since we are also not sure if they have been fulfilled. Anyway, we’ll never know the answer, unless Lemony Snicket writes more books focused on any of the other characters besides the Baudelaire siblings. Of course, panelist Jenn reveals in this episode, after some cursory research, that Jacqueline is not a character in the books. In conclusion, none of the panelists appear to be too broken up about the lack of Jacqueline information. Let us know what you think.

9) Will the Quagmire triplets return?

ANSWER: We do not see the original two triplets, at least not until the last episode, but we do learn that Quigley, the third, presumably dead, triplet is actually alive. Listen to the podcast episodes for details.

10) What is the VFD already? And why did Count Olaf “look away” from them at the start? Why do they have standard disguise kits?

ANSWER: The VFD is a super-secret spy organization established to put out the world’s fires, both literal and proverbial. We learn in this season that Count Olaf is wooed away from the stability and safety of the VFD because, first, Beatrice I inadvertently kills Olaf’s beloved father via a freak opera-house accident, and because, second, two nefarious characters with absolutely no back story – the Man with a Beard and No Hair and the Woman with Hair and No Beard – see fit to cause the oft-mentioned VFD schism by preying upon the easily manipulated but grieving Olaf. The disguises, we presume, are part of spying. Except where Olaf is concerned, when disguises and costumes are either part of ACTING or NEFARIOUS SCHEMES TO STEAL CHILDREN’S FORTUNES. Anyway, the panel believes that the VFD might be officially defunct as of the end of ASOUE, unless there are other VFD agents out in the world that we have not yet met. We’re not betting our opiate-laced coconut milk on it, though.

New Questions Without Answers

1) Who are the Man With a Beard and No Hair and the Woman with Hair and No Beard, and why do they have such beef with the VFD? Why were they introduced so late in the series?

2) How could the Baudelaire children remain on the mainland without an official guardian, and why isn’t the viewer at least somewhat entitled to know the minimum information about the world in which the Baudelaires reside vis-a-vis wards of the state?

3) What exactly is the nature of the relationship between Count Olaf and Kit Snicket, and why does the show not take more time to develop it?

4) Are all three of the triplets at the Hotel Denouement, as played by Max Greenfield, truly good and/or truly evil? Why would Kit Snicket align herself with the allegedly evil one if she was really good? For that matter, is Count Olaf truly evil or simply greedy and nefarious?

5) Why don’t the Baudelaires seek Lemony Snicket out sooner than the series finale, when Beatrice II seems to be preteen adjacent?

6) Whatever happened to Fernald and Fiona Widdershins? Whatever happened to their stepfather?

7) Did Ishmael (Peter MacNicol) create the mysterious series-ending island? Why is the island shaped like the VFD insignia tattooed on all of its agents?

8) Why didn’t Nathan Fillion appear in the flashback scene with Morena Baccarin or, earlier in Season 2, with Neil Patrick Harris in what could have been fourth-wall shattering actor reunions between Joss Whedon series alumni?

9) Whatever happened to the pirates?

10) Whatever happened to the orphans on Count Olaf’s submarine?

PARTING SHOTS

The ASOUE panel’s review of Season 3 is decidedly mixed among the various panelists. Some panelists, particularly the Chief CP and Jenn, expressed experiencing a mingled sense of apathy, frustration, and boredom about where the series ended, as they regard the repetition off-putting even as the ending felt rushed; other panelists, like Kelsey and Kristen, find themselves relieved that the ending was, ultimately, a bit more fortunate for the unfortunate Baudelaires. Remaining panelists Nick and Selene report possession of an overall sense of enthusiasm about the series, now that all is said and done, but acknowledge the obvious narrative flaws, which they discuss in this episode.

Yet, the panelists continue to unanimously praise the visual presentation and technical aspects of the show, even as they offer wide-ranging reactions to the overall direction and story flow. To that end, all panelists find reason to enjoy the show’s overall pastiche, with the script’s whimsical wordplay, the over the top characters, and the absurdly unfortunate situations guiding the overarching plot. The panelists also laud the use of tongue-in-cheek breakage of the fourth wall and some sly references to popular culture, though such references may or may not date this story over time. Ultimately, however, many of the panelists struggle with the scattered and somewhat tonally flat final season’s end, feeling that the show does not so much earn its sprint across its artificially constructed fictional finish line, despite all of its ham-fisted attempts to subvert typical fantasy tropes and in light of the anticlimactic and somewhat unsatisfying story conclusion. Still, all panelists, even the skeptics like the Chief CP, find enough good to say about A Series of Unfortunate Events to recommend it in the end, which is kind of fortunate, if you think about it. Of course, you don’t have to take our word for it – you can always “look away.”

THE FUTURE OF THE SHOW

Ended! A Series of Unfortunate Events ended with this third and final season after ultimately adapting all of the Lemony Snicket novels in the original book series via the three available seasons of this Netflix original program. All ASOUE seasons are, therefore, available to stream on Netflix, as that is the network that produced it. 

At the last, despite the fluctuations of panelist opinions between the first two seasons and between those seasons and the third, A Series of Unfortunate Events continues to be recommended by all of our panelists, especially to fans of the original book series; of the 2004 film adaptation of same; of Neil Patrick Harris and of Patrick Warburton, who portray Count Olaf and Mr. Snicket, respectively, and who do so with flourish and aplomb; to fans of the type of dark, sardonic humor offered by the likes of Tim Burton or Barry Sonnenfeld, the latter of whom is credited as a creator and an executive producer of this series; and to fans of generally wicked wordplay.  Panelists Kelsey and Selene recommend this program for family viewing along with younger children, though they expressed more concern about the uptick in darkness and death prevalent in the second and third seasons and about how their seven-year-old daughter might react to this new intensity. Chief CP Kylie, the only true member of Gen X on this panel, continues to caution that the series may be more palatable to Millennials and to younger generations, who had a chance to grow up with the original series of children’s books and who might relate to the program more easily, despite the fact that the erstwhile Doogie Howser MD plays a lead character.  Yet, in the end, no panelist regards the viewing of this delightfully original if adapted series to be a waste of one’s time, which might not chalk up to be a fortunately ringing endorsement but can be construed as a CPU! Official Endorsement ™, nevertheless.

In addition, while our ASOUE coverage is primarily done, don’t be surprised if it makes an appearance or two in coming discussions, from time to time. In the meantime, from our Unfortunate panel of Cake-Sniffers to you, thank you for listening to our ongoing reviews of A Series of Unfortunate Events, which now officially come to a close.  To discover other shows discussed by CPU!, check here.  For now, we bid you adieu!

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Lemony Snicket (Patrick Warburton, right) meets Beatrice II over root beer floats in “The End” of ASOUE, Season 3
Who can tell what’s more Unfortunate? The Series of Unfortunate Events or our panel, having to say goodbye to you all (unfortunately).
Our ASOUE panel: Nick (left, moderator); Kelsey (top); Selene (right); Kristen (center); Jenn (on the laptop, being technical, and featuring her vocal cat, Duke)

PODCAST! – Around the Water Cooler & Streaming Originals: The CPU! Goodbye to “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” – The Season 4 Recap and Review + Looking Back at Seasons 1-4 (MAJOR SPOILERS)

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Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

Who:  “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” is a Netflix original series, always available on Netflix, as it is Netflix-produced original content.

What: “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” a situation comedy about a woman who, along with three other women, is rescued from an underground bunker in rural Indiana after being kidnapped or otherwise stuck inside for fifteen years as a member of a doomsday cult, the leader of which convinced them that the world had ended, and that the apocalypse had come.  Kimmy (Ellie Kemper, The Office) decides to start her life over in New York City, out of time and out of place.  Hilarity ensues.

SYNOPSIS

The heroine of the title, Kimmy Schmidt, is one of five women to emerge from an underground bunker in Indiana, having been, in some respects, unwitting members of a doomsday cult.  The five women were trapped in this bunker, with their religious leader Reverend Richard Wayne Gary Wayne, for fifteen years; Kimmy and her bunker-mates emerge into the twenty-first century while still stuck in the twentieth.  Brimming with endless optimism and a healthy dose of girl power, Kimmy decides to start her brand new life away from small town Indiana by setting up in New York City.  She luckily finds a rent controlled, in a manner of speaking, apartment with a fabulous new roommate named Titus Andromedon (D’Fwan from 30 Rock, Tituss Burgess) and an aging hippie landlord named Lillian, played by character actress Carol Kane.  Kimmy secures a job as a nanny with a ridiculously rich Park Avenue family, the Voorhees, the matriarch of which is boss from hell and new best friend Jacqueline (now White as of Season 2, Jane Krakowski, 30 Rock/Ally McBeal)Mostly, Kimmy finds herself full of optimism but is otherwise a struggling fish out of water and out of time, as she attempts to create an adult life for herself, having lost such a significant part of her childhood to the spartan and strange life of the bunker.

When: The fourth season of the series was released by Netflix in two parts: six episodes were released on May 30, 2018, and the subsequent final six episodes dropped on January 25, 2019.

Where: The action is set in and around New York City, New York, though there are occasional flashbacks to the bunker, which is in Indiana.

Why: The show was created by Tina Fey and Robert Carlock, the producer/creative team responsible for giving us 30 Rock, of which the panelists are generally huge fans. Many of us also enjoyed Ellie Kemper quite a bit in The Office and in the movie Bridesmaids, as she’s got great comedic timing.  This show was on CPU!’s list of pilots to watch for the 2014-2015 season and was originally slated to air on NBC, but when Netflix picked it up instead, it was an easy choice to switch over.

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

CPU! started covering “Kimmy” from the beginning.  If you haven’t heard our previous Kimmy podcast episodes, listen/watch via the embedded links below:

Season 1

Season 2 – LIVE

Season 3 – LIVE (Sort Of)

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt blew up the internet when it was first released, which is not surprising, because it begins with an extremely funny premise and a unique sensibility that catch the viewer off guard, along with its wacky humor, witty dialogue (no doubt spearheaded by Fey), stunt casting, and generally zany but positive tone.  In some ways, however, these elements begin to falter in big ways in the fourth season, or so says our UBK panel – original panelists Kristen, Nick, Sarah, Krista, and Andrew – in this latest discussion about the final season, Season 4. Do you agree or disagree with our thoughts on the fourth season?  Our thoughts about the entire series? Let us know if there is anything that you think we missed!

This podcast was recorded in April 2019, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as we also Look Back at and contemplate all four seasons of the show. 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 regularly scheduled review episodes will take a brief hiatus (May is always a busy month for our panelists), so we are launching a new interview feature whereby you, the listener, will hear, in a bit more in-depth type fashion, profiles of the CPU! core panelists. In the first episode of “On the Couch With…,” frequent panelist Sarah interviews…yours truly, Chief Couch Potato Kylie (as if you haven’t heard enough of my voice!).  Stay tuned until next week for some casual one-on-one, get-to-know hilarity!

Lingering Questions

1)  REPEAT QUESTION: Will we see Kimmy’s mom, Lori Ann (guest: Lisa Kudrow), again?  Is she still married to Kimmy’s stepdad, played by Tim Blake Nelson?

NEW ANSWER: Lisa Kudrow returns this season for the series finale in a lovely way (listen to the podcast episode for details). Her marriage status vis-a-vis Kimmy’s stepdad is never clarified in any season of the show, though we surmise that we do not really care anymore.

2)  Will we see any more representatives from 30 Rock, since Season 3 was lousy with 30 Rock cameos?

ANSWER: No. No additional 30 Rock actors appear in Season 4. Tina Fey does not even return.

3)  Will there be a larger plot involving the Reverend, since he and Kimmy are still married?

ANSWER: Sort of. Though the Reverend Richard Wayne Gary Wayne is currently housed in federal prison, we see him reconnect, first, with his number one fan, DJ Fingablast aka Doug, in DJ Fingablast’s documentary/mockumentary “Party Monster: Scratching the Surface,” otherwise known as UBK Episode 3. Fingablast reveals that he knew the Reverend way back when he was a (my word) hackneyed wedding DJ, which inspired Jacqueline’s one-time youthful paramour to take up the disc jockey trade. Because Fingablast is so loyal to the Reverend, the DJ also teams up with men’s rights activist Fran Dodd (guest: Bobby Moynihan); they both regard the Reverend as a champion for waning men’s rights, particularly in light of how others sympathize with the Mole Women while Fingablast’s number-one idol rots in jail. This story line becomes largely anticlimactic in the end, however, as Fingablast finds his truth in love, and Fran finds someone to love him back, as being rejected by the fairer sex is ultimately what drives him to take up the plight of the allegedly beleaguered straight, white man in the first place. The panelists additionally feel that the writers tried for satire with this comedic situation, but that said attempt rings hollow for most of us. Listen to the podcast episode for details.

4) Will Tina Fey always play AHN-drea/Andrea?

ANSWER: No. As above, Tina Fey does not appear in Season 4 and plays a Marcia Clark-like attorney in Season 1.

5) Will Titus and Mikey get back together?

ANSWER: Yes! By the end of the series, Mikey comes to his senses and realizes that he knows Titus’ brand – and still loves him for it. In the epilogue, we learn that they marry and adopt beautiful ethnic babies.

6) Will Lillian and Artie reunite?

ANSWER: No. In a confounding decision that confused our panel to the point of apathy, Artie dies off-screen in the transition between seasons – yet appears as a largely unhelpful ghost-figure, available to advise Lillian as she administers the trust fund of Artie’s very rich, very spoiled, huge train wreck of a daughter Sheba (guest: Busy Phillips). This situation stumbles for our panelists, particularly since the actor playing Artie made himself available to play a ghost. In other words, the joke does not work, son.

7) Will Jenna, I mean, Jackie Lynn, I mean, Jacqueline, be funnier as an agent?

ANSWER: No. In fact, Jane Krakowski’s performance in this final season also rings flat and feels tonally off, in every episode of Season 4, for all of our panelists – which means she actually becomes less funny as the head of “White Talent” (who represents Titus) as opposed to more. This joke is, like, of the quality of the sketches of Saturday Night Live in the 2000s. Our panel loves Tina Fey, but this might not be a coincidence.

8) Will Kimmy find her raison d’etre?

ANSWER: Yes. She becomes a children’s book author who endeavors to empower girls with a positive attitude and a healthy dose of imagination. Her first book, The Legends of Greemulax, becomes a Harry Potter-like treatise of female empowerment and unexpectedly touches and inspires Xanthippe, much to Xan’s chagrin, particularly when she learns of the author’s real name behind the nom de plume otherwise listed on the book’s cover.

9) Will Lisa Kudrow come back?  She was well received by our panel.

ANSWER: Yes. As above, Lisa Kudrow returns in the series finale. And there is much rejoicing.

PARTING SHOTS

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is now done, and the CPU! UBK panel universally agrees that the final season of the quirky sitcom is the least fresh and least successfully executed, if successfully executed at all, of all the show’s seasons. In fact, the panel opines that though the first season was fresh and funny and surprising in all the best ways, the show’s quality has steadily declined since then, if examining the series as a whole, even as the offbeat comedy contains shining moments of amusement in every season. Though all panelists found reason to laugh when inspired by the show’s over the top characters and absurdist situations, many of the panelists struggled with the scattered and somewhat tonally flat fourth season’s continued reach for gimmicks, like the tone deaf #metoo satire, as well as the generally disjointed story lines, such as Jacqueline’s ongoing journey of alleged personal growth, culminating in her partnership with guest Zachary Quinto’s Eli. Yet, the panelists cannot deny that other characters’ various exploits, like Titus’ discovery of the secret of Cats, the musical, spark smiles, if not sustained ones. Still, the panelists further regard the show as a non-formulaic sitcom with some solid joke-telling, particularly in the first two seasons, less so in the latter two, as well as some easy laughs throughout – that is, when the humor sticks the landing, which the panel has determined is not always the case in Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.

THE FUTURE OF THE SHOW

Ended!  Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt ended as of January 2019, by mutual agreement of Netflix and the show’s producers, after four seasons.  All four seasons are available to stream on Netflix, as that is the network that produced it. 

The panel, however, does not universally recommend Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt now that the series has ended. Panelist Kristen would recommend it only to individuals with similar senses of humor. Panelists Chief CP Kylie, Nick, and Krista would recommend the show only if the potential viewer has watched 30 Rock and liked that series, while panelist Krista feels that only the first two seasons are truly recommendable, given the series’ perceived decline in its latter half. Panelists Sarah and Andrew would not recommend the comedy to others, as they feel that there are other, better shows in similar genres with similar oeuvres, including The Office, Friends, and Schitt’s Creek.  All in all, these responses and impressions leave the panel with some anticlimactic feelings, as this comedy, which once felt new and fresh, seemed to devolve into some level of disjointed, abstract, “spaghetti at the wall” mediocrity, despite the winning cast performances.  On the other hand, the panelists are ultimately glad that Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt exists – they alive, dammit! It’s a miracle! – in light of its unique premise and strong core cast, and they might even miss the show, in the end, but no one plans to rush to re-watch it anytime soon.  Take that, gentle viewer and listener, for what it’s worth.

In addition, while our UBK coverage is primarily done, don’t be surprised if it makes an appearance or two in coming discussions, from time to time. In the meantime, from our Unbreakable panel of Cats-haters to you, thank you for listening to our ongoing Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt series, which now officially comes to a close.  To discover other shows discussed by CPU!, check here.  For now, we bid you adieu!

UPDATE!

Apparently, our panel is not quite done. Have you heard the late-breaking news? A final interactive special of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt will appear on Netflix in 2020.

It’s official. This podcast has psychic powers.

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Kimmy Schmidt (Ellie Kemper, left); Jacqueline White (Jane Krakowski, center);
and Titus Andromedon (Tituss Burgess, right) settle in for a weekend of binge TV and girl talk
in Season 4, Episode Two: “Kimmy Has a Weekend!”
The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt panel of Couch Potatoes Unite! gets silly.
Andrew’s in the center.
You probably guessed that, didn’t you?
The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt panel, from left to right:
Andrew, Krista, Kristen, Nick, and Sarah