(Adios To) Jane the Virgin, a Retrospective Miniseries, Part Two: Seasons 3 and 4 (MAJOR SPOILERS)

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A new podcast episode of Couch Potatoes Unite!, which is based on a blog of the same name hosted at couchpotatoesunite.wordpress.com. In this episode, recorded in September 2019, some of our not-so-virginal (keep it clean!) panelists – including moderator Kylie, Kristen, Samantha, Emily S, and Emily D – reconvened Around the Water Cooler for Part Two of our three-part (Adios To) Jane the Virgin Retrospective Miniseries, in which we Look Back at the CW comedy-drama/satirical telenovela.  In this episode, the panel discusses Seasons 3 and 4 of Jane the Virgin! If you have not watched any of Jane the Virgin, 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! – Looking Back: “(Adios To) Jane the Virgin, a Retrospective Miniseries” – Part Two, Seasons 3-4 (MAJOR SPOILERS)

Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

Who: “Jane the Virgin” is an American romantic comedy-drama and satirical telenovela, which aired on the CW for five seasons from 2014-2019.

What: Developed by Jennie Snyder Urman, Jane the Virgin is a loose adaptation of the Venezuelan telenovela Juana la Virgen, created by Perla Farías. The series stars Gina Rodriguez as Jane Villanueva, a devout 23-year-old Latina virgin, who becomes pregnant after an accidental artificial insemination by her gynecologist.

SYNOPSIS

Set in Miami, Jane the Virgin details the surprising and dramatic events that take place in the life of Jane Gloriana Villanueva (Rodriguez), a hard-working and religious Venezuelan-American woman. Jane’s vow to save her virginity until marriage becomes complicated when a doctor mistakenly artificially inseminates her during a routine examination. To make matters worse, the biological father is a married man, a former playboy, and a cancer survivor, who is not only the new owner of the hotel where Jane works but was also her former teenage crush. In addition to adjusting to pregnancy and to subsequent motherhood, Jane is faced with questions about her professional future and the daunting prospect of choosing to be with either the father of her baby or her detective boyfriend.

When: Season 3 aired on the CW from October 17, 2016, until May 22, 2017, with a total of 20 episodes. Season 4 aired from October 13, 2017, until April 20, 2018, with a total of 17 episodes.

Where: The action is set in Miami, Florida. The time is present day (“ish,” relative to time of airing).

Why: To find out why individual podcast panelists started watching this show, listen to the podcast episode via the link below! Chief Couch Potato Kylie previously passed on this show during the 2014 Fall Preview, though the full post is (apparently) archived. I mainly passed on the series because I was afraid that the show would approach the “Virgin” concept with some sort of hearkening to immaculate conception, thereby entering into tricky terrain for what was teased to primarily be a comedy. As I say in the episode recording, however, I was very wrong in my initial assessment. And I’m okay to be so wrong!

How – as in How Was It?THOUGHTS

This is Part Two of our “(Adios To) Jane the Virgin” miniseries Looking Back at the five seasons of Jane the Virgin.  You can listen to Part One here and at our audio feeds (Apple/iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, and now on Spotify!):

Seasons 1-2

In this episode, we move forward with our three-part Jane the Virgin retrospective, in light of the departure of the popular CW comedy-drama and (naturally said in Rogelio de la Vega’s voice) exceptional telenovela!  Kristen, Samantha, Emily S, and Emily D return to their relative seats “Around the Water Cooler” to continue our Look Back at this satirical comedy-drama, which ended its five-season run this past summer, and in so doing, we ruminate in-depth upon the production values, performances, and general life affirmations of this bright, fresh, funny, and heartwarming homage to Latinx culture and the telenovelas popular within said culture.

Tonight’s episode is the second part of a three-part retrospective miniseries in which CPU! reminisces upon this audience-beloved, critically-acclaimed show.  In this episode, our panel reflects upon and recaps Seasons 3 and 4 of Jane the Virgin. Part Three will discuss the fifth season in-depth as we also comment upon the series as a whole.

This episode was recorded in September 2019, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as the panelists cover key plot points of the third and fourth 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 Apple/iTunes channel, our Stitcher Radio channel , find us on Google Play, or on Spotify (!) 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 Jane the Virgin panel returns to the Water Cooler a final time with Part Three of our “(Adios To) Jane the Virgin Retrospective” miniseries.  Stay tuned!

RECOMMENDATION

Jane the Virgin is recommended by our CPU! panel to just about anyone; our panelists believe that this series presents a wide potential appeal to a large cross-section of audiences because of the way the show incorporates and weaves in a multitude of pop culture references as well as utilizes several genre styles to depict its sometimes outlandish and unexpected twists and turns.  This is also a family-friendly program because of its focus on family, though the show is additionally infused with tongue-in-cheek satire and subtle adult humor that most children will not pick up on, even as most adults will get, and potentially laugh at, the jokes. The panelists unanimously agree that the show is smartly written, with quick, engaging pacing; thoughtfully planned story arcs; and an ensemble cast that effuses electric chemistry, none of which is ever lost over the course of all five seasons, these two included. The panelists also proffer that, while later seasons might offer more emotionally impacting moments, the show, by and large, remains interesting, entertaining, and an overall joy to watch throughout all five of its seasons, even if some of the story lines spiral into tedium due to repetition and/or become so over-the-top in presentation because of the standard telenovela mechanic requiring constant twists. In fact, the panel expressed most enthusiasm regarding the moments in which such tropes were subverted by subtle, quieter plot progressions that surprised in how understated they were executed.  Nevertheless, the panel sees Jane the Virgin as solid, consistently entertaining television viewing that anyone of any creed, culture, gender, or otherwise could potentially enjoy, and the panel universally encourages at least one sincere attempt at viewing, in which you, gentle listener, can decide for yourself.

IN TONIGHT’S EPISODE…

In tonight’s episode, panelist Kristen made reference to a video clip in which the Jane the Virgin cast found out about a big return following the finale of Season 4, the biggest twist of the entire series. If you haven’t watched the show, don’t watch this, but here’s the clip to which she referred!

Looking Back at “Star Trek: The Original Series,” Season 3: The Star Trek 50+ Series, Episode 3 (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 resident CPU! Trekkers – including moderator Chief Couch Potato Kylie, Nick, Sarah, Kyle, and Michael – reconvened Around the Water Cooler to Look Back at the third season of The Original Series of Star Trek.  Each panelist also shares a “Top 10 Best” and a “Bottom 10 Worst” episode list, sharing favorite and least favorite episodes of The Original Series and offering some diverse choices from panelist to panelist that either overlap or contradict significantly in what proves to be a modestly spicy discussion. This is the third 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 third “Star Trek 50+ Series” episode was recorded in August 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 3: The Star Trek 50+ Series, Episode 3 (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 3 aired from September 20, 1968, to June 3, 1969.

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 first episode in this podcast series (below) 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. 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 continue our biggest – no, really, this will be our biggest – Retrospective Looking Back series of podcast episodes to date.  Listen to previous episodes in this series here:

The Original Series: Season 1

The Original Series: Season 2

Our panel of CPU! super-regulars and resident Trekkers – specifically Nick, Sarah, Kyle, and Michael – continue our likely “five year mission” to boldly go where (probably) no one has gone before with this third episode of our “Star Trek 50+ Series.” In this feature, we are taking 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 third episode of CPU!’s “Star Trek 50+” series, our panel discusses the third and final 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 third season of this program but the long-term success of the series as a whole. In addition, we present each individual panelist’s “Top 10 Best” and “Bottom 10 Worst” episodes of the series lists, a conversation that veers into spiciness, as the opinions around what constitutes the best episodes and what constitutes the worst are truly diverse – and sometimes in stark disagreement!

Plus, Star Trek represents 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 onThe 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 August 2019, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as the panelists cover key plot points and episodic stories of the third 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, schedule permitting, our slightly changed Arrested Development panel returns to the Water Cooler to react to the controversially anticlimactic Season 5, which may or may not be the revived sitcom’s final season, though Netflix has not offered word one way or the other in that regard. 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. 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 in the fall with Episode 3 of this series, in which we talk Season 3 of TOS. Until then!

The Good Place, Season 3 (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 August 2019, our eager, philosophy-oriented panel, the personnel of which has changed somewhat since our last recording in this series – moderator Kylie, Kristen, Michael, Kelsey, Selene, and panelist Krista (new to the panel but not to the podcast after one panelist departed the podcast for life’s greater journeys, while another departed the panel for life’s greater obligations) – convenes around the CPU! Water Cooler to discuss Season 3 of the heady NBC comedy about the human condition known as The Good Place.  As always, if you have not watched any of The Good Place, 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

PODCAST! – Around the Water Cooler: “The Good Place,” The Season 3 Recap and Review (MAJOR SPOILERS)

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Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

Who:  “The Good Place” is a fantasy comedy series, which airs on NBC, fall/winter Thursdays at 8:30 PM, though it is currently on hiatus.

What: “The Good Place,” created by Michael Schur, focuses on Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell), a woman who wakes up in the afterlife and is introduced by Michael (Ted Danson) to “The Good Place,” a Heaven-like utopia he designed, in reward for her righteous life.  She realizes that she was sent there by mistake; as a result, she must hide her morally imperfect behavior and try to become a better person. William Jackson Harper, Jameela Jamil, and Manny Jacinto co-star as other residents of “The Good Place,” while D’Arcy Carden plays Janet, an artificial being helping the inhabitants of the place in question.

SYNOPSIS

After her death, Eleanor Shellstrop (Bell) is welcomed into the afterlife by Michael (Danson), the facilitator and architect of Eleanor’s new neighborhood in a “perfect utopia” called the “Good Place.” When Michael tells Eleanor that she made it into The Good Place as reward for her life of selfless devotion to helping others, she realizes she must have been mistaken for someone else.

When: Season 3 aired from September 27, 2018, to January 24, 2019, on NBC with a total of 13 episodes.

Where: The action is set in the fictional Good Place and other times in the fictional Bad Place and yet other times in the fictional Medium Place and yet other times, particularly in Season 3, on Earth.  All Places are construed to be in the afterlife – except when the action is not in the afterlife but on Earth. To explain anymore than that here, however, would invite MAJOR SPOILERS!

Why: To find out why individual podcast panelists started watching this show, listen to the podcast episode related to Seasons 1 and 2 via the link below!

As for CPU! Chief Couch Potato Kylie, I picked up this show when shopping for pilots during the 2016-2017 TV season (a yearly ritual for this viewer and this blog, no matter how far behind I am).  I said:

“On the strength of the trailer, and the fact that Veronica Mars/Ana from Frozen is playing the lead with Kristen Bell’s best comedic timing, I think anyone would be remiss to pass on this new sitcom.  The premise is unique, casting Ted Danson as the ‘Good Place’s’ resident bureaucrat is inspired, and frankly, I had to stifle laughter every few seconds as I sat awkwardly in a public waiting room watching the trailer. The substitute uses for various curse words as delivered by Bell warrant the look-see alone…”

How – as in How Was It? – THOUGHTS

This panel already discussed Seasons 1 and 2 of The Good Place in one fell swoop, that is in one gigantic episode, last year. Listen to that lively discourse here:

Seasons 1 and 2

Do you follow our CPU! social media accounts (if not, you should)?  Did you ever see a posting or advertisement for panelists at large to join this panel? No, you didn’t.  That may be because The Good Place was a runaway hit with the CPU! core and a few close friends and family; apparently, many united couch potatoes consider this show to be forking fantastic.  Thus, this panel quickly filled to burgeoning fullness, as it was so popularly requested.

Common reactions from our The Good Place panelists continue to characterize the show as hilarious, original, smart, well-written, well-directed, well-performed…you get the drift.  In other words, many CPU! faithful think that The Good Place is one of the freshest comedies to hit the airwaves in years, especially and particularly on network TV and, especially and particularly, on the Peacock network, which has long been struggling to regain some of its “Must See” reign of yesteryear and yore, and possibly colonial times, but is giving a good go of it with this heady, philosophical comedy. 

Since the last episode in this “Water Cooler” series, though, our panel has experienced somewhat of a changeover in personnel, as sometimes happens here at CPU! One panelist departed the podcast for life’s greater journeys. One panelist departed the panel for life’s greater obligations. Panelists Kristen, Kelsey, Michael, and Selene returned and were joined by a panelist new to the panel, but not to the podcast, to dissect the “Jeremy Bearimy” type ups and downs of The Good Place‘s third season.

To wit, our panelists continued to offer little bad or negative to say about Season 3 apart from nitpicks of a typically individual and personal type among each panelist; the show, therefore, is still popular with this panel.  Everyone continues to universally agree that the creator and show-runner has produced something totally new, totally kick-ash awesome; at the top of its comedic game; and accessible to most everyone despite its complex premise, all while avoiding the typical tendency of pandering to a larger audience by muting or undercutting the intelligence of the premise and of the situations in which the characters find themselves.  In fact, if you are part of The Good Place fan club, this discussion will only serve to validate your adoration for this decidedly traction-gaining cult hit while traversing, perhaps, some similar confusions that you might have also experienced while viewing Season 3.  With all this said, have I convinced you (yet) to listen via the embedded link below?

This podcast was recorded in August 2019, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as we cover major plot points of Season 3 (and most of the plot points in this sitcom are kind of major). 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 Grace and Frankie panel returns to the CPU! Water Cooler to review the finer points of squatting while showing general appreciation for Season 5 of the sitcom about septuagenarians (allegedly).  Stay tuned!

Questions, Impressions, and Future Considerations

Old Questions

1) Is the soulmate construct a fake representation of a concept, i.e. soulmates, that is not real or does not exist?  Or, did Michael, as architect of this purported torture chamber, merely build in the soulmate aspect incidentally, as a simple device, missing the point of soulmates entirely – in other words, “getting it wrong?”  Is the show advocating that soulmates are real and/or something worthy of considering as possible, or is the show presenting a cynical view of “soulmate” love, platonic or otherwise, by inferring that soulmates are something made up, whether by Michael, by someone or something like him, and/or by the rest of us?

ANSWER: Still a question. While the concept of soulmates does not seem to be entirely off the table, particularly with the dubbing of our four main souls (Eleanor, Chidi, Tahani, and Jason) as the “Soul Squad,” the soulmate concept remains largely nebulous where this sitcom is concerned. Yet, the concept may undergo deep exploration in Season 4 based upon some of the set-ups of the Season 3 finale. Listen to the podcast episode for details (PS panelist Michael is still championing this theory).

2) Are the four main characters apart from Michael and Janet – Eleanor, Chidi, Tahani, and Jason – really members of a “soul cluster,” i.e. four so-called soulmates who cannot exist apart from the others and hope to be better people because they, whether fatalistically or not, happen to make each other better naturally, as panelist Michael advocates?

ANSWER: As above, still a question, but one shared by the characters on the show. Michael the Architect is testing this theory by running some experiments, first in Season 3 by giving the so-called “Soul Squad” a literally new lease on life and by allowing them to find each other, hoping that their togetherness improves them where their individuality failed, and now, in advance of Season 4 and as of the Season 3 finale, by recreating “The Good Place” of Season 1 to see if the “Soul Squad” will achieve an evolution that makes them Real Good Place ™ worthy, with a little help from their friends. Listen to the podcast episode for details.

3) Why is Chidi’s paralyzing inability to make a decision worthy of him being sent to the Bad Place?

ANSWER: While no answer has been proffered by the show, we assume it’s because his indecision can sometimes lead to catastrophic consequences, including loss of life and including the loss of his own life. Again, this has not been explicitly confirmed by the show, but we do think paralyzing indecisiveness seems like a mean way to eliminate a soul from “Good Place” consideration. Then again, the system may be rigged, as the show is explicitly positing, and this question may be ultimately moot.

4) Is the show advocating Eleanor as its “moral center?”  Michael comes to the conclusion that the afterlife determination system is flawed based upon the four main characters’ personal growth, especially Eleanor’s, even as Eleanor struggles to maintain that growth in the second season finale.  Where will Eleanor land in the end? Will she ever be Real Good Place ™ worthy?

ANSWER: Still a question. This, friends and fellow viewers, may be the ultimate heart and soul and the very thematic foundation of the entire series.

5) How will Eleanor and Chidi find Tahani and Jason again, if they do it all, in their brave new world?  How quickly?

ANSWER: Pretty quickly, considering that Michael cannot stand to watch on the sidelines for long. The wily architectural demon, despite Judge Gen’s (Maya Rudolph) express orders to the contrary, decides to give each of the four in the Soul Squad (or “Squad”) a little nudge toward not only finding each other but also toward sticking together, no matter the outcome. Listen to the podcast episode for details.

6) Where will Michael and Janet end up, Good or Bad Place, particularly since Demon Michael seems to have attained some positive personal, and somewhat human, improvement, and since Good Janet, given Michael’s 802 reboots of his construct and of her stolen self, is the most advanced version of Janet ever, with her newfound capability of lying, of loving, and of experiencing some human emotions?

ANSWER: So far, Michael and Janet simply exist, helping the Squad with their afterlife journey, though it was looking like a likely Bad Place retirement for Michael there for a minute, with a potential return of Janet to whatever void she hailed from when she was created. They survive the season’s events, only to return to similar roles as those that they served when the series began. Listen to the podcast episode for details.

7) Will Michael and Judge Gen’s experiment result in the creation of other possible places – such as more Medium Places, where someone bad can improve, as panelist Selene hopes?

ANSWER: So far, the only Place that has been created in Season 3 is a duplicate or clone of Season 1’s Good Place that was the mask for (SPOILER) the Bad Place. We think that there is only one true Good Place (the Real Good Place [tm]), one true Bad Place, and one true Medium Place, with some constructed facades within each of them at times. For example, the cloned Good Place that was once a mask for the Bad Place was built in the Medium Place in Season 3. Look, we didn’t write this, okay.

8) Will Michael end up becoming a Judge like Gen, as panelist Joey predicts, possibly with Janet as his assistant-friend?

ANSWER: So far, Michael remains an Architect and a demon, though he is one besot by a panic attack at the end of the third season. Listen to the podcast episode for details.

9) Were Eleanor and Chidi actually brought back to life, or are they being run through some sort of test simulation, to gauge the measure of personal growth attainable without the promise of “moral dessert?”  Or, are they in a new construct similar to purgatory, where borderline bad people can try to be good people, as panelists Joey and Kristen surmise?

ANSWER: All four members were actually returned to the land of the living at the beginning of Season 3. Unfortunately, their circumstances did not sustain. Listen to the podcast episode for details.

10) Did Michael’s “torture” plan fail because of Janet, as panelist Gabe guesses?

ANSWER: Unknown. Janet is certainly a variable for the Squad, given her evolution beyond her initial programming matrix, but Michael’s true guess, that the members of the Squad make each other better people in or out of the afterlife and whether they are meant to do so or not, is probably the more likely reason why Michael’s initial plans failed.

11) Will the four main characters continue to torture each other without Michael and Janet present, provided that they meet again in their new “near death” version of Earth?  Are Michael and Janet the reason why the characters did not attain further personal growth than they already achieved (or, at least, Janet because we know Michael was trying to torture them for at least some time)?  Is Janet actually a corrupted computer-like matrix, or is she evolved artificial intelligence?

ANSWER: The four main characters do not continue to torture each other. As the Squad, they challenge each other to become better people, better souls, and, arguably, Michael and Janet help that evolution even further along, quite forcefully and bluntly at times. To that end, Michael and Janet appear to impose no limits on the Squad; the Squad’s individual members’ limitations are self-manifested and become what each character must rise above, theoretically by the end of the series.

Janet is most likely evolved artificial intelligence, but Janet is a unique, ethereal creation, with very little definition beyond what the show has specifically showed or told the viewer about her. Who knows if simple, mortal words and concepts can sufficiently describe her construction and formation? All the panel knows for certain is that D’Arcy Carden is criminally underrated in this role.

12) If Eleanor finds Chidi, Tahini, and Jason again, how do the latter three escape death in this new version of their world?

ANSWER: Via a flashback provided in the Season 3 premiere, all four members of the Squad escape death with a little help from their friend Michael. He lets Jason out of the safe, moves Chidi out of the way of the falling air conditioning unit, assures that Tahani is not in the line of sight of the falling statue of her sister, and ensures that Eleanor’s margarita bottle is out of the path of the roving shopping carts.

13) Is this new version of the world a new Medium Place, as panelist Kristen posits?

ANSWER: No. The world we see in Season 3 is all Earth, with all of its warts and blemishes, but in an alternate reality in which the Squad members never died. Although, Earth as the quintessential Medium Place does make for a good philosophical theory to mull related to this show.

14) Who is actually in the Real Good Place ™?  Are there any actual good people, or angels, since there are demons in this universe?  Or, are the alleged good people actually morally complicated, similar to the angels on Supernatural, as panelist Gabe theorizes?

ANSWER: Still a question. Since no one has been admitted to the Real Good Place ™ in 521 years, we do not know who generally populates it, other than a Council, who decides what happens to the construction of The Good Place, and Gwendolyn (Nicole Byer), who pleasantly receives people in a post office-like room in the Real Good Place ™. What or who is beyond the door of that post office type facility is anyone but the writers’ guess.

15) Why does watching the Red Hot Chili Peppers in concert qualify for Bad Place entry?  Is it all about the socks?  Give it away, now.

ANSWER: Still a question. Especially since this show is all about the Otherside. I feel a bit Under the Bridge about this assertion. It’s giving me Scar Tissue.

16) Is Michael really a demon?  Where do demons come from on this show?  What is Michael’s back story?  What is boss Shawn’s back story?  Why is the Bad Place largely set in an office?  Is this a reference to The Office, for which Michael Schur wrote and on which he also appeared (as Dwight’s cousin Mose)?

ANSWER: So far, Michael is really and truly a demon, though we have not been told where and how demons originate, what Michael’s back story is, what Shawn’s back story is, or why the Bad Place is largely set in an office. Though, perhaps we can make some healthy assumptions about that last question.

New Questions

1) Will our intrepid heroes and “Soul Squad” achieve entry into the really Real Good Place ™? Or, are they doomed to Bad Place eternity while and/or making a better afterlife for everyone else?

2) With Judge Gen’s ruling that Shawn’s deliberate attempts to torture the Squad by introducing bothersome people from their lives into the newly reconstituted Season 1 Good Place Facade (copyright) cannot fly, does that mean the viewer will see two additional entrants to the Good Place that serve as “challenges” for Eleanor and for Jason, since we have met challenges for Tahani in the form of a bothersome reporter and Chidi’s ex Simone as his antagonistic force? If so, who are they? Is it possible that with Judge Gen’s reset, someone already in the Season 1 Good Place Facade (copyright) could present the challenge to Eleanor, Jason, or both? Is the challenge even a conceit that still applies? If not, will Tahani’s tormentor disappear? Alternatively, will Chidi, who has chosen to have his mind erased concerning his love for Eleanor in order not to sour this new iteration of the experiment with the appearance of Simone, be representative of Eleanor’s personal challenger? The panel spends much time discussing this confusing turn of events in the instant podcast episode, to which you should listen for further details.

3) Does Tahani actually have real feelings for Jason, allowed to blossom through their partnership over spending Tahani’s considerable wealth for the good of humankind? Or, is she demonstrating a wistful longing for the same kind of connection shared by Janet and Jason?

4) How long will Michael experience his panic attack, and how will his inability to function as the de facto Architect affect the new experiment?

5) What exactly is the construction and use of the new iteration of the Season 1 Good Place Facade (copyright) meant to demonstrate; will Judge Gen be able to change the point system? Who gives Judge Gen her power? Or, will the system collapse in on itself, and then what will happen? Or, will they be able to reset everything for everyone?

6) Is the guard at the portal to Earth (Mike O’Malley), who loves frogs, secretly this show’s version of God? Does he at least know more than he is letting on? Several panelists have suggested that he might become more important before the series end.

7) Is Earth actually a kind of purgatory, a preparation for the afterlife, as panelist Selene suggests or posits in the sort of heady, philosophical meandering that this sitcom inspires?

8) Panelist Michael still believes that the soulmate construct as depicted in Season 1 is not just a device of Architect Michael’s to convince the Squad that they were in a heavenly utopia of an afterlife but a truth universal for our main characters: i.e. they make each other better because they are truly soulmates. Are the Squad soulmates? Is that what the show is advocating? What’s more, is it even broader than that? Is humanity one giant soul cluster, fuel for the sustainability of the afterlife Places? Or, moreover, will we be watching the “Mister Rogers” ending – where all are meant to be improved for potential Real Good Place ™ admission, and no one is meant to be in the Bad Place?

9) If no one’s been admitted into the Real Good Place ™ in the last 521 years, since presumably the Spanish Inquisition or so that nobody expects (side reference, that), how is the Bad Place not suffering from overcrowding? What is Shawn doing to expand that real estate?

10) Will we ever get to see who and what might be beyond the door of the post office in the Real Good Place ™?

11) What will Janet’s final end be, given her start and subsequent evolution?

12) Will the show allow the love relationships to continue, despite the obstacles? Will Eleanor and Chidi find each other again? Will Janet and Jason remain together, particularly since Jason is so threatened by Derek? Will Tahani find someone to love, since she has achieved some sort of reconciliation with her sister?

13) Assuming that Architect Michael exposes the chinks in the system for entry into the Real Good Place ™, what will become of him in the end? He has also evolved beyond the gleeful demon who delighted in torture and to whom we were introduced.

14) Will we see Eleanor’s parents, Donkey Doug and Pillboi, Tahani’s sister, or Chidi’s friends and relatives again?

PARTING SHOTS

As of the Season 3 finale, the CPU! The Good Place panel universally, effusively, and glowingly continues to recommend this unique situation comedy because of its original, quality premise; complex, layered writing; stellar performances; and fresh take on an intellectual concept that does not meander into trope-filled, didactic territory, despite its meditation on moral and ethical principles and philosophy.  The panelists note that, though pacing became something of an issue in this third season, particularly as members of the Soul Squad explored individual quests and missions in the middle episodes of the season – some of which felt marginally clunky in execution and in premise – Season 3 remained, by and large, tightly constructed by maintaining the rapid-fire pacing, superior wit, enticing and engaging cliffhangers for episode endings, and a refreshing lack of filler episodes established during the show’s first two seasons.  Several panelists characterized this show as easy to recommend, easy to binge-watch, and easy to which to become addicted, even as the premise is “hard to explain.”  The panelists additionally continue to praise the program’s ability to intellectually challenge the viewer while remaining both accessible and hilarious high-concept comedy; in fact, several panel members deem the show as having significant re-watch value, based upon personal experience (already!).  In fact, the entire panel wholeheartedly continues to recommend The Good Place to anyone, anywhere, with a hearty “Just watch it!” as the overall recommendation refrain.

LOOKING AHEAD

The Good Place was renewed for a fourth and final season by NBC, which will premiere on NBC on September 26, 2019.  Currently, Seasons 1 and 2 are available to stream fully on Netflix, while the five most recently aired episodes of the show are available on Hulu and on NBC’s streaming app and website.  In the meantime, the CPU! Good Place panel will return to the Water Cooler following the airing of the series finale to say goodbye to this series we’ve grown to love so much. Until then – stay tuned!

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