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

Image result for 13 reasons why title card

Moderated by: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

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

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

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

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

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

How – as in How Was It?

The pilot/premiere rating scale:

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

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

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

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

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

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

SYNOPSIS

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

How – as in How Was It? – THOUGHTS

It seems like I am asking these questions quite often lately: do you follow our CPU! social media accounts?  Did you ever see a posting or advertisement for panelists at large to join this panel?  No, you didn’t.  Because, in what’s becoming a pattern around here, so many CPU! core panelists advocated for a 13 Reasons Why panel, I had to oblige and subsequently draw lots, since we had more volunteers than actual room on the panel – we have limits around here, as you know, and it’s easier on the ears and on the Chief CP’s editing efforts to observe those limits.

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

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

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

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

Remember, new episodes and blog posts are published weekly!  Next Wednesday, our Grimm panel returns to the water cooler to recap the final season in the first of a two-part series in which we say goodbye to the long-running cult fantasy procedural drama. Stay tuned!

RECOMMENDATION

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

THE FUTURE OF THE SHOW

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

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

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Moderated by: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

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

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

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

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

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

How – as in How Was It?

The pilot/premiere rating scale:

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

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

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

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

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

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

SYNOPSIS

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

How – as in How Was It? – THOUGHTS

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

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

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

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

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

As such, it was only right that we cover the next series in this universe, now the fourth in Netflix’s series of Marvel-centered shows leading up to a special “Defenders” miniseries, which will feature heroes like Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage joining together to form a special force of the ilk of the Avengers or of the Justice League in the DC Universe. Thus, we bring you our first ever Iron Fist podcast – and the fifth episode of our Marvel’s Defenders Series – featuring Defenders panelists Nick, Kristen, Hilary, Kyle, and Spencer. While our panel has formed an entertaining bond centered around these Netflix superhero shows, the bond is tested with the variety of opinions expressed about Iron Fist, though the panel universally liked this series better than Luke Cage, despite the warm reception of critics to the latter and the lukewarm reception to the former.  The panelists also agree that Iron Fist is largely fun and far more engrossing than its predecessor “Defender’s” solo series, but the panel differs on how effective this fun ultimately was, with some panelists preferring Iron Fist to Jessica Jones and others liking Danny Rend less (though all except one agree that Daredevil remains the best of the four series).  Nevertheless, while the panel’s overall stance may be somewhat controversial, as audience reception to Iron Fist is equally varied, we do have our supporting reasons – to find out what they are, listen via the embedded link below.

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

Remember, new episodes and blog posts are published weekly!  Next Wednesday, a new panel will sit “around the water cooler” to tackle – in record time – controversial new Netflix series 13 Reasons Why, based upon the novel of the same name.  Stay tuned for that and for some bonus content we recorded during our Iron Fist session…which should be published any day now (though not today)!

RECOMMENDATION

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

THE FUTURE OF THE SHOW

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

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

Image result for gilmore girls a year in the life opening credits

Moderator: Kristen

THE SPECS:

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

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

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

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

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

How – as in How Was It?

The CPU! “First Look” rating scale:

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

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

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

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

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

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

SYNOPSIS

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

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

How – as in How Was It? – THOUGHTS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RECOMMENDATION

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

THE FUTURE OF THE SHOW

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

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

Image result for stranger things title

Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

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

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

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

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

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

How – as in How Was It?

The pilot/premiere rating scale:

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

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

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

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

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

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

SYNOPSIS

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

How – as in How Was It? – THOUGHTS

Do you follow our CPU! social media accounts?  Did you ever see a posting or advertisement for panelists at large to join this panel?  No, you didn’t.  Because for the first time in CPU!’s history, I had enough regular panelists requesting this panel to form two panels. Some members even advocated actually forming two Stranger Things panels (that’s easy for them to say when they are not also the producer and editor of the podcast!).  Be that as it may, Stranger Things was a runaway hit with the CPU! core, just as it was with the nationwide water cooler that is America when it was first released in summer 2016.

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

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

What’s more, this panel spent most of the chat gushing about this series’ first season. There was little bad or negative to say because everyone universally agreed that the creators and show-runners produced something of a zeitgeist – a character driven, nostalgia-rooted story that appeals to our basic fears and nightmares.  The story is woven tightly with an organic and logical flow, the visual presence from art direction to cinematography is perfection, and the performances were no less than stellar – so much so that the entire cast won the Best Ensemble SAG award for television drama.  If you are part of the Stranger Things fan club, this discussion will only serve to validate your commonly held adoration for this unlikely sleeper hit.  Have I convinced you to listen via the embedded link below?

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

Remember, new episodes and blog posts are published weekly!  Next Wednesday, we begin a new series with a brand new panel around the CPU! Water Cooler, namely “The Gilmore Girls Life” series, beginning with a Look Back at the original seven seasons of popular cult romantic dramedy Gilmore Girls, moderated by frequent panelist and increasingly more frequent moderator Kristen. Stay tuned!

RECOMMENDATION

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

THE FUTURE OF THE SHOW

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

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

Image result for luke cage title

Moderated by: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

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

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

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

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

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

How – as in How Was It?

The pilot/premiere rating scale:

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

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

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

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

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

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

SYNOPSIS

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

How – as in How Was It? – THOUGHTS

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

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

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

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

As such, it was only right that we cover the next series in this universe, now the third in Netflix’s series of Marvel-centered shows leading up to a special “Defenders” miniseries, which will feature heroes like Daredevil and Jessica Jones joining together to form a special force of the ilk of the Avengers or of the Justice League in the DC Universe.  Thus, we bring you our first ever Luke Cage podcast – and the fourth episode of our Marvel’s Defenders Series – featuring Defenders panelists Nick, Kristen, Hilary, Kyle, and Spencer.  While our panel has formed an entertaining bond centered around these Netflix superhero shows, the bond in question betrays a unified front consisting of a general dislike of this latest Defenders’ entry.  The common complaint among the panelists was that the pacing of this otherwise visually stunning piece rendered the show slow and mostly boring, though we understand that there is some popular approval of the series.  Nevertheless, while the panel’s overall stance may be somewhat controversial, we do have our supporting reasons – to find out what they are, listen via the embedded link below.

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

Remember, new episodes and blog posts are published weekly!  Next Wednesday, we will try for “take two” (after more editing time) to rejoin our DCTU (DC Television Universe) panel–or, in other words, the Marvel’s Defenders panel taking off their Marvel hats and putting on their DC chapeaus–in a new but cheeky format, less around the water cooler and more within CPU!’s fractured fairy tale version of The Newlywed Game.  In the forthcoming episode, all panelists engage in a brief roundup of the progress of Arrow, The Flash, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, and Supergirl, at least through the mid-season cliffhangers/finales for all four shows, for the 2016-2017 season!  In this format, each panelist will separately touch base with Chief CP Kylie, providing thoughts and feedback about how the multiverse of DC Comic adaptations is faring on the CW this season.  With six panelists, that’s a lot of opinions (some might say hot air) to sift through! Stay tuned for the end result!

RECOMMENDATION

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

THE FUTURE OF THE SHOW

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

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

Image result for fuller house title

Moderator: Kristen

THE SPECS:

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

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

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

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

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

How – as in How Was It?

The pilot/premiere rating scale:

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

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

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

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

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

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

SYNOPSIS

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

How – as in How Was It? – THOUGHTS

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

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

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

This podcast was recorded in December 2016, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as we cover major plot points and comedic situations portrayed in the first season of Fuller House. Listen at your own risk, and let us know what you think by commenting below!

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

Remember, new episodes and blog posts are published weekly!  Next Wednesday, as CPU! gets caught up at mid-season, we take a holiday break by taking a break from the holidays and will return to our DCTU series for a discussion of the first season of Supergirl, earlier than anticipated. If you are a DC fan or a loyal listener of our DCTU series, don’t miss the new episode!

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

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

RECOMMENDATION

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

THE FUTURE OF THE SHOW

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

PODCAST! – Around the Water Cooler & Streaming Originals: “Orange is the New Black,” The Season 4 Recap and Discussion (MAJOR SPOILERS)

Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

Who: “Orange is the New Black” is available to Netflix subscribers exclusively, as it is Netflix produced original content.

What: “Orange is the New Black,” a comedy drama about a Manhattan woman whose past catches up to her and for which she must serve time in federal prison.

SYNOPSIS

Taylor Schilling plays Piper Chapman, a seemingly run-of-the-mill woman and maker of homemade soaps. Unfortunately, Piper learns that she must serve a short sentence in federal prison after she is implicated in the bust of an international drug cartel, of which her former girlfriend, Alex Vause (Laura Prepon), was a member and who Piper aided and abetted. What’s more, Piper finds, at first, that she is wholly unequipped for prison. Though some, like unabashed, self-proclaimed “lesbian junkie” Nicky Nichols (Natasha Lyonne), are kind and helpful to her, others, like kitchen head Red (Kate Mulgrew) in the first season, show her no mercy, particularly after Piper accidentally criticizes the cooking. In addition, the guards, all men, are mostly drunk on their own power, the prison counselors play favorites and are easily offended, and the prison population is divided by race, unofficially but automatically, which offends Piper’s liberal sensibilities.  If all that weren’t complicated enough, Piper’s ex Alex is sent to the same prison, and Piper’s emotions are deeply conflicted, as she reasons that only Alex could have pointed the finger to get her in trouble in the first place, while at the same, the old attractions between the two women remain undeniably present.

When: All 13 fourth season episodes became available for viewing on June 17, 2016.

Where: The show is set in New York, though flashbacks for each of the prisoners who comprise the cast of characters sometimes venture away from New York.

Why: Many panelists saw the teaser trailers for the series while watching other programming on Netflix and also on network TV.  Listen to prior podcast episodes to discover how individual panelists found this show.

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

CPU! has been covering Orange is the New Black since its debut on Netflix’s ever growing streaming service.  You can read about the first season here and listen to podcast episodes about Seasons Two and Three below:

Orange is the New Black, Season Two

Orange is the New Black, Season Three, Part One

Orange is the New Black, Season Three, Part Two

This particular panel of fellow Couch Potatoes and Orange enthusiasts experienced a bit of change, not unlike our beloved inmates themselves, as we sat down to talk all things season four of the wildly popular Netflix drama for this latest podcast episode, including moderator and Chief Couch Potato Kylie, Kristen, Krista, Nick, and Amanda, as well as new panelist Andrew.  We engaged in heady and heavy discussion about some of the plot lines that we saw emerge in the dramatic and heartbreaking fourth season.  What do you think?  Do you agree? Do you disagree? What are your hopes, fears, expectations, speculations, or predictions for the resolution of some of the fourth season’s cliffhangers going into season five?

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

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

Remember, new episodes and blog posts are published weekly! Our next episode will resume our American Horror Story retrospective series with a discussion about Season Four: Freak Show, just in time for Halloween!  Stay tuned!

Questions, Predictions, and Future Considerations

Old Questions

1) Is Alex dead?  Or, did she survive and how?  Did Lori Petty’s character, Lolly, swoop in and save her, as Kristen predicts in the podcast (part one)?

ANSWER: Alex is alive.  Even though this viewer recalls a shot being fired at the end of season three, Alex was able to fend off her attacker thanks to, as Kristen predicted, the help of Lolly, who cold-cocked the fake guard.  Unfortunately, this move did not kill the guard outright.  They hid an unconscious but alive fake guard under tarp and plastic in the gardening shed, but when Alex returned to check on the body during lights out and found the man breathing, she made the decision to suffocate him to death.  What’s more, she enlisted Red and Freida, one of Red’s gardening compatriots, to hide the body, which they elected to do by chopping it up and burying the bits in the garden, when Lolly couldn’t get her story straight (or keep her mouth shut).  Listen to the podcast for more details.

2) Will the guard who raped Pennsatuckey (Taryn Manning) do the same thing to Maritza now that Boo (Lea DeLaria) and Tuckey let him go?  Where will Boo and Tuckey’s new odd couple partnership take them next?

ANSWER: It turns out that the guard who raped Tuckey didn’t realize that he raped her. He sincerely believed that she liked him as much as he liked her, and that he had the go-ahead to do the business, adding timely commentary to the systemic rape culture dialogue.  Because his feelings for Tuckey were based in some kernel of sincerity, he showed no interest in Maritza, who had other concerns, such as smuggling drugs for Maria and the Dominicans via her role as new prison van driver.  In the meantime, Tuckey found herself conflicted about forgiving the guard for his male idiocy, while Boo railed against her acquiescence, thinking that it was a mistake to give the guard any inch. This dialogue dominated Boo and Tuckey’s odd couple friendship, but they remained friends nevertheless.

3) How can Caputo (Nick Sandow) save the prison now with the influx of max prisoners seen at the end of the season?  What kind of fallout will there be if the “old guards” walk out?

ANSWER: Caputo was forced to hire any guards available to fill the void of those who walked out, but the prison was overcrowded and, as a result, still understaffed.  The fallout mounted all season, with panelist Kristen’s famous dominoes being set up and toppling over, culminating with a prison protest, a prison riot, a death, and the threat of one prisoner shooting one of the more sadistic guards.  Listen to the podcast for details.

4) How will the landscape change with the influx of max prisoners?  Will we be introduced to tons of additional new characters, or will they be background/backdrop for our already established characters? Will it be “old characters” versus “new characters?”

ANSWER: Most of the max influx served as backdrop, though we met a few new characters, including Abdullah, who had ongoing conflict with Black Cindy (Adrienne C. Moore); Piper’s new Hawaiian bunk mate; Red’s snoring upper bunk neighbor; and a number of new white supremacists.  Sometimes, the new prisoners made friends. Mostly, there was ongoing tension between the two groups.  Listen to the podcast for details.

5) Does the influx from max mean we will see Nicky again?  How about Stella?

ANSWER: Nicky came back to Litchfield minimum after a period of good behavior and being clean from her heroin addiction for some weeks.  Before she returned, Stella (Ruby Rose) tried hitting on her, but Nicky shut her down, being fully aware of her antics involving Piper and Alex and the theft of Piper’s commissary (Nicky was on maintenance detail, and word traveled).

6) What will happen between Suzanne’s (Uzo Aduba) new love interest and her?  Will the new love interest calm her down?

ANSWER: After the prisoners broke through the fence and enjoyed a swim in the lake, Suzanne and her paramour tried to make a break for it, but Suzanne was disturbed by her admirer’s request to live independently in an imaginary fantasy kingdom of freedom; Suzanne seemed to think her friend was crazier than her and to balk at the idea of not being cared for by anyone, including the prison system.  So, Suzanne returned to prison and left her new love in the woods.  Her paramour was rebuffed. They tried to reconnect, especially because Suzanne felt the need for sexual contact, but her admirer used it as an excuse to get her hot and leave her hanging as revenge for dumping her in the woods behind the prison. At the end of the season, however, one of the more sadistic guards, “Humps,” threatened both women, instigating them to fight each other, seeding a riot that later flowed over into the cafeteria.  Listen to the podcast for details.

7) How will the prison/corporation deal with the aftermath of the lake and the breakout of so many inmates?

ANSWER: The corporation, via Caputo, managed to keep the escape quiet, rounding up every last prisoner, and quickly patching the hole in the fence.  It helped that the inmates had nowhere to go unless they were excellent swimmers.

8) Will Red and Healy (Michael Harney) become romantically involved?  Do we want that?

ANSWER: No, Red and Healy did not become romantically involved, and it’s better that they didn’t.  Healy’s issues with women reached a peak this season, as we discovered in flashback that Healy’s mother abandoned him after suffering profound mental illness, a similar affliction which seemed to affect Healy by season’s end.  He tried to channel this pain and sadness into helping Lolly, who demonstrated similar traits of paranoia as those experienced by his mother, but when Lolly seemed too far gone, confessing to murdering the guard that threatened Alex even though she did not deal the fatal blow, Healy found he had no choice but to commit Lolly to the psych ward, not being able to figure out if she was telling the truth or not.  His apparent failure with her and with others under his charge, in addition to his ongoing inability to relate to his Russian ex-wife, resulted in Healy voluntarily admitting himself into an institution in the season finale.

9) Will Pornstache’s mom return?  Will she suspect that Aleida (Elizabeth Rodriguez) lied about the baby being dead and being a boy?

ANSWER: Pornstache’s mom stayed away.  So far, she appears to believe Aleida’s tale, that her grandchild had died.  Still, Daya’s (Dascha Polanco) daughter is lost to the foster care system, given Cesar’s arrest in the third season finale.  Aleida was released from prison in the fourth season, paroled early for good behavior. She vowed to find her children and her grandchild for Daya but was momentarily derailed by the season ending events (listen to the podcast for details).

10) What happened to the baby?!  Where is Bennett?  Will he return?  And not be on How to Get Away with Murder so much?  How will Daya react once she finds out about their fates? What will Aleida do?

ANSWER: The baby is in the system.  Bennett is getting away with murder and has not yet returned.  Daya was distraught to learn of Cesar’s arrest but took heart when Aleida announced that she planned to fight for her daughter, until Aleida started to think of life after prison and consider ambitions for herself, including opening a nail salon. After Aleida was released, Daya was also wooed to the Dominican gang by Maria, who looked to shore up her numbers while also watching after a fellow Latina, against the wishes of Daya’s surrogate mom, Gloria (Selenis Levya).  This alignment set up the end of the season in a big way (listen to the podcast for details).

11) How will the already overrun prison deal with the addition of Blair Brown’s fake Martha Stewart character?  Will she be accepted?  Will Poussey (Samira Wiley) invite her into the family that also now includes Soso, since P is her biggest fan?

ANSWER: Judy King, the fake Martha Stewart, was afforded all sorts of special treatment.  She was given a private cell (a converted conference room), a begrudging Yoga Jones as her roommate, and all the amenities her charms could win her.  She was also the local celebrity, and while some, like Red, were unimpressed, others, like Poussey, were star-struck.  That is, until the prisoners learned of Judy’s one-time racist puppet show for kids, which aired on fictional Southern TV.  Her star tarnished, particularly in P’s eyes, but was never lost.  Ms. King also taught a cooking class at Healy’s insistence and invited Poussey to apply for a job with her company, upon P’s release, after P served as her classroom assistant.  Sadly, we’ll never know what may come of that… Also, Judy agreed to be part of a scheme to pose as Black Cindy’s interracial lesbian celebrity May-December lover in exchange for the cut of selling a black market photograph, courtesy of a cell phone smuggled into prison via Abdullah’s hajib, to the tabloids.

12) Are Soso and Poussey a couple?  Kristen and Nick think they are.

ANSWER: Kristen and Nick were right.  They were awkward but adorable…

13) How will Morello’s (Yael Stone) new husband and his beating of the erstwhile Christopher affect Morello’s continued prison stay?

ANSWER: No one found out about the assault on Christopher.  Morello continues to luck out in this regard.  The only effect her new husband had was to give her an excuse to gush about her wedding all season, relishing her position as center of attention, but also to become jealous and quasi-stalker-y again when she asked her sister to check up on her husband, thinking that he was stepping out on her with another woman (her sister included), only to discover that he was merely being cagey about living with his mom.

14) Will the “Norma” religion endure?  Will Red and Norma start season four on more equal footing?

ANSWER: The Norma religion lost its steam this season.  The character of Norma barely appeared, in fact.  Perhaps, she decided the religious life wasn’t for her after all.

15) If Stella stole Piper’s commissary, where will that leave Flaca (Jackie Cruz) and some of the more demanding entrepreneurs involved in the panty-sniffing business?

ANSWER: They quit.  They all quit.  Piper tried to stay in the game, but she was kind of an asshole to her workers, which drove them away, despite Piper’s best attempts to be a bad-ass gangsta’.  Flaca and Maritza defected to Maria when she decided to start poaching the panty business (and then when she converted said business to drug running and sales).

16) How will Black Cindy’s new religion affect her relationship with the rest of her “family” unit?

ANSWER: Her family was largely fine until max transplant Abdullah arrived on the scene, a professed member of the Nation of Islam, which also drew Janae into some family conflict (as she was a member of the same religion).  Mostly, it was bunk turf war, but religious observations were spicily made by Black Cindy, because she spicily comments about everything.

17) Will Piper be found out regarding her business?  Will it affect her prison stay?

ANSWER: Piper managed to stay out of the warden’s limelight, but the business dried up when all of her panty-wearing volunteers quit because she was posing as a gang leader. This was especially cemented when she started a “neighborhood watch” type group within the prison, for the purpose of ratting on Maria and company to eliminate her competition, only to attract the attention of the white supremacists, who thought Piper was leading an anti-minority charge.  This resulted in the Dominicans, led by Maria, to brand Piper with a swastika in a scene lifted straight from Oz, though Red came to her aid and turned the swastika brand into a window, to remind Piper of what she went through to CTFD, finally.

18) Are the OITNB producers planning to end the show at the end of Piper’s sentence? (That will be a question for awhile).  How much are the producers now relying on Piper Kerman’s original book?

ANSWER: According to panelist Krista, the book is all but forgotten at this point.  Piper hasn’t been released yet, so the remainder of this question is still a question.

New Questions

1) Are we to assume that Suzanne’s flashback this season provided the back story related to the reason for her imprisonment: involuntary manslaughter of a child?  Because her flashback episode was situated within the last three jam-packed episodes of the season, the panel assumed this to be the case but was not certain.

2) Where is the story in terms of Piper’s overall sentence, and how much longer does she have in prison?

3) Will we see Healy again?  Panelists Kristen and Kylie predict that we will, since he seems to have voluntarily checked himself into an institution (rather than being involuntarily committed).

4) Will Laverne Cox/Sophia be in season five, given that Cox is part of a show that has been picked up by CBS for the new TV season?  How will the prison or the show deal with the controversy of leaving Sophia in solitary for her “protection.”

5) Where will season five pick up given the end of the season?  Will it pick up right from the moment at which season four ended, or will time of any significance pass?

6) Will Daya shoot Humps?  Or, will another prisoner intervene?  Or, if she does shoot him, will someone go to bat and take the fall for her?  Will Humps survive this riot?  If he does, will anyone find out about what he did to Maritza, Suzanne, and others?

7) Will Judy King make it out of prison?  Will she grab the gun from Daya?  Will she be a casualty of that final riot?

8) Will Litchfield continue to run after all of the chaos at the end of season four?  Will the prisoners be split up?  Or, is that a way the series might end?

9) How will Soso and Taystee (Danielle Brooks) deal with their particular grief about Poussey?  Will they come to bond more?  Will Soso remain a part of P’s “family?”

10) Will Sister get out of solitary, or will she be left there?

11) Will Red have a better story line next season?

12) Do we still care about Piper and Alex as a couple?  Did Piper miss any of Alex’s written “confessions” that she hid around the prison in an effort to assuage her guilt?

13) How long will Nicky remain clean?  Have she and Tuckey just become friends, given Tuckey’s willingness to nurse Nicky through a cold turkey withdrawal from heroin during the prison lock down?

14) Will we see the young, nice guard Bailey again?  Will the old Litchfield guards return in light of all that has happened?  And what exactly did Piscatello do to which Caputo hinted at the end of the season?

15) Will we see Lolly again now that she has been transferred to the psych ward?

PARTING SHOTS

Our Orange is the New Black panel, slightly changed thought it was, continued to provide mixed reactions about the fourth season of the Netflix comedy/drama, though overall, the reaction appeared to be more favorable toward season four than season three, given the strong but devastating conclusion of the season.  The panel also started, ever so slightly, to warm up to Piper, believing that she is beginning to learn lessons that her real-life counterpart never had to learn because Piper Chapman makes less intelligent choices than Piper Kerman.  All in all, consensus was reached by the panel that the story trajectory beginning from the point at which Litchfield received the influx from max, and from the aftermath of the escape to the lake beyond the fence, was successful and compelling, even though season four started slowly but gained steam through its roaring and heartbreaking finale.  The new characters from max were meted out and introduced judiciously, there was not an overwhelming number of new faces and names to learn, and the tensions and conflicts that arose from pitting the two populations against each other were rooted in a calculated gamble that ultimately paid off.  All of the panel plans to continue to watch the show and season five to find out what happens, particularly in the wake of the passing of Poussey and given the fact that Daya, another well liked character, was squaring off against the sadistic guard Humps, pointing his own weapon at him.  At this time, the panel continues to acknowledge that the writing remains dynamic and top-notch, though, as a rule among most panel members, somewhat less “binge” watchable.  The panel also continues to maintain high hopes and expectations that season five will continue the overarching quality of storytelling, though some members are mildly nervous – or more nervous than others – about the current trajectory; at least one panelist feels “shark jumping” potential, while others are concerned about what the show will feel like and how engaging it will be without a beloved character like Poussey.

LOOKING AHEAD

Orange is the New Black was renewed for a fifth (as well as a sixth and a seventh) season, which is tentatively slated to premiere in June 2017.  Until then!