PODCAST! – Streaming Originals & Around the Water Cooler: “Stranger Things” – The Season Two Recap and Review (MAJOR SPOILERS)

Related imageModerator: 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, stars (in Season Two) Winona Ryder, David Harbour, Finn Wolfhard, Millie Bobby Brown, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin, Natalia Dyer, Charlie Heaton, Cara Buono, Noah Schnapp, Joe Keery, Sadie Sink, Dacre Montgomery, Sean Astin, and Paul Reiser.

SYNOPSIS

The Hawkins, Indiana, National Laboratory ostensibly performs scientific research for the US Department of Energy but secretly conducts 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.  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.  The second season is set a year later, starting in October 1984.  The boy, Will (Schapp), has been rescued, but few know of the details of the events. When it is discovered that Will is still being influenced by entities from another dimension, his friends and family learn that there is a larger threat to their universe from that other dimension.

When: The second season of the series was released in its entirety to the Netflix streaming library on October 27, 2017.

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 links 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? – THOUGHTS

CPU!, naturally, covered the first season of this “stranger” series.  To listen to that prior podcast episode, click the embedded link below:

Season One

Stranger Things was a runaway hit with the CPU! core, just as it was with the nationwide water cooler that is America when it first premiered in summer 2016, and we have a deep bench of eager panelists ready to be called up for their chance to talk about all the Stranger Things.  Because, 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).

Going into our Season 2 discussion around the water cooler, our panel experienced somewhat of an “upside down” changeover itself.  Panelists Hilary, Kyle, and Michael return, eager to dissect and share their thoughts and feelings on the second Stranger season.  Joining them for the first time are two panelists new to the panel, but not to the podcast, specifically Sarah – who has been on a hodgepodge of panels too many to list but including American Horror Story, Doctor Who, and our Buffy-Verse retrospective – and Jeremy, who is on our Supernatural and 13 Reasons Why panels and who Looked Back at Six Feet Under.  Former panelists Chelsea and Rob (two of our Game of Thrones panelists) departed the panel for now in favor of busy lives behind the podcast, though they join the ranks of on the wait list folks who can barely wait to discuss their supreme love for this program.

As it turns out, the panel, new in composition though it was, found itself slightly more divided when discussing Season Two, with some panelists commenting on the hasty and superficial introduction of new characters like Billy (Montgomery), though they regarded other new introductions like Bob (Astin) and Dr. Owens (Reiser) as better handled, even if intermittently short-lived.  Still, the majority of the panel spent most of the chat gushing about this series’ latest season. Again, there was little bad or negative to say because everyone universally agreed that the creators and show-runners continued to nurture a character-driven, nostalgia-rooted story that appeals to our basic fears and nightmares, though most panelists also struggled with the controversial seventh episode of the season, exploring Eleven’s quest to root out her own origins.  In any event, most of the panelists still find the story to be tightly woven with an organic and logical flow, a perfect visual presence from art direction to cinematography to visual effects, and stellar if stranger performances all around.  If you are part of the Stranger Things fan club, this discussion will only continue to 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, our How to Get Away with Murder panel returns to the Water Cooler – sort of – but, I should warn you, gentle listener: the jug of water sort of broke, and a faint lilt of the Jaws theme started underscoring the drama of the spill.  That’s right, folks. Our HTGAWM panel very much tried on some water skis and scaled some predatory fish in their path.  Stay tuned for the reasons why the three HTGAWM panelists have become members of “Shark Jumpers Anonymous!”

Questions, Impressions, and Future Considerations

1) What is Will’s connection to the Upside Down beyond his ability to seemingly straddle the inter-dimensional barrier – is it more than a lucky connection?  In other words, was his initial disappearance into the Upside Down truly random?  How was Will able to survive for so long there?  Is he special or immune to the Upside Down?  Is he something more than just the dimension’s first victim?  Was Joyce (Ryder) part of the drug trial that Eleven’s bio mom was part of, causing Eleven’s special abilities?

2) Will we see other psychic kids, akin to Kali/Eight and Jane/Eleven, such as some of the other numbered test subjects in the drug trials?  Did any others actually survive?

3) Is Dr. Martin Brenner still alive, as was stated in the seventh episode of the season by the man who electrically fried Eleven’s bio-mom’s brain at Brenner’s behest?

4) Will the show explore the lab/facility more where Eleven was housed, either in the past with Kali and/or the one, if the same, in Hawkins?

5) Will we see other dimensions beyond the Upside Down?  Are there others?  Does Eleven have the power to open up pockets or rifts to those other places?

6) Does Billy serve a larger purpose to the show other than being an on-the-nose homage to all of the teen bully characters of ’80s films?

7) Will the female characters intermingle more, as panelist Michael wishes?

8) Will Joyce find love again – and will it be with Hopper (Harbour), as the show seems to be seeding?

9) How much in-school experiences, with Eleven in attendance and interacting with Mike (Wolfhard), Dustin (Matarazzo), and Lucas (McLaughlin) as well as Max (Sink), will we see in the next season?

10) What does the Mind Flayer really want?  Is it trying to destroy this world?  Occupy and conquer it?  Possess psychic children?  Reveal itself to be the Man in Black?

11) What is the Upside Down, really, beyond an alternate dimension?

PARTING SHOTS

The CPU! Stranger Things podcast panel essentially recommends this show to anyone who breathes – or, at least, who 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 panel also generally agrees, even though one or two panelists struggled more in season two than in season one with the story while others preferred the second season overall, that the basic yarn is a riveting one, told with largely fanciful ideas and seamlessly crafted dialogue; in fact, the panel universally agrees that the story and the show will especially connect to those born before or during the Reagan era.  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, though, largely, without being “too scary,” even for the most squeamish of our intrepid panelists.  Those panelists also agree, though, that with proper forewarning, even the most sensitive or the most overactive imaginations among the viewing audience can find something to enjoy in this perfect nosh of creepy nostalgia.

LOOKING AHEAD

Stranger Things was (readily) renewed for a third season, which is expected to be released to the Netflix streaming library in 2019, though no official release date has yet been announced.  Our Stranger Things panel will, subsequently, reconvene some time thereafter to dissect Season Three, in or out of the Upside Down. As always, CPU! will stay abreast of and report all material Stranger Things coverage.  Until then!

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PODCAST! – Around the Water Cooler & Streaming Originals: “Fuller House” – Season Three, the Full/er House Panel’s Review and Recap (Full/er House Series, Episode Four; MAJOR SPOILERS)

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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 it is available to Netflix subscribers exclusively, as it is Netflix produced original content.

What:  The series centers around DJ 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 DJ and her sister’s childhood home.

SYNOPSIS

After the sudden death of DJ Tanner-Fuller’s (Bure) husband, Tommy, who was fulfilling his hazardous duties as a firefighter, DJ 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 DJ’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 DJ, Stephanie, Kimmy, and DJ’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.

When: Season Three was released to streaming service Netflix in two parts: nine episodes on September 22, 2017, and nine episodes on December 22, 2017, with a combined grand total of eighteen episodes on the season.

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

Why: Listen to the podcast series for the panelists’ individual stories on how they found Fuller 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, at least initially, 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 fourth 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 previous episodes in this series, in which we Look Back at Full House and review and recap previous seasons of Fuller House, via embedded links below:

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

Full/er House Series, Episode Two: “Fuller House,” Season One

Full/er House Series, Episode Three: “Fuller House,” Season Two

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 once again, so that Kristen may serve as main moderator with the kind of enthusiasm this juggernaut of nostalgia deserves. Kristen is, in turn, rejoined by her fellow series panelists – however, sharks are beginning to circle this intrepid panel, as former panelists Amie and Jenn departed this group, deeming the series no longer watchable or a priority in their television-watching schedules – which does not bode well for our series or for Fuller House, in general.  On the other hand, panelists Andrew and Leslie proved game to return for this fourth episode of our “Full/er House” series, in which we discuss our favorite and least favorite moments from the third season of the reboot.  In sum, the panel generally felt that Season Three was a vast deterioration from previous seasons, as remaining panelists cite many more low-lights than high from this expanded, two-part, anniversary year set of episodes (the original series pilot aired on September 22, 1987; thirty years ago).  Take a listen to the podcast episode if you have watched the full season and gauge whether you agree or disagree.

This podcast was recorded in April 2018, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as we cover major plot points and comedic situations portrayed in the third 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, our Game of Thrones panel FINALLY returns to the Water Cooler after over a year’s hiatus to gush (mostly) about the penultimate Season 7 of the HBO fantasy/ratings/water cooler juggernaut.  Stay tuned!

Questions, Impressions, and Future Considerations

Old Questions

1) Will Michelle, aka Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen, ever return to the show? (And why are they so snooty about it…it launched their careers, and the ability they had to start alleged fashion empire?)

ANSWER: Still a question, likely with a “no” answer, even as our panelists remain twelve percent hopeful. Yet, our panelists report that, at least, the show does not continue the off-putting jokes addressed to a broken fourth wall to call out the twins’ (and Michelle’s) absence.

2) Will we see any of Michelle’s friends?

ANSWER: Still a question, but without Michelle, why would anyone care about her friends?

3) Will the show tackle any issues, like teen suicide, LGBT+ acceptance, or other contemporary hot button issues in the future?

ANSWER: The show tackles surrogacy this season, as Stephanie (Sweetin) explores options for having children.  Kimmy (Barber) volunteers to be her surrogate, and the “baby daddy” and “sperm donor” is Kimmy’s brother Jimmy (Adam Hagenbuch).  The panel generally praised this story line as the best on the season because it was the most real.

4) Why did DJ become annoying, according to the panel?

ANSWER: I am not sure the panel sees an answer or even still considers this a question.  They described the DJ character as “weird” this season, as the general campy atmosphere of the show seemed to be in a caricature-laden overdrive state in Season Three, as noted by panelist Andrew.

5) Will New Kids on the Block return every season?

ANSWER: They do not return this season.  So, no.

6) Will we see any other past characters, like Vicki, Danny’s former girlfriend?  For that matter, will we ever see the character’s actual wife again?

ANSWER: Vicki (Gayle Edwards) returns!  Apparently.  And Danny’s (Bob Saget) marriage seems to be on the rocks.  Do that math, and the answer probably lurks in algebra step 2.

7) Will DJ end up with either Matt (Josh Brotherton) or Steve (Scott Weinger)?

ANSWER: It looks like Steve is going for a third try with his on again/off again soulmate.  Maybe the third try will be the charm.

New Questions

1) Will Stephanie and Jimmy get engaged?

2) Will everyone REALLY be moving back into the house – Danny, Jesse (John Stamos), Becky (Lori Loughlin), Joey (Dave Coulier), and all of their various offspring included?  Will everyone REALLY be shuffled back into their old quarters in this San Francisco house that seems to become more like a TARDIS as time passes (it’s bigger on the inside)?

3) Will DJ and Steve finally stick?

4) Why are the Gibblers so weird?

5) Since there were three viable embryos from Stephanie’s surrogacy journey, will Kimmy be bearing multiple children for her?

6) Will the show get better?  The panel feels that it fell far this year…what do you think, listener?  And if you want to join our panel, contact us – we have three openings currently. 🙂

PARTING SHOTS

Fuller House is much more cautiously – and more reticently – recommended by the Full/er House panel; to the extent that they do recommend the show, they do so 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, though the panelists also believe that the core audience of Fuller House has been established and will likely not grow, given the show’s specific oeuvre and vastly uneven quality.  In fact, the remaining panelists were much less impressed by the longer, divided third season, and with a change in show runners coming due to the discharge of original creator (of both Full House and Fuller House) Jeff Franklin, they question the long-term viability of the sequel.  Still, our panelists estimate that a better environment on set will improve the product, which was described as “shaky,” “painful,” and “cringe-worthy” at various points during the panel’s discussion.  They also feel that this sequel series and its ham and cheese on rye quality of humor remains easily binged and easily digested, with minimal heartburn or regret, even given its less well-received moments. As such, our panelists hope for an improved season four but are hard pressed to see a potential measure of recovery after the so-called “mess” of this third season.

LOOKING AHEAD

Netflix renewed Fuller House for a fourth season of thirteen episodes, though no release date has yet been announced by the streaming service giant.  CPU!’s next Full/er House episode, which will focus on this fourth seasonwill likely record and publish some time after the fourth season drops.  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! – Streaming Originals & Around the Water Cooler: “Grace and Frankie” – Recapping Seasons 3 and 4; Part Two of CPU!’s “Catching Up on Grace and Frankie” Miniseries (MAJOR SPOILERS)

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Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

Who: “Grace and Frankie” is a comedy-drama web television and Netflix original series, always available on Netflix.

What:  “Grace and Frankie,” created by Marta Kauffman and Howard J. Morris, stars Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin in the title roles of Grace and Frankie, two unlikely friends who are brought together after their husbands announce that they are in love and plan to get married. Sam Waterston, Martin Sheen, Brooklyn Decker, Ethan Embry, June Diane Raphael, and Baron Vaughn co-star in supporting roles.

SYNOPSIS

The series follows Grace (Fonda), a retired cosmetics mogul, and Frankie (Tomlin), a hippie art teacher, whose husbands, Robert (Sheen) and Sol (Waterston), are successful divorce lawyers in San Diego.  Grace and Frankie’s lives are turned upside down when Robert and Sol announce that they are in love with each other and are leaving their wives. Now, the women, who have never particularly liked each other, are forced to live together and must learn to unite and to cope with difficulties in their new lives as 70-something divorcees.

When: The third season of the series was released in its entirety to the Netflix streaming library on March 24, 2017, and the fourth season was released in its entirety to Netflix on January 19, 2018, each with a total of thirteen episodes.

Where: The action is set primarily in San Diego, California, and surrounding communities.

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’s It Going? (THOUGHTS…at present)

To listen to Part One of this miniseries, covering the first two seasons of Grace and Frankie, click on the link embedded below:

Grace and Frankie, Seasons 1 and 2

By popular request, though notably by frequent CPU! panelists and viewers unlikely to be in the intended target audience for this quirky comedy-drama, Grace and Frankie has become a new show panel at the CPU! Water Cooler. Tonight’s episode is the second part of a two-part miniseries in which CPU! gets caught up on this show, which premiered on Netflix in 2015.

Ultimately, our requesting CPU! faithful continue to regard Grace and Frankie as a charming comedy about growing old gracefully – but also about growing up gracefully – in these, our modern times.  In this episode, our panelists – Kristen, Krista, Amie, and Samantha – reflect on and recap the third and fourth seasons of Grace and Frankie, reacting to the growing cadre of quirky characters and the seemingly impossible situations in which they find themselves.  From new loves to new heartaches, from death to birth, from yam lube to vibrators, our panel reacts to it all.

This episode was recorded in March 2018, 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 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 The 100 panel returns to the Water Cooler, though, unfortunately for fans of the show, not with good news, as CPU! launches the pilot episode of its “Shark Jumpers Anonymous” series.  What does it mean if a show is featured as part of that series?  Well…we’ll leave you to guess for now, but the title reference…’tis no good, people, ’tis no good.  Stay tuned!

Questions, Impressions, and Future Considerations

1) Did Nick (Peter Gallagher) buy the beach house?  If he did not buy the beach house, who did?
2) Will Grace and Frankie get the beach house back?
3) What will the fallout be with the kids, since they all conspired against the women, their mothers?  What was Robert and Sol’s reaction – or what will it be – when they found/find out?
4) Where did Nick go?  Does he know that Grace checked into a retirement community?
5) Will Brianna save Say Grace and gain some of her mother’s approval, as panelist Krista predicts?

6) Will Jacob (Ernie Hudson) return to Frankie somehow, as many of the panelists hope

7) Why does Mallory continue to allow Coyote to park his tiny home in front of her house?  Will Mallory and Coyote couple up?  Will the show offer up more back story for this troubled pair other than Coyote’s drunken blackout night?

8) What will RuPaul’s new character, who panelist Kristen describes in the episode, mean to the story next season?

RECOMMENDATION

Grace and Frankie is recommended overall by our CPU! panel to fans of the actors in the cast, particularly of Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Martin Sheen, and Sam Waterston, and to people who sincerely like to laugh.  Some of the panel cautions, however, that with frank discussion about lube (and later vibrators) as well as some salty language coming from these septuagenarians, not every potential viewer might find the show funny or be copacetic with the vernacular utilized therein.   Also, the panel generally praises the comedic performances of the four main actors and the writing while agreeing that there are better episodes than others; in fact, the panel voices a variety of reactions to the supporting characters, namely the four actors playing the grown up children of the couples in question.  It’s important to note, though, that the panel almost universally believed that the show improves each season, meaning that the third and fourth seasons were considered better than the first two.  In any event, our panel universally had great fun watching this series and believes that most with an open sense of humor will have fun watching it too.

LOOKING AHEAD

Netflix released the fourth season of Grace and Frankie on January 19, 2018, and has renewed the show for a fifth season, though no tentative release date has yet been announced by the streaming giant.  Most pundits expect the show to return in 2019, in keeping with its traditional once per year release pattern, which is when our CPU! Grace and Frankie panel will also, most likely, return to the Water Cooler for the purpose of chatting about Season Five.  Like, follow, and/or subscribe to the website, iTunes, YouTube, Stitcher Radio, Google Play, or our social media accounts to stay abreast of new episodes regarding Grace and Frankie as well as new episodes for all of our podcast panels!  And, if you feel so inclined, please leave us a review.  Thank you! 🙂

PODCAST! – Streaming Originals & Pilots, Premieres, and First Looks: “Grace and Frankie” – Recapping Seasons 1 and 2; Part One of CPU!’s “Catching Up on Grace and Frankie” Miniseries (MAJOR SPOILERS)

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Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

ADVISORY: Due to discussion of concepts like yam lube, we do make frank (but scientific) references to genitalia in this episode.  It’s the world of the show, people.

THE SPECS:

Who: “Grace and Frankie” is a comedy-drama web television and Netflix original series, always available on Netflix.

What:  “Grace and Frankie,” created by Marta Kauffman and Howard J. Morris, stars Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin in the title roles of Grace and Frankie, two unlikely friends who are brought together after their husbands announce that they are in love and plan to get married. Sam Waterston, Martin Sheen, Brooklyn Decker, Ethan Embry, June Diane Raphael, and Baron Vaughn co-star in supporting roles.

When: The first season of the series was released in its entirety to the Netflix streaming library on May 8, 2015, and the second season was released in its entirety to Netflix on May 6, 2016, each with a total of thirteen episodes.

Where: The action is set primarily in San Diego, California, and surrounding communities.

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.

Grace and Frankie = 4.1, by average of the podcast panel.

SYNOPSIS

The series follows Grace (Fonda), a retired cosmetics mogul, and Frankie (Tomlin), a hippie art teacher, whose husbands, Robert (Sheen) and Sol (Waterston), are successful divorce lawyers in San Diego.  Grace and Frankie’s lives are turned upside down when Robert and Sol announce that they are in love with each other and are leaving their wives. Now, the women, who have never particularly liked each other, are forced to live together and must learn to unite and to cope with difficulties in their new lives as 70-something divorcees.

THOUGHTS

By popular request, though notably by frequent CPU! panelists and viewers unlikely to be in the intended target audience for this quirky comedy-drama, Grace and Frankie has become a new show panel at the CPU! Water Cooler. Tonight’s episode is the first part of a two-part miniseries in which CPU! gets caught up on this show, which premiered on Netflix in 2015.

Ultimately, our requesting CPU! faithful think that Grace and Frankie is a charming comedy about growing old gracefully – but also about growing up gracefully – in these, our modern times.  Plus, with this vocal clamoring for coverage of this program, our panel grew to be comprised of a variety of voices, namely four frequent panelists, including Kristen, the reigning panel champ; Krista, who finds herself drawn most to British television like Downton Abbey and Broadchurch and dramas like Orange is the New Black, How to Get Away with Murder, and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Titus is a self-proclaimed drama queen!); Amie, most famous for her ongoing participation in our Once Upon a Time and 13 Reasons Why panels; and Samantha, who has joined us for our Gilmore Girls Life Series and for a Look Back at Marvel’s Agent Carter.  

In this episode, our panel reflects on and recaps the first two seasons of Grace and Frankie, reacting to the various quirky characters and the seemingly impossible situations in which they find themselves.  From husbands leaving their wives for each other, to the odd couple chemistry of 9 to 5 vets Fonda and Tomlin; from the melding of this peculiar Brady Bunch of offspring to the various significant others that connect to them; from “yes nights” to yam lube, our panel reacts to it all.

And because CPU! is always helpful – and because we wonder aloud in this episode about some of the inspirations for the situations depicted on this series – we offer you this handy link.  From farm to…well, you can read it for yourself (not an official sponsor):

This Stuff Is Real

This episode was recorded in March 2018, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as the panelists cover key plot points of the first two seasons. Listen at your own risk, and let us know what you think by commenting below!

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

Remember, new episodes and blog posts are published weekly!  Next Wednesday, we offer the second of our two-part Grace and Frankie miniseries, in which we will recap Seasons 3 and 4, which will render CPU! officially caught up to the current season.  Stay tuned!

RECOMMENDATION

Grace and Frankie is recommended overall by our CPU! panel to fans of the actors in the cast, particularly of Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Martin Sheen, and Sam Waterston, and to people who sincerely like to laugh.  Some of the panel cautions, however, that with frank discussion about lube (and later vibrators) as well as some salty language coming from these septuagenarians, not every potential viewer might find the show funny or be copacetic with the vernacular utilized therein.   Also, the panel generally praises the comedic performances of the four main actors and the writing while agreeing that there are better episodes than others; in fact, the panel voices a variety of reactions to the supporting characters, namely the four actors playing the grown up children of the couples in question.  In any event, our panel universally had great fun watching this series and believes that most with an open sense of humor will have fun watching it too.

THE FUTURE OF THE SHOW

Netflix released the fourth season of Grace and Frankie on January 19, 2018, and has renewed the show for a fifth season, though no tentative release date has yet been announced by the streaming giant.  Most pundits expect the show to return in 2019, in keeping with its traditional once per year release pattern.  CPU! will next visit Grace and Frankie next week for Part Two of this “Catch-Up Miniseries;” the new episode will focus upon the third and fourth seasons of the show and will bring our humble podcast to current times, appreciations, and readiness for ongoing Grace and Frankie coverage going forward.  Like, follow, and/or subscribe to the website, iTunes, YouTube, Stitcher Radio, Google Play, or our social media accounts to stay abreast of new episodes regarding Grace and Frankie as well as new episodes for all of our podcast panels!  And, if you feel so inclined, please leave us a review.  Thank you! 🙂

PODCAST! – Streaming Originals & Pilots, Premieres, and First Looks: Marvel’s Defenders Series, Episode 7, “Marvel’s The Punisher” – The Season One Recap (MAJOR SPOILERS)

Image result for the punisher title card netflix

Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

Who: “Marvel’s The Punisher” is a web television series based upon the Marvel Comics character of the same name.  It is also a Netflix original series, always available on Netflix.

What:  “Marvel’s The Punisher,” created by Steve Lightfoot, is set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), sharing continuity with the films of the franchise. The series revolves around Frank Castle, who uses lethal methods to fight crime as the vigilante “The Punisher,” with Jon Bernthal reprising the role from Marvel’s Daredevil. Ben Barnes, Amber Rose Revah, Jason R. Moore, Ebon Moss-Bachrach, Daniel Webber, Paul Schulze, Michael Nathanson, Jaime Ray Newman, and Deborah Ann Woll also star.

When: The first season of the series was released in its entirety to the Netflix streaming library on November 17, 2017, with a total of thirteen episodes.

Where: The action is set primarily in New York City, New York, 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, including this first spin-off the series!  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 The Punisher = 4.2, by average of the podcast panel.

SYNOPSIS

Frank Castle (Bernthal), known throughout New York City as “the Punisher” after exacting revenge on those responsible for the deaths of his wife and children, uncovers a larger conspiracy beyond what was done to him and his family.

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 first season of Jessica Jones, the one available season of Luke Cage, the one available season of Iron Fist, and the one available season of the crossover event miniseries, The Defenders.  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
Marvel’s Defenders Series, Episode Five, “Iron Fist,” Season 1

Marvel’s Defenders Series, Episode Six, “The Defenders,” Season 1

As such, it was only right that we cover the first spin-off series of this universe, now the sixth in Netflix’s series of Marvel-centered shows. Thus, we bring you our first ever Punisher podcast episode – and the seventh episode of our Marvel’s Defenders Series – featuring Defenders panelists Nick, Kristen, Hilary, Kyle, and Spencer.

Our panel is, for the most part, highly complimentary of The Punisher solo series, though some panelists like this spin-off effort more than others.  Generally, all panelists love Bernthal and his charismatic portrayal of Marvel’s consummate antihero as well as Barnes’ version of prenatal villain Billy Russo and Bachrach’s performance as Frank’s undercover partner Micro.  Yet, most of us also found the show to suffer from a slow start, though this start was markedly offset by a speedy and powerful crescendo in action and suspense, as well as an off-putting supporting character in Agent Dinah Madani (Revah), on whom the panelists felt the story focused too much when she added so little to the overall pacing and relevance of the plot in the end.  To hear us hash out these opinions further, listen to our discussion via the embedded link below.

This podcast was (re)recorded in March 2018 as one of our lost episodes, erased via the much ballyhooed equipment failure previously advertised, though we think we recovered nicely.  Also, there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as we cover major plot points throughout the first season of The Punisher.  Do you agree or disagree?  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, at long last, our Once Upon a Time panel returns to the Water Cooler, also affected by the aforementioned equipment failure, and will offer a re-recorded dissection of Season 7A in one of our twisty mid-season formats, which will include some of our “Newlywed Game” type hi-jinks to add spice to our already spicy group.  This recording follows the ABC network announcement that Once Upon a Time will end after this seventh season, and so this recording is one of the last three times our lively Once panel will gather together as a group.  As such, stay tuned for this funky and somewhat bittersweet “lost” episode!

RECOMMENDATION

The Punisher is recommended overall by our CPU! panel to fans of comic books, particularly from the Marvel universe; fans of the various Defenders series; and fans of the Punisher character.  The panel cautions that to truly appreciate what The Punisher offers as a program, it is best viewed after all solo Defender series/seasons released prior to the release of this series have also been viewed, particularly Marvel’s Daredevil Seasons 1 and 2, as the Punisher’s back story is primarily established in “Daredevil” Season 2 (which does not make sense without viewing that series’ first season).  The panel also cautions that The Punisher is highly graphic and gory, featuring much violence and blood as befits a gun-toting antihero on a vendetta, so if you are an easily squeamish viewer, begin watching while prepared that you will see much in the way of blood and guts.  The panel also generally and universally agrees that The Punisher is well-performed, well-written, and well-directed but for some qualms from some panelists about pacing and about Revah’s Madani character, which failed to connect to any of our six panelists, your Chief CP included.  In any event, and despite the critiques described above, the panel almost universally had great fun watching this series and believes that anyone who considers themselves a fan of any or all of the individual Defenders would have fun watching it too.

THE FUTURE OF THE SHOW

The Punisher was automatically renewed by Netflix for a second season, though no tentative release date has yet been announced by the streaming giant, as the producers of the series are currently vetting scripts, according to panelist Kyle.  As always, CPU! will be following all Defenders series, solo and crossover and related spin-offs, throughout all of the series’ runs as part of CPU!’s Marvel’s Defenders Series, so we will definitely return to podcast about Season Two following its release.  In addition, the CPU! Marvel’s Defenders panel will return very soon to review Marvel’s Jessica JonesSeason 2, which was released to Netflix today!  Until then, stay tuned!

PODCAST! – Around the Water Cooler & Streaming Originals: “Orange is the New Black,” The Season 5 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 show her no mercy. 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 time, the old attractions between the two women remain undeniably present.

When: All 13 Season 5 episodes became available for viewing on June 9, 2017.

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 2-4 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

Orange is the New Black, Season Four

Our OITNB Couch Potatoes and enthusiasts – namely moderator and Chief Couch Potato Kylie, Kristen, Krista, Nick, Amanda, and Andrew – triumphantly return to the CPU! Water Cooler to talk all things Season Five of the wildly popular (and Orange) Netflix drama for this latest podcast episode.  We engaged in our usual heady and heavy discussion about some of the plot lines that we saw emerge in the tightly entertaining and engaging fifth season. What do you think?  Do you agree? Do you disagree? What are your hopes, fears, expectations, speculations, or predictions for the resolution of the fifth season’s cliffhangers going into season six?

This particular CPU! episode was recorded in October 2017, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as the panelists cover key plot points of OITNB Season Five. 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! In our next episode, schedule permitting, our DCTU/Arrowverse panel will return to the Water Cooler after a brief absence to round-up reactions to all four CW/Arrowverse shows so far this season, just in time for the end of the mid-season hiatus (if scheduling does not permit, our Once Upon a Time panel will appear instead to digest the “soft reboot” of Season 7)!  Stay tuned!

Questions, Predictions, and Future Considerations

Old Questions

1) REPEAT QUESTION: Are the OITNB producers planning to end the show at the end of Piper’s sentence? (That will be a question for awhile).

ANSWER: Piper hasn’t been released yet, so…still a question.

2) Are we to assume that Suzanne’s (Uzo Aduba) 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.

ANSWER: Unclear.  OITNB does not revisit Suzanne’s back story at any point during Season Five.

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

ANSWER: Panelist Krista believes, if the source book on which the show is based still provides any kind of story framework, that Piper has two to three months maximum left to her original sentence; however, the show does not focus on time passing in Season Five, as it picks up right after the events of Season Four and transpires over the course of a few days.

4) Will we see Healy (Michael Harney) 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).

ANSWER: Healy does not make an appearance in Season Five…will he appear in future seasons?  Unknown.

5) 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.”

ANSWER: Well, Laverne’s CBS show (“Doubt”) was quickly canceled after only a couple of episodes; however, she appears in one episode this season.  Because she only appears in one episode, the show bypasses Sophia’s time in solitary and related controversy with little explanation regarding the experience’s effects on her.  Sophia returns to doing hair while the prisoners riot, as of the final moments of the Season Four finale and throughout Season Five.  Perhaps some of the rioters break Sophia out of solitary?  The show offers no explanation for her appearance, but she definitely looks worse for wear when she does appear.

6) 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?

ANSWER: Season Five picks up at the literal second when Season Four ends.

7) Will Daya (Dascha Polanco) 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?

ANSWER: Daya shoots Humps – in the leg.  She then proceeds to lose the gun for a while, and the only prisoner who seems to care about her welfare and the potential ramifications of her actions is surrogate mama Gloria (Selenis Levya).  Humps is taken to the infirmary to recover; however, Suzanne’s former paramour Maureen decides to exact revenge for his merciless treatment of the prisoners (and for him inciting said present riot) by blowing air bubbles into his breathing tubes.  As a result, Humps suffers a stroke and, subsequently and quietly, dies.  

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

ANSWER: Judy King makes it out of prison, with a little help from the white supremacists, who wear hoods, are caught on camera, and are mistaken for Muslim terrorists.  Ah, irony.  Judy then proceeds to try to sell her prison story in an exploitative way by appearing on a prime time news talk show hosted by Meredith Vieira (really?), without much thought about or consideration of the consequences or the potential effect her choices may have on others.  Judy King is kind of The Worst.

9) 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?

ANSWER: “Continue to run” is a relative turn of phrase, considering that the prisoners are controlling the prison, and mass chaos not only continues but increases as Season Five progresses.  As for the prisoners splitting up…well, when SWAT units enter the building to regain control by force, Leanne and Angie, in a final blaze of glory, decide to burn the prisoner’s paper records and, as a result, start a fire in the prison offices.  As a result, Litchfield is engulfed in flames, and, while prisoners are brought to safety, outside and in the yard, by SWAT team units, two buses appear to ship prisoners, seemingly, to two different alternative prisons.  Where and how will we start Season Six given this information?  Stay tuned.

10) 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?”

ANSWER: Soso spends most of the season consumed by grief and depression in the wake of Poussey’s death, with minimal support from Poussey’s prison family (the African American girls), though Soso kind of becomes a de facto member of their group.  She does not regain some stability until she decides, in tribute to Poussey, to make an interactive, living, artistic tribute to P, with books from the library where P worked strung from the ceilings throughout the prisoner-controlled Litchfield halls.  In the meantime, Taystee, who is unimpressed by Soso’s methods of dealing with her loss, decides to take matters into her own hands to attempt to achieve justice for her best friend.  She forces Caputo (Nick Sandow) to record a video statement apologizing for Poussey’s death, which she proceeds to upload to the internet.  She also takes on the company allegedly overseeing the prison by entering into hostage negotiations with the company/with negotiator Fig, after the prisoners capture the remaining guards, declare them hostages, and cage them up in a locked guard booth, where many prisoners proceed to torture and to humiliate them.  Unfortunately, Taystee’s efforts are not always successful.  Listen to the podcast episode for details.

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

ANSWER: The show, apparently (according to panelists Krista and Nick but escaping the notice of panelists Kylie and Kristen), explains that Sister contracted pneumonia while in solitary and was, therefore, given compassionate release from prison.  So, I guess Sister is gone for good, and at least two of us missed the explanation behind her departure!

12) Will Red (Kate Mulgrew) have a better story line next season?

ANSWER: If getting high on speed pills and becoming the sole object of dishonored guard Piscatella’s ire comprises a better story line, then I would say that Red does alright.

13) 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?

ANSWER: Piper and Alex do everything they can to lay low this season; in fact, Alex makes it her own personal mission to stay out of the fray because she thinks that Piper often sticks her nose where it does not belong and, often, in sacrifice or to the detriment of the stability of their relationship, a subject of much conflict and debate between the two women this season.  Piper, probably for the first genuine time since the beginning of this show, obtains some self-awareness this season.  While she cannot promise Alex that she will always stay out of situations that seem to matter to her, because doing so is not in her nature, she at least promises that she will listen to Alex if Alex expresses unhappiness with Piper’s meddling and mischief.  Piper also proposes marriage to Alex, who accepts the proposal.  So, the panel believes we are sort of stuck caring about them for awhile longer.  As for Alex’s written confessions – either Piper found them all in Season Four or is too distracted to keep looking for them in Season Five, what with all the rioting and such.

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

ANSWER: Nicky, though tempted many times by an unguarded prison pharmacy and prisoners’ various stashes, manages to make it through the whole fifth season (which, in reality, transpires over about one to two weeks) without falling off the wagon.  Presumably, she and Tuckey have an understanding, but I would not characterize this understanding as friendship.  Tuckey, further, is distracted by other matters this season.  Listen to the podcast episode for details.

15) 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 Piscatella do to which Caputo hinted at the end of the season?

ANSWER: We see Bailey, and he is, rightfully, a mess.  Piper helps him escape the Litchfield prisoner regime, but he spends the entire season wracked with justifiable guilt over his involuntary manslaughter of Poussey; he also spends the entire season searching for some sort of redemption or forgiveness of his sin(s), even tracking down Poussey’s father, who can only tell Bailey that he will have to live with what he did to P for the rest of his life.  The old Litchfield guards mostly stay away, smartly, as the prison is overrun, but the show checks in with most of them.  As for Piscatella, it turns out that, at his prior prison job, he slaughtered another prisoner by scalding him in hot shower water after this prisoner brutally beat and killed a different prisoner with whom Piscatella was carrying on an inappropriate relationship in his position as a guard.  Piscatella was also exploring his newfound homosexuality in said relationship, so these dark incidents left Piscatella in a dark place, causing him to be the man we see in Seasons Four and Five.  Listen to the podcast episode for details.

16) Will we see Lolly (Lori Petty) again now that she has been transferred to the psych ward?

ANSWER: Lolly does not emerge from the psych ward during the riots of Season Five.

New Questions

1) Where and when will Season 6 begin?  Will there be a time jump? Will the Litchfield inmates be in various other prisons?  Will they return to a rebuilt prison?  Will we see all of the inmates we saw at the end of Season 5?  Will the inmates hiding by the old swimming pool, including Piper, Alex, Red, Frieda, Blanca, and others, be subjected to more stringent punishment?  Will they all survive?  Will they be captured?

2) What will happen to the guards originally left in the prison and captured by the prisoners?  What fallout, if anything, will they receive?

3) Will Piper and Alex marry in prison, and will this proposed marriage make Piper a more likable character?  Is that even possible?

4) Is this the end of Litchfield?

5) What will the fallout of the Litchfield riots be related to the company, the state, and the figureheads?  Will the company be assessed any consequences for its incompetent management of Litchfield?

6) Will there be additional crossovers with other original Netflix series – or additional crossovers with Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt?  Some of the panelists support this idea; some are less enthused with both this concept and with the crossover that occurred in Season Five.

7) Are there any prisoners, especially prisoners that the viewer has known since the beginning, for which we have not seen flashback stories?  What flashback stories will see next season?

8) What was Freida’s crime that landed her in Litchfield/prison?

9) Will the company or anyone else discover Linda, the company woman playing prisoner who is also The Worst, among the prisoners?

10) Will Flaritza, i.e. Flaca (Jackie Cruz) and Maritza, be reunited?  Will Nicky and Morello (Yael Stone)?

11) Will Daya ever get to see her baby again?

PARTING SHOTS

Our Orange is the New Black panel proved much more enthusiastic about the fifth season than about some of the seasons preceding it.  Some panelists even labeled this season their favorite, or one of their favorites, indicative of a fine return to form for the show.  In fact, the entire panel was both favorable and complimentary about OITNB Season Five.  The panel also, ever so slightly, continued to warm to Piper, believing that she continues 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, though, the panel reached a rare consensus of opinion, in that all panelists noted that the story trajectory, aside from a slower season beginning that appeared to lose some of the tension marking the fourth season finale, remained successful and compelling and regained the seemingly lost tension to almost “horror movie” proportions by season’s end, despite the absence of a fan and panel favorite character in Poussey.  The entire panel plans to continue to watch the show and Season Six to find out what happens, particularly in the wake of the emptying of Litchfield and the two buses that arrived to separate our formerly (and mostly) rioting characters.  Of course, the panel continues to acknowledge that the writing remains dynamic and top-notch but suggests that this season’s direction and pacing allow for better binge-watching in Season Five than in Season Four.  The panel further continues to maintain high hopes and expectations that Season Six will continue the overarching, excellent quality of storytelling that has characterized Orange is the New Black since its premiere.

LOOKING AHEAD

Orange is the New Black was renewed for a sixth (as well as a seventh) season, which is tentatively slated to premiere in June 2018.  Until then!

PODCAST! – Streaming Originals & Pilots, Premieres, and First Looks: Marvel’s Defenders Series, Episode 6, “Marvel’s The Defenders” – The Season One Recap (MAJOR SPOILERS)

Image result for the defenders title card

Moderated by: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

Who: “Marvel’s The Defenders” is a web television series based upon the Marvel Comics characters Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist, who form the eponymous superhero team.  It is also a Netflix original series, always available on Netflix.

What:  “Marvel’s The Defenders,” created by Douglas Petrie and Marco Ramirez, is set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), sharing continuity with the films of the franchise, and is the culmination of a series of interconnected shows from Marvel and Netflix. The limited series stars Charlie Cox as Matt Murdock aka Daredevil, Krysten Ritter as Jessica Jones, Mike Colter as Luke Cage, and Finn Jones as Danny Rand aka Iron Fist, all reprising their roles from their individual series. The miniseries also stars Eka Darville, Elden Henson, Jessica Henwick, Simone Missick, Ramón Rodríguez, Rachael Taylor, Deborah Ann Woll, Élodie Yung, Rosario Dawson, Scott Glenn, and Sigourney Weaver. 

When: The first season of the series was released in its entirety to the Netflix streaming library on August 18, 2017.

Where: The action is set primarily in the New York City, New York, borough of Manhattan, as depicted in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, though there are glimpses of other boroughs, including Hell’s Kitchen and Harlem.

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, particularly the cross-over event for which our panel is named!  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 The Defenders = 4.3, by average of the podcast panel.

SYNOPSIS

Set a few months after the events of the second season of Daredevil, and a month after the events of the first season of Iron Fist, the vigilantes Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist team up in New York City to fight a common enemy: the Hand.

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, the one available season of Luke Cage, and the one available season of Iron Fist.  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
 
Marvel’s Defenders Series, Episode Five, “Iron Fist,” Season 1

 

As such, it was only right that we cover the next series in this universe, now the fifth in Netflix’s series of Marvel-centered shows and the culmination of creating the shows to begin with: “The Defenders” miniseries, featuring heroes Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist 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 Defenders podcast episode – and the sixth episode of our Marvel’s Defenders Series – featuring Defenders panelists Nick, Kristen, Hilary, Kyle, and Spencer.

Our panel is, for the most part, warm to the crossover, with some panelists liking this climactic effort more than some of the solo entries leading up to it.  Generally, the panelists loved seeing the four Defenders together, taking down the Hand, even though some thought the series somewhat slow; too short, at eight episodes rather than thirteen, compared to predecessor programs; and fuzzy in storytelling continuity when matched up to the solo Defender series.  Also, many of our panelists construed the depiction of The Hand, the nefarious ninja organization that previously haunted Daredevil and Iron Fist, to be weak overall when compared to charismatic villain performances in solo series, particularly those of Vincent D’Onofrio as Kingpin and David Tennant as Kilgrave.  To hear us hash out these opinions further, listen to our discussion via the embedded link below.

This podcast was recorded in December 2017, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as we cover major plot points throughout the first season of The Defenders.  Do you agree or disagree?  Listen at your own risk, and let us know what you think by commenting below!

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Remember, new episodes and blog posts are published weekly!  Next Wednesday, at long last, our Vampire Diaries panel, slightly smaller, returns to the Water Cooler to begin the long advertised two-part goodbye series in which we pay homage to the long-running teen supernatural drama, which ended its eight season run in March 2017.  In the first episode/first part of our miniseries, we recap the second half of the final season.  Stay tuned!

RECOMMENDATION

The Defenders is recommended overall by our CPU! panel to fans of comic books, particularly from the Marvel universe; fans of the various Defenders series; and fans of the individual Defender characters.  The panel cautions that to truly appreciate what The Defenders offers as a program, it is best viewed after all solo Defender series/seasons released prior to the release of this miniseries have also been viewed.  The panel generally and universally agrees that The Defenders is well-performed and mostly well-written and directed but for some qualms from some panelists about pacing and continuity, particularly with reference to how the various show runners have treated The Hand as overarching villains for several of the solo and now the crossover series.  In any event, and despite the critiques described above, the panel universally had great fun watching this series and believes that anyone who considers themselves a fan of any or all of the individual Defenders would have fun watching it too.

THE FUTURE OF THE SHOW

The Defenders has not yet been renewed for a second season, though Netflix is no doubt preparing for subsequent solo series season releases as follows: Jessica Jones (Season 2) on March 8, 2018; Luke Cage (Season 2) in spring/summer 2018; Daredevil (Season 3) in summer/fall 2018; and Iron Fist (Season 2) in 2019. Netflix may be waiting to gauge reception to all of these new seasons as well as reviewing logistical considerations before jumping straight into a renewal commitment.  As always, CPU! will be following The Defenders throughout its series run as part of CPU!’s Marvel’s Defenders Series, so we will definitely return to podcast about a season two, should one be commissioned, and will keep you informed of all Netflix/Marvel coverage.  In addition, the CPU! Marvel’s Defenders panel will return very soon to review The Punisher, Season 1, which was released to Netflix on November 17, 2017.  Until then, stay tuned!