PODCAST! – Around the Water Cooler: “Will & Grace,” the Season Nine Review and Recap – The Will & Grace Revives Series, Episode Two (MAJOR SPOILERS)

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THIS EPISODE OF CPU! WAS SPONSORED BY: HERITAGE THEATRE GROUP

Opening Tomorrow: “Assassins”

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For more information, visit Heritage Theatre’s website!

Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

Who: “Will & Grace,” a situation comedy that aired on NBC from 1998 to 2006 until it was revived on the same network in 2017.

What: Created by Max Mutchnick and David Kohan, Will & Grace focuses on the friendship between best friends Will Truman (Eric McCormack), a gay lawyer, and Grace Adler (Debra Messing), a straight interior designer.

SYNOPSIS

Will & Grace is set in New York City and also features Will and Grace’s friends Karen Walker (Megan Mullally), an alcoholic socialite, and Jack McFarland (Sean Hayes), a flamboyantly gay actor. The continuing interplay of relationships features the trials and tribulations of dating, marriage, divorce, and casual sex as well as comical key stereotypes of gay and Jewish culture.

When: The first revival season, Season 9, aired from September 28, 2017, to April 5, 2018, Thursdays on NBC.

Where: The show is set in New York City, New York (mostly in Manhattan).

Why: Listen to the first podcast episode in this series for the panelists’ individual stories on how they found Will & Grace.

How – as in How Was It?! (THOUGHTS)

If you have not listened to the first episode in our “Will & Grace Revives Series,” click the embedded link below:

Looking Back at the Original “Will & Grace,” Seasons 1-8

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 the Peacock network decided to join the ranks of conglomerates reviving successful network properties from periods past, and Will & Grace became the chosen candidate for NBC’s latest revival featuring every member of the original cast except Shelley Morrison (Rosario), some of the CPU!ers became decidedly atwitter and began encouraging a W&G podcast series in short order.

Here at CPU!, then, we saw an opportunity for a new CPU! podcast series in which CPU! panelists could look back at the program that started it all while looking forward “around the water cooler” as new season(s) of the revival are released. Thus, herein we offer the second episode of our own miniseries covering the various versions of this popular, and frankly fabulous, sitcom, which we at CPU! are calling our “Will & Grace Revives” series.

Returning panelists Andrew, Jeremy, and Emily (D) join your Chief CP around the Water Cooler once again for this second episode of our “Will & Grace Revives” series.  In this conversation, we discuss our favorite and least favorite moments from the first revival season, Season 9, of Will & Grace, as, after eleven years off the air, we return to the lives of Will, Grace, Jack, Karen, their friends, their neighbors, their families, and their rather copious respective lines of romantic partners.  Oh, and about that original series finale?  Fuggedaboutit!  No, literally, forget about it.  As it turns out, Karen was having some sort of drug-induced flight of fancy while taking a nap.  Her dreams are weird!

This podcast was recorded in July 2018 and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as we cover major plot points throughout the Will & Grace series. Listen at your own risk, and let us know what you think by commenting below!

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

Remember, new episodes and blog posts are published weekly!  Next Wednesday, our DCTU Series panel returns to the Water Cooler to begin the panel’s annual marathon of end of season coverage of the four Arrowverse shows.  Our first episode in the coming series of four revisits those wacky but lovable (DC’s) Legends of Tomorrow, as our spicy superhero-loving panel discusses Season Three of the Arrowverse’s second spin-off.  Stay tuned!

Questions, Impressions, and Future Considerations

1) Will we see more Elliott (Michael Angarano) next season?

2) Can Rosie O’Donnell be brought back as Elliott’s biological mother, so that he will have to deal with his two gay biological parents despite his newfound religious conservatism?

3) Will there be any more musical episodes?

4) Will there be any more live episodes?

5) Will we see some of the more famous or infamous guest stars of the original run, such as the inimitable Cher?

6) How long will the relationship between Will’s mom (Blythe Danner) and Grace’s dad (Robert Klein) last?

7) How long will the business partnership between Will and Grace last?

8) Will Jack find his one and only true love?  Is he truly ready for the dread C-word (“commitment”)?

9) Will we ever meet Stan, Karen’s rich husband, face to face?

10) Will we ever see Leo (Harry Connick, Jr.) or Vince (Bobby Cannavale), Grace and Will’s ex-husbands, respectively, again?  Should we root for a reconciliation, at least for Will and Vince, since Leo has cheated on Grace more times than should really be forgivable?  What do you think, listener?

PARTING SHOTS

Our panelists discussed a wide-ranging assortment of opinions about the first revival season of Will & Grace.  One loved it, one claimed to hate it, and others expressed markedly mixed feelings about revisiting this show eleven years after it left the airwaves the first time around.  In the end, though, everyone agreed that this initial revival season provided some fun escapist nostalgia and, even, the occasional reason to think. Several panelists, however, also declared that moments in the season felt forced – for laughs, for message-filled dialogue, and, at times, to reproduce the chemistry that was.  In fact, the panel mostly agreed, with the notable exception of one panelist, that, though most of the cast managed to reclaim the characters that they had not played in eleven years with what seemed like ease, Grace’s own Debra Messing visibly struggled to find the core of the Grace character for a few episodes, whether due to a lack of confidence and/or potentially due to age, in that she seemed unable to engage in the physical comedy that she brought to the character previously.  Plus, her comedic delivery frequently rang as “over the top,” though Ms. Messing eventually found a rhythm that resembled not only the younger version of the character, and of herself, but also reminded the viewer why Grace and Will have been such watchable and such lovably co-dependent roommates and friends for so many years.

Still, at times, some panelists also struggled with what appeared to be didactic dialogue about our political state of affairs while, at the same time, other panelists expressed being largely grateful that the writers and actors stayed true to the core characters they created, now 20 years ago, particularly the “in your face” antics of perennially drunk and often inappropriate socialite Karen. Additionally, a couple of panelists also criticized some of the more obvious nods to the original eight seasons, as the producers appeared to return to a perceived endless parade of guest stars, winks, and nods to the original run of the show, similar to what seemed to populate the last few seasons of Will & Grace prime.  Yet, all panelists, even if one was begrudging, admitted to having fun while viewing this revival run – even if only for a few isolated episodes, jokes, moments, and particularly while watching the Jack and Karen characters.  To wit, the panelists universally praised three specific episodes: the one in which Jack learned he had a grandson; the one in which Karen mourned the death of Rosario while throwing her a quinceanera; and the one in which Grace tried to help her dad following the loss of her mom, formerly played by the now deceased Debbie Reynolds (rest in peace).

Ultimately, the panelists universally recommend the revival season to long-time fans of the original series, particularly those who have some enthusiasm for those first eight seasons, as the panelists believe that new viewers watching only Season 9 for the first time would not be able to appreciate all of the inside jokes, winks, nods, and nudges to the tapestry of comedy woven by the first run of the show. Plus, if one enjoys humor with plenty of sass, one would be remiss not to at least check out the whole show, original and revival seasons together, as the four main characters and plenty of the supporting ones will surely meet any prescribed need for sass within minutes of the opening credits.  Our panelists also advocate that Will & Grace has something to offer most everyone with an open mind and a willingness to see two sides of any coin – as well as a lot of spicy and sexy joke-telling.  Don’t say we didn’t warn you, poodles.

LOOKING AHEAD

Will & Grace was renewed for tenth and eleventh seasons by the Peacock network; Season 10 premieres on Thursday, October 4, 2018, at 9:00 PM.  If you would like to catch up on any of Will & Grace, including the original eight seasons of the show, all seasons are currently available to stream on Hulu.  In the meantime, our Will & Grace panel will next return to the Water Cooler following the airing of the tenth season finale, some time in 2019, as this panel will now be converted to one of our ongoing show panels (with two openings!  Contact us if you would like to join the panel!).  Until then!

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PODCAST! – Streaming Originals & Around the Water Cooler: Marvel’s Defenders Series, Episode 8, “Marvel’s Jessica Jones” – The Season Two Recap (MAJOR SPOILERS)

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THIS EPISODE OF CPU! WAS SPONSORED BY: HERITAGE THEATRE GROUP

Opening Tomorrow: “The Cherry Orchard”

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For more information, visit Heritage Theatre’s website!

Moderated by: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

Who: “Marvel’s Jessica Jones” is a superhero/action/psychological thriller drama based upon the Marvel Comics character Jessica Jones and is a Netflix original series, always available on Netflix.

What: “Marvel’s Jessica Jones,” created by Melissa Rosenberg, is set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), sharing continuity with the films of the franchise, and is the second in a series of shows that ultimately led up to a Defenders crossover miniseries, which was released in 2017. Krysten Ritter stars as Jessica Jones, a former superhero who opens her own detective agency after an end to her superhero career.

SYNOPSIS

Following a tragic end to her brief superhero career, Jessica Jones (Ritter) tries to rebuild her life as a private investigator, dealing with cases involving people with remarkable abilities in New York City.  Rachael Taylor, Eka Darville, and Carrie-Anne Moss also star.

When: Season 2 was released in its entirety to the Netflix streaming library on March 8, 2018.

Where: The action is set primarily in the New York City, New York, neighborhood of Hell’s Kitchen, as depicted in the MCU.

Why: To find out why individual podcast panelists started watching this show, listen to the podcast episode via the Season One 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? – 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 first season of Luke Cage; the one available season of Iron Fist; the one available season of the crossover event miniseries, The Defenders; and the one available season of the first spin-off series, The Punisher.  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

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

In this, the eighth episode of our Marvel’s Defenders series, we revisit the second in Netflix’s series of Marvel-centered shows leading up to The Defenders miniseries, namely Jessica Jones, featuring Defenders Series panelists Nick, Kristen, Hilary, Kyle, and Spencer.  Our panel, with the notable exception of panelist Kristen, struggled to power through this second season, feeling the absence, but for the one somewhat forced and anticlimactic episode, of panel favorite David Tennant (David Tennant, David Tennant, David Tennant!).  Common reactions to this season can best be summed up via the following terms: disjointed, clunky, flat, and generally and ultimately far worse than the first season.  Only Kristen describes this season as “solid,” though she acknowledges that the second season does not measure up to the first season in terms of writing quality.  In fact, the panel finds that said quality and story presentation drastically deteriorated between the two seasons and generally alienated our panelists (except Kristen), to the point that we mostly worry for the future of the series, given its third season renewal and though some members of the panel have nearly lost all interest in continuing with this particular program but for our podcast series.  Unless, of course, the show is able to convincingly resurrect the Kilgrave character because the panel agrees: Jessica Jones, without David Tennant and Kilgrave, is simply not the same show. To hear us hash out these opinions further, listen to our discussion via the embedded link below.

This podcast was recorded in June 2018, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as we cover major plot points throughout the second season of Jessica Jones.  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, we launch a new panel “Around the Water Cooler,” as some of our most frequent panelists, along with one occasional panelist, find themselves up Schitt’s Creek without a paddle while they catch up on the first two seasons of the Canadian cable comedy in the first part of a two-part miniseries produced for just that purpose.  Stay tuned!

Questions, Impressions, and Future Considerations

Old Questions

1) Will Daredevil appear on Jessica Jones?  We would like him to do so, please, and apart from the Defenders miniseries because these two characters exist in the same universe and in the same city (and same borough of the city!).

ANSWER: He has not yet.

2) David Tennant was announced to be returning for Season Two, even though Jessica snapped Kilgrave’s neck in the Season One finale.  How will he return?

ANSWER: Kilgrave, as portrayed by Mr. Tennant, appears as a Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)-induced hallucination, a figment of Jessica’s imagination, as she grapples with the morality of supporting her recently-discovered-to-be-alive mother, who is prone to homicidal tendencies in the name of love for her daughter and for the mad scientist who experimented on her and Jessica.  The plot itself is convoluted, but David Tennant’s appearance this season amounted to one episode, which the panelists generally regarded as one of only a few highlights this season.  Listen to the podcast episode for details.

3) Will Trish (Taylor) evolve into the Marvel hero Hellcat in Season Two, as several panelists estimated she might at some point?

ANSWER: Through a plot thread that pitted Trish against Jessica due to Trish’s naked ambition, reckless addiction, obtuse selfishness, and complicated envy of Jessica’s special abilities, Trish insinuates herself into a position in which she willingly participates in some of the same experimentation to which, ultimately, Jessica and her mother were subjected following the Jones family’s car accident.  Via a brief display of quick reflexes and potentially enhanced strength in the season finale, it can be estimated that Trish is well on her way to evolving into the Marvel hero Hellcat, though she did so in a highly alienating and unsympathetic manner.  Listen to the podcast episodes for details.

4) Will there be a new villain?  Who will it be? Will Kingpin/Wilson Fisk appear in Jessica Jones?

ANSWER: Kingpin was not featured in this season of Jessica Jones. Arguably, the most villainous character on the season is Trish, with her seemingly self-serving motivations, further complicated by a relapse in drug use and the enabling of her helicopter stage mom, though Nurse Inez Green (Leah Gibson) additionally gives Jeri Hogarth (Moss) a run for her money.  Literally.  The writers also, apparently, attempted to position Alisa Jones (Janet McTeer), Jessica’s very-much-alive mother, as a potential villain, but she clearly is affected by chemicals and conditioning that strips her of complete non-psychotic control over her own faculties.  In fact, the panel felt that the lack of a true villain proved to be one of the seasons’s most glaring and deleterious flaws.

New Questions

1) So, really, will Kilgrave ever return – alive and charismatic and creepy – in a real way?  Or, is that too much fantasy for a comic book adaptation series?  Was the hallucination, at minimum, a clue to the idea that Kilgrave might still be out there, waiting to reemerge as the Purple Man? At least half of this panel believes that Jessica Jones will not sustain without him, evidenced by the struggles and cringe-inducing flaws of this second season, most of which was presented without him; in fact, the writers and producers may never be able to compensate if Mr. Tennant cannot return.  The panel’s opinion further validates Chief CP Kylie’s earliest hypothesis – that David Tennant is what made the first season what it was, despite the fact that the other returning members of the ensemble are good, even great at times.  None of them, however, are as riveting or as competent a scene partner when paired with Ritter’s Jessica as David Tennant’s Kilgrave.  The proof is in the proverbial pudding known as Season Two.

2) Is Detective Will Simpson (Wil Traval), who is supposed to be the villain Nuke, according to panelist Kyle and basic research into Marvel comics, truly and permanently dead?  The panel felt that one of the greatest character disservices committed this season was the early and criminally understated, yet apparently permanent, death of the Simpson character.

3) Malcolm (Darville) is now working for Jeri Hogarth and, in turn, Jessica’s private investigator (PI) rival, Pryce Cheng (Terry Chen).  Other than the fact that Malcolm has officially sobered up and is committed to making something of his life, why should we care about this character development?

4) Will Luke Cage, who is supposed to eventually marry Jessica, according to Kyle and basic research into Marvel comics, return to the series in Season Three (this question is posed without having viewed Season Two of Luke’s solo series, mind you)?

5) Will Oscar (J.R. Ramirez) return in Season Three?  Though a love triangle might be cheesy, can we see Oscar and Luke fight over the cynical and sarcastic Jessica?  There might be potential for some comedy in that scenario, which the show sorely needs, at least in terms of comic relief.

6) What will Trish’s evolution into full-on Hellcat look like?  As of the end of Season Two, Jessica and Trish are estranged, as Trish pulled the trigger to ice Alisa after Jess’ mom quasi-kidnapped her daughter while on the lam, leaving Jessica officially angry at her adopted sister for making this rash decision, even if Trish did so to save Jessica.  Will Trish and Jessica reunite in the field of superhero-ness?  Will they find their way back to each other in more of an “everyday” way?

PARTING SHOTS

All of our panelists, with the exception of panelist Kristen, struggled to find any sort of love for the second season of Jessica Jones, pinning the season’s considerable disappointments on poor writing choices related to character development and/or story direction and the nearly total lack of David Tennant’s Kilgrave.  The panelists generally welcomed his one episode appearance, though some panelists, the Chief CP included, also found it anticlimactic and lacking the punch and pomp that underscored the Kilgrave character in the first season. All of the panelists also struggled with the Trish character at various points, the Alisa character at various points, and many of the other new characters in general, and the overarching feeling around the season was that it was disjointed, slow, and ultimately alienating in its story presentation.  Only panelist Kristen, with her love for the Jessica Jones character, described the season as “solid,” pointing to the overall tone and “noir” feel of the visual presentation to support her position.  By the same token, the panel generally and universally agrees that Jessica Jones is largely well-performed and competently directed, though some slow-to-the-point-of-drudgery pacing hampers the second season. In addition, by attributing Jessica’s anger management issues to something fundamentally changed in her biology due to the experiments conducted on her, the writers and show-runner effectively undermined the strong themes surrounding assault survival, PTSD, and recovery that elevated the poignancy of Season One, to which some of the panelists took exception.  In fact, most on the panel agree that if not for the podcast, Season Three would not necessarily be an automatic watch, despite the series renewal and unless the writers and Mr. Tennant’s schedule allow him to return.

LOOKING AHEAD

Jessica Jones was renewed for a third season, though an official premiere/release date has not yet been announced.  CPU! will be following Jessica Jones throughout its series run, as part of CPU!’s Marvel’s Defenders Series, so we will definitely return to podcast about Season Three some time after it is released.  Until then – stay tuned!

PODCAST! – Around the Water Cooler: “American Horror Story: Cult” (American Horror Story Series, Episode 7, Season 7; MAJOR SPOILERS)

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Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

Who: “American Horror Story” airs on cable TV, specifically on FX, most recently on Fall Tuesdays at 10:00 PM, though it is currently on hiatus.

What: “American Horror Story,” a horror drama created by Ryan Murphy (Glee, Nip/Tuck) that tells a new horror story each season while featuring recurring actors and ensemble players.  This season is subtitled “Cult;” is set in fictional Brookfield Heights, Michigan, during the year 2017; and centers around a cult terrorizing a suburb in the aftermath of the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

SYNOPSIS

Set in the year 2017, the fictitious town of Brookfield Heights, Michigan, is left divided upon the wake of Donald Trump’s presidential election. Local restaurant owner Ally Mayfair-Richards (Sarah Paulson) and her wife Ivy (Alison Pill) are left utterly distraught. Despite the help of her psychiatrist, Dr. Rudy Vincent Anderson (Cheyenne Jackson), Ally becomes increasingly unstable in the following weeks; her long repressed phobias begin to re-emerge, and they begin to affect her relationships with her wife as well as with their son Oz (Cooper Dodson). Across town, misogynistic alt-righter Kai Anderson (Evan Peters) rejoices at the election results, enticing him to pursue political power by running for city council while led by Bebe Babbitt (Frances Conroy), an old-school feminist, and with the help of his reluctant, liberal sister Winter (Billie Lourd), who was also hired by the Mayfair-Richards household as their nanny. As Ally attempts to adjust to regular life despite her growing anxiety and paranoia, she becomes terrorized by a group of masked assailants in clown attire who are only present when she is alone, leaving those around her to wonder if she was truly attacked or if they were merely hallucinations.

Kai’s faithful followers include Ally’s eccentric neighbors Harrison (Billy Eichner) and Meadow Wilton (Leslie Grossman), newscast reporter Beverly Hope (Adina Porter), rogue detective Jack Samuels (Colton Haynes), and local grocery cashier Gary K. Longstreet (Chaz Bono). With Kai’s rise to power revealing sinister motives, Ally starts to draw connections between her alleged clown attackers and the many strange incidents occurring in Brookfield Heights. She begins to fear that everyone in town is out to get her, amplifying her growing distrust of those around her, especially her neighbors.

When: Season Seven aired from September 5, 2017, to November 14, 2017, on FX.

Where: Each season focuses on a different locale.  This season, the action is set largely in fictional Brookfield Heights, Michigan.

Why:  Nick and Sarah, two CPU! regulars, proposed that CPU! publish an American Horror Story podcast series, being big fans of the show, and your Chief CP, who has previously covered this program on the CPU! blog and enjoys the show quite a bit, agreed wholeheartedly to the idea. Thus, welcome to our new CPU! series revolving around AHS, with each episode in the series focusing on one season of the show.  The series started at the beginning and will be ongoing as long as AHS stays on the air!

How – as in How Was It? – THOUGHTS

American Horror Story is a groundbreaking horror anthology series that airs on FX.  Not only did this program render the horror genre mainstream television fare, it also propelled anthology formats to popularity.  The show is widely watched and a tent pole for FX, becoming a Halloween/fall-time cable staple of disturbing imagery and grotesque scares.

Two of CPU!’s frequent panelists, and one of our resident married couples, Nick and Sarah, are big fans of the show and, as noted above, proposed that CPU! start a series discussing AHS throughout its seasons.  We have already published our first episode in this series, chatting the first season of AHS, widely known as “Murder House;” the second episode discussing the second season, “Asylum;” the third episode discussing the third season, “Coven;” the fourth episode discussing the fourth season, “Freak Show;” the fifth episode discussing the fifth season, “Hotel;” and the sixth episode discussing the sixth season, “Roanoke.” Listen here:

American Horror Story Series, Episode 1, Season 1, “Murder House”

American Horror Story Series, Episode 2, Season 2, “Asylum”

American Horror Story Series, Episode 3, Season 3, “Coven”

American Horror Story Series, Episode 4, Season 4, “Freak Show”

American Horror Story Series, Episode 5, Season 5, “Hotel”

American Horror Story Series, Episode 6, Season 6, “Roanoke”

In today’s episode, the seventh episode of this series, we cover Season Seven, “Cult.” As the seasons are discussed and published, moderation duties rotate among the members of our robust AHS panel.  To wit, yours truly is back at the moderating mic to talk this seventh season, along with returning panelists Nick, Sarah, Emily, and Kallie.  In this episode, then, we discuss our favorite and least favorite moments within the “Cult” season and our general impressions of the season’s success.  I should warn you, gentle listener, “success” is typically relative, and the panel does not ascribe that “successful” quality to this season as a general rule.  In fact, the panel’s reactions to Season 7 can best be summed up this way: it offers a risky, potentially intriguing concept that fell spectacularly flat, owing to disjointed writing and an uneven presentation of forced concepts that viewers were expected to buy with complete but unearned suspension of disbelief.  I guess this means, my friends, that you have been forewarned.  We have some strong opinions about the season subtitled “Cult.”

This podcast was recorded in June 2018, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as we cover major plot points throughout the “Cult” season. Listen at your own risk, and let us know what you think by commenting below!

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

Remember, new episodes and blog posts are published weekly!  Next Thursday (as next Wednesday is the 4th of July), our Marvel’s Defenders Panel returns to the Water Cooler to react, for better and, unfortunately, for worse, to the second season of Marvel’s Jessica Jones, released in March of this year. Stay tuned!

PARTING SHOTS

The panel generally agrees, with the exception of panelist Sarah who struggled most with the “Roanoke” season, that “Cult” represents the worst of all seven seasons of American Horror Story.  Though the panel was universally excited by the gutsy backdrop potentially informing this seventh season, every panelist reacted in a somewhat volatile if not utterly confused manner to the execution of the gutsy backdrop, as all panelists regarded the season’s story to be largely disjointed, as if the writers were more impressed with it than they should be.  While the scares of the season proved to be some of the scariest, given the realities Americans now face every day no matter where one falls on the political spectrum, the payoff of some of the ambitious setups ultimately left resounding feelings of let-down in the season’s wake.  Ultimately, our AHS panel generally believed that the AHS writers and creator Ryan Murphy (the public face of the creative team) tried to do too much too quickly and almost in an aggrandizing way, which did little to endear our resident viewers to the cast of unsympathetic characters and archetypes populating this season.  Plus, our podcast is based in Michigan, and while there is a kernel of truth to the slice of Michigan life portrayed by the show, the setting, the characters, and the situations felt too much like caricature to help any of our panelists suspend disbelief in meaningful ways, as we have been able to do at least to some degree during all of the show’s prior six seasons.  In short, “Cult” was a mess – and maybe deliberately so, if the writers were trying to be clever – but the seventh season also lacked entertainment value in the process, even as it tried too hard to be art in the end.

LOOKING AHEAD

Our next episode in this series will cover Season Eight, though the release date and “subtitle” have not been released as of the time of the publication of this post.  What we do know about the eighth season is that it will feature the long-rumored, long-awaited crossover of what are arguably AHS’ most popular seasons, “Murder House” and “Coven.”  Thus, our AHS panel will return sometime after the Season 8 finale and then, again, after Season 9, since the horror anthology season has guaranteed longevity for two more seasons.  Stay tuned!

The Season 8 Cast Be Spoilerin’

PODCAST! – Around the Water Cooler: “iZombie” – The Season 4 Recap; Part Two of CPU!’s “Catching Up on iZombie” Miniseries (MAJOR SPOILERS)

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Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

Who: “iZombie” is a horror, crime/procedural, comedy-drama series that airs on the CW, typically during the spring.

What:  “iZombie,” developed by Rob Thomas and Diane Ruggiero-Wright, is a loose adaptation of the comic book series of the same name created by Chris Roberson and Michael Allred and published by DC Comics under their Vertigo imprint.

SYNOPSIS

Seattle medical resident Olivia “Liv” Moore (Rose McIver) is turned into a zombie while attending a boat party. She abandons her career and breaks up with her fiance, much to the disappointment and puzzlement of her family. She discovers that if she does not periodically satisfy her new appetite for brains, she starts turning into a stereotypical zombie, stupid and homicidal. Instead of feeding by killing innocent people, Liv decides to take a job at the King County morgue and to eat the brains of the corpses she autopsies. Her secret is guessed by her boss, Dr. Ravi Chakrabarti (Rahul Kohli). Ravi soon becomes Liv’s friend and confidant, and as a scientist, he is intrigued by her condition.

Liv finds out that whenever she eats a dead person’s brain, she temporarily inherits some of their personality traits and skills, and she experiences flashbacks of that person’s life. Those visions are generally triggered by sights (events or objects) or sounds (repeated sentences). In the case of murder victims, the flashbacks offer clues about the killer. Liv decides to use this new ability to help Police Detective Clive Babineaux (Malcolm Goodwin) solve crimes. Though she initially passes herself off as a psychic, Clive eventually learns the truth about her and zombies. Meanwhile, Ravi works to develop a cure for Liv’s affliction in the hope that one day she will be able to resume her former life.

When: Season Four aired on the CW from February 26, 2018, to May 28, 2018, with a total of 13 episodes.

Where: The action is set primarily in Seattle, Washington – present day.

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

During the annual Fall TV Preview for the 2014-2015 season, CPU! Chief Kylie picked up this show for CPU!’s review.  When I picked it up, I said:

Okay, the name of the show is on the level of ridiculously stupid, and the rash of zombie-related fare is as overdone as vampires (though I enjoy vampires so much more than zombies). Also, this could cross heavily into procedural territory.  Yet, there is an interesting twist wherein the main character absorbs memories from brains she eats.  I have a feeling it might be better than the name lets on…then again…

How – as in How Was It? – THOUGHTS

To listen to Part One of this miniseries, covering the first three seasons of iZombie, click the link embedded below:

Seasons 1-3

By semi-popular request, notably by brave and brainy CPU! regular panelists ready to get scratched and slightly gourmet for this cult favorite comic book adaptation, iZombie 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 the CW in 2015.

Ultimately, our CPU! faithful group of zombie acolytes, namely Kristen, Jen S., and Jenn K., continues to regard iZombie as a unique, quirky, and fresh comedy-drama addition to the annals of burgeoning zombie fiction, even if it is nothing like fare in the vein of The Walking Dead.  In this episode, the second of a catch-up miniseries in which we chat about this show, our panel reflects on and recaps the fourth and most recent season of iZombie, reacting to the various quirky characters and the seemingly impossible situations in which they find themselves, including Liv’s ongoing ingestion of “brains of the week,” though in this most recent season, the procedural element is happily intertwined with an overarching story line that, somewhat surprisingly, delivers an unexpected but profound emotional punch (even if some of the story remains on-the-nose in the writers’ apparent attempt to be allegorical to these, our modern times).

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

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

Remember, new episodes and blog posts are published weekly!  Next Wednesday, schedule permitting, our American Horror Story series panel returns to the Water Cooler after a year’s hiatus to talk the most recent season – joining the “Cult,” one might say – with your Chief CP back at the moderating microphone, per usual, in our AHS panel’s rotating cadre of moderators.  Stay tuned!

Questions, Impressions, and Future Considerations

1) Will Season 5 start with another time jump, however long, or will the writers pick the story up from the end moment of the Season 4 finale?

2) Will Liv be cured of being a zombie by the end of the series?  Will Major (Robert Buckley)?  Will the whole of Seattle’s zombie population?

3) Did Agent Dale Bozzio eat the entirety of Isobel’s brain, as Ravi suggested to Liv, to return to her human self?  Or, did she figure out that just part of it would cure her, since she ate whatever portion of this brain off-screen?

4) Will Liv, Major, and Blaine (David Anders) truly work together to ensure that Seattle’s zombies will not starve, with the government ban on continued importation of brains into (New) Seattle, as Major envisions?  What would that look like?  Or, more probably, will there be conflict between all three of them?

5) Without a cure, will zombies and humans learn to co-exist?  Is this how the show might end?  Would such an ending satisfy?

6) Will the US government declare war on Seattle and try to bomb it as they have threatened to do? Will the US Army be forced to intervene now that Liv is the new, permanent “Renegade?”

7) Will Liv and Major get back together once and for all, now that Clive and Dale are married, and Ravi and Peyton (Aly Michalka) are back together?

8) If a cure is produced, will there be zombies who resist taking the cure, such as Blaine, who seems very reluctant to remain human?

9) Are any of Brother Love’s/Angus’ (Robert Knepper) disciples still around or any who did not try to cross the Seattle perimeter surrounded by US military, only to be exterminated in the end?  If so, what effect will they have, if any, on our characters and/or the Seattle zombie population going forward?

10) Will we see Ravi on more brains of the week?  Additionally, can Liv, Ravi, and Major all be on different brains at the same time?  The panel votes the latter with gusto.

PARTING SHOTS

iZombie is recommended overall by our CPU! panel to fans of zombie fiction with some crossover appeal who are not afraid to laugh, keeping in mind properties like Shaun of the Dead; to fans of genre fare like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which readily exploit nerd-core and offer pop culture winks and nods in happy ways; and to procedural TV with a twist, such as Bones, especially those that offer a heaping dose of dark comedy.  One panelist cautioned that if a zombie enthusiast is not willing to laugh at their beloved zombies in question, this show would likely not appeal to said enthusiast, particularly if said zombie fan remains purist to zombie fiction’s general horror roots.  Chief CP Kylie also compared the humor of Arrested Development to that of this show, in that iZombie is laden with innuendo and meta references and is self-aware without taking itself too seriously, which renders the show all the more charming   Further, the panel generally praises the performances of the main cast, particularly McIver, with her different affects signifying zombie brains of the week, and Kohli (Ravi is, unanimously, the panel’s favorite character) as well as the generally inventive writing.  Especially after the fourth season, our panel confidently opined that we universally had and have great fun watching this series and believe that most with an open and slightly nerdy sense of humor will have fun watching it too.

LOOKING AHEAD

The CW renewed iZombie for a fifth and final season, which is expected to premiere in spring 2019 (no tentative premiere date has yet been announced), which is when our CPU! iZombie panel will likely return to the Water Cooler to chat about Season 5 and to offer one final, brief, Look Back at the entire series.  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 iZombie 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 & 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!

PODCAST! – Around the Water Cooler and Looking Back at “Broadchurch,” the Season/Series 3 Recap and Series Review (MAJOR SPOILERS)

Related imageModerator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

Who:  “Broadchurch” is a British television crime drama, which aired for three seasons from 2013 to 2017 on iTV in the United Kingdom and on BBC America in the United States.

What: “Broadchurch” was created and written by Chris Chibnall and focuses, at least initially, on the death of an 11-year-old boy and the impact of grief, mutual suspicion, and media attention on the surrounding town.

SYNOPSIS

Series One focuses on the search for the boy, Danny Latimer’s, murderer by detectives Alec Hardy (David Tennant) and Ellie Miller (Olivia Colman). The second series primarily focuses on two plot strands: the trial of Joe Miller and the reopening of the Sandbrook case, a case Hardy failed to properly solve, which brings him unwanted notoriety throughout the investigation of the Broadchurch murder. Series Three is set three years after the events of Series Two and follows the rape of a local woman.

When: Series Three originally aired on iTV in Great Britain from February 27 to April 17, 2017, and on BBC America in the United States from June 28 to August 16, 2017.

Where: In Broadchurch, the action takes place primarily in the fictional town of Broadchurch, in the county of Dorset, in the South of England, on the scenic Jurassic Coast and in surrounding areas, such as the county courthouse. Series Two does travel to the fictional town of Sandbrook, as David Tennant’s character, Alec Hardy, investigates a case from his past.

Why: To find out why individual podcast panelists started watching this show, listen to the podcast episode via the link below!  Of course, for the female members of the panel (Chief Couch Potato and moderator Kylie included), the primary reason was: David Tennant, David Tennant, David Tennant.  The male members of the panel sighed with moderate contempt and resignation at this revelation.  To them, we said, “Oh well!”  Just look at the man, for heaven’s sake:

article-0-1891e799000005dc-319_634x974

David Tennant: Perhaps the primary reason why the female panelists started watching Broadchurch

How – as in How Was It? – THOUGHTS

CPU! previously covered Series 1 and 2 of Broadchurch on the podcast as well as compared and contrasted the relative (de)merits of American remake Gracepoint.  To listen to that worthy analysis, from early in the CPU! annals (and out of the vault), click the embedded link below:

Broadchurch, Series 1 and 2, and Gracepoint, Season 1

Our now undoubtedly famous Broadchurch panel, with some of our most frequent panelists – namely Kristen, Nick, Krista, Hilary, and Kyle – have returned to the Water Cooler to engage in a heady, topical discussion about the mystery of Broadchurch Series 3, which could not be timelier or more relevant to current events.  We also, of course, spend ample time admiring David Tennant.  At least, the female members of the panel do.  As we did in our last episode, all of the panelists have quite a bit to say about this stirring and intense mystery, which they see as largely successful, despite the fact that the show (still) did not find American audiences quite as readily.  We also spend some time briefly looking back at the show as a whole and comparing all of the series, including how they made us feel and think as ready and willing viewers.  As always, it’s a deeply analytical discussion about the success of the show and the story, as well as the effects each had on each of the panelists.

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

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter (@cpupodcast), Instagram (@couchpotatoesunite)0, 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 Stranger Things panel will finally return to the Water Cooler after a one-year hiatus to discuss and to digest the spooky, mind flaying second season of the acclaimed Netflix series.  It’s a lively discussion – and it’s better late than never!  Stay tuned!

Old Questions

1)  Will Joe Miller somehow return to Broadchurch, despite his banishment by the other residents of the town?  Kylie predicts that he will try to come back and to acquit himself in the town’s eyes because he has convinced himself, on the strength of his legal defense, that he is truly innocent.

ANSWER: Joe does not return to the town itself but returns to the series, when Mark Latimer (Andrew Buchan) seeks him out in his new home in a nearby coastal town.  Mark continues to struggle with his grief over Danny’s murder and to nurse a vendetta, wanting “justice” for Danny by ensuring punishment of Joe.  Though he tries to convince Beth (Jodie Whittaker) and the rest of the family to consider initiating a civil trial, given the failure of the criminal trial to convict Joe, they prove reluctant.  So, he takes matters into his own hands and finds Joe himself, with the very real intent to kill him, if he will not turn himself in properly.  Listen to the episode for details.

2) Series/season three is said to be focused around a sexual assault in the town.  Will the perpetrator be one of the characters we already know?  Or, will it be someone totally different?

ANSWER: The victim and perpetrators are new characters to the show and to the viewer.  Since we spend considerable time discussing both in the episode, you should just listen to it.

RECOMMENDATION & PARTING SHOTS

Our panel continues to recommend Broadchurch to fans of British television generally, fans of mystery and crime procedural shows, and fans of David Tennant.  Though Broadchurch remains moody, tonally dark, and extremely intense, and emotionally preparing oneself to watch this show may be necessary, the panel also universally agreed that Broadchurch Series Three is one of the better seasons (better than the second, not as good as the first). In any event, the panel continues to praise the entire show highly, noting it to be well-written, well-performed, well-shot, and well-directed and encourages anyone interested in high quality television to give it a look-see.

THE FUTURE OF THE SHOW

Broadchurch has officially ended.  The entire series is currently available to stream on Netflix. Did you watch Broadchurch?  Let us know in the comments, and tell us what you thought of any or all of its three seasons – or series if you’re British!  And stay tuned! Though our Broadchurch coverage is primarily done, don’t be surprised if the show makes an appearance or two in coming discussions, from time to time, as, after all, CPU! continues to expand our panel formats in new and exciting ways.

In the meantime, from our Broadchurch panel and David Tennant sister-wife commune (and the men who scorn it) to you, thank you for listening to our ongoing Broadchurch series, which now officially comes to a close.  To discover other shows discussed by CPU!, check here.  For now, we bid you adieu!

Related image

Production still for Broadchurch, Series 3

broadchurchpanel

The Broadchurch Panel! (top, left to right, Nick, Kyle, Hilary; bottom, left to right, Krista, Kristen)

PODCAST! – Around the Water Cooler: “Game of Thrones,” the Season 7 Recap and Review (MAJOR SPOILERS)

Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

Who:  “Game of Thrones,” airs on premium cable TV, specifically on HBO, though it is currently on hiatus.

What: “Game of Thrones” is a fantasy drama based on the series of novels entitled A Song of Ice and Fire, by George R. R. Martin, which tells the tale of the land of Westeros and the various families and factions vying for the Iron Throne, i.e. rule of all of the seven kingdoms in a world of magic, dragons, swordplay, and death (for a more detailed Synopsis, read here).

When: The Season Seven finale aired on HBO on Sunday, August 27, 2017, at 9:00 PM.

Where: The show is set in the fictional land of Westeros, a world that could be Europe, could be Middle Earth, or could be most fantasy/epic realms.  Westeros is divided into Seven Kingdoms, but rule of all kingdoms hails from the Iron Throne, in King’s Landing. The show follows key characters across most realms.

Why: A friend basically said the Chief CP had to watch it and for good reason (other panelists received similar recommendations).  I, personally, gravitate toward fantasy and science fiction most frequently; fantasy is also my favorite genre to read.  I haven’t read Martin’s currently-in-progress series, as some of the panelists have, which has become something of a cultural watershed not unlike the Harry Potter novels, though I plan to do so.  Our resident book readers laud the show about as highly as they do the novels; thus, with this solid foundation, an obsession with Game of Thrones was born, for all of our (returning) panelists.

How – as in How Was It? – THOUGHTS

For a recap of season 4, read here.

CPU! also previously published podcast episodes reviewing and recapping Seasons 5 and 6.  To catch up, click the embedded links below:

Season 5

Season 6

This year, with the explosive and epic and (SPOILER) zombie-dragon laden seventh season behind us, CPU!’s noble group of Game of Thrones panelists – Kristen, Amanda, Jay, Chelsea, and Rob – returns to the Water Cooler with one of our “lost” episodes to discuss what many of us find to be our favorite show, including the goings-on of the penultimate seventh season.  Plus, many of panelist Kristen’s so-called dominoes continued to fall this season in spectacular and satisfying ways, so our panel was only too excited to spend time gushing, a few times owing to equipment failures and such, about what was ultimately another thrilling Thrones season.

In this episode, then, our panel of GoT obsessed chats and theorizes all things Season Seven as well as speculates about what Season Eight – the finale season – might look like, especially since the show has, permanently, surpassed the books in terms of plot propulsion. Our scholarly bunch does not disappoint with their effusive opinions; as usual, we cover quite a bit of territory, revisiting three-headed dragon theories, the continued consequences of incest, and hopes and wishes for the ensuing war to come.  We can only salivate and speculate about possible future developments.

This podcast was (re)recorded in April 2018, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as we cover major plot points throughout the seventh season of GoT. Listen at your own risk, and let us know what you think by commenting below!

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter (@cpupodcast), Instagram (@couchpotatoesunite)0, 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 Broadchurch panel will finally return to the Water Cooler after a two-year (!) hiatus to discuss and to digest the third and final series of the acclaimed British drama and to look back at the success of the program as a whole.  Stay tuned!

Questions, Impressions, and Future Considerations

Old Questions

1) REPEAT QUESTION: Is the Azor A’hai the same as the Prince of Promise?  Is the Azor A’hai one person? If so, is it Jon (Kit Harington) or Danaerys (Emilia Clarke) or someone else?  Or, is it the combination of three people who can ride Dany’s dragons?  And who are those three people…? Jon? Dany? Tyrion (Peter Dinklage)? Anyone else?

REPEAT ANSWER: The Azor A’hai and the Prince Who Was Promised are two names for the same basic concept.  As above, however, the question of who or what that is remains unanswered.  We also do not know if the Three-Headed Dragon theory and the Prince Who Was Promised theory/prophecy are linked.

2) Will we see “Clegane-bowl,” i.e. the Hound (Rory McCann) v. the Mountain in hand-to-hand combat in the war to come?

ANSWER: Much to panelist Kristen’s dismay, “Clegane-bowl” has not yet manifested on Game of Thrones. Though Sandor and Gregor experience a brief reunion near the end of the season, when various forces meet at King’s Landing in council to discuss the coming threat of the White Walkers, neither brother, living nor undead, seem feisty enough to fight, each other or anyone else.  Yet.

3) Will Dany reach Westeros and aim specifically for King’s Landing and Cersei (Lena Headey)?

ANSWER: Yes and yes.  Dany reaches Dragonstone, the Targaryen ancestral home, in the first episode of the season, and it is a magical and wonderful landing, full of awe and wistfulness on the part of the intrepid Khaleesi.  Once she collects herself from reveling in this accomplishment, she almost immediately turns her sights toward King’s Landing on the advice of her hand, Tyrion Lannister, Cersei’s much estranged younger brother.  Listen to the podcast episode for details.

4) Will Arya (Maisie Williams) or Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright) find their siblings/return to Winterfell?  Or, will Bran go North, and Arya go South?

ANSWER: In a surprisingly happy season for the Starks, Arya and Bran both returned home to Winterfell.  Arya learns from some passing travelers/Lannister soldiers (one played by Maisie Williams’ favorite singer, Ed Sheeran) that Jon Snow is currently serving as King in the North, and so she turns her attention away from her revenge list and heads home.  Bran, in the meantime, in an awkwardly antisocial, if not catatonic, Three-Eyed Raven state, also returns home, anticipating a reunion with his brother (but really his cousin) Jon.  Unfortunately, when Bran arrives at his childhood home, Jon had already left Winterfell to visit Dragonstone to entreat Dany to an alliance against the White Walkers and/or to mine the palace’s dragon-glass to use against them.  Listen to the episode for details.

5) Who will Arya aim for next, now that she has the backing of the Many Faced God and the skills taught to her by the House of Black and White?

ANSWER: Her first name to check off her list: Walder Frey.  We see her master ninja superhero revenge plan in an extended sequence in the season premiere, inclusive of some pie filled with parts of Freys, ingested by Walder before Arya ruthlessly slits his throat.  She clearly intends to aim for Lannister necks next, particularly Cersei’s, but a chance encounter with her lost direwolf, Nymeria, and the aforementioned Ed Sheeran convinces her to go north instead, which is well and good for our intrepid Girl, as Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen) becomes her next target through the machinations of an elaborate con orchestrated by Arya and her sister Sansa (Sophie Turner).  Listen to the podcast episode for details.

6) Will Sansa make a play to be Queen of the North?  Will she finally be seduced by Littlefinger’s romantic advances and plan for their future?

ANSWER: Sansa never finds herself in the position of having to “make a play.”  Though she rarely agrees with Jon’s direction while he wears the proverbial Winterfell crown, Jon ultimately leaves Sansa as steward of Winterfell when he departs to go talk to Dany down south.  Sansa also staves off heavy attempts at seduction by Lord Baelish, to which he devotes his best college try in an effort to manipulate Sansa to work against her suspicious ninja sister and brooding brother/secret cousin one last time.  Sansa, however, first tells Littlefinger off for leaving her in the custody of Ramsey, only to be raped and brutally tortured by the sadistic but expired so-called bastard.  Later, she executes a brilliantly mapped out scheme, in which Sansa and Arya act as if Baelish is playing each sister off one another, for the purpose of exposing the manipulator for his traitorous actions, which, among other dire results, led to an assassination attempt on Bran, the death of Ned, Sansa’s sham marriage to Ramsey, and other crimes against House Stark.  As a result, by the end of the season, Sansa orders Littlefinger’s execution, carried out by none other than her Needle-wielding sister, Arya.  RIP Littlefinger.  Your ample game is finished.

7) Will Jon Snow stay parked at Winterfell?  Will he find out about his true parentage? Will he be forced to engage the White Walkers in the next season, or will he be forced to enter a battle in the South between Lannisters and Targaryens?

ANSWER: Jon does not stay parked for long.  As a result, he also narrowly misses the opportunity to learn his true parentage from his brother/cousin Bran, who returns to Winterfell this season, or from Sam Tarly (John Bradley), who leaves Oldtown having learned the same juicy information, later confirmed for Sam by Bran when Sam and Gilly (Hannah Murray) arrive (in record time) at Winterfell.  Jon, meanwhile, picks a fight with the Walkers when he decides to lead a somewhat suicidal expedition, staffed by Thoros of the Brotherhood, Gendry Baratheon (Joe Dempsie, out from being in hiding as a blacksmith in King’s Landing for several seasons, apparently), Tormund Giantsbane (Kristofer Hivju), the Hound, Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen), and a few others, north of the Wall to capture a wight, in order that they might bring it south to King’s Landing to convince Cersei to ally with Houses Stark and Targaryen against the coming of White Walker Winter.  This expedition results in extreme casualties (we don’t even want to say but do below and in the episode).  Though the Lannisters and Targaryens, or, namely, Dany definitely do battle among themselves, Jon does not involve himself or the armies of the North in the fight.

8) Will we see more Lyanna Mormont?  The panel votes yes.

ANSWER: We see the Little Bear briefly.  She is around early in the season to question Jon’s decision to appeal to Dany, as northerners do not trust southerners, especially Targaryens, very much.  In the end, she supports him, though, and convinces the other Northern heads of houses to do the same.

9) Will we see the emergence of Lady Stoneheart?  Will she be in the form described by the books, or will one of the Stark daughters take on her story lines?

ANSWER: We suspect that the possibility of encountering Lady Stoneheart is probably a non-starter at this point.  If there was an opportunity to see a return of Catelyn Stark in partial zombie form, it is likely that said opportunity has passed.

10) How will Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) react to Cersei’s new power?  Will he be the younger brother that fulfills Maggy the Frog’s prophecy, or will it be Tyrion, now that he’s on his way back home at the side of Dany?

ANSWER: Jaime, it is apparent, is not loving Cersei’s new look.  She is as ruthless, cold, and mad as her father Tywin, certainly, or possibly even as much as the Mad King Aerys, who was slain by Jaime before the events of the series started (and who might quite possibly be the secret, illegitimate father of any or all of the Lannister children, if abounding theories are correct).  As for Maggy the Frog’s prophecy, we are still anticipating its ultimate fruition.  The panelists continue to hold strong hope that Jaime will be the younger (twin) brother in question who finally gets sane and ends his sister’s life and, therefore, their twincest relationship once and for all.  He has taken a hopeful step in that direction as of the end of the season.  Listen to the podcast episode for details.

11) How will King’s Landing react to Cersei’s rule, in the absence of the strength of the High Sparrow and the new religion?

ANSWER: Most of King’s Landing subjects react either in fear toward Cersei or in awe and allegiance because they trust the evil they know, even one as ruthless as Cersei, over the Targaryen princess who recently returned to Westeros, despite being the last (known) survivor of her line.  Yet, Cersei struggles all season with being financially indebted to the Bank of Westeros and with gathering enough might to prepare for Dany’s inevitable attacks.  Early in the season, Jaime lays siege to Highgarden and the last of House Tyrell, the richest house on the continent, in order to take their money and land at Cersei’s order.  Of course, that decision does not come without several disappointing consequences and delicious comeuppances all around and in their own right. Listen to the episode already!

12) Will we see the emergence of more dragon riders?  Will the Three-Headed Dragon prophecy/theory come true this season?

ANSWER: Other than Dany, no one’s mounting dragons yet…though Jon Snow does experience a curious connection with Drogon when he visits Dragonstone…  The panelists, your Chief CP included, still hold out hope for this theory in the end, though events of the season make us question whether the hope we have is that of the fool.

13) House Bolton is out of the Game of Thrones with the death of Ramsey.  Will Euron Greyjoy and his bid for the Iron Islands and the Iron Throne render him the new sadistic villain of the series, as panelist Rob predicts?

ANSWER: Euron turns out to be a B-villain at best.  Though his strongest gambit for the Throne is to propose marriage to Cersei, she is unimpressed and rejects his proposal.  He then attacks the Sand Snakes and their forces, thereafter bringing his queen two surviving Snakes of the original four: Ellaria (Indira Varma) and one of her daughters.  Cersei subsequently exacts ruthless revenge against Ellaria by poisoning her remaining daughter with the same substance used by Ellaria to eliminate Cersei’s daughter Myrcella.  She then leaves Ellaria alive, in chains, to watch her daughter die and decompose until she wastes away herself.  Despite this poetic but stone cold revenge, Cersei still does not acquiesce to Euron’s questionable charms, and when the madder Greyjoy learns of the approach of the White Walkers, he kind of flees back to the Iron Islands, only to encounter a feistier Theon (Alfie Allen) and sister Yara, who Theon rescues from Euron’s clutches.  The panel, though, groans when discussing this House and wonders how much we should still care.  Seriously, they are kind of tedious.

14) Where is Jon’s direwolf Ghost and Arya’s direwolf Nymeria?  Will they survive the series?

ANSWER: We have not seen Ghost this season, though we presume he is kicking it, direwolf-style, in Winterfell while Jon is off meeting and eventually romancing (secret aunt) Dany.  Arya reunites briefly with Nymeria, but her direwolf has grown wild, independent, and has taken on a new life as leader of a roaming wolf pack.  Arya, talking with her former companion, realizes that she and Nymeria are leading the same existence, as the youngest Stark daughter has also grown wild, independent, and leads her own new life, filled with super Many Faced God powers and ninja-like fighting reflexes and skills.  Arya, then, looks on as Nymeria returns to her new life, while Arya grabs hold of her own and heads toward Winterfell.

15) Will the White Walkers breech the Wall next season?

ANSWER: I almost do not want to type this answer!  YES.  Yes, they breech the Wall.  How, you ask?  Well, remember when Jon takes his small party north to go get a wight?  That does not go so well.  They capture a wight, sure, but end up surrounded by the Armies of the Dead, with the Night King looking on from a nearby cliff overhead.  Thoros is wounded and freezes to death.  Gendry is able to (somehow) run away and to (somehow) send the fastest raven in this fantastical world to Dany, who, also in record time, finds Jon and company north of the Wall on the back of her beloved Drogon.  Unfortunately, the trouble is, she also brings the other two dragons, not knowing about the Night King’s considerable javelin-throwing skills, mimicking the best ballista Qyburn can construct.  With zombie power and strength, our favorite blue eyed zombie demon tosses his weapon and pierces the neck of Viserion (the green one, I believe).  Viserion, beloved dragon child of Dany, falls through the ice of the frozen lake that nearly becomes the burial ground – or zombie-making waters – of Jon and his group.  Though Dany manages to save Jon and most of the others, and flies away narrowly unscathed, we watch as Viserion emerges from the ice, A WHITE WALKER DRAGON ZOMBIE WHO SHOOTS BLUE FIRE.  We do not know what this blue fire is.  We do know that it is ultimately capable of – you guessed it – taking out the Wall.  The last shot of the season shows the Armies of the Dead, advancing over the rubble of what was formerly the Wall into the Northern countryside below.  Winter is fricking here, man, and it’s terrifying.  And the Three-Headed Dragon theory?  Well, that fan favorite speculation, and panel favorite too, teeters precariously in the balance.  The panel’s only hope is that Jon, being sort of undead himself what with his previous resurrection and all, might be able to ride Viserion in his current state.  Or, maybe Bran, the Three-Eyed Raven, now much like a zombie himself, will warg into and take control of Viserion’s zombified brain.  WE JUST DON’T KNOW!!  This is the biggest question going into Season Eight: will Viserion be saved?  Or, will he help the Walkers decimate their opposition in their march south?  Or a little of both?  We’re hoping both, though we definitely expect the latter.

16) Is there something in the Wall other than protective magic, as panelist Kristen has theorized?

ANSWER: Unless something comes out of the rubble next season, panelist Kristen’s theory does not so much pan out.  A Wall is, sometimes, just a wall.  Like a Girl is, sometimes, just a Girl.

New Questions

1) The panelists predict 6 to 1 that Cersei will meet her maker next season: will it be Jaime (as we hope) who ultimately ends her life? Will it be Tyrion, though he is not one for getting his hands dirty and though he tries to make amends with his rotten older sister at the end of Season Seven? Or, will it be Arya, wearing the face of Jaime after offing him first and then using the power of the Many Faced God to complete her list?  Or, will it be the alleged baby that Cersei is now purportedly pregnant with, as she informs her brother that it is his, of course, what with all of their twincesting, at the end of the season?  Although, the baby would be her other children’s younger brother, and is that idea really within the purview of the prophecy?  Panelist Kristen also surmises that Cersei could die in childbirth, like her mother; could have a miscarriage; or could end her pregnancy, though the panel determined that neither of these ends really satisfy as much as the first three proposals.  What we know is that we are agreed: Cersei will die.  It’s just a question of when and how.

2) Now that Jon Snow and Dany have fallen in love, not knowing their true relationship – i.e. that Dany is Jon’s secret aunt – will Dany become pregnant with a human baby?  Will that baby be, in fact, the Prince Who Was Promised?  The Song of Ice and Fire?  The Azor Ahai?  The Savior of All?  Will the show finally answer the question of that mystical entity’s identity: Jon, Dany, or the offspring of Ice and Fire, respectively?  How much ice and how much fire does one story possibly need?! (Okay, we agree…a lot, when it’s called A Song of Ice and Fire).

3) The panel universally predicts and agrees that there are two major battles left.  One: fighting to fend off Winter, i.e. the White Walkers.  Two: the fight for the Iron Throne.  Which will come first?  Will the White Walkers be beaten back?  Will the Iron Throne remain standing after all is said and done?

4) Will both Jon and Dany survive the series?  Panelist Rob predicts that Jon will nobly sacrifice himself for the good of all.  The rest of the panel, panelist Amanda most reluctantly, feels that Dany’s tragic death, after all of her struggle to be ruler of Westeros, is the more likely scenario.  We expect her to sacrifice herself for the good of all, including her dragons, her Jon, and her country.  Of course, everyone hopes everyone will survive, but the show already took out a dragon, and after seven seasons, we know that nothing is safe, even as Jon Snow knows nothing.  Still.

5) Will Tyrion survive?  What was with his suspicious look when he saw Jon and Dany enter a room together, making googly eyes at each other, about to do some unbeknownst-to-them incest??  Panelist Kylie predicts that Tyrion will survive and will be the character who provides the end commentary about the future fates of Westeros.

6) Will Sansa end up being Queen in the North?  Will Winterfell survive?  Or, will the Walkers lay waste to the north, resulting in the Starks abandoning their ancestral home, as panelist Jay predicts?  Will Sansa be around to help rebuild?  Or, will she fall in defense of the North that she loves?

7) Will Arya survive?  Will she do something awesome in battle, like take out some White Walkers?  Will she kill Jaime?  Will she kill Cersei?  If she does survive, what will be her life’s purpose, should her vendetta list no longer apply?  Will she at least get to see Jon before too long?  They’re each other’s favorite not-quite-sibling.  It would be nice.

8) Why should we bother or care about House Greyjoy at this point?  Seriously, though, show.  Several panelists, Amanda most of all, predict that Theon and Yara might have some redemption deed to do in one or both of the upcoming battles.  Most of us just find it hard to care more about them than other characters still in the game.

9) Will anyone save Viserion the Dragon?  Will the other dragons, Rhaegal and Drogon, survive?  WILL THERE BE A THREE-HEADED DRAGON RIDING SITUATION IN THE END?  PLEASE?

10) Are the Lannisters, any of them, secretly Targaryen offspring?  Kylie’s money is still on Tyrion, but how would we even know that now?  Would it matter, except for the purpose of fulfilling the Three-Headed Dragon theory, that may or may not come to pass, on account of zombified Viserion flying around the unfriendly skies?

11) Will Bran or Sam finally tell Jon who his real parents are?  And if either of them do, what difference will that information make, other than to prove that Jon has, currently, the most legitimate claim to the Iron Throne, given that Rhaegar, his biological father, legitimately but secretly married to Jon’s mother, Lyanna Stark, at the time of his death, was the true heir to the throne prior to Robert’s Rebellion?

12) What is Bran’s ultimate purpose as the Three-Eyed Raven?  Will he be the magic that keeps the White Walkers at bay in the end, as panelist Jay predicts? Will he warg into direwolves or zombie dragons to save the day, as panelist Chelsea predicts?  Where will Bran end up?  Of course, several panelists estimate that he’ll just live out his days creepily telling everyone that he is the Three-Eyed Raven, no matter what happens in this Game of Thrones.

13) Did Tormund Giantsbane, who was on the parapets of the Wall at the time that zombie Viserion blue-fired it into ash, survive this onslaught?  Many of the panel, with the somewhat strong exception of Jay, wish for Tormund and Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie) to have gigantic babies, which necessarily requires that he stay alive.

14) Or, is Brienne finally going to get requited admiration from Jaime, who decides to ride North, away from his selfish sister, when she refuses to form an alliance with Houses Stark and Targaryen to defeat the White Walkers?

15) What will Sam and Gilly do once – and if – they share the information they learned from Oldtown with Jon Snow?

PARTING SHOTS

Game of Thrones continues to be, and is still possibly more than ever, simply one of the most exciting programs on television right now, bolstered by the fact that, when in season, it is one of the primary water cooler shows on television today.  The fact that the show has caught up with and has now surpassed the timeline of the books is admirable in and of itself.  The pacing quickened this season, which left some of the CPU! panelists struggling to adjust to the new sense of time passing, as the story revved up toward its inevitable conclusion in this penultimate season without benefit of book-based foundation.  Yet, nearly all of the episodes remained fraught with tension and grand spectacle, with excellent visual effects, stellar writing, and some of the most superb acting currently on the small screen.  The panelists, again with mostly positive regard of Season Seven, remain generally quite obsessed with the show and its current trajectory and are quivering with anticipation as we await, anxiously and for an extra long time, the show’s final six extra long episodes, slated to premiere in 2019.  As always, the panelists discuss many theories and observations in this podcast episode, but all are unequivocally excited for the final eighth season and to watch the end of this epic tale unfold!

LOOKING AHEAD

Game of Thrones was renewed for an eighth and final season, which is not slated to premiere on HBO until 2019; a premiere date has not yet, in fact, been announced. The CPU! Game of Thrones podcast panel will next reconvene following the eighth season and overall series finale of GoT with a two-part goodbye series of podcast episodes. The first of these episodes will review the show’s final season; the second will look back at the show as a whole.  As always, even for the limited amount of time remaining, CPU! will keep you informed of news and additional Thrones coverage.  Until then, Game of Thrones fans, remember: you play, or you die.