PODCAST! – Around the Water Cooler: The CPU! Goodbye to “New Girl” – The Season 7 Recap and Review + Looking Back at Seasons 1-7 (MAJOR SPOILERS)

newgirltitless5

Moderated by Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

Who: “New Girl” aired on Fox for seven total seasons from 2011-2018 .

What: “New Girl,” a situation comedy about goofy but lovable teacher (some have described her as ‘adorkable’) Jessica Day (Zooey Deschanel), who, after finding out that her boyfriend cheated on her, answers a Craig’s List ad and ends up living in a loft with three others guys, including metrosexual, yuppie womanizer Schmidt (Max Greenfield); grumpy but down-to-earth bartender Nick (Jake Johnson); and eccentric but loyal radio producer Winston (Lamorne Morris).  Also interwoven into this mix is Jess’ childhood friend CeCe (Hannah Simone), a deadpan model who has more street smarts than Jess but tends to make poorer choices (for a more detailed Synopsis, read here: http://www.aceshowbiz.com/tv/new_girl/summary.html).

When: Season 7 aired from April 10, 2018, to May 15, 2018, on Fox.

Where: The show is set in Los Angeles, California.

Why: Chief CP Kylie found this show on Netflix, having had some interest in it when it was first advertised, because I love Zooey Deschanel, but for some reason, I wasn’t able to catch it when it was on, and I didn’t place priority on it because it seemed like an updated rehashing of Friends for the Millennial generation.  Yet, so many people, both trusted friends and critics alike, said it was funny; therefore, once it became available on Netflix, I binge watched the first two seasons before watching it in real – or almost real – time. For this latest CPU! podcast episode, our continued pair of fellow New Girl fans joined me around the water cooler to recap New Girl Season 7 and to Look Back at the whole series, which ended its run this year.

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

CPU! previously covered New Girl in both blog and podcast format.  To catch up on prior coverage, click some handy hyper or otherwise embedded links for your reading and listening pleasure, provided below:

Season 3: Read here

Seasons 4 & 5

Season 6

Our small but robust panel of returning True Americans, namely Kristen and Sarah, once again struggles through the latest season’s antics of Jess (Deschanel), Nick (Johnson), Schmidt (Greenfield), Winston (Morris), and CeCe (Simone).  We cover notable situations from Season 7 and the final eight episodes, as the show closes the book on the relationships, romantic and otherwise, between our five beloved if erstwhile loft-mates. We also spend some time briefly looking back at the show as a whole and comparing all of the seasons, including how they made us feel and react as ready and willing viewers, though it can be fairly said that our panel’s particular level of devotion to this quirky sitcom definitely ended on a low note, which we discuss at length in the embedded episode below.

This particular episode was recorded in November 2018, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as the panelists cover key plot points, comedic situations, jokes, and sight gags of both Season 7 and really all of New Girl. 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 Originals panel returns to the Water Cooler a final time themselves, and after nearly a year’s hiatus, to review and recap Season 5, the final season, of The Vampire Diaries spin-off and to Look Back at the entire series whilst saying goodbye to the handsome and charismatic family Mikaelson, at least as depicted on this particular series!  Stay tuned!

Old Questions

1) REPEAT QUESTION: If Jess and Nick get back together, can it be new and fresh?  The panel says: “will they or won’t they, and just move on!”

NEW ANSWER: If by new and fresh, we mean that they finally are committed to their commitment, then the answer is “they will.”  Jess and Nick are together at the start of Season 7 and seem to be fairly comfortable with the idea of it – so much so that Nick spends most of this brief final season planning how to propose to Jess, until he finally achieves his proposal in his consummately awkward, Nick-type way.

2) With an impending time jump, where will all of our characters be as the final eight episodes commence? Will Nick and Jess be together still?  Will Nick and Jess get married?  Will Winston and Aly still be together?  Will we see their wedding, or are we bypassing Winston’s inevitable nuptials?  What will CeCe and Schmidt’s adorable child be, look like, and be named?  Will they get pregnant again?

ANSWERS:

  • Nick and Jess are still together.  In fact, as Season 7 begins, they have toured the world for Nick’s massively popular young adult book series, “The Pepperwood Chronicles,” and have returned to LA, particularly as Nick’s publisher demands more from Nick.
  • Nick spends most of the season attempting to propose to Jess at just the right moment.  He never reaches the right moment, but he does eventually propose to her; she says “yes to the dress,” and they get married in the penultimate episode, auspiciously and awkwardly, as only they can.
  • Winston and Aly are not only still together; they’re married.  We do not get the benefit of seeing much of their wedding, except maybe via brief glimpse in a flashback, but Aly is pregnant at the beginning of Season 7.  They have a son by the end of the season, who Winston names, with conviction, Dan-Bill.
  • Schmidt and CeCe have a daughter, who they name Ruth and who favors CeCe in physical appearance, owing, no doubt, to a spot-on casting director.  Though they do not become pregnant again by series’ end, CeCe certainly wants to be.

3) Will Jess still be principal of the hippie new age school?

ANSWER: No.  Somehow, Jess chucks that job (or maybe she lost it at the end of Season 6) and decides to cavort around the world with Nick for awhile.

4) Will CeCe’s Boys be a successful modeling agency?  Will she take care of the children, or…?

ANSWER: The modeling agency is successful in a record three years, and CeCe is a high-powered corporate-type, meaning that Schmidt is needed to stay at home with Ruth.  Panelist Sarah struggles with this choice somewhat, as she feels that Schmidt being a house-husband and father is antithetical to the root of his character, but as we discuss in the podcast episode, characters evolve.  Schmidt is happy enough to stay home with Ruth; when he attempts to return to his old job during Season 7, he realizes that he is most content hanging out with his adorable daughter all day, and he ultimately resigns.  Schmidt, apparently, grows up a little.

4) …Will Schmidt quit his high-powered ad executive job and be a stay-at-home dad?

ANSWER: At the start of the season, he is technically on some type of sabbatical, but he is definitely playing stay-at-home dad.  He quits said job by the end of the season, though, and elects full time house-husbandry. 

5) Will Winston and Aly still be police officers?

ANSWER; Winston has achieved a desk job as a detective by the start of this final season.  Aly seems to on maternity leave when we first see her, and she is not so happy about it.

6) What will happen to the loft?

ANSWER: Nick and Jess are still living in the loft as Season 7 begins.  By the end of the season, and through what Winston deems to be the greatest prank of all time, they believe they are evicted from the loft.  Though the eviction is fake, Nick, Jess, and the rest of the gang simply resign themselves to climbing into the moving van and heading to the Millers’ new house.

7) Will Ferguson still be kickin’ it, for feline realz, y’all?

ANSWER: Apparently, one year before we reunite with our loft-mates, we learn that Ferguson kicked nothing but a bucket, owing to a kitty heart attack – though Jess believes she is responsible for his death for a long time, until Winston sets her straight at Ferguson’s funeral.

8) Will Coach return for any part of this next season?

ANSWER: Speaking of Coach, and Ferguson’s funeral, Coach returns for one episode, depicting Ferguson’s protracted funeral at what used to be Nick’s bar, but he and Nick are salty because, as it turns out, Nick loaned Coach a lot of money to start a business, but the business failed, and Coach has not been able to face Nick since.  Not only are things frosty between them, but the funeral, unsurprisingly, also gets weird.

9) Will we see any old and/or beloved recurring characters?

ANSWER: Rob Reiner and Jamie Lee Curtis return as Jess’ parents; Dermot Mulroney returns as Jess’ former fancy boyfriend turned boss; Nelson Franklin returns as Jess’ former boyfriend, current cousin, Robby; David Walton returns as Jess’ former boyfriend, Dr. Sam; Curtis Armstrong briefly cameos as former Principal Foster; and Steve Agee appears as Outside Dave.

10) How will the series end?

ANSWER: Nick and Jess get married; CeCe and Schmidt try to get pregnant; Schmidt decides to remain a stay-at-home parent; Winston and Aly have Dan-Bill and find a new cat named NAFTA; Jess attempts to encourage her loft-mates to say goodbye with many acknowledgements of feelings to the loft during Winston’s elaborate eviction prank, but the night of sentiment evolves into a final roaring game of occasional packing and “True American,” which then morphs into a flash-forward of a gathering of each of the couples and their burgeoning families, playing a PG version of the game.  Finally, Winston reveals his “ultimate prank,” complete with his photo plastered on the back of the moving van, but Nick and Jess decide that they’re moving anyway, and everyone goes along for the ride, presumably to live happily, if awkwardly and adorkably, ever after.

PARTING SHOTS

For this panel of New Girl fans, the “adorkable” Jess and her lofty pals still brought some laughs, but the panel universally agrees that the series lasted longer than it should have; in fact, the panelists, your Chief CP included, think the show’s first four seasons are its strongest, followed by a steady and marked decline beginning with the appearance of Megan Fox as a substitute for Zooey Deschanel while she was on maternity leave.  Even though this show started as a contemporary and relevant situation comedy that mixed a few atypical character archetypes into a wildly flavorful (and crunchy) salad of laughs, the lettuce got soggy, what with all the dressing in the form of “will they/won’t they” romantic antics between Nick and Jess.  Plus, the network and the producers left the salad out of the fridge for too long and continued the show far past its expiration date.  The final panel consensus is that the writers failed their presumed mission of providing this talented cast of performers and the characters they portray something more intelligent to do in the final season.  Though the season ended on a quaint if predictable note, and though the characters made our panelists smile at least once per episode, the CPU! panel sees New Girl as a milquetoast knockoff of Friends, as well as a series that could only be recommended to those with similar senses of humor that might, at some point, express interest in it.

THE FUTURE OF THE SHOW

Ended!  New Girl ended in 2018, by mutual agreement of Fox and the show’s producers, after seven seasons.  The first six seasons are available to stream on Netflix; the seventh is on Hulu and the FoxNow app, though the whole series can be purchased via the usual outlets of Amazon, YouTube, and so on.  The panel does not universally recommend New Girl now that the series has ended: panelist Kristen would recommend it only to individuals with similar senses of humor who are not put off by the less-than-subtle similarities to Friends; panelist Sarah would not recommend the show to others, as she feels that there are better shows in similar genres with similar oeuvres; and Chief CP and Moderator Kylie would encourage a watch of anyone who asked me if it was worth watching, but I would not go out of my way to recommend it, given the abject similarities to other sitcoms, such as Friends.  All in all, these responses left the panel with some anticlimactic feelings, as this comedy, which once felt new, fresh, and utterly “adorkable,” seemed to devolve into some level of mediocrity, with pleasantly awkward if empirically beautiful characters occupying a Los Angeles loft that most of them would not otherwise be able to afford in real life.  The panelists might miss the show, in the end, and we all love Zooey, Jake, Max, Lamorne, and Hannah (and some of us really like Damon Wayans, Jr.), but we would not rush to re-watch it (or to watch a reboot) anytime soon.  Take that, gentle viewer and listener, for what it’s worth. 

An image from the series finale of “New Girl” – Jess encourages the gang to properly grieve the loss of the loft in Winston’s self-proclaimed, greatest all-time mess-around.

(left to right) Max Greenfield as Schmidt, Jake Johnson as Nick, Zooey Deschanel as Jess, Lamorne Morris as Winston, Hannah Simone as Cece.
Panelists Sarah and Kristen give “True American” the old college try.
Our Not-So-New Girls, Kristen and Sarah: our “New Girl” panel.
Advertisements

PODCAST! – Around the Water Cooler: “Schitt’s (Schitt$) Creek” – Recapping Seasons 3 and 4; Part Two of CPU!’s “Catching Up on Schitt’s (Schitt$) Creek” Miniseries (MAJOR SPOILERS)

Image result for schitt's creek title

Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

Who: “Schitt’s (Schitt$) Creek” is a Canadian sitcom, which airs on cable network Pop in the United States, though it is currently on hiatus.

What:  “Schitt’s Creek,” created by Eugene Levy and Dan Levy, is based on a series of situations contrasting a once-rich family and their worldly big-city attitudes with sudden small-town living and the honest, down-to-earth, hard-working residents of fictional town Schitt’s Creek.

SYNOPSIS

The series stars Eugene Levy as Johnny Rose, a wealthy video store magnate, and Catherine O’Hara as his wife Moira, a formerly successful soap star. The family loses their fortune when their business manager fails to pay their taxes. They are forced to rebuild their lives with their sole remaining asset: a small town named Schitt’s Creek, which they had bought their son as a joke birthday gift years before. The story revolves around the family’s life living in two adjacent rooms of a rundown motel with their pampered twenty-something adult children, David and Alexis, played by Dan Levy and Annie Murphy, respectively.  The cast also features Chris Elliott, Jennifer Robertson, and Emily Hampshire as series regulars.

When: The third season aired from January 10, 2017, to April 4, 2017, and the fourth season aired from January 9, 2018, to April 10, 2018, on cable network Pop in the United States (after first airing on the CBC in Canada).  Season 3 contains 13 episodes; Season 4 is comprised of 12 episodes currently, though an upcoming holiday special for the show will be counted as the thirteenth of the fourth season.

Where: The action is set primarily in the fictional town of Schitt’s Creek, which we can only guess is somewhere in Ontario, Canada, since that is where the show is filmed.

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? – THOUGHTS

This is Part Two of our “Catching Up on Schitt$ Creek” miniseries.  You can listen to Part One here and at our audio feeds (iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play):

Schitt$ Creek, Seasons 1-2

As you might recall, by popular request, though notably by established CPU! panelists and viewers, Schitt$ Creek became a new show panel at the CPU! Water Cooler! as of this past summer. Our Schitt$ Creek resident townies – Nick, Sarah, Andrew, and Amy – as well as your Chief CP reconvened “Around the Water Cooler” to talk about the remaining available seasons of this quirky comedy, including the ongoing Rose family dynamics and contributing personalities, the folks the Roses have met and befriended in the town, and the all around fun of this show. The panel continues to regard the series as both smart and subtly funny and unlike anything on typical American TV nowadays, despite the show’s clear influences (as the panel sees it) of Arrested Development, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, The Riches, and Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara’s prior projects, with a particular flavor of Waiting for Guffman contributing to the proceedings. Of course, in Schitt$ Creek, these influences mix together to form a special sauce – or, perhaps, freshly baked cinnamon buns (or questionable mozzarella sticks) – entirely of the show’s, and its creators’, own making.

Tonight’s episode is the second part of a two-part miniseries in which CPU! gets caught up on this show, which premiered on United States cable network Pop in 2015.  In this episode, our panel reflects on and recaps the third and fourth seasons of Schitt$ Creek, reacting to the various quirky characters and notably hilarious situations in which they find themselves.

This episode was recorded in November 2018, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as the panelists cover key plot points of Seasons 3 and 4. 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 Orange is the New Black panel returns to the Water Cooler after nearly a year’s hiatus to react to Season 6 of the long-running Netflix drama-comedy.  Stay tuned!

Questions, Impressions, and Future Considerations

1) How will the town of Schitt’s Creek celebrate the holidays?

2) Will Alexis and Ted get reengaged?

3) What does the future hold for David and Patrick?

4) Will Stevie stay with Jake?

5) Will Johnny and Moira’s parental pride in their children carry forward momentum?

6) Will Mutt stay in town?

7) Will Twyla find a nice guy, who is maybe at least a bit less scary than Ivan?

PARTING SHOTS

Schitt$ Creek remains universally recommended by our CPU! panel to fans of the actors in the cast, particularly of Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara, and to fans of comparable and/or influential fare like Arrested Development, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, The Riches, and director/actor Christopher Guest’s feature films, in which Levy and O’Hara made many joint appearances.  The panelists agree that anyone who watches this comedy “can get something out of it,” particularly whatever the viewer wants to get out of it, because the show is an easy, low-risk binge and, therefore, low commitment overall.  The humor is distinctly the show’s own and may not appeal to everyone; however, it is subtle and satirical all at the same time.  The characters have some caricature-like qualities but embody those qualities so completely, they become fully fleshed out personae for the viewer and accessible to anyone, regardless of background.  Additionally, the panel praises the comedic performances of the four main actors and the writing and generally characterizes the show as “better and better” the more one watches.   In any event, the panelists find the show “fun” and believe those who connect to it will have as much fun as we have had watching and discussing it so far!

LOOKING AHEAD

The CBC and, therefore, Pop renewed Schitt$ Creek for a fifth season, which is expected to premiere on January 16, 2019, on Pop. In addition, the aforementioned holiday special will air on Pop on December 19, 2018! CPU! hopes to have a watch party for that special (except all of the panelists are cord cutters…so these hopes are tentative at best), but our panel will, in any event, reconvene following the finale of Season 5.  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 Schitt$ Creek 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 & Looking Back at “Sense8” (MAJOR SPOILERS)

Related image

Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

Who:  “Sense8,” is a Netflix original series, always available on Netflix. The series is comprised of two total seasons released sporadically on the streaming service from 2015-2018.

What:  “Sense8,” a science fiction drama created by the Wachowskis (The Matrix, V for Vendetta, Cloud Atlas) and J. Michael Straczynski (Babylon 5). The plot revolves around eight strangers from different parts of the world, who suddenly and inexplicably become mentally and emotionally linked, and explores themes of religion, politics, identity, gender, and sexuality.

When: The final episode of the series, a wrap-up finale film, was released on June 8, 2018.

Where: The action is set, quite literally, all over the world.

Why: Listen to the podcast episode (embedded link below) for the panelists’ individual stories on how they found Sense8.

The first season was originally reviewed by CPU! Podcast Panelist Eddie in 2015.  You can read that review here.

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.

Sense8 = 4.9, by average of the podcast panel.

SYNOPSIS

Sense8 tells the story of eight strangers: Will (Brian J. Smith), Riley (Tuppence Middleton), Capheus (Aml Ameen/Toby Onwumere), Sun (Doona Bae), Lito (Miguel Angel Silvestre), Kala (Tina Desai), Wolfgang (Max Riemelt), and Nomi (Jamie Clayton), each from a different culture and part of the world. While living their everyday lives, they suddenly have a vision of the violent death of a woman called Angelica (Darryl Hannah) and discover that they are ‘sensates:’ otherwise normal humans who are mentally and emotionally connected and who are able to communicate, sense, and use each other’s knowledge, language, and skills. While trying to live their lives and figure out how and why this connection has happened and what it means, they are aided by another sensate, Jonas (Naveen Andrews), who is trying to protect them from “Whispers” (Terrence Mann), another sensate, who is similarly empowered and who is hunting them down by tapping into their psychic link.

THOUGHTS

Sense8 came to the Chief CP’s attention by way of CPU! panelist Eddie, who submitted a glowing written review of the first season, linked above and published in 2015.  He was so passionate about the show, I decided to check out the show for myself, particularly given the presence of the erstwhile Sayid from Lost, Naveen Andrews, as well as Daryl Hannah, of all former mermaids, who figured relatively prominently in the story, according to the review.  As I began to watch and to discuss the series offline, other CPU! panelists also periodically expressed interest in talking about what was becoming decidedly a cult favorite, and so a CPU! panel was “birthed” from this expanding cluster.

Unfortunately, our Sense8 panel has had about as much luck getting the conversation to the listening public as the show has had remaining a viable, produced series by Netflix, as, much to the controversy and shock of its fan base, Sense8 was canceled by the streaming giant in 2017.  Panelists came and went with the show’s uncertain future becoming more certain.  In addition, and sadly, we had some meaty Sense8 recordings in the can as of summer 2017, but they became victim to the cataclysmic CPU! equipment failure of winter 2018 and were lost.  Fortunately, frequent CPU! panelists Kelsey and Selene along with newer (but not brand new) panelist Chad found it in their hearts to gather Around the Water Cooler once more to Look Back – while taking their second First Look – at a show for which these panelists repeatedly express effusive passion as well as regret regarding its seemingly sacrificial cancellation by Netflix.  Though this series ended its critically acclaimed (if allegedly expensive) run early, it clearly made an impression on our panelists, which they wistfully dissect in the episode below.

This podcast was (re)recorded in October 2018, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as we cover major plot points in Sense8. 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!  This Saturday, at 7:00 PM, CPU! is going live again!  There (hopefully) should be an in-person audience, and we will (hopefully) endeavor to live-stream the whole shindig once more to our Facebook page.  We’ll be back at Grand Rapids Comic Con at DeVos Place in Grand Rapids, Michigan, with our spicy debate feature entitled “Vs,” when we go TREKKING THROUGH THE FINAL FRONTIER: THE CPU! VOYAGE INTO THE NEUTRAL ZONE!!! There, our 6 Trekkiest panelists will engage! in a multifaceted, multi-generational debate tackling the many entries in the universe of Star Trek. We will then publish an audio-only version next Wednesday, in our best rerun fashion. You won’t want to miss it! Here’s the link to the Facebook Event – plus, this panel will also seed a new ongoing Star Trek series panel for the podcast!  Like our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter and Instagram to keep abreast of all the details, but here’s the art for it for now!  Stay tuned!

Image may contain: night and text

RECOMMENDATION
The panel enthusiastically, with all digits and vocal chords and shared senses, recommends Sense8, particularly to fans of the Wachowskis and their special oeuvre of high-concept storytelling; to fans of science fiction; to fans of inclusive TV; and to fans who will not be offended by sexual themes, violence, and/or coarse language.  The panel unanimously praised the performances, writing, direction, and overall production values of this show.  The panelists further believe that Sense8 is both exceptional and noteworthy for its originality, attention to detail, and focused (and achieved) goal of being an inclusive, all-encompassing tale that effectively, successfully, and without offense crosses racial, gender-based, sexual, religious, and other cultural lines/spectra.  In fact, they are simultaneously impressed with the breadth and scope of employed settings and locales; the carefully chosen, symbolic use of music (both source and thematic); and the unmitigated courage of telling a tale that delves deeply into philosophical, spiritual, cultural, and other realms, all of which may, unfortunately, have doomed the show to permanent cult status as well as indirectly induced its untimely demise.  All of the panelists also see this program as easily reviewed and watched again, despite some lingering questions and thirst for more story produced by the engaging overarching series framework, including the satisfying, if rushed, ending.  In any event, the show’s aesthetic imbues it with a potentially timeless charm, and the panel cannot recommend this unique series more highly, though the panelists also caution that a potential viewer’s heart might break, simply because the journey is so criminally short.
THE FUTURE OF THE SHOW
Canceled!  Sense8 was canceled in 2017 by Netflix after two seasons, which are still both available to stream on the service.  Fortunately, due to fan outcry, after the second season proper ended on a whopper of a cliffhanger, the streaming giant commissioned a two-and-a-half hour wrap-up film, which was released on June 8, 2018, and which provided an ending that (mostly) satisfies, at least for our four devoted panelists, the Chief CP included.  Thus, as above, the panelists cannot help but glowingly recommend this series, given its complete beginning, middle, and end, even though some lingering questions and mysteries remain.  Of course, if Netflix goes the unlikely route of jumping on the revival/reboot train and decides to be charitable to this high-concept science fiction show that it previously canceled, CPU! will readily reconvene its resident cluster and resume coverage of the original and intelligent Sense8 anew.

PODCAST! – Around the Water Cooler: “Gotham,” the Season 4 End of Season Recap and Review (MAJOR SPOILERS)

Image result for gotham season 3 title

Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

Who:  “Gotham” is a crime drama centered on events and characters inspired by the Batman franchise/DC Comic Universe, which airs on Fox, though it is currently on hiatus.

What: “Gotham,” a crime series developed by Bruno Heller and primarily based upon the characters of to-be Gotham City Police Commissioner James Gordon (Ben McKenzie) and Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz), the real life identity of Batman. As originally conceived, the series would have served as a straightforward story of Gordon’s early days in the Gotham City Police Department. The idea evolved not only to include the Wayne character but also to tell the origin stories of several Batman villains, including the Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor), the Riddler (Cory Michael Smith), Catwoman (Camren Bicondova), Poison Ivy, Two-Face, the Scarecrow, Mr. Freeze, Hugo Strange, and the Joker.

SYNOPSIS

A new recruit in the Gotham City Police Department named James Gordon (McKenzie) is paired with veteran detective Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue) to solve one of Gotham City’s highest-profile cases: the murders of Thomas and Martha Wayne. During his investigation, Gordon meets the Waynes’ son Bruce (Mazouz), who is now in the care of his butler, Alfred Pennyworth (Sean Pertwee). Eventually, Gordon is forced to form an unlikely friendship with Bruce, one that will help shape the boy’s future in becoming Batman.

When: The Season 4 finale aired on Thursday, May 17, 2018, at 8:00 PM.

Where: The action is set in the fictional metropolis of Gotham City, the primary setting of the Batman franchise.

Why: To find out why individual podcast panelists started watching this show, listen to the podcast episodes embedded below!

As for CPU! Chief Couch Potato Kylie, I picked up this show when shopping for pilots during the 2014-2015 TV season (a yearly ritual for this viewer and this blog, no matter how far behind I am).  I said:

“This is one of the most anticipated pilots of the new season, by critics, fans, and this blogger.  First, as a DC girl, Batman is my second favorite of their properties, after Superman, of course. Second, picking up the story from this prequel point is potentially brilliant; this could be must-see TV for a long time to come, folding in a Smallville like examination of the rise of Batman and the foes he fights, all from the perception of to-be Commissioner Gordon.  I’m super excited for this one and can’t wait to see a full episode.

I asked some fellow panelists to join me in evaluating how effective Gotham is in its storytelling muster and how successful it has been serving as the “prequel” it has become. Scroll down, and take a listen!

How – as in How Was It? – THOUGHTS

If you haven’t caught up on CPU!’s Gotham coverage, which we’ve been covering (more or less) since its auspicious beginnings, listen via the embedded links below:

Seasons 1-2A

Season 2B, The Wrath of the Villains

Season 3A, Mad City

Season 3B, Mad City/Heroes Rise

Season 4A, A Dark Knight, Part 1

Earlier this year, our Gotham panel, consisting of Hilary, Kyle, Spencer, and Nick, compared notes on the first half of the fourth season, encompassing the first half of the arc entitled “A Dark Knight.” The season’s first half introduces Sofia Falcone (Crystal Reed), daughter of Carmine Falcone, as a new player vying for control of Gotham City’s criminal underworld; Penguin’s “Pax Penguina;” the Riddler’s perceived loss of his intellectual sharpness after being melted from the ice in Penguin’s Iceberg Lounge; Bruce Wayne’s dabbling in vigilantism and subsequent spiral into darkness, despite Alfred’s struggle to prevent otherwise; the plots of Ra’s al Ghul (Alexander Siddig), presumably preparing Bruce to be his successor; the new criminal alliance between Selina Kyle, Tabitha Galavan (Jessica Lucas), and Barbara Kean (Erin Richards); Harvey Bullock’s (Donal Logue) fall from grace and Jim Gordon’s ascension to captain of the central office of the GCPD; Lee Thompkins’ (Morena Baccarin) new role as gang boss who also happens to treat her charges medically; the introduction of Solomon Grundy, formerly Butch Gilzean (Drew Powell); and the appearance of new criminal sociopath Professor Pyg.  The second half of this season continues the “Dark Knight” arc by exploring Bruce’s redemption with Alfred and his rekindled friendship with Selina; Jim’s struggle to maintain order in the GCPD; Barbara’s hold over “The Demon’s Head” power; the reemergence of Butch’s consciousness from the Grundy shell; Edward Nygma’s ongoing struggle to master his “Riddler” half while pining for Lee Thompkins; and Jerome Valeska’s break from Arkham, with Penguin, Mad Hatter, and Scarecrow in tow, ready to cause Joker-Not-Joker chaos all over the streets of Gotham City. How did the panel regard the second half of the fourth season, given Gotham’s track record for lack of continuity and highly uneven storytelling?  Listen to the embedded link below to find out.

This podcast was recorded in October 2018, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as the panelists cover key plot points of the first half of the fourth season and all episodes that have aired to date. 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 finally launch a new panel – one which we’ve been advertising for over a year, though the panel’s recording luck has been about as robust as the luck of the show we’ll be discussing – when we Look Back at high-concept Netflix science fiction vehicle Sense8. Stay tuned!

Questions, Impressions, and Future Considerations

Old Questions/Predictions

1) REPEAT QUESTION: Will Penguin and Riddler have a falling out, which motivates them toward their most sociopathically driven selves?

ANSWER AS OF THE END OF SEASON 2: Surprisingly, Penguin and Riddler stayed friends, supporting each other on occasion in this half of the season.  Penguin ended up in Arkham after confessing to the murder of Galavan to cover for Jim. Strange brainwashed him (if you want to call it that) into submission; Penguin ended up finding his real dad (played by Paul Reubens), who had fallen victim to a gold-digging former waitress and her sociopathic children. When the presence of a biological son emerged, the new wife poisoned Penguin’s father, who seemed to understand Penguin as no other could.  This murder, once discovered by Oswald, brought out the old Penguin, rather suddenly and menacingly. In the meantime, when Lee began to ask questions about the deceased Miss Kringle not picking up her paychecks, making Jim aware that there was a possible crime to solve, Nygma embraced his most Riddler-esque tendencies and staged riddle-filled capers and committed more murders before Jim finally caught him, clearing Jim’s name and landing Nygma in Arkham.  The moral is: Penguin and Riddler found their psychoses independently of one another, which is a shame because they are infinitely watchable together.

NOT SO FAST! ANSWER AS OF MID-SEASON 3: Well…it seems their mutual affection and cordial friendship have taken a controversial turn.  Penguin, as it turns out, develops a romantic devotion to Edward after Ed offers Penguin some admiration and validation for achieving victory in running for mayor despite being a well-known criminal mastermind, enthralled as Ed is by Penguin’s ability to manipulate the people of Gotham.  In the meantime, Ed only has eyes for women, specifically any and all women who bear more than a passing resemblance to Miss Kringle, the GCPD employee with an affinity for poodle skirts that he strangled in season 2. When Barbara Kean informs Ed of Penguin’s misplaced devotion in an effort to start trouble, a devotion which causes Penguin to order a hit on the Kringle doppelganger Isabella, who could very well have been Ed’s sociopath soulmate, Edward vows to destroy good old Oswald in revenge.  I imagine Ed’s penchant for riddles and a war with Penguin are going to get him where he needs to go to be the fully realized Riddler, while Penguin is pretty much Penguin, angling for power and acceptance but struggling to attain and keep it, the thematic undercurrent of this particular antagonist. The panel hopes that a war between these future arch-villains would be great, but we’re more than a little worried about the ability of this show’s writers to capitalize upon their own potential.

ANSWER AS OF END OF SEASON 3: Ed’s gone full-on Riddler, and the two arch-villains’ enmity has peaked.  The show allowed the war: Ed works with Barbara, Tabitha Galavan, and Butch Gilzean to try to take down Penguin. Ed eventually gives up on those yokels and shoots Penguin, leaving him for dead, which gives him enough guilt, reluctant confidence, and logic loops to ascend? descend? toward adopting the official moniker of “The Riddler.”  Penguin, nursed back to health and the world of the living by a surprisingly botanical Ivy, declares his revenge, complicated by his love and devotion for Ed. Penguin manipulates Ed’s slavish devotion to completeness and detail – and his ego – such that Penguin freezes Ed, with the help of Mr. Freeze, noting that the chunk of ice known as “The Riddler” would feature prominently as a centerpiece in his to-be-opened Iceberg Lounge.  The podcast panel generally approves of most of this story-line and can’t wait to see “The Riddler” get out of the ice and cause his puzzling and enigmatic mayhem, with Penguin, Gotham City, and everyone.

ANSWER AS OF MID-SEASON 4: Ed’s number one fan, Myrtle, manages to unfreeze him from the titular iceberg in the Iceberg Lounge, but the effect of being flash frozen leaves Ed somewhat brain-addled himself.  He loses his sharpness of wit and intellect, at least temporarily, and cannot seem to evoke muscle memory related to the formulation, remembering, and/or deduction of the answers to the most basic, child-inspired riddles.  While Myrtle patiently nurses Ed back to some semblance of health (and pays for her devotion at the end of the barrel of one of Victor Zsasz’s well-aimed guns), Penguin, who reunites with a vengeful Ed fleetingly, decides not to kill him, figuring Ed’s apparent lack of smarts and presumed ensuing suffering, as he grapples with losing what made him arguably exceptional, to be the greater revenge than Ed’s out and out murder.  So, I guess that’s something.  Also, I think Penguin and Riddler are now, finally and officially, enemies or, at least, competitors… Thus, it may be time to abandon this question.

NOT SO FAST! ANSWER AS OF THE END OF SEASON 4:  Though Ed visits Penguin in Arkham, primarily to gloat about the fact that Ed successfully (in his mind) sublimated his Riddler side after falling in love with Lee, while Penguin remains incarcerated and tortured, somewhat, by his Arkham cell neighbor Jerome, Penguin sees signs of the more ruthless and calculating Riddler during this brief visit.  As a result, he sends Ed a note with an embedded riddle, which helps to evoke both the Riddler persona, back-seating the more benign Edward, but also Riddler’s loyalty to Penguin, such as it is.  Riddler, thus, breaks Penguin out of Arkham, and they seem to be friendly again – at least, until Penguin tries to manipulate Ed into double-crossing Lee; however, Ed/Riddler, two personalities in love with one woman, leaves Penguin vulnerable to arrest while robbing a bank originally targeted by new crime boss Lee, who is acting like a sort of Robin Hood by committing burglary to distribute wealth to the poorer residents of the Narrows in Gotham.  Where does this friendship land by the end of the season?  That answer is unknown, since Riddler finds himself highly obsessed with Lee, and Penguin’s fate intertwines with the chaotic and maniacal Jerome.  Listen to the podcast episode for details.

2) REPEAT QUESTION: Will Riddler’s riddles get more complex and mind-twisting?

ANSWER AS OF THE END OF SEASON 2: Riddler’s caper riddles, as he began to frame Jim for the murder of a police officer, were potentially more complex.  Mind-twisting? Eh.  Marginally more mind-twisting, perhaps.

NOT SO FAST! ANSWER AS OF MID-SEASON 3: Though Ed told fewer riddles in this half season, his ire has been irked (see above).  We can only imagine what a provoked and forlorn Ed might riddle when the riddles finally and continuously come.

ANSWER AS OF END OF SEASON 3: He got there!  He just needed a worthy adversary…which he finds in “Foxy” Lucius Fox (Chris Chalk) and secondarily in Penguin.  Now, if only Batman was around…

NOT SO FAST!  ANSWER AS OF MID-SEASON 4: As stated above, Ed suffers a minor cognitive setback as a result of being frozen by Mr. Freeze’s icy weaponry.  Lee informs Edward, however, that there is nothing physically wrong with his brain, and that his condition is presumably psychological, a fact made evident by the reemergence of Edward’s schizophrenic struggle with his Riddler identity, who returns to talk to him from the other side of the mirror again.  The panel expects a full return of the Riddler any day now, as long as he is able to sort out his feelings for Lee, even if she sorts them out for him.

ANSWER AS OF THE END OF SEASON 4: Once Riddler sublimates Edward Nygma, allowing his sociopath half free reign, he tells better riddles than the recently-frozen-now-thawed version of Ed, whose brain was affected by the flash-freezing process of Mr. Freeze’s freeze gun.  The panelists, however, still find Riddler’s riddles quite lackluster compared to riddles voiced by other versions of the Riddler that we have watched in the past.

3) REPEAT QUESTION: Are the writers going to treat the nascent Ivy character (who the podcast panel presumes will be Poison Ivy) better?

ANSWER AS OF THE END OF SEASON 2: Well…this answer is in the eye of the beholder.  Ivy was starting to grow plants in this half of the season and helped Selina and Bruce in some of their escapades, but the pundits have announced that the show is recasting the part. Ivy will apparently be older and sexier, like the Poison Ivy most people know.  The panel is at a loss as to how this could be rendered believable in the story, especially as the writers are not batting at any kind of decent percentage right now in terms of consistency with the source material or, even, with following any of the rules they set up for themselves in this version of the Batman mythology.

NOT SO FAST! ANSWER AS OF MID-SEASON 3: Is making her randomly grow into an awkward, teenage sexpot via the touch of an Indian Hill escapee with the power to make things rapidly age and to drain life constitute treating her better?  Listen to the podcast episode for our panel’s verdict.

ANSWER AS OF END OF SEASON 3: Ivy’s on the struggle bus; she’s strange, awkward, and not especially better as a teenage sexpot.  The panel struggles still…

NOT SO FAST!  ANSWER AS OF MID-SEASON 4: Ivy tries to help Penguin in the face of competitors who challenge his position, as the one and only crime boss in Gotham City, and of wavering police involvement, but he mistreats her, owing to the fact that she is kind of needy and not that bright.  As a result, Ivy decides to ally with a gang who tries to take down Penguin’s “Pax Penguina” license scheme by taking Penguin down himself and robs some sort of potion store or apothecary, in which the audience sees her drinking some of the inventory.  Plus, the producers have announced, through the typical TV pundits, that the part of Ivy is again being recast and will soon be played by Peyton List (Frequency, The Tomorrow People), a dire prospect for this Chief CP.  Moreover, panelist Spencer believes that the first episode returning from the mid-season hiatus will address Ivy’s newest transformation.  What the hell is going on with this character, you ask?  We ask the same question, repeatedly apparently.  Sadly, we also currently have no answer, so this particularly robust question and answer section grows and grows – in confusion and in length – and presumably like Ivy’s plants, if she ever gets that botanically savvy in the end.

ANSWER AS OF THE END OF SEASON 4: Peyton List plays a more adult, more “developed” version of Ivy, who, after ingesting all of the apothecary’s chemicals at mid-season, permanently alters her body chemistry, such that her kiss – and even the scent of her pheromones – are literal poison to anyone to whom she offers a smooch or a whiff of her natural scent.  Plus, Ivy, on a vendetta to avenge every put-upon plant in the concrete jungle that is Gotham City, grabs hold of a sample of Lazarus Pit water on hold and under experiment at Wayne Enterprises and uses it to create a lethal plant that she unleashes on a benefit dinner hosted by the Wayne Foundation.  Unfortunately, though her antics draw the focus of the GCPD and of a Bruce Wayne still contemplating life as a vigilante, the show does not make clear what happens to her after this ploy to let loose killer plants among Gotham’s elite.  The panel assumes she has been arrested and is probably subsequently thrown into Arkham, but this is not confirmed, and, frankly, the bigger infraction is the show’s continued interpretation of this character as some sort of plant-obsessed mutant with questionable sex appeal and very little brain.  Listen to the podcast episode for additional ranting.

5) REPEAT QUESTION: When will Bruce have his inspiration to be Batman?  And how will that happen if he didn’t see bats when he fell into the cave?

ANSWER: Still waiting… And it’s concerning.  Bruce, after his trials with the Shaman and Ra’s (and his League of Shadows) in Season 3, starts Season 4 by dipping his baby toes into vigilante crime fighting – with billowing black trench coat, balaclava, and the ability to quickly climb sides of buildings to boot – and, with a little help from Lucius Fox, who creates some conveniently fashioned bulletproof armor to protect Bruce’s adolescent bod.  Unfortunately, however, Ra’s distracts Bruce via his own side plot to ensure that Bruce will inherit the embalming knife of Demon’s Head status, thereby rendering Bruce Ra’s’ successor.  Thus, via manipulation and threat against another adolescent only trying to help and, in so doing, to befriend Bruce, Bruce ends up stabbing Ra’s with the knife, and it seems the seemingly immortal character of Ra’s wastes away into dust and ash as a result of the knife piercing his flesh.  Bruce takes his decision to murder Ra’s, even in an attempt to protect his friend (who Ra’s kills anyway), hard and descends into a dark void of guilt, self-pity, and belated grief for his dead parents, replete with hard partying and spoiled billionaire brat behavior. All the while, the young Mr. Wayne turns his back on his initial attempts at vigilantism and all while still seeing no bats, much to the chagrin of the podcast panel (listen to the episode for details…and rants).

NOT SO FAST! ANSWER AS OF THE END OF SEASON 4: Though Bruce’s vision does not seem to clearly indicate that he should later assume the persona of a crime-fighting man dressed as a bat, Bruce finally – FINALLY – sees bats this half season.  This alleged epiphany occurs after Bruce’s exposure to a duplicitous Ivy and her chemically altered physique, who visits Bruce (and Selina) at Wayne Manor for the purpose of obtaining access to Wayne Enterprises and to the aforementioned Lazarus water or, more accurately, to the division housing the project that just happens to be working with that water sample.  Bruce does not, however, seem to immediately process this vision of a swarm of bats and a hooded, dark figure, blurred by the effects of Ivy’s poison, beyond believing that he sees a shadowy, seemingly unaffected glimpse of his future.  Thus, it is quite unclear as to whether Bruce has connected the dots, especially since our panelists and discerning viewers are not clear that the dots have been connected for the audience.  Listen to the podcast episode for details.

6) REPEAT QUESTION: When will Selina have her inspiration to be Catwoman?  She can wait awhile, but since everyone is finding themselves much sooner than they should be, the writers might as well give Selina the idea to be a cat. Maybe she’ll take whatever drug Ivy’s got going on and get all sexy feline on us.

REPEAT ANSWER: Still waiting… but she continues to learn whipping skills from Tabitha and is quite the prodigy with this unusual weapon.  Also, she displays cat-like reflexes while walking the edges of rooftops and seems to be significantly smarter than gal pals and partners in crime, Tabitha and Barbara.  Yet, inspiration is fleeting for all of our junior Gotham characters so far, and this fleetingness disturbs the CPU! Gotham panel greatly.

7) Is Joker-Not-Joker Jerome really Proto-Joker, and will we see him again in Season 4?

ANSWER: This question forms the subject of some significant debate in this podcast episode.  Panelists Kyle and Spencer wholeheartedly believe that the producers, as well as Cameron Monaghan, the portraying actor behind Jerome Valeska, have gone on record to say that Jerome is not the actual Joker, and that the audience is slated to see the character and individual who would become the Joker in the coming half season.  Panelist Hilary, with some hesitant agreement by Nick and Kylie, feels that the rumored protesting of Jerome-as-Joker is a red herring or deflection from the fact that he really is the Joker or some early version of him, given the fact that Mr. Monaghan is really one of the best almost-Jokers (and real Jokers) our panel of Batman fans has ever watched.  In short, this is still a question, but we will see Jerome in Season 4B because we saw him in Season 4A talking to Penguin through the wall joining their adjacent cells in Arkham.

NOT SO FAST! ANSWER AS OF THE END OF SEASON 4: Jerome Valeska, after escaping from Arkham Asylum, initiates a grand-scale caper, fueled by a sense of anarchy and a tinge of revenge, with the intention of harming Bruce Wayne and his (SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER) surprisingly sane-seeming secret twin brother, Jeremiah Valeska (also played by Monaghan).  Jerome even goes to the effort of kidnapping city officials and wiring them with bombs, which, when triggered, explodes only their skulls.  He then places these hostages on display on the stage of a well-attended music festival in Gotham City, while demanding from Jim Gordon that he produce Bruce and Jeremiah.  Jim and officers of the GCPD pursue Jerome, however, and Jerome flees.  Jim chases him to a rooftop’s edge; Jerome topples over the edge and, before plummeting to his apparent death, tells Jim that he will not be forgotten because his antics planted a seed, an idea, that will live on in the dark alleys and mean streets of Gotham City. Plus, though Gotham’s producers recently claimed that Jerome is not the Joker, they pretended for a time that Jeremiah was, even styling Jeremiah after a cross between Jack Nicholson’s Joker from the 1989 Batman film and a comic version in which the Joker’s personality is inexorably altered after Batman falls into a long-term coma, which is somehow mirrored by Joker.  Now, the producers are proclaiming that Jeremiah is not the Joker either, though Jeremiah survives the season.  Thus, Jerome is dead, Jeremiah is crazy but allegedly not the Joker, and Gotham City is besieged by darkness and anarchy following Jeremiah’s efforts to destroy Gotham.  Where does that leave the prospect of an actual Joker appearing on Gotham?  Your guess is as good as ours.

8) Will Bruce finally see freaking bats already?

NEW ANSWER: Yes, Bruce finally sees the freaking bats this season.  Now – does he understand what the bats mean to him and his future in the end?  That answer is very unclear and very unknown.

9) Will Ra’s al Ghul be the “Big Bad” of Season 4?  What is the prophecy to which he referred, and what does it mean for Bruce?

NEW ANSWER: Though Ra’s makes his presence known, both in life and in alleged death, the arguable “Big Bads” of Season 4 are the Valeska twins, as their plans, schemes, and insanity dominate the second half of Season 4.

The prophecy, however, remains unexplained, though Ra’s al Ghul, who does come back to life temporarily owing to the mystical and magical efforts of his League of Shadows, repeatedly suggests that Bruce will become a “Dark Knight of Gotham,” and that it is the mission of Ra’s, with help from a doting Jeremiah, to help Bruce realize this destiny.  Unfortunately, Barbara, through her piece of this disjointed story, manages to manipulate Bruce into taking Ra’s al Ghul’s life again, so if this prophecy is to be explained, it is doubtful that the explanation will come directly from him any time soon.  Unless he is resurrected a second time in Season 5.

10) REPEAT QUESTION: Will Selina go full on Catgirl in Season 4?

SOMEWHAT REPEAT ANSWER: She has not so far, but she has made progress.  She’s got ambition, she’s got whip skills, and she’s got brains and survival instinct more finely honed than the brains and instincts of her partners, Babs and Tabby.  

11) REPEAT QUESTION: Where did Hugo Strange end up nowadays?

NEW ANSWER: Hugo was in the wind, but Penguin quickly tracks him down and appeals to him to help change a more conscious Butch from a Solomon-looking Butch to a Butch-looking Butch.  He appears in one episode in the latter half of Season 4.

12) Generally speaking, and notably, our Gotham panel is loathe to ask further questions or to make predictions because the writers, in their quest to be unpredictable and “non-canon,” have taken the story to wild places with little satisfying payoff for the viewer in the end.  Everyone is sort of bracing themselves for the coming season while cherishing the few truly enjoyable nuggets about this show, mainly in character/performances.

ANSWER: This is still true.  Though the panel feels that Season 4A improved upon and corrects for several of the ills of many of Gotham’s past half seasons, the writers and producers have also proven themselves to be less than adept at capitalizing upon story momentum or developments that offer some sense of logic and/or dovetailing with the Batman canon, even as the show and its creators profess to be off canon – a trend that returns with a vengeance in Season 4B.  This decline, again, stirs strong feelings in our panelists and makes for consistently spicy discussion.  

13) Where is Scarecrow?  Jonathan Crane achieves his full transition in this most recent half season, but what happened to him?  Was he caught and returned to Arkham Asylum?  Is he at large?  Where did he go?  Especially since the producers are also re-casting this part.  What the hell is going on with the Scarecrow character?

ANSWER: Scarecrow, as it turns out, was caught and returned to Arkham as of the mid-season hiatus. In addition, as it turns out, Scarecrow is fully Scarecrow, obsessed with creating gasses and liquids that produce the gamut of mind-altering effects, often punctuated by fear and/or impulses of insanity.  He does not have a huge part in this second half of the fourth season, but he does give Jerome Valeska a 100 percent guaranteed, Scarecrow-endorsed gas that Jerome tries to release, via a blimp, onto the city but for the in-the-moment heroics of Penguin.

14) How long will it take for Bruce to realize that he is spiraling and circling the drain known as rock bottom?  How much time must the audience wait for Bruce to find Alfred again?

ANSWER: Not long.  Bruce snaps out of his spoiled brat phase after about three episodes and tries to reach out to Alfred, though Alfred is reluctant to forgive his then-former master at first.  The panel cannot truly blame Alfred.  Bruce’s “wild child” phase was tedious.

15) Will Jim Gordon be able to maintain his position as captain of the Central GCPD without betraying his secret alliance and/or dalliance with the plotting Sofia Falcone?

ANSWER: He manages to not only remain GCPD Central Captain, but he also keeps his “relationship” to Sofia largely secret, though he does inform Harvey Bullock of the morally questionable manner in which he obtained said captaincy.  Yet, it is Harvey, who is understandably somewhat resentful of Jim in light of his own fall from grace and loss of respect in the eyes of his fellow GCPD officers, who convinces Jim to keep it all a secret and to “live with it,” so that it will motivate Jim to do better; to do right by the GCPD force, which works hard to maintain tenuous order in Gotham City; and to make amends for all of the rash decisions that this version of the Jim character has made prior to this point.  Jim, wishing for Harvey to stay un-retired/un-resigned, follows his friend’s advice.

16) Will we see Fish Mooney again?  The panel votes no and hopes she is dead for good and for real.

ANSWER: So far, Fish’s current iteration of death seems permanent.  Let’s hope it stays that way.

17) What is Sofia Falcone’s endgame, and how long will she hang onto to her position as leader of the underworld?  Will we watch her become her comic-inspired identity, The Hangman?

ANSWER: Ultimately, Sofia wants what all of Gotham’s various crime syndicates and crime bosses want: control of the power and the wealth (such as it is) of the City.  Unfortunately, her hold on Gotham is brief.  When she decides to go after Lee and her claim as “Doc” to the Narrows, manipulating their relationship as brief sisters-in-law until Lee’s fingers are broken while Sofia forcibly takes the Narrows from her, Lee enacts revenge, particularly when Sofia threatens to off Jim, by shooting Sofia in the head, which apparently puts her in a coma without killing her. If Sofia is destined to become her comic book persona, the Hangman, we have not yet seen this transition.

18) Is Ra’s al Ghul actually dead?  What was with his interchange with Barbara in prison?  Why did her hand glow?  Is his essence in the embalming knife?  Is it in Barbara’s hand?  Is it actually in Bruce, a reflection of his current darkness?  Has Bruce achieved the status of “successor to the Demon’s Head?”

ANSWER: Yes, at the start of the second half of Season 4, Ra’s is actually dead, though in a very mystical sense.  As it turns out, Ra’s did voluntarily offer the “power of the Demon’s Head” to Barbara while in prison in the first half of the season.  This means that though the essence of Ra’s al Ghul may be tied to the embalming knife, the “Demon’s Head” in Gotham’s vision is a manifestation of mystical power, not a translation of Ra’s al Ghul’s actual name.  We do not know if Bruce lives up to be Ra’s al Ghul’s professed successor or if he holds some of the darkness of the Demon’s Head close to his own heart; we do know that the League of Shadows resurrects Ra’s al Ghul for the purpose of retrieving the Demon’s Head power from Barbara, who does not know how to use it and who does not actually inspire confidence in her band of would-be ninja followers.  Imagine that.

19) Will the Riddler persona reemerge from the vexed and confused Edward Nygma?  Soon?

ANSWER: Yes, Penguin is able to coax the Riddler half of Edward Nygma to the forefront relatively quickly, within the first three episodes of the second half of Season 4.  Ed is still experiencing a psychological tug-of-war between these two distinct sides of himself, but the Riddler definitely has a claim to some of the territory of the shell housing both halves of this troubled but intelligent mind.

20) Is Jerome Valeska actually the Joker?  Or, is he the model for a watchful new individual who will be inspired by and who will adopt a Jerome-esque version of the Joker persona?  What will Penguin and Jerome do together after joining forces in Arkham?  Will they involve other well-known inmates in their plot(s)?

ANSWER: Since Jerome seems to have met his likely permanent end, and since he delivers a speech that addresses this very issue before meeting that grisly, permanent end, and since Jeremiah does not channel Jerome’s more maniacal and chaotic traits, the panelists believe that Jerome is most likely meant to be a model for some watchful individual, waiting to be inspired by his frenetic brand of hullabaloo.  Penguin and Jerome form an uneasy alliance after Jerome essentially tortures Penguin for fun while in Arkham, though he claims that he is testing Penguin to see if he is anything more than “boring.”  Though they ultimately have some well-timed help from Riddler, with Penguin’s prodding, both Penguin and Jerome break out of Arkham, along with Mad Hatter and Scarecrow.  Subsequently, Jerome forms a “Legion of Horribles,” of which Mr. Freeze and Firefly are also members.  This Legion of Horribles plans to assist Jerome in his attack on the City and in his quest of vengeance against his twin brother and against Bruce Wayne, after the latter’s confrontation with Jerome in the House of Mirrors in Season 3.  Fortunately or unfortunately, however, Penguin musters enough moral fortitude to narc on NotJoker; Jerome’s comrades, chiefly the Hatter, suss this duplicity out, and Penguin is thrown onto the blimp meant to crash land into the streets of Gotham with Scarecrow’s poison gas.  Yet, a quick thinking Jim gets cowardly Penguin to do the right thing in the end, though with Jerome’s apparent death, their friendship and alliance seems decidedly ended as well.

21) Will Lee and Jim reunite, and how?  Will Barbara Gordon be conceived on this show, and who will be her mother – Barbara Kean, even though she is crazy in this show, or Lee?

ANSWER: Lee and Jim do not reunite romantically, though both confess to each other how much they care for the other in this broken relationship. Unfortunately, for now, Edward Nygma obsesses over Lee, a fire which Lee only seems too happy to stoke, at least as long as it serves her sudden purpose of crime sprees and villainy.

So far, Barbara Gordon does not seem to be the speck of an iota of a concept on this show, at present.

22) Will Ed make a play for Lee?  Will her (inevitable, one would hope) rejection of him lead to the reemergence of the Riddler identity?

ANSWER: Yes, Ed makes a grand romantic move toward Lee after she impresses him by solving some of his riddles, when he hosts a sadistic sort of game show in the Narrows called the Riddle Factory, which often ends up in the contestants’ maiming or death.  Unfortunately – and somewhat revoltingly – Lee does not outright reject Ed, at least not at first.  She confesses that she does not love him, and though she later proposes that they run away from Gotham City together, as Jim once proposed to her, she changes her mind about that proposal, much to Edward’s stabbing chagrin.  As in, he literally stabs her and she him.  They do not die, however, but, instead, end up on tables in front of a salivating Hugo Strange.  The panelists are not happy or optimistic about this particular plot development.  Listen to the podcast episode for details.

23) Is Professor Pyg actually dead?  Alternatively, the producers have allegedly said that Michael Cerveris’ Pyg is not the true Pyg.  If he is not, who is, and will we see him?

ANSWER: So far, the Pyg, fake or not, is gone from Gotham. Will we see Pyg, either the version we have come to know or the alleged “real” version, before the end of the series?  Time will tell.  Maybe.

24) What happened to the young orphan cared for by Penguin, the boy known as Martin?  Will he become a factor in the future, assuming Victor Zsasz hid him as promised and as requested by Penguin?

ANSWER: Sofia Falcone imprisons Martin with some of her goons; however, with help from a newly reemerged Riddler on top of his game, Penguin is able to steal Martin back from Sofia’s clutches and to stow him in an allegedly safe place, the viewer knows not where.

25) Will we see Tommy Elliott, Bruce’s old/new friend, show some indication of his future Hush persona?

ANSWER: Tommy Elliott does not appear in the second half of Season 4.  Will we see Tommy take on a “Hush” like visage before the end of the series?  Time will tell.

26) Did Tabitha succeed in jogging what is left of Butch out of Solomon Grundy’s addled brain?

ANSWER: Yes, Tabby beat Butch right out of Solomon’s head.  Butch is lucid at the start of the second half of Season 4, though he is very much itching to be cured of his Solomon malady from a physical perspective.

27) Will Jim succeed in bringing Harvey back to the fold?

ANSWER: Yes, Jim is able to convince Harvey, who temporarily works as a bartender during his temporary resignation from the force, to return to the police department when Jerome Valeska lets loose on Gotham City.  Harvey is not exactly happy about it, though he seems to come around by the end of the season.

New Questions

1) Panelist Kyle indicates in our podcast episode that Season 5 will, largely, be based upon the series of Batman comics known as “No Man’s Land,” which tells the story of Gotham City in an anarchic state not regulated by a present Batman.  The main villain of this story, at least as inspired by the films directed by Christopher Nolan, is Bane, who will now be played by Shane West.  How can this story make sense when Batman has not yet been part of Gotham? How will Bane’s existence make sense?

2) Barbara, Tabitha, and Selina’s club, a redo of Penguin’s Iceberg Lounge, is called the “Sirens.”  At the end of the season, Barbara, leading the female half of the League of Shadows and with a newfound angst against men, declares war on men as the “Sirens.” Is this meant to be an Easter egg or homage to the Sirens of the comics – or do the producers intend to go through with the previously rumored transition of making Barbara some version of Harley Quinn?  How can the Sirens be the Sirens without an accurate (or free) version of Poison Ivy or a fully realized Catwoman?

3) Will we see Bruce Wayne become Batman in this coming season?  Panelist Kyle has learned that by the end of the season, the show will jump ahead ten years.  What will finally inspire Bruce to take that step toward the shadowy figure of his vision?

4) Will we see a third potential Joker (Not Joker) this season?  Who will it be?  Is Jeremiah Valeska gone for good?

5) What in blazes is Hugo Strange going to do to Lee and Ed?  PLEASE, DO NOT TURN THEM INTO SOME SORT OF SIAMESE TWIN/JOINED AT THE HIP MUTANT EXPERIMENT!

6) Will we see Sofia Falcone again?  Will she become the Hangman this half season?

7) Jeremiah Valeska shoots Selina near the end of the season.  Will this motivate Selina to become Catwoman to preserve her remaining eight lives (in homage to Batman Returns)?

8) Is Butch Gilzean/Solomon Grundy actually dead?  If so, does Gotham not know anything about the Solomon Grundy character?  Chief CP Kylie predicts that Butch/Solomon cannot possibly be dead, and that we will see him again before the end of the series.

9) Is Ra’s al Ghul permanently dead?

10) How can a small, ragtag group of cops led by Jim Gordon, and a nascent Batman/Bruce Wayne, possibly take on a city overrun with enterprising super-villains and otherwise unruly, unsavory anarchists?

PARTING SHOTS

The CPU! Gotham panel and all of its panelists continue to identify moments truly loved and moments truly hated while watching and while discussing the second half of Season 4 in this latest podcast episode, though the panel also universally feels that the show’s writers and producers once again failed to capitalize on positive momentum created by the first half of the season. As the panel discussion demonstrates, none of the panelists reacted positively to the second half of Season 4 overall, though some panelists responded better to certain moments, such as a larger role for Cameron Monaghan’s many versions of Joker/NotJoker, Bruce Wayne’s relationships with Alfred and with Selina Kyle, and Harvey Bullock’s personal redemption.  In fact, finally, all panelists have unanimously reached the point of hating the direction of the show and of being impatient with the show’s “two steps forward, four steps back” approach to character progression, an approach which proves more frustrating than titillating or, minimally, entertaining.  Still, all panelists persevere, finding our discussions about the controlled disorder of Gotham endlessly engaging, even when the show itself is not, and if we do say so ourselves.

Further, the previous unrest among the panelists, given the writers’ track record to date, still produces a variety of emotions and trust issues, preventing most if not all panel members from being able to recommend watching the show, in good conscience, to anyone, especially now.  The panel is still open to a story that seems to follow a consistent set of rules, no matter how much of a deviation it might be from the Batman comics or franchise proper, as long as the writers do not continue to change the direction of the show to compensate for “Twitter reaction.”  In fact, most of the panel finds this half of the fourth season to be the show’s new low point, even as it, still, contained some engaging moments of entertainment. The panelists, as such, continue to advise the writers to revisit not only the Batman comics but also their original blueprint for the show and to adhere to a structure and story continuity for the show that rightly capitalizes upon the amazing – and the strongest – performances of the cast, which the panel universally agrees are good if not phenomenal.  Also, the writers should continue to track their own continuity and not turn what is one of the tightest and most enjoyed (and most widely known) comic book properties into an absurdist’s take on the story, or they will alienate viewers.  The panelists implore Gotham’s writers to end on the best moment possible, and one safely based in the canon, while maintaining continuity with the paths already explored on this series, so as to provide at least our viewers and panelists with some sense that this exercise of watching five grossly uneven seasons, in terms of writing and direction, is all worth something in the end.

LOOKING AHEAD

Gotham has been renewed for a fifth and final season, albeit a shorter one at thirteen episodes, which is slated to premiere on Fox on Thursday, January 3, 2019, at 8:00 PM. The Gotham podcast panel will next reconvene following the series finale, at which time we will also Look Back at the show as a whole and offer our final, post-mortem ruminations related to the five tempestuously uneven seasons of this Batman prequel – which, unfortunately, could ultimately become a roast, if the show does not significantly and convincingly rebound in these up and coming, remaining thirteen episodes.  Stay tuned!

NEXT CPU! LIVE!

CPU! is going live again!!!  CPU! will next be LIVE at Grand Rapids Comic-Con. for our third annual appearance at the Con, on November 10, 2018, at 7:00 PM!  In that live podcast (also streamed to our Facebook page), a brand new panel will gather together to debate the multifaceted, multi-generational universe behind Star Trek. This panel will also seed a new ongoing series panel for the podcast!  Like our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter and Instagram to keep abreast of all the details, but here’s the art for it for now!  Stay tuned!

Image may contain: night and text

PODCAST! – Streaming Originals & Around the Water Cooler: Marvel’s Defenders Series, Episode Ten, “Marvel’s Iron Fist” – the Season Two Recap and Review (MAJOR SPOILERS)

Image result for iron fist title card

Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

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

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

SYNOPSIS

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

When: Season 2 was released in its entirety to the Netflix streaming library on September 7, 2018, with a total of ten episodes.

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

Why: To find out why individual podcast panelists started watching this show, listen to the “Iron Fist” Episode 1 recap and review via the link below – though I will say that all of the panelists are fans of the Netflix original library and/or superhero/comic book based shows in their own right and have found themselves eagerly anticipating new entries in Netflix’s “Defenders” series of releases.  As a result, they’re committed to a CPU! series about same!

How – as in How Was It? – 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 two available seasons of Jessica Jones; the two available seasons of Luke Cage; the first 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

Marvel’s Defenders Series, Episode Eight, “Jessica Jones,” Season 2

Marvel’s Defenders Series, Episode Nine, “Luke Cage,” Season 2

In this, the tenth episode of our Marvel’s Defenders Series, we revisit the fourth in Netflix’s series of Marvel-centered shows that led up to The Defenders miniseries, namely Iron Fistfeaturing Defenders Series panelists Nick, Kristen, Hilary, Kyle, and Spencer.  In this episode, our panelists experience multiple “nerdgasms” over not only a vast and dramatic improvement over Season 1 but a growing addiction to the mythos and mythology behind “The Immortal Iron Fist.”  Common reactions to this season universally praise story execution; improved direction; Jessica Henwick as Colleen Wing; better pacing; the improvement of Ward Meachum (Pelphrey) as a character; the thrilling crossover appearances of Luke Cage character Misty Knight (Simone Missick), possibly seeding a “Heroes for Hire” entry – or even “Daughters of the Dragon” – in this Netflix lineup; and a more focused sense of story direction overall compared to Season 1.  Though our panel would have willingly gobbled up a third season, noting that we recorded this episode before Netflix canceled both the Luke Cage and Iron Fist solo series, alternatively, we would all also eagerly watch a first season of “Heroes for Hire” or “Daughters of the Dragon.”  To hear us hash out these opinions further, listen to our discussion via the embedded link below.

This podcast was recorded in September 2018, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as we cover major plot points throughout the second season of Iron Fist.  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, our comic book oriented streak continues as our Gotham panel returns to the Water Coolerschedule permitting, to reason whether the highly inconsistent “Batman” prequel sustained its better momentum in the back half of Season 4, now its penultimate season, as the fifth season was deemed its to-be last by the Fox network. Stay tuned!

Lingering Questions

1) Netflix has canceled both Luke Cage and Iron Fist.  Are they paving the way, via efficiency of cost, for “Heroes for Hire”/”Daughters of the Dragon?”  Or, did the streaming giant actually give up on two of the properties comprising its unique corner of the Marvel Cinematic Universe for any of the following reasons: low ratings for Iron Fist; disagreements with the Luke Cage show-runner; and/or the fact that Disney/Marvel is starting its own streaming service and is gradually relieving Netflix of these properties?  When, if ever, will we know the truth?

2) Who is the Pirate Queen, from which Colleen is descended?

3) Are Danny and Colleen doomed to spend the rest of their days as friends only, having ended their romantic relationship?  Were Misty and Ward really flirting over her “Maserati” arm?

4) How involved would Mary/Walker aka Typhoid Mary (Alice Eve) have been with Danny, Colleen, or any other purveyor of the Iron Fist?  Will she now transfer to Daredevil, as she is traditionally a “Daredevil” villain, with this show’s cancellation?

5) Would Bethany have had Ward’s baby?  Would Ward have been able to convince Bethany to permit him a connection to his child?

6) What would Joy (Stroup) have done, now that her plan for revenge has been foiled and since she suffered horrific injuries via the betraying and murderous hands of Davos aka Steel Serpent (Sacha Dhawan)?

7) Would Davos have escaped from jail?  Would he have come after Danny?  Would he have been broken out by some other faction, like remnants of the Hand or some other Marvel criminal and/or ninja organization? Or, would he have powered up his rage-driven chi again and created his own means of escape?

8) Would we have seen Danny’s journey to regain the power of the Iron Fist, particularly via his predecessor, Orson Randall?  Would we have met Orson?  Would we have seen the Iron Fist Guide or Book that provides the secrets of the power of the Iron Fist?

9) Would we ever have met Sao Lao?

10) If “Heroes for Hire” and/or “Daughters of the Dragon” is/are launched, would these series resolve the considerable loose ends/cliffhangers posed by the ends of the second seasons of Luke Cage and Iron Fist?

PARTING SHOTS

Frankly, listeners, ever since our panel learned of the cancellation of Iron Fist, we have vacillated widely and wildly between shock, stunned silence, and angry outcry.  Our panel universally enjoys this property; all six of our members rank it among the “Top 3” of our individual favorite Defenders (including The Punisher, not including The Defenders crossover miniseries). Kylie and Kristen rank it tied for first (with Daredevil and Jessica Jones, respectively); Hilary and Kyle rank it second after Daredevil; and Spencer and Nick rank it third after Daredevil and The PunisherIn fact, our panel unanimously recommends Iron Fist to fans of comic books, particularly from the Marvel universe; fans of the various Defenders series; fans of the character; fans of kung fu and karate movies; and fans of epic fantasy along the lines of Star Wars or, more on the nose, stylized martial arts epics like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.  The panel generally and universally agrees that Iron Fist is well-performed (yes, including Finn Jones!) and aptly written and directed with markedly improved pacing and story execution in Season 2.

The entire panel experienced even more rapturous and engaged fun watching the second season of this series and believes that some of the criticism from trade critics and viewers alike remains unduly harsh, as the panel uniformly asserts that many who find more than small faults with this series may have missed (or simply do not prefer) its tendency toward subtleties and foreshadowing.  They may also not understand or appreciate the fact that Jones is playing a childlike character in an adult’s body who is also meant to be a fish out of water – from an ethnic as well as a “this dimension, that dimension” perspective.  Plus, those that offer frustration by his lack of growth as a character in the first season should have been able to appreciate the character’s turnaround in the second.

The panel, further, vehemently disagrees with the “white washing” controversy surrounding this show; while we acknowledge that white washing is prevalent in mainstream Hollywood and is a potential problem, Danny Rand as a character is white in the comics and is meant to be the “other” in the mystical village in which he spent his childhood, as well as in Manhattan when he tries to reintroduce himself into his former life.  The entire panel, therefore, recommends re-watching with an open mind for those who struggled with some of these aspects and a first watch for those interested in the Defenders as a whole.

On the other hand, especially with the cancellation of this and the Luke Cage series confirmed and on the books, all panelists, including super-fan Kyle, effused enthusiasm for the prospect of a “Heroes for Hire” or “Daughters of the Dragon” spin-off vehicle, or two, if Netflix is secretly considering converting these two properties into either or both of these more efficient, more cost-effective, and likely more popular adaptations that have enjoyed a greater longevity of life in the comics. While we wait for Netflix’s decision about these new series possibilities, fortunately for us, Marvel’s Daredevil was released on October 19, and the Defenders panel is already ready already for the next chapter.  Stay tuned!

THE FUTURE OF THE SHOW

Canceled!  Netflix canceled Iron Fist on October 12, 2018, after two seasons.  CPU! will continue the Marvel’s Defenders Series as long as Netflix continues to produce seasons of Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and The Punisher, though we remain ever hopeful for new series devoted to “Heroes for Hire” and/or to “Daughters of the Dragon.”  As always, CPU! will keep you informed of all Netflix/Marvel coverage.

LOOKING AHEAD

The CPU! Marvel’s Defenders Series panel will return to the Water Cooler shortly to review the third season of Daredevil, about which our devoted panelists expressed the utmost excitement, and to record post-mortem reactions to the cancellations of the solo series of Luke Cage and Iron Fist. Until then!

NEXT CPU! LIVE!

CPU! is going live again!!!  CPU! will next be LIVE at Grand Rapids Comic-Con. for our third annual appearance at the Con, on November 10, 2018, at 7:00 PM!  In that live podcast (also streamed to our Facebook page), a brand new panel will gather together to debate the multifaceted, multi-generational universe behind Star Trek. This panel will also seed a new ongoing series panel for the podcast!  Like our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter and Instagram to keep abreast of all the details, but here’s the art for it for now!  Stay tuned!

Image may contain: night and text

PODCAST! – Around the Water Cooler: DC Television Universe Series, Episode 15, “Supergirl” – Season Three, the DCTU Panel’s Review and Recap (MAJOR SPOILERS)

Image result for supergirl season 3 title card

Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

Who:  “Supergirl” is a superhero action-adventure drama based on the DC Comics character Supergirl (Kara Zor-El), created by Otto Binder and Al Plastino, which currently airs on the CW, fall to spring Sundays at 8:00 PM.

What: “Supergirl,” a series developed by Ali Adler, Greg Berlanti, and Andrew Kreisberg (the latter two having previously created Arrow and The Flash) and starring Melissa Benoist in the title role.  This series is considered a spin-off from Arrow and is part of the so-called “Arrowverse.” Supergirl is a costumed super-heroine who is the cousin to Superman and one of the last surviving Kryptonians.

SYNOPSIS

Kara Zor-El (Benoist) was sent to Earth from the doomed planet Krypton as a 13-year-old by her parents Zor-El and Alura.  Alura gave her instructions to protect her infant cousin Kal-El, and informed her that she, like her cousin, would have extraordinary powers under Earth’s yellow sun. Kara’s spacecraft was knocked off course by a shock wave from Krypton’s explosion and forced into the Phantom Zone, where it stayed for 24 years. During this period, time stopped for Kara, and when the spacecraft eventually escaped the Phantom Zone, she still appeared to be a 13-year-old girl. By the time the spacecraft crash landed on Earth, Kal-El had grown up and become Superman. After helping her out of the craft, Superman took Kara to be adopted by his friends, the Danvers family. The series begins eleven years later, when the now 24-year-old Kara is learning to embrace her powers after previously hiding them.

When: Season 3 aired from October 9, 2017, to June 18, 2018, on the CW.

Where: The action is primarily set in the fictional National City, presumably a West Coast location in the DC Comics Universe.

Why: To find out why individual podcast panelists started watching this show, listen to the podcast episode covering Season 1 via the link below!  It should be noted that CPU! Chief Couch Potato Kylie previously picked up this show during the 2015 Fall Preview, noting:

Pro: Melissa Benoist doesn’t offend me.  As the erstwhile Marley on Glee, she’s actually the only [new] New Direction-er that didn’t annoy the pants off me.  Pro: Dr. Lexie Gray (Chyler Leigh) plays Kara Zor-El’s adopted sister, and her departure was one of a series of missteps that paved my shark-jumping abandonment of Grey’s Anatomy. I missed her.  I do believe the “adopted sister” motif deviates from the canon slightly, but then again, Supergirl does not enjoy the consistency of the threads underlying the Man of Steel’s long history.  Pro: James “Jimmy” Olsen (Mehcad Brooks) is black.  Hey, that doesn’t often happen.  Pro: this is not Smallville’s version of the same character.  I despised their take on Supergirl and the actress who played her.  Con: this seems very teen drama relatively speaking; despite Kara being 24, according to the synopsis, Marley grows into her cape in her own version of Smallville? Could get very old very quickly and be a bit too derivative of the Superman tellings.  Con: Ally McBeal herself (Calista Flockhart), post-face-lift and scary contacts, plays the editor.  Con: who could they possibly stunt cast as cousin Kal-El, i.e. Supes the Man himself? Because they should stunt cast him, even though they’ve already said they won’t.  I think they must (is that who Dean Cain is playing…someone freaking page Tom Welling already!?  Or, Henry Cavill if one must).  The pros outweigh the cons as far as adding it to my already miles long list, plus it’s a DC property, so I’m along for the ride.  I just hope that the earnestness that Melissa Benoist brings to her roles renders her a convincing “Kara Zor-El.”

How – as in How’s It Going? – THOUGHTS

This is the fifteenth episode in CPU!’s DCTU series.  Here are only the prior Supergirl episodes in the series; as we flush out seasons of all Arrowverse shows, older episodes will be searchable via the website – click the upper right dialog box in the header, the picture of the couch full of TV watchers. Listen to each episode here:

DCTU Series, Episode 5, “Supergirl,” Season One

DCTU Series, Episode 8, “Supergirl,” Season Two
DCTU Series, Episode 11, the DCTU Mid-Season Roundup, 2017
In our last DCTU episode, our cheeky and feisty DCTU panel – namely Kyle, Hilary, Spencer, Kristen, and Nick – continued addressing the most recent full seasons of each of the four “Arrowverse” series in order of the airing of each season finale by discussing the fourth season of The Flash. Tonight’s episode finds the panel returning to the Water Cooler for the final time this go-round to talk the third season of Supergirl, in the fifteenth episode of our DCTU series.  The discussion herein heavily dissects the season-long focus on villain Reign (Odette Annable), on the overwhelming and largely tedious meditation on romance (in this more than any other Arrowverse show), and on how the National City section of the Arrowverse is faring as a whole.  In fact, the panelists note that, as much as DC’s Legends of Tomorrow improved this season, Supergirl, in terms of production and writing quality and overall entertainment value, traveled in quite the opposite direction, so much so that the panel spent a large amount of this discussion arguing over which property could be considered worse right now, in our would-be expert opinions: this spin-off version of the “Superman” universe or Arrow, which has not consistently been a draw for our DCTU panel for several seasons now.  The discussion, therefore, is certainly spicy, as always, and may even be borderline harsh; however, the panelists, especially those devoted to the “Superman” and “Supergirl” side of DC, find this deterioration in quality and in story direction to more than a little disappointing.  Moderator and Chief CP Kylie, i.e. me, described this plummet in presentation as “soul crushing.”  Hey, I really love the Superman/Supergirl legacy and mythos and am on the struggle bus when it comes to the current direction of Supergirl, the show’s behind-the-scenes difficulties this season notwithstanding.

This particular episode was recorded in October 2018, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as the panelists cover key plot points of Season 3 of Supergirl. Listen at your own risk, and let us know what you think by commenting below!

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

Remember, new episodes and blog posts are published weekly! Our next podcast episode will return to the Marvel Cinematic Universe as our Marvel’s Defenders Series panel (the same, superhero/comic book minded members of the DCTU panel) returns to the Water Cooler to discuss Marvel’s Iron Fist, Season 2.  Please note that we recorded our review and discussion of Iron Fist’s second season before the cancellation announcement that Netflix made last week; as such, our Marvel’s Defenders Series panel will return in the near future to engage in not only a review of Daredevil, Season 3, but also a post-mortem discussion on the fate of Danny Rand and his predominantly immortal company.  Stay tuned!

Questions, Impressions, and Future Considerations

Old Questions

1) Will the show explore more of Winn Schott’s (Jeremy Jordan) relationship with his father, notable Superman villain Toyman, in the future?

ANSWER: The answer to this question entirely depends upon the meaning of “explore.”  You see, gentle listener, apparently the Toyman reaches his untimely end and passes away, gently, gleefully, and relatively peacefully in Season 3. Winn, James aka “Jimmy” Olsen (Mehcad Brooks), and Kara attend his dad’s funeral, where one of his devotees allows the erstwhile Toyman’s toys to run amok and threaten, particularly, Supergirl in the process.  When Winn arrives at his father’s funeral, however, he is reconnected with his estranged mother, played by Laurie Metcalf, who tells Winn that his father threatened her life and her son’s if she continued to try to see her child after she also attempted to extricate herself from her abusive marriage to her ex-husband, Winn’s father, and the super-criminal known as Toyman.  Winn does not believe his mom at first, after hearing from his father throughout his childhood that his mom abandoned him, but this renewed connection does allow Winn to understand more about his mother and less about the motives of his father, a complex man with an unexplained love for toys.
Jeremy Jordan, however, has dropped to “recurring” status for Season 4 of Supergirl, as Winn’s portraying actor decided to return to his roots on Broadway.  So, the chances of further exploring the Toyman’s son’s family history seem pretty bleak right about now.  Plus, the panel questions whether the Toyman’s death is fact or fiction and, frankly, permanent; after all, he’s a relatively important “Superman” villain.
2) Will the Guardian story line continue?  The panel universally dislikes it but sees the glaringly apparent issue surrounding the character of James Olsen, namely that on this show and without Guardian, he has nothing left to make his character worthwhile.  Will Winn get into costumed crime-fighting as James’ sidekick?
ANSWER: The Guardian story line continues this season, evincing universal winces and groans from all six of our DCTU panelists, who find the James aka “Jimmy” Olsen character painfully superfluous.  The panel’s reactions range from feeling strongly that this depiction of Jimmy is not true to the comic stories (because James is not a tall drink of water like Mr. Brooks in those stories) to the fact that the writers and producers are trying too hard to make Jimmy/James fit into the overall narrative of Supergirl, which is somewhat scattered on its own as it is.  What we can confidently confirm, however, is that Winn avoids costumes while serving as Guardian’s sidekick, preferring his level of superhero assistance to remain Batcave-like and confined to the comfort of a surveillance van on loan from the DEO.  Not everyone is ready to barrel head-first into the fight, after all.
Only Jimmy.
3) Is Jeremiah Danvers (Dean Cain), Alex’s (Chyler Leigh) father and Kara’s adoptive father, in league with Lillian Luthor (Brenda Strong) and Cadmus or not?  The panel is confused by his story development.  He also has cybernetic enhancements.  Is he being groomed to be the real or actual or next Cyborg Superman?  Is Hank Henshaw (David Harewood) truly Cyborg Superman, even though he doesn’t appear to be channeling Superman at all?
ANSWER: Unknown.  Though Lillian makes a triumphant return in Season 3, in a failed attempt to seemingly make amends with her adoptive daughter Lena (Katie McGrath), Jeremiah Danvers does not return.  Thus, we do not know where he stands regarding his cybernetic enhancements or his relationship to Cyborg Superman/Hank Henshaw.
4) Will Lena Luthor be driven to evil impulses, either by her genetic link to Lionel or by her grooming from scorning adoptive mother Lillian (since, spoiler, Lena’s biological mother was a mistress of her father Lionel’s), as her brother Lex was?
ANSWER: Though Lena still walks on the good side of the moral coin, she clearly displays the genetic ambition and need to control the powerful items and people around her, almost to the same ego-maniacal level of her brother.  She is quick to learn how to fashion Kryptonite and to subdue “World Killers” raised from ashes by Kryptonian witches.  She seems capable of quite a lot…but she is not evil.  Yet.
5) Will Supergirl ever visit her cousin Superman (Tyler Hoechlin) in Metropolis and help him out?  Will Superman appear next season?  The panel enthusiastically votes yes – and sooner rather than later – to this eventuality.
ANSWER: Clark Kent aka Superman does not appear in Season 3.  He will appear in Season 4, however, especially in the Arrowverse crossover event entitled “Elseworlds.”  Stay tuned.
6) Will Mon-El (Chris Wood) return from his wormhole trip?  Will he be able to return to Supergirl’s Earth, despite the trace amounts of lead that Supergirl allowed to be released into the atmosphere?  Or, will he land on a different Earth in the multiverse, as Kristen predicts?  Or, will he find the Green Lantern Council and be made a Green Lantern, as Kyle noted is a possible, comics-inspired pathway for him?
ANSWER: Mon-El returns and sets up the dopiest love triangle this side of Bermuda.  You see, when Mon-El emerges from the wormhole, he finds himself several centuries into the future, where he ends up co-forming a ragtag team of super-powered beings known as the Legion of Superheroes, or, simply, the Legion.  He also gets married to Imra Ardeen aka Saturn Girl when he does not believe he will ever see Kara again and out of an alliance-forming arrangement with her Saturnian family.  By the time he returns, the elevated lead that eliminated the Daxamites is gone, so he is able to survive.  Yet, the Legion decides to return to the past to stop what is known as Blight, an advanced form of a being called Pestilence, a World Killer sent from Krypton to destroy Earth by uniting with Reign, a female character not dissimilar to Doomsday in the “Superman” stories.  Mon-El, though, stays very much in this universe, around this version of Earth, and comes nowhere close to becoming a Green Lantern, which would have been far cooler than the story we were served up this season with respect to his character.  Listen to the podcast episode for the panel’s spicy reaction (despite panelist Kristen fanning herself) to the return of Mon-El.
7) Who is Reign?  If Reign becomes Supergirl’s foe in Season 3, will we also see her transform into – or be accompanied by – an appearance of Doomsday, since they are similar characters?  Was the epilogue shown at the end of Season 2 similarly timed to when Krypton collided with its sun, or was Reign sent to Earth thousands of years earlier, as Kyle noted also occurred in the comics?
ANSWER: Reign is created by a trio of witches on Krypton who believe that she will take over Earth and make it suitable for Kryptonians to resettle.  Part of this edict also involves stopping Supergirl, since these witches fully knew that both Kal-El aka Superman and Kara Zor-El aka Supergirl were also headed toward Earth when Krypton collided with its red sun.  Reign is not accompanied by Doomsday in Season 3 (that would have made the story far too complicated, really).  The epilogue of Season 2 shows the birth of Reign, but the story as depicted on the show seems to suggest that Reign was fashioned by the witches, who survive Krypton’s demise, shortly before the destruction of Krypton, at or around the same time Kal-El and Kara are sent to Earth, and that Reign is sent to Earth shortly thereafter.  There is, at least, no suggestion that can be gleaned from Season 3 supporting the idea that the witches and/or Reign herself are thousands of years old.  Plus, Reign is subjugated as a latent identity or being within what appears to be a human woman named Samantha Arias, who begins to lose time and memory as the Reign persona emerges through the actions and alleged magic of the witches.  Listen to the podcast episode for further details.
8) Is Cat Grant back for any length of time?  For how long exactly – and why?
ANSWER: Cat Grant (Calista Flockhart) does not appear in Season 3.  We are kind of okay with that.
9) Is the show trying to lead the audience toward seeing J’onn J’onzz aka Martian Manhunter (David Harewood) and M’gann M’orzz aka Miss Martian (Sharon Leal) as a possible romantic coupling?  Will Miss Martian be back?
ANSWER: The panel continues to struggle with this question, particularly as M’gann entices J’onn to return to Mars, where he not only discovers a rebellion of White Martians aiming to overthrow the other White Martians, but that his father is still alive and being held captive by the mean White Martians; M’yrnn J’onzz is played by Carl Lumbly, best known for his role on Alias. So, Miss Martian returns, but her relationship to J’onn is still somewhat nebulous as far as their mutual level of affection.  As for the existence of a large population of White Martians on Mars, this gets some of our panelists, who are particularly passionate about the Martian Manhunter character, pretty hot.  Listen to the podcast episode for their reactions.
10) Are Winn and Lyra (Tamzin Merchant) still together?  Do they have to be?
ANSWER: Lyra does not return in Season 3.  I guess that relationship was short-lived.  Mercifully.
11) Will we see any other Superman rogues of note, including Brainiac, Zod (as not a silver Kryptonite-induced hallucination), Lex Luthor, Doomsday, etc.?
ANSWER: We see Brainiac-5, an offshoot of the Brainiac hive but a good guy, playing as a member of the Legion.  Other than that, the main villain on the season is Reign, with secondary appearances by Livewire and the introduction of a Supergirl-exclusive villain, Psy.
12) Will Superman have to help Supergirl fight off Reign?
ANSWER: Superman does not return to Supergirl on-screen in Season 3; however, when Reign makes her play for world destruction near the end of the season, there is mention that Superman is off trying to stop some of the after-effects of Reign’s actions in Madagascar.  So, he is helping his cousin.  We just don’t get to see it, this time.
13) Why is the show changing the Martian Manhunter story so much?  Are the extra Martians real?  Where is the story involving Manhunter’s father going?
ANSWER: The extra Martians are real, and panelist Kyle will not stand for it!  The Manhunter’s dad, M’yrnn, was captured by the White Martians because he holds the secrets and history of their people; however, when J’onn brings his father to Earth with him, the viewer learns that M’yrnn is dying of natural causes anyway, which induces him to lose his memory and faculties, in a very Alzheimer’s-like way.  M’yrnn, then, must psychically bond with J’onn to preserve the Martian knowledge of their family history and the religion that M’yrnn serves, but M’yrnn is not able to complete the psychic transfer.  He, instead, offers to help Superman in Madagascar in sacrifice to save the Earth.  RIP, M’yrnn.  We hardly knew ye.
14) What will Reign do to National City and to Earth 38 now that she is “awake?”
ANSWER: She causes a bunch of mayhem, mess, and destruction, as her genetic mission is to destroy the world and to remake it in Krypton’s image.  Supergirl, with help from her friends and family, however, saves the day, and Reign is no more.  If you want to learn how, watch the season!
New Questions
1) Are they truly gearing to launch a new “Superman” television show with the potential and foretold return of Superman, as played by Tyler Hoechlin, and the casting of Lois Lane with Grimm alumna Elizabeth Tulloch, as the panel and the press have speculated and/or reported?
2) Is the Kara double that appears at the end of the season a “Bizarro” version of Supergirl?  Or, is the show appropriating the “Red Sun” Elseworlds story originally attributed to Superman?
3) What is J’onn J’onzz going to do now that he has stepped down from and has presumably left the DEO?  Will the Martian Manhunter still feature on Supergirl at all?  Is Mr. Harewood requesting a recurring status like his cast-mate, Jeremy Jordan?
4) Since James Olsen reveals to National City that he is Guardian, and since Winn has left the DEO to go to the future with Mon-El, will James still be Guardian?  The panel rejects this potential future.
5) Where is the relationship between James/Jimmy and Lena going?  Will Lena become evil like her brother, Lex?  Will we get to see Lex this coming season, in any form?
6) How is it that Lena learned to make Kryptonite and so fast?  Will she make other colors of Kryptonite, since she reproduced the Black Kryptonite from Argo City in addition to the garden variety irradiated Green Kryptonite? What is she planning to do with the Black Kryptonite she makes at the end of Season 3?
7) Will Kara communicate with and/or visit her apparently alive mother Alura (Erica Durance) further?  How?
8) Since Brainy (aka Brainiac-5) decides to stay in the past and to help Supergirl and her friends, and since he alludes to “the evil one” of his AI “relatives,” will we see Brainiac Prime in Season 4?  Is the Kara double a Brainiac creation? Is the Kara double Brainiac him/itself?
9) Presuming that Livewire does not truly die but transforms into the all-electricity version of herself in Season 3, will we see her in this true form in Season 4?
PARTING SHOTS
Friends: Supergirl Season 3 really lost the DCTU panel this go-round.  While some panelists continue to believe that Arrow remains the worst of the Arrowverse four on the CW, some of the other panelists, your main moderator and Chief CP included, regard Supergirl as having taken a spectacular tumble in quality and in overall entertainment value, to the detriment of the entire series and more-so than the series from which it spun off.  Though all panelists remain appreciative of Benoist’s portrayal of the “Girl of Steel,” owing to her winning charisma and “adorkable” pastiche, the panel is struggling far more with the need for the James/Jimmy Olsen character and with many of the arcs of the supporting characters, including Alex’s (Chyler Leigh) maudlin struggle to come to terms with her identity as a gay woman and with what she wants as a working female in today’s society; the neutering of the Martian Manhunter character and the general confusion around how any Martian still survives apart from him; and now, with the departure of Jordan from series regular status, the impending lack of Winn, who many of the panel deem to be the “Cisco of Supergirl.” 
Plus, the panel quickly reached consensus around the success of Reign as a villain, in that every panelist thought she was a failure.  Not only was her portraying actor, Annable, seemingly unequal to the task of creating a formidable presence as a Doomsday-like being capable of destroying an entire planet, but the story around her was poorly written and poorly directed, rendering the entirety of Season 3 into what felt like one bad exercise in high school theater.  Furthermore, the focus on romantic relationships on Supergirl, particularly, has only served to bog down and to stymie the show’s creative potential; unlike the other Arrowverse shows, romance is a main, rather than a supporting, theme of this program, which becomes tedious and repetitive, at least in the opinions of all of our DCTU panelists. The panel now only tepidly recommends Supergirl to fans of comic books, particularly from the DC universe, and of the character of Supergirl/Kara Zor-El (or even Superman/Kal-El/Clark Kent); to fans of the other Arrowverse shows; to fans of comic books who can also tolerate romantic comedy formulas, as the series continues to be somewhat derivative of rom-com tropes (those fans might be the happiest of any potential viewers, truly); and to young girls and female fans who champion “girl power” and who might find a solid idol in Kara Danvers/Zor-El aka Supergirl.  The panel cautions, however, that Season 3 is a veritable let-down, in all senses of that turn of phrase, and should not be used as a measurement bar by which to score the success of the entire series.
Because of the panel’s struggle with Season 3, the panel is apprehensive about the future of Supergirl.  Will the already over-extended producers and writers of the Arrowverse and particularly of this show see the missteps and recover, or will Supergirl steadily decline in quality and in story logic as Arrow has consistently done since its own third season?  Ultimately, so our panel opines, here’s hoping Season 4 improves dramatically, or Supergirl will find its “on the bubble” status more than burst when it comes time for the CW to continue this franchise of four at the end of the current TV season.
LOOKING AHEAD
The fourth season of Supergirl premiered on Sunday, October 14, 2018, at 8:00 PM on the CW!  The DCTU podcast panel will next chat Supergirl and all of the other Arrowverse entries during our mid-season roundup of the Arrowverse, which will occur in or around January 2019, in Episode 16 of our ongoing series.  Until then!

NEXT CPU! LIVE!

CPU! is going live again!!!  CPU! will next be LIVE at Grand Rapids Comic-Con. for our third annual appearance at the Con, on November 10, 2018, at 7:00 PM!  In that live podcast (also streamed to our Facebook page), a brand new panel will gather together to debate the multifaceted, multi-generational universe behind Star Trek. This panel will also seed a new ongoing series panel for the podcast!  Like our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter and Instagram to keep abreast of all the details, but here’s the art for it for now!  Stay tuned!

Image may contain: night and text

PODCAST! – Streaming Originals & Around the Water Cooler: Marvel’s Defenders Series, Episode Nine, “Marvel’s Luke Cage” – the Season 2 Recap and Review (MAJOR SPOILERS)

Image result for luke cage title

Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

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

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

SYNOPSIS

When a sabotaged experiment gives him super strength and unbreakable skin, Luke Cage (Colter) becomes a fugitive attempting to rebuild his life in Harlem while confronting his past and fighting a battle for the heart of his city. After clearing his name, Cage becomes a hero and celebrity in Harlem, only to encounter a new threat that forces him to walk the line between hero and villain.

When: Season 2 was released in its entirety to the Netflix streaming library on June 22, 2018, with a total of 13 episodes.

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

Why:  To find out why individual podcast panelists started watching this show, listen to the podcast episode via the Season 1 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 two available seasons of Jessica Jones; the first season of Luke Cage; the first 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

Marvel’s Defenders Series, Episode Eight, “Jessica Jones,” Season 2

In this, the ninth episode of our Marvel’s Defenders series, we revisit the third in Netflix’s series of Marvel-centered shows leading up to The Defenders miniseries, namely Luke Cagefeaturing Defenders Series panelists Nick, Kristen, Hilary, Kyle, and Spencer.  In this episode, our panelists universally laud what they consider to be a vast and dramatic improvement over Season 1.  Common reactions to this season focus on a much improved and dynamic villain in John “Bushmaster” McIver (Mustafa Shakir), better pacing, the thrilling crossover appearances of Iron Fist characters (possibly seeding a “Heroes for Hire” entry in this Netflix lineup), and a better sense of story direction overall compared to Season 1.  In fact, the panel finds that said quality and story presentation so improved between the two seasons, what with no word yet on whether or not the series has been renewed, we now find ourselves worrying for the future of the series, as now we all want a third season renewal.  Alternatively, we would all eagerly watch a first season of “Heroes for Hire” or even “Daughters of the Dragon,” featuring the characters of Misty Knight (Simone Missick) and Colleen Wing (Jessica Henwick), as the panel unanimously described their chemistry and character portrayals in Luke Cage Season 2 as “perfect,” noting a serviceable and praiseworthy writer-driven turnaround for Misty’s character this season.  To hear us hash out these opinions further, listen to our discussion via the embedded link below.

This podcast was recorded in September 2018, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as we cover major plot points throughout the second season of Luke Cage.  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, the comic book oriented brains of the Marvel’s Defenders Series switch from the world of Marvel to the world of DC, when our same five panelists, all of whom also staff our DCTU Series panel, return to the Water Cooler to talk Season 4 of The Flash, schedule permitting. Stay tuned!

Questions, Impressions, and Future Considerations

1) Will Luke Cage be renewed as a solo series?  Or, is Netflix moving toward combining Luke and Danny Rand/Iron Fist, as the comics have, into a “Heroes for Hire” series and/or Misty and Colleen into a “Daughters of the Dragon” series, as panelist Kyle perceives and wholeheartedly wishes, with some vocal support from the panel.  All panelists indubitably enjoy and readily endorse the chemistry between Simone Missick and Jessica Henwick (Misty Knight and Colleen Wing, respectively) and between Mike Colter and Finn Jones (Luke Cage and Danny Rand/Iron Fist, respectively).

2) If Luke Cage is renewed as a solo series, will Luke be corrupted through ownership of the Harlem’s Paradise club?  Or, can he be a hero without being based in the club? Or, can he make the club a base for heroic activity rather than backroom money deals and other criminal activity? Why would the writers hint that this would even be a possibility, at all, for Luke, as he has spent two seasons recognizing and combating the corruption of the Stokes family?

3) Will Tilda (Gabrielle Dennis) seek revenge against Luke for being willed the club upon her mother, Mariah’s (Alfre Woodard), death?  Will she become the next in a long line of Stokes crime bosses?  Or, will she be content to run her holistic shop, now that she sent her mother, with a kiss of poisoned lipstick, into the great beyond?

4) Will Shades (Theo Rossi) return in a potential Season 3?  Or, will he remain in prison?  If he is in prison, will he be wooed into Wilson Fisk’s/Kingpin’s gang – will we possibly see him crossover and appear in Daredevil, Season 3?

5) Will Misty accept the offered promotion to precinct captain?

6) Will Bushmaster return from Jamaica to fight another day, even though Mariah met her end?  Does he still have an ax to grind?  Does he still see Luke as an adversary or enemy?

7) Panelist Kyle informed the panel in the podcast episode that Rosario Dawson is contemplating not returning to the Netflix Marvel shows, or at least not to Luke Cage, because her contract term is up, and she feels that Claire Temple/Night Nurse was relegated to nothing more than jealous/worried girlfriend in Luke Cage. Are the rumors true, or will Rosario find it in her heart to return, at least to any of the other three series?

PARTING SHOTS

In a dramatic turnaround from the Season 1 review, the panel now universally but cautiously recommends Luke Cage to fans of comic books, particularly from the Marvel universe; fans of the Defenders series; and fans of the artistic and cultural contribution of Harlem, as the panel agrees that this series remains, in many ways, a deft love letter to Harlem and its literal and symbolic position in this, our modern society.  The panel suggests, as part of the cautiousness informing the recommendation, that would-be, new viewers of Luke Cage treat the second season as something of the official first season, and/or use their own judgment when embarking upon viewing this series, as the panel recognizes that Luke Cage does have a vocally supportive fan base, even though our panelists would not have counted themselves as part of that base following the release of Season 1.  The panel generally and universally agrees that Luke Cage continues to be well-performed, and that the direction, writing, and continuity improved markedly in Season 2, even though the pacing languishes still at times, though without the drudgery that so alienated our Defenders defenders following the first season.  The panel, further, unanimously praised the performance of Shakir as Bushmaster and the writing around this villain; he created palpable tension around which characters could galvanize while still remaining a flawed but real human character with a compelling back story.  Because of the dramatic turnaround for our panel’s reception to the show, in terms of its presentation and production value, the panel now looks forward to a third season rather than resents the possibility of having to watch it for our podcast series.  On the other hand, all panelists, particularly super-fan Kyle, who still does not like the Luke Cage solo series much despite affirming the improvements that impressed the other panelists, effused enthusiasm for the prospect of a “Heroes for Hire” or “Daughters of the Dragon” spin-off vehicle, or two.  In any event, the panel is hopeful following the finish of this second season and eagerly awaits more Defenders entries.  Fortunately for us, Marvel’s Iron Fist was released in September, and the Defenders panel is already ready already for the next chapter.  Stay tuned!

LOOKING AHEAD

While no official announcement has yet been made, TV pundits believe that renewal for a possible Season 3 of Luke Cage is more than possible, though many suspect that Netflix is also heavily considering spin-off series for either “Heroes for Hire” and/or “Daughters of the Dragon,” which became popular series for the comic books after the “Luke Cage” and “Iron Fist” comic book series were canceled.  In addition, there is some rumblings that Netflix and Disney are re-negotiating the distribution of this series, given that Disney is looking to launch a Marvel-centered streaming service.  Rest assured that if/when a Season 3 is announced and/or has aired, CPU! will plan to reconvene our Marvel’s Defenders podcast panel, ready and willing to dissect any additional seasons of this action-packed Defenders entry. CPU! will also, as always, keep you posted on future developments. Stay tuned!