jPod (TV series)

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jPod
Genre Comedy
Created by Douglas Coupland, Michael MacLennan
Starring David Kopp
Emilie Ullerup
Ben Ayres
Steph Song
Torrance Coombs
Colin Cunningham
Sherry Miller
Alan Thicke
Raugi Yu
Theme music composer Bonobo
Opening theme "Flutter"
Country of origin Canada
No. of episodes 13 (List of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s) JB Sugar, Larry Sugar
Location(s) Vancouver, British Columbia
Camera setup Single-camera
Running time 45 mins. (approx)
Broadcast
Original channel CBC Television
Original run January 8, 2008 – April 4, 2008
External links
Website

jPod is a comedic television series based on Douglas Coupland’s novel of the same name.[1] It premiered on CBC Television on January 8, 2008. Starting with the fifth episode, the show began airing Fridays at 9:00.

On April 4, 2008, it was announced that the CBC had cancelled the show because of low ratings.[2] However, all but one of the remaining episodes aired. The cancellation of jPod sparked a fan-led protest.[3]

The show's opening title theme is Flutter by Bonobo. Produced by I’m Feeling Lucky Productions for the CBC, jPod was created by Douglas Coupland and Michael MacLennan. Coupland also co-wrote many of season one’s episodes.

Overview[edit]

jPod chronicles the often shocking lives of Ethan Jarlewski and four of his co-workers at Neotronic Arts as they confront "Chinese gangs, boneheaded bosses, sexual Swinging, British royalty and gore-laced video games.".[4] The pod was created by a Y2K glitch, which caused workers with surnames beginning with the letter J to be grouped together. The group works in a pod in the basement and were nicknamed jPod by the company. jPod is made up of Ethan, Bree, Cancer Cowboy and John Doe. The newest member of jPod is Katilin Joyce, who appears to have been hired a day or two before the series begins.

The series begins as the Pod receives a new boss, Steve, who instantly begins to change jPod's game. The team struggles to cope with the changes and tries to keep their game afloat. But even with massive changes in the office, they don't ever change their priority: doing as little work as possible and goofing around.

Ethan, the protagonist, has bigger problems than changes at work. While both his parents, Jim and Carol, appear to be normal middle class suburbanites, they both have strange lives and activities. Frequently their activities cause disasters and they rely on Ethan to bail them out. Carol runs a large marijuana grow-op in her basement in order to fund her retirement. Unfortunately problems with dealers, dead and alive, often lead to her calling Ethan and demanding his assistance. Jim is attempting to become an actor but due to his lack of talent, fails to get speaking roles. He has occasional affairs, loves to ballroom dance and mostly hangs out with Kam Fong, a Chinese mobster. Ethan is very attracted to Kaitlin, but the arrivals of their old flames, as well as ongoing drama in Ethan's life, and chaos at Neotronic, keeps coming between them.

As the series progresses, Steve falls in love with Carol and attempts to win her heart. Jim becomes jealous and asks Kam Fong to deal with Steve. Steve disappears and leaves the jPod employees without a boss. Steve is replaced with Alistair, an insane but genius designer, who makes life in jPod miserable. Eventually, Ethan manages to get Alistair to leave the pod alone, in exchange for meeting Alistair's deadlines. Shortly after, Ethan discovers that Jim was involved in Steve's disappearances and demands to know what happened. Jim explains that Kam Fong smuggled Steve to China and he is now working in a factory. Ethan and a coworker, Cowboy, go to China to rescue Steve. They bring Steve back to Vancouver, Canada (The mentioned setting In Episode 1) but realize that after working in the sweatshop, he is addicted to heroin. jPod warns Steve that he either needs to quit heroin or at least become a high functioning addict or he will get fired. He refuses and eventually gets fired.

After a fight with Jim, Carol leaves Jim and moves to a lesbian commune on the Sunshine Coast. As she leaves, she accidentally runs over Steve. She doesn't realize she hit him and drives away. Jim finds Steve's body, realizes what happened and asks Ethan to help dispose of it. They do not want to contact the police as they don't want Carol to know she killed Steve. They bury the body and send a letter to Steve's son to explain his disappearance. After a few weeks alone, Jim decided that he cannot live without Carol and decides he will do whatever it takes to win her back.

To replace Steve, Katilin, a jPod member, is promoted and is placed in charge. But the new position is short-lived. A computer glitch cause j-Pod to be disbanded and the five must seek new positions within the company. They each begin to work in their 'ideal' sections but find they miss jPod. They decide to put together a farewell to jPod video, composed of all the goriest material they created. They insert the video into a company board meeting presentation and shock the administration of Neotronic Arts. The pod admits they probably will get fired for this but agree it was worth it. While John Doe, Cowboy, and Bree head off to play a last game of Defendoids, Ethan finally expresses his feelings with Kaitlin and they share a passionate kiss. When Ethan heads off to get a parting present for Kaitlin, Kaitlin gets one last hug from the hug machine. The machine is connected to a jealous artificial intelligence and crushes Katilin. By the time she is found by her co-workers, she has fallen into a coma.

The series ends at this point and it can be assumed that in either another unaired episode or a second season, the cliffhangers would be resolved. As the series was canceled, viewers are forced to guess whether Kaitlin recovers, whether the pod is indeed fired, if Carol and Jim get back together and what Ethan does with his future.

Main cast and characters[edit]

David Kopp as Ethan Jarlewski, a twenty-something 'gore specialist'. Ethan was in med school until he dropped out to work at Neotronic Arts, presumably just before January 1, 2000. He is caring but long-suffering and spends most of his time fixing the lives of people around him. He likes to collect sneakers, old computers, old video games, IKEA products and Kaitlin.

Emilie Ullerup as Kaitlin Joyce, the newest jPod member, an American and a former employee of Apple Inc. Kaitlin grew up in poverty but managed to break free by being paid to be a surrogate mother. Unfortunately, her pregnancy stopped her from gaining her high school diploma, which she later gains during the series. She is perky, eager to please the management and desperate to leave jPod. She eventually settles in and enjoys the environment, while still being the hardest working member of jPod. She and Ethan begin to date late in the series. She was once seriously overweight but lost 150 lbs. on the 'Underground Sandwich Diet'.

Ben Ayres as Cancer Cowboy (real name Casper Jesperson), a chain smoking sex addict who likes to drink cough syrup for a buzz. His parents told him that all the cowboys were dying of lung cancer, in order to scare him out of smoking. The plan backfired, as Cowboy started smoking because he thought it was cool. Cowboy's parents died in a murder-suicide pact when he was ten. This has left him with a morbid obsession with death. He went to Yale, and is an extremely talented coder.

Steph Song as Bree Jyang, a perfectionist and a 'Junior Cougar'. Bree's Chinese parents raised her with extremely high standards and often made her feel inadequate for not being born a male. This results in perfectionist behavior. Bree is a 'junior cougar' or a 'puma'. She is training to become a 'cougar' (an older woman who preys of younger men for dates) and attends meetings with women who have the same goal. She and John Doe begin to date mid series.

Torrance Coombs as John Doe, a twenty-something who attempts to be as statistically normal as possible. After being raised on a lesbian commune, with no television, radio, soda or other men, John Doe decided he wanted to reverse the weirdness of his past by being as normal as possible. His real name is crow well mountain juniper (no capitals) but had it legally changed to John Doe shortly before the series began. John is a virgin, but very talented at cunnilingus.

Colin Cunningham as Steve Lefkowitz, the new boss of jPod. Steve is very friendly, emotional and likes to hug. He has a son named Connor and is attempting to gain custody of him. In the meantime, Steve makes up for not being able to see Connor by adding things Connor likes to Board-X, such as turtles. Steve falls in love with Carol, which leads to him being kidnapped, forced to work in a Chinese sweatshop and become addicted to heroin. He is eventually fired from Neotronic Arts and then killed when hit by a car.

Sherry Miller as Carol Jarlewski, Ethan's mother. While appearing to be a classic uptight housewife and mother, Carol is involved in grow-ops, drug dealing and murders. The daughter of a police officer, Carol has an extensive gun collection with which she is very proficient. Her longing to be a grandmother causes her to badger her sons and interfere in their lives. Late in the series, she moves to a lesbian commune.

Peter Benson as Greg Jarlewski, Ethan's older brother who is a real estate agent and dates cougars (older women who like younger men). He is a friend of Kam Fong.

Alan Thicke as Jim Jarlewski, Ethan's father. Jim is attempting to become an actor but has no talent so he remains an extra. He is a ballroom dancing champion and occasionally cheats on his wife, Carol. When things get messy in his life, he turns to his friend Kam Fong to provide instant solutions.

Raugi Yu as Kam Fong, a Chinese mobster. Kam is involved in human trafficking, drugs, pornography, rigging games shows and various other illegal activities. Kam is an avid ladies' man. He lives to ballroom dance and spend time with Jim. He makes a great friend but a dangerous enemy. He is shown to despise Ethan a little bit.

Cancellation[edit]

On March 7, 2008, CBC Television announced the cancellation of jPod.[5] After earning high praise from some critics but little viewership, CBC moved the program to Friday nights, which may have had a negative effect on its ratings. "jPod has been in trouble since February, when CBC moved it from mid-week to Friday night, when viewers are difficult to attract."[5]

On March 28, 2008, CBC aired episodes out of order by broadcasting Episode 12 instead of Episode 11. However, CBC has made Episode 11 available on their website for those in Canada.

Notable differences from the book[edit]

  • The series' main storyline lacks the book's character "Evil Mark".[6] It was revealed in Episode 5, through a flashback scene, that Evil Mark was killed from inhaling helium at a jPod party. In the book, a different Marc (Marc Jacobsen) died from inhaling helium at his sister's birthday party before "Evil Mark" and Kaitlin join jPod.
  • In the book Kaitlin asks what happened to Marc and no one answers to which she replies "this is so Pulp Fiction". In an episode Bree remarks after they kidnap someone "this is so Reservoir Dogs"
  • Some brands mentioned by name in the book have been altered:
    • The "taint" has been changed from McDonald's food products to buttered popcorn.
    • The mention of Steve having "turn around Toblerone" becomes him having "turn around Monrovia Chocolates."
    • The "Subway Diet" Kaitlin supposedly went through is now the "Underground Sandwiches Diet", and rather than it being a hoax as in the book, on the series she claims to have lost a large amount of weight.
    • As of the third episode, it is apparent that the references to McDonald's and Ronald McDonald are switched for a Churley's fast food den who also has a red-haired clown Klownsworthy as a mascot (albeit with a different hairdo).
  • With the public debut of jCola, the drink is flavoured with sugar and then spiked with cocaine by Kam Fong in the book. In one episode, Ethan creates jCola with a low calorie sweetener derived from breast milk (freedom and John Doe's secret sweetener), then Kaitlin's ex Kevin laces the drink with refined white sugar.
  • In the book, Steve's son's name is Jeff, though he initially tells people it is Carter. In the show, his son's name is Conner.
  • In the book, the turtle is named Jeff (supposedly based on Jeff Probst, but Steve was pulling a fast one). In the series, it goes by Dwight, after the drug dealer Steven and Ethan's mother injure at a subterranean parking lot.
  • In the book it is Carol who asks Kam Fong to help her get rid of Steve (without hurting him). In the series, it was Jim who made that call when Steve was serenading the house.
  • When Steve is missing; in the book Kaitlin discovers Steve's Penguin necktie in Ethan's parent's bathroom, instead, in the series, Ethan discovers Steve's PDA amongst some boxes in the basement.
  • In the show, Ethan and Cowboy go to China, whereas in the book, Ethan made the trip alone.
  • Cowboy's obsession with death is not noted until "Sprite Quest".
  • In the book, Alistair Parrish did become the boss of jPod after Steve's disappearance, but he was rather nondescript. In the show, the podsters suffered under his tyrannical reign until Ethan tied him in a game of Rock-paper-scissors, with help from the mysterious Babette.
  • Referencing Grand Theft Auto's Hot Coffee version, the TV series jPodsters work at inserting a secret red-light district into BoardX. Ethan then convinces the management that this will increase sales. Ethan attends meetings where another game, starring Klownsworthy as a hero clown is being negotiated. In the book, the jPodsters create Ronald's (McDonald) Lair of Death to insert into Sprite Quest. Steve later arranges for Ronald's Lair of Death to be released as a separate game. However, on the show, desperate for drug money, Steve tries to sell Sprite Quest to Awesome Arts to copy and release as Elf Crusade.
  • Ethan's dad, Jim is hired to voice several characters for BoardX in the series. Instead, in the book he voices Ronald the Slasher clown for the secret insert in Sprite Quest.
  • Kaitlin takes a class at the Kwantlen College Learning Annex in the book. But on the series, she needs to take night classes at the Princess Stephanie Institute to complete her high school diploma.
  • Kaitin builds the hug machine in the book, for all the geek staffers to use. In the series, Steve steals the hug machine from his Cuddling group and installs it in the Neotronic Arts employee lounge.
  • In the book John Doe tells the story about how his father won the Irish Sweepstakes and left his wife, and she became the radical feminist lesbian "freedom". On the show John Doe introduces Bree to his father, the turkey baster; it is implied that freedom was always a lesbian.
  • The show also includes several different plot points including:
    • Cowboy trying to get John Doe laid
    • Storyline involving Bree visiting and helping John Doe reunite with his mother after he steals a tray of lasagna.
    • Storyline involving Bree meeting with the head of the U.K. office and John Doe getting her on to the list of people in line to the British throne.
    • Storyline involving Cowboy helping Alistair Parrish, who was detained at Guantanamo Bay detention camp following the September 11th terrorist attacks update the code for his game, which involved flying planes into buildings.
    • Storyline involving a mysterious Neotronic employee named Babette helping to remove Alistair from jPod.
    • John Doe being very proficient at administering oral sex.
    • John Doe and Bree have sex, while in the book, they have no romantic relationship at all.
    • John Doe and Cowboy were mentioned to go graffiti tagging in the book, in the show there is no mention of such activity.
    • Storyline involving Jim and Carol attending the Vancouver Swing convention.
    • Storylines involving Kaitlin's ex-boyfriend Kevin and Ethan's ex-girlfriend Sarah coming back into their lives. These characters do not exist in the book, so the Kaitlin-Ethan romance is much less complicated.
    • Storyline involving Carol and Dwight. In the book, Carol has only one drug dealer to dispose of - Tim.
    • Storyline involving the disposal of the ashes of Carol's father.
    • Kaitlin's graduation problems and jPod Prom storyline.
    • Cowboy donating sperm to the Lesbian commune.
  • In the book Ethan's room was converted into a sewing room, in the show it remained the same as when he had left it.
  • Kam Fong shoots a video of Ethan singing karaoke to "All out of Love" by Air Supply. In the book Ethan sings "Total Eclipse of the Heart" written by Jim Steinman.
  • On the series, John Doe does not have any interest in sneakers, while Ethan collects them. In the book Ethan refers to John and Cowboy as "Shoeheads".
  • No mention of Douglas Coupland as a pop reference, or as a character. But he plays a dead guy in a dream sequence in the episode "Sprite Quest".
  • The woman executive Gordina only exists on the show. Her version in the book is actually a man named Gord-O. In the book, a few very minor co-workers were named who did not work in jPod but interacted with Ethan. On the show jPod is very isolated and the only interaction is with management executives.
  • John does not mention siblings in the series. In the book Ethan briefly meets John Doe's sister Yarrow. Kaitlin mentions an overweight sister in the book, but on the show she has an absorbed twin.
  • Carol Jarlewski is faithful to Jim. In the book, both of them have cheated on the other.
  • The finale: In the book, the jPodsters all leave the gaming company to work on a new Globe project for Douglas Coupland. Steve arranges the release of Ronald's Lair of Death by their old employer, and the jPodsters are all paid a share. On the show; Steve is dead, and Jpod is soon disbanded and the podsters find other projects to work on at Neotronic. Bree works on Girlfighter, John at Knügle (The Sims-like IKEA game), Cowboy works on an artificial intelligence program, Kaitlin on Baby Cloris (based on an iconic childhood doll), and Ethan plans to transfer to Neotronic San Francisco to work in medical imaging.

DVD release[edit]

On September 9, 2008, Morningstar Entertainment released a region-free DVD set in Canada containing all 13 episodes of jPod, with bonus features including deleted and alternate scenes, including segments from the unaired pilot, a gag reel, animations and interstitials.[7]

A pressing error forces playback of Episode 8, The Last Shot, to be forward partway through the episode to the next episode on the disc. Morningstar soon offered a disc replacement program to those with an affected set.

Digital Distribution[edit]

In Canada, jPod is available streaming on demand on the CBC's jPod website. A first for scripted television on the network, who previously had dabbled with online distribution with its news programming. jPod is seen as an early step in the CBC's digital distribution plans, which includes releasing programs via BitTorrent.[8]

jPod also is available streaming on demand on the relaunch of The WB in the summer of 2008 at TheWB.com.[9] Intellectual property restrictions prevent those without American IP addresses from viewing the series on The WB.

The show is also in syndication on local CBS, NBC, ABC and Fox stations in the US.[citation needed]

The show was also released on iTunes .[10] There was originally a file error on iTunes which causes Episode 8: The Last Shot to play in lieu of Episode 9: Fine China. iTunes has subsequently corrected the file contents and released an update to customers who purchased the series.

In the UK, the full series of jPod is available on the Virgin On Demand service in both SD and HD to XL subscribers only, as well as offering the first four episodes on the Virgin Central channel in June 2009.[11]

Soundtrack[edit]

Episode 1: I Love Turtles[edit]

  • Fndmntl - Celly Cue
  • The Tragically Hip - Flamenco
  • Tegan and Sara - Walking With A Ghost
  • Bonobo - Noctuary
  • Stars - What The Snowman Learned About Love

Episode 2: A Fine Bro-Mance[edit]

  • Chromeo - Tenderoni
  • Cassette Won't Listen - The Sidewalk Cruise
  • Bonobo - Noctuary
  • Joel Plaskett - Fashionable People
  • Linda Martinez - Cha Cha
  • Bonobo - Ketto
  • Linda Martinez - High Society Social
  • Thaddeus Hillary - Dance And Swing
  • Mr. Scruff - Blackpool Roll
  • The Dragons - Food For My Soul

Episode 3: Emo-tion Capture[edit]

  • Bonobo - Wayward Bob
  • Datarock - Fa-Fa-Fa
  • Bonobo - Ketto
  • DJ Vadim - Black Is The Night
  • Bonobo - The Plug
  • Sorce and Smoxz - Spank Pod
  • Young & Sexy - Life Through One Speaker
  • Robert Cote Jr. - Lay Me Down
  • Milosh - It's Over

Episode 4: Feed The Need[edit]

  • Elliot Lipp - Flashlight
  • Datarock - The Most Beautiful Girl In The World
  • Bonobo - Transmission 94
  • Panurge - Listen To Your Own

Episode 5: Crappy Birthday to You[edit]

  • Pointed Sticks - What Do You Want Me To Do
  • Chromeo - My Girl Is Calling Me A Liar
  • Ethan's Karaoke Version - All Out Of Love

Episode 6: The Hero's Journey[edit]

  • Cold Cut - Man In The Garage
  • Fndmntl - Bodega Dub
  • Nasty On - You're No Good
  • Dream Life Misery - Out Of Nowhere
  • Mr. Scruff - Sea Mammal
  • Sons Of Freedom - You're No Good
  • Cassettes Won't Listen - The Sidewalk Cruise
  • When In Rome - The Promise
  • The Seams - Things Are Gonna Get Worse

Episode 7: SpriteQuest[edit]

  • Bonobo - Walk In The Sky
  • Elliot Lipp - Neutral
  • Bonobo feat. Fink - If You Stayed Over
  • Datarock - Night Flight To Uranus
  • Cassettes Won't Listen - To Have A Crush
  • Sorce - Breakin' Ass
  • Telefon Tel Aviv - John Thomas On The Inside Is Nothing But Foam

Episode 8: The Last Shot[edit]

  • Bonobo - Noctuary
  • The Dragons - Sandman
  • Fndmntl - Camouflage
  • Stars - What The Snowman Learned About Love
  • Remy Shand - Everlasting
  • Stars - Elevator Love Letter

Episode 9: Fine China[edit]

  • The Payolas - China Boys
  • Agoria - Baboul Hair Cutton' feat. Scalde
  • Fink - If Only

Episode 10: The Betty and Veronica Syndrome[edit]

  • Fndmntl - Buttergroove
  • Bonobo - Ketto
  • Fink - Pretty Little Thing

Episode 11: Senseless Prom Death[edit]

  • Fndmntl - Buttergroove
  • Steve Rio - Shine On Me
  • Fndmntl - Fireside
  • Fndmntl - Minutae5
  • Eliot Lipp - Neutral
  • Cinematic Orchestra - To Build A Home
  • Images In Vogue - Call It Love
  • Men Without Hats - The Safety Dance
  • Sheriff - When I'm With You
  • Payolas - Eyes Of A Stranger
  • Neverending White Lights - Always

Episode 12: Steve Leaves[edit]

  • Fndmntl - Why
  • Bonobo - The Fever
  • The Awkward Stage - West Van Girl
  • Panurge - Black Box
  • Bonobo - Between The Lines
  • Tegan & Sara - Back In Your Head

Episode 13: Colony Collapse Disorder[edit]

  • Panurge - Le Petit Citrouille
  • Echo Pilot - Woob Ray Dub
  • Sinewave - A Ton Of Automotons
  • Veal - Skid
  • Othello 9 - Droan
  • Fink - So Long
  • Bonobo - The Plug
  • Cassettes Won't Listen - To Have A Crush
  • Fischerspooner - Emerge
  • Telefon Tel Aviv - Sound In A Dark Room
  • Honeycut - The Day I Turned To Glass

References[edit]

  1. ^ Andrews, Marke (2008-01-04). "jPod - CBC wants you to see the show, read the blogs, play the game". The Vancouver Sun. 
  2. ^ "Just cancelled: CBC's jPod". The Vancouver Sun. 2008-03-07. Retrieved 2010-03-04. 
  3. ^ "Save jPod!". Retrieved 2010-03-04. 
  4. ^ MacDonald, Gayle (2008-11-24). "CBC wants more women". Globe & Mail. Retrieved 2010-03-04. 
  5. ^ a b "CBC renews The Border, cuts jPod, MVP". CBC News. 7 March 2008. 
  6. ^ Odegaard, Maia Britt (28 January 2008). "Jpod is worth a pause". The Peak. 
  7. ^ Lambert, David (2008-02-08). "jPod - Canadian Series Comes to DVD This September: Date, Cost, Package Art!". TV Shows on DVD. Retrieved 2010-03-04. 
  8. ^ "jCBC to BitTorrent Canada's Next Great Prime Minister". CBC.ca. 2008-03-19. Retrieved 2010-03-04. 
  9. ^ "Warner Bros. Television Group Launches TheWB.com". Warner Brothers. 2008-04-28. Retrieved 2010-03-04. 
  10. ^ "'jPod at the iTunes Store"
  11. ^ Donaghy, James (2009-06-02). "jPod - another cancelled cult show". guardian.co.uk. Retrieved 2010-03-04. 

External links[edit]