The Rundown is a weekly column that highlights some of the biggest, weirdest, and most notable events of the week in entertainment. The number of items could vary, as could the subject matter. It will not always make a ton of sense. Some items might not even be about entertainment, to be honest, or from this week. The important thing is that it’s Friday, and we are here to have some fun.
ITEM NUMBER ONE — It’s not the same
Let me tell you about one of my favorite movie theater experiences. I’ve told this story before, but I don’t care. It delights me every time. Here goes.
It was a few years ago, during the opening weekend of Black Panther. The place was packed, people crawling over each other to get to one of the few open seats, confused people shuffling in during the trailers and hopelessly searching for four seats together somewhere, the whole thing. The movie starts. Everyone is way into it, staring at the screen, soaking it in. Eventually, we get to the scene where Killmonger shows up in Wakanda and challenges T’Challa to a fight for the throne. You could feel the tension in the room. Right as the fight is about to start, Killmonger, played by Michael B. Jordan takes off his shirt to reveal an absolutely shredded torso.
As he does this, like in that very moment, a woman a few rows in front of me gasped and let out a deep, almost involuntary “Oh my God” that carried through the otherwise silent room.
The whole place cracked up. Everyone, full-on belly laughs. Two warriors were on the big screen trying to kill each other and we were all howling because this poor woman got so horny about Michael B. Jordan’s pecs that words snuck out of her mouth before she could stop them. It was awesome. I think about it every time I see the movie. I hope she is still out there thriving.
I bring this up today for two reasons: One, because I really like telling this story; two, because I really miss seeing movies in the theater. There’s something about that communal experience, about the big screen and the popcorn and all of it, that just feels different than watching a movie at home. It’s true for comedies, where a whole room filled with laughing people can add to your appreciation of the movie. It’s true for action movies, where seeing big huge chases and shootouts feels better with the big huge screen and big huge sound. It’s true for terrible movies, too. I would have loved to watch Money Plane in a theater filled with loony rascals. Especially one of those theaters that serves alcohol. That would have been fun.
This is all extra-newsworthy this week because Disney announced that it’s bypassing the theaters to release Mulan on Disney+, for a premium. The decision makes enough sense under the circumstances. Theaters are closed for the foreseeable future. Mulan is the type of family movie that can work on VOD during a quarantine because frazzled parents can look at the $30 price tag and do the math of what the theater would have cost and click “Purchase” in the hopes that it will entertain their children for a coupon of hours. But some people are freaking out a bit. There are some cries of “Is this the end of movie theaters as we know it?” Theaters were already not doing super great before they lost a whole summer. It’s a concern.
I think — I hope — this is all overblown. I love seeing movies in the theater. I’ll go see a movie in the theater again as soon as I’m reasonably certain I won’t catch a deadly virus while doing so. I might camp out to go see Fast 9 in a theater, if only because I want to be in a room filled with other maniacs when I find out exactly how Han survived the Tokyo car crash that we later learned was a vehicular homicide committed by Jason Statham. I like watching movies at home, too, and I sure do it a lot, but it’s not the same. There are too many distractions. It doesn’t feel special. There are no strange horny ladies accidentally whooping at shirtless murderers. It just won’t do.
Let’s not write off movie theaters yet. Watching newly released movies at home is a decent temporary solution. The studios want their money and we all need something to pass the hours of the day. It can work fine, for now. But once this is over, once we can all go out and be around each other and not fear for our lives, let’s seriously consider renting out a theater for a private screening of Money Plane. It’ll be fun. I’ll bring the margaritas.
ITEM NUMBER TWO — This stinks!
Hulu canceled High Fidelity this week after one very good season. After one season! Nothing gets canceled after one season anymore. Two seasons, maybe, and yes, I’m still bummed out about American Vandal. But that show was admittedly a little more gimmicky and did not have big star power attached to it. High Fidelity had a recognizable bit of intellectual property attached to it and it starred Zoe Freakin Kravitz. And again, it was good. I say this as someone who was very skeptical of a gender-swapped television series based on a book that was turned into a John Cusack movie.
It had no right to be as good as it was, to be honest. I don’t get very upset about cancellations anymore because there’s just so much out there constantly bashing us in our heads, but this one stings. It felt like the show was just getting started, like it was laying down the foundation for something really cool. The last cancellation that bummed me out this much was Lodge 49, another show that was doing cool stuff and was just hitting its groove. And even that got two seasons. I hate this!
Deadline has a little inside information of the decision-making process and, nope, it does not make me feel any better.
The decision was not easy and came after lengthy deliberations, I hear. The show, which has been well received by critics and is headlined by a big star with a massive following in Kravitz, had internal support at Hulu, whose brass took extra time to mull a potential renewal, with sibling ABC Signature extending the options on the cast by a month to accommodate that.
In the end, the streamer opted not to proceed with a second season. Finding another home for the show is considered a long shot, I hear.
I’m sure there are reasons at play here. I’m sure Hulu did not cancel a show they liked just to ruin Brian’s week. It’s still weird and bad, though. They tossed aside a critically-acclaimed show with a big-name lead after a single season. Who does that? Why would they do that? Are we sure they didn’t do it just to ruin my week? It’s as reasonable an explanation as anything I’ve come up within the last couple days. I suppose we can’t rule it out.
If there’s a silver lining anywhere here, it’s that the first season works pretty well as a standalone project. You can and probably should still watch it if you haven’t, although then you might end up just as confused and mad as I am now. So maybe don’t go watch the first season now. Ugh. Blech. Blech and ugh. That’s my final comment on this matter.
ITEM NUMBER THREE — Let them blow up the bridge, Poland, geez
Folks, I am pleased to report that we have an international incident involving the Mission: Impossible franchise, Poland, and an aborted bridge explosion. A lot of moving parts here. The short version goes something like this: Director Christopher McQuarrie was on the hunt for an old bridge to blow up in real life for the next installment in the Tom Cruise franchise, and he thought he found one, and then everything went sideways due to alleged subterfuge and tomfoolery. There were even reports that the bridge was a historical landmark. I’ll let McQuarrie explain via the statement he put out this week to try to set the record straight.
Mission: Impossible has come to be known as a franchise that does as much as humanly possible without the use of digital effects, which allows us to create moments in a way audiences have never seen before. At the very start of the film’s pre-production, we had a rough concept for a sequence involving a bridge over a body of water, ideally one that could be (spoiler alert) partially destroyed. While we doubted such a thing would be possible, a broad search was initiated in the unlikely event that any country anywhere in the world might have a bridge that needed getting rid of.
Some lovely people from Poland responded with enthusiasm.
First of all, I love this. He just put it into the universe that he wanted to blow up a bridge and Poland was like “Hell yeah, come blow up our bridge.” This is how the world is supposed to work. People from various cultures putting their differences aside to achieve a common goal, which, again, in this case, was obliterating a damn bridge for a Tom Cruise movie.
Unfortunately, this is where things took a turn.
One individual, for reasons I cannot specify without revealing their identity, claimed they were owed a job on the production for which we felt they were not adequately qualified.
When this individual’s demands were not met, they retaliated.
After harassing members of our production publicly and anonymously on social media, as well as privately, this individual misrepresented our intentions and concealed their personal reasons for wanting to penalize us. They even tried to have this condemned, unsafe and unusable bridge landmarked in the hopes of preventing it from ever being removed and rebuilt (which we understand would be to the detriment of the area’s economic needs). Then they reached out to us to gloat about it. In short, this individual manipulated the emotional response of the people in a move that has now compromised our ambitions to bring our production to Poland.
Dammit. Come on! Come on, Poland! Let them blow up this bridge. Let me come watch it, too. I’ve never seen a bridge get blown up. I didn’t even know I wanted to see it until about 10 minutes ago, but now it’s all I want to see. I would totally let them blow up my bridge if I had one. I wouldn’t even charge them. I would do it for the experience. This is what you’re missing out on, Poland. When are you ever going to get to see a bridge blow up? When will you have this chance again? Think this through. Don’t do something you’ll regret, like not letting them blast this bridge straight to hell.
ITEM NUMBER FOUR — Jackie Daytona
It is, of course, the official policy of this column to report on any and all news related to “On the Run,” the already iconic episode of What We Do in the Shadows that featured a fancy vampire named Laszlo fleeing his home to become a toothpick-chomping Pennsylvania bartender named Jackie Daytona. We all know this. Therefore, it is with great pleasure that I direct you to this interview at Vulture with the writer of the episode, and the creator of that perfect fake name, Stefani Robinson.
Let’s get right to it. Let’s get to the Jackie Daytona of it all.
Do you remember how you came up with the name Jackie Daytona?
[Laughs]. Vaguely! There’s something that just really tickled me about an “ie” at the end of the name for a guy. Both of my grandmother’s names are Jacqueline, called Jackie, so there was something about that in my mind. But then I was also thinking, what is the most obnoxious specifically American-sounding word I can think of? Which was Daytona. You know, you can’t really top that.
“Jackie Daytona” just had a ring to it, it was one of those moments where it was probably divine inspiration. I didn’t think about it for that long; it sounded like he was cool, and probably God was just speaking to me. I went with it and never looked back.
God, this is beautiful. I am admittedly very biased because I love silly fake names more than almost anything in this world. I spend hours at a time thinking of them. Tex Montreal, Mitch Casino, Brenda Sacramento. I could go on. Lord knows I have. It is true that the best fake names usually end with a physical location as the last name. Justified had Jackie Nevada, The Office had Robert California, both of which I thought were perfect, unbeatable names. Until this year. Until I saw and heard the name Jackie Daytona and I froze in place like the ghosts of my ancestors had walked through my wall and sat down at my dinner table.
I’m realizing now that there’s a non-zero chance I take this with me to the grave. Like I could be 90 years old and I’ll still be thinking about the name Jackie Daytona. I’m actually kind of okay with it.
ITEM NUMBER FIVE — Something incredible happened on Holey Moley this week
Holey Moley is, as we all know, this nation’s finest television program. Arguments to the contrary will not be considered. I don’t even know why you would want to argue about it. What a beautiful, stupid television show. It entertains me consistently. It entertained me especially this week, because something truly incredible happened. That GIF up there is a 20-year-old kickboxer named Mallory getting absolutely walloped on the course’s best hole, Pol-cano. Flipped right over, blammo.
It gets better. She managed to win this hole and advance. The next round featured the windmills, the course’s second-best hole. Let’s see how she d-
Two holes, two dramatic splash landings. I should also mention here that Mallory refers to herself as “The Ronda Rousey of Mini-Golf,” which is just great. Look at how effectively that windmill just wiped her clean off the ground. I could watch it forever. But I won’t. Because there’s more good news.
Against all odds, Mallory won this round, too, and advanced to the finals, which this week featured the course’s third-best hole, Number Two, in which contestants must sprint down a narrow strip of solid ground while a slew of people in monster costumes throw open the doors of portable toilets in an attempt to fling them into the water.
Let’s see h-
This is groundbreaking. She competed on the course’s three best and funniest holes and got just wrecked on each one. It’s magnificent. It’s legendary. It’s one of the greatest athletic performances I’ve ever seen. And here’s the best part…
SHE GOT DEMOLISHED ON ALL THREE HOLES AND WAS STILL THE CHAMPION OF THE EPISODE.
SHE ADVANCED TO THE SEASON FINALE AND NOW HAS A SHOT AT $250,000.
I repeat: The nation’s finest television program.
If you have questions about television, movies, food, local news, weather, or whatever you want, shoot them to me on Twitter or at email@example.com (put “RUNDOWN” in the subject line). I am the first writer to ever answer reader mail in a column. Do not look up this last part.
I saw some excellent advice recently and am in the middle of a Justified rewatch. One incredibly minor character that stuck with me was Flex, a drug dealer who was planning to leave a life of crime behind by becoming a magician. Flex was played by Chadwick Boseman and if I ever meet him I’m going to tell him how much I loved him in that role and the way he said “I was going to be a magician, you DICK” to the man who tragically cut short his career before it even began. Do you have a scene or role that you would like to reminisce about with a star, that they probably don’t even remember, but that you can’t stop thinking about?
This is a terrific question for at least three reasons:
- It reminded me that Chadwick Boseman was in Justified
- It reminded me that he says the objectively hilarious sentence, “I was going to be a magician, YOU DICK”
- It helped me remember that Nick Offerman — Ron Swanson himself — once appeared on The West Wing as an animal rights activist who wanted the federal government to build an 1800 mile long highway for wolves that would cost $900 million
So that’s my answer. I’ve posted the clip below. Lee, this was a terrific email.
AND NOW, THE NEWS
Here’s a useful tip: If you ever find yourself stuck on an uninhabited island in the Pacific, it turns out that writing SOS in giant letters on the sand works.
At least, it did this past weekend for three men whose small boat had run out of fuel and drifted off course among the hundreds of islands and atolls of Micronesia.
It worked! The thing from the TV shows and movies worked! I suddenly feel so weirdly validated, like somehow decades of watching cartoons is now retroactively classified as survival research. I’m happy for these guys because they got saved, but I’m even happier for myself. This is a huge day for me.
On Sunday afternoon, one of the American aircraft was finishing the final leg of the day’s patrol when crew members saw the scrawled letters and a blue-and-white vessel on the sand of a tiny uninhabited atoll called Pikelot. Lt. Col. Jason Palmeira-Yen, the pilot of the aircraft, said he was reaching the end of the planned search grid when he turned the plane to avoid a rain shower.
“That’s when we looked down and saw an island, so we decide to check it out and that’s when we saw SOS and a boat right next to it on the beach,” he said.
Do you think one of these guys looked at his buddy and started hallucinating from hunger and his buddy slowly turned into like a huge turkey with human arms and legs? My first instinct would have been to say no, but now that I know the thing about the SOS in the sand working, I’m questioning everything. Maybe coyotes really can survive multiple falls from cliffs and homemade rocket explosions. It’s all on the table now.
Writing huge letters in the sand has proved helpful to travelers stranded in the Pacific in the past. In 2016, three men whose boat was overturned in Micronesian waters swam two miles to reach a tiny island, from which they were rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard after writing “HELP” in the sand.
Here’s my idea. Let’s go around to a bunch of uninhabited islands in the Pacific and write stuff in the sand. Not emergency messages asking for help, just stuff people should know. Examples:
RHEA SEEHORN’S EMMY SNUB IS A SHAMEFUL INDICTMENT OF THE WHOLE SYSTEM
AN ANTEATER CAN EAT OVER 35,000 ANTS IN ONE DAY
THE LEOTARD WAS INVENTED BY A DUDE NAMED JULES LEOTARD WHO DROPPED OUT OF LAW SCHOOL TO BECOME AN ACROBAT
It will be a tremendous waste of time. I’ll supervise from home.