Movies

The Rundown: It Is Now A Settled Fact That Santa Claus Exists In The ‘Ted Lasso’ Universe

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 — Santa is canon now

Ted Lasso put out a Christmas episode in August, which is something so wild and audacious that I have no choice but to respect it. It’s 90 degrees outside. The sun stays out until 8 o’clock. School hasn’t even started again. And Ted Lasso is out here spreading holiday cheer and wearing a Santa hat. People were full-on singing Christmas carols with festive buskers. It’s the kind of thing that might have felt tacky and too-soon if it happened in, like, October, but is so chaotic here in the middle of summer that it makes me cackle. I love it.

But that’s not the point. I mean, it’s kind of the point, but it’s not fully the point. The point is that, at the very end of the episode, when Ted and Rebecca were singing the aforementioned Christmas carols with the aforementioned festive buskers, this happened.

APPLE

Do you understand what this means? Do you, really? Because I need you to sit there for a second and think it through all the way. Santa Claus exists in the Ted Lasso universe. This is canon now. There’s no going back. Every time you’re watching an episode and Roy cusses at someone or Jamie Tartt does any of the things Jamie Tartt does throughout the day, Santa Claus is sitting in his workshop making a note about it. There is a Naughty And Nice list. Children presumably receive presents every year that were not purchased for them by their parents. In a show that is otherwise grounded in reality, Santa Claus flew through the sky and people saw it. It’s probably so normal it’s not even mentioned on the news anymore.

(It’s also worth noting that back here, in our own stupid real world, the people who make Ted Lasso had to make this happen. They had to send this out to the graphics department. There was money set aside in the budget for a CGI shot of Santa flying through the air. That iPhone in your hand helped to pay for it. It’s fun to think about all of this for a second, too.)

Is it weird that I’m making such a big deal about this? Maybe it is. I don’t know. It’s all just so fascinating to me for some reason I have not yet put my finger on. I want to know more about it. I want to know everything about it. I kind of want a Pulitzer-winning report by Trent Crimm in The Independent about Santa using unpaid elf labor to manufacture toys and load them onto a sleigh.

It also opens up a portal that we — or I, at least — can’t close now. It raises too many questions. Does the Easter Bunny exist, too? Have scientists studied the flying reindeer? Has Dani Rojas met the real Santa Claus? Why haven’t I seen Dani Rojas meeting Santa Claus? Can I see Dani Rojas meet Santa Claus? Can I watch a whole episode about him going to the North Pole? You see what a problem this is becoming for me.

I’ll get over it soon enough. I’m sure of it. I’ll move on and let it go and my brain will latch onto some other nonsense idea and refuse to let it go. But I’m going on a solid week with this one, with limited interruptions. In August. I have been thinking about Santa for a whole week in August. And, quite frankly, I think I deserve some answers. Someone get Trent Crimm a plane ticket. There is reporting to do.

ITEM NUMBER TWO — BUT I WANT IT NOW

Universal

Good news and bad news. Good news first because The Rundown has a policy of leading with positivity whenever possible: The tenth Fast & Furious movie has an official release date. Unfortunately, this brings us to the bad news.

Two months after the long-delayed launch of F9, Universal Pictures has set a release date for the 10th — and penultimate — installment of The Fast Saga. The Justin Lin-directed vehicle will arrive April 7, 2023.

And that good news and bad news leads to more good news and bad news, but this time I’m leading with the bad news because I’m mad: That date is too far away. It is so far away. It’s practically the future. We might be driving to see this movie in flying cars. We might be ordering popcorn and getting little popcorn pills that replicate the taste of the real thing without the mess. The ticket-rippers might be robots that look like humans. I hate it. I’m not made of time. Film it next week and release it at Thanksgiving.

That said, it does bring us back to more good news, which I’ll close with to bookend this sucker with solid vibes. All of this extra time gives them a chance to fix, well, this.

New addition John Cena told EW ahead of F9 that he wasn’t allowing himself to think about the future of his character, Jakob Toretto, while Fast favorite Dwayne Johnson is officially out due to his beef with Diesel. Johnson recently declared, “I wish them the best of luck on Fast 10 and Fast 11 and the rest of the Fast & Furious movies they do that will be without me.”

I need my two dads — Vin Diesel and The Rock — to stop fighting. Let’s put all this extra time to good use. Please. For the kids.

ITEM NUMBER THREE — My new favorite thing is actors admitting they don’t understand the Marvel universe

Marvel

People used to lie. When actors or actresses were cast in big roles in comic book movies or shows they would lie, usually. They would say things like “I’ve been a fan of Giraffeman ever since I was a kid” or “Hammerwoman got me through a hard time when I was still shy and awkward” and you’d read it and you’d say “Hmm… nope” because it was obvious hooey. Maybe it was true sometimes but it was usually just a shameless play to the fans they needed to show up and buy tickets so they could make a Giraffeman and Hammerwoman: Escape From Danger Lagoon sequel that paid double their original rate and launched them into the A-list. And that was fine. I think everyone knew what was happening there, that it was all a series of winks and nods we agreed to accept in the interest of playing the game.

But lately, people have been getting honest. Maybe it’s because these kinds of projects are bulletproof juggernauts that reel in more than just the fanboys now, maybe it’s because there’s a higher premium on authenticity now because social media has given an appearance of more transparency. I don’t know, really. And I also do not care. I just love that it’s happening because I am an idiot at comics, too. I watch a lot of the movies and shows and I enjoy many of them but the lore and history and references are completely lost on me. So, for example, when Owen Wilson said this in an interview about his appearance in Loki

You have a lot of dialogue as Mobius in the first two episodes in which you’re explaining what the TVA is, and the complicated rules of how they and time travel operates — how much do you feel like you had to fully understand that yourself, to deliver that kind of stuff?

You’re describing this to me and I don’t really have much of a memory of it, so I don’t know if I blocked it out of my mind the way you would math class. Because it is complicated, and it’s hard sometimes if you feel you’re saddled with a lot of exposition. I don’t quite remember it being too burdensome. We must have found a nice flow for it, where it was able to naturally work its way in to the conversations with Tom. Because I don’t remember it being too, ‘Oh god, now we’ve got to lay this out.’

… it delighted me to no end because that’s how I feel when a character starts laying out paragraphs of exposition that tie together past and future movies I also didn’t/won’t understand. And that’s why it brings me great pleasure to report that Owen Wilson has done it again, this time in a really fun profile in Esquire.

“They asked me a lot about—‘It sounds like you had to be convinced to do this.’ I don’t know where they’re getting that. That isn’t true. The director just called me and told me the idea, and I wanted to work on it. But somehow what seems to be in their press notes, maybe, is that I know zero about the MCU. I don’t know a ton about it, but I know—”

He pauses.

“Actually, yeah, I probably don’t know that much about it. I kind of know about Iron Man. I’ve seen Aquaman. He’s swimming in jeans. No one can swim in jeans! That was my argument with the kids about Aquaman.”

There are three things I like here:

  • You can’t read this without hearing it in his voice
  • I will never look at Aquaman the same way
  • If we want to be technical about everything, Aquaman is a DC character, not a Marvel one, and that’s coming from me, the guy who just described himself as a huge comics idiot

It’s great. Owen Wilson is the best. But do you know who else is the best? Michael Keaton, who also was the subject of a fun profile this week and who also professed his ignorance about the deeper levels of backstory and tie-ins related to a character he played in a comic book movie.

When Keaton shot Morbius, a Marvel movie due from Sony in 2022 for which he reprises the Vulture role, the filmmakers started talking him through the logic of the fictional universe, referencing recent Marvel plot points. “I’m nodding like I know what the fuck they’re talking about. I go, ‘Uh-huh.’ And I’m thinking, ‘You may as well be explaining quantum physics right now to me. All I know is I just know my guy. And I know the basics.’ So finally, they were looking at me, and they just started laughing. They said, ‘You don’t know what we’re talking about, do you?’ I said, ‘No, I don’t, no idea what you’re talking about.’ “

This probably has as much to do with these two guys being two of the coolest and charismatic dudes around as it does with anything else. I doubt some unknown could walk into the role of Spider-man and be like “I don’t know, boss, I played sports,” but it’s still nice to see. There’s nothing wrong with reading comics. There’s also nothing wrong with not reading them. I just like that people are being honest about it now.

ITEM NUMBER FOUR — Oh look, an episode of television for me

Disney+

Hey, speaking of comics-related stuff I understand on the most basic level, this week’s episode of What If…? was awesome. The show kind of plays a game of Sliding Doors with the Marvel universe and mixes everything all up. This one swapped T’Challa from Black Panther into the Star-Lord role from Guardians of the Galaxy. The most notable thing about it was that it marked one of the last projects Chadwick Boseman worked on before he died. It was both weird and good to hear his voice again. This is my analysis.

But the other good thing about the episode is that it appeared to pander directly to me, a person who loves heists and involuntarily does the DiCaprio pointing meme whenever a character does some variation of the “we’re not so different” thing that characters do sometimes. I say this because this happened at the beginning of the episode…

Disney+
Disney+

… and this happened near the end.

Disney+

I appreciate that the people at Marvel and Disney did this for me. It was nice of them. Now all I need is for them to cast Allen Iverson as the next… I mean, anything really. Maybe just as himself. Let Allen Iverson and Rasheed Wallace be Avengers. That would be cool. If we’re doing things for my personal enjoyment now. Which would be nice. Thank you.

ITEM NUMBER FIVE — I have decided this is good news

Universal

Something I try to keep in mind is that two things can be true at the same time. I say it all the time and write about it a fair amount of the time, but I do all that because it’s important. So, for example, it’s true that there are probably too many shows and movies that reboot or reimagine shows and movies from years ago, and that it would be nice if we could all toss some more money at newer original stuff. But it’s also true that Mike Schur — creator of Parks and Recreation and The Good Place — getting a crack at making a Field of Dreams television show has me a little excited.

Written by Schur, the series will reimagine the mixture of family, baseball, Iowa and magic that makes the movie so enduring and beloved.

The pickup comes amid a surge in popularity for the 1989 film starring Kevin Costner following baseball’s “Field of Dreams” game last week between the New York Yankees and Chicago White Sox, which aired in primetime on Fox. It was the most-watched regular-season Major League Baseball telecast on any network since 2005, according to Nielsen, and Fox’s most-streamed regular-season game in its history.

Schur is one of the smartest and best television minds we have right now, and he’s also one of the smartest and best baseball minds we’ve ever had. It’s still bc a little crazy to me that the dude who cracked me up under a pseudonym at the blog Fire Joe Morgan over a decade ago turned out to be the same guy who created two of my favorite television shows ever. I’m going to go ahead and say I’m optimistic about this one, even though the first true thing is still true. Some people have earned the benefit of the doubt on things like this. So, yes, I will watch the show about baseball ghosts. I don’t even like the movie that much. But I will watch. And I hope Jay Jackson pops up at some point in character as Perd Hapley to report on it all, the ghosts and the cornfields and everything. That would be fun.

READER MAIL

If you have questions about television, movies, food, local news, weather, or whatever you want, shoot them to me on Twitter or at brian.grubb@uproxx.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.

From Chad:

I knew I recognized Crashmore [from the new season of I Think You Should Leave] from somewhere before. I have recently been rewatching Brooklyn 99 in anticipation of the new season coming up soon and I found him – he played Tito, the meth addict locked in the jail with Holt and Peralta in season 4, episode 2.

That’s right, Santa is a meth addict who was once locked up in a Florida jail. This makes sense to me.

Well, guess what, buddy: It gets even better because, while every word you typed in that email is true, so are all these words I’m about to type. Here we go: This actor’s real name is, I swear, Biff Wiff, and he also just appeared as himself in an episode of Dave.

Look at Biff Wiff go.

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Welcome to the summer of Biff Wiff. It’s nice here. We have fun.

AND NOW, THE NEWS

To England!

A baked bean bandit is emptying cans of the good stuff all over a village in a sticky reign of terror.

The mystery vandal has been covering doorsteps, homes and cars with the famous orange sauce.

A BAKED BEAN BANDIT

WOW, I GUESS THE COPS PROBABLY WANT ANYONE WITH INFORMATION TO SPILL THE B-

Cops are now urging anyone with information to spill the beans.

Dammit. Come on. It’s my job to make awful jokes like this. I can’t just have the news infringing on my territory. It won’t do. I’m mad now.

A Surrey Police spokesperson said: ‘Local officers have received reports of incidents in Wonersh where beans and other food has been poured onto residents’ front doors and cars overnight.

‘The victims are understandably distressed by this unacceptable behaviour.’

Big fan of the “unacceptable behavior” in this quote because, like, yeah. Dumping full cans of baked beans on your neighbors’ property definitely falls under the umbrella of “unacceptable.” Imagine a world where we did accept that as reasonable behavior. It would be chaos. You’d have to hose off your car every morning. There would be a worldwide bean shortage. The President would have to address the nation about it.

I am barely joking when I say I would watch this movie.

In one picture, four empty cans of Heinz beans are discarded near a doorstep studded with little orange beans.

While another shows a grey car with sauce dribbling down the driver’s window, leaving an unsightly orange smudge.

I am so proud of the person who wrote this. The language is so vivid. I feel like I’m there, looking at the bean-related mess. This is wonderful journalism.

One person wrote online: ‘Hope you catch those horrendous criminals! Otherwise the house prices in Wonersh will plunge!’

Another joked: ‘What half-baked idiots would do this? I hope they get thrown in the can!’

Everyone is doing great.

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