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 — Monday nights are for chaos now
My favorite moments on 9-1-1 are the ones where two characters we’ve never seen before start having a conversation that has nothing to do with anything, because that’s how you know something wild is about to go down. It’s like the beginning of an episode of Law & Order where you’d see two dudes walking through the park deep into a generic discussion about the Mets’ bullpen or something and you’d know, deep in your soul, that those two dudes are about to find a dead body. The difference with 9-1-1 is that the conversations are usually arguments about progressive workplace issues and instead of finding a body they might be massively injured by a city bus that flies through their eighth-floor office window.
Which brings us to the season premiere that aired this Monday. I was not kidding about the bus thing. Look at this very real screenshot from the episode.
There are hows and whys here, of course, and I could explain everything to you if you make me, but I’d prefer not to. It’s more fun this way, just me telling you that there’s a network telling show that stars Peter Krause and Angela Bassett that sometimes launches a bus into a multi-story downtown Los Angeles building. Don’t ruin your fun with research. It’s rarely worth it. The only thing I feel I need to add, just for color, is that the bus ended up there because the Los Angeles dam broke in an earthquake and the rushing flood of water lifted the bus straight off the freeway and through the sky like a neon Honda in a Fast & Furious movie. This is at least the third large vehicle that has gone airborne and crashed into a building on the show. Last season opened with a tsunami. It’s a fun time.
And guess what: it wasn’t even the craziest show on television this week. Hell, it wasn’t even the craziest show that aired on Fox on Monday night. That honor goes to 9-1-1 Lonestar, the spin-off that stars Rob Lowe as an NYC fire captain who moves to Texas because his experience rebuilding a firehouse after 9/11 is in demand after an entire department was killed in a manure plant explosion that started because a janitor tried to nuke his burrito in the microwave with the aluminum foil still wrapped around it. I promise all of this is true.
Anyway, how could any show possibly top “launching a city bus into an office building with the flood from an earthquake-related dam break”? I’m so glad you asked. Let’s hit the highlights:
- The episode opened with someone commandeering a tank and barreling over, around, and through the city before Rob Lowe stopped him with the sheer power of his handsomeness
- There was a roller derby injury involving a comically large splinter popping up out of the track and jabbing straight through the torso of a competitor who fell
- A woman fired a damn crossbow at the people trying to install a 5G tower near her house
None of those were my favorite, though. That honor goes to a throwaway one in the middle involving a group Zoom call. One lady forgot her camera was on and took it to the bathroom and then frantically rushed to shut it off, and some guy named Larry found this so hilarious that he started choking. Everyone on the call saw him start like turning blue but no one could hear him because he was on mute and they all called 9-1-1 to get him help. Then this happened.
It’s a blast. Both shows contained longer serious stretches about the trials and tribulations of the characters and their personal lives, and you are welcome to watch and discuss those to whatever degree you like (Lisa Edelstein popped up as a love interest for Rob Lowe, giving us maybe the most unlikely West Wing reunion yet), but that is not what I’m about. I’m in it for the bonkers emergencies. I’m in it for the chaos. And now that Fox has decided to air these two beautiful, lunatic television programs back-to-back on Monday nights, I can get two straight hours of it to start every week. This is good. I need this. I can’t wait to see where they go next. Someone might hijack a blimp. I wrote that as a joke but there is literally no way to rule it out. This is the sign on a quality television program.
ITEM NUMBER TWO — Hmm.. but why?
It is, as we all know, an established fact that every major or semi-major character in every beloved or semi-beloved film must at some point get a full-length origin story. Typically, the origin story will be gritty and raw, even if the original work it came from was not. There is usually a trailer that features a haunting piano cover of a fun and upbeat song. The projects are rarely necessary in any way, and are often thinly-disguised cash grabs, but are still, occasionally, somehow, very good. The most obvious example here is Better Call Saul. There is no reason that show should be as good as it is. The degree of difficulty on “a prequel of one of the best dramas ever that focuses on the main character’s comic relief lawyer” is astronomical. And yet, somehow, against odds long enough to wrap around the equator twice, it might even be better than the original. Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould are sorcerers.
This brings us to Wonka, an upcoming film that plans to give the world more background on the loony candy tycoon from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. From THR:
Wonka, which will hit theaters on March 17, 2023, hails from Paddington director Paul King and Harry Potter producer David Heyman. The studio describes it as focusing on “a young Willy Wonka and his adventures prior to opening the world’s most famous chocolate factory.”
So there’s that. And there’s also this, from Collider, regarding the potential casting of the deranged chocolatier
Back in 2018, Collider reported that Ryan Gosling, Donald Glover and Ezra Miller were being eyed to star, but those names have all fallen by the wayside since then. Lately, sources say that Warners has its eye on either Tom Holland or Timothée Chalamet to play the eccentric confectioner.
I love that Chalamet gets his name thrown into any casting rumor now. Seriously, start keeping track of every time you see his name in a report like this. He’s going to end up playing Batman one day. He won’t even do it on purpose. One day he’ll just wake up on the set in the suit and have no clue how he got there. He’ll be terrific.
Anyway, I really only have three thoughts about this Wonka business:
- I do not think it needs to exist
- I am still kind of hopeful about it because the Paddington dude is involved and the Paddington movies whoop-ass
- It would be really funny if the whole movie is about some guy who lives in the suburbs and works a mind-numbing office job and then in the last 10 minutes he gets bonked in the head with a golf ball and becomes obsessed with candy
It could happen to anyone, really.
ITEM NUMBER THREE — Kathryn Hahn is so good
WandaVision is so freaking weird. And good. But mostly weird. It’s a television show featuring two popular characters from a mega-successful film franchise, but it’s also a faithful tribute to sitcoms of yesteryear, and also an Easter Egg filled scavenger hunt for passionate comics fans. The first episode was a black-and-white dinner party farce inspired by The Dick Van Dyke Show. The second was a talent show fiasco inspired by Bewitched. Again, good, but again, very weird.
I’m still not sure what to make of it beyond “it is pretty cool that someone is letting a billion-dollar franchise get nuttier than pecan pie,” but it is still worth pointing out that Kathryn Hahn is so good. She is so good. She plays a character named Agnes who is like the traditionally nosy and annoying neighbor from these shows, and there is already lots of speculation about who the character is or might be and where this all may or may not be headed, and all of that is fine but not the point in stumbling toward. The point is that she’s so good. She is always good, so it’s not like this is a shocker, but go watch the episodes and focus on what she’s doing. She’s playing a character that doesn’t exist anymore, and probably never existed in real life, with the mannerisms and accent and speech patterns of the 1950s sitcom wife just nailed. Elizabeth Olsen is doing this too, as evidenced by the little arm-swingy walk she does here…
… and Paul Bettany seems to be having more fun than anyone should be allowed to have without breaking — at least bending — a few laws, but seriously, Kathryn Hahn. I can’t wait to see where the show goes next. I can’t wait to see what kind of characters it asks Kathryn Hahn to play. I can’t wait to see how good she is at playing them. I might never understand what is happening on the show or why any of it is happening, but I sure as hell plan on appreciating it. Sometimes it’s okay to just go for a ride. I would let Kathryn Hahn drive me anywhere.
ITEM NUMBER FOUR — I am very sorry but no, I will not stop talking about the Muppets
— The Muppets (@TheMuppets) January 19, 2021
I am pleased to report that you are about to get lots more Muppets. You already have a lot of Muppets, probably, especially if you have Disney Plus (go watch The Great Muppet Caper right now), but come February you will also have access to all five seasons of the original Muppet Show from the 1970s. I know, I know. This is a 50-year-old television show. It is nuts for me to be writing about it on a website that has the slogan “The Culture of Now.” But, I’m sorry, I am, because the Muppets are the best.
Also, and this is something you should not overlook, the Muppets were chaotic as hell. They still are, to a degree, but they used to be really out there. I say to this remind people who forgot and also because I spent 30 minutes on the Wikipedia page of The Muppet Show the other night and saying it will give me an excuse to post some wild sentences from the episode descriptions.
So let’s do that.
“Kermit wants to know what the banana sketch is.”
“Fozzie and Scooter prepare to do the telephone pole bit.”
“Fozzie gets locked in a magician’s box.”
“The Swedish Chef decorates a cake, then smashes it.”
“The orchestra gets fed up with playing the theme song every night and threatens to quit unless Kermit allows them to play their own music.”
“Gonzo chats with George Burns about Gonzo’s early showbiz days.”
“Gonzo catches a cannonball with his bare hand, stretching his arm.”
“Statler and Waldorf successfully drive Milton Berle insane by heckling him, creating a hilarious monologue in the process.”
“Gonzo plays the bagpipes from a flagpole 10 feet in the air, but the act is cut short when a beaver gnaws the flagpole, prompting it to fall down.”
“The band is so pleased with the song Fozzie picks for them that they declare him hip and give him a pair of shades.”
“Scooter’s uncle J.P. Gross will give the show the money they need in exchange for adding a lady wrestler number.”
“A moose, named Mickey and who sounds like John Wayne, hangs out backstage, upsetting Kermit.”
“Fozzie goes to group therapy to become more assertive.”
“The Swedish Chef tries to make a banana split but is interrupted by dancers.”
“Gonzo recites the seven-times tables while standing on a hammock and balancing a piano.”
“Statler and Waldorf leave their box to sit out in the alley, disgusted by the night’s guest star.”
“Miss Piggy and Cheryl Ladd practice karate together while singing ‘I Enjoy Being a Girl.'”
“Liberace decides to perform an entire ‘concert for birds’ in the second half of the show, while Gonzo is determined to get his tap-dancing chickens into the act.”
‘The backstage is invaded by Sylvester Stallone’s groupies, who have paid Scooter for backstage passes.”
“Kermit and Miss Piggy get tangled up in Gonzo’s catapult sky-writing act.”
“Gonzo asks John Denver for gardening tips.”
“The show may be under a Gypsy curse.”
“Fozzie arrests a car for double-parking.”
People will try to tell you The Sopranos was the best television show ever. That’s a reasonable argument. It was a very good show. But consider this: Did The Sopranos, at any point, feature a fuzzy blue monster whose daredevil bagpipe act is ruined by a mischievous beaver?
It did not. At least I do not think it did. I feel like I would have remembered that. In any event, please take a few minutes and picture Pauly Walnuts talking to a Muppet. Any Muppet. My gift to you.
IMPORTANT UPDATE: My apologies.
ITEM NUMBER FIVE — Oh look, a movie for me
Well well well, look at this, another movie just for me…
Five Eyes, written by Ivan Atkinson and Marn Davies (The Gentlemen) follows MI6 guns-and-steel agent (Statham) who is recruited by global intelligence alliance ‘Five Eyes’ to track down and stop the sale of a deadly new weapons technology that threatens to disrupt the world order. Reluctantly paired with CIA high-tech expert, Fortune sets off on a globe-trotting mission where he will have to use all of his charm, ingenuity and stealth to track down and infiltrate billionaire arms broker. Ivan Atkinson and Ritchie are producing for a February start in Turkey.
Jason Statham using his charm, ingenuity, and stealth to take down a billionaire arms dealer? Yes. Yes, please. I will watch this movie, possibly many times, possi-…
Wait. Hold on. Look at that second to last sentence again. The one that starts with “Reluctantly.” Why is the word Fortune capitalized? Is…
Is Jason Statham’s character named Fortune?
Is Fortune the last name of a Jason Statham character who is trying to take down a billionaire arms dealer?
SOMEONE ANSWER ME.
Oh my God.
Oh my God.
His character is named Orson Fortune.
I’m so happy. I would say the only way this could get better is if he, in character as Orson Fortune, escapes a dicey situation by leaping from the roof of a gondola onto a passing hang glider, but a) I don’t want to get too greedy, and b) he already did that in the movie Mechanic: Resurrection.
It is infuriating to me that Jason Statham does not have an Oscar. We should give him one. I do not care what we give it to him for. Make up a new category. Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Kicking Bozos in the Sternum. Whatever it takes. It’s the least we can do for a man who has provided this much entertainment.
If you have questions about television, movies, food, local news, weather, or whatever you want, shoot them to me on Twitter or at firstname.lastname@example.org (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.
Lupin is great! But it made me think about heist shows and, specifically, why is it that Remington Steele isn’t streaming anywhere?
You got Pierce Brosnan as a character with the name Remington Steele. You got Stephanie Zimbalist doing feminism.. You got the mom from Everybody Loves Raymond being sassy. Every third episode involves them having to pull off a heist to slinky music, and usually making out. Each mystery is solved because Pierce remembers some movie that has the same plot as the mystery.
I mean, the dude was forced to cancel his initial gig as James Bond to do a fifth season of the show (which involved a fake marriage and inheriting a castle and Jack Scalia). The least we can do is have it streaming somewhere.
So, this isn’t a question as much as a request to make someone (Peacock? I know NBC was working on a reboot at one point) air this.
This is a wonderful email. It is wonderful for a lot of reasons but for three primary ones that I will list now:
- It is true
- It references my favorite genre of film and television, Pierce Brosnan Stealing Shit While Being Cool
- It gives me an excuse to link to my glowing review of Lupin and post the GIF of the main character navigating a drone through a neon-laser-guarded room to obtain information
Thank you, Melissa. I always appreciate when people help me keep the heist discourse going.
AND NOW, THE NEWS
Five people have been charged over the alleged theft of up to 250 tonnes of salmon, valued at more than $4 million, from a processing plant in Sydney’s south-west.
Look, it’s easy to read things quickly and kind of skip by the thing that make them special, so let’s pause briefly to point out what we have here: This is A MULTIMILLION-DOLLAR AUSTRALIAN SALMON HEIST.
Say that phrase out loud to yourself. I’m serious. Do it right now. I’ll wait.
It feels good, right?
Police were called to investigate after the company’s executive found a reduction of about 600 kilograms per day in output from the Huon Aquaculture Ingleburn plant.
Six hundred kilograms of salmon every day is seriously so much salmon. I can’t even wrap my head around it, and not just because I am bad at the metric system. What does one do with 600 kilograms of salmon? How does one transport it? Where does one store it? Every question raises a dozen more perplexing questions, and every one of those raises a dozen more. I wish I had been the agent that interrogated them after they got arrested, not so much because I want to nail them as because I just need my curiosity satisfied.
I would be a poor law enforcement officer.
Police will allege that the syndicate graded premium salmon as waste, then removed it and transported it for sale or trade.
First of all, I love that we’re calling the salmon thieves a syndicate. I do not ever want to get arrested (no thank you), but if it can’t be avoided some day, I do hope that whatever I was doing involved a syndicate. I have never been in a syndicate. Not even once. I would be lying if I said this didn’t bother me a little.
But more importantly… did you catch the most important word in that paragraph? I’ll give you a hint: it’s at the end. At the very end. It is literally the last word. They tried to trade someone a large quantity of salmon in exchange for goods and/or services. This is incredible to me. Take a minute to think about this. Picture someone opening up the back of an 18-wheeler to reveal dozens of stolen flat-screen televisions, and then picture another person negotiating the price for them in stolen high-end salmon. Like, really haggling about it, too.
This is my favorite thing now. Someone please make a salmon heist movie. Put Chalamet in it. And Statham. And Kathryn Hahn. Put Timothee Chalamet and Jason Statham and Kathryn Hahn in a movie about a large-scale salmon heist. I swear to God I am not joking. I would never joke about this.