TV

The Rundown: ‘Barry’ Is Now The Best Sunday Night TV Show


HBO

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 will vary, as will 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 — The champ is here

Sunday nights are absolutely slammed with good television. You’ve got a fun and stylish assassin drama in Killing Eve at 8 p.m. When that ends, you’ve got Game of Thrones and Billions at 9 p.m., one of them the biggest show in the world — a cultural phenomenon that lights up social media and dominates conversations for the rest of the week, a twisting tale of deceit and hubris and power struggles — and the other a marginally popular show about some dragons. And later the same night, you’ve got the final season of Veep, one of the best comedies of the decade and still our sharpest political satire. It’s nuts. My DVR is giving me the evil eye right now because it knows today is Friday and it’s going to have to work soon.

Here’s the crazy part: None of those shows, all of them good to great and better than just about anything else on television right now, are the best Sunday night show right now. The best show on Sunday nights is Barry.

Barry was really good in its first season. It was the rare show that knew almost exactly what it was from the jump. It wasted very little time in setting up its premise. Barry (Bill Hader) is a hitman who is super-skilled at his job but is starting to hate it. He goes to Los Angeles for a contract and stumbles into an acting class and catches the bug. The rest of the season follows him as he tries and fails to escape his old life and start over. It’s funny and sad and intense in moments and extremely silly in others. This is where I post a picture of the best character on television right now, NoHo Hank (Anthony Carrigan), the aggressively pleasant and sweet Chechen crime figure who hires Barry and really wants to be his best friend. We love NoHo Hank.

HBO

The second season is past its halfway point now, with only three of its eight episodes remaining, and it is really leaning into the darkness. Things are occasionally very bleak. Barry is not doing great. His plan to leave killing behind and find happiness with his new girlfriend, Sally (Sarah Goldberg), is going to hell in new ways every week. Things are also occasionally very weird. In the most recent episode, he was basically blackmailed into a contract killing that went sideways before it even got started and ended with him in a fist fight with a baked taekwondo champion while nursing a stab wound from that man’s apparently superhuman daughter. It was non-stop action for 30 minutes, all choreography and twists and fights, significantly more enjoyable (and visually pleasing) than the big spectacle that aired before it.

I’m not sure where Barry will go to wrap up this season. That’s kind of the fun of it, though. The show has been consistently surprising and thought-provoking for its entire run, from the murderous end of season one to the whole arc with Fuches (Stephen Root) this season. And even as it’s leaned into its darker side in the last few episodes, it’s retained some of the silliness it started with. Barry’s acting teacher, the delightfully named Gene Cousineau, is played by Henry Winkler and I don’t know that anyone is having more fun at their job than Henry Winkler is having on Barry right now. He’s so good, mixing bluster with theatrical grieving with a borderline sociopathic slide toward self-interest. A few episodes ago, NoHo Hank danced. This is where I post a GIF of NoHo Hank dancing.

HBO

The important thing to remember in all of this is that things can change. Game of Thrones could redeem itself after its lackluster big battle. Veep can never be counted out. Killing Eve’s cat-and-mouse game could ratchet up a few levels and become intoxicating again, and Billions could do almost anything at this point. A few weeks ago, Paul Giamatti’s character held a press conference to announce that he and his wife practiced bondage and submission and he loves it, and then he promptly won an election for New York Attorney General. Sunday nights are something else right now.

But for now, today, as I sit here typing this, Barry is the king of that particular hill. It’s an impressive feat given the competition. Someone needed to recognize it. That’s all we’re doing here. That and finding more excuses to post images and GIFs of NoHo Hank. Success on both fronts.

ITEM NUMBER TWO — Vanessa Bayer is the greatest

I Think You Should Leave is a new Netflix sketch series from Tim Robinson, formerly of SNL and my beloved but canceled Detroiters. (Watch Detroiters!) The series consists of six 15-minute episodes, which would be a pretty decent selling point on its own if the show weren’t also pretty great. It’s weird as all heck, and sometimes awkward, but mostly it’s just very goofy. You deserve to watch 90 minutes of very goofy comedy in the next week or so, broken up into easily digestible 15-minute segments. You’re doing your best out there. Live a little.

Above, please find a sketch from the show titled “Instagram” that stars fellow former SNL castmember, Vanessa Bayer. Vanessa Bayer is and always has been the best, so it is not exactly surprising to see her sticking her whole damn foot in the sketch. It is a welcome development, though. Watch the whole thing through at least two times. I promise that you’ll never see a group of people taking selfies the same way. It’s been a week for me and I’ve had “gulping down some pig dicks with these bags of meat” zoom into my brain at least three separate times. I feel okay about it.

So, to recap:

  • Watch I Think You Should Leave
  • Watch Detroiters
  • Give Vanessa Bayer her own show

Thanks.

ITEM NUMBER THREE — Super Combo!

UNIVERSAL

Hobbs & Shaw is coming out in a matter of weeks now. This is very exciting on a number of levels, starting with the fact that my two dads are making their own Fast & Furious movie. It’s crazy to me. The whole franchise is crazy (Ludacris started as a mechanic who officiated jet ski races and is now one of the world’s foremost whitehat hackers), but please do imagine the 2019 version of yourself hopping out of a time machine in the very early 2000s (say, between 2 Fast 2 Furious and Tokyo Drift) and telling that version of you that the ninth movie in the franchise will star Jason Statham and The Rock, and that the latter is now the biggest action star in the world and the former plays a character whose mother is played by Dame Helen Mirren. Yes, yes, kill baby Hitler first. But do this second. Promise me.

The other important thing is that there’s a new Japanese title for the film. We’ve discussed this before, a lot, and will continue to do so every time I get the tiniest sliver of an opportunity, but here’s the short version: In Japan, the series is called Wild Speed. These are the titles of the first eight movies.

Wild Speed
Wild Speed x2
Wild Speed x3: Tokyo Drift
Wild Speed MAX
Wild Speed MEGA MAX
Wild Speed EURO MISSION
Wild Speed SKY MISSION
Wild Speed ICE BREAK

Perfect, all of them. I’m a big fan of SKY MISSION (because a car flew between two Abu Dhabi skyscrapers) and ICE BREAK (because a stolen nuclear submarine burst through an ice sheet), but I’m a huge fan of MEGA MAX. First of all, Fast Five should be called MEGA MAX. It’s more evocative and more accurate. The best part, though, is the leap from MAX. What I wouldn’t give to have been in the room when that was decided.

“So they’re making another Fast & Furious.”

“What? Why? The fourth one stunk.”

“I know. Not my call. The bigger issue right now is that we need a title and we already used MAX. Where do we go from there?”

“Hmm…”

“What’s bigger than MAX?”

“I mean…”

And the world was never the same. My world, at least. Anyway, back to Hobbs & Shaw.

Wild Speed SUPER COMBO! SUPER COMBO! My god. I’m… I’m so happy. It’s so simple and so flawless. Not a lie in there, either. The Rock and Jason Statham are a super combo. Possible the most super!

My only worry here is what they do if there’s a sequel. MEGA SUPER COMBO? SUPER COMBO RIDES AGAIN? I don’t know. But then again, there’s no way I could have come up with SKY MISSION, not even with 30 days and 300 Coronas. I’ll just leave it to the experts.

ITEM NUMBER FOUR — Talk your shit, aging celebrities

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There is nothing better than an interview with a person who has been famous for a long time and is getting up there in years and absolutely does not give a tumbling shit anymore. I could read them all day. Telling salacious stories, spilling their true feelings about their contemporaries, delivering haymaker after jaw-thundering haymaker non-stop until the reporter’s phone battery runs out. It’s the best.

So, naturally, I was ecstatic to read Vulture’s interview with Angelica Huston this week. Here she is talking about her former longtime partner Jack Nicholson’s cocaine use.

Never took overt amounts. He was never a guzzler. I think Jack sort of used it, probably like Freud did, in a rather smart way. Jack always had a bit of a problem with physical lethargy. He was tired, and I think probably, at a certain age, a little bump would cheer him up. Like espresso.

Like espresso!

Here she is talking about the movie roles Jack has taken lately.

If he’s not being offered anything as delicious as he has done in his past, why would he? He has enough money to live three lifetimes more, and particularly in the way that he lives; he doesn’t go out and spend tons of money buying fur coats for girls. I don’t even know if he buys art anymore. Also in terms of the work that’s out there, what are they going to give him, The Bucket List? That’s an insult. I told him, you don’t have to do The Bucket List stuff. Why don’t you play a great villain?

Yeah, eat shit, The Bucket List!

And here she is with… I’ll let her explain.

You wrote in your memoir that you kissed Ryan O’Neal on his dining-room table for six hours. I was trying to picture it, and I concluded that this couldn’t factually be true.
Factually true.

But your back. What about your back?
I was young. My back was like liquid amber.

Liquid amber! I really do recommend you read the whole thing. I don’t know that I’m on-board with everything she says, but who cares? She is saying it, buddy. All of it. So much of it that the interview has moved into the upper echelons of the form in my very unscientific rankings. It didn’t catch the Quincy Jones one, though. Remember the Quincy Jones one? Remember when Quincy Jones said this about the Beatles?

[T]hey were the worst musicians in the world. They were no-playing motherfuckers. Paul was the worst bass player I ever heard. And Ringo? Don’t even talk about it. I remember once we were in the studio with George Martin, and Ringo had taken three hours for a four-bar thing he was trying to fix on a song. He couldn’t get it. We said, “Mate, why don’t you get some lager and lime, some shepherd’s pie, and take an hour-and-a-half and relax a little bit.” So he did, and we called Ronnie Verrell, a jazz drummer. Ronnie came in for 15 minutes and tore it up. Ringo comes back and says, “George, can you play it back for me one more time?” So George did, and Ringo says, “That didn’t sound so bad.” And I said, “Yeah, motherfucker because it ain’t you.” Great guy, though.

The “Great guy, though” at the end is the single funniest sentence in the history of this flawed language. Read every interview with an aging celebrity. Do more of them if you have the juice to do so. And if you are an aging celebrity who wants to let some bombs fly, start a podcast. Invite your friends over. I’ll listen.

ITEM NUMBER FIVE — Okay, fine, yes, I will watch this

The latest of Adam Sandler’s Netflix movies is on the way and it looks… fun? It looks kind of fun, right? Maybe I’m a sucker for regular people caught up in international intrigue. I’ve seen Spy more times than I’ve seen the rest of Melissa McCarthy’s movies combined, which is not so much a shot at Melissa McCarthy as it is a ringing endorsement of Spy. (Spy is good! Watch Spy!) I’m getting Spy vibes from this. I could be wrong. The slate of Sandler’s recent work would indicate I am wrong.

His recent special was pretty good, though. Between that and this trailer, I think I’m going to watch this movie. Yes, I am going to watch it. There. Now I’m on the record and there’s no backing out.

READER MAIL

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

Jamey:

Why does Sonic have human teeth in the trailer for his new movie? They could have given him any kind of teeth. Why did they give him human teeth?!

Is this as upsetting to you as it is to me? I can’t unsee it. It’s haunting me now.

I would like to be upset about this. It seems like everyone who is upset about it is having a lot of fun. My problem is that, after a great deal of consideration, I do not think I know what hedgehog teeth are supposed to look like. I’ve never had a reason to stare at a hedgehog’s mouth. It did not even dawn on me that they shouldn’t look like human teeth until I saw people getting upset about it. Wait. What are you doing? No. No! Do not download a picture of hedgehog teeth and send it to me. I do not want to see them. That wasn’t my point. Stop it! No!

You know what we can agree on, though, Jamey? We can agree that the best thing about this movie is still Larry King’s impression of a hedgehog. The one he did during an interview with Ben Schwartz, the voice of Sonic in the movie. This one.

Not too late to swap Larry in. Just saying.

AND NOW, THE NEWS

To Norway!

A beluga whale found off Norway’s coast wearing a special Russian harness was probably trained by the Russian navy, a Norwegian expert says.

Marine biologist Prof Audun Rikardsen said the harness had a GoPro camera holder and a label sourcing it to St Petersburg. A Norwegian fisherman managed to remove it from the whale.

SPY WHALE. RUSSIAN SPY WHALE. TELL ME MORE.

“A Russian colleague said they don’t do such experiments, but she knows the navy has caught belugas for some years and trained them – most likely it’s related to that,” he said.

We don’t do experiments with whales. We catch them, of course. And we train them. To do spy things. The whales. Of course. But we do not do “experiments.” What are we, amateurs?

Interviewed by Russian broadcaster Govorit Moskva, Col Viktor Baranets said “if we were using this animal for spying do you really think we’d attach a mobile phone number with the message ‘please call this number’?”

“We have military dolphins for combat roles, we don’t cover that up,” he said.

“In Sevastopol (in Crimea) we have a centre for military dolphins, trained to solve various tasks, from analysing the seabed to protecting a stretch of water, killing foreign divers, attaching mines to the hulls of foreign ships.”

I hope you did not stop reading that blockquote at the part about combat dolphins. I can understand why you might have. There’s a lot to unpack in a sentence like “We have military dolphins for combat roles, we don’t deny that.” I’ve read it maybe 100 times this week and I’m blown away by something new each time. Right now, I’m tickled by the ending. “We don’t deny that.” Yeah, they have trained combat dolphins, so what? What’s it to you? Next question.

It’s the next quote, though. The one that starts out by saying the dolphins do “solve various tasks. Let’s look at those tasks.

“Analyzing the seabed”

Seems reasonable.

“Protecting a stretch of water.”

I mean, with global warming and everything…

“Killing foreign divers”

WAIT A SECOND.

“Attaching mines to the hulls of foreign ships”

THE DOLPHINS ARE BOMBING ENEMY SHIPS?

This is somehow both the coolest and most terrifying thing I’ve ever heard. Put a combat dolphin in the next Fast & Furious. I can’t wait to see the foreign titles of that movie.

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