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 — There is never a bad time to watch the dumpster episode
First of all, an apology. The three-year anniversary of the legendary dumpster episode of The Chris Gethard Show was actually something like a week ago. Almost two weeks ago. I should not have missed it. It is one of the best and most captivating hours of television I’ve ever seen and I consider it my duty to remind people of its existence as often as possible but at least once a year. So, this is me doing that, albeit belatedly. I will do better going forward. I promise.
Some background: The Chris Gethard Show was a very weird and fun chaos-filled show that has since been canceled. In this episode, officially titled “One Man’s Trash” but affectionately dubbed “The Dumpster Episode” by everyone who has seen it, the host rolled out a dumpster at the beginning and announced that there was something special in the dumpster and he would only reveal it if someone guessed correctly. If no one guessed, he would roll it right off the stage. If someone guessed right away, he’d have to fill 40+ minutes with no backup plan. Like I said, chaos. The whole episode is available for free on YouTube. You should watch it if you haven’t and you should watch it again if you have.
The spectacle of it all is what makes it so fun. The spectacle and the great unknown. It’s not just the audience that was in the dark, too. As the show’s executive producer explained to Andrew Husband in a behind-the-scenes look at the episode for this very website, even the staff was out of the loop.
“We initially told the entire staff to refer to the unknown dumpster item as the loaf of bread,” he continues. “When a few of the more inquisitive staff members asked me what it really was, I told them we had gotten our hands on an extremely rare Picasso painting. An actual original that had been lent to us by the Museum of Modern Art. After telling them this, I asked them not to tell anyone else and they agreed. Soon after a rumor spread among the staff that it was something valuable and special. After that, the rumor became warped — somehow a bunch of people thought we were hiding live chickens in the dumpster. Others thought it was like a wolf or something. But no matter what they thought it was, whenever they came to me, told me they knew what it was and gave me a wink, I’d say, ‘Yeah, but don’t tell anyone else.’”
That’s not even the best part. It’s barely top three. Because, for one, Gethard brought on comedians Paul Scheer and Jason Mantzoukas from the How Did This Get Made? podcast as guests for the episode and they promptly stole the show right out from under him. It’s complete anarchy and just a blast, especially when you see poor Gethard’s face as he realizes he’s lost all control. More from that piece.
“To be honest, I was not really interested at all in what they put in the dumpster. I was primarily interested in making Gethard’s job as hard as possible,” notes Mantzoukas. “Paul, Chris and I have known each other for over 15 years at this point. So I chose to make Chris’ job harder, knowing that that is the dynamic Chris and I will play out on any stage anyway. That’s not me taking shots at Gethard. That’s just me continuing the dynamic we have had for many, many years. It’s a very joyful to do, as you can probably tell from watching the episode.”
But the best part is the reveal. Mother of God. The build to it is incredible. About halfway through the episode, Gethard lets Scheer and Mantzoukas peek inside the dumpster to see what all the hubbub is about and their immediate reactions raise the stakes through the ceiling. They are flabbergasted, justifiably so, and the whole tenor of the show changes. Now everyone on stage desperately wants you to find out what’s in the dumpster. Desperately. It’s riveting all the way up until you find out and then it becomes spellbinding.
I’m not going to tell you what is in the dumpster. I think you deserve to see it with fresh eyes. Just trust me when I say that it will blow your mind, especially if you have the same set of interests I do. I’m still not over it. You can probably tell that, though, based on the fact that I’m still shouting about it three years later. You’ll be shouting, too. Watch the episode. Trust me.
ITEM NUMBER TWO — This has been a banner year for television characters bleeding from the face
I don’t know what your Best TV Shows of 2019 list looks like so far but there’s a good chance it includes the following selections, in some order: Barry, Russian Doll, and Fleabag. Ranking them is pretty difficult. Right now I’d probably put Fleabag at the top, followed by Russian Doll, with Barry sliding in just behind. There are plenty of other shows worth working in there, too, and I am really not looking forward to doing that. It’s a miserable, painful thing we do to ourselves, this list-making. I have never made one that I didn’t hate the instant I locked it in. I’m already feeling squirmy about the mini-list in this paragraph.
Luckily, I don’t have to think too much more about it. It’s not the point. The point I’m making here is that all three shows featured prominent scenes in which their star and creator is bleeding profusely from the face. There’s the scene at the top of this section from Russian Doll, in which Natasha Lyonne is spilling blood from her mouth. There’s this scene from Fleabag…
… which shows the aftermath of Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s character getting walloped in the schnoz. And there’s this scene from Barry…
… which shows Bill Hader with a blood goatee after fighting a stoned taekwondo champion and his possibly supernatural taekwondo champion daughter/gargoyle.
There’s not really much more to this than that. It’s just a weird thing I noticed, like how a few years ago there was a trend of people on television getting killed by air conditioner-related calamities (The Good Place, Fargo, The Leftovers), which also happened on Russian Doll, if we want to tie this all together a bit. Look at that. We did it.
I don’t know if this trend will continue this year. Maybe Reese Witherspoon will get hit with a flying wine bottle in season two of Big Little Lies. Maybe one of the Stranger Things kids will deck one of the others over a contentious game of Duck Hunt. The possibilities are almost limitless. Just know that I will be watching. This is officially a thing know.
ITEM NUMBER THREE — LOOK AT THESE PICTURES OF WALTON GOGGINS
Ladies and gentleman, I have terrific news: LOOK AT THIS PICTURE OF WALTON GOGGINS. Look at it! It’s Walton with what appears to be a Very Good Boy and they are NUZZLING. I love it very much and kind of don’t want to ruin it will trivial little things like facts and context, but I think a little background is unavoidable. I can’t just be out here running around posting pictures of Walton Goggins smooching a pooch without giving you any details. That would be completely unprofessional. So here goes: This is a promotional image from an upcoming CBS comedy titled The Unicorn. From Deadline:
Goggins’ character, a devoted father to two adolescent girls, is a big-hearted open-book of a guy, but without his wife, he’s finding himself at sea. When his friends persuade him to start dating again, he discovers to his shock that he’s kind of a hot commodity — if only he knew what the heck he was doing.
My word, what a dilemma I have on my hands here. On one hand, this show does not sound like something that would super appeal to my specific sensibilities, as family-centered CBS sitcoms are not typically my cup of tea. On the other hand, it’s got Boyd Crowder as a Hot Dad with a friendly dog. You can see where this is tearing me up.
And guess what: This is not the only upcoming television show that features a delightful promotional picture of Walton Goggins. There’s also one from HBO’s new Danny McBride series, The Righteous Gemstones, which we have mentioned before. The show stars McBride and John Goodman and a bunch of other people and will focus on a family of televangelists. Here’s the description of Goggins’ character.
Written, directed and EP’ed by McBride, The Righteous Gemstones tells the story of a world-famous televangelist family with a long tradition of deviance, greed and charitable work.
Goggins will play Baby Billy, a former child star who clogged and sang for Jesus. As an aging man, he’s fallen on hard times and comes to the Gemstones for salvation.
And that’s great. I love it. I’m already in, just based on those words. But then they went and gave us this, too, via Danny McBride’s Instagram.
I don’t know if I’ll ever get over this. LOOK AT IT.
LOOK AT GOGGINS.
We are all very truly blessed. Never forget that.
ITEM NUMBER FOUR — What other movies could be improved by adding Keanu Reeves in character as himself now that we’ve seen it work in Always Be My Maybe?
… all of them? Yeah. All of them.
Good section. Moving on.
ITEM NUMBER FIVE — Okay, fine, let’s do this then
I got some diners on the left
Drive-ins on the right
Dives are up ahead
Scarfin’ nachos on sight
Ridin’ through some states, ha
Pilin’ up those plates
Catch me on your TV set
Shovin’ tacos in my face, now
Can’t nobody tell me nothing
If you have questions about television, movies, food, local news, weather, or, like, whatever you want, shoot them to me at email@example.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.
Do you think the Lincoln commercials starring Matthew McConaughey are building toward a conclusion? What if there’s one where he drives his Lincoln to someone’s house and he gets there and we find out its his nemesis and he kills him? What if he hits a neighbors cat and sinks into a depression that spans four or five commercials? I feel like you are the only one I can bounce this idea off.
Kevin, that is dark and I love it. I’m on record saying that I think these commercials might be telling a single unified story about a wealthy man who is losing his mind. Who even owns that many Lincolns? It’s not a car you typically see people collect. He’s a maniac. I could discuss this for hours.
Anyway, please know that this second scenario you listed, in which McConaughey hits a cat and spirals into a deep depression about it, is bringing me a great deal of joy. They can tie it into his Wild Turkey commercials and have him just sit around a darkened house sipping whiskey in a bathrobe. It’ll be so weird. I want to see it so bad I might die.
AND NOW, THE NEWS
As for many businesses, Midtown Manhattan is the big leagues for ice cream trucks, with streets full of sweet-toothed tourists willing to pay New York City prices for cones.
But parking in Midtown is nearly nonexistent, so the ice cream trucks routinely pull into illegal spots and then rack up countless tickets.
On Wednesday, the city launched a major crackdown, towing away dozens of trucks and accusing their owners of owing $4.5 million in fines for roughly 22,500 unpaid parking and traffic violations.
Two things you need to know about this:
- The article details years of flim-flammery on the part of the ice cream truck companies, complete with shell companies and name changes and a bunch of other tactics to avoid paying parking tickets
- The authorities called the sting Operation Meltdown
Hell yes. The only bone I have to pick with any of it is that Operation Meltdown should be the name of a crappy Steven Seagal movie from 1992. But until I have a time machine and a finished script to bring with me (both should be done in a few weeks), this will have to do. And it’s not like I was going to stay mad anyway. Look at this list of ice cream truck names.
Candie Land Ice Cream Inc.
Twirly Twirl Ice Inc.
Twist Ice Cream Inc.
Very Berry Ice Inc.
This is a Lonely Island sketch. I mean, come on. Ice Boyz? With a z? Come on.
The article also features one of my favorite new phrases, courtesy of New York’s mayor.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said the crackdown “marks the end of the road for these scofflaw ice cream vendors.”
Scofflaw ice cream vendors. The whole thing is hilarious and perfect and yet, somehow, against staggering odds, still not the best New York Times article about the dangerous underground world of ice cream truck operations. Not even close, to be honest. Not when an article titled “A Renegade Muscles in on Mister Softee’s Turf” exists and features passages like this…
“From 34th to 60th Street, river to river, that’s ours,” he said on a recent afternoon, moments after handing a chocolate cone to a delighted-looking little boy. The vendor would not allow his name to be published for fear of losing his job.
“You will never see a Mister Softee truck in Midtown,” he continued. “If you do, there will be problems, and you won’t see him there very long.”
… and this…
Bad blood has run through the New York ice cream trade for decades. In 1969, a Mister Softee driver was kidnapped by rivals who blew up his truck. In 2004, a cone-selling couple in their 60s were ambushed by competitors who beat them into critical condition with a wrench. In a 2010 brawl caught on video, two drivers near Columbus Circle exchanged punches before one man pushed the other’s face into a planter.
… and this.
“Let me tell you about this business,” Adam Vega, a thickly muscled, heavily tattooed Mister Softee man who works the upper reaches of the Upper East Side and East Harlem, said on Wednesday. “Every truck has a bat inside.”
Please give me a darkly comedic half-hour television show about scofflaw ice cream vendors threatening each other with bats over long-simmering turf wars. Please give it to me soon. Let’s get Walton Goggins in it if we can. I know he’s busy. I know. But think about him and, say, Idris Elba as rival ice cream truck operators. One of them can be the Ice Boyz. I don’t care which one. I’m already asking a lot. I’ll leave this last part up to this universe. Please.