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 — This is important
The conversation about television is dominated by shows on premium networks and streaming services. This is fair because that’s where the best shows are, the buzzy ones that attract eyeballs and A-list talent and nominations for various gold-based trophies. But it is good to remember, sometimes, that network television is still cranking out procedurals every week, one hour at a time, and they are occasionally as nutty as a pecan pie.
The champion of this category is 9-1-1, which came back a few weeks ago with a plot about hackers shutting down Los Angeles and zoo animals running loose in the street. (It’s a good show.) But there are dozens of them out there, often on CBS, usually named after some letter-based government agency. CSI, NCIS, etc. This brings us to their newest offering, FBI: International.
FBI: International is somehow the second spinoff of the original FBI series, all created under the supervision of Law & Order mastermind and great-name-haver Dick Wolf. I could try to explain it all to you, but I think you would be better served by reading this actual paragraph from its Wikipedia page.
The series follows the elite operatives in the FBI’s International Fly Team which is headquartered in Budapest. They are charged with locating and neutralizing threats against Americans wherever they may be. The Team includes Scott Forrester, a tough and hard-core FBI agent who is the team leader and is very tough on his team, Jamie Kellett, a career FBI agent and second in command of the team, Andre Raines, a young and very smart FBI agent who is a expert in Accounting and Cameron Vo, The newest member on the team who was formerly with the Seattle FBI office and a Interrogation expert. They are assisted by Katrin Jaeger a veteran Europe FBI agent who deals with the Politics side for the team.
“Tough and hard-core” agents? Random capitalization? A show so forgotten that its Wiki entry still reads like this three weeks into its run? Yes, this is a show I will check out. And I’m glad I did. Because in this week’s episode, I promise this is true, a dog thwarted a crypto heist.
A few things you need to know:
- The dog is a former drug canine who was adopted by the team leader after the DEA was ready to retire him
- The dog is a big fluffy boy named Tank
- I love him very much
The plot of the episode plays out pretty much the way you would assume a CBS procedural about crypto thieves would play out. A couple driving a convertible through the Alps get hijacked by dudes in vans who are after the crypto in their trunk. The guy gets killed. The girl gets away by heaving herself down a hill. The next time we see her she looks like a plaintiff in a commercial for a sleazy local personal injury attorney.
Perfect. No notes.
The crypto belongs to a Dallas billionaire who is a cowboy hat away from being the most Dallas billionaire you’ve ever seen. Is he a jerk to the agents trying to get his money back? Yes. Is he hiding his crypto in Switzerland to shield it from his wife in divorce proceedings? Of course. Does the nerdy agent explain crypto to the team in basic terms so the audience will understand and describe the super-secure facility it’s stored in as “the Fort Knox of crypto”? Baby, you know he does.
Anyway, this all happens over the course of an hour, and eventually, the team tracks down the crypto thieves. Does the lead female agent get shot? Yup. Is she in a secret relationship with the team leader? You know it. Do they crack the case by discovering a license plate number she scribbled on her hand before slipping into a coma that she emerges from by the end of the episode? I am pleased to report they do. A high-speed chase through a Swiss town begins but is complicated by traffic. The thieves jump out and make a break for it on foot. The lead agent opens the back door of his car and Tank the Fluffy Boy leaps out after the villain. And then this happens.
The Swiss crypto thief was captured by the dog. That happened in the third episode of the second spinoff of a Dick Wolf CBS procedural. I’m still not entirely sure what to do with this information but I sure am glad I typed it all into this box. I needed to tell someone. So, thank you for that.
The big takeaway here, to the extent there is one, is probably this: Check in on network television every once in a while. They know you’re focused on streaming and fancy cable shows. They’re working hard to get your eyeballs pointed at them again. And apparently, sometimes those efforts involve a fluffy dog thwarting Swiss crypto thieves. It’s a noble attempt, if nothing else.
ITEM NUMBER TWO — Are we doing this again or nah?
This is the first trailer for House of the Dragon, the first of HBO’s Game of Thrones spinoffs and/or dragon-adjacent programs. None of the characters from the original are in it, although there are a mess of Targaryens, which is fair, because all the events in this show take place 200 years before anything in the other one happened, back when the Targaryens were running things. This is about the extent of my analysis on the subject so far. A lot of blond people and some dragons. Okay, great, fine.
Here’s my question, though: Are we doing this again? I promise I ask this without judgment. Without much judgment, at least. It’s fine if we want to. I did not expect to get into all of this the first time around (I am not, by nature, a “read long medieval-type fantasy books about magic and serpents” person, although I am happy for you if you are), and yet, there I was, shouting opinions about various Lannisters and Starks. I can get on board if we want to do it. I swear I can.
It’s just… I don’t know, man. Between the way the first one wrapped up and the long delay before this trailer popped up this week, I’m getting a vibe that we’ve moved on. I know that’s how I feel right now, but again, my gauges are off on these things. I would be happy to leave this one to the diehards, to not have it become a global phenomenon, to stay focused on, like, watching more episodes of The Righteous Gemstones. That is more what I’m about, personally.
Which brings me to the other big HBO-related announcement from this week: The Righteous Gemstones is coming back. There’s no date yet beyond “the winter,” but as we know from that first season of Game of Thrones, winter is indeed coming. And thank God it is, because look at this description of the new season that Danny McBride gave to Entertainment Weekly.
“Things pick up an unspecified amount of time later, and we find the Gemstones in a pretty awesome place. I feel like the Gemstones have more to do with a massive corporation than they actually have to do with most Christians, and so like many corporations, COVID was very kind to the Gemstones. They were able to deliver to the world a streaming service that allowed people to stay at home and watch Gemstone broadcasts. So while everyone around them suffered, they’re in a better position than they’ve ever been in before.”
I am much more excited about this than the Game of Thrones show, at least right now. I think that’s where I’ve settled. Part of it is just how I’m wired, part of it is that description, and part of it is that this picture made me smile so wide it hurt my cheeks a little bit.
What can I say, Walton Goggins as a sleazy singing and dancing televangelist named Baby Billy appeals more to me than another dragon show. I don’t think I need to apologize for that. I think it’s fine. And I think it’s fine if you prefer the dragons. We’re all fine.
ITEM NUMBER THREE — The long and proud tradition of heroic Philadelphia natives using local news segments to trash their most-hated athletes continues apace
— CBS Philly (@CBSPhilly) October 4, 2021
Okay. I understand that this video might not line up as perfectly in the overlapping parts of your Venn diagram of interests as it does mine. It might mean nothing to you. But I adore it deeply and I’m the one writing this sucker, so in it goes. There are really only two things you need to know to follow along. They are:
- There was a viral video last week in which a man in Florida trapped an alligator in a big recycling bin, and it turns out that man is originally from Philadelphia
- My beloved Philadelphia 76ers have a player named Ben Simmons who had a brutal playoffs last year and famously passed up a wide-open dunk and the whole situation has deteriorated to the degree that he now is refusing to show to play and wants to be traded
There. That should explain it. That’s what makes that video so funny. Because he was interviewed by the local Philly news and said this unprompted.
“I think my father instincts kicked in, because my daughter’s a risk-taker. She’s got a bike. We’re from Philadelphia, so we don’t have alligators, so she’d try to hit the tail with the bike, you know, with the alligator and all that,” Bozzi said. “So I just jumped into action and said, ‘You know what? I’m not gonna be Ben Simmons, I’m gonna go (grab) me this basket.'”
It’s perfect. I love it. And I love it even more because it is somehow not the first time a man was interviewed by the local Philly news after an act of bravery and used the opportunity to call out a professional athlete.
This one is even better because of the backstory. This guy was a homeless former firefighter who showed up at blaze to see if he could help and ended up catching actual humans that people were dropping from windows. He’s a legitimate, full-on hero. Look at this, from the damn New York Times:
Alongside firefighters he made his way to a roof at the second story of the building. One floor above him, he said, “the window busts open. The fire is fast. I see the dad hanging out the window screaming, ‘Please get my kids.’”
The father was holding his daughter, who Laws estimated was 7 to 10 years old. “The dad looked me dead in the eyes and said, ‘Please don’t drop her.’”
Laws made the catch. “She didn’t weigh enough to knock me down,” he said. He followed it up by catching the child’s mother as well.
And then he went on the news and called out an Eagles’ wide receiver, Nelson Agholor, who had an issue with dropping passes. And now a viral gator wrangler is calling out Ben Simmons. Philadelphia is full of the most loopy sickos you’ll ever see and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
ITEM NUMBER FOUR — My sweet boy
Succession comes back in just over a week, which is something I really enjoyed typing just now, mostly because it’s true. The show really is coming back. Finally. It’s still good, too, I am pleased to report. And because it’s coming back, we are all getting treated to big fancy profiles of the cast in big fancy publications, like this one of Nicholas Braun. It’s all very interesting and good and there is no limit to the amount of words I would read about my sweet boy Cousin Greg, but I want to focus on one specific part for now.
We pick things up well into the profile, where Braun is talking about his process of finding the character even though he’s not someone who understands the world Greg and the uber-wealthy Roy family inhabit.
“There’s all these things about ‘boost the bid’ that I didn’t understand how that fit in,” Braun recalled. “Is this a business show?” But when he read one of his first scenes as the interloping, underqualified Gregory Hirsch, that had him wearing a dog costume at a theme park and throwing up through its eye holes, Braun said, “I understood my piece of it.”
The character was “the guy in the room that doesn’t get it, who wants to get it, and wants to be there,” he said. “It was pretty easy to get into Greg’s, you know, thought patterns.”
I like that this was the part that made it all make sense for him. I like that he was lost and then read “puking through the eye holes of an amusement park mascot” and became found. I like everything about it, basically, but mostly I like it because it gives me a pretty terrific excuse to post screencaps of the scene he’s talking about.
I know the people who make Succession have a lot to get to this season. There’s betrayal and plotting and jokes and cussing that all needs to get sorted out, and I’m excited to watch them start to sort it all out. But, and this is just a suggestion, I don’t think I would be heartbroken if they took a one-episode detour to check in on the kid who pointed and shouted at Greg when he puked. I feel like that kid is a mischievous little rascal.
It would be funny if he ends up as everyone’s boss three decades in the future. Like if there’s a post-credits scene after the series finale where that’s revealed. I’m just going to go ahead and assume that’s what happens. I might even start a rumor. It’s good to have hobbies.
ITEM NUMBER FIVE — Let’s check in with Matthew McConaug-… oh dear
I don’t know why anyone who is already wealthy and/or famous would ever want to run for political office. It seems like a terrible idea, to give up what appears to be a lovely life and subject yourself to… all of that. It is my position that anyone who wants to run for political office should be disqualified immediately on those grounds alone. You cannot trust an ambitious striver. People should be drafted into it, like a lottery, and then be dragged to Washington kicking and screaming. Those people I would trust, if only because they want to fix things quickly and go the hell back home. This is how we fix democracy.
I mention this up now because Matthew McConaughey is toying with a run for Governor of Texas. It’s a terrible idea. He should not do it. He should just continue being Matthew McConaughey, as long as possible, for decades at minimum. Although that might not work either, as he explained this week to Kara Swisher on the Sway podcast.
O.K., I have a very last question. You talked about how your father died, and he predicted his death, he called it spot-on. Do you ever think how you’re going to die?
Yeah, I had dreams about it. [LAUGHS]
All right, what is it?
I got a feeling that I’m going down as part of the food chain.
What do you mean, a bear eats you?
It was— the dream was gators.
There’s been one with a bear. There’s been one with a grizzly.
Oh my God. That’s terrible.
And I think there’s— I think— no, I don’t think so. I’d much rather go down that way than getting— getting shot down in a drive by. You know, I’ll take one where it’s part of the natural order. There’s some grace in that. It may be ugly and painful and bloody, but at least it’s part of the natural order. And for that, I’ll purchase. And after I’m gone, I hope to say I partook.
This is somehow both completely wild and also exactly what you’d expect Matthew McConaughey to say when asked how he thinks he’ll die. But what I really want you to do here is close your eyes and get a really good visual of the chaos that would break out if a headline like “Oscar-Winning Actor And Former Texas Governor Matthew McConaughey Killed In Joint Bear-Alligator Attack” popped up on your screen.
I don’t want this to happen, to be clear. I want him to live forever and keep giving interviews like this. But if he does have to go, I mean, that would work. Or maybe a bull attack. There’s already some history there, after all…
I hope the first debate is just him listing off animals he thinks might end up killing him, in order of likelihood. That would be fun. I’ve been thinking about it for less than 90 seconds and him saying the phrase “penguins are surprisingly feisty” in that voice of his already popped into my head. I hope it stays there for the weekend.
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.
From Kel on Twitter:
I need to talk with more people about 1. How disappointed I am in Rebecca, but still want the best for everyone.
2. Trent Crimm, the Independent and compromising his journalistic integrity for TED LASSO.
3. If I May Destroy You exists in the TL Universe, so does HBO and Veep.
— 🦋 Kel Fitzgerald 💋 (@closer2fine) October 4, 2021
Let’s get you caught up via bullet point again, for efficiency:
- This tweet was in response to my most recent edition of the Ted Lasso Power Rankings
- In this week’s episode, Sam Richardson, who played Richard Splett on Veep and rules in general, appeared as a billionaire from Africa who wants to acquire a player on the team
- At one point in the episode, there’s a joke that an extra in the background was an actor from the show I Will Destroy You
Point being, it’s an excellent tweet, and it gets me to one of my favorite brain exercises. If HBO and I May Destroy You exist on Ted Lasso, then, presumably, Veep existed, which means Sam Richardson exists. In the Ted Lasso universe. Where Sam Richardson plays a Nigerian billionaire. It’s all quite brain-bendy.
We can go further, too. If Veep exists in the Ted Lasso universe and therefore Sam Richardson exists there, too, then, again presumably, the show Detroiters exists. Detroiters was a great show that starred Sam Richardson and his best friend Tim Robinson, now of I Think You Should Leave fame and previously a castmember on Saturday Night Live. Which means, once again presumably, Saturday Night Live exists in the Ted Lasso universe. Which means former castmember Jason Sudeikis exists. Which means Richmond has a head football coach who looks exactly like a former SNL star if he grew a mustache.
Do you see?
Do you see what happens when I get started with these?
I’m going to stop here and move on for both of us, but please do believe I could go on much, much longer.
AND NOW, THE NEWS
Uncertainty about the species of a massive catfish that was eaten before it could be vetted by authorities in August has led Connecticut to withdraw its awarding of a new state record.
Oh hell yes.
We have a Connecticut Catfish Controversy.
Tell me everything.
“Without the ability to examine the actual fish, identification is left to still images and videos, which have proven to be ambiguous and inconclusive to definitively identify the species of catfish in this case,” state Fish and Wildlife wrote, adding that it is not disputing the weight of the catch that was made on Aug. 21.
This rules. I kind of want a whole big-budget docuseries about it. Like a Tiger King situation or a McMillions thing, but about Connecticut Fish and Wildlife officers refusing to verify a catfish record because the people who caught it ate it too fast.
All we need now are some interesting characters. Some people who are passionate about all of this business. What do we have on that front?
Ben Tomkunas, 25, of Coventry, who caught the 21.3-pound (9.66-kilogram) fish, said he gave it to his grandfather the morning after he caught it and it was eaten.
“I can’t believe that they think it’s OK to do this to someone,” Tomkunas told the Journal Inquirer. “It’s such an embarrassment.”
God yes. Send a camera crew to Connecticut at once. Interview everyone. I need eight episodes streaming on any screen in my house by the end of the year. Get Sam Elliott to narrate it. Give it a jaunty theme song. This is good. Someone write this down. Besides me, I mean.
Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection spokesperson Will Healey urged anglers to keep any potentially record-breaking fish until authorities have confirmed its species. He acknowledged, in an email to the Journal Inquirer, that the initial announcement of a new state record was premature.
I need it. Give me a whole dramatic recreation of the catfish being cooked and served. You can animate it terribly or hire actors. I feel like Nick Offerman would do this at a steep discount if we ask nicely. Tell me you wouldn’t click on a little rectangle on the Netflix Home Screen that just said “Catfish Fiasco.” You would.
Do not lie to me.
Not about catfish, at least.