TV

The Rundown: There Has Never Been A Better Time To Binge The ‘Harley Quinn’ Animated Series

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 — Listen to me

Here’s the problem: there are too many things. Entirely too many, in all shapes and sizes and styles, all available at our fingertips at any given second, only restrained by the speed of the WiFi in our homes. It’s daunting sometimes, causing our brains to freeze and overload and become incapable of making a decision because, like, how can we commit to this thing when there are all those other things we haven’t even discovered yet? And so, we continue to scroll. And scroll. And scroll.

You know this feeling. I’m sure you do. It happens to all of us, especially in the evening when we’re all spelunking through various streaming services looking for something to watch. The worst is when you spend so much time scrolling and hunting that you run out of time to actually watch anything. That is defeating and depressing and bad. It’s no way to live. That’s why I am coming to you with this suggestion: Just open HBO Max and watch the Harley Quinn animated series.

I have mentioned this show before, kind of a lot, at least once in a full-on article about it. There’s a simple reason for that: It is so good. It is so much better than you think it will be when you read “Harley Quinn animated series,” even if you’re the type of person who gets excited about phrases like that already. I don’t even love comics or comics-related projects that much. I was at best generally familiar with the idea of Harley Quinn — associate/lover of Joker, dresses like a clown, carries a bat, etc. — before I started watching the show and yet somehow I have become deeply invested in all of its characters. I did not even know Kite Man existed. Now I worry about him sometimes at 2 a.m. It’s a problem. A good problem, but still a problem.

The show is a perfect binge, too. I know because I’ve binged straight through its two seasons two times already and I just started a third. It is outrageously funny in ways that are both smart and stupid (more on this shortly), and it is sweet in parts that will make you all fuzzy inside, and it features maybe one of the best depictions of a complicated female friendship/relationship on television. Each episode is about 22-25 minutes. You can rip through two before bed, or accidentally stay up past midnight watching half a dozen. I’m not the boss of you.

The voice cast is loaded, too. You’ve got Kaley Cuoco as Harley and Lake Bell as Poison Ivy. You’ve got Alan Tudyk doing a bunch of voices. You’ve got Tony Hale and Jason Alexander and Ron Funches and J.B. Smoove and Andy Daly and Christopher Meloni and Jim Rash and Giancarlo Esposito and Wanda Sykes and whooooops now I’m just listing everyone on the IMDb page. I didn’t even get to Sanaa Latham and Alfred Molina yet. And none of these represent the best voiceover work in the series. That honor goes to James Adomanian as Bane. I mean, look at this.

This is how Bane is all the time on this show. He’s just a big dumb goofus who is always getting bullied by his fellow supervillains and pathetically threatening to blow up things that have wronged him. He has a mug that says “Caffeine Is My Reckoning.” There’s a whole arc at one point about the other supervillains in the Legion of Doom making him sit in a crappy little tiny chair while they all have luxurious ones, just because they find it funny. It is a hilarious take on a character who is best known as the humorless anarchy-loving goon played by Tom Hardy in The Dark Knight Rises. I get excited every time I see him on the screen. I can — and will, if you don’t escape literally any conversation with me fast enough — make an argument that he’s one of the ten best characters on television. Look at this highlight reel. Zero misses detected.

Almost all of the characters are turned about 40 degrees from their usual iterations like this, too. They’re all a bit stupider and more prone to screwing up because that makes for a better comedy, but they’re also a little sweeter. The show treats the Legion of Doom the way Parks and Recreation treated the, well, the Parks and Recreation department. There are moments where it’s more or less a workplace comedy about supervillains. And it’s not just the villains who get this treatment. Jim Gordon is frazzled beyond belief and desperate for Batman to be the friend he can talk to about his marriage. Robin is a little brat voiced by Jacob Trembley. Hell, even Batman gets goofed on pretty good.

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It’s all just very good and fun. It is honestly one of my favorite shows of the past few years, one I discovered later than I should have because it started on the DC Universe streaming network before it moved to HBO Max. But it’s there now, on the same platform as The Sopranos, probably at most ten mouse clicks away from where you are right now. (Or even just one.) I apologize for the hard sell here but I promise I am trying to help. You need to stop scrolling. And I think you will like it. There has never been a better time to binge it, too, not because it’s suddenly extra relevant or because the recently greenlit third season in production, just because it is kind of always a good time to watch cool stuff. Get in there.

ITEM NUMBER TWO — Rest in peace, Nicky Holiday

Disney+

Charles Grodin died this week, which stinks, because Charles Grodin was great. He was great in a lot of different things in a lot of different ways, too, which made the stream of tributes to him pretty cool. Some people remembered him for his role opposite Robert De Niro in Midnight Run. Some people remembered him for his performance opposite a deranged Martin Short in Clifford, or for his role in the Beethoven movies, or for his decades of borderline performance art talk show appearances, or for any other number of things he did in his 86 years on Earth. For me, though, he was always Nicky Holiday, the deliciously sleazy jewel thief who seduces Miss Piggy in The Great Muppet Caper.

Forgive me for blockquoting myself here, please, but I don’t think I can put my thoughts about his performance in that movie much better than I did in my piece on it last year. I stand by all of this, to the letter.

Speaking of things that no one does better, I promise all of you that you have never seen anyone enjoy playing a lecherous sleaze more than Charles Grodin does in this movie. As much as? Maybe. Possibly. But not more. He looks like he’s having so much fun. It reminds me a lot of Hugh Grant’s performance in Paddington 2, just the acknowledgment that this — playing a human villain opposite stuffed/animated beacons of light and joy — is all very silly and therefore there’s no reason to do one iota less than the absolute most in every single scene. Here is a GIF of him dancing away from a table before scurrying off. I promise you he brings this exact energy to every scene. It’s delightful.

The GIF I am referring to in there is at the top of this section. It’s beautiful. It somehow tells you everything you need to know about the character without a single decibel of sound, from the sleazy shimmying at the beginning to the duplicitous hustle at the end. Acting across from Muppets can’t be easy. There’s got to be a voice in your head that screams “YOU ARE TALKING TO A PUPPET, SOMEONE IS ON THE FLOOR HOLDING IT, THIS IS WEIRD” as you try to look them in the eye, and it has to be hard not to let some of that trickle out into your face while the camera is pointed at you. Grodin sold it so hard anyway. He really made me believe he wanted to run away with Miss Piggy. There was passion in his eyes when he spoke to her. Real fire. He looked like he was about to be overwhelmed with lust and kiss her at any moment. It was great. Almost a little disturbing if you think about it too much, which you should not, in large part because this is also a movie where Kermit and Fozzie play “identical” twin brothers even though one is a frog and the other is a bear. Just roll with it.

Speaking of things that are great: Look at this, which I now share with you while providing zero additional context or analysis.

The man lived a full and rich life and worked with the Muppets on multiple occasions. We should all be so lucky.

ITEM NUMBER THREE — Oh hell yes, it is, once again, Soderbergh time

This is the first teaser for Steven Soderbergh’s next movie, No Sudden Move. It looks very cool and features an absolutely stacked cast. This should not be a surprise. Most of Soderbergh’s projects look very cool and feature an absolutely stacked cast. He made Out of Sight. He made the Ocean’s trilogy. He made The Knick and Magic Mike and The Informant and Erin Brockovich and The Limey. The dude has a style and that style can be summed up as “cool shit Brian likes.” Or a better way. With… better… words.

Point being: I was probably going to watch this movie when it drops on HBO Max in July no matter what. But after reading this description, I super want to watch it.

Set in 1954 Detroit, No Sudden Move stars Don Cheadle, Benicio Del Toro and David Harbour, with Ray Liotta, Jon Hamm, Amy Seimetz, Brendan Fraser, Kieran Culkin, Noah Jupe, Craig muMs Grant, Julia Fox, Frankie Shaw and Bill Duke. The plot centers on a group of small-time criminals who are hired to steal what they think is a simple document. When their plan goes horribly wrong, their search for who hired them – and for what ultimate purpose – weaves them through all echelons of the race-torn, rapidly changing city.

So there’s all of that. But there’s also this: Have you seen Logan Lucky, the NASCAR heist movie he made with Channing Tatum and Adam Driver? You might not have. Not a lot of people did. It had a weird release and never got a great jump start and it’s just kind of been lingering on various streaming services ever since. But it is so good. It is so good. One day I am going to write 2500 words about it.

But, for now, I’ll just leave this clip here as a reminder that Knives Out was not the first major Hollywood project in which Daniel Craig did a cartoonish Southern accent. Watch a king do work.

Please watch Logan Lucky if you have not already watched Logan Lucky. Watch it tonight. Logan Lucky is an extremely good Friday night movie. I just said all of these things a few weeks ago in this very column. I do not care. I am saying them again. This is important.

ITEM NUMBER FOUR — Martha is fed up

Via Comedy Central

Well, let’s check in with noted billionaire lifestyle icon and Snoop Dogg confidant Martha Stewart. What do you have going on, Martha?

Perfect. Everything about it. From the thing where Martha Stewart was upset that the Post shortchanged her peacock count to the thing where she bragged about the house they live in. I can’t decide what my favorite part is. Right now it’s a toss-up between “Martha Stewart got so angry about an incorrect article about her peacocks that she logged into Twitter to defend them” and “the thing where this is enough of an excuse to post her tweets about drones again.”

I’m very happy about this development.

I’ve been trying to speak this existence since she first tweeted the phrase almost seven years ago, but just once I’d like someone to say I am controversial but fabulous and do a good job. It’s all I’ve ever really wanted, really. Hits all the quadrants of the person I want to be.

ITEM NUMBER FIVE — More like, in my opinion, Jack(ed) Lasso

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Ted Lasso is a good show about a handsome and charming American who is hired to coach a soccer team in England despite knowing very little about the sport. I bring this up partly to say it again just so no one forgets, but mostly because Rob McElhenney and Ryan Reynolds, also handsome and charming Americans who know very little about soccer, recently purchased a soccer team in England. This is… cool. It’s cool. And now the whole endeavor is going to be a reality show on FX. It might make me break my extended reality show hiatus. I… think I need this. Here, look.

In 2020, Rob McElhenney (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia) and Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool) teamed up to purchase the team in the hopes of turning the club into an underdog story the whole world could root for. The worry? Rob and Ryan have no experience in football or working with each other. That said, they are serious about their investment in Wrexham, improving the club and doing right by the townspeople.

This kind of rules. I love it. I hope it starts a trend where Americans and people from England start buying each other’s sports teams for entertainment purposes. I hope Helen Mirren buys a semi-professional baseball team and makes a show about it. I hope Guy Fieri buys a cricket team and makes a show about it. I hope they air all the shows on the same channel on the same night. You can come over and watch them with me. It’ll be a party. We can get pizza and make umbrella drinks.

Anyway, look at these two charming bastards.

I like this. I like when people I enjoy become friends with each other. I like that they’re kind of doing a real-life Ted Lasso. I can’t decide if it will be funnier if they win a championship or suck tremendously forever. I mean that last thing with no disrespect at all. I want nothing but the best for them. But it would make for a magnificent reality show if two handsome millionaires from Hollywood just get the hell kicked out of them by the English soccer establishment for 10 seasons. Don’t act like you wouldn’t enjoy this a little bit. But again, I wish them the best.

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 Justin:

I spent a week between graduating law school and starting bar prep by rewatching the Fast and Furious movies in anticipation of FF9, and I need to talk about Furious 7 with someone who gets it. Dom and the gang devise a detailed plan to sneak into this swanky birthday party and steal the God’s Eye hard drive out of a supercar, and a key component of the plan is that Dom just casually deadlifts a CAR while in a tux. This after Mr. Nobody praises Dom’s managerial prowess. I NEED to know what the conversation entailed that led Dom to just deadlift this car as a key step in the plan. I’ve been thinking about how hilarious that conversation must have been all week.

Well, first of all, this seems like an excellent use of your time. I’m not joking or being sarcastic. Sometimes your brain just needs a power washing to clear out the goop that builds up in there, and I can think of no better time for that than “between law school finals and bar exam prep” and no better way to do it than “watch all the Fast & Furious movies.” Terrific work here, buddy.

But yes, this is a wonderful scene from beginning to end, one that ends with Jason Statham shooting a bazooka out the window of an Abu Dhabi skyscraper at the million-dollar sports car Dom has just launched into the air toward a second Abu Dhabi skyscraper. It remains my position that you could make a pretty solid half-hour sitcom about a 24-hour news network that exists inside the Fast & Furious universe. Just a regular news day and people minding their business and then, like, this happens in the streets of Los Angeles.

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I would watch this show. And if it makes you feel any better, Justin, I passed the bar exam a while back and I am, basically, an idiot. I suspect you will be fine.

AND NOW, THE NEWS

To Canada!

Nova Scotia RCMP is investigating an alleged lobster theft from a fishing boat in Eastern Passage.

Ladies and gentlemen, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police are investigating a lobster heist.

Police say three crates of lobster, which had been attached to a fishing boat on Government Wharf Road, were removed from the water.

Wow, if these lobster thieves ever caught…

According to police, the three crates were removed sometime between 4:30 p.m. on May 17 and 11:30 a.m. on May 18.

… then I guess they’ll really be…

Anyone with information is asked to contact Halifax District RCMP or Crime Stoppers.

… in hot water.

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