TV

The Rundown: The Fun Shows Are Coming Back, Just In Time

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 – The time has come to get silly

There are a lot of good shows clanging around right now. The Bear is getting people all riled up and reminding me what it was like to work in a kitchen for one summer. Stranger Things is dropping mammoth episodes that reveal mammoth plot details. Better Call Saul is about to return for its final clump of episodes. It’s an embarrassment of riches. It is also all very stressful. Especially The Bear. I’m still a few episodes behind on that because it might be the least binge-y show I’ve seen in years. Good, yes, sure, but two straight episodes of it and I’m ready to smoke a cigarette for the first time since college. It’s not ideal.

Luckily, there are alternatives on the way. Good, fun, silly shows that will lower your bubbling anxiety level. Shows with wonderful vibes and goofs for the sake of goofs and the right kind of energy to watch at night while you are winding down and don’t want to chew your fingernails into useless little nubbies. Shows that both return for new seasons this month. The first of these is What We Do in the Shadows, which is back on Tuesday.

We have talked about this show many times, with good reason. It’s a delightful little program. We’ve got vampires living on Staten Island and getting into little adventures and sometimes going on the run in character as regular human bartenders named Jackie Daytona. It’s smart and stupid and maybe the most purely funny show anywhere right now. I don’t say that lightly. This is a show that has Matt Berry and his tremendous voice and uses both of them to say things like this.

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FX

It’s a good show. In the new season, one of the characters, an “energy vampire” named Colin Robinson who derives his power by sucking the life out of people through boredom, has recently died and a smaller, more childlike version of him has burst out of his lifeless body. So there’s a toddler on the show now. With an adult’s face. It’s a whole thing.

Speaking of whole things that are weird and fun and cool, the Harley Quinn cartoon is back later this month for a third season.

This is another one we’ve talked about before, a few times, because it’s good. Better than it should be, honestly. It’s profane and silly and surprisingly sweet at times, especially with the relationship between Harley and Poison Ivy, who, by the end of season two, have become a couple. The voice cast is incredible. Kaley Cuoco, Lake Bell, Tony Hale, James Adomian, etc etc etc. My favorite is Christopher Meloni as a kind of depressed Commissioner Gordon who sometimes plays with the Bat Signal because he needs someone to talk to.

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HBO MAX
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HBO MAX
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HBO MAX

Again, it’s good. Both shows are good. You should definitely watch them both. You have enough time to binge the first two seasons of Harley if you haven’t seen it yet. You don’t have time to catch up on Shadows before the premiere (unless you don’t sleep, which you should not do), but if you haven’t gotten in there yet, there’s no time like the present to start. Go ahead. Relax. Have some fun. It is July and it’s too hot to be stressed out over television.

ITEM NUMBER TWO — Meanwhile, across the pond

Something very important happened in England this week. No, not the thing about Boris Johnson resigning as Prime Minister. I mean, kind of that, but not really that. We have important business to get to here. Specifically, we have the thing in tweet up there to get to. The thing where, as the British news was reporting on the resignation of Boris Johnson live from London, someone was blasting “Yakety Sax” from The Benny Hill Show.

This is… funny. It’s really funny. One of the funnier things I’ve ever seen, maybe. And very British. Just absurdly British. I spent the better part of 20 minutes today trying to come up with the American equivalent of this — an impossible task, due to a number of reasons including, but not limited to, people who know things about it using actual phrases like “activate the Queen” — and the closest I came was “the President resigns and someone shows up on the White House lawn with a boombox that is blasting the music from Jackass.” Not perfect, but close.

And it gets better. A lot better. Because once you get past the part where this actually was a thing that happened, you are naturally going to wonder, like, why and how it happened. And then you, like me, will look into it. And then you’ll discover that the song was played by a political activist who was put up to it all by Hugh Grant. Yes, that Hugh Grant. And he did it via tweet. Look at this.

So, to recap, we have:

  • The Prime Minister of England resigned in disgrace
  • The Queen being activated
  • The whole thing being set to the Benny Hill music
  • Hugh Grant being a naughty boy online

This is easily the most British thing I’ve ever seen. And one of the best. Every single layer that unfolded was better than the last. I really did not ever expect to be this interested in British politics. Here I am, though. I don’t even know where else it can go from this point. Maybe there’s a clause that makes Jason Statham the new Prime Minister. Or the king. That would be cool. And funny. I would like it a lot.

Here’s the main takeaway from all of this, whatever it is.

Accurate. This has been a helpful and informative chat about global relations. Now, moving to more important matters…

ITEM NUMBER THREE – I need new pictures from the set of Barbie every day, please and thank you

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Getty Image

Here’s the thing about the upcoming Barbie movie: I love it. Which is weird. It’s a little weird. It’s not, in theory, a movie narrowly tailored to my target demo, and it’s not, in theory, something that would be able to cut through the noise just from a series of paparazzi photos from the set. And yet! We all have plenty to consider here.

Part of it is the talent involved. We’ve got Greta Gerwig behind the camera and everyone from Margot Robbie to Ryan Gosling to Will Ferrell in front of it. It’s an embarrassment of riches, really, and the least you can do if you’re trying to cash in on a children’s toy with a big-budget film (see also, The LEGO Movie, also starring Will Ferrell), so there’s all of that. But mostly, if we’re being honest, and why would we lie about this, it’s the photos. They’re good photos.

My colleague Josh Kurp wrote about all of this more eloquently than I suspect I can, so let me just link to the thing he wrote and post another picture.

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Getty Image

It’s perfect. Look at… well, look at all of it. The colors and the rollerblades and the pretty people in colors and rollerblades. It’s all so good that it has temporarily made me forget to be angry about the thing where Ryan Gosling is funny and charming and talented and literally looks like a Ken doll so much that they cast him as a Ken doll. It’s too much. Come on, buddy. Share with the rest of us a little bit. It’s tough out here.

All of which is to say, yes, again, I’m excited, to the point that I’m already dreading the moment where I have to ask some poor theater employee for a ticket to it while both of us make the faces you’re picturing now. It’s really going to be hard to improve on any of it. I mean, I don’t even see how you c-…

Okay. Fine. Yes. This is a movie I would watch. Let Barbie and Paddington get married and live in a castle. They can be the new king and queen of England. This will solve a lot of our problems.

ITEM NUMBER FOUR – Oh, look, it’s my new favorite shows

This is a trailer for an upcoming television show called The Resort. It looks so good. I want it now. Here’s the description in its most basic form…

Noah and Emma are vacationing in the Mayan Riviera at the Oceana Vista Resort for their 10th anniversary. Noah has been content with life, whereas Emma feels like their marriage isn’t advancing. They are then pulled into an unsolved mystery of two missing persons from fifteen years ago, which tests the resolve of their marriage.

… and here’s a list of people who are in it: Cristin Milioti, William Jackson Harper, Nick Offerman, Skyler Gisondo. That is a really good list of people with really good resumes. We’ve got alums of The Good Place and Parks & Rec and a current star of The Righteous Gemstones and freaking Cristin Milioti, who is great in everything, but especially in Palm Springs. Remember how good Palm Springs was? Go watch it again this weekend if you don’t. It’s on Hulu. You won’t regret it even a little.

In fact, now that I think about it… this show feels like it has a Palm Springs kind of vibe. Maybe with a little Lodge 49 thrown in. Lodge 49 was so good. God, that was such a good show. I wonder why The Resort is giving me all the good vibes from television shows and movies I like. Let’s head over to IMDb and check out some of the credits for its showrunner, Andy Siara, who is co-producing w-… aaaaaaand he wrote Palm Springs and was a writer on Lodge 49.

It’s nice when things make sense. We are definitely watching that show. And we are watching this one, too. Probably.

This show looks so strange. I am either going to love it or bail after 1.5 episodes because I am cringing so hard it is grinding my bones to dust. This is the thing about Nathan Fielder. He’s both a genius and maniac, in a way that can legitimately unsettle me sometimes. I don’t know. I have trouble putting it all into words. Luckily, the good folks at Vulture put it into words for me in this long profile of him and the new show.

As the series progresses, the line between Fielder’s life and work blurs, until he finds himself at the center of his own experiment. At times, he seems to question the wisdom of manipulating people the way he does. When the teacher likens him to Willy Wonka, he looks disturbed. “Isn’t he the bad guy?” he asks. As the credits roll, we hear the eerie tinkling of a celesta, the swell of strings, and then Gene Wilder’s voice, soft as cotton candy. To engineer a moment of intimacy with the teacher, he takes him to a heated pool. Hoping to get the guy to open up, he says he was once married. The teacher begins talking about the pain of his own divorce, but a moment later, the conversation ends. “I didn’t want to go too deep into my private life,” Fielder explains in voice-over, “so I had preplanned for an elderly swimmer to interrupt us.” The Fielder who appears in these scenes is not unlike the real Fielder. “You’re seeing me control and not wanting to share,” he told me. “I’m aware that I’m like that, and so it’s in the show.”

Yeah. Like I said, I’m either going to adore this show or watch it through the fingers that are over my eyes for a week or two and then go watch Palm Springs again instead. A fascinating conundrum we have on our hands here.

ITEM NUMBER FIVE – Let Joe Pera have a show

I have terrible news. Joe Pera Talks With You, the nicest show on television, one that was unlike anything else anywhere, one that was somehow heartfelt and chaotic and peaceful all at once, was canceled by Adult Swim after three seasons. Pera announced the news in a typically lovely note on his own website, which briefly crashed under the weight of the sudden traffic to it, which is kind of perfect and something that would have made a great episode of the show. If it hadn’t been canceled. I’m sad again.

Let’s just blockquote Joe.

It was the best when I’d meet someone after a show and they’d mention they watched the Christmas Tree Special every December, or tell me that the sleep episodes actually work, or that they showed the series to their Dad and at first he hated it but now they watch it together regularly.

I thought about that as I ate my chicken sandwich and fries. I also thought about how we were really just getting going. This winter I spent three weeks in Marquette doing research (also drinking beer) and was filled with new ideas. But mostly, it’s a shame that the characters’ stories can’t continue. I knew where things were headed but I won’t say here cause part of me is holding out hope that sometime down the line we can film a proper ending for Joe, Sarah, the Melskys, Gene, Lulu, and most importantly, Fred the Sample Guy.

We had an idea where Fred starts a ‘Regret Club’ where people are encouraged to come and share things they regret most in their lives under the pretense that the club will help them find some resolution but Fred hasn’t planned that far ahead and everyone just gets pissed off at him.

At the same time, I thought about how lucky we were. The more I learn how TV works, the more I realize that it’s kind of a miracle that our quiet, 11-minute show about rocks, beans, grocery stores, and breakfast crews got on the air and lasted as long as it did.

I hate this. It feels strange to say in a world where there are 50,000 shows on 500 channels and/or streaming sites, but there are really so few original things happening out there. This show was one of them. It moved at its own pace in such an oddly confident way. Like, there was a whole episode about just going to the grocery store. There was a whole season where the main unifying story was “Joe builds a bean arch.” Watch the video embedded at the top of this section. It’s just Joe Pera talking to you and helping you get to sleep. It sounds like the most boring thing ever when you just type it out like this. But it worked. It was kind of incredible.

I’m really bummed out about this one. I’m sure everyone involved will land on their feet, if only because everyone involved was talented enough to pull this one off. But still. It stinks to lose something that was legitimately unique. There are enough outlets around that something like this should just be allowed to exist.

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 Phil:

I was driving to drop my son off at his friend’s house yesterday and we drove past a homemade sign for a little lawn and garden business that was stapled to a lightpole that said “PAUL LANDSCAPING.” Before I had even processed any of it, I said “good fake name” out loud under my breath. This is your influence at work.

Oh god. Oh, Phil. Phil, I am so sorry. Actually… wait. I’m not really sorry. I’m howling with laughter. I do feel a little bad that my stupid love of dumb fake names has infiltrated your brain, but mostly I’m happy. PAUL LANDSCAPING. I can picture him now. He has a mustache and a safari hat and he’s strutting through the produce section of the fancy supermarket in the area that’s not Whole Foods but is kind of Whole Foods. He has lots of opinions about bell peppers.

Anyway, if you’re wondering if this is just a bit on my part, that maybe I’m all talk and not really committed to the fake name lifestyle, please know that I ended up on a detour due to construction last weekend and saw this sign and immediately whipped my handicap-accessible minivan off the road and into the parking lot so I could take this picture and make this joke.

I do not regret any of it.

AND NOW, THE NEWS

To Nebraska!

Three semi-trailers full of meat products were stolen this weekend in Grand Island and the thefts may be part of a nationwide trend.

MEAT HEIST

MULTIPLE MEAT HEISTS

NATIONWIDE MEAT HEIST EPIDEMIC

“It does not look like it was possible for a single person to conduct these thefts. Most likely it was a minimum of two people or more and then on top of that we have a similar thefts of meat products in other areas such as Colfax County and Omaha over the past several weeks that are probably related,” Grand Island Police Captain Jim Duering said.

Two things are important to note here:

  • In the original Fast & Furious movie, Dominic Toretto and company were operating as a team to steal DVD players from trucks that were driving down the highway
  • It would be extremely funny to me if the next movie — the tenth, one after they went to space and two after a cyberterrorist played by Academy Award winner Charlize Theron tried to steal a nuclear submarine — took them back to basics for a meat heist

Vin. Please. If you’re reading this. Please. For me. Meat heist. Vin.

The Nebraska State Patrol found the two tractors and two of the trailers outside Grand Island city limits. The trailers were empty. One of the tractors was found Sunday in Lancaster County. The third trailer, which reportedly contains $232,666 worth of beef from JBS Swift, was still missing as of Monday morning.

“We think it’s probably the same crew who made two trips and took the meat into two different locations. At some point you can’t unload 160,000 pounds of meat without having another truck available. If those were stolen or not, we don’t know,” Duering said.

This is the only thing I care about now. Imagine the amount of work that went into this. Imagine the layers of planning. To steal meat. Not a Picasso, not a priceless diamond. Meat. I will never get over this.

“The first tractor and trailer that was taken had a little over $232,000 worth of meat. If you look at the cost of beef right now it can be anywhere between $200,000 to $1 million depending on what meat cut was on board at the time.”

MILLION-DOLLAR MEAT HEIST

If that’s not the title of some straight-to-VOD movie starring like the third lead from a lesser CSI spinoff by next summer, I am going to be so angry at everyone.

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