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 cool to me
There’s this thing that happens sometimes when you watch a lot of television. It happens to me, at least. Maybe it happens to you, too. Maybe I just watch too much television. Either way, it goes something like this: You’ll be watching a show and you’ll notice someone give a good performance or do something interesting and you’ll file it away, and then a week or two later they’ll pop up in another show you watch and you’ll be like “hey, that’s cool, it’s that person,” and then a little bit later they’ll pop up in another show you watch and you’ll be like “OKAY WAIT A MINUTE.” Again, maybe this is just me. Maybe I’m projecting. Or maybe you’ve noticed Jessie Ennis popping up in all the good shows lately, too.
It started, for me, with Mythic Quest, a very good show I like a lot that had easily the best take on the pandemic and quarantine that I saw while we were still in it. She plays a character named Jo who started as an assistant for one executive in the show’s fictional video game company and then ended up working for another because she is a power-mad maniac. Fully unhinged, madness in the eyes, relentlessly eager to please whoever displays dominance. A fun character played well. Good stuff. A part of my brain filed it away.
Then she showed up in this season of The Flight Attendant, a good and objectively bonkers show that is now in its second season on HBO Max. She plays a member of the main character’s Alcoholic Anonymous group who also has a true-crime podcast and would very much like the main character to come on the aforementioned true-crime podcast to discuss the objectively bonkers things that happened in the first season. Here, look.
I’m sure part of it was my experience watching her on Mythic Quest, and a bigger part was the same manic energy she’s so good at playing for the camera, but as soon as she appeared, after I did the “hey, it’s her!” thing, I said to myself “I bet she’s up to something.” I can’t take too much credit for this because everyone on The Flight Attendant is up to something, but still. I called it. That’s the important thing. Unless she turns out not to be up to something. In which case… uh, never mind.
But that all brings us to this week’s episode of Better Call Saul. She popped up there, too. Here, look again.
What’s wild about this is that this character, Erin, has been on the show before. Kind of a lot. She has her own page on the Breaking Bad fandom site and everything. Here’s a summary of some stuff she did in season three.
Erin demands to speak with Jimmy as he leads a group of seniors through a chair yoga at Sandpiper Crossing. Going outside, she confronts Jimmy about his ploy of lying to the seniors to get his settlement quicker. Jimmy not only affirms her accusation, but abruptly states his disdain for his clients, seemingly unknowing that he is still patched into the microphone set. As such, the seniors quickly abandon Jimmy upon hearing his admission when he goes back inside. He meets Erin in the parking lot out-front Sandpiper Crossing and tells her the plan worked and the seniors will likely continue their class action, having set up the argument with Erin to do the right thing by his clients. Erin tells Jimmy she was serious about everything she said and departs.
I knew that. I remembered it. And yet, I never put it together that it was all the same actress until Monday of this week. That’s kind of cool. She’s just been killing it on shows I love for like five years now, all added up. I hope she shows up on The Righteous Gemstones as a fiery new televangelist next. Or on Narcos as a loose-cannon DEA agent. Or on For All Mankind as an astronaut. Or anything, really. This ball is rolling now. Let’s get Jessie Ennis in all of my shows.
ITEM NUMBER TWO — Thank you to Barry for the commitment to remaining silly
I know, I know. We just talked about Barry last week. And we just talked about the thing where it mixes the heavy and the goofy as well as any show on television now or ever. And a lot of the screencaps in that discussion featured Henry Winkler, which allowed me to link to the interview I did with him, which I just linked to again. But there are two very good reasons why it’s happening again today. One is because I really like doing it. The other is because Barry keeps being good at this stuff.
Let’s set the scene with as few spoilers as possible. Barry (Bill Hader) has gotten his acting coach, Gene Cousineau (Winkler), a speaking role on a show that is apparently called Laws of Humanity. There are nefarious motives at play here, many related to Barry being a hitman and killing someone close to Gene and attempting to make it up to him by landing him this role and forcing him to take it under threat of further violence against additional loved ones. It’s a lot. But you should be watching Barry and know this stuff already.
Anyway, the important part. We get to the day of the job, and we are on the set of the show everyone has been calling Laws of Humanity, and two things become clear almost immediately: One, the star of this show within the show is played by Mark-Paul Gosselaar; two…
MARK- PAUL GOSSELAAR PLAYING AN ACTOR WHO PLAYS A CHARACTER NAMED HUGH MANITY
THE SHOW IS ACTUALLY CALLED LAWS OF HUGH MANITY
I am so proud of everyone involved in this piece of business. It’s, like, both genius and massively stupid and it’s like they did it all just for me. Add in the thing where my beloved NoHo Hank sent the text in the screenshot at the top of this page in the same episode and… man. Barry is such a great show. There’s some serious stuff going down this year. Some of it is not a lot of fun. But cutting through that every now and then with the dumbest puns and jokes possible makes it go down much easier.
LAWS OF HUGH MANITY
This will never not be funny to me.
ITEM NUMBER THREE — Listen to me
Regular readers of this column probably know that I absolutely mangled my spinal cord about 15 years ago. Fell, broke my neck, use a power wheelchair now, the whole deal. I’m fine. I swear to God I’m fine. If any one of you says “awwww” while reading this I will puke. I only bring it up now because it leads me into this: Some very good/smart people are starting a very good/cool program to get more people like me with disabilities involved in the process of making television and movies. From Variety:
The campaign, formally known as Disability Is Diversity, comes from the Inevitable Foundation, a nonprofit created 16 months ago by Richie Siegel and Marisa Torelli-Pedevska that seeks to fund and mentor disabled mid-career screenwriters.
The PSAs feature open letters that read, “Dear Entertainment Industry, THERE IS NO DIVERSITY, EQUITY, AND INCLUSION WITHOUT DISABILITY.”
Disabled people make up more than 20% of the population, but only 2% of on-screen characters have disabilities. Less than 1% of writers in Hollywood are disabled.
I dig this for a few reasons, which I will hammer out via bullet point:
- It’s always tricky for people with disabilities to get people to treat them as capable and useful members of society and a big first step is just getting in the door
- The depiction of disability on television and in movies kind of sucks, with most of the examples being sappy inspirational characters or super-rich villains or brain geniuses who may or may not have superpowers that offset their disability
- This increases the odds that there will finally be just, like, one cool guy on television who uses a wheelchair, maybe like a private detective or a chill beach dude or a handsome blogger who writes a weekly column that rounds up various stories from the world of entertainment, to pick three examples completely at random
I love it. This is good. Look at it all. More stuff like this, please.
ITEM NUMBER FOUR — Finally, a movie for Brian
Reasonable arguments can be made that my two favorite things in the entire world are…
- Movies and/or television shows
- The freaking Philadelphia 76ers
… which is why it brings me so much pleasure to present the trailer for the Netflix original movie Hustle, starring Adam Sandler as a basketball scout for the aforementioned freaking Philadelphia 76ers. Here’s the summary::
After discovering a once-in-a-lifetime player with a rocky past abroad, a down on his luck basketball scout (Adam Sandler) takes it upon himself to bring the phenom to the States without his team’s approval. Against the odds, they have one final shot to prove they have what it takes to make it in the NBA.
And here’s my favorite part of it all: Within about the first 20 seconds, we have both a shot of Adam Sandler in a Sixers jacket…
… and a scene with former Sixer reserve center Boban Marjanovic, who is making some serious inroads in Hollywood between this and the thing in the third John Wick movie where he played an assassin named Ernest who tried to ambush John in a library.
At another point in the trailer, as if they worried we wouldn’t believe the character is really from and/or familiar with Philadelphia, Sandler is wearing a Federal Donuts t-shirt.
I went to college in Philly and lived in the city for a grand total of about eight years on and off. I now live something like an hour outside the city limits. Please believe me when I tell you that watching this trailer is the closest I’ve come to hopping in my van and driving to Philly for a hoagie and some donuts in months. It’s a powerful draw. I can’t really explain it. Look up Federal Donuts if you’re not familiar. Bring me some if you are familiar. I know this all started out about a basketball movie starring Adam Sandler but we have moved on to donuts now. The Sixers were eliminated from the playoffs last night. I’m not doing great. Donuts will help.
ITEM NUMBER FIVE — I need to be very clear about what is happening on Holey Moley
We are going straight to the bullet points here:
- Holey Moley is back
- Holey Moley is America’s Finest Television program
- This season there is a running bit where co-host Rob Riggle recruits the Muppets to help get the show picked up for another season, but one of the Muppets — the sweet but misguided Pepe the Prawn — misinterprets his request and kidnaps NBA All-Star Steph Curry and holds him hostage in an attempt to get ABC to commit to the renewal
It is… awesome. And chaotic. Which is kind of awesome itself. This show is ostensibly a miniature golf competition that also features insane obstacles — some of which feature flames or Bigfoot, for… reasons — and it now also features the Muppets kidnapping future Hall of Fame basketball players. It’s just beautiful on all fronts and it makes me so happy and I hope it runs for 15 seasons.
Or, to quote… well, myself, from my own review…
I have no clue how people could watch this and not be charmed straight down to their soul. It’s nonsense. It’s chaos. There are Muppets now. It’s really just a perfect hour of very stupid television that you can watch with your brain switched into power-save mode. It’s important to have shows like that, or at least something like that, in your life somewhere. The world is big and scary and there are plenty of fancy prestige dramas on the 15 streaming services you’re subscribed to. Take a little time off and enjoy the Muppets and a bunch of goofballs whomping themselves into windmills. You’ve earned this. You deserve this. It’s too beautiful to ignore.
It dawns on me as I go through this that I have now mentioned both flaming obstacles and people getting whomped by windmills, but I did not make clear that this is actually the same obstacle. The windmills that whomp people are on fire. A visual will help. These GIFs are both from this week. They’re of the same woman. Look at network television greatness.
I am going to say this once again and I need you to know I am way more serious about it than you think I am: Holey Moley is America’s finest television program.
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.
Would you be thrilled or incredibly annoyed (I feel like this is a binary type of question) if Fast10 ended with Vin Diesel lying on a couch with an ice pack on his head, Michelle Rodriguez coming over and saying “you hit your head pretty good” them cutting to a totaled sports car from 2001 and Vin Diesel saying “I just had the craziest dream”
God, can you imagine this? Can you imagine this massive collective groan coming out of the theater when it happened? Can you imagine the annoyed faces of people who are sitting there trying to make sense of it while I am cackling like the Joker in the back row? I’m so torn now. One part of me desperately does not want this to happen, only to avoid the insufferable discourse that unfolds afterward. Another part of me wants to bathe in the chaos of it all for days.
Here’s the other thing about all of this, which is worth noting for the sake of both fairness and comedy: The surprise “it was all Dominic Toretto’s concussion dream” ending would not be the weirdest thing that has happened in this franchise. I don’t even know if it would be in the top three. It has a hell of a mountain to climb to get over. Consider:
- A team of street racing international fugitives now does secret missions for a government agency that has an unlimited budget and is run by Kurt Russell
- Jason Statham plays a character who full-on murdered their dear friend and yet still joins the Family a few movies later as a valued team member and, also, surprise, the friend who was murdered in the third movie and came back for the fourth through sixth thanks to a chronological lambada and then was killed again… yeah, he was actually alive the whole time and has rejoined the team, which, has been working with the man they thought murdered him
- Ludacris and Tyrese went to space in a NoS-powered Pontiac
It could happen. It really could. Please start preparing yourselves now, just in case.
AND NOW, THE NEWS
An Indian murder trial had to be halted on Wednesday under bizarre circumstances after a monkey stole several key pieces of evidence before the case reached court.
According to the Times of India, the monkey was able to snatch an evidence packet that contained 15 pieces of evidence – including a knife, the alleged murder weapon.
So this appears to be yet another of those Two Things Can Be True At Once situations.
On one hand, there’s a real dead person here and a real alleged murderer who might go free, none of which is good.
On the other hand, please take a second and imagine some poor lawyer going in front of a judge with “a monkey stole my evidence” as his story and it actually being true.
During a pre-trial hearing, Jaipur police had to admit to the court that since the murder in 2016, a monkey snatched the evidence while it was being transported.
This sounds like a plot from Laws of Humanity, the fake show from Barry starring Mark-Paul Gosselaar, which, now that I think about it, I really want to exist and feature this exact plot in the first episode.
Key evidence in the case, including a knife that is believed to have been used by the suspects to murder Sharma, was collected and placed in an evidence packet, ready to be used in court when the case went to trial.
However, according to India’s NDTV, the evidence was temporarily being kept under a tree by the constable due to a lack of space in the audit facility in Malkhana.
It was then, the police said in their written response to the court, that the monkey snatched the 15 pieces of evidence and fled. It has not been recovered.
FIFTEEN PIECES OF EVIDENCE
THAT IS SO MUCH EVIDENCE
HOW DID HE CARRY IT ALL?
WITH HIS LITTLE HANDS?!
The public prosecutor has reportedly reacted angrily to the police’s incompetence, suggesting their excuse is unusual. The court also expressed its frustration.
I mean… yeah. Fair reactions all around. But it’s like they say in law school: sometimes things work out, sometimes a monkey steals your evidence. They don’t actually say that. They should probably start, though.