TV

The Rundown: ‘Mythic Quest’ Remains Undefeated At Special Episodes

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 — Mythic Quest is so good at this

It is almost unreasonable how good Mythic Quest is at special episodes. The show’s first one, its moving and timely and uplifting quarantine special, was a certified dynamo, a bright comet streaking across the jet black sky, a flash of hope and emotion and laughs in a period when those were tough things to come by. I remember watching it about a year ago, early into the pandemic, and just staring at my ceiling for a while as the end credits rolled. It was powerful. I wrote a whole big thing about it. Mythic Quest is a good show.

And now it’s back with another special episode, a bookend to the quarantine story that also serves as a jumping-off point for the upcoming second season. The episode is titled “Everlight” and it debuted last weekend and I’ve already watched it twice. The gist goes like this: it is the first day back in the office for the staff of the fictional video game company that makes Mythic Quest, the game within the show, and to make things fun and exciting the company’s leaders, Ian (Rob McElhenney) and Poppy (Charlotte Nicdao), hold their annual big event, also called Everlight, in which the employees LARP it up in a battle of light versus darkness. There are metaphors galore here, with “the light” breaking through “a time of darkness,” and there’s also narration by the real and actual Anthony Hopkins, which is cool for a lot of reasons, one of which is that it allows me to share this tweet with you.

Anyway, like the quarantine episode, this sucker is big and ambitious and full of themes that play out small and large. It’s a tight half-hour that will make you laugh and feel good. This is no small feat. Not many shows know all of their characters this well this early into their run, or ever, if we’re being honest about it. Everyone hits their marks so well. McElhenney remains completely at home inhabiting an egomaniac with a secret tender heart. Danny Pudi is a blast as the company’s soulless money man. But the real key here, the secret sauce that makes this all work, is Charlotte Nicdao’s performance as Poppy.

I really don’t know how to describe this in accurate terms. She is so good at this, the comedy and the tender moments and even just the faces she makes in doing those other things. There’s a running gag in the episode about her not getting Ian’s sports references that killed me, mostly due to her timing on the responses to McElhenney’s annoyance. There’s another running gag about her throwing “fireballs” in the battle, which in reality involves her whizzing orange balls at people and them whizzing the balls back at her much harder. I am going to post a GIF of one of these moments now, but please know that this does not do the moment justice because GIFs do not contain sound and therefore cannot capture the delightful “oohawwbleh” sound she makes as she flails backward.

APPLE

This is how you do physical comedy.

There are three main lessons I would like you to take away from this discussion. The first, again, is that Mythic Quest is a good show. It already was a good show. The first season was terrific, even before the one-two punch of special episodes, thanks to a workplace comedy vibe that has a lot in common with the best parts of The Office. The second thing I would like you to take away from this discussion is that the new season premieres in two weeks, which gives you plenty of time to catch up if you haven’t seen it yet. It’s so easy. Just go to the same place you went to watch Ted Lasso and then click like two times and blammo, there you go. You can binge it all this weekend, easily. I know because I did it. You are at least as good at binge-watching shows as I am.

Which brings me to the third thing. Lord in heaven knows there are enough bleak and dark shows out there, deep dives into gruesome murders and gritty takes on classic stories and all that. Those are fine in moderation. But come on. It is spring and we are, hopefully, coming out on the right side of some real bad stuff and the sun is out and the leaves are popping. Give yourself a break. Let some damn light in. Watch and enjoy Mythic Quest, a good show that will make you feel good. Trust me on this. I would not lie to you.

ITEM NUMBER TWO — Kyra Sedgwick has a very fun story

TNT

Kyra Sedgwick is an actress who is probably best known for starring in the TNT series The Closer. Actually, no, scratch that. Kyra Sedgwick is an actress who was probably best known for starring in the TNT series The Closer because, effective immediately, at least in my brain, Kyra Sedgwick will forever be remembered for telling an incredible story about snooping around Tom Cruise’s house. That happened this week on The Drew Barrymore Show. I am going to tell you about it.

But first, some background: Kyra was at a party at Tom’s house in the early 1990s to celebrate the premiere of A Few Good Men, which co-starred her husband, Kevin Bacon. And so Kyra was walking around minding her own business, kind of, to the extent one can ever mind their own business in Tom Cruise’s house because, like, what are you gonna do, not snoop a little bit? Come on. I think even Tom knows a little snooping is going to happen. It’s like that scene in mob movies where the boss realizes one guy in the crew is a narc because he was the only guy who wasn’t skimming a little bit. If you tell Tom Cruise you didn’t snoop around at all, he knows you probably went through the drawers in his bedroom.

Anyway, so Kyra stumbled across a mysterious button above the fireplace and — like any of you would do if you found a mysterious button in Tom Cruise’s house, do not lie to me — she pushed the heck out of that button. As transcribed by USA Today:

“There was this, like, fireplace mantle, and I was looking around and there was this little button underneath the mantle,” she said. “I was like, ‘Oh what is that little button?’ So I pressed the little button because I thought maybe something interesting will happen. Nothing happened and then I got a little nervous.”

Sedgwick said she told on herself because it didn’t “seem right” that nothing happened. She interrupted Cruise in the middle of a story to come clean.

“He goes, ‘That’s the panic button,'” Sedgwick said. “And so the cops came, they had to stop the screening… they had to see (Cruise). I think there were more than like five cop cars, it was something.”

A few notes here:

  • I have a deep respect for Kyra Sedgwick now, not just for pushing that damn button, but for coming clean about it in the moment and for ratting herself out as a snooper on national television 30 years later
  • It would not be very fun to be so famous that you have to install a silent alarm in your own home like you live in a bank vault or something
  • Kyra Sedgwick has probably told this story at so many dinner parties and I bet it killed every single time

This last thing is not something we should gloss over. It is great to have a killer dinner party story. Everyone should have at least one they can tell well in a pinch. I have maybe three or four, just reliable stand-bys that I know will get at least a little laugh. None of them are anywhere near as good as “I was snooping around Tom Cruise’s house and set off the silent alarm that calls the cops,” though. Although, now that I think about it, maybe this isn’t that great a dinner party story after all because then the host would suspect you of snooping around their house. Real Catch-22 here. Kyra Sedgwick has given us so much to think about.

ITEM NUMBER THREE — It is time to correct a historical wrong

Universal

I know I bring up F9 almost every week. In my defense, there’s a good reason for this: I really like talking about F9. I could talk about it all day. I could talk about the history of the franchise and various fun little tidbits and how Vin Diesel wrote and directed a short film called Los Bandoleros that fills in the gaps in the series leading into the return of Dominic Toretto in the fourth movie. But mostly, I could talk about Han, the mysteriously wealthy street racer introduced and killed off in the third film, and then re-introduced in the fourth film through a glorious chronological two-step, and then killed off again in the sixth film after explaining how he got to Tokyo for the third film, and then re-introduced again in the trailer for F9, over a year ago, through some as yet unknown series of events that HAS BEEN KILLING ME JUST TELL ME HOW HE IS ALIVE AGAIN THIS IS OUTRAGEOUS.

[clears throat]

Sorry. Got a little worked up there. Anyway, it turns out I’m not the only one who can talk a lot about Han. So can series mastermind Justin Lin, the man who directed films three through six and created the whole Han arc. Turns out he wasn’t all that happy with the thing where Jason Statham’s character was welcomed to the Family with open arms in the eighth movie and given a loving spinoff with The Rock after he was revealed to be the one who killed Han as retribution for Dom and company leaving his brother on life support.

The fact that a few years later I was able to join and, in a way, evolve and correct that, that means a lot to me. And the fact that we as a franchise can keep evolving and growing, that means a lot. So being away, and the way I found out, I still don’t know what happened, but it’s okay because I got to come back. And one of the great things is that it feels a little poetic. Honestly, if none of that happened, Han wouldn’t come back. And so when I left [after Fast 6], I came in with Han, I’m leaving with Han. So if there was no justice for Han and I came back, I probably wouldn’t have brought him back. Again, it feels like everything happened for a reason. And I’m not here to judge anything, but I’m glad we’re able to put the right touches on it, and, like I said in January, “justice for Han” isn’t just this movie. I think how we treat this character as we move forward, that’s going to be the “justice for Han.”

God, I love this franchise so much. It’s basically a soap opera both on-screen and in real life, but one with rocket-charged Hondas and oiled-up Adonises strewn across the screen. And here’s the best part: This quote from Lin is actually two weeks old, and someone asked Jason Statham about it while he was out doing the press tour for his upcoming movie Wrath of Man, and Jason Statham said this about the whole Han situation.

“They better bring me back, because I need to put out that fire,” Statham tells EW with a laugh. “If he’s got any score to settle, it’s with me.”

Yes.

YES.

I need Han and Deckard Shaw to face off.

I need Han to get revenge once and for all.

I need it to happen… IN SPACE?

I don’t know. Maybe that last thing is asking too much. Or maybe it’s not asking enough. That’s the beautiful thing about this franchise. The limits to what can happen on-screen extend exactly as far as the limits of your imagination. It’s getting to the point where the whole thing is bordering on science fiction and I do not care because I love it very much.

ITEM NUMBER FOUR — Hey, look at that, some good trailers

Well well well, look at that, it’s the trailer for the second season of Ted Lasso, a wonderful show that kind of took the world by storm thanks to a combination of good vibes and mustaches. This is a terrific development, mostly because it means the second season is on its way. I mean, we knew it was on its way. Everyone said it was. And, like, I do not think the people involved in the show would lie to us about any of that, but it’s still nice to have confirmation.

Hey, speaking of things that are nice…

This is the trailer for Kevin Can F Himself, starring Annie Murphy from Schitt’s Creek. It looks pretty interesting, and Annie Murphy was so good in Schitt’s Creek, so let’s go right ahead and file this one under Reasonably Optimistic, too.

There have been a lot of trailers dropping lately, actually. Almost too many to keep up with. Things slowed down so much at the beginning of the pandemic that now, between the finished movies that were being held for theaters and the productions of shows and movies that kicked into overdrive once people figured out how to do it reasonably safely, we are headed toward an absolute onslaught of content. There are worse problems to have, to be sure, but I do wonder if it’ll all be kind of overwhelming at first. It’s going to be weird. I suspect more mustaches and good vibes will help with the transition.

ITEM NUMBER FIVE — This is all quite fascinating… to me

Bob Odenkirk is the best. He’s been the best for a while, too, between Mr. Show and Better Call Saul and now Nobody, the action movie from the writer of John Wick in which Bob Odenkirk basically plays “John Wick but still has a family and has a handler played by RZA,” which is a solid piece of business. He’s out doing press for Nobody now, which is nice because it means we’ve been getting a bunch of great Bob Odenkirk interviews to read. Like, for example, this one from GQ. It’s a really good one, serious in parts about the real-life home invasions that informed his portrayal of the characters, and funny in parts like, well, this.

What did “going too far” mean in this case? I know you spent the past few years doing some pretty intense physical training for this movie.

I was at a party, and Tim Olyphant and I were talking, and he always kills me. He just makes me laugh. I said, “I’m training so hard for this movie.” And he looks at me and he goes, “Just get a stuntman to do it.”

And it was the first time it even occurred to me that I could do that! So I stood there, silently thinking, “Well, yeah. Of course you could do that.” Anda then I thought, “What’s the point of that? I want to do this.”

This is… cool. It’s cool. All of it is cool, too. The thing where he chose to do his own stunts is cool, the thing where he was at a party with Timothy Olyphant is cool, the thing where Timothy Olyphant told him to just use a stuntman is cool, and the thing where he calls Timothy Olyphant “Tim” is cool. That last one, especially. I do not think I’ve ever heard anyone call Timothy Olyphant “Tim” before. It is very cool that Bob Odenkirk calls Timothy Olyphant “Tim.”

And it gets even better because that wasn’t the only cool name-related thing involving Bob Odenkirk this week. He and the major players from Nobody, including RZA and Christopher Lloyd, teamed up to live-tweet a viewing of the movie in as spoiler-free a way as possible. The whole thing was interesting and informative if you’ve seen or were watching the movie, but that’s not the point right now. The point right now is that, if this tweet is to believed, Bob Odenkirk calls RZA “Bobby.”

I want to know everything about all of this at once. Is this a “Bobby” as in Bobby Digital, one of RZA’s many Wu-Tang aliases, or is this a “Bobby” as in Robert Diggs, RZA’s given birth name? I can’t decide which option I like more. Either way it is extremely cool. There’s something very fascinating about the idea of Bob Odenkirk just casually calling RZA, who has been known as the RZA for over 30 years now, by his government name, though. It would be like if someone was telling you their friend Dwayne was stopping by and then the doorbell rang and The Rock was standing there.

Now I need to know if Bob Odenkirk calls The Rock “Dwayne.” This will haunt me all weekend.

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 Lori:

I realized this week that a year stuck mostly inside has made me rusty at interpersonal communication. I was out at a restaurant for the first time in forever (vaccinated, WOO-HOO) and when the waiter gave us our check and said “Have a nice day,” I almost caught myself replying “I love you, too.” I had seen this happen in sitcoms but never in real life. It reminded me of your fascination with the “we’re not so different” scene that’s in action movies but has never happened in the real world. Does this happen to you a lot, where something from a movie or television show occurs in real life and throws you for a loop? Please take this the right way but I feel like it does.

Oh God. Oh my God. I don’t have time to possibly take offense to your mostly correct implication that I am a weirdo who watches so many movies and television shows that I process real-life events through a prism of television tropes because your waiter story reminded me of my own waiter story from about 10 years ago. I stopped at a Red Robin outside of Philly on my way home from law school for the summer. I was so fried and sleep-deprived from finals and operating at maybe 30-35 percent. I ate my meal and started heading out and a very nice waiter held the door for me. As I was going through the door, he said “Have a great day” and my broken, mangled brain told my mouth to say “Yup, sweet dreams.” It was lunchtime. Not that there would have been an appropriate time to say that. But still. Yeesh.

I have not been back to that Red Robin since.

AND NOW, THE NEWS

To Italy!

A hospital employee in Italy has been accused of skipping work on full pay for 15 years, local media report.

I love him.

He was reportedly paid €538,000 (£464,000) in total over the years he is thought not to have been working.

Six managers at the hospital are also being investigated in connection with the alleged absenteeism.

To be clear, I do not, in theory, support swindling the government out of hundreds of thousands of dollars that could otherwise be used on worthwhile public programs that benefit the less fortunate. But also, I am so proud of this guy. Do you realize what he did? He pulled a reverse “Stephen Root in Office Space,” where instead of the company stopping his paychecks and waiting for him to quit, he just quit and waited for them to stop paying him. It’s beautiful. I kind of do not want to know anything else about this. I feel like it can only get worse from here.

Okay. Okay. Let’s look at one more blockquote. Carefully.

The police have also accused him of threatening his manager to stop her from filing a disciplinary report against him.

That manager later retired, police added, and his ongoing absence was never noticed by her successor or human resources.

Dammit. The threat part took most of the fun out of this. This is why you shouldn’t read to the end of things. Get to the good part and then bail right away. I don’t even know why you’re still reading this article. You should have closed the tab after that Kyra Sedgwick story. I appreciate that you didn’t, of course, but it was a real risk on your part. Be smarter than this next week.

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