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 – One of our best shows is back
It would be easy to write off Mythic Quest as “that other show Rob McElhenney does.” You wouldn’t be entirely out of line, either, at least not in the broad strokes. He’s been making Always Sunny for almost two decades now, as impossible as that sounds. The show premiered in 2005. It’s about to start its 16th season, extending its record for most seasons of a live-action show and putting some distance between it and the show in second place, The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, which might be the funniest possible show for it to have displaced at the top. All of this is notable and fine and good, but again, it gets in the way of the point here.
The point here is that Mythic Quest is a blast. It’s so good. The Apple series is kicking off its third season this weekend and I am as excited about it as I’ve been about any new season of any returning series this year. This gist of it, if you’re not caught up, goes like this: McElhenney plays the egomaniac creative genius behind a wildly popular series of video games called, you guessed it, Mythic Quest. The whole thing is basically your standard workplace sitcom from there. We’ve got goofballs and schemers and romance and jokes and heart and sometimes someone has a sword. You could do worse.
The cast is loaded, too. Charlotte Nicdao plays his constantly flustered number two and brings a pretty great nervous energy to it all. Danny Pudi is in there as the slimy business guy whose Svengali shenanigans eventually get him thrown in jail. Jessie Ennis is running around doing Jessie Ennis things, all bubbling intensity and wildfires raging behind the eyes. We’ve got Ashly Burch and Imani Hakim as testers and David Hornsby — Rickety Cricket from Always Sunny — as the hopeless manager and it’s all just lovely. Here’s the trailer for the new season.
I’ve talked about this show before. Kind of a lot. I’ll do that when I like a show. I still believe that the “Quarantine” special episode they aired smack in the early stages of the pandemic was the best take on the situation any television show put together. I was so amazed by it all that I reached out to a bunch of them to do interviews for a piece on how they all did it. This is notable because I am usually awful at doing interviews and try to avoid them whenever possible, and because when I dialed in to talk to Rob, he saw my Eastern Pennsylvania area code and we wrapped up the interview by shouting “GO BIRDS” at each other. I am very professional.
(Also worth noting: Apple is really killing it with half-hour comedies right now. This show, Ted Lasso, Loot with Maya Rudolph, my beloved murder mystery The Afterparty, and more. A ridiculous hit rate on these. Something to monitor going forward.)
So, yeah. Definitely get in here. Watch this season if you’ve watched the first two. Watch all three of you haven’t. Start this weekend. It really is the highest level execution of a genre that has worked forever, and done with the fun twist, which is kind of all you can ask for out of a nice little binge. It’s basically The Office or Parks and Recreation but about video games and without the crutch — not that those shows used it as a crutch, more that many shows since have — of the mockumentary format to explain the action. I’m excited. Wait until you see Danny Pudi in this new season. And wait until you see the Elizabeth Holmes joke in one of the early episodes. Just a masterclass on a few levels here. I’m so happy it’s back.
ITEM NUMBER TWO – Just an incredible week for the John Wick universe
Two important developments in the John Wick universe this week, which is a really fun thing to get to type out like that. The first is that we have a new trailer for the fourth movie in the franchise. That’s it up there. I wrote 1500 words about it here, because… well, because what’s the point of having this job if you’re not going to drop everything on a Thursday morning to blog about Keanu Reeves getting into sword fights in Paris, you know? I do not take this for granted.
The second thing was this update about the upcoming John Wick spinoff titled Ballerina, which will star Ana de Armas as… well as a ballerina assassin who is also out for revenge.
While the studio couldn’t be reached for comment, it’s understood that Reeves will join an ensemble led by Ana de Armas, which will also include Ian McShane. The latter will reprise his role as The Continental Hotel manager Winston, which he’s played since the original John Wick film, as was announced earlier today.
Ballerina will watch as a young female assassin (De Armas) seeks revenge against the people who killed her family — as Wick has against those who have done him wrong, in three films released between 2014 and 2019.
This is cool. I am ready for this movie as soon as they want to release it. Today is fine. Show me Ana de Armas in a cocktail dress at a formal gala just mowing down a collection of goons who have wronged her and/or her loved ones. Have her and Keanu do it together with a synchronized efficiency that makes it look more like dance than chaos. Give the bad guy a name like Victor St. Aspen and put him in a tuxedo and cast Jeremy Irons to play him.
I hope they keep spinning off more things. Give me a prequel about Ernest, the assassin played by Boban Marjanovic. Give me a whole movie from the point of view of the dogs. Make it a cartoon. Let the dogs sing. I will still go see it in the theater the first day it opens. I promise I am at most barely joking about any of this.
ITEM NUMBER THREE – Ryan Coogler seems like a pretty good dude
Ryan Coogler is out making the rounds to promote Wakanda Forever, the Black Panther sequel he directed that opens this weekend. It’s been weird, mostly because Chadwick Boseman was so good as the lead in the original and he’s just… not here anymore. That sucks a lot. And Coogler has done such a good job on the press tour discussing that loss even though it’s probably painful as hell to discuss every day for weeks. I feel bad for him about it all. Which is one of the reasons I’m going to stop talking about it… now.
Instead, I’m going to talk about this: Ryan Coogler learned how to swim to make this movie. That’s a pretty cool thing, as was his reasoning, which was basically that if he was asking his cast to be in the water for a huge chunk of the movie, then he should be in the water, too. He discussed the whole thing in an interview last week, getting into the racial history or swimming and why a substantial chunk of the Black community feels weird about it, which is also a good thing to open up a discussion about, just to get it out there. Here’s the thrust of it all, though.
When training began, Coogler’s swimming ability peaked at knowing how to “stay alive” — but that was about it. So, as one would imagine, there was a bit of a learning curve. Those who’ve attempted to free dive probably won’t be surprised to read that, for example, Coogler initially struggled to learn how and when to clear his ears. (He now knows you do it on the way down, not up.)
Ultimately, Coogler found learning to navigate those depths and overcome that fear was rewarding. “I remember it was a wild feeling, like I can’t believe I’m this deep in water,” he recalled. “Then I started to work on the breath hold and got comfortable.”
I need you to really think about this for a second. I need you to think about how weird and intimidating and kind of embarrassing it must be to take beginner swimming classes at age 36, especially if you’ve reached a level of success in life where you do not have to look silly or do embarrassing things on a regular basis if you do not want to. A lot of people, at that point in their lives, would just throw up their hands and decide they’ll just never know how to swim. I really dig that he did this. It’s a good reminder that it’s never too late to learn cool new stuff, and that sometimes the only way to do the hard thing is to swallow your pride a little and just, like, do the hard thing. Again, it’s really cool. Ryan Coogler seems like a cool dude.
ITEM NUMBER FOUR – James Cameron, please calm down
Hey, speaking of directors who are making water-based movies that they’re out doing press for, let’s check in with James Cameron and his tour to promote the upcoming Avatar sequ-…
Above all, however, The Way Of Water is a family story. This is because, 14 years after falling in love, Jake and Neytiri are now the proud parents of five children. “People say, ‘Oh my God, a family story from Disney? Just what we want…’ This isn’t that kind of family story,” Cameron clarifies. “This is a family story like how The Sopranos is a family story.”
The thing I like about James Cameron is that he’s consistent. Just totally James Cameron all the time.
“Hey Jim, what’s up with your movie about the blue nature dudes who we last saw on the big screen over a decade ago?”
“Thank you for asking. It is kind of like the greatest television show of all time.“
Good for him. What else you got, buddy?
“I don’t want anybody whining about length when they sit and binge-watch [television] for eight hours,” Cameron said. “I can almost write this part of the review. ‘The agonizingly long three-hour movie…’ It’s like, give me a fucking break. I’ve watched my kids sit and do five one-hour episodes in a row. Here’s the big social paradigm shift that has to happen: it’s okay to get up and go pee.”
I love it. I remain on the record as saying movies should be two hours long and every minute over that should cost you a $1 million donation to charity, but fine. Good. Rage about this all you want, James Cameron. I like to picture him answering questions about the length and family aspects of this movie from cranky critics and executives and then going home and watching his kids crank straight through six episodes of The Sopranos in one sitting and then heaving his cell phone into the fireplace in a blind rage.
I dare someone to ask him if he ever considered making this movie as a 10-episode television show for a streaming service. Please. I need this.
ITEM NUMBER FIVE – A simple suggestion…
So what we have here is the trailer for Lindsay Lohan’s new Netflix holiday movie, Falling for Christmas. It is an extremely Hallmark operation, which I say with nothing but respect for that particular craft. Guess if she plays an heiress who bonks her head and gets amnesia. Guess if they tell you all of that in the official description. Well: “A young, newly engaged heiress has a skiing accident in the days before Christmas. After she is diagnosed with amnesia, she finds herself in the care of the handsome cabin owner and his daughter.”
It’s beautiful. Good for Lindsay Lohan. I’m glad she’s out here doing it. I’m glad she’s still making movies and showing up on screens big and small.
I do have a request.
At some point, maybe if things slow down again or even if they heat up and make her a bankable commodity again, I would really like Lindsay Lohan to start narrating audiobooks. I think she’d be great at it. She’s had that smoky voice ever since she was a teenager and she’s growing into it now and I think she would be perfect at narrating like an Agatha Christie-style murder mystery. I can’t believe she hasn’t done it already. Think about it. I know I’m right about this.
Listen to me.
LISTEN TO ME.
It’s a good idea.
If you have questions about television, movies, food, local news, weather, or whatever you want, shoot them to me on Twitter or at firstname.lastname@example.org (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.
Had an idea that was so stupid that I knew I had to send it straight to you. We take the story about the guy who threw eggs and King Charles and we give it to the team that made American Vandal. It’s a full season-long look at it, maybe fictionalized a little for comedy, shot mockumentary style with interviews with everyone from the king to the grocer who sold him the eggs. English Vandal, coming to Netflix next spring.
This is a good email, starting with the first sentence. I am truly honored to be the person people send their stupidest ideas to. It makes me feel like I’m doing something right. Anyway, three additional notes here:
- I want an entire episode about him trying to transport three loose eggs in his pocket while riding on a crowded double-decker bus through a bumpy part of town
- I want one of the people interviewed in this fake show to be one of the Buckingham Palace guards who stands there silent and motionless in front of the gates all day and whenever they cut to him I want him to remain silent and motionless on camera until they cut away
- I love the real update to this story that this guy is now legally required to carry the receipt with him whenever he has eggs on him in public
God, I’m so excited now for a show that will never happen. A real gift and curse situation over here.
AND NOW, THE NEWS
To El Paso!
The rumors had been circulating through the hallways of El Paso High School for days: Students had seen test papers strewn across busy Mesa Street on Oct. 28, and the pencil-filled Scantron bubbles were a dead giveaway — these were SAT tests, just like the ones that 315 students had taken at the school in Texas the day before.
We are getting to the meat of this in a second but I want to pause here to state for the record that “Scantron Fiasco” would be an incredible name for a villain in like a Gerard Butler movie.
Students were called to a meeting during last period on Wednesday and told the news: the SAT tests they had taken on Oct. 27 would not be scored, because they had flown off a UPS truck that was transporting them. Instead of using their results to finalize their college applications, the students would instead have to take the often-harrowing test again.
This is maybe the funniest possible reason for a slew of SATs to get compromised, especially in 2022. Not hackers, not a computer glitch, not a power surge. Nope. They just flew off the truck and into the street. It’s an excuse so bad I don’t think any teacher in America would accept it as the reason a project is late. Although now I want someone to try. Print out this article and be like “See? It happens?!” Report back and let me know how it went.
UPS is still conducting an investigation, but was quick to own up to its error. “We have apologized to the school and extend our apologies to the students,” UPS said in a statement. “The driver’s actions in this case are not representative of UPS protocols and methods, and we have addressed this with him. Safely and reliably meeting our service commitments is UPS’s first priority.”
I have this image in my head as clear as day…
The driver is like some burnout dude with long hair and a cigarette hanging out of his mouth and he’s blasting Steely Dan in the cabin up front and is completely oblivious to dozens of papers flying out the back of his open van and when people try to pull up beside him to wave and alert him to the trail of loose leaf chaos he’s leaving in his wake he just smiles and waves back because he thinks they’re being friendly.
Big late-90s Jim Breuer energy here.
Ezra Ponzio, a senior, said that when students first heard the rumors, they all hoped that it wasn’t their tests on the road. According to the El Paso ISD, all but 55 of the 315 tests were recovered. Mr. Ponzio said even though most tests were found, they were still considered compromised, so everyone would have to take the test again.
“They were like, ‘Hey, this is not our fault whatsoever. It’s on the UPS, but you still have to retake it,’” Mr. Ponzio said. “So that was annoying.”
I’m sorry, Ezra. I’m sorry this happened. I hope everything goes well the second time around. But look at the bright side: this will be an incredible story to tell at your freshman orientation the first week of college. Real A+ icebreaker.