TV

The Rundown: Holy Hell, ‘Only Murders In The Building’ Stuck The Landing

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 — They did it

Only Murders in the Building was a blast. This shouldn’t have been a surprise. The show stars Steve Martin and Martin Short and Selena Gomez. It opened with a dead body and a mystery. Guest stars like Nathan Lane and Tina Fey and Jane Lynch popped up here and there, and some of them had names like “Sazz Pataki.” There was a gentle skewering of true crime podcasts that featured a show-within-a-show podcast, all of which resulted in a kind of fourth-wall-shattering series of winks at the audience. Again, none of us should have been surprised by the quality at play here. Steve Martin rarely misses. The guy has been hitting dingers for decades now. But I guess it’s still worth noting.

The bigger thing in all of it — and again, shouldn’t have been a surprise, but still — is that they nailed the ending. I’m going to dance around the specific hows and whys for now, just because some of you probably didn’t watch it yet and deserve this experience. (It’s 10 half-hour episodes. You can rip through it this weekend. We’ll come back to this.) All you need to know is that it ended with a satisfying resolution that tied up the murder without losing an ounce of the comedy and still managed to set things up pretty nicely for a second season. Also, for reasons that are not important for our discussion here but very important to the events of the show, Steve Martin’s character went mostly limp and ended up doing, well, this.

HULU

I do not think I can put into words how funny this was. It wasn’t just this bit I GIFed, either. This all went on for a while. Steve Martin is a 76-year-old man and is still out here putting on a master class in physical comedy for the price of a Hulu subscription. This wasn’t even his funniest bit from the whole endeavor. The funniest bit centered around a big dramatic speech he kind of delivered at the end. It was incredible. Maybe the hardest I’ve laughed at anything that happened on television this year, give or take a live news blooper or two. This is high praise from me. It’s a good show. Please watch it. You can watch your bleak and depressing murder shows later. Make room for the fun murder show. You deserve it.

You know what else I liked about it? The thing I mentioned earlier about it being 10 30-minute episodes. That was nice. As was the thing where the episodes came out one at a time every Tuesday. There can be something satisfying about a binge, about sitting down and crushing a show from beginning to end in one afternoon or sleepless night, but there’s also something nice about carving out 30 minutes a week and then just, like, putting the show away until the next week. Let the action sit and stew for a bit. Read some blogs about it all. And so on.

There’s a chance this is just a remnant of my brain being wired to consume television this way. Maybe it’s just comforting to me to have one episode every week instead of having an entire season dropped in my lap, just because that’s how I consumed it for the first few decades of my life. But I think it’s also because I like the community aspect of watching a show this way, with everyone at the same point in the narrative for a few days. There are cool conversations that bubble up that way. People who are behind can get caught up. It’s not the isolating experience binge-watching can be, and a big part of why I dig Ted Lasso and Succession so much. I like talking about television at least as much as I like watching it. It’s one of the reasons I’m doing this job while my law degree collects dust in a closet. “One of” is doing a lot of work in that sentence.

But I’m getting off-track here. The point I’m making is that Only Murders in the Building was a ton of fun. It might end up being one of my three or four favorite shows this year, depending what happens in the last two-ish months. A lot of that is the obvious stuff, the Steve Martin and Martin Short and potty-mouthed Selena Gomez of it all. But a lot of it was the last 30 minutes. It’s not an easy trick to pull off, providing a solid resolution without sacrificing the tone while also kicking open the door to a potential new story. I guess the lesson here is to let people who know what they’re doing make cool stuff and stay out of their way about it.

I mean, that and “let Steve Martin do elevator things if he wants because it will probably be pretty funny.” So… two lessons, really.

ITEM NUMBER TWO — We are now one step closer to the Jennifer Coolidge extended universe

HBO Max

The White Lotus was a lot of fun, to the degree that any show about a bunch of rich people having a miserable Hawaiian vacation can be fun, which, as it turns out, as I said, is a lot. HBO picked up the show for another season and creator Mike White said his ideal situation involves some — not all — of the cast returning for another go-round at another luxurious hotel in another scenic location where another collection of presumably wealthy guests will watch their relaxing getaways go to crap.

This, to be clear, is lovely, and kind of what Knives Out is doing by plopping Daniel Craig’s character in new situations to investigate new murders committed by one or more new goofballs. And it brings me great pleasure to report — er, re-report — that the first and possibly only uniting link between the first and second seasons will be Jennifer Coolidge’s character. This is good news. Because Jennifer Coolidge rules. From TV Line:

In a recent interview with TVLine, White shared his desire to potentially bring back a few Season 1 favorites. “I don’t think you can credibly have [all the Season 1 guests] on the same vacation again,” he explained. “But maybe it could be a Marvel Universe type thing, where some of them would come back. We only made one-year deals with the actors, so we’d have to find out who is even available.”

This is cool. I hope the show runs for 10 seasons and every season opens with Jennifer Coolidge checking into a new five-star hotel. Hell, use CGI or camera tricks or an elaborate system of mirrors to give us two Jennifer Coolidges and have her play her own twin, too. Cross the third season over with the third Knives Out and let her and Daniel Craig’s character solve a murder. And then get married? Hmm. Maybe. I’ll need to think about the last part a little more. We have some time.

I’m serious about the twin thing, though. That’s a good idea. Listen to me, please.

ITEM NUMBER THREE — The good shows are coming back

Okay, good news: Mythic Quest has been renewed for a third and fourth season. That’s what Rob McElhenney and Anthony Hopkins and Jason Sudeikis are saying in the video up there, which you should watch because it’s about as good as anyone can do with an announcement like this. Mythic Quest is so good. It is so, so good, funny and sweet and sometimes sad, kind of like a version of Ted Lasso that’s about video games. And, like Ted Lasso, it’s on Apple TV, which you probably have. You should check it out if you haven’t. We’ve talked about this.

Want more good news? Of course, you do. And I have some: Barry is coming back, too. Barry is also good. The first two seasons played with a fascinating silly/dark balance and introduced the world to NoHo Hank, who remains one of my, oh, let’s say 10-15 favorite characters on all of television. Collider interviewed Bill Hader this week and he talked about the upcoming third season in a way that made me very excited.

I don’t know if I could tease really anything because so much stuff happens. We had some people come in and shoot stuff who’ve been in the other seasons and yesterday actually they came in and they have this kind of cameo part this season. And I showed them a still from the first episode and they were shocked and they went, whoa, what? I was like, yeah. So that was a fun reaction so I’m interested to see what people think about it.

Yes, I am also interested to see what people think about it. People like, for example, me. I want to see what I think about it. Soon. Today, if possible. And Hader also revealed that they’ve written the entire fourth season, so now I want to see that, too. I stand by what I said about it all being good news, but it is a little evil as well, with the waiting. Evil and good. Kind of like NoHo Hank.

Hey, do you want even more good news? Because I have some. Ready? Atlanta is coming back soon, too. Brian Tyree Henry, Paper Boi himself, revealed that the third season is all shot and ready to be edited. But, because Brian Tyree Henry is awesome, he revealed it in a cool way. On the red carpet of Eternals. By saying this, via Slashfilm:

“We’re done. We finally got that season in the can, everyone please stop yelling. It is coming, I had to be a superhero first, okay?”

You know what? Fine. I guess I can’t get upset if this is the reason. It’s a terrific excuse to keep in your pocket to try out sometime. It probably won’t work for you, I guess, but, like, worth a shot, you know?

ITEM NUMBER FOUR — The important thing to remember here is that they did not have to do this

Lionsgate

Mel Gibson was cast in a lead role in the new John Wick prequel series that is coming to Starz next year. This is another one of those Two Things Can Be True situations. Here, I’ll explain:

  • I have no doubt that he will be good in whatever the role ends up being, because Mel Gibson is and has been an on-camera charisma bomb for almost 40 years now
  • It kind of stinks

It stinks for a few reasons, too, but it mostly stinks because it would have been so incredibly easy to just… not do it. They could have cast anyone. Walton Goggins. Bob Odenkirk. Russell Crowe. Kelsey Grammer. There are so many options. Almost a limitless number, in that the category we’re looking at here is “anyone but Mel Gibson.” It didn’t even need to be someone that mega-famous. The John Wick of it all can carry it. I mean, look at this sucker.

The Continental will explore the origin behind the hotel-for-assassins, which increasingly has become the centerpiece of the John Wick universe. This will be accomplished through the eyes and actions of a young Winston Scott, who is dragged into the Hell-scape of a 1975 New York City to face a past he thought he’d left behind. Winston charts a deadly course through the New York’s mysterious underworld in a harrowing attempt to seize the iconic hotel, which serves as the meeting point for the world’s most dangerous criminals. No word yet on who’ll play Winston Scott (the hotel owner is played in the films by Ian McShane). Gibson will play a character named Cormac.

Buddy, we can easily make this go without bringing Mel Gibson and all of his baggage into it. Everyone would have been fine, too. The show would have been fine. I would have been fine. Mel Gibson and his $400 million net worth would have been fine. But now… blech. We had a cool idea for a series that I was all excited about and now… blech. And no one had to do any of it. Just an unforced error. That’s why it’s such a bummer. Once again, and you can quote me on this, blech. Please fix it.

ITEM NUMBER FIVE — Look at Guillermo!

FX

A brief note about last week’s episode of What We Do in the Shadows, in part because I didn’t mention it last week and in part because big stuff happened this week that I don’t want to spoil yet: LOOK AT GUILLERMO.

I suppose I should supply a tiny bit of context for those of you who don’t watch the show:

  • Guillermo is a human who works for a legendary warrior vampire named Nandor the Relentless
  • We found out recently that he is actually descended from the Van Helsing line of vampire slayers
  • Nandor had been sucked into a fitness-based cult that bases its teachings on the song “One Week” by Barenaked Ladies

You should know all of this. You should be watching the show. If you did watch the show, you would’ve already seen Guillermo spray holy water on a slew of fitness vampires, without looking at the GIF up there. You would have also seen him do this…

FX

… and this…

FX

… and, incredibly, this.

FX

Guillermo went full-“John Wick at the Russian disco” on a bunch of aerobics-obsessed vampires. It was awesome. He used a hula hoop to kill one, which is somehow still only the second coolest hula-hoop-related piece of business from this year of television, sliding in just behind Coach Beard dancing with one in a neon disco located under a church in an episode of Ted Lasso.

To recap:

  • What We Do in the Shadows — good
  • Coach Beard — good
  • Hula hoops — surprisingly versatile

I’m glad we had this talk.

ITEM NUMBER SIX — Mustache chat

mark goodson productions

GQ interviewed Steve Harvey about his transformation into a style king. That’s great. Good for him. Go on his Instagram and Twitter if you want to see all of that. I have other things I want to talk about. Specifically, I want to talk about his mustache. I want to talk about something he said about his mustache. I want to talk about… well, this.

Steve, something you’re so well-known for is the mustache. I wonder, does that affect how you think about these outfits? It seems to me like it’s part of the look.

Harvey: He has to work around the mustache.

Karamoh: There’s no way, I can’t not work around it.

Harvey: You come in here talking about, “We going to take the mustache off,” you will lose your job. You cannot take the mustache off, so everything got to work around the mustache, man.

I took the mustache off when I was in college, when I was pledging. When I took it off, I discovered something: the distance from the top of my top lip to the tip of my nose is about four feet. It looks like a fucking sheet of plywood if I take my mustache off. So that can’t happen, partner.

Imagine you get a job as Steve Harvey’s stylist and you tell all your family and friends and you show up on your first day with a plan of going big and shaking things up and you say “First of all, I’m thinking we lose the mustache” and Steve Harvey straight-up fires you on the spot and you have to go back and explain all of that to all the people you bragged to about getting the gig in the first place. Brutal.

But…

Now imagine you’re at a bar and there’s an old guy sitting next to you — just a mess, rumpled clothes, scraggly beard — and the bartender flips the muted television over to a rerun of Family Feud and the old guy suddenly becomes very animated and starts shouting “THAT SON OF A BITCH RUINED MY LIFE” and you get him calmed down and eventually he explains to you that he was a rising star in the fashion industry until Steve Harvey fired him and had him blackballed for suggesting a clean-shaven look. Hilarious.

Life is all about perspective.

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 Tony:

Be honest, how happy were you on a scale of 1-10 when you watched the trailer for RPattz Is Batman and heard them drop a “we’re not so different”? Because I was at about a 9 and I didn’t even care about that line until you started tweeting about it constantly. Now I hear it everywhere.

Follow-up question: What actor or actress would you most like to hear do a “not so different”? I feel like you’re going to say Giamatti but I’ll hang up and listen.

What a great email. To answer your first question: a full 10, for a few different reasons. First of all, because it genuinely tickles me whenever I hear that line. It’s one of those phrases I’ve heard thousands of times in movies and television shows and have never once heard a real person say in a normal conversation. Second, because my mentions on Twitter started lighting up like a Christmas tree as soon as it happened, which says pretty much exactly what I want it to say about my stupid brand. And third, because it allowed me to make this screencap.

USA

Ahh, whoops. That appears to be Katherine Heigl doing a “not so different” on the USA drama Suits. I have a lot of these screencaps. Here’s the correct one.

wb

To answer your second question… yes. Absolutely Giamatti. In any fair and decent universe, he would have already done it a dozen times on Billions alone. Fix this one, too. Please. For me.

AND NOW, THE NEWS

To Colombia!

A group of rampant hippopotamuses, introduced by the late Colombia drug lord Pablo Escobar to his private zoo, are being sterilized by the country’s wildlife services, after mounting concern that the 80-strong herd presented a potential environmental disaster as an invasive species.

I do not know if I’ve ever read a sentence that has more going on in it than this one. We get a “rampant hippopotamuses” before the first comma and things somehow get even wilder from there. Students around the country should diagram it in English classes. I am barely joking. I can’t think of many better ways to engage bored rascal teens than by casually dropping in a one-sentence story about a country sterilizing a drug kingpin’s collection of wild hippos in the name of environmental protection.

Something to consider, at least.

The decision to neutralize the herd’s breeding potential comes after a study earlier this year concluded that the animals had become a hazard. The hippos, which were originally introduced to Escobar’s Hacienda Napoles estate, are one of the most enduring legacies of the notorious cocaine trafficker, who was killed by police in 1993.

I’ve known about the cocaine hippos for a long time but, I swear, there is no limit to the number of words I will read about them. Someone needs to write a full-length book titled Cocaine Hippos. Dibs on not it.

Enrique Zerda Ordóñez, a biologist at Colombia’s National University, told CNN earlier this year that chemical castration was the only way forward but acknowledged that sterilizing a hippo is no easy task.

“Sterilizing a hippo is no easy task.”

I…

I mean…

I don’t think anyone assumed otherwise, right?

The Biological Conservation study cited research on the negative effect of hippo faeces on oxygen levels in bodies of water, which can affect fish and ultimately humans. The journal also raised concerns about the transmission of diseases from hippos to humans.

To recap: The Colombian government is sterilizing Pablo Escobar’s collection of horny-horny hippos because they are concerned that the hippos will transmit diseases to humans through the fish that live in the water that the hippos poop in.

I must have this book. Preferably by next summer. Need something to read on the beach.

×