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 — We’re all having fun here but I am a little serious
There are a lot of shows out there. Not all of them are that great. If you watch enough of them, you might start thinking that you could do better. Or at least have some dumb fun trying. That’s what this is. Let’s have some dumb fun thinking up good (bad) ideas for television shows. Away we go.
Mayor Percy Klunk has a problem. Everything his small town tried to do to combat crime came up empty. They’re just too overwhelmed, with limited resources and limited manpower and the fact that international crime boss Victor Acapulco has made their sleepy little town a hotbed of criminal activity. Playing things by the book won’t work. They need to think outside the normal law enforcement structure.
That’s when it hits Percy. The idea. He loves those televisions shows where one loose cannon detective plays fast and loose but gets results. Percy loves results. So, he thinks, why not make an entire department out of these hotshots? What’s the worst that could happen?
And so, Percy sets out to find the best of the best, the loosest of cannons, to staff his police force. He crisscrosses the country to recruit the wildest rascals he can find and even names one of them, Chicago legend Dirk Rodeo, the new Chief of Police. Everyone tells him it’s crazy.
Yeah, just crazy enough to work.
Heather Magellan works at a marijuana dispensary. People come in all day and pick up weed for their anxiety or pain or enjoyment and, over time, she gets to know the regulars. They have conversations and open up a bit and, one time, Heather was even able to set up two of them on a date. A few months later they told her they were getting married and thanked her profusely. That’s when Heather Magellan got an idea: A dating service for stoners.
Pie in the Sky
Just hear me out: A cooking show where contestants leap out of a plane with the ingredients for a pizza and have until they land to put it together, with whatever they make getting tossed in the oven immediately and judged by three of the world’s greatest pizza chefs.
Hosted by Guy Fieri.
Special Agent Dawn Sundown is leaving the FBI to follow her dream of opening a food truck that serves soup. All kinds of soup: minestrone, chowders, etc. It’s her passion. But a few months after she gets the business off the ground, just as she’s starting to make a name for herself on the streets, she sees a familiar face in line: the Deputy Director, Mick Vancouver. He gets right to the point. There’s a killer on the loose. He’s already collected six bodies and they have no reason to think he’ll stop.
Dawn protests. She’s retired. Why her? Because she’s the best there ever was. And also because the killer’s calling card, his weapon of choice, appears to be a soup spoon he leaves behind at every crime scene. He needs Dawn to use her connections in the high stakes world of soup-making to help track this monster down… before it’s too late.
ITEM NUMBER TWO — I’ll let it go this one time, but watch it
I respect the fact that I’m losing this fight. I know my “nothing should be longer than two hours, especially movies” war cry has produced limited results at best. Usually, the results are just me getting yelled at. Cranky older people shout about millennials and cranky fanboys and film buffs say condescending things like “movies should be as long as they need to be” and point out that The Godfather is three hours long. Uggghhhhh. I get it. I know. There are always exceptions. That’s why I developed my two-pronged strategy to work around it. Movies can be longer than two hours if:
- They are forced to donate $1 million to charity for every minute of runtime over two hours
- They have a 15-minute intermission
All of which is relevant again this week with the news that the new James Bond movie will check-in at 163 minutes. That is… it’s pretty long. It’s a long time to sit in a theater, especially for an action movie. And I would get all hyped up and protest it all but I can’t do that right now because I am so in awe of the chaotic energy involved in making a movie titled No Time to Die and making it 163 minutes long. It’s like they did it just so idiots like me could rush out a million “SEEMS LIKE PLENTY OF TIME TO DIE TO ME” jokes that we all regret moments later.
I don’t know. I’ll still see it in the theater. I’m a hypocrite. But I will get fidgety around the two-hour mark. I know that. Musicals and plays have intermissions. It would be great for concessions revenue. Help me help you, people.
ITEM NUMBER THREE — Who among us hasn’t been arrested in a donut shop after trying to ship a Ferrari from Germany to California while on the run from the authorities?
No one on McMillion$ is as magnetic and compelling as Agent Doug, the excitable, shit-talking, real-life FBI Agent who worked the McDonald’s Monopoly scam at the center of the documentary. This is understandable, in large part because no one on television is as magnetic and compelling as Agent Doug. He fascinates me. I honestly get excited whenever he pops up on the screen and starts talking. He might say anything. I want to buy him a margarita and just ask him questions about the world until the bar closes. But we’ve been over this.
That’s not to say the show is without other colorful characters. It is littered with them. There’s Jerry the mobster and Uncle Jerry the crooked security consultant and a collection of mob wives and eye-rolling prosecutors. Go figure, a docuseries about the kind of people who would fix a promotion at a cheeseburger restaurant is filled with weirdos and rascals. This brings us to the most recent episode and the man pictured above, AJ Glomb.
The main thing you need to know about AJ Glomb is that he’s such a flawed storyteller than he’s actually an incredible storyteller. He does that thing where he’ll be telling a story that’s going nowhere and then out of nowhere he’ll say, “Anyway, that’s when I bought all the Quaaludes” and you’ll be like “Hang on, AJ. What?” He’s great. I want him and Agent Doug to start a podcast. Other things to know about AJ Glomb:
- He claims the first time he did drugs was in Monte Carlo with the writer Harold Robbins, who gave him amyl nitrate
- He started selling drugs because a cousin asked him if he could get Quaaludes and he just dove in
- He was arrested for having a lot of cocaine, chose not to report to prison, and went on the run for 16 months as a fugitive, using fake names and living large because he knew it could end at any minute
It did end, too. And I’m going to post his quote about it in full because I have not gotten over it since I heard it. Here goes: “But then I bought a Ferrari in Germany and I shipped it to Long Beach. Anyway, I got arrested in a donut shop in San Diego.”
Everything about that is incredible. While a fugitive on the run for a year-plus, he bought a Ferrari in Europe and had it shipped to California, as though there are no Ferraris in California. It’s the end that really gets me, though. The last sentence. “Anyway, I got arrested at a donut shop in San Diego.” You could tack that on the end of any story and it would make the story 8-10 times better. Try it this weekend. I might.
ITEM NUMBER FOUR — Apple has created a terrific opportunity for a competitor
In a video interview with Vanity Fair this week, Knives Out director Rian Johnson talked about a lot of things that made no news at all and one thing that made a lot of news. Specifically, he said this: “Apple… they let you use iPhones in movies but — and this is very pivotal if you’re ever watching a mystery movie — bad guys cannot have iPhones on camera.”
This is weird. It’s also a little hilarious, just to the degree that it could spoil a really big twist in a movie if everyone is using an iPhone except for one guy who is using a Samsung. Although, now that it’s out, there’s also the chance a filmmaker uses it as a misdirect. Like, everyone has iPhones but it turns out one guy also has a burner he does crimes on, which I only say to make the GIF above relevant to this discussion. Mission accomplished.
It’s also a nice opportunity for a struggling cell phone manufacturer to find a niche. Nokia or whoever could make a big comeback by leaning into it and branding themselves as the phone for villains. Villains are often very cool if flawed people. It could work. What I’m saying here is that I want to see Thanos try to use a flip phone will his massive hands.
ITEM NUMBER FIVE — Somehow not even a top ten wildest Nicolas Cage story
As we all know, Nicolas Cage bought a nine-foot pyramid-shaped mausoleum in a graveyard in New Orleans. He did this years ago and it has not gotten any less weird or perfectly on-brand. Why wouldn’t Nicolas Cage own a nine-foot pyramid-shaped mausoleum in a New Orleans graveyard? The man, as I bring up every time I mention him, once had to return a stolen dinosaur skull to the Mongolian government. He’s lived a full life. He can have a pyramid-shaped mausoleum, as a treat.
But here, and I do realize how strange this next part is given everything I just typed, is where things get odd: Nicolas Cage visited his tomb this week, possibly with a date.
The actor was spotted visiting the cemetery where his nine-foot tomb was built, all while holding hands with a new mystery woman.
Cage and the unidentified woman were seen acting close while leaving the cemetery and getting into a waiting car. This is the first time Cage has been spotted with someone new after going through a public 4-day marriage to Erika Koike in March last year. He was granted a divorce two months later in May.
I love this. Just the idea that he’s checking in on his fancy tomb and/or showing it off. I would pay $50 for a guided tour of this graveyard led by Nicolas Cage. Or any graveyard, really. This is a good business idea. Listen to me.
Also, it’s very funny to me to picture one lonely paparazzo whose job it is to stake out Nicolas Cage’s nine-foot pyramid-shaped mausoleum on the off chance he shows up with a date. Like, he goes there every morning at 7 AM and sits there and waits to see if Nic Cage shows up, then he sighs and goes home empty-handed at night. He must have been so excited. “Ooo, baby, it’s Roger’s time to shine,” I picture him saying to himself. (His name is Roger.) Huge day for that guy.
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.
Are there any TV shows that were short lived that you can’t stop thinking about? I don’t mean like Firefly, that have dedicated fan bases, but something that aired like four episodes. For me, it’s Battery Park, an NBC sitcom from 2000 about a fictional police precinct in NYC. All I remember about it is that there was an episode involving a superhero, and one where a cop asks his squad mates to guess where his gun is, and it’s taped to his back like in Die Hard. I think about it more than is probably healthy, considering it aired 20 years ago, and even then, only aired 4 episodes. I couldn’t even tell you the name of the show until I stumbled upon the must see TV Wikipedia page and found it listed there.
Nicholas, this is an excellent email. I love any email that gives me an excuse to blabber about short-lived shows I liked. For example, The Grinder, which lasted only one season on Fox and starred Rob Lowe as a former actor on a hokey legal procedural who moved home and started working in his family’s very real law practice. It was a ton of fun and I miss it dearly. I still drop a “… but what if it wasn’t” every now and then. No one knows what I’m talking about. It’s great.
Or what about Sunset Beat, the very short-lived early-90s cop show that starred a young George Clooney as a leather-clad beach cop named Chic Chesbro who, I promise this is true, went undercover as the lead guitarist of a rock band named Private Prayer. I wrote 2000 words about it once and plopped an image of Clooney-as-Chesbro on a motorcycle at the top of my Twitter profile, where it remains today.
But mostly I like this email because it sent me to the Wikipedia page for shows canceled after one or two airings, which brought this to my attention.
Lawless is an American detective television series starring former NFL player Brian Bosworth on the Fox Broadcasting Company that performed so poorly on television it was canceled after one episode.
Yes, hello. Please tell me more about Lawless starring former NFL linebacker Brian Bosworth, a man who showed up to his first professional practice in a helicopter.
The series centers on John Lawless, an ex-special forces operative who became a motorcycle riding private investigator in Miami’s South Beach.
Lawless starred Brian Bosworth as a motorcycle-riding Miami private investigator named John Lawless?
I’m suddenly livid that this show didn’t last 10 seasons and run in syndication for the next decade-plus. I must see this episode. I must consume it at once.
AND NOW, THE NEWS
A California woman whose family’s company created the microwavable snack Hot Pockets was sentenced on Tuesday to five months in prison for paying $300,000 to help her daughters gain an illicit edge in the college admissions process through cheating and fraud.
This is a serious thing. The whole Operation Varsity Blues story was pretty funny at first just because of the weird combination of celebrities and notable rich people that got tangled up in its net, but it became significantly less fun once it became clear that this was all just rich people using bribes and gaming disability accommodations to get their kids a further advantage over the rest of the world. And it remained less fun all the way up until I saw the headline for this story, which refers to the perpetrator in question as the “Hot Pockets heiress.”
This is one of those phrases I’m going to have a really hard time getting out of my head. It’s like the time I saw someone refer to Papa John as a “pizza tycoon.” Pizza tycoon! I can’t be expected to get anything done with phrases like that bouncing around in the world. It’s not fair.
Janavs is a former executive at Chef America Inc, a closely-held food manufacturer her father co-founded that created the microwave snack line Hot Pockets before being sold to Nestle SA for $2.6 billion in 2002.
Couple things here:
- The company that makes Hot Pockets is called Chef America
- Please add a superhero show titled Chef America to the list of stupid TV pitches above (I’ll work out the outline later)