The Rundown: ‘Shogun’ Has A Real Chance To Be The Next Big Thing

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 – Shogun rules

It feels like everyone has been looking for “the next Game of Thrones” forever. Television executives, yes, of course, because any of them would run over a bunny rabbit with their BMW for the kind of career-making hit that carries a network for a decade. But also, like, everyone. It’s fun to have a show that breaks out of its little niche bubble to become a thing that permeates the culture. It’s been a while since we had one of those. Succession got most of the way there but it’s over now. The Walking Dead is on about its eighth spinoff. The Stranger Things kids are old enough to rent cars. Yellowstone has the ratings but does not have the juice. It’s been weird. You can talk about TV with 10 different people and realize none of you watch a single show in common. It makes it all more isolating and lonely than something this fun should be.

I think that’s why so many people are so excited about Shogun. The new series debuted on FX and Hulu this week to a slew of stellar reviews that had a bunch of those Game of Thrones comparisons. Which are fair. There are no dragons or mystical elements (fine by me) but a lot of the other boxes are checked. Big sweeping historical epic? Check. Huge cast and crew full of interesting characters? Whipass action scenes? Buddyyyy check.

Mostly, though, the biggie is that there was a bunch of money and effort thrown at this sucker that is all right there on the screen. It looks incredible, in addition to being compelling. We’re a little over two hours in and there are already characters I love and despise and one of them almost died in a shipwreck during a storm with waves as big as an apartment complex. This is the good stuff, people. I’ve already created a screencap folder. This was the first one in there.


I think the biggest hurdle here is just the scope. The original novel by James Clavell came out 50 years ago. There are a number of warring factions and rivalries in Japan in addition to some Catholic vs. Protestant tension that swept over from Europe. It can be a little daunting at the outset to figure out who’s who and who is doing what. Google is helpful here. As is the guide FX created as a companion. I knew nothing about any of this and I was caught up in about 15 minutes. I took a break to make this screencap, too.


So, yeah. I hope that this sucker takes off. Some of that is because it would make my life easier as someone who writes about television shows for a living, but most of it is that it would just be fun to have a big communal experience around a fun show that kicks ass. Let’s all get way into samurais this spring. Maybe I’ll buy a sword. Maybe we all should?

I don’t know. Could go a lot of ways here.

ITEM NUMBER TWO – Please leave the Saltburn people alone


This one is tricky for me. Usually, when there’s a story about a fandom or group of little goblins getting carried away and being too weird about something, my advice is “go outside.” Which I stand by. I truly believe about 10-20 percent of the world’s problems could be solved by people just going and sitting on a bench somewhere for like an hour a day. Pet a dog. Feed some ducks. Look at some birds. This will be my platform if I ever run for political office, which I absolutely will not ever do under any circumstances.

There is a problem with this philosophy, though. A few problems, actually, if you count wind and rain and freezing temperatures. But the big one is this: Sometimes people are weird outside, too. And then it all becomes everyone else’s problem. Like, for example, the way it’s become a problem for the people who own the scenic estate that served as the setting for Saltburn. Fans of the movie have been showing up at his house a lot lately. Too much. It does not seem fun.

Here, look.

The estate’s real-life aristocratic owner, Charles Stopford Sackville, has expressed regrets to The Mail on Sunday about letting the cameras into his Grade I-listed country pile – and reveals that he’s had to lay on security patrols to keep tabs on the unwanted visitors.

‘I never envisaged the amount of interest there would be. It’s quite weird,’ he said. ‘I don’t take it as flattering.’

There’s a temptation here to be callous about it all and say “oh boo hoo poor millionaire with his beautiful house that people want pictures of,” which, like, yes. I get that. But think about this next part a bit.

‘How would you feel if people were taking pictures outside your house? I’d prefer the interest to blow over but I can’t make it blow over.’

Imagine you’re going outside to bring the trash to the curb and there’s a crew of people standing on the sidewalk taking pictures of you and the house you live in. That would be weird, right? Yes, sure, he did sign the release and get paid for it all but I do not think he could have possibly foreseen some creepy little movie becoming this kind of worldwide obsession. He signed up for some of this, but not… all of it. Especially when you consider this.

As part of the deal to allow shooting, no member of the production team was allowed to mention the real location in interviews, but fans were quick to sniff it out, particularly after Saltburn was released on Amazon Prime Video in December.

There are two takeaways here, both equally important:

  • Please think long and hard before you allow your family home to be used in a movie that might make a bunch of little freaks online want to snap pictures of your front door for clout
  • Please do not make me look stupid by ruining my ideas

Thank you.

ITEM NUMBER THREE – Bring me the head of whoever was mean to Rebecca Ferguson

Okay, here’s what happened: Rebecca Ferguson went on a podcast this week and told a story about a terrible experience on a film set with a big-deal actor who behaved like an ass. Which sucks, in part because you should not treat people like crap, in general, but also because Rebecca Ferguson is cool. We talked about this the other week when she was fascinated by the Dune bucket. We can talk about it again another time. For now, though, we need to focus on this.

“This human being was being so insecure and angry because this person couldn’t get the scenes out,” she said. Ferguson said that when she felt “vulnerable and comfortable” enough to say something about the behavior, she was “screamed” at. “But because this person was number one on the call sheet, there was no safety net for me,” she added.

Once she realized that no one on set was going to stand up for her—“No one had my back,” she said—she started to cry, after which she was berated further, according to her retelling of the incident. “This person would literally look at me in front of the whole crew and say ‘You call yourself an actor? This is what I have to work with? What the fuck is this?’ And I stood there just breaking.”

What eventually happened was that Rebecca Ferguson stood up for herself and shouted a little and has never worked with this person again. What also happened is that tons of people went back through her filmography and tried to guess which one of her co-stars she was talking about. Lord Almighty, did people ever have guesses. I do not have a guess, though, and Rebecca Ferguson seems pretty okay with leaving it at this and moving on, so I am okay with doing that, too. If I ever find out, though, there will be hell to pay.

I don’t think the guilty party has to worry too much about me in all of this, though. He has more pressing concerns. Like, for one, the thing where The Rock replied to the tweet I posted at the top of this section with, well, this.

I would pay like $8 for a four-minute video where The Rock yells at some guy who was mean to Rebecca Ferguson. I would prefer it to be the guy in the story she told, but I’ll settle for any other guilty goon, too.

ITEM NUMBER FOUR – Dominic Toretto is going to drive a car into the sun


The Fast & Furious franchise has been madness for many years now so it’s almost fitting that it appears to be ending with its upcoming 11th movie. Eleven. Think about how weird that is. Not nine, which could be billed as three trilogies. Not 10, a lovely round number. Not even 12, which could be sold as a dozen. Eleven. It’s so stupid and random and kind of perfect for a franchise that ended its 10th movie on a cliffhanger that involved its main character fleeing from a wall of water set loose by the son of the man he robbed in the fifth movie who blew up a dam moments after John Cena committed suicide with rocket car and freaking Reacher double-crossed everyone and shot a rocket launcher at an airplane carrying Ludacris and Tyrese, who had just been to outer space in the previous movie. We don’t even need to get into Gal Gadot bursting out of a glacier in a nuclear submarine despite the fact that her character died on a runway many films earlier. Reasonable arguments can be made that they shouldn’t have gotten into it either.

Anyway, Vin Diesel took to Instagram to give a little update on it all — his first since the allegations made against him — and he seems set on wrapping everything up soon, too.

While everyone was heading into the weekend amped and excited, I thought of you all… reminded of the countless moments when your enthusiasm and passion became the driving force behind our creative journey. Your commitment to our saga has had a unique impact on its success and evolution… as my youngest daughter would say, it’s profound.

Thank you for being the backbone of this global saga that because of you, transcends the screen.

This grand finale is not just an ending; it’s a celebration of the incredible family we’ve built together.

A few notes:

  • I cannot begin to imagine where one goes for a grand finale after all of the things that have happened already
  • My working theory is that Vin Diesel is going to drive a muscle car into the sun for a series of unspecified reasons that will result in humanity being saved
  • I guarantee someone is going to try to reboot this franchise by 2030

You watch.

ITEM NUMBER FIVE – Kevin Bacon is doing great

Here is Kevin Bacon singing Beyoncé’s new chart-topping country single “Texas Hold ‘Em” to some of the animals he keeps on the farm he owns with his wife, star of TNT’s The Closer Kyra Sedgwick. That was a fun sentence to type out. And a true one. You can click play on the video up there if you don’t believe me. I don’t know why you wouldn’t believe me, though. It would be a hell of a thing to just lie about something like 2000 words into this sucker.

Anyway, if you read that paragraph and came away thinking “I feel like this isn’t the first time we heard about weird stuff going on at Kevin Bacon’s farm,” first of all, I am very proud of you, but second of all you are correct. It was just a few months ago that he told Rob Lowe that his farm might be haunted. Or at least the previous owner thought it was.


“One of the pieces [of land] that we bought had an old house in it and he didn’t want me to own the house. It was an abandoned house that he had grown up in,” he continued. “And we kind of went back and forth on it for a while and then eventually I said, ‘Listen, you can’t sell me a piece of land but not sell me the house that’s on it.’ “

Kevin Bacon drives a tough but fair bargain when purchasing farmland. That’s something I bet you never knew but probably suspected.

“We finally came to an agreement in the contract that I had to destroy it within, I don’t know, a month or something like that,” he told Lowe, who then asked the actor if he ever spent a night in the ghost-infested house.
Bacon said he did not.

I said the same thing in this column a few weeks ago when we all learned that Harrison Ford and Calista Flockhart play pranks on each other at their ranch, but it applies here, too: The people who truly deserve a reality show are almost never the kind of people who would want one. Which is a shame. I would gladly binge-watch a season of Kevin Bacon buying haunted farms and serenading goats some long weekend when I’m laid up with the flu. You would, too.


If you have questions about television, movies, food, local news, weather, or whatever you want, shoot them to me at (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 Pete:

Should we be getting worried about Elmo? He’s having a crazy year so far. Everyone on Twitter dumped all their fears and anxieties on him and then he got assaulted by Larry David on a morning show and now he’s posting unsettling pictures of himself with frog legs. This seems like a cry for help. Am I overthinking this? I might be. But I worry. And I feel, for some reason, like you might understand this.

Pete, here’s the thing: I was having this exact conversation with someone about 45 minutes before you sent this email. Context will help. I apologize in advance for posting this.

I… do not like this. I kind of hate it. I hope this is just a phase Elmo is going through. I don’t think I could handle it if he starts wearing black and vaping and listening to techno goth music like the evil vampires in the Blade movies. I will drive Elmo to therapy myself if I have to. We must protect our sweet innocent prince.


Back to England!

A wildlife park’s high-risk approach to tackling its parrots’ swearing problem appears to be working.

What we have here is an update on the cussing parrots. You remember the cussing parrots, yes? We talked about them a few weeks ago at the bottom of the column where I spoiled the entire plot of The Beekeeper. The short version goes like this: A zoo in England got some new parrots but the parrots had been taught a bunch of supremely filthy language and it was becoming a whole thing. I loved these birds very much.

The zoo had a plan to curb the cussing, though. They would introduce the new parrots into the larger parrot population in the hopes it would teach them better language. There was a risk it would go the other way, though. Where these obscene parrots taught all the other ones the bad words and the zoo had hundreds of parrots hurling profanity at the paying customers. I wanted this to happen more than any of you can possibly imagine.

Well, unfortunately, it looks like their stupid plan worked.

However, after two weeks of the reintegration plan, keepers said they had not heard any colourful language.

Mr Nichols said: “It’s early days still but it’s been a good start. We haven’t heard any of the really crude language.


“Of course people are still walking up to the enclosure and swearing in front of the parrots, hoping they will copy the words.”


Mr Nichols said while the parrots may have dropped their swearing, a new problem appears to be brewing.

“One of them has taken to singing We Wish You a Merry Christmas over and over again,” he said. “Fine in December, not so fine in February.”

Honestly, I’m glad they have to put up with this now. They ruined one of the only pure things we had in this cruel world. I hope they feel terrible about it.

I’m so upset.

I don’t want to talk about it anymore.