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 — I’ve missed these awful people so very much
I have some important news: Succession is back. Kind of. Succession is kind of back. It’s coming back, at least, officially, and there’s proof via this new teaser trailer that I’ve watched about 15 times since it dropped on Tuesday afternoon. You’ve probably watched it a few times, too. Who cares? Watch it again. Watch it twice. Here, I’ll embed right after this paragraph so you don’t even have to type words into a box anywhere.
It’s so good. I don’t even mean that like “I missed it so much, I just like seeing their faces again,” although I also mean it a little like that, if I’m being honest. I’m mostly saying that it is about as good as you can do if you’re making one of these teasers. It packs so much into so few seconds. It’s got Tom and Cousin Greg doing their little comedy routine, it’s got Roman being a saucy little rascal, it’s got Shiv trying so hard to make sure she ends up on whichever side wins. And it’s got this moment, which reminds us all of two important things: One, the Succession theme song is so good, with its cascading tinkly pianos and, apparently, “intense string music”; and two, you should be watching everything with the captions turned on, just in case there’s high comedy hiding in there.
But most importantly, the teaser gives us an update on drug-addled failson Kendall’s attempt to take down his old bear of a father, Logan, as the top banana of Waystar Royco. It’s all terrific, even in short bursts, with Logan growling threats and profanity and Kendall stammering out weak little comebacks. It’s one of my favorite parts of the show. And it’s back already. Look at the salty old dog playing with his food.
See, you watch that clip and you hear the words about grinding bones and making bread with bone dust, which can’t possibly taste good, but please also note the little flourishes in the still frames. Flourishes like, for example, the way Logan is holding the phone, with the mouthpiece near his mouth and the earpiece nowhere near his ear. This is the character boiled down into a concentrated sticky paste. He’ll talk to you but he has almost no interest in hearing what you have to say. It’s basically a one-sided conversation. He might as well be leaving a voicemail. Logan Roy is one of the best characters on television. Top 10, easily.
And how does his son Kendall respond to this threat? What witty and snappy comeback does he flip off upon hearing that his skeleton will be used to make a nice seeded rye? Wellllllllllllllllll…
What a pathetic bozo. What a sad little doofus. What a perpetually scared little boy. I love him. If anything bad happens to him I will be inconsolable. I do not want to look into why I feel this way. Let’s move on!
I have a theory. I don’t know if it’s a good theory, but I’m going to put it out there anyway. I think it’s probably better that this new season comes out this fall. I think, for all our talk about how much we wanted it and how much the wait stunk, we wouldn’t have appreciated it fully if it had dropped, say, last August, mid-pandemic, right before the election, when we were all hopelessly fried. I don’t know if we had the reserves left to spend on a show about the most miserable people on Earth being awful to each other for an hour a week. We would have watched and been happy about it, but not at full strength.
I mean, look at the shows we all got passionate about in that window. Look just at Ted Lasso. Even the most cynical people you know, the kind that scoff at puppies and complain about pizza, fell in love with that show and its boundless optimism. I wonder sometimes if the show hits the same way if we’re not all collectively trying to hold back historic amounts of trauma. It still would have been good and had some die-hard supporters, but it’s a sweet show about a character who first appeared in a series of commercials. Remember what we did to the Geico Cavemen? Remember how mean we all were when they tried to turn that into a show? This is different, for sure, but there are similarities, too. That’s all I’m saying.
The long and short of it is that maybe this is all working out perfectly. There’s less out there in the world dragging us down than last year at this time. We have plenty of excess energy to toss at attractive people attempting to ruin each other on television for our enjoyment. It’s good. It’s maybe how it should be. It’s time.
Hit the intense string music.
ITEM NUMBER TWO — J.K. Simmons is so good at playing cranky guys
J.K. Simmons is in Tomorrow War. I’m sorry for just blurting out something that obvious in the first sentence, but I have things to get to in this section and saying that is the first step. I am being efficient here, for both of our sakes. And J.K. Simmons is great in Tomorrow War, too. He plays an anti-government grandpa who lives off the grid and is absolutely shredded, which you can see in the screencap above of him in a tanktop and which I mention because it is really fun to mention every time you talk about J.K. Simmons. The man is made of leather and rope. But that’s not the point, really. The point is that this is another example of J.K. Simmons playing a Cranky Guy in a movie or television show, and we should really all talk about it a bit.
The impressive thing, to me, about this long history of playing Cranky Guys, is that he doesn’t just play one kind of Cranky Guy. This isn’t an actor just running out the same performance over and over again with different names on basically the same character. J.K. Simmons has a full cupboard of Cranky Guys in his kitchen.
There’s this one, the Bearded Mountain Man Cranky Guy, the kind who lives in a shed and eats jerky made from animals he hunted himself. There’s the kind he’s played in movies like The Accountant and shows like The Closer, let’s call them Authority Figure Who Has Been Beaten Down By The System And Is A Cranky Guy Because Of It, where he’s like a chief or high-ranking government official who has seen too much in his career and is exhausted by it. And there’s, well… there’s J. Jonah Jameson, who I guess you’d say is a Generally Perturbed By The Existence Of Spider-Man Cranky Guy, which is admittedly too specific to be an archetype, but still, so cranky.
It’s really cool when you look at it as a whole. There are so many tiny variations with the same basic structure, so many types of Cranky Guys, none of whom would like each other even a little bit. He created a niche within a niche and he owns it completely. And the best part is that I don’t have to worry even a little about him seeing this and using that voice and face to yell at me about it, because J.K. Simmons is yet another type of Cranky Guy in real-life, as he put on display in a recent interview with Uproxx’s Mike Ryan.
Are you aware of the rabid online community on social media for The Accountant?
I don’t know anything about anything online ever.
I have so much respect for him. J.K. Simmons is the best. There are not many movies — anywhere, about anything — that could not be improved by adding him to the cast as any kind of crank you can imagine. Please make a note.
ITEM NUMBER THREE — Patti Harrison rules
Patti Harrison is in two sketches in the second season of I Think You Should Leave and she absolutely destroys in both of them. This is not something that should surprise you if you are familiar with her previous work, including the first season of I Think You Should Leave, but it is still worth noting because it is cool and true and you should always make a big deal out of things that are cool and true. So, it has been noted.
Go watch the sketches now. Like, right now. I won’t go about spoiling them if you haven’t seen them yet, beyond posting that screencap up there and telling you that her delivery of every single line in both sketches is outrageous. Just so over the top and unhinged and perfect. I could make a solid case that she’s the on-camera MVP of the season, and I probably will if you get a drink or two in me at any time over the next 5-6 months.
The nice thing about all of this — beyond just the part where we shout about things that are cool and true — is that it gives me an excuse to tell you about her Twitter account. Which no longer exists. Because she got banned. For impersonating Nilla Wafers. In maybe the funniest way possible. I’ll let her explain in this clip from a recent appearance on Jimmy Kimmel’s show.
We should all — I’m serious about this, every single one of us — do everything in our power to make Patti Harrison a huge freaking star. This is me starting that process.
ITEM NUMBER FOUR — Someone please make a documentary and/or thinly fictionalized television series about Ichiro
Ichiro is one of my favorite baseball players ever. I don’t know where I’d rank him and I don’t want to try, but if we’re making a list of non-Phillies (go Phillies), the top of it definitely includes the following names: Ichiro, Pedro Martinez, Ken Griffey, Jr., and Vladimir Guerrero. Maybe Bo Jackson and Ozzie Smith if we go back a bit. But definitely Ichiro.
Part of that is because he was just a cool baseball player, a little wiry dude who slapped the baseball all over the field and ran like an overcaffeinated maniac and had an absolute rocket attached to his right shoulder. I’ve never seen someone so small whiz a baseball like him. It didn’t make sense. The ball came out of his hand so fast I was surprised it didn’t have flames shooting out of it. I don’t know why I’m talking about him in the past tense. He’s still alive and presumably thriving.
This brings us to the reason for this section. This week marked the 20th anniversary of Ichiro coming to America from Japan and taking over baseball. And to celebrate this moment, The Athletic rounded up a ton of the best stories about Ichiro, as told by his teammates and coaches. And they are incredible. All of them. Ichiro is a wildly funny and wildly strange guy. I could read them all day long. I’m going to post a few of them here, but please, seek out the rest. Learn about his fascination with burgers and chicken wings. You deserve this.
[Aaron] Sele: His first year, in spring training, guys were taking BP, and I believe that he was hitting with Jay (Buhner) and Edgar. They were cranking line drives all over the place, no big deal. Ichiro was just staying inside the ball and just flipping the ball to left field with no real impact. Lou (Piniella) starts to get on him, saying something like, “Son, you’ve got to get behind the ball. Drive the ball.” Ichiro puts his finger to his lips and says, “Shhhhhh. I’ve got a plan.”
This is very funny on its own and even funnier if you are familiar with who Lou Piniella is and what he looks like. And it’s just the beginning.
Bret Boone, Mariners teammate: Opening Day, 2001. I’m taking my position at second base, and there was a veteran umpire out there, a guy that’s been there forever. He comes up to me and goes, “Boonie, what’s up, how are you doing?” And he goes, “What the hell’s up with your right fielder?” I said, “What are you talking about?” He goes, “He runs by me and I say to him, ‘Hey, Ichiro, welcome to America.’” And Ichiro looks at him and says, “What’s happening, home slice,” and keeps running to his position.
There are a lot of stories like this, about Ichiro surprising people with his grasp of the English language. I love that he called an umpire “home slice.” I love this next thing even more.
[Michael] Young: He got on second base and I was playing second base. At this point, I had no idea if he even spoke English. We were in Texas in the middle of the summer. It was just blistering down there, and I go, “What’s up, man?” He looks at me with a straight face and says, “It’s hotter than rats fucking in a wool sock.”
Beautiful. Just beautiful. And not even the best part of this story, or at least the best part about the phrase at the center of this story. Because the best part is that he also said it to Bob Costas. On television. Here, look.
I repeat: Someone please make a documentary and/or thinly-fictionalized television series about Ichiro. I say this because I want to watch either or both. Bob Costas can play himself. So can Ichiro, if he wants. I’m not being picky about this.
ITEM NUMBER FIVE — I am pleased to report that the Teletubbies have received their COVID-19 vaccinations
We’re all vaxxed! Just in time for a Tubby hot summer ☀️ Who's ready to come out & play pic.twitter.com/AtXTExaCMs
— Teletubbies (@TeletubbiesHQ) July 7, 2021
A few things here:
- This is a nice sentiment that implies a number of troubling things: Either the Teletubbies exist in our universe or COVID exists in the Teletubby universe; Teletubbies are susceptible to disease and can die; a Teletubby would have to prove its vaccination status at some point in a way that requires paperwork; etc.
- It all starts getting really dark really fast
- Imagine explaining any of this to a version of yourself from two years ago today
I do not like any of this all that much. It’s kind of like watching Wile E. Coyote filing his taxes. I don’t need to see it. Just let me live in the fantasy on this stuff. I know, I know. It wasn’t done for me and it exists to maybe help explain a troubling situation to impressionable young minds. I understand all of that. But if the minds are that impressionable, they shouldn’t be on Twitter anyway. No thank you to this whole situation.
If you have questions about television, movies, food, local news, weather, or whatever you want, shoot them to me on Twitter or at email@example.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.
You have the power to add any actor or actress as any character to Fast 10. Who do you add and who do they play? Do you go with Keanu as an FBI agent? Do you go with McConaughey as a villain? Do you go with Ben Affleck as his character from The Accountant and merge the two universes? What do you do with this power?
Part of me wants to stay on theme and add Patti Harrison in a role that will make her a huge star or J.K. Simmons as a Cranky Guy, which could work if we merge in The Accountant as Scott suggested, and yes, I do want to see this so much that I felt my heart skip a little just now as I typed it.
But the answer here is simple, and I think you’ll all agree if you take a second or two this weekend to really wrap your head around it. Here goes: I would add Gonzo, the Muppet, in the role of narrator, like he does in A Muppet Christmas Carol. Explaining the action directly to the audience. Giving everyone the preposterous history and backstory. Just popping up in front of the action every 15-20 minutes to check-in and update the viewer. I need to be extremely clear about how much I am not joking right now. It would make me so happy. Vin, if you are reading this… please consider.
AND NOW, THE NEWS
A criminal syndicate has developed a sophisticated scheme to steal used cooking oil set aside by local restaurants for sale to a third-party refiner and unload the cargo on the black market, according to a Buffalo-based outfit that estimates it is losing $300,000 per week as a result of the thefts.
SCHENECTADY GREASE SYNDICATE
Thieves have executed at least 700 heists in every county in the Capital Region, siphoning oil from the grease-caked black storage vats inconspicuously located behind restaurants and ferrying away the sludge-like substance under the cloak of darkness.
This is, without hyperbole, one of the best sentences I’ve ever read. I don’t think — in fact, I seriously doubt — anyone had ever written the words “ferrying away the sludge-like substance under the cloak of darkness” in that exact order before this week. I’m so proud of everyone involved: the writer, the editor, the grease thieves who are… hang on.
Did that say… siphoning? Like, actual siphoning? Where you suck on a hose?? Are they stealing $1 million of grease a month by sucking it out with a hose???
Thieves gain access to the vats by either cutting a hole in steel grates or breaking the padlocks. They then siphon the yellow grease into tractor trucks or less-conspicuous panel vans, where the substance is carefully packed into plastic totes.
Surveillance video from one recent heist revealed a two-man operation approaching a site shortly before dawn.
EXPLAIN THIS TO ME.
One suspect gained access to the vat while his accomplice backed the truck into the enclosed storage area. As the man sucked out the grease, his accomplice kept watch. The siphoning itself took four minutes, and the entire operation was completed in fewer than 10 minutes.
“As the man sucked out the grease.” This is officially my favorite story now. Maybe ever. Definitely up there with the time a guy grabbed a bucket of gold off a truck in broad daylight and just walked off with it and the best lead the police had was a picture of him at Madame Tussaud’s riding a bike with a wax figure of E.T. Prestigious company here.
There is precedent to launch investigations, said Majumdar, who pointed at federal indictments handed down in 2019 to a syndicate that targeted one of his main competitors at the time, Darling Ingredients, in North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia over a five-year span.
“At the end of the day, the feds are the only ones who can stop this,” Majumdar said.
Okay, listen to me very carefully: I need this to be a movie, and I need J.K. Simmons to play a federal agent. I need this as soon as possible. Like, weeks from now. I have faith in everyone that we can get it done. But we need to start today.