Welcome to the Friday TV Five, a column where we pull out five of the best, worst, and weirdest highlight-worthy things from the week of television, and present them all in a handy list format where the numbers don’t particularly mean anything. We have fun.
1) The rise of Richard Splett
Veep creator and world’s foremost profanity expert Armando Iannucci left the HBO comedy after last season, which raised a number of reasonable questions about the show’s future, the most important being, “Uhhh, is the show still going to be good?” And the answer, through a little over half of the first post-Iannucci season — helmed by former Curb Your Enthusiasm executive producer David Mandel — appears to be “Yup.” The almost unfairly deep well of on-air talent the show has at its disposal doesn’t hurt (Julia Louis-Dreyfus is basically a living, breathing National Park at this point, and “Tony Hale Reacting to Things” could be its own half-hour comedy), but the thing that has really made the show so great this season is sending Jonah to New Hampshire to run for Congress, and the thing that has made that so great has been Richard T. Splett.
Splett, played by Sam Richardson, has been stealing scenes with little moments for a few seasons now (bless your soul if you fall down the Splett YouTube hole like I did this morning), but he has taken it to a whole new level working on Jonah’s campaign. He might be my favorite character on the show now. Hell, he might be a Top 5 character in all of television now. I hope HBO does an hour-long Veep/Silicon Valley crossover episode and the whole thing is just Richard Splett and Jared driving across the country together. I hope they make that into a movie. I hope there are five sequels and they keep adding new characters and raising the stakes like the Fast & Furious movies until the two of them are hired by a secret government organization to take down Jason Statham. I hope they become astronauts and go to the moon.
I don’t think I’m asking too much.
2) Rounders, But Food, starring David Schwimmer
Are you guys watching David Schwimmer’s new AMC show, Feed the Beast? It’s… definitely something. I think it wants to be a big fancy prestige drama (Dead wife! Mean dad! Young child who witnessed a tragedy and hasn’t spoken since!), which is all fine and great, except for the part where Paul Kinsey from Mad Men pops in every 10-15 minutes as — I swear to God — a mob boss named “The Tooth Fairy” who got his name for his habit of pulling people’s teeth out with pliers and who rides around in the back of a chauffeured luxury van. It’s weird. It’s like someone took a regular show and dropped a Marvel villain into it just to see what happens, which, now that I think about it, is actually a pretty fun idea. Let’s do Tyrant next.
Anyway, while I was watching the first few episodes, I couldn’t help noticing that there are kind of a lot of similarities to Rounders, the Matt Damon and Edward Norton poker movie. Some examples:
- Opens with loser friend in prison using sharply honed skill to make stay easier (Rounders – cards, Feed the Beast – cooking)
- Loser friend is released and then is promptly hassled over large debt to underworld figures
- Loser friend drags main character back into a life he had left behind (Rounders – poker, Feed the Beast – restaurants)
- Loser friend hides his debt from the main character, presumably putting the latter at risk later on
- Features Michael Rispoli as a character who is squeezing the loser friend for money and/or information by punching him in the stomach (Rounders – Grama, Feed the Beast – pushy, violent cop)
That feels like a lot of similarities. Probably too many. Also, I accidentally typed Fred the Beast instead of Feed the Beast one time while I was writing this. That feels like something you should know, too.
3) Chad, you loogey-hocking lunatic
If you haven’t been following The Bachelorette, here’s a quick rundown of this season: Chad — pictured above in a screencap that sums him up better than any of the following words will — is a maniac. Just a total macho allegedly roided-out bro who was compared to Hitler by his only friend on the show and whose conflict resolution strategy looks something like this:
STEP 1: Make ignorant or dismissive comment or facial expression directed toward fellow contestant or the dang Bachelorette herself.
STEP 2: Get called out over it and respond by saying “No one is allowed to talk to me.”
STEP 3: Shout “YOU WANNA GO OUTSIDE?”
It’s fascinating, like watching a wild animal trying to adapt to living in a zoo. He got sent home this week after threatening to track down and harm the younger brother of Super Bowl MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers (lot goin’ on right now with this show), but he popped up in the previews for next week anyway, because Chad ain’t going home without banging on some more doors and challenging strangers to fights.
No joke, when I first saw the old Verizon “Can you hear me now?” guy pop up in a commercial for Sprint, I let out an audible and involuntary “Oh sh*t!” This is entirely not normal, because caring that much about which person wants you to sign up for which cellular network is a catastrophic misappropriation of personal resources, but apparently the part of me that loves chaos possesses an override switch that takes total control of my brain.
But screw it, I’m in now. Let’s have AT&T Lily switch to Boost Mobile, and have Progressive Flo turn heel and do an ad with the GEICO lizard, and Matthew McConaughey and the Toyota lady straight up trade jobs. Burn it all down, I say, if only so we get more friggin’ sick burns like this out of the whole thing.
“Sprint is using our 2002 pitchman because their network is finally catching up to our 2002 network quality,” Verizon spokesman Jeffrey Nelson said.
5) The Americans