TV

The Rundown: Something Incredible Could Be Brewing On ‘Veep’


HBO

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 will vary, as will 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 — Mayor Splett!

Veep is in the middle of its final season. This feels like something people should be talking about more than they are. One of the best comedies of the last decade or so, and definitely the most creatively profane, is zeroing in on its conclusion and everyone is being a little too casual about it. The whys are obvious, starting with the dragons and zombies show that airs the same night on the same network also kicking off its final season, but it’s still not great. We should talk about Veep. Let’s talk about Veep.

Specifically, let’s talk about Richard Splett, the sweet naive staffer played by Sam Richardson. Richard Splett has been one of many terrific minor characters on the show, the planets orbiting Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ big shining star. He’s the only nice person on Veep, and it’s even more pronounced than that because he is so nice and everyone else is so awful. There are plenty of laughs to be mined from this and the show has been careful to pull them out judiciously. Lines like this are perfect when delivered in small doses. The man is a treasure.

HBO
HBO

So far this season, Veep has steered into the skid of American politics. Jonah is running for president and tapping into an exaggerated form of the fervor that lifted Donald Trump. Amy has gone full Kellyanne Conway, right down to the teased-out eyelashes. Selina is tangled up in various campaign shenanigans that involve a foreign country interfering with our election process. It’s mostly been all right there on the screen for us to recognize. There’s a crowded field with a bunch of candidates in there and everyone is tearing each other apart. It’s mean and delightful.

This brings us to the Splett of it all. After starting the season serving on campaigns for both Selina and Jonah, he was recruited to become the mayor of a small midwestern town. (The town previously had a string of dog mayors, which is kind of perfect given his golden retriever personality.) Last Sunday, there was a disaster at a local 7-11 and he came to the rescue personally. As the credits rolled, he was being interviewed by a news station and being touted as a hero.

Do you see what’s happening here? Do you? Because there are two things I’m picking up on and both of them are bringing me a lot of joy this week. The first is that the show has apparently backed into a stand-in for Pete Buttigieg, another very pleasant small(-ish)-town mayor who burst onto the national scene seemingly out of nowhere. This is incredible because Buttigieg just became a thing in the last couple months and these episodes were probably written and filmed well before that happened. It’s all another reminder that the show is our greatest and most accurate political satire, so blindingly accurate that it’s able to predict the future by accident.

The second thing is more important, in a way, at least for me. All of this raises the possibility that Richard T. Splett, the goldfish in the piranha tank, the cupcake in the box of poison, could end the show as the winner of a presidential election. I might be getting ahead of myself here. I admit that. I think I want it to happen so badly that I’m trying to will it into existence. It would be like the end of 30 Rock, but with Richard as the leader of the free world instead of Kenneth with a snow globe. Richard and Kenneth would definitely get along. That’s a presidential ticket I can get behind.

Cherish this. Cherish all of it. There’s plenty of other stuff out there to distract you, from pending mythical wars to the news to whatever else you have going on in your life, but do not forget about Veep. The show is still as sharp as an X-Acto knife, even this late in its run, even after an extended hiatus. And it might be on the verge of doing something incredible.

Splett.

Splett!

ITEM NUMBER TWO — Let’s check in with Nicolas Cage

Getty Image

Perhaps you saw the story on TMZ this week, the one with the headline “Nicolas Cage ANGRILY SINGS ‘PURPLE RAIN’ Following Split With Wife.” The one that included a brief video of Nicolas Cage doing exactly that. I imagine you had some fun with it. Lord knows I did. But truthfully, who among us has not, at some point, after some personal strife, wanted to angrily sing “Purple Rain” at karaoke? If you haven’t, it’s probably because you didn’t even consider it an option. Now you know it is. I bet it feels great. I bet it’s liberating. Good for you, Nic Cage.

You know what my favorite part of Nicolas Cage angrily singing “Purple Rain” at a karaoke bar is? Surprisingly, it is not Nicolas Cage angrily singing “Purple Rain” at a karaoke bar. No, it’s that people were there, at the karaoke bar, watching Nicolas Cage angrily sing “Purple Rain,” without the heads-up that the headline gave the rest of us.

That must have been so weird. There are so many levels to it, too. Think about what their thought process must have been.

“Is… that Nicolas Cage?”

“Is Nicolas Cage at this karaoke bar?”

“Wait, is he getting up to sing?”

“Oh my God, Nicolas Cage is going to sing.”

“What song is Nicolas Cage going to sing?”

“WHAT SONG IS NICOLAS CAGE GOING TO SING?”

“Oh my God.”

“OH MY GOD.”

“Is Nicolas Cage going to sing ‘Purple Rain’?”

“NICOLAS CAGE IS GOING TO SING ‘PURPLE RAIN.’”

“Why… why is he singing it so angrily?”

“Is Nicolas Cage… okay?”

“Oh my God.”

“OH MY GOD.”

It’s a good thing there’s video of this. I mean that generally, for the world, but also for the other people in attendance. Without it, I don’t think anyone would believe them when they told the story. It’s somehow both completely unbelievable and a little too on the nose. Most stories about Nicolas Cage are like that. The man once had to return a stolen dinosaur skull to the government of Mongolia. He didn’t steal it. He purchased it at auction. Which is also super, super weird. I don’t really know how to end this paragraph. I’m just going to stop typing.

Anyway, guess what: He did this a second time! No, not the dinosaur skull thing, although we can’t rule that out either, I guess. The “Purple Rain” thing. He angrily sang it at karaoke a second time later in the week. It’s a whole situation now.

I hope he brings a stolen dinosaur skull up next time and performs a duet with it. “Islands in the Stream” would be nice.

ITEM NUMBER THREE — Bosch’s house is very stressful

Amazon

The fifth season of Bosch came out last weekend and I finished all 10 episodes in about 24 hours. I can’t help it. I love Bosch. I wrote about it all before the premiere and don’t really need to badger you about it again, but I will if you give me even the slightest opening. Did Bosch single-handedly break up an opioid ring? Yup. Did one character — a former and possibly future adversary — tell Bosch that they were “cut from the same stone,” which is a fancy way of saying “We’re not so different”? Of course. Did Lance Reddick grumble Bosch’s name while drinking wine and playing the piano in his home? You see the screencap at the top of this section.

None of that is why we’re here, though. We’re here to discuss Bosch’s house. Bosch lives in a beautiful glass-walled house high above Los Angeles. He paid for it with money from a movie based on an old case. He’s always sipping liquor and listening to jazz while looking over evidence at night, with the Los Angeles skyline on full display in front of him. You could be lulled into thinking it would be nice and relaxing to live there. I thought so, too. Until I saw this shot of the exterior this season.

Amazon

A glass house on stilts? In an area of the world that is not exactly impervious to sudden quaking of earth. No thanks. No thank you at all. It took me out of the show completely. Every time I saw Bosch at his dinner table, I started thinking about his house collapsing. What if a bad guy gets a helicopter and takes out one of the stilts? Then what? Think this through, Bosch! You have enemies! You’re constantly making new ones! You should live in a safer house, maybe one that is underground or at least not hanging off of a cliff!

Now I know how Bosch’s bosses feel. The man is reckless.

ITEM NUMBER FOUR — A note about disavowing

New Line

There’s a new J.R.R. Tolkien biopic on the way. It stars Nicholas Hoult and will focus on Tolkien’s life as a young man and I bring it up now only because Tolkien’s estate released an official statement this week to disavow the entire production.

From The Guardian:

On Tuesday morning, the estate and family of Tolkien issued a terse statement in which they announced their “wish to make clear that they did not approve of, authorise or participate in the making of this film”, and that “they do not endorse it or its content in any way”.

A spokesperson for the estate told the Guardian that the statement was intended to make its position clear, rather than heralding future legal action.

Have you ever disavowed something? Like, not just gone on the record as disliking it or refusing to support it. Actually disavowed it. I have not and I am suddenly very depressed about it. I want to start disavowing things, even things I have no direct ties to. I hereby disavow the entire Oliver plotline in season one of The O.C. Boom, done, disavowed.

Although, now that I think about it, it’s much better to have your estate disavow something. Maybe I can write it into my will. I’ll just leave $1500 bucks to someone on the condition they publicly disavow one film a year for the next 15 years. I think $100 per disavowal seems fair. They can pick anything they want. New movies, old movies, whatever. They can even disavow the same thing multiple times for all I care. (“The estate of Brian Grubb would like to publicly disavow the film Stepmom for the fourth time for making him cry in front of girls at a party in 9th grade that one time.”)

The only downside to disavowing things willy-nilly like this is that it increases the odds someone could disavow you. They could disavow your disavowal! And then where does it end, you know? Let’s all agree to be a little judicious with this one. Or else, so help me God, I’ll disavow each and every one of you.

ITEM NUMBER FIVE — Velocipastor!

This column is now well over 1500 words deep and it has barely mentioned Game of Thrones or Avengers: Endgame. This is almost certainly a bad decision on my part and possibly even an utter dereliction of my duty as a cultural arbiter, especially with both of them about to have huge, franchise-defining weekends. I’m sorry. I needed a break. There’s so much other stuff in the world and we’re all blasting by it. It’s a shame. Someone needed to do something and that someone appears to be me. I mean, you deserve to know this exists.

Wild Eye

If you haven’t yet clicked on the trailer for Velocipastor, if that GIF somehow failed to convince you, please do so now. It features:

  • Hand-to-hand combat featuring people in their underpants
  • Ninjas
  • Explosions
  • A plot that appears to be about a conflicted pastor who sometimes turns into a dinosaur and kills people
  • Some of the best/worst dialogue you’ll ever hear in any movie ever

I suspect I will never see this movie. It strikes me as the kind of thing that is best consumed through title and trailer alone. It is nice to know it exists, though. Everyone’s out here hooting and hollering about big-budget battles featuring ice zombies and purple aliens but somewhere, in some room, at some point in the relatively recent past, someone came up with an idea for a movie about a pastor who morphs into a murderous dinosaur sometimes and that person made that movie. It exists. Think about that for a while today. This is a real thing. They really did it. That alone is worthy of applause.

READER MAIL

If you have questions about television, movies, food, local news, weather, or, like, whatever you want, shoot them to me at brian.grubb@uproxx.com and 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.

Paul:

I have to travel a lot for work. A few weeks ago I flew into the Charlotte airport and it got me thinking that Charlotte Airport would be a great fake name. I spent the entire time there thinking about what kind of person Charlotte Airport would be. If anyone can relate, I figure it’s you.

Paul, I’m with you. I almost crashed my car one time because I saw a shoe store called Bernard Shoes and I swerved into the parking lot to get a picture of the sign. Once you wire your brain to see these things you can never undo it. It’s like the most fun disease you can have.

Related: See the screencap of Lance Reddick from Bosch I popped in up there a few sections ago? The one of Lance Reddick grumbling Bosch’s name while sipping wine at the piano? I titled that image “bosch lance piano” so I could find it easily and my colleague Josh Kurp pointed out that “Lance Piano” is another great potential fake name. I was so happy to have this information in my life but also absolutely livid that I didn’t catch it first. So apparently I’m that petty. I have a lot to think about.

In conclusion, I think Lance Piano and Charlotte Airport should start dating. Talk about a power couple.

AND NOW, THE NEWS

To Brazil!

A parrot was taken into custody Monday after nearly spoiling a raid while playing lookout for two crack-dealing suspects by repeatedly yelling, “Mamãe, polícia!” according to Brazilian police in the state of Piauí. The phrase means, “Mama, police!”

Well, I love this. I already love this. I love every part of it. I love that the criminals had a lookout parrot, I love that the lookout parrot did its job, and I love that the police took the parrot into custody. I know that last part might be controversial but rules are rules. That parrot was an accomplice. Do the crime, do the time. We’re trying to have some sort of society here.

But mostly, I love that this will allow me to make just the worst joke you’ve ever seen. It’s so awful. I can’t wait. It’s coming in a minute, right after this next blockquote. You’re going to be so mad at me.

An officer then carried the papagaio do tráfico — or “trafficking parrot,” as news outlets referred to the bird — out of the house on his fingertip, before placing him in a cage and taking him into the Teresina Police Department.

The parrot did not say a word, remaining in total silence even as law enforcement sought to loosen it up.

You know what I heard?

I heard they denied the parrot’s request for bail.

Yeah.

It turns out the judge was worried he might be…

… a flight risk.

WORTH IT. GOODBYE.

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