TV

The Rundown: No One On Television Is Having Less Fun Than King Viserys On ‘House Of The Dragon’

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 – This poor miserable goof

I’ll be honest here: I did not expect to enjoy House of the Dragon this much. I thought I was done with Game of Thrones and all of its various kings and queens and magic and such. I started watching only because it was kind of an obligation for this job. (I am very professional.) But now, a few weeks into it all, I find myself hooked all over again. It’s a truly shocking development. No one is more surprised by it than me. And there’s one main reason why it’s happened: King Viserys and the misery that is constantly stretched across his poor face.

Look at this guy.

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HBO

Look at him try to hide the fact that he’s just having the worst time anyone has ever had while also sitting on a throne and commanding a squadron of fire-breathing dragons.

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HBO

I love him so much. I get excited whenever he shows up on screen, kind of like I did whenever Philip Jennings showed up to mope his way through a scene on The Americans. I think if Viserys ever experiences actual happiness, even for a moment, I will be so disappointed I might stay in bed the following Monday. His misery is fueling me right now. I feel okay about it.

To be fair, the man does have legitimate reasons to be having a bad time. For one, his… uh, flesh is kind of rotting and falling off of his body. Which does not seem fun.

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HBO

And then there’s the thing with his daughter’s wedding, which featured both of them making these faces before any of the real messy stuff went down. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a more accurate representation of raising and being a teenager. It could be the poster for a CBS sitcom about a single dad. It’s thrilling to me.

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hbo

Then these things happened at the wedding:

  • His snotty younger brother showed up — fresh off of murdering his own wife — despite being kind of banished from the realm for being a devious little snot all the time
  • His child bride showed up late and wearing a green dress, which I learned later is basically a declaration of war on this show
  • His daughter’s not-so-secret boyfriend beat her new husband’s not-so-secret boyfriend to death with his fists during the reception
  • His snotty brother and rebellious daughter started dancing and eyeing each other real sexy-like in front of everyone

Look at these two.

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HBO

Sooooo yeah. My dude has every right to constantly look like he threw up in his mouth a little bit and decided to swallow it. The next episode jumps forward 10 years from the end of this one. Viserys is still alive, somehow, despite his own body and offspring and wife trying to kill him in various ways. This is great news. For me. Probably not for him. Which makes it great news for me. I hope he lives forever and mopes around like a royal Charlie Brown for six seasons. I hope he frowns so hard his whole face slides off of his skull, which it actually might, given the flesh thing we mentioned earlier. I had no clue I needed to see Paddy Considine doing this much face-acting on a show about dragons and incest, but here we are.

One more for the road.

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HBO

This poor miserable dope. I hope he is never happy for another day in his life. Again, for me. It’s nothing personal. Kind of.

ITEM NUMBER TWO – Meanwhile, on 9-1-1

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FOX

Here’s what happened, and I need you to stay with me on this one: 9-1-1 returned this week with an episode that opened in the sky, in a blimp, where the pilot and co-pilot were having a conversation about a nosy mother-in-law, for kind of a while as they floated through the clouds. If you read that sentence and started thinking “Hmm, if I know anything about 9-1-1 from all the times Brian has rambled about it, it sure sounds like something crazy is going to happen to this blimp,” congratulations, you are very intuitive. Or you saw the screencap at the top of this section with the flaming blimp. Or both. There are a lot of ways you could have figured this one out. The artwork for this season full-on featured a crashing blimp. I just wrote about it the other week. This was the worst-kept secret in television history.

Anyway, they dialed 9-1-1 from the clouds and had this conversation with Jennifer Love Hewitt, who, if we are to believe this show, handles every emergency call in Los Angeles.

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FOX
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FOX

Perfect. Succinct, accurate, objectively hilarious. No notes from me. My only complaint is that I’ve never had a legitimate opportunity in my life to use the phrase “we have a blimp emergency.” There’s still time, but I will need to hurry.

But yes, they were correct, the blimp went down, straight into a soccer stadium. I need to stress to you that the whole series of events looked like it cost the production about $85. It was great. Look at this.

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FOX

Okay, stick with me some more, because here’s where things get crazy, and yes I realize we’ve already seen a blimp crash into a stadium. To the bullet points:

  • Chaos ensues, with people running and screaming and fleeing the stadium
  • A girl and her mom get separated just moments after having a vague conversation about living a normal life like a normal kid
  • The girl goes down and her backpack opens and some guy sees weird tubes sticking out and shouts “IT’S A BOMB”
  • Angela Bassett rushes into the stadium to investigate and discovers it is not a bomb, but an artificial heart that the girl carries with her to stay alive
  • It is malfunctioning and the mom has the backup but no one knows where she is amid the commotion
  • Jennifer Love Hewitt just like Googles stuff over the phone and talks Angela Bassett through troubleshooting an artificial heart while a blimp balances precariously on the scaffolding of a soccer stadium, which is not a collection of words I ever expected to type
  • They find the mom and get things working and everyone is saved, including the blimp pilots, who have been pulled out of the wreckage by firefighters as this is going on

Which is great. Classic 9-1-1 piece of business. Very proud of everyone involved. But here’s the best part. Look at this screencap from the aftermath of it all…

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FOX

Do you see it?

Do you see the credits on the screen in the corner?

That’s right.

All of this happened before the opening credits had finished.

BEFORE THE OPENING CREDITS HAD FINISHED.

We were not even 10 minutes into the episode and all of this had already happened.

What a beautiful television program.

ITEM NUMBER THREE – This was really just an incredible week for the cast and crew of Peaky Blinders

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netflix

Two pieces of Peaky Blinders-related news, both kind of incredible in their own way. First, this, which I can’t believe is true: The people who made Peaky Blinders — the gritty and violent British drama where bootleggers smoke cigarettes and fight each other, often while covered in about an inch of industrial soot — are bringing it to the stage for a dance-heavy production. Please read this.

“Through dance theatre ‘Peaky Blinders: The Redemption of Thomas Shelby’ picks up the story of the Peaky Blinders at the end of World War One, following Tommy Shelby and Grace Burgess through their passionate love affair,” reads the logline. “While Tommy is building his empire, Grace is operating as an undercover agent for Special Branch on a mission to get close to the heart of Tommy’s gang. As the story unfolds, many hearts are broken.”

That’s… it’s fascinating. It would be like if David Chase made a dancing Sopranos musical, which I now want to see more than anything else in the world. Show me Paulie Walnuts sashaying into a restaurant and gliding to his table. I am so mad this doesn’t exist. Dammit. I did this to myself.

And yet, somehow, this is not the wildest Peaky-related story of the week. Not even close. How could it be when Tom Hardy — who played a mumble-mouthed bootlegger on the show — is just running around winning martial arts tournaments in his spare time. From a local news report in Europe.

Danny Appleby, from Ormesby, was stunned when he discovered his opponent at a Jiu-Jitsu tournament at the weekend was Mad Max Fury Road actor Tom Hardy.

The 44-year-old star turned up unannounced at the REORG Open Jiu-Jitsu Championship in Wolverhampton.

This is probably my favorite thing… maybe ever? Definitely this week. Tom Hardy — BANE — is just popping up to whomp on dudes in his free time. It’s somehow both shocking and not surprising at all, given everything we know and don’t know about Tom Hardy. I must know more. Let’s read on.

“It’s been crazy on social media,” he says, “I was waiting match-side for the semi-final in Wolverhampton when Tom showed up. I didn’t know he was going to be there. And they expected me to remain composed,” he laughs.

“I recognised him straightaway. Everyone knows who Tom Hardy is, don’t they?

“I was shell-shocked. He said ‘just forget it’s me and do what you would normally do’.”

Ugggghhhh this is so cool. It’s so cool it actually bothers me a little bit. Like, come on, Tom Hardy. Chill out a little. The rest of us have to be out here too, and we just cannot compete with “an A-list movie star who sometimes shows up at little jiu-jitsu tournaments for kicks and wins adorable little victory certificates.”

Oh. Wait. I’m sorry. Did I not already mention the adorable little victory certificate? Because that actually might be the best part of all of this. I mean…

I hope he frames that and hangs it up in a prominent place in his house. Maybe right next to his, uh… [quick goes to Tom Hardy’s Wikipedia page]… his 2011 BAFTA Rising Star award. Or maybe he just has a trophy case full of these. What if Tom Hardy has like two dozen trophies and certificates like this, like a little kid who displays all his karate awards? Someone needs to investigate this. Not me. But someone.

ITEM NUMBER FOUR – Good for Lacey Chabert, honestly

There’s this big article in Variety this week about Candace Cameron and her quest to start a conservative Christian Christmas powerhouse to rival places like Hallmark and Netflix that churn those movies out 40 per year. You can read the whole thing if you want to. Here’s the link. I want to talk about something else, though. I want to talk about the financials of starring in these movies. I want to talk about people making crazyyyy money by appearing in these movies. Not crazy like billions or anything, but… at least more than I expected.

The key points are as follows:

  • Hallmark was paying people $200-300k for a couple weeks of work on these movies
  • Which is wild when you consider former Party of Five and Mean Girls star Lacey Chabert has, to date, made 27 Hallmark Christmas movies, which is a real fact I looked up and everything
  • Netflix swooped in recently and just started heaving money at people to get their own holiday stockpile loaded up

Like, so much money.

When Netflix came into the game, it was willing to up the ante. Since its overall budgets are more than double what cable networks have, it’s able to land stars like Dolly Parton, Goldie Hawn, Vanessa Hudgens, Kurt Russell and Rob Lowe. One source tells Variety that while some of those movies were pitched elsewhere, Netflix was the only place able to pay bigger leading stars, often shelling out paychecks of more than $1 million per film.

This is pretty funny today, now, with all the news about Netflix struggling a bit and being buried in debt. It’s kind of like this tweet but with Holiday Movie Salaries in place of Candles:

But whatever. Good for the people cashing these checks. Good for Lacey Chabert, especially. This isn’t even the only source of income related to these cheesy movies. It turns out there’s a whole economy based around it, complete with conventions attended by thousands of people. This paragraph is fascinating to me in ways I have been struggling to articulate for days.

In addition to pricy day passes, fans can take part in a professional photo opps with stars like Lacey Chabert, Danica McKellar or Jesse Metcalfe, or buy an autograph for $80. Plus, each actor is paid a guaranteed rate to attend for the weekend — which can be anywhere from $10,000 to $75,000.

And, on the heels of this report, Hallmark went out and dropped this year’s holiday movie schedule. Guess who got the primo post-Thanksgiving Saturday night spot?

Saturday, Nov. 26: Haul Out the Holly
Stars: Lacey Chabert, Wes Brown, Ellen Travolta, Peter Jacobson, Melissa Peterman and Stephen Tobolowsky
Premieres 8 p.m. ET/PT.

Emily arrives home, hoping to visit her parents, only to discover that they are leaving on a trip of their own. As she stays at their house for the holidays, their HOA is determined to get Emily to participate in the neighborhood’s many Christmas festivities.

Please consider this your periodic reminder that everything is somehow 40-50 percent weirder than you assume it is, always, often in ways you could not have comprehended before they were presented to you in black and white. Also, that Lacey Chabert is doing great. Good for her.

ITEM NUMBER FIVE – Please think about this one for a couple of minutes this weekend

Three things are important to note here, and then we can move on…

ONE: Sometimes Danny DeVito, Hollywood legend and multi-decade veteran of the stage and screen, will post pictures of his foot on Twitter under the heading “TROLLFOOT.”

TWO: This is deeply funny to me, just the thing where he has leaned into being the weirdest dude all the time now, up to and including the thing last week where he did an ad for Jersey Mike’s Subs where he appeared to be extremely horny for hoagies.

THREE: Please take maybe five minutes at some point in the next few days and picture yourself driving down a California highway on a sunny September day, just picturesque and perfect and everything The Beach Boys ever sang about, and then you look out your window and Danny DeVito is lying on his back with his leg in the air trying to take a picture of his bare foot.

I guess that’s Hollywood for you.

READER MAIL

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

From Matthew:

We need a rule about movie trailers in theaters. Specifically, horror movie trailers. More specifically, no horror movie trailers except before horror or horror-adjacent movies. People who want to watch a movie about demonic possession or a creepy doll or a haunted house know about these movies already. Those of us hitting up a matinee of Confess, Fletch or like, the Marvel movie du jour don’t know, or, and this is my point, want to know that apparently a movie about an infectious demonic smile that kills you is coming out. Jason Blum is creative. He’ll find a different way to advertise.

Freakin’ THANK YOU, Matthew. God. What a good and simple rule, which I say as someone who loves seeing movies in a theater but very much does not enjoy horror movies, in general. It’s not that I’m some big fraidy cat baby — or at least not just that — as much as it is that I don’t like being scared in real life and do not want to scare myself on purpose in my leisure time. Separate these suckers. Gimme cool action movie trailers before cool action movies and cute rom-com trailers before cute rom-coms. I do not want to be reminded that I’m a huge baby right before I watch Fast & Furious 16: Getting A Little Slower, Actually because they ran a trailer for a movie called Demon Orphanage or something.

Leave me alone.

I just want to see Vin Diesel save the world using cars.

I don’t need all this.

Listen to Matthew.

Thank you.

AND NOW, THE NEWS

To France!

A suspected gang of thieves who allegedly stole items worth €300,000 (£260,000) from first-class passengers on French trains has been captured.

It is thought they stole luggage from passengers after sitting beside them on high-speed trains crossing the country.

Hmm. Yes, I am interested in the train heist. It feels almost old-timey at this point, in the age of hackers and cybercrimes, just dudes sitting down next to rich French people and being like “Hey, look over there!” and then making off with their valuables. I kind of respect it in a way.

One man, aged 57, is said to have posed as a woman, wearing a wig.

I like to believe no one asked him to do this and he just showed up with a woman’s wig on all proud of himself and everyone in his crew groaned and was like “Jesus Christ, Gary, we talked about this.” It also brings me to the thing that hooked me with this story in the first place: the headline. Look at this pile of words: “French police nab first-class wig gang suspects.”

FIRST CLASS WIG GANG SUSPECTS

It’s beautiful.

The alleged modus operandi was to steal items during station stops after the unsuspecting owners got off the train to stretch their legs or have a smoke.

It’s so low-tech and simple that it’s almost charming. No hacking or trickery, just wigs and waiting. I mean, definitely do not do this. Especially do not do this to me. I like my stuff and want to keep it. But if I can’t talk you out of it, if you are truly dead-set on robbing people on a train, I suppose this is better than resorting to violence. Right?

I hope this is the argument their lawyer uses to defend them in court.

Police were first alerted in April when a passenger reported the theft of a briefcase containing jewellery worth €50,000, local media say.

Four months later, police discovered a hoard of stolen goods in the Marseille flat.

Please make this series at once and release it on a streaming service by the end of the year. Pierce Brosnan as the ringleader. Cousin Greg from Succession in a wig. And so on. These are good ideas. Much better than the ones in the actual crime itself.

Think about it.

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