TV

The Rundown: It Is Good That HBO Max Saved ‘Warrior’ Because ‘Warrior’ Freaking Rules

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 love when good things happen

I’ve been working my way through Warrior the last few months, and let me tell you something I discovered while doing that: Warrior rules. The show is inspired by ideas Bruce Lee put on paper before he died and is produced by a team led by his daughter Shannon and Fast & Furious mastermind Justin Lin. It’s set in old-timey San Francisco, and it features tons of martial arts battles and tales of immigration and Chinese gangsters and Irish mobsters and crooked politicians and has just about everything you could ever want in a cool show to watch on Friday nights at your leisure, including enough graphic sex and violence that you might feel more comfortable watching it with your headphones in even if you’re by yourself. Warrior is awesome.

It was also, as recently as this week, very much in limbo. The show ran for two seasons on Cinemax and a third was far from promised, especially with the HBO/Cinemax integration with HBO Max throwing things into chaos. It wasn’t even on HBO Max when the platform rolled out, reportedly because its Cinemax-y levels of pulpy sex/violence didn’t fit with the new brand the network was trying to build. But then, at some point, both seasons found their way to the catalog, and people like me started diving in, and enough of us existed to make a third season a viable option. That happened earlier this week. Warrior got the green light for more episodes that will come straight to HBO Max sometime next year. Which is great because, again, Warrior rules, and is more timely than ever with the recent rise of anti-Asian prejudice. The always-correct Mo Ryan broke the news at GQ, complete with an interview with Justin Lin.

Few TV yarns could be more overdue or relevant, right? Which is why Warrior fans ground their teeth in frustration when the show’s second season, which arrived on the waning Cinemax last October, looked like the end of the road for the drama.

Then there was an executive shuffle last August at HBO Max, and months after that, both seasons of Warrior finally arrived on the streaming service, where the show’s following grew by leaps and bounds according to executive producer Justin Lin. The director/producer has a lot of projects on his agenda–not least this summer’s F9 and a whole slew of upcoming Fast & Furious movies–but he and fellow executive producer Shannon Lee (Bruce Lee’s daughter) have been shepherding Warrior through the Hollywood trenches for years, and they never gave up on the one-of-a-kind period piece.

It’s great. It’s great for a bunch of different reasons, too. It’s great because the show is filled with badass action and cool stories and stuff like this happens frequently, which gives the geniuses at the HBO Max captions department room to get as creative as they desire.

hbo max

But it’s also great because, like, this was kind of the promise of streaming services way back when, to provide a place for niche programming to reach a highly-targeted audience in a way that makes it financially viable. The whole “save this show” discussion. It hasn’t always worked out this way, which stinks, and yes this is me once again getting upset that Happy Endings and Lodge 49 couldn’t find a home despite bringing me as much joy as any shows I’ve ever watched. But this is good. It’s a move in the right direction. Warrior is back.

I think this development calls for one of my new favorite GIFs.

hbo max

Warrior is a blast. Go watch Warrior. Watch it for yourself, of course, because you deserve to have some fun on Friday nights, but also watch it for me. I can’t wait to talk about season three, whenever it happens, and if we’re all caught up by then it will be so much more fun.

ITEM NUMBER TWO — Might go run around the house with a pickle in my mouth

What an incredible week this was. For me, at least. Which is, I suppose, what’s important here, seeing as I’m the one typing all the words into this box. It feels rude to put it that way, though. I hope your weeks were nice, too. I hope everyone had as good a week as I had. I hope the vibes were excellent everywhere.

And how could they not have been? On the same day this week, Wednesday, which wasn’t even my birthday, we had: One, a new trailer for F9 in which Helen Mirren drifts in a purple sports car and Ludacris and Tyrese appear to launch themselves into the cosmos inside a NoS-powered spaceship that appears to be just a car outfitted for flight with rockets and duct tape; and two, this image from Walton Goggins’ Instagram in which he gives the world a thumbs up from the set of The Righteous Gemstones season two while dressed as Baby Billy Freeman. I do not know what else anyone could possibly ask for.

The Baby Billy thing is very interesting to me in part because it allows me to post the video of him singing “Misbehavin’” again, so let’s go ahead and do that quickly…

… and in part because Baby Billy ended the first season by getting struck by lightning. On another show, this might create concern. Less so on The Righteous Gemstones. It’s not that the show disregards the laws of science and nature as much as it is that the show is so ridiculous and silly and clever that I’m sure they figure it out. Danny McBride is a smart dude. He keeps casting Walton Goggins, so he must be a smart dude. I’m so excited to have a second season en route, even if it is so far out that they’re just posting set photos now. I can wait. Good things take time. Not too much time, though, I hope. I need Baby Billy back as soon as possible, even if his take on my plight might not be sympathetic.

HBO

He makes a fair point.

ITEM NUMBER THREE — I’m sorry, but this is a sketch from Kroll Show, not a real television show

This is a trailer for an upcoming Netflix reality series called Pet Stars. The show follows two women who run a publicity firm for famous pets. This is how the people at Netflix describe it.

“This pair handles Hollywood’s cutest, most well-known animal clients — top hats, treats and poop to boot. Their mission centers around making the world a better place, one animal at a time, and throughout the episodes, viewers not only get to see how they run their business securing partnerships for pets, but also how they work with rescues to highlight animals in need of a better life! Whether it’s a business opportunity or a life-changing new home, their first love (and priority) are the animals.”

I should also note that the trailer opens with a dog farting. Like, right at the beginning, before anyone says any words, before you even have any idea what the show is or is about. Just fade in, blammo, dog farting. It is a bold way to introduce your show to the audience and I have yet to figure out if it’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen or the most brilliant. I mean, I’m here writing about it and posting the trailer, so I guess they really snookered me on that aspect of it all. And now I’m about to post notable screencaps from it, like this one of a dog that is surfing…

Netflix

… and this one of a sweet boy in sunglasses, so again, kudos to them, because none of that happens if they don’t hook me with that immediate doggy fart. I’m not a complicated man.

Netflix

But none of that takes away from the fact that this is easily the most Kroll Show-ass television show I’ve ever seen. I hope you know what I mean by that. I hope you watched Kroll Show. Kroll Show was so good and ran from three seasons from 2013-15 and did a better job of poking fun at reality television than any show I’ve ever seen with the possible exception of The Soup. And it got so much better as it went on and twisted together into a bonkers pretzel stuffed with a slew of crazy goofballs interacting with each other. The “Pawnsylvania” series of sketches remain the single most accurate depiction of Pennsylvania I have ever seen.

But this? This doggy public relations business? This is some stuff straight out of PubLizity. Watch this clip and try to deny it. Watch all of Kroll Show, too, if you haven’t, but start with this clip.

If Pet Stars doesn’t feature one of the owner’s nieces, and if that niece isn’t named Denise, I will be livid. Although, I suspect I’ll never watch to find out. A farting dog will only get you so far in life, you know?

ITEM NUMBER FOUR — Put Phoebe Waller-Bridge in every franchise

AMAZON

Well, guess what: Phoebe Waller-Bridge is going to be in the next Indiana Jones movie. So is Mads Mikkelson, which is cool, but not the point right now. We are going to focus on the PWB of it all. There was a news report about it and everything. Here, look.

Sources tell Deadline that Fleabag Emmy winner Phoebe Waller-Bridge is set to co-star opposite Ford in the fifth installment, with Ford returning as everyone’s favorite fedora-wearing, whip-slinging archaeologist.

The hope is to start production this summer, with Mangold meeting with other talent for other roles in preparation for production. Plot details are still vague on what new adventure awaits Jones, as are details behind who Waller-Bridge will play. The film is set to bow on July 29, 2022.

This is at least the third huge movie franchise to get a little Phoebe Waller-Bridge added into the stew, with her voice work on Star Wars and her script punch-up on Bond coming first. But this is the coolest. And the biggest. And I don’t want to get ahead of myself here, but… do we want to jump way out on this and start asking if Phoebe Waller-Bridge is going to take over this franchise? I’m sorry. I know it’s too soon for that. I shouldn’t even bring it up. But, like…

Listen. It’s not fair for me to be asking that at this point, before the details on the role have even been announced. But you saw Fleabag. Very few people have the kind of smirking cool it takes to lead a project like that, and it’s a trait that works well in huge movie franchises, too. And Harrison Ford, bless his soul, is not getting any younger. This would all set up nicely. Don’t jump to any conclusions yet. But think about it. It could work. I don’t know if she can pull off the hat. We’ll have to see. But think about it.

ITEM NUMBER FIVE — I am intrigued by the Urkel weed

It brings me great pleasure to report to you today that Jaleel White, Steve Urkel himself, has gotten into the weed business. It brings me great pleasure for a number of reasons, too, some of which are related to the fact that he’s decided to cash in on someone else naming a strain Purple Urkle many years ago, and some of which are related to the thing where it would be a blast to hop out of a time machine in like 1993 and tell someone that weed is basically legal in 2021 and Steve Urkel is talking about his personal strain to Forbes Magazine.

“The thing that always stood out to me was there no clear brand leader for fire purple weed,” says Jaleel White. “It made no sense to me, that no company of significance had claimed this lane, so why not me?”

I know we’re all used to reading about weed being more and more normal and becoming corporate and turning into big business, but seriously, read those sentences a few times and let them marinate in your brain juices for a while this weekend. It’s all kinds of wild. Even the parts of it that aren’t directly related to Jaleel White selling Urkel weed. And it gets wilder. Look at this.

710 Labs founder Brad Melshenker met White on a flight, and the duo connected over their passion for cannabis. “710 has never been a brand that pursued celebrity deals or endorsements as our agenda has always been quality above all else,” Melshenker says. “We tend to let the product speak for itself. But over the years Jaleel and I became friends and organically our conversations developed into a project. He was on a journey to find the real Purple Urkel from back in the early 2000’s. Not only that, he wanted to find the most flavorful purple cultivars and had been collecting seeds with his friend Sean over the years just for this purpose.”

Dude sat next to Jaleel White on an airplane and they talked about weed while soaring through the air like birds, and now they’re turning it into a potentially lucrative business. The future is freaking nutso, people.

Do me a favor. Forget the time machine. Call up someone over the age of, let’s say, 65 and explain this story to them this weekend. Just the basics. But be sure to read them this paragraph, too, word for word.

“Jaleel is a big fan of the Noodle Doinks and the Live Resin Pods,” says Melshenker. “The Noodle Doinks will come in 3 pheno’s of Purple Urkle and of Stefan, and the Live Resin Pods will come in Mendo Purps x Zkittlez to start, which by the way, is probably my favorite pod flavor to date. It’s a straight candy flavor with a grape Big League Chew vibe on the exhale.”

This is by far the funniest thing about weed being a medically approved treatment for certain conditions now. The verbiage hasn’t caught up to its socially acceptable status yet. You can still say things like “Yeah, my arthritis has really been under control lately thanks to the Noodle Doinks” with a perfectly straight face and mean it. I hope it never changes. And I hope Jaleel White becomes a weed millionaire, like George Foreman did with his grill. That would make me happy.

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 Rob:

Brian. BRIAN. I saw your article about the F9 trailer and I’m so excited for you. It’s happening. IT’S HAPPENING. You should rent out a theater and sell tickets and host your own screening. THEY’RE GOING TO SPACE. YOU CALLED IT. IT’S HAPPENING. FAMILY.

What I liked about this email is that I received it at 1:47 AM on Thursday morning. Please send me lots of emails like this at weird hours of the night. Have a few drinks first, or hit your Noodle Doinks, if that’s what you like to do at 1:30 AM. Get weird. It makes my job fun.

But yes. All of this is true. I am fantastically excited, as I wrote in my piece on the trailer. Not excited enough to host my own screening because that seems like a lot of Saturday work and I absolutely do not support doing lots of work on a Saturday when it can be avoided. But excited enough to post this screencap of Bow Wow at the barbecue at the beginning of the trailer. Bow Wow is Family now. This is official.

Universal

And I am definitely excited enough to share this quote from Vin Diesel about the decision to cast John Cena as Dominic Toretto’s evil secret brother.

“I remember once we started getting closer to production, [director] Justin (Lin) and I would talk about how harrowing it would be to actually cast a new Toretto. The brother of Toretto,” Diesel said.

“There’s so many different directions you could go. And I remember John Cena coming into this Dom Shrine that I had where I would kind of go to meditate and train and start getting into that Dom state of mind. And I remember John coming in and… call this crazy, but I remember feeling as though Pablo, Paul Walker, had sent him in. I remember talking to Justin that night and saying, ‘My gut and my heart feels like this was meant to be.’”

Two things are undeniably true here:

  • I must see the Dom Shrine
  • Dom Shrine would be an incredible fake name

This franchise has given all of us so much, truly.

AND NOW, THE NEWS

To London!

Have you seen Darius, the world’s longest rabbit?

NO. WHY? WHAT HAPPENED TO DARIUS?!

Four feet long and weighing 50 pounds, the heavyweight bunny should be easy to spot. But he went missing this past weekend, and now the police are involved, appealing for information about his apparent abduction from his home in a small English village.

Is this…

Do we have…

Could it be…

A RABBIT HEIST????

Darius’s owner, Annette Edwards, has offered a reward of 2,000 pounds, about $2,745, for his safe return, no questions asked. She detailed his disappearance on Sunday from her home in Stoulton, England, in a post on Twitter, calling it a “very sad day.” She added that the rabbit was too old to breed now, “So please bring him back.”

Here’s what I need: An elite team. Led by someone who was the best there ever was but retired and got out of the game and preferably lives in a cabin on a woody mountain now. And a driver. And a face man. And a tech expert. And Jason Statham. The real Statham, too, not a character played by Statham. That’s how serious I am about this.

We have to find this rabbit.

A former model turned rabbit breeder who has held four world-record titles for the size of her animals, Ms. Edwards has previously sold Darius’s offspring for as much as £250 each.

A former model turned record-setting large rabbit breeder? Excuse me? Someone call Soderbergh and get him on this. I need this movie in production while we look for the rabbit. There’s no time to waste here. The story has everything short of a human dressing as Jessica Rabbit and an insurance policy so large that it makes you wonder if something nefarious is at play here.

Darius drew attention online and traveled across the country for events alongside Ms. Edwards, who often appeared with him dressed as the cartoon character Jessica Rabbit. Darius was insured for $1.6 million and traveled with a bodyguard, according to NBC’s Today show in a 2010 article.

FIND THE RABBIT AND MAKE THE MOVIE.

I NEED IT.

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