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 — Listen to me
What We Do in the Shadows is an FX show based on a movie of the same name, the latter of which was created by and starred Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement. The show is an Office-style fake-documentary about a group of vampires who live in and attempt to navigate modern-day Staten Island. There are four main vampires on the show: Nandor (a legendary warrior and conqueror), Nadja and Laszlo (a very amorous married couple), and Colin Robinson (an energy vampire who feeds by draining humans with awkward, boring conversations, and is my favorite character on the show). This is all the introduction you will get from me because I’m already itching to move on.
It is so good. It is so good and so, so funny. Legitimate belly laughs at least once an episode, and more than that, by a lot, in the last handful. In one episode, Colin Robinson kept trying and failing to get everyone to fall for an updog joke so he summoned the ghost of his grandma just to get her with it. In another episode, he got a promotion at work and acquired so much power from droning on and on in meetings that his bald head started growing a luxurious head of hair spontaneously. Nandor has a familiar — think like a human intern who does grunt work in the hope of becoming a vampire — named Guillermo who recently discovered, to his great chagrin, that he’s descended from the legendary vampire hunter, Van Helsing. It’s so good. I’m not doing it justice. Please just try it. The first season is terrific. The second season had been transcendent. It is now the show I look forward to most every week. I don’t even like vampire stuff. That’s how good it is.
Why am I telling you this? Well, two reasons, mostly. The first reason is that it is kind of my job to tell you what shows are good and I am nothing if not a dedicated and consummate professional. The second reason is that I need to tell you about something that happened in this week’s episode and doing this will give me an excuse.
A vampire played by Mark Hamill showed up and challenged Laszlo to a duel as the result of an unpaid bill. Laszlo, instead of taking part in the duel, fled and ran off and left his life and wife on Staten Island behind. He created a whole new identity: a toothpick-chomping, jeans-wearing regular American. Which is already good. I’m a sucker for any show or movie where a character goes off the grid, especially if another character asks where they are and a third character replies “He’s in the wind.” But that’s not the best part. The best part is this. Get ready.
It’s so beautiful I could cry. It’s the best name I’ve seen on television since Raylan Givens encountered a female hustler and card shark on Justified who went by “Jackie Nevada.” Maybe that’s the key here. Maybe the trick to a good character name is just “Jackie” and then a geographic location. Jackie Galapagos, Jackie Norway, Jackie Montreal, etc. Something to consider, if you’re making a television show. Although it won’t be easy to top “Jackie Daytona, regular human bartender and noted supporter of the local high school girl’s volleyball team.” I don’t even know where you would start.
The lesson here is that fake names are fun and What We Do in the Shadows is becoming a must-watch comedy. Please make a note.
ITEM NUMBER TWO — Finally, a movie for me
Its almost time for FAST AND FIERCE DEATH RACE! On VOD May 19th! pic.twitter.com/u8CzsPHiOh
— The Asylum (@theasylumcc) May 5, 2020
Allow me to present the trailer for the upcoming straight-to-VOD movie Fast and Fierce: Death Race, the sequel to the 2017 movie Fast and Fierce. Here is the official description:
Jack Tyson is on his way to grabbing the cash prize for an illegal car race from Mexico to California when a desperate woman, fleeing from her gangster boyfriend who runs the tournament, jumps into his car pleading for help.
A few other notes about Fast and Fierce: Death Race:
- It is from The Asylum, the same studio that produced the Sharknado movies and a million other Syfy originals
- It appears to be knocking off two franchises at once, Fast & Furious and Death Race, both of which have featured Jason Statham and Tyrese in prominent roles
- It stars DMX as the villain
Very rarely has a movie — or anything at all, for that matter — been more squarely in my wheelhouse. Again, this is a cheap knockoff of two Statham franchises that stars DMX and is made by the same people who once gave Tara Reid a buzzsaw arm to battle airborne sharks. I am definitely going to watch this movie. I’m going to pay $10 for it. I will probably write north of 2000 words about it if it is even 60-70 percent of what I’m thinking it is. There’s so much going on here, almost all of laser-targeted to my very specific and peculiar set of interests. I’m really very happy.
ITEM NUMBER THREE — Let’s check in on quarantined celebr-…
… aaaaaaaand Guy Fieri and Bill Murray are having a nacho cookoff. I swear. They’re doing it tonight at 5 pm ET on the Food Network Facebook page and it’s all to raise money for charity. Here, look, details and a link to prove I’m not making it all up.
“The Nacho Average Showdown” is live event to raise money for Fieri’s Restaurant Employee Relief Fund (RERF), which gives financial assistance to employees impacted by the coronavirus shutdown. The Fund provides restaurant workers with $500 grants with 100 percent of donations going directly to RERF. About 8 million restaurant workers are currently unemployed.
This is great. Really. There’s no sarcasm at all happening here. It’s great. Guy Fieri has already raised so much money for this worthy cause and Bill Murray is incapable of doing anything that surprises me at this point, so it all checks out, too. The celebrity judges are going to be Shaq and Terry Crews, because why wouldn’t they be. Again, this is all very real. Being quarantined as a nation has been very bad and stressful in most ways, but it has resulted in a very dramatic increase in super-weird stuff happening all the time and, as a person who thrives in chaos, I have no choice but to respect that aspect of it and that aspect alone.
That said, I do have questions. One question, actually, with a number of subquestions. And that question is… how? How did this happen? How did it come to be? Do Bill Murray and Guy Fieri know each other? Are they… friends? Did Guy Fieri text this idea to Bill Murray? It seems like an impossible thing to set up through management teams. It seems like the type of thing that happens when two buddies get to chatting after having drinks. This might sound strange to you, this idea that Guy Fieri and Bill Murray could be friends, but consider this mind-crumbling video…
— Sylvester Stallone (@TheSlyStallone) January 10, 2020
… and the fact that Matthew McConaughey gave the dedication speech when Guy got his star on the Walk of Fame. Man is connected, all I’m saying.
In conclusion, I apologize, again, for using a picture of Guy Fieri missing a tackle in a celebrity flag football game, again. He’s doing such nice things lately. He’s a good guy through and through. It’s just… it’s just so funny. I’m the jerk here. I know that. But I bet I do it again.
ITEM NUMBER FOUR — Cate Blanchett rules
— Jenna Anderson (@heyitsjennalynn) May 11, 2020
Just to be clear about what we’re all seeing and hearing here, this is two-time Oscar-winning actress Cate Blanchett making a reference to the delightful offbeat and chaotic Netflix sketch show I Think You Should Leave. Like, a very casual reference, the kind of reference someone makes only if they’re extremely familiar with the subject matter and make this kind of reference a lot. This is fascinating to me for reasons I’m not sure I understand. Why does it feel so weird that Cate Blanchett would be an I Think You Should Leave superfan? It’s a fun show. She’s allowed to enjoy fun things. This is on me, really. I have much to ponder.
What do you think her favorite sketch from the show is? I don’t think it’s TC Tuggers. That’s a good pull but not even top 15 on the show. You think she’s a “Focus Group” gal? Maybe a “Hot Dog Suit” lady? I have put a lot of thought into this since I discovered it — like, think of an amount you would consider “a lot of thought” about this, then double it — and I’m pretty sure it’s “Baby of the Year.” We can test this theory. If any of you see Cate Blanchett on the street in the next few weeks, maybe out for a walk or doing some other social-distance-approved activity, try shouting “BART HARLEY JARVIS” at her.
If she starts booing, we’ll know I’m right. If she doesn’t, or if she just looks at you weird, apologize and scurry away. Do not continue bothering Cate Blanchett.
ITEM NUMBER FIVE — If you ever wondered if Sting has a good story about peyote and livestock…
… he does. It’s at the beginning of the new Netflix documentary about psychedelics, Have a Good Trip, which is generally pretty fun and informative and full of celebrities talking about tripping their nuts off. But back to Sting. The short version goes like this: The first time Sting took peyote, he was walking around his farm and was accosted by a guy who worked there. It led to this.
The continued short version: Sting assisted in the emergency delivery of a baby cow whose mother was in danger of dying without immediate intervention and he did it all while incredibly high on peyote. The most surprising thing about this story is that it’s somewhat not surprising at all. Like, you read all of this stuff about Sting and peyote and livestock and you were probably thinking “Sure, that makes enough sense,” right? I did. It was somehow both stunning and completely expected. Sting is a strange dude. I guess that’s the takeaway here. Although that’s not exactly breaking news, either. Guy woke up one morning and decided the world should refer to him as Sting instead of his given name, Gordon. That’s a heck of a leap.
Lot of layers to this onion.
ITEM NUMBER SIX — More like Robert Pastason, in my opinion
There’s no way around it. I can’t in good faith write up a whole big thing about weird and notable entertainment moments from the week and not mention Robert Pattinson’s pasta debacle. You’re aware of the pasta debacle, yes? I imagine you are. If you’re internet literate enough to find and read this column you’re also probably up to date on this, too. But let’s be safe. Let’s link to the tremendously entertaining GQ profile than ran this week and tell you to go read it all to see a window into quarantine mania. Let’s direct you to the last 25 percent of this profile. And then let’s begin blockquoting small sections of it in a way that tells you everything and nothing you need to know.
Last year, he says, he had a business idea. What if, he said to himself, “pasta really had the same kind of fast-food credentials as burgers and pizzas? I was trying to figure out how to capitalize in this area of the market, and I was trying to think: How do you make a pasta which you can hold in your hand?”
Excellent. A perfect start.
Let’s skip ahead.
Then he realizes that he’s forgotten the outer layer, which is supposed to be breadcrumbs but today will be crushed-up cornflakes, and so he lifts the pile of cheese and sugar and crumbles some cornflakes onto the aluminum foil before placing the sugar-cheese back on top of it. Then he adds sauce, which is red. The microwave dings, and Pattinson promptly burns himself on the bowl of pasta. He sighs, heavily, looking at it. “No idea if it’s cooked or not.” He dumps the pasta in anyway. At this point, his spirits have visibly begun to flag. “I mean, there’s absolutely no chance this is gonna work. Absolutely none.”
Yes, but how bad could it be, really? He’s just making pasta in the microwave.
Let’s skip ahead again.
Proudly he is walking back toward the counter that his phone is on when, behind him, a lightning bolt erupts from the oven/microwave, and Pattinson ducks like someone outside has opened fire. He’s giggling and crouching as the oven throws off stray flickers of light and sound.
“The fucking electricity…oh, my God,” he says, still on the floor. And then, with a loud, final bang, the oven/microwave goes dark.
Just tremendous. Perfect. I hope he tries to make a quiche next. He might vaporize a city block.
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.
A few years ago I was driving to the beach with my family and we saw a sign for a restaurant that was trying to market itself as a family friendly stop. This is a smart business decision because I’m sure lots of families are looking for places that serve grilled cheese or chicken tenders or something else that restless children will eat in peace after four hours in a car. The problem was the way they communicated it. The sign said “Cheeseburgers. Milkshakes. We serve children, too!” For one second as I was speeding down the highway I thought they were implying they cooked and plated actual children. I don’t know why but I feel like you’ll appreciate this.
Paul, I do appreciate it. I appreciate it very much. You have brought this to the right man. One time I saw a sign outside a gas station that said “WE HAVE DIESEL” and before I realized what happened I had shouted, “RELEASE HIM.” Another time I drove by a sign for a local shoe store called “Bernard Shoes” and I careened off the road, across traffic, into a parking lot, just so I could snap a picture and make a joke about it being a good fake name. My favorite one is this huge rock-smashing plant I drive by on the way to my local Popeyes. It’s called “Bradley Pulverizer,” which sounds like the name of a three-time WWE Intercontinental Champion who carries a sledgehammer into the ring.
I love signs. Send me all your signs. Thank you, Paul.
AND NOW, THE NEWS
A bull attempting to alleviate an “itchy bum” using a utility pole ended up knocking out the electricity for more than 700 homes in a Scottish town.
Yup. This will do just fine. A bull with an itchy butt took out the power for a whole town like he’s Robert Pattinson making dinner. We can work with this.
“Our bull Ron would like to apologize to everyone in Chapelton and Strathaven for causing last nights power cut to over 700 homes,” Laughton wrote. “He had [an] itchy bum so [he] scratched it on the electricity pole and knocked the transformer box off.”
The bull is named “Ron”?
They got a bull and looked at it and said “Hmm, that’s a Ron.”
It says a lot about me that a bull named Ron took out the power for a whole town by itching his butt on a power pole and the part I’m hung up on is the bull being named Ron.
Ron the Bull.
But come on.
She said Ron is “happy to be alive” after managing to avoid an 11,000 volt shock from the fallen transformer box.
I’m happy Ron is alive, too. I would have felt really bad about those jokes about his name if he’d been fried butt-first by that pole.
They named the bull Ron.
I might never get over this.