TV

The Rundown: The Good Shows Simply Will Not Stop Coming, For Better Or Worse

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 is getting out of hand

It only dawned on me recently that there are so many good shows now. I think the problem is that we went so long without lots of good shows at once. Things got weird for a while there between various shutdowns and protocols and delays. There were still some good shows in there, but they were spaced out a bunch and some of them weren’t even really that good, if we’re being honest. In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. And in a world with no shows, Manifest becomes so blisteringly popular after getting canceled that Netflix saves it for a supersized 20-episode final season. Again, it was weird.

But things are getting normal enough now that the flood of shows can rush back to our screens again, and they sure have done that. And they still are doing that. And they will continue to do that for the foreseeable future. It’s crazy that we all used to live like this, just inundated with shows coming at us from every angle, on our computers and televisions and sometimes from the same website where we buy power tools and Gatorade. It’s going to take some adjusting to get back into it.

But hopefully, it doesn’t take long. Look at what we’ve got going on right now. What We Do in the Shadows just came back and that show remains just about perfect. Reservation Dogs is on FX and Hulu, too, and that sucker is a heck of a ride. Only Murders in the Building and Nine Perfect Strangers are on Hulu too, and while I’m enjoying the first one of those a whole lot more than the second, it is undeniable that both are big deals with big stars attached.

Ted Lasso is on, too. People got all worked up about that one recently, not in a great way (more on this in the next section), but that ship is righting itself and remains one of the most pleasant and enjoyable half hours of television you’ll watch any week. Sandra Oh is in a big Netflix show called The Chair that was created by Amanda Peet and produced by the Game of Thrones guys. My beloved Holey Moley is in the middle of its third and stupidest season yet, which I mean in the best way possible. The Other Two and Pen15 and Archer are all back. The White Lotus just ended and gave us a finale so wild that this was not even a top-three crazy thing that happened.

HBO

And it is only going to get more intense from here. Take a look at the upcoming schedule if you don’t believe me. Billions is back this weekend. Succession is back in October. Curb Your Enthusiasm is back in October. The Morning Show returns in a couple of weeks. Impeachment: American Crime Story debuts next week and, even though the reviews haven’t been too hot, that’s still a buzzy piece of pop culture you can plop on your plate. B.J. Novak has a big new prestige-y show called The Premise coming to FX soon. There’s a Ken Burns documentary about Muhammad Ali on the way and I am going to watch it just entirely too hard.

And that’s just the fancier stuff. Network television is coming back, too, which is notable because network dramas have gotten so, so weird lately. They’re like middle children who start acting out when all the attention gets distributed between the oldest and youngest kids. The best current example of this is 9-1-1, a show that once killed a man by having a mall escalator malfunction and crush him as he proposed to his girlfriend. But there are new ones getting added to the mix. Ordinary Joe is an upcoming series that stars James Wolk — Bob Benson from Mad Men, renegade zoologist Jackson Oz from Zoo — as a man living out multiple versions of his life on different timelines, including one where he is a rock star. Natalie Zea is starting in a new show called La Brea that looks just as bonkers as you could ever want. Look at this thing.

So I guess what I’m saying here is that we have a good news / bad news situation on our hands. The good news is that there is so much stuff out there that it’ll be easy to keep yourself entertained as the weather cools off and the sun goes down earlier and we maybe have to hunker down a bit again. The bad news is people are about to start a lot of conversations with, “Oh my God, do you watch…?” and it’s going to get really stressful when you keep answering “ummm, no” and they sigh at you and say “You have to watch it. It’s so good.” You remember those conversations. They’re coming back. This isn’t even all the shows. I’m probably missing an obvious one. I bet someone will reach out to me in a tweet that starts with “actually…” to tell me another good show I’m forgetting. I bet it’s already happened.

So, look. I’ll do my best to keep you abreast of the big stuff, usually in this very column, just so you can be interesting in that conversation. Just so you can speak semi-knowledgeably and not get shamed for missing out on stuff. But it’s going to get really intense really fast. I need you to be ready. I need you to lock in with me. We have to agree to be in this one together to get through it all alive.

But mostly, I need you to watch Reservation Dogs. You do watch Reservation Dogs, right?

You don’t?!

You have to watch Reservation Dogs. It’s so good.

ITEM NUMBER TWO — The Ted Lasso Discourse is officially good again

Apple TV+

The Ted Lasso Discourse has been trending in a bad direction for a bit now. It’s all understandable, I guess, if I want to give everyone and everything the benefit of the doubt. The show had a good and uplifting first season that came out of nowhere at a time when people really needed something good and uplifting. The second season was still good and uplifting through the first handful of episodes, but some people felt it was treading water a bit. Again, this is fine. The problem was that all the writers on the internet saw this red meat in front of their faces and started a feeding frenzy. I say this without much judgment because I am also a writer on the internet and Lord in Heaven knows I’ve participated in these buffets in the past, too.

But it is my great pleasure to report that the Ted Lasso Discourse is good again now, and it’s good again for one simple reason: the conspiracy theorists have entered the chat.

There were actually two Ted Lasso conspiracies this week, which is something that is making me smile right now as I type it. Let’s start with the more tame one, just to ease into it. Some people who like to log into various forums and speculate about upcoming Apple products thought that the company might have premiered its new notchless iPhone 13 in the most recent episode. That’s it up there, allegedly, in the hands of Rebecca’s mom at lunch. Our Ryan Nagelhout looked into this one a bit and more or less had it debunked in an hour.

Apple is certainly known for its product placement in its TV shows, as anyone who watched the first season of The Morning Show can attest. But Lasso, a show where a fake soccer team plays against real soccer teams and was filmed amid a pandemic, makes use of a good amount of CGI to make the show somewhat realistic-looking. So this may just be, well, a fake phone that wasn’t an exact model of a real Apple device. Or a computer-created device that simply doesn’t include all the quirks of the real deal.

These are all good and fair points. But even if they weren’t, I mean, it would be really funny if Apple chose to debut their biggest product of the year by putting it in the corner of the screen in the hands of a character’s mom who was only there for a guest spot. Not, like, Jason Sudeikis. Or one of the big-name stars of The Morning Show, which is also coming back soon, as we discussed earlier. Rebecca’s mom. I almost want it to be true.

And speaking of Ted Lasso conspiracies that may or may not involve CGI and that I want to be true, there was also this: A collection of beautiful minds on the Ted Lasso Reddit page are convinced that Roy Kent, the gruff former player who is now an assistant coach, is actually a character that was created with CGI. Our Josh Kurp investigated this one and, boy, was it ever an investigation.

As spotted by Twitter user @guymrdth, the Ted Lasso subreddit includes a thread started last July with the headline, “Ok just started the show and… CGI??” The post reads, “I just started watching the pilot, and i’m up to the scene where roy is called into teds office. Am i crazy or does he look like a complete cgi character?”

Which is incredible. It’s perfect. Going from “Ted Lasso develops slowly and I’m tired of its optimism and also nothing happens” to “ROY KENT IS A SECRET CARTOON” is about as good a twist in a discourse as you’ll ever see. It’s my new favorite thing. I am thisclose to just deciding to accept it as fact and start telling strangers. I might make it My Thing. It’s so stupid and harmless and I did not think any of it could bring me any more joy.

Until…

This, to be as clear as possible, is Brett Goldstein, Roy Kent himself, replying to a tweet that references the conspiracy and includes the link to Josh’s report, with a robot emoji. I saw that and I started typing exclamation points in so many different boxes. I really did not see any way any of this could get better. I figured we had maxed it all out. I was happy with that.

Until…

The Ted Lasso Discourse is officially good again. We did it. I mean, the conspiracy theorists did it, mostly. But we were there. Counts for something.

ITEM NUMBER THREE — Holy crap, it is happening…

Warner Bros.

The Accountant is a good movie. We’ve all discussed this many times and we’ll probably discuss it all again the next time I watch it some weeknight on TNT and refuse to shut up about it, but it’s still true. It’s got everything you could want out of a basic cable movie: Ben Affleck as a forensic accountant who is on the autism spectrum and also a highly-trained assassin; Anna Kendrick telling a long story about paying for a fancy dress with money she won through card-counting; a cast that somehow includes Jon Bernthal and JK Simmons and John Lithgow and Jean Goddamn Smart. It’s incredible. The third act is just one insane reveal after another. I am incapable of turning it off once I start.

And now, finally, after five full years, it is getting a sequel. Allegedly. It was supposed to get a sequel a while ago. Then it didn’t. But now it is, at least according to director Gavin O’Connor, who spilled the beans on a CinemaBlend podcast this week. And if “there’s going to be a sequel to The Accountant” is the type of news that will make you, like me, stop dead in your tracks as though the ghost of Abraham Lincoln showed up at your door with a Hawaiian pizza, I have more good news: It might actually become a trilogy.

”Yeah. Yeah. So, I’ve always wanted to do three because what, the second one’s going to be more with — we’re going to integrate his brother into the story. So there’ll be more screen time for Bernthal in the second one. And then the third movie’s going to be, I call it, ‘Rain Man on steroids.’ The third movie is going to be the two brothers, this odd couple. The third one is going to be a buddy picture.”

I am barely joking when I say I might rent out an entire theater for the next Accountant movie. You can come. We’ll all go out for dinner first. We’ll sit at one long table and talk about The Accountant and then when the bill comes I will grab it and I will do this.

Warner Bros.

And then I will ask everyone to pitch in. I’m not made of money. But it’ll be fun.

ITEM NUMBER FOUR — Basketball news

Getty Image

You know how sometimes you see a headline about a movie that was just announced and despite every fiber of your body wanting to shout “WHAT?!” the reaction that comes out is more along the lines of, “yeah, that sounds about right”? Maybe that’s just me. I don’t know. Either way, it sure did happen again this week when news broke that the comedic braintrust of Lord and Miller are making a movie about one-time Chicago Bull Dennis Rodman’s infamous 48-hour midseason escape to Las Vegas.

Via Variety:

Rodman, then a star player for the Chicago Bulls, asked his coach Phil Jackson if he could take a 48-hour vacation in Las Vegas in the middle of the NBA Finals against the Utah Jazz. Even though the Bulls were on the cusp of their second three-peat championship in eight years, Jackson consented, and a sports legend was born. While Rodman and his teammate Michael Jordan detailed these events in the ESPN docuseries “The Last Dance,” the movie will take its own path with the story.

This is, obviously, fascinating, both that Lord and Miller will get to give their own take on it all and the part that it is a real thing that happened. I do not like being the “imagine if this happened today” guy, but, like, imagine if this happened today. Imagine what social media would look like. It would be total chaos. I would love it. Go read up on all of this if you’re not familiar. Or just go watch or rewatch The Last Dance. This part happens at the end of the third episode and through the fourth. My only real hope with it all is that the movie includes a dramatic recreation of, well, this.

Rodman (and Electra) eventually returned from their foray. But, perhaps predictably, not in the most punctual manner. Jordan was on the case.

“He didn’t come back on time. We had to go get his ass out of bed,” Jordan said in the documentary. “And I’m not going to say what’s in his bed or where he was.”

“There’s a knock on the door. It’s Michael Jordan,” Electra said. “I hid. I didn’t want him to see me like that, so I’m just hiding behind the couch with covers over me.”

I need this. I must have it. I had no idea I even wanted it until earlier this week but now I will simply die without it. And while we’re on the subject of basketball-related things involving television and movies that I must have…

MAGIC JOHNSON GO ON BILLIONS

AS THE GOVERNOR

OR MAYOR

OR A CRYPTO BILLIONAIRE

PLEASE

THANK YOU

ITEM NUMBER FIVE — Hey look, a good podcast

NBC

Seth Rogen has a new podcast. It’s called Storytime and it is pretty self-explanatory. He has guests come on and tell their favorite stories. Some of the stories are funny, some might be serious, some might even be sad. It’s a great idea for a podcast, or for your own life if you’re trying to fill a gap in a conversation that’s grown stale or awkward. People love to tell stories, especially wild ones, especially wild ones where they are the protagonist.

Rogen spoke with Vulture about the new endeavor, which I bring to your attention now for two main reasons: One, because it is cool and you might like it; and two, because Seth Rogen seems like a pretty righteous dude.

Between Yearbook and the podcast, it feels like you’re doing a lot of looking back with these projects. Do you figure you’re aging into a more retrospective phase in your career?
Probably! I’m not doing anything interesting anymore. I’m just a rich guy living in the Hills who never leaves the house.

There are loads of movies and books about that.
Yeah, but they all suck! [Laughs.] Part of it is just self-awareness that my life is uninteresting now. It is objectively not something I would watch if it was dramatized back to me. I’m also interested in how a lot of people I know are getting to the age where they’re starting to look back and think, What are the events that turned me into the person I am? Once you reach your 40s, you start to feel like you’re finally the person you’re going to be, you know? You’ll always change and evolve, but it’s the first time you start seeing no one knows a lot more than you and that you have as much right to reflect as anybody does.

This is all cool. Seth Rogen gets it. The guy is just making funny movies and weird vases and smoking weed on the beach and recording podcasts with his buddies. If I were still in high school and my guidance counselor asked me what I wanted to be when I grow up, I might just show her this paragraph. Although I suppose that would create some kind of rip in the space-time continuum considering I just wrote this paragraph in the present as a grown-up. There’s a lot to consider here, really.

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 Beth:

You’re the expert on fake and funny names, so I have to ask: What’s your favorite character name from a TV show or movie?

Well, this is impossible. There are so many good ones that I think my brain is overloaded and blanking out. I will say, though, that no matter your opinion on the later seasons of The Office, introducing a pompous slick new manager named Robert California was a stroke of genius. I’m a big fan of locations as last names so that one has always stuck with me. Plus, it’s just a lot of fun to say.

Robert California.

I’ll probably think of two dozen more tonight but this feels pretty solid.

AND NOW, THE NEWS

To the great northwest!

Almost a dozen go-karts were stolen from the Family Fun Center in Tukwila on Monday night and police have been recovering the go-karts all over town.

A couple things worth noting here:

I must know everything about this immediately. I jumped ahead and read the part about the first two go-karts being discovered on the grounds of someone’s business, but don’t worry. There’s plenty more. Like, for example, this.

A third go-kart was found near the Family Fun Center and a fourth was found at the Foster Golf on Interurban Avenue South.

Several go-karts were recovered nearly six miles away in Renton.

SIX MILES

The go-karts were discovered SIX MILES away. Several of them! That is so far to ride in any go-kart, let alone a handful of them that you and your rascal friends have just stolen under the cover of night. I love this. I love it so much. And I love this next part even more.

Police have been driving found go-karts on city streets to return them to the Family Fun Center.

Perhaps you read that last sentence and thought to yourself, “Hmm. You know what would really drive this home for me? If there was a video of the cops driving these go-karts back to the Family Fun Center, possibly with a police escort, possibly with hilariously on-point soundtrack backing it, possibly tweeted from the local news station’s verified account. That would be nice.”

Well, good news, buddy. Crank the sound up for this sucker.

I don’t know who I’m more proud of, the thieves who stole go-karts and left them littered over the entire Pacific Northwest, or the people at the damn news network who made that video. Let’s just call it a tie and move on. There are no losers here.

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