TV

The Rundown: A Salute To Wile E. Coyote, Fiction’s Tragic King

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’ll tell you one thing…

Everyone talks about Charlie Brown as the biggest sadsack, no-luck-having, beaten-by-the-world cartoon character, but Charlie Brown, as far as I know, never fell off a cliff with a large appliance strapped to his back. You know who did fall off a cliff, a lot, usually multiple times in each 8-minute clip? I’ll tell you who: America’s greatest tragic figure, the inventive and ambitious king of failure, Acme’s most consistent valued customer, Wile E. Coyote.

Would you like to argue with me on this? Would you like to submit another figure from the entire history of fiction that you consider more tragic? Cool. Go nuts. Pull together your evidence. It’ll be cute. Because I can go on HBO Max — which has a huge collection of old Looney Tunes clips, in addition to new ones, this is important — and pull episode descriptions like this at random:

  • The Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote are at it again. Some highlights include Coyote lighting a match in a room full of explosives and Coyote flying off into the sky in one of his rockets.
  • Wile E. Coyote figures out that a giant rubber band, a skateboard with a sail and a fan, as well as a time bomb in an egg, do not work against the Road Runner.
  • Wile E. Coyote makes 11 disastrous attempts to catch the Road Runner.

That last one is my favorite, actually, just because it’s so straightforward. Yes, yes he does do exactly that. It’s an episode titled “Fast and Furry-ous” and it is from 1949 and it is delightful. All the classic gags are in there. It’s got the old “paint a tunnel on the side of a mountain and watch the Road Runner run through it” one, it’s got the “hop in a rocket and immediately launch it headfirst into a boulder,” it’s got… well, this.

WARNER BROS

Guess if he ends up using the ice maker to create a trail of snow that he skis down before launching himself off a cliff. Of course he does. And none of those are the cruelest twist in the episode. You can see those coming, to some degree. No, the harshest blows from the universe are the unexpected ones. The ones that catch you completely off-guard. The ones like this.

WARNER BROS

You know what I’ve never figured out? What, exactly, did this poor chump ever do wrong to deserve this constant barrage of torture? Is it because he wanted to eat the Road Runner? Is that his great crime? Because if it is, allow me to make two points. One, what else is he supposed to eat out there in the desert? This isn’t like Tom — a well-fed housecat — trying to kill Jerry with various kitchen appliances. He’s just trying to live, buddy. And two, the Road Runner is kind of a prick. I’m supposed to root for that smarmy little jerk, always sticking his tongue out and taunting people and making that face? No, sir. No, not at all. I am Team Coyote. I bet road runner is delicious.

(I suppose there are a few other things I don’t understand, if we want to be technical. Like, for example, how Wile E. Coyote pays for all his Acme gadgets. And, if he has money and the ability to order things, as his Acme habit implies, why doesn’t he just get food delivered to him? And what exactly is he plugging that refrigerator into? You can’t go too far down this path, though. You’ll never make it back.)

To be honest, I’m not sure that we’ve ever improved on these cartoons from a storytelling perspective. They’re all so compact and perfect. They don’t even need words. And we always know the ending, generally, even if we’re not sure how we’re going to get there. That’s some kind of trick, making every episode compelling when everyone watching it knows the outcome. Kind of. My favorites are the ones where there’s a little extra flair at the end, a little hat on a hat, like when he falls off a cliff and lands and looks like he might recover and then a parade of other items falls on his head. My sweet injury-prone boy. My tragic king. My perfect prince of failure.

But sure, sometimes Lucy pulls the football away and Charlie Brown falls down. I’m sure that’s devastating.

Get outta here.

ITEM NUMBER TWO — Nailed it, indeed

View this post on Instagram

Hi hello I’m Nicole. I host a tv show called @nailedit a lot of kids watch the show. In an Instagram comment someone said they would “keep their head down and just let their kids watch nailed it.” (I turned off the comments so ya can’t find it and attack that person also dunno their ethnicity or anything about them) That made me boo hoo hoo. That you will allow your kid to watch me but not stand up for me. So I’ll do the work I’ll write you a conversation to have with your white child A good way to explain to kids #blacklivesmatter : “you like this black lady right? She’s silly? She makes you tee hee hee?You would be sad if a police officer hurt her right? Well this is the current country we live in where someone you like can be hurt by the color of their skin and people in charge aren’t doing a fucking (you can replace that with dang if ya kids are soft) thing about it. So they are protesting, and the looters… well some of it is staged as a distraction some are opportunistic and some are people who’ve been oppressed for so long it bursts. And nice cops? There are no nice cops because if a cop was nice they wouldn’t watch and participate in violence against black and brown people. If cops were really nice they would have spoken out about police brutality years ago and maybe walked out on their precincts to send a message that they are against this. Instead they dress up like your GI Joe doll and are very mean. The curfews the helicopters the police in riot gear is all because black people have asked to not be killed… that’s it. There’s literally nothing else to it. Now once a week let’s read about shit (stuff for the soft kids) that happens to black people that doesn’t get covered in schools like Juneteenth, black Wall Street, how black people have influenced most of pop culture today and aren’t credited or it’s just co-oped… and if you do this post about. Post about the black history you teach your white kid to maybe inspire another white parent to do the same thing. There I did it you can read it verbatim to your kids. Also I’m open to any additions. Raise kids who give a fuck and you gotta give a fuck #blacklivesmatter

A post shared by Nicole Byer (@nicolebyer) on

Nicole Byer is a comedian and legendary podcast guest and also the host of Nailed It on Netflix, which is a very silly and fun show. She’s the best. She also has a way with words when it comes to more serious matters, as the world — and one mom, in particular — found out in an Instagram post this week. The post is up there but I’m going to blockquote the text anyway, just so it’s in front of your face.

Hi hello I’m Nicole. I host a tv show called @nailedit a lot of kids watch the show. In an Instagram comment someone said they would “keep their head down and just let their kids watch nailed it.” (I turned off the comments so ya can’t find it and attack that person also dunno their ethnicity or anything about them)

That made me boo hoo hoo. That you will allow your kid to watch me but not stand up for me. So I’ll do the work I’ll write you a conversation to have with your white child

A good way to explain to kids #blacklivesmatter : “you like this black lady right? She’s silly? She makes you tee hee hee?You would be sad if a police officer hurt her right? Well this is the current country we live in where someone you like can be hurt by the color of their skin and people in charge aren’t doing a fucking (you can replace that with dang if ya kids are soft) thing about it. So they are protesting, and the looters… well some of it is staged as a distraction some are opportunistic and some are people who’ve been oppressed for so long it bursts. And nice cops? There are no nice cops because if a cop was nice they wouldn’t watch and participate in violence against black and brown people. If cops were really nice they would have spoken out about police brutality years ago and maybe walked out on their precincts to send a message that they are against this. Instead they dress up like your GI Joe doll and are very mean. The curfews the helicopters the police in riot gear is all because black people have asked to not be killed… that’s it. There’s literally nothing else to it. Now once a week let’s read about shit (stuff for the soft kids) that happens to black people that doesn’t get covered in schools like Juneteenth, black Wall Street, how black people have influenced most of pop culture today and aren’t credited or it’s just co-oped… and if you do this post about. Post about the black history you teach your white kid to maybe inspire another white parent to do the same thing.
There I did it you can read it verbatim to your kids. Also I’m open to any additions.
Raise kids who give a fuck and you gotta give a fuck
#blacklivesmatter

You really can’t do much better as a parent than “raise kids who give a fuck.” There’s a lot going on in the world right now. There are times when it’s perfectly acceptable to zone out a little, just to avoid getting completely overwhelmed. I’m about to do a whole section on an extreme mini-golf show complete with GIFs of people getting walloped and launched into pools, so I understand that as much as anyone. But that stuff is for after you’ve engaged with the world. You can have a little comical violence for dessert, but finish your dinner first.

ITEM NUMBER THREE — Meanwhile, on Holey Moley

ABC

First, an apology. The second season of Holey Moley premiered two weeks ago and I’m only getting around to discussing it now. I’m more upset about this than you are, believe me. Holey Moley is a wondrous show, a mix of extreme mini-golf and cartoon violence featuring real humans. That GIF up there is from the season premiere. I like to think of myself as a reasonably intelligent consumer of television and film. I’ve seen many award-winning programs and will happily debate the merits of a show like The Leftovers or a film like Roma. I also shout-laughed when this happened in an involuntary explosion of noise that startled me deeply. I can’t believe it happened. I’m glad to report he’s okay. But still. That’s comedy, people, I’m sorry.

Wanna see more? Blammo.

ABC

Pow.

ABC

It’s not just goofy slapstick, though. Holey Moley is also a powerfully weird experience. Jon Lovitz showed up in a pirate costume to hit lob wedges into one green and he was surprisingly decent at golf. One hole required contestants to wriggle across giant stuffed spinning hot dogs. There’s another where a man in a gopher costume pulls a huge switch and electrocutes the golfers after every missed putt. The gopher is named, I swear to God, Dr. Frankenputt.

What a beautiful television program. There’s plenty of fluff they could cut, sure. This would probably be better as a frantic 30-minute circus than an hour-long production. Just putts and disasters wall-to-wall with no filler. But that’s why I recommend you watch it on your DVR or on Hulu the next day. Skip right over everything that isn’t important and/or hilarious. Be the change you want to see. And you, like me, probably want to see more people get absolutely wrecked by windmills. We’re only human.

ITEM NUMBER FOUR — My big problem with The Social Network

COLUMBIA

The Social Network. Good movie. Great movie. One of the best, according to some, including Quentin Tarantino, who heaped praise on the film as recently as a few days ago. I’m not here to quibble with any of that. The movie is compelling and rewatchable and makes Mark Zuckerberg look like a total psychopath. All good things. Aaron Sorkin wrote the hell out of the script and David Fincher directed the hell out of the movie. No complaints with it on the front.

What I do have, however, is one very small issue. A very small, stupid issue that drives me up a tree every time I watch the movie. A teeny tiny error that irks me in my bones. It happens a little before the halfway point, when a Harvard a cappella group is performing. They’re singing “I Swear” by All-4-One, the second most “1990s junior high slow dance” ever made, trailing only “All My Life” by K-Ci and JoJo. The lyrics of the part they’re singing should go as follows:

‘Cause I
Stand beside you through the years
You’ll only cry those happy tears

Let’s go to the tape.

COLUMBIA

Solid start. Going well.

COLUMBIA

Still cruising along. No hiccups yet.

COLUMBIA

Crushing it, guys. Now just bring it on h-

COLUMBIA

Dammit.

You see what happened here, right? The group sang “you’ll never cry those happy tears” instead of “you’ll only cry those happy tears.” That changes the whole song! The original version is a sweet ode to a soulmate complete with the promise that the singer will only make her cry through overwhelming joy. This version implies she’ll never get to feel that emotion. It’s dark and sad and ominous and I do not like it.

There are two possibilities for what’s happening here:

  • Fincher whiffed
  • Fincher chose to depict a dipshit a cappella group that doesn’t know the lyrics to a popular song from the era that they’re performing in a showcase

The second one is way funnier. Let’s go with that one.

ITEM NUMBER FIVE — Know your audience

A few things I know to be true about Yellowstone, a show I do not watch:

  • Yellowstone is a Paramount series that stars Kevin Costner as some sort of rancher type who wears a cowboy hat and looks concerned a lot
  • It is a show that is made specifically for dads, in a kind of hyper-targeted way that makes me wonder if it’s all a ruse to sell lawn care products and comfortable chairs in the commercial breaks
  • The new season premieres… on Father’s Day

That’s just great work. A+ all around. Congratulations to everyone involved.

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.

Andrew:

What show’s cancellation are you still angriest about? I think it’s Happy Endings for me. I loved that show so much. It was canceled in 2013. That’s seven years ago and I’m still not over it. I still want them to make another season on a streaming network. If Will & Grace can do it, why can’t I have more Happy Endings???

Oh, man. I started thinking of some good, recent options for this answer — Lodge 49, Patriot, American Vandal, etc. — but couldn’t stop thinking about Happy Endings. Happy Endings was such a good show. It was lightning fast and super funny and everyone in it was so good. It had the hangout vibes of a show like New Girl with the speed of a 30 Rock and they made lots of good NBA jokes. Dammit, Andrew. Now I’m mad about this all over again. Extra mad, too, because there’s no reason that show couldn’t have become some sort of crazy cult hit on Netflix, the way The Office and Friends were for a while. Great. My weekend is ruined now.

But that helped a little.

AND NOW, THE NEWS

To Spain!

Excuse me?

Do I…

Should I…

Should I click the link?

I want to.

But I also don’t see how the full article can improve on the tweet.

Hmm.

Okay, I’m going to do it.

A porn star has been arrested on manslaughter charges following a man’s death during a mystic ritual in which he inhaled psychedelic toad venom, Spanish police said Wednesday.

Imagine getting to type that sentence. The rush of electricity that must have flown through their fingertips. The sheer power. I bet whoever wrote this felt like a god immediately after typing the period.

“The police operation began following the victim’s death during the celebration of a mystic ritual based on the inhalation of venom of the bufo alvarius toad,” a police statement said.

The toad, a rare species which is native to the Sonoran Desert, stretching from northern Mexico into California and Arizona, secretes venom containing a very powerful natural psychedelic substance known as 5-MeO-DMT.

I am learning so much today. About toad venom. Which is not something I ever expected to learn about. But here we are. What a world.

Local press said the ceremony took place in the country residence of [Nacho] Vidal, a media-savvy porn star in his mid-40s whose Twitter feed is full of ads for his 25-centimetre aromatic candles of the male genitalia, available in black, white or cerise.

Between the toad venom, the media-savvy porn star, and the huge penis candles, I think it’s safe to say this is easily the most news story we’ve ever posted in this column. The best? Tough to say. But definitely the most.

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