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 — Good for Bob Odenkirk
It is the position of this column that every actor and actress should get to play John Wick at some point in their career. Not “John Wick” specifically, of course, because that is Keanu’s role and no one should be allowed to take it from him without a Constitutional amendment. But a John Wick-type, a rampaging lunatic who is out for revenge because someone wronged him in some deeply personal way without realizing he was once a highly trained assassin or assassin-type. Denzel Washington was John Wick in both Man on Fire and The Equalizer. Liam Neeson was John Wick in Taken and most other Liam Neeson movies. Charlize Theron was John Wick in Atomic Blonde. And now, in a development that brings me more joy than any of you can possibly imagine, Bob Odenkirk will play John Wick in Nobody, a new film from the writer of the actual John Wick movies, Derek Kolstad. There’s a trailer and everything. It whoops ass.
How cool is this? Bob Odenkirk, a man who spent the first few decades of his career writing and starring in comedy sketches (go watch a million Mr. Show sketches this weekend, trust me), is now a legit action star, in addition to being a legit leading man in Better Call Saul, one of the best shows on television. That’s awesome. And it’s fun to see him talk about it all, which he just did, in an interview with IGN that was timed to the trailer’s release.
“The hardest thing about doing Nobody was to be deprived of the ironic dimension of the performance. I wanted to play a sort of earnest action hero like Charles Bronson in Death Wish, in these ’70s movies that I loved growing up, Clint Eastwood in Dirty Harry and that s***. So I was going to deprive myself of being a wisecracker and making fun of myself,” he said. “It’s hard for me to do a scene that’s utterly earnest. … And this goes for Better Call Saul, too. When I don’t get to have a little wink to the audience, when the character knows they’re being funny and I can do that, that’s more my natural state.”
This is great. I’m so happy for Bob Odenkirk. And for me, too. Did you watch that trailer? Go watch that trailer. He’s running around pounding on punks in buses and shouting about stolen kitty cat jewelry and describing himself as a former “auditor,” which sounds kind of like a cross between a hitman and an accountant, which reminds me that Ben Affleck kind of played John Wick in The Accountant, a movie that also contained a straight-up montage of him doing accounting. We’ve discussed this. A lot. We will again. I can’t help myself.
But this is what I’m getting at. Everyone should get to play a role like this, even just once. It’s fun when it’s casting to type, like your Neesons and Therons, and it might be even more fun when it’s casting against type, like this one. Odenkirk in the role opens up so many possibilities I had not considered. Like, picture John Mulaney as John Wick. Amy Poehler. Tracy Morgan. David Letterman. It’s impossible to stop once you get started. Picture Jay Leno dressed in full-denim and mowing down mobsters because someone scratched his steam-powered fire engine. I need to stress that I’m not joking around here. I want these to happen. Maybe not the last one, but the other ones, definitely. I want to see Mulaney with like four days of stubble and a knife in each hand and rage in his eyes. Do this. For me.
It’s strange that this excites me so much. I hate guns. I do not believe in taking the law into your own hands. If the John Wick movies happened in real life I would be firmly in the camp that he belongs in prison. I would be absolutely horrified reading the headlines about the things he does. (“Well-Dressed Gunman Kills Dozens In Crowded Nightclub In Suspected Mob-Related Killing.”) But put this in a nice little two-hour package and show it to me on my television screen? Yes, please. I will watch it on basic cable every weekend from now until some retired assassin takes me out for some perceived slight that dishonored his family and/or beloved pet and/or muscle car. Add Nobody to this list. And make the one with Mulaney. And Poehler. Do one with them together. I do not ask for much.
ITEM NUMBER TWO — Mixed feelings about the chicken movie, folks
This one is tricky. Let’s try to figure it out. Facts first: Lifetime and KFC have produced a kind of fake “Colonel Sanders… but sexy” project that will air this weekend. It’s 15 minutes long and it stars Mario Lopez as Steamy Colonel Sanders and it is described in the press release thusly: “As the holidays draw near, a young heiress contends with the affections of a suitor handpicked by her mother. When the handsome chef, Harland Sanders, arrives with his secret fried chicken recipe and a dream, he sets in motion a series of events that unravels the mother’s devious plans.”
So there’s that. There are things in here that I like very much. I like goofball antics that turn conventional stuff on its head. I like the chaos of dropping a Steamy Colonel Sanders short film at noon on Lifetime on a Saturday in December. I like that, at one point in the trailer, someone says the phrase “secret’s out, chicken man.” I did not know how much I wanted to hear someone say that collection of words in that order. Turns out the answer is “a lot.”
But it’s… weird. It’s weird. The whole thing is a big commercial, sponsored content run amok, in a way that feels… weird. If this had been some Adult Swim fever dream that wasn’t tied to a marketing campaign — just some rascal/renegade production that stretches the doctrine of Fair Use to its limits and beyond — I think I would adore it. Knowing KFC is the driving force behind it and the whole point is to make your brain say “hmm, I want some chicken” makes it feel different. I don’t know exactly why, either. All television shows and movies are money-making ventures, even the bozo Adult Swim productions I referenced earlier. They have commercials and product placement and all of it. This is just kind of cutting out the artifice and coming at the viewer straight on. And if we’re going to make advertisements for chicken, we can at least try to make them completely insane like this.
Do you see what I mean? I want to like it… but I’m conflicted. I want to hate it… but I’m conflicted there, too. Maybe what I’ll do is watch it and then go out and get Popeyes. That feels like a reasonable compromise.
ITEM NUMBER THREE — Yes, I will watch this
Disney announced about 500 new shows and movies yesterday, which is fine and possibly even exciting depending on your feelings about the Star Wars Extended Universe and various Marvel properties. And yet, somehow, despite all those projects, one of which will star Donald Glover as Lando and one of which will star John Mulaney and Andy Samberg as the Rescue Rangers, none of the ones announced during the event were the most intriguing new show announced that day. That honor goes to The Curse, an upcoming Showtime comedy that features a fascinating collection of names in a fascinating collection of positions.
Start at the top. The show will star Emma Stone and Nathan Fielder as a married couple. Fielder will also direct. The Safdie brothers, the maniacs behind Uncut Gems, will produce. One of the Safdies, Benny, also has a role on the show. The plot description goes like this, per the press release: “The Curse is a genre-bending scripted comedy that explores how an alleged curse disturbs the relationship of a newly married couple as they try to conceive a child while co-starring on their problematic new HGTV show.”
This sounds wild as hell in all the best ways. I am already cringing over how awkward and uncomfortable a Fielder/Safdie collaboration could be. Good, almost assuredly, given the track records of the people involved (Fielder just got done producing How to With John Wilson, for the love of God), but still very uncomfortable. Emma Stone is no slouch either, and she’s got experience with daaaaark comedy, as anyone who has seen The Favourite can attest. This is fascinating on a whole bunch of levels. I might end up watching through my fingers because it all gets too stressful, but I’ll definitely be watching. I’m very happy for you if you all jazzed up about the new Star Wars and Marvel shows. But I vote for more like this, please.
ITEM NUMBER FOUR — Listen, if everyone is going to talk about Spider-man all week, I’m going to talk about the basketball scene (yes, again)
Spider-man is in the news. The next live-action movie in the franchise is going full Spiderverse, with Alfred Molina returning to play Doctor Octopus and Jamie Foxx returning to play Electro and Andrew Garfield and Kirsten Dunst circling the project in one way or another. Maybe Tobey Maguire, too. Who knows? It’s a whole thing. But if everyone’s going to spend all week talking about it, then I am going to talk about the basketball scene in The Amazing Spider-man.
Superhero movies have a long history of bad sports scenes, and by this I mostly mean “the basketball scene in Catwoman,” which deserves its own multi-part docuseries on some streaming network. There’s a reason for that: showing someone who was previously a dork suddenly excelling at sports is a nice shorthand to highlight their new powers. But come on. Watch that clip. Watch it twice. Notice the following things:
The blatant traveling
The thing where he takes off from the three-point line
The thing where he soars through the air with his entire body rising above the regulation rim
The thing where he shatters the backboard with the force of a monster dunk
But none of that is what bugs me. I can suspend my disbelief long enough to believe Spider-man can do sick dunks, because Spider-man has superpowers and who among us wouldn’t use our superpowers to do sick dunks every now and then. No, my issue is much simpler: This should have been all anyone talked about for the rest of the movie. Look at this freaking kid.
Do you understand? A high school student just did the single greatest dunk in history, in his high school gym, in front of dozens of teenagers. This should have been a huge deal. The high school basketball coach should have been banging on his door every night begging him to play. Word would have spread throughout the community. Someone probably would have gotten it on video. Are you following me yet? Do you see the world where this ends up on YouTube with 25 million views and news organizations start hounding him? Believe me. I’ve seen enough basketball recruiting highlight reels to know how this works. Barack Obama showed up to watch a college game Zion Williamson played in and Zion never did anything close to this. I remember watching this scene in the theater and having it take me out of the movie completely. It was all I talked about at dinner after the matinee. It was all I talked about for a week. I’m talking about it again now, many years later, and I bet I would have talked about it earlier if I had an excuse 80 percent as good as this one.
My point here is that you probably do not want to watch a movie with me. I have issues.
ITEM NUMBER FIVE — Good, keep it on the air forever
FX just renewed It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia for four more seasons. Four! Four seasons! This will bring the total to 18 seasons. For some perspective, consider this:
“Always Sunny” will now run for at least 18 seasons. It was previously renewed for Season 15 back in May. The Season 15 renewal officially broke the record previously held by “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet,” which ran for 14 seasons on ABC. The renewal is no small feat for the unconventional and genre-defining sitcom, which started out as a pilot shot on a home video camera nearly two decades ago.
Kudos to Variety for remaining professional by using words like “unconventional” and “genre-defining.” That’s no small feat, considering what Always Sunny does week-in, week-out, going on two decades now. For example, there’s this screencap, which I will post without context in part because it’s funnier that way and in part because context is not necessary even a little.
What a treasure. What an absolute joy. It’s thrilling to me that this show holds a prestigious place in television history. It’s not just because it’s insane and set in Philadelphia, either (go Birds, though). It’s also because it has retained a ridiculously high-quality despite being on the air as long as it has. It premiered in 2005, the same year as The Office and How I Met Your Mother. It’s been on the air for a Phillies World Series and an Eagles Super Bowl. This is a serious accomplishment. I am not joking. I’m so proud of them. I hope they keep making them until the Sixers win a title, too.
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.
I have an idea. Dolly Parton has been in the news a lot lately with her Netflix specials and charitable works. The Fast & Furious franchise still has a few films left after the next one (probably) goes to space. What if Dolly joins the Family? Maybe she’s Dom’s mom, or Brian’s mom, or maybe she’s a legendary moonshine runner from Tennessee who they recruit for a mission through the hollers. She could be a villain, too. The details aren’t important. I just want to see Dolly Parton in a Fast & Furious movie and I bet you do, too.
Rob, this email is shameless. Combining Dolly — a top-five living American, as we’ve discussed — with the Fast & Furious family is so squarely inside my wheelhouse that it’s started to get mail delivered there. Of course I want this. I like the idea about her being a famous moonshine runner. I also like the idea of her being the President who authorizes the Toretto space mission, which I just thought up as I was typing that last sentence. Or her being the only person who ranks above Kurt Russell in the secretive government agency that has an unlimited budget, apparently. But mostly I think I like the idea of her and Ludacris making a whole Fast & Furious collaboration concept album.
There. We’ve put it out into the universe. We did our part. The rest is up to Hollywood. I see no reason it can’t happen. In conclusion, look at this picture Vin Diesel posted on Instagram this week.
Thank you, Rob and Vin.
AND NOW, THE NEWS
Police in Russia said on Wednesday they were searching for thieves who plundered technical equipment from a top-secret military aircraft known as the Doomsday Plane that is designed for use during a nuclear war.
I’m sorry. I am. This seems bad. I do not see how you can read “Russian Doomsday Plane targeted by plunderers” any other way. And yet… AND YET…
All I can think of is Kelsey Grammer’s character in Money Plane — currently on Hulu! — being the mastermind behind it. Like, read this in his voice, but just replace “Money Plane” with “Doomsday Plane.” Do it, out loud, right now.
You see my point now, yes?
The robbery, which raises questions about the security of sensitive military-related installations, took place as maintenance work was being carried out on the Ilyushin Il-80 plane.
Remember this line from Money Plane?
How about this one?
We’re probably all going to die from black market Doomsday Plane related tragedies and I’ll be looking up at the reddish-orange sky quoting this movie as my skin melts off. I feel okay about it.
Police said the aircraft had been at an aerodrome in the city of Taganrog, but gave no details about the nature of the stolen equipment except for its estimated worth — more than 1 million roubles ($13,600).
They stole $13,000 worth of stuff.
That’s, like, a Kia.
They stole a Kia worth of stuff off the Doomsday Plane.
Well, I feel much better about making those Money Plane jokes now. And about, like, not dying in a Doomsday Plane tragedy. But mostly the jokes.