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The Rundown: The Calming Pleasures Of A Small World Television Show

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 the time for shows with small worlds

I have a theory. I have a lot of theories, actually. Most of them are bad. I have one theory that we don’t need wind and would be better off without it. (CON: no more cool breezes in the summer; PRO: no more hurricane or tornados.) I haven’t looked up any of the consequences or consulted a single scientist. I just believe it to be true. That’s enough for that theory. Some of them are better and more grounded in logic, like my belief that all spoons should be soup spoons (wider, deeper, fewer spills) and the one that I’m going to discuss below: that this is the perfect time to enjoy a television show with lower stakes, one that deals with small world problems instead of catastrophes.

I love a good small world show even in good times. There’s something exhausting about shows and movies constantly dealing with scenarios where the entire world is at risk. These kinds of stories have always existed but they seem to be more prevalent now, possibly as a result of the trend towards superheroes and comics. The other problem is that, like, you can’t go backwards very easily. The stakes generally only go up as a series or franchise continues. You can’t have Superman stop the apocalypse in one movie and then have him save a bakery in the next. And with the stakes always going up and up and up, you can lose some of the humanity of it all. The relatable issues. The stuff that’s real to regular people who never have to prevent Charlize Theron from stealing a nuclear submarine from an ice-covered military base. Or at least, to people who haven’t yet. It’s crazy out there. You never know.

I bring this up now for the obvious reasons but also because Schitt’s Creek ended its run this week. What a fun and nice show that was, just warm and charming and very, very funny. The thing I liked most about it was how human it was, how even though I am not now nor have I ever been a former billionaire who was forced to move into a small motel in a town with a goofy name that I owned a joke, it was relatable in a million ways. It was about family and friendships and relationships and the biggest tangible issues they faced were, to choose one example, how to put on a musical. It was more than that, obviously, as the heart of the show ran deep, but it was nice to not be worried about a meteor hitting the town and killing everyone from week to week.

There are a lot of shows like this, of course. Sitcoms have a long history of finding entertainment in little things. Parks and Recreation was about civil servants putting on festivals, Friends was about friends, The Office was about people working in an office. A good recent example: High Fidelity, the Hulu version starring Zoe Kravitz, which had no right to be as good as it was. I watched it all in about two sittings. I might watch it again while I’m stuck at home. Maybe I’ll rewatch New Girl, or Happy Endings, or any other very chill hangout show where stressed-out high-achievers and slacker lunkheads sit on a sofa together and let the day take them wherever it goes. Maybe I’ll watch Joe Pera grow that bean arch again. There are plenty of options.

The point here is not to slander those shows where catastrophe looms. I loved Watchmen and all of its squid-raining calamity. I’m enjoying Westworld as it wages a Humans v. Robots war for civilization. I am on record as hoping the next Fast & Furious movie features a villain who wants to blow up the moon. That’s all great. But it’s really stressful out there in the real world right now. Too stressful. Cut yourself some slack once in a while. Watch a nice show about cool people trying to figure out normal stuff. You deserve it.

ITEM NUMBER TWO — This was a good idea

I don’t know whose idea it was to call-up Tracy Morgan in the middle of a pandemic and put him on live network television before lunch on a weekday but, once we’re through this and allowed to touch each other again, I am going to find that person and kiss them on the mouth. A big sloppy kiss, like the ones Bugs Bunny gave to the people he was in the middle of frustrating. A real smackeroo. Right on the lips.

I mean, it’s beautiful. And completely nuts. I admittedly have a higher tolerance for pure and unfiltered chaos than some, but I don’t see how anyone could not love this. Tracy Morgan in a damn surgical mask shouting at Honda Kotb about getting people pregnant is like something you would have seen on 30 Rock, and yet, there he was, in real life, introducing a delicious amount of anarchy into the traditionally anarchy-free genre of morning television. He also showed up on some late-night shows later in the week to do more of the same, which was fine and perfectly welcome, but it’s the morning show part of it that really delighted me. Tracy Morgan should be on morning television way more. Like, every day. In fact…

Wait a second.

We have an idea brewing.

Yes, here it is: Let’s just give Tracy Morgan a morning show. Or plug him into an existing morning show. Let’s lose Seacrest and pair Tracy Morgan with Kelly Ripa. Tell me that’s not immediately a must-watch hour of television. Or plug him in for Drew Carey on The Price Is Right. Let Tracy Morgan explain Plinko to a nation of bored quarantined couch potatoes. He can do it from his house via Skype. Or something. I need to stress how unimportant to me the logistics of all of this are. I’m doing big picture stuff here. I’m putting together the grand scheme. Leave the details to the details people.

Everyone could use a little chaos with their coffee. This is how we do it.

ITEM NUMBER THREE — Guy Fieri, good dude

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I owe Guy Fieri an apology. I spent the first few years of his career poking fun at his spiky hair and shirt collection and general vibe. A lot of us did. Most of us, I think. I’ve used that picture up there a thousand times for a laugh and I guess I’m using it here, too, so let’s go ahead and say I owe Guy Fieri a second apology for using it when I was supposed to be apologizing the first time. I’m sorry twice. Not sorry enough to find a different picture (it’s really very funny), but sorry enough to own up to, at least. Has to count for something. Right?

Anyway, the apologies are owed because Guy Fieri seems like an incredibly good dude. There’s a long history of him donating his time and resources to good causes and, hell, even his television show works like a charity in the way it highlights small businesses around the country. Again, good dude. It’s one of the many reasons I almost cracked my mouse by clicking too fast on this article, titled “Guy Fieri is in quarantine with 400 goats, a peacock problem and a plan to help restaurant employees.”

Yes. Yes, I will read that. Hit me, WaPo.

Unable to resume production on “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives,” Fieri has channeled his energy into partnering with the association on its restaurant employee relief fund, which will be distributed to eligible applicants in $500 grants.

As of Friday, the fund had reached $10 million. Fieri has a goal of 10 times that — because “you can’t go on a road trip and not have a destination” — that he aims to achieve with corporate sponsors.

“I’ve been in the restaurant business my whole life. This is all I know,” Fieri says. “The TV thing is kind of like ‘Happy Gilmore.’ ‘I’m a hockey player,’ and then he gets into golfing. This is what I do. I love the restaurant business, and I know it inside and out. As soon as this happened and the restaurants started closing, I looked at my wife and said, ‘What are all these people going to do?’

Guy Fieri rules. The haters can find me in the Flavortown octagon if they have a problem.

ITEM NUMBER FOUR — It is time, once again, to discuss the b-holes


Cats has fascinated me since its first trailer and it continues to fascinate me to this day even though I have yet to see it. I will see it. I will see it very much and very hard. Soon, I imagine. But not yet. And until I do see, well, I will continue to be fascinated by every part of it. Like, for example, the infamous “butthole cut” that either exists or doesn’t exist and features the anuses of the CGI cats for reasons that can be explained as… as… actually, no. It can’t be explained. But thank god for it and for its continued shelf-life as a matter of public discourse, because without articles like this one, from an alleged source who allegedly worked on erasing the buttholes after someone became very angry about then, I honestly don’t know what I would do. All of my movies are delayed until next year. Daddy needs something to occupy his time. This will do.


“We paused it,” the source said. “We went to call our supervisor, and we’re like, ‘There’s a fucking asshole in there! There’s buttholes!’ It wasn’t prominent but you saw it… And you [were] just like, ‘What the hell is that?… There’s a fucking butthole in there.’ It wasn’t in your face—but at the same time, too, if you’re looking, you’ll see it.”

I am not joking even a little when I tell you that I would have given $400 to be the person who received this phone call. Or the one who made it. Or just a secretary who was on the call to take notes. Anything. The joy it would have given me… it’s incalculable.

Some aspects of the production, the source alleges, became simply absurd—like when Hooper would demand to see videos of actual cats performing the same actions the cats would do in the film. “And as you know,” the source said, “cats don‘t dance.”

Cats is the only good movie, a position I plan to confirm once I sit down and actually watch it at some point in the next two to two hundred weeks.

ITEM NUMBER FIVE — Matthew McConaughey, play virtual Battleship with me

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Well, Matthew McConaughey hosted a virtual bingo game for seniors in Texas. It happened. There are news articles about it and everything. Like this one.

A video posted to the living facility’s Facebook page showed McConaughey cheering on bingo winners. “During a time when we are all working to make lemonade out of lemons, we are so humbled that Matthew took the time to play our favorite game with us,” employees at the living facility wrote. “As Matthew would say, let’s turn this red light into a green light!”

This is very nice and very sweet and very cool and it makes me so angry I might heave my computer on the floor. Play games with ME, Matthew! I’m bored, too. You pick the game. I offered Battleship but we can play whatever you want. Trivial Pursuit? I am very good at Trivial Pursuit. Scrabble? Come get your whooping, buddy. I am very competitive and have a lot of free time on the weekends now. The challenge has been leveled. Ball’s in your court.


If you have questions about television, movies, food, local news, weather, or whatever you want, shoot them to me on Twitter or at (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 Rich:

With Bosch coming back next week, I have to ask you about Bosch’s house. It’s so cool, right? Of all the houses I see on television with regularity, that’s the one I’m most jealous of. Maybe it’s just the view out his glass wall. I want to sit there with a book and a glass of scotch and stare out at the city all night. What do you think? How much do you want to live in that Bosch house?

Rich brings up an excellent point. Bosch does have a cool house, one he purchased with the proceeds of a movie deal based on a case of his. It’s way up in the Los Angeles hills and it does have that killer view of the city below and I wanted to live in it very much UNTIL I saw this shot of it from another angle.


No. No thank you. No thank you at all. I do not want to live in a stilt house built into a mountain in an earthquake-prone region of the world. I would be stressed out all the time. I’m stressed out now just thinking about it. I want to live in a house that has all of its floor firmly attached to the ground, not by stilts. This is my request. I consider it very reasonable.


To New York City!

“The risk is serious,” said Steve Keller, a museum security consultant who has worked with the National Gallery of Art, the Smithsonian Institution and others. “Thieves might think the museums are in a weakened condition and that increases the threat.”

Is it weird that a combination of museum closings and the rise in people wearing bandanas over the face made me immediately jump to “this is the perfect time for a heist”? It’s weird, right? You can tell me. I know my brain is hopelessly ruined. It is true, though. As this article elaborates.

Last week burglars broke into a small museum in the Netherlands that had closed because of the coronavirus and absconded with an early van Gogh painting, “The Parsonage Garden at Nuenen in Spring.” Police responding to the museum’s alarm found a shattered glass door and a bare spot on the wall where the painting had been.

Look, I’m not saying any of you should steal a valuable painting or handful of jewels from an empty understaffed museum right now. That would be wrong. You should not steal, in general, and you should especially not take advantage of a pandemic to steal. But if you were already planning on stealing a valuable painting or a handful of jewels, if I can’t dissuade you at all, there’s certainly a worse time to do it. That’s all I’m saying. But don’t do it. And don’t tell anyone I told you this. And don’t ask where I was this weekend if a valuable painting or handful of jewels go missing. Am I making this clear enough? I think I am.

For the duration of the pandemic, Mr. Keller said, museums should assume that they would be in permanent “night mode,” relying on security measures that are generally in place when institutions close for the evening.

Limber up, folks. We have lasers to dance through.

If we do this.

Which we shouldn’t.