The Rundown: ‘Dave’ Just Put Together One Of The Best TV Seasons Of The Year

the-rundown:-‘dave’-just-put-together-one-of-the-best-tv-seasons-of-the-year

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 — It’s a good show

I’ll be the first to admit I did not expect Dave to be this good. I enjoyed the first season, too. It was funny and weird and not exactly like anything else on television anywhere, even if it did share a lot in common with Curb Your Enthusiasm, on paper. They’re both shows about tightly-wound white dudes who work in the entertainment industry. Both of the white dudes have a manager/friend who supports them and gives them questionable ideas. Both of them have had relationships crumble because of ambition and ego. Hell, both of them have a Black friend/supporter who gives them advice and refers to them as LD. Even some of the braintrust is the same, with producer Jeff Shaffer’s fingerprints all over both.

But season two went and leveled-up in some surprising ways. The show leaned into Dave’s obsession with success to create conflict. He burned bridges and hurt feelings, he yelled a little, he ignored some important stuff. He came across as a real jerk for a solid chunk of the season, which is a wild thing for someone to do one show in which their character shares their real name and that real name is also the title of the show. Think about that one for a while. Think about if you’d want to play a loosely fictionalized version of yourself on television and make the audience kind of hate you on purpose. I do not think I would enjoy that.

All of which made the arc of the season — right up to the last moments of the season, which I will not spoil for people who haven’t watched yet, but did make me tear up a little — such a satisfying ride. A wild ride, to be sure, but satisfying. There were guest stars galore, including a really great episode featuring Doja Cat, and weirdo flights of fancy that sometimes involves hallucinations and/or anteaters, and some of the sharpest takes on cultural appropriation you’ll see on television. Dave showed his balls a few times. It was a trip.

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But the real story was the growth. The connection. The friendships strained and ruined and repaired. Especially the one between Dave and GaTa, his hype man and friend, who supports him unfailingly but fears getting left behind. The show had already done something cool by diving into GaTa’s mental health issues (anxiety, mania, etc.), and this season all of that got cranked up a bit as Dave became singularly focused on making his album. GaTa became the most likable character on the show and one of the most likable characters on television. That’s cool.

I don’t know where any of this goes from the finale, which aired this week and which, again, I will not spoil. It could go a lot of ways, I suppose. In a weird way, I’m kind of not worried about it. Through the first two seasons, Dave has been a show that rarely goes where I expect, in a good way. It seems like everyone involved has a good grasp of who the characters are and why they’re doing what they’re doing. That’s a good feeling, to watch a show that has things under control. To just let it take you where it’s going. I like that.

So, yeah, check out Dave if you haven’t yet. It’s on Hulu and each episode is like 30 minutes long. You can binge it all before summer is over. Or, if you’ve already seen it… I don’t know. You can come over to my place and talk about it with me a bunch. I’ll probably lead off with a solid 20 minutes about how Biff Wiff — the real name of a real guy, one who played Crashmore on this season of I Think You Should Leave — appeared as himself in one of the season’s best episodes. We’ll get to the rest of the show eventually, I swear. Probably.

Dave is a good show. I think you will like it. Watch Dave.

ITEM NUMBER TWO — I have a bad idea

HBO

The good news here is that The White Lotus has been renewed for a second season. Or a second installment. I don’t know what the rules are here, exactly, terminology-wise. None of the characters will be back. And it will move from Hawaii to… somewhere else. But it will, one assumes, still feature a lot of terrible rich people. And a pretty location. At least that is what I have deduced through a combination of my tireless detective work and the thing where I read this sentence in HBO’s press release: “The next chapter of The White Lotus leaves Hawaii behind and follows a different group of vacationers as they jet to another White Lotus property and settle in temporarily amongst its inhabitants.”

So there’s that. The show’s creator, Mike White, elaborated on it all a bit in an interview with Entertainment Weekly that took place before the renewal.

“We would go somewhere different because there’s no way we could be able to afford the Four Seasons in Maui, not in a pandemic,” White says. “So yeah, it would have to be The White Lotus: Kyoto or something. Which would be fun too, because we could get into culture clash ideas and stuff like that.

This sounds great. I love it. The first go-round of the show has been a fun ride so far, with dead bodies and awful teens and Jennifer Freaking Coolidge and all of it. But it does bring me to the bad news: I have an idea.

The White Lotus is transforming into a series that will switch up scenic locations and wealthy characters. The next Knives Out movies will also feature new settings and a slew of new wealthy characters, with Daniel Craig swooping in to investigate new murders. So, what if, and just hear me out here, the two projects just kind of cross over by accident? Like, Benoit Blanc stumbles across a dead body in the fifth episode of the next season of The White Lotus and then that becomes a thing?

Hmm.

No.

No, actually this idea is very bad.

I apologize.

Disregard.

ITEM NUMBER THREE — Well, look at that, it’s news for Brian

There are, as far as I can tell, two possibilities here:

  • Britney Spears did not watch The Young Pope but found this promotional photo from the show and decided to use it as a meme
  • BRITNEY SPEARS WATCHED THE YOUNG POPE

And two things are true about these two possibilities:

  • The first one is more likely
  • I have chosen to ignore this and accept the second one as fact

The Young Pope was a wild show. Jude Law played an American priest named Lenny Belardo who became Pope out of nowhere. He drank Cherry Coke Zero and had massive abandonment issues and his two chief advisors were a dastardly scheming cardinal and a basketball-loving nun played by Diane Keaton. The Australian government gave him a kangaroo and the kangaroo hopped around the Vatican gardens for a few episodes and then it died. At one point, Jude Law said this:

HBO

I want to live in a world where Britney Spears watched this show. I want to talk with her about it for hours. I want to do a Young Pope podcast with Britney Spears. I’m serious about this. I bet she would have fascinating takes about a character who is thrust into worldwide fame and then largely cut off from that world in a walled-off palace. I cannot stop thinking about this. It is easily one of the top-two most important pieces of Britney Spears news this week.

And guess what, ladies and gentlemen: this wasn’t the only bit of television-related news this week that appeared to be targeted directly at me. There’s also this: Scrubs and Ted Lasso creator Bill Lawrence is adapting Carl Hiaasen’s book Bad Monkey for television, with Vince Vaughn in the lead role.

Written by Lawrence, Bad Monkey revolves around Andrew Yancy (Vaughn), a one-time detective who was demoted to restaurant inspector in Southern Florida. A severed arm found by a tourist out fishing pulls Yancy into the world of greed and corruption that decimates the land and environment in Florida and the Bahamas. And yes, there’s a monkey.

Bad Monkey, like most Carl Hiaasen books, is a blast. They’re all full of the wildest and goofiest characters you’ve ever met, and they’re all set in South Florida, and sometimes there’s a mischievous monkey or a snake that eats an old lady or an aquatic mammal that humps a villain to death. One of his books, especially this one, coming to television with Lawrence and Vaughn attached, is good news. For me. And maybe Britney Spears. I will happily do a podcast about this with her, too. Britney, if you are reading this, please consider.

ITEM NUMBER FOUR — A sincere thank you to Halle Berry for mentioning Catwoman and giving me an excuse to post the basketball scene again

There’s a big new profile of Halle Berry over at Entertainment Weekly this week. That’s cool because Halle Berry is cool and has been for decades now. People should be writing about Halle Berry all the time, not just when she’s promoting a new movie, which she is doing right now. I’m part of the problem here. I can admit that. Let’s work on it together.

But that’s not the point. I mean, it is, but it’s also not. The point is that, in this profile, Halle Berry discussed the movie Catwoman.

Berry is well aware that past roles haven’t always allowed for that same level of nuance or control. Still, she’s adamant about owning the entirety of her career — even Catwoman, the latexed slice of superhero camp whose grim reviews lined the litter box, earning her a Razzie award. (In typical good humor, she accepted in person, and brought her Oscar along to the podium.) “For me,” she insists, “it was one of the biggest paydays of my whole life, which, there’s nothing wrong with that…. I don’t want to feel like ‘Oh, I can only do award-worthy stuff.’ What is an award-worthy performance?”

Good for Halle Berry. This is healthy. The movie is not good at all, but that’s not really on her alone. And her mentioning it in that paragraph has given me a legitimate newsworthy reason — today, in the future! — to post the basketball scene from that movie, which is also good. For me. I need you all to watch that video. Even if you’ve watched it before. It is the worst basketball scene I’ve seen in any movie ever, which is saying something considering I once wrote an absurd amount of words about the awful basketball scene in The Amazing Spider-man.

I do not know why superhero movies keep including these weird basketball scenes. I assume it’s to give the audience a relatable activity that the character can do that will drive home their superhuman physical gifts. Honestly, I do not care. I just want them to keep doing it. And keep editing the scenes like they are Mountain Dew commercials from 1998. It makes me so happy. I want to see Thor dunk.

Thank you to Halle Berry for letting me talk about it again today. And for being cool about it. She’s a pretty righteous lady.

ITEM NUMBER FIVE — There appears to be no limit to the amount of Cocaine Cowboys content I will consume

Netflix

Have you seen the new Cocaine Cowboys docuseries on Netflix? Lord in heaven, I hope you have. It’s incredible. It’s incredible right out of the gate, too. That screencap up there, the one that depicts a drug-running speedboat racer who has fabulous 80s hair and is named Willy Falcon, is from the first 10 minutes of the first episode. This is how you start a docuseries.

It continues on this trajectory straight through until the very end of the sixth and final episode, which features about 20 mind-blowing little updates and reveals. None of this should be a surprise. Billy Corben, who made this as well as the first two Cocaine Cowboys movies, is really good at his job. Just super, super good. He gets like a dozen lawyers and drug dealers and FBI agents on-camera to talk about all of it and, boy oh boy, do they ever love to talk about it. Especially the lawyers. Especially the defense lawyers. You have to watch it.

Did I convince you yet? No? What the hell?! Fine. Fine. Let me try this: Here are some screencaps from an interview with an FBI agent who went undercover at one of the nightclubs where the speedboat-racing drug dealers liked to party.

Netflix
Netflix
Netflix
Netflix

This is not even one of the ten wildest things that happens in the docuseries. At one point, the speedboat-racing drug dealers get caught because, while on the run from law enforcement agents in California, they popped up on ESPN during a nationally televised speedboat race in Miami. I’m sorry, I said “during” when I meant “competing in.” They were competing in a nationally televised speedboat race in Miami. While they were fugitives. Again, they got caught because of this.

People throw around phrases like “you can’t make this stuff up” all the time. It’s usually not true. You can make up all sorts of stuff. The Fast & Furious franchise just sent Ludacris to outer space, for the love of God. What people probably mean when they say that is “you could make it up but people would laugh at you and call you stupid and/or crazy.” That’s what is happening here. If you put that twist in, like, an episode of NCIS, I would roll my eyes. But it happened in real life. It really did.

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 [email protected] (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 Sarah:

Congratulations, you are in charge of a new streaming network! Grubbroxx, we’ll call it. What’s the first show you greenlight? Do you go with a heist series? (The Adventures of Thomas Crown!) Do you get the gang back together for a new season of Zoo? Do you cast Helen Mirren as a blimp captain gone rogue? The boardroom is full and your staff is waiting. What do you have for them?

Sarah, this is a wonderful question. All of these options are terrific. They would definitely be on my list. “Helen Mirren as a rogue blimp captain” would be way up there, for sure, now that I’ve read that collection of words and they live inside my brain. But I think I would greenlight a series about Allen Iverson.

I would do this in part because I love Allen Iverson and find him legitimately fascinating (his history in high school and college, his impact on the culture at large, the thing where he loves TGI Fridays more than any place on Earth), and in part because I just read this piece from Interview Magazine in which he discusses his new cannabis business and tells this story about getting too high around Puff Daddy shortly after getting drafted by my beloved Sixers.

I was with Bad Boy, with Puff and them. When I got there, I came to the studio and Big was in there recording Life After Death. We were sitting in there and we were smoking. I remember having a really bad episode where I went to the bathroom and I couldn’t find my way back to the studio. I was so high. I had on a Janet Jackson t-shirt, the one where the guy has his hands on her boobs, but it was a cartoon. It was an alien. I remember going to the bathroom and looking at the shirt and seeing the actual photo. I thought I was trippin’. I was wiping my shirt to wipe the real picture back on the shirt when in reality, it was a cartoon. That’s how gone I was. I remember walking back and forth and trying to get back into the studio. I could never find my way back and kept ending up at the restroom. So I just tried one of the doors, and Puff was in the room with his mom.

I need to see this on my television. Like, tonight, if possible. It is now my only goal in life. I don’t think I’m being unreasonable.

AND NOW, THE NEWS

To Canada!

An Alberta garlic farm was on track for a bumper crop this summer.

Then the heat wave arrived in early July, scorching almost half the crop. And several weeks later, thieves hit the farm — not once, but twice — making off with about 1,500 garlic plants yanked out of the ground.

Two things:

  • I thought that first sentence said “Alberto Garlic” for a second and I almost dropped my phone
  • Folks, we have a garlic heist

Moving on.

After the first incident, the farm installed a trail camera that was able to capture images of two people who slipped into the field nine days later. The photos weren’t good enough quality for police to identify the culprits, she said.

When RCMP came out after the second incident, Ulmer said, officers told her that “no one has ever experienced a garlic heist in Parkland County.”

The phrase “no one has ever experienced a garlic heist in Parkland County” is pretty funny. That’s undeniable, just the idea of a cop saying that to a person. But I’ll tell you what would have been funnier: If they had experienced a garlic heist before. If there was a garlic heist unit. If they had a whole task force dedicated exclusively to the theft of garlic. If they recruited the best of the best for it and called the Garlic Squad.

And if you think Garlic Squad sounds like a good television show, buddy, wait until you read this next blockquote.

However, if the police manage to track down the garlic, the case may be solved by analyzing DNA to see if it matches the remaining garlic at Ulmer’s farm.

“It would probably get heavy into the forensic side of things,” Zanbak said.

I need a flashy CSI-style montage of attractive Canadian scientists doing garlic forensics and I need it as soon as possible.