Hello, Popculturology readers! I’m kicking off a new era for the newsletter today with the exciting announcement that Popculturology is making the jump into the world of paid subscribers.
I love writing this newsletter. I love seeing the number of people reading an edition tick up as the day goes along. I love having people tell me they look forward to seeing Popculturology in their inbox.
This newsletter is fun work, but it’s a ton of work making sure each edition is worth your time. If you love reading Popculturology, I hope you’ll see a paid subscription as an endorsement of the work I do with the newsletter.
Here’s the quick rundown of the changes and updates coming to Popculturology:
How much will it cost to become a paid subscriber?
A monthly subscription is $5.
A yearly subscription is $50.
The yearly subscription basically gives you two free months. Both options are cheaper than the monthly cost of Twitter Blue — and I promise you the only Nazis you’ll have to deal with here are the ones Indiana Jones is fighting.
Even cooler: If you subscribe to an annual plan by the end of next week, though, you’ll receive twenty percent off your subscription. We’re not here to do math, but that’s $40 for an entire year of Popculturology.
What do you get as a paid subscriber?
Everything. You’ll get the two weekly newsletters, Deep SNL Thoughts, the new The Box Office Report newsletter and any special coverage.
What changes are coming to the newsletter?
The publishing calendar is switching from Mondays/Thursdays to Tuesdays/Fridays. The Friday newsletter will now have a What to Watch feature that highlights a movie or TV show for your weekend. Deep SNL Thoughts remains on Sundays. The Box Office Report newsletter will publish on Mondays.
You’ll also notice a few tweaks to the newsletters themselves. In addition to snazzy new section headers, the main story in each edition of Popculturology is now the Feature Presentation. And on occasions when there’s something else cool to discuss, those Bonus Features will be right after the Feature Presentation instead of being buried deeper in the newsletter.
Overall, I want the newsletter to be tighter and for it to be easier for subscribers to get the most of out what they’re reading. This is a moment to refocus and make sure every part of Popculturology is clicking.
Can you still be a free subscriber?
Absolutely. The Tuesday newsletter will remain 100 percent available for free subscribers. Free subscribers will also be able to read previews of every edition.
Once again, I can’t thank all of you enough for reading Popculturology. I appreciate each and every person who has subscribed and opens the newsletter two or three times a week. Whether you’ve been on board since I launched the newsletter last fall or are reading for your first time, I’m honored to be a part of your week.
I’m excited to be back after a week away. We traveled back to Rochester for Easter weekend. Our daughter got to spend a ton of time with my family and her cousins, probably eating too much cake in the process. While I was out of town, Star Wars Celebration plotted out the future of the franchise, Succession was quickly spoiled for me and Molly Shannon hosted Saturday Night Live.
- Feature Presentation: All the news from Star Wars Celebration
- Bonus Features: That Succession death, catching up with SNL
- The News:
HBOMax charts a future that includes more Harry Potter, more Game of Thrones … and more Big Bang Theory
- Trailer Watch: The Marvels, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, Afterparty and Fool’s Paradise
- Playlist: The penultimate episode of The Mandalorian’s third season, Ted Lasso finds its edge again
- Odds and Ends: Ana de Armas prepares to host SNL
Star Wars Celebration unveils three new movies, trailers for Ahsoka and Visions, and more
This isn’t the first time Star Wars Celebration has fallen on Easter weekend. I remember watching the trailer for Star Wars: The Last Jedi at a gas station after it debuted while we were driving.
This year’s edition of Celebration brought some major Star Wars news.
It had been rumored that Lucasfilm was planning on announcing a new Star Wars movie at Celebration. Turns out we got three movies.
While Lucasfilm wisely didn’t attach any dates to these films, we now know that movies about the dawn of the Jedi, the battle between the New Republic and the Imperial remnant, and Rey rebuilding the Jedi Order are in the works. Kathleen Kennedy also told Variety that Taika Waititi is still tinkering with his Star Wars movie.
“Taika is still working away,” Kennedy told Variety. “He’s writing the script himself. He doesn’t really want to bring others into that process and I don’t blame him. He has a very, very unique voice. So we want to protect that and that’s what he’s doing. But we’re going to make that one day.”
An iconic Star Wars element will also return: The opening crawl. Kennedy told Entertainment Weekly that, going forward, Star Wars movies will once again feature the opening crawl. I wish Lucasfilm had figured out earlier which Star Wars elements and stories go where and why, but better late than never.
Will these movies actually happen? Lucasfilm’s post-Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker record isn’t great when it comes to the movie side of the franchise.
Birth of the Jedi
James Mangold, director of Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny and Logan, will helm this one. Lucasfilm has spent a lot of time in the High Republic era (and will do so even more with The Acolyte), but this story should jump back tens (hundreds?) of thousands years further.
New Republic vs. Imperial remnant
Dave Filoni will make his feature film directorial debut as he closes out the story being told through The Mandalorian and Ahsoka. With Thrawn looming, this film will pit the young New Republic against the Imperial remnant. Expect echos of Timothy Zahn’s Heir to the Republic novel.
Side note, but my prediction for what comes after this on Disney+? We’re going to see the Deepfake Luke Skywalker become a major character in Star Wars storytelling.
New Jedi Order
This was probably the most surprising of the film announcements. Daisy Ridley will return to Star Wars as it tells the story of Rey finally rebuilding the Jedi Order. (This should’ve happened in Episode IX, but J.J. Abrams had more important things to do.)
“Well we’re 15 years out from Rise of Skywalker, so we’re post-war, post-First Order, and the Jedi are in disarray,” Kennedy told Variety. “There’s a lot of discussion around, ‘Who are the Jedi? What are they doing? What’s the state of the galaxy?’ She’s attempting to rebuild the Jedi Order, based on the books, based on what she promised Luke, so that’s where we’re going.”
The future of Star Wars on television via Disney+ is also going strong.
We got our first trailer for Ahsoka during Celebration. It’s still wild that this character is now at the center of the franchise after how poorly she was originally received in 2008. Rosario Dawson’s Ahsoka is reassembling the Star Wars Rebels gang for this show, with Natasha Liu Bordizzo playing Sabine Wren and Mary Elizabeth Winstead playing Hera Syndulla.
The Ahsoka panel confirmed that Lars Mikkelsen is playing Grand Admiral Thrawn, returning to the character he voiced for Rebels. An extended trailer played during that panel and showed Thrawn’s face.
I wish the trailer for The Acolyte was available online. I caught part of a pirated version, and it looks awesome. The show takes place toward the end of the High Republic era (still a bit of time before the prequels). Showrunner Leslye Headland has described The Acolyte as “Frozen meets Kill Bill.”
Tales of the Jedi
No release date for this one yet, but a second season of Tales of the Jedi is in the works. The first season focused on Count Dooku and Ahsoka.
The Bad Batch
We’ll get the third and final season of The Bad Batch next year. I do wonder if Lucasfilm has another animated show in the works to replace it …
Star Wars: Visions
Star Wars: Visions might be the most Star Wars thing Star Wars does. I loved almost everything about the first season and can’t wait to see what this collection of animation studios has come up with for the second season.
Star Wars Jedi: Survivor
Lucasfilm also unveiled a new gameplay trailer for Star Wars Jedi: Survivor. We’re going to Coruscant, folks.
I really need to get a PS5, huh?
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Did something big happen on Succession?
Welp, turns out the one episode of Succession I didn’t watch live was the one episode where the world just gave up on spoiler protocols.
(If you haven’t watched the most recent episode of Succession yet, here’s your spoiler warning.)
Tweets about that “one Succession death” that used a picture of Brian Cox as Logan Roy didn’t doing much to hide what happened. Neither did The Los Angeles Times running an obit for Logan. You go online and on social media at your own risk in times like this, but all spoiler courtesies were ditched for this episode.
So, yeah, Logan Roy is dead.
The unexpected death of the Roy patriarch came in the third episode of Succession’s final season, and it was a hell of an episode. I’m not sure how HBO positions the cast for Emmy consideration, but Jeremy Strong, Kieran Culkin and Sarah Snook all deserve to clean up at awards season for this.
In a way, knowing that Logan was going to die made this episode even more tense for me. From the first second of the episode, I was watching with the dread of knowing what was to come. (Kind of like how Arrival is a very different watch if you’ve read the short story it’s based on.)
I’d love to know how this all went down while on set. While Strong is a notorious method actor, Cox has been pretty dismissive of that school of acting. On top of that, Cox told Variety last month that he “felt nothing” when he shot his final scene.
“I felt nothing when I played the last scene [on Succession]. Nothing! It was the last scene, finito,” Cox told Variety. “Logan absolutely gets what he needs. That’s the great thing about the show. He gets peace, which is good.”
That approach had to have clashed with Strong likely pretending his own estranged father had died.
Where does Succession go from here? Will the Roy siblings destroy each in the power vacuum left by their father’s death?
At least Connor and Willa are happy. They’re happy, right?
Molly Shannon hosts SNL
I took a break from writing Deep SNL Thoughts this weekend since Sunday (my usual writing day for that newsletter) was Easter and we were out of town for the holiday. We caught up on Monday night, and it was a pretty solid episode.
You’re not going to go wrong with Shannon hosting SNL. She’s a hall-of-fame castmember. The current cast seems to adore her. And she brings just the right balance of nostalgia and newness to her sketches.
My only critique of the episode was that I liked the Molly Shannon rap in the Please Don’t Destroy sketch better when it was “Natalie Raps.”
James Austin Johnson continued to blow away any previous version of Donald Trump that SNL ever featured. He’s in a class of his own with this one. I loved the repeated teases of Mikey Day and the other castmembers frozen behind him during the cold open.
This sketch and a few Weekend Update jokes did get me wondering if SNL has given any thought to who they’ll have portray Ron DeSantis. Are they waiting to see if DeSantis makes it to the primaries and debates? Who’s your pick to play DeSantis? (No celebrity picks. Not here. Not ever.)
I’ll be back with a full Deep SNL Thoughts after Ana de Armas hosts SNL this weekend.
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HBO Max is now just Max, will have a Harry Potter series, new Game of Thrones spinoff and more
Warner Bros. Discovery made a bunch of announcements during its Wednesday presentation, including an updated name and some news on a few upcoming shows.
The name change
Warner Bros. Discovery made the big announcement on Wednesday that its upcoming streaming service that merges HBO Max and Discovery+ will be called Max. Yes, just Max. (The Internet really failed me in attempting to find the Happy Endings clip where Max accidentally says his name is “Maps.”) Don’t want that HBO branding stinking up HGTV’s high quality programming.
Max goes live on May 23.
Harry Potter series confirmed
Max describes this as “the first ever Harry Potter scripted television series, a faithful adaption of the iconic books.” J.K. Rowling is on board, so temper your excitement both in terms of creativity (hey, maybe we’ll see those wizards before they figured out indoor plumbing!) and empathy.
I also saw mentions of this series getting a ten-year commitment. That’s a massive amount of time to commit to a series from the beginning. But does ten years mean ten seasons? I guess elements from the franchise that have been created after the original books and movies — backstory about Harry’s parents, the Fantastic Beasts bits — could be woven in as flashback episodes?
More importantly, what’s the point of a Harry Potter reboot? (I know the point is to sell Max subscriptions.) It’s like how Warner Bros. couldn’t let go of the John Williams theme for Superman, even ditching a fantastic new Man of Steel theme already established in the continuity for the latter DCEU movies.
Another Game of Thrones prequel is in the works
A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms: The Hedge Knight will be based on George R. R. Martin’s Dunk and Egg books. Martin, Ira Parker, Ryan Condal and Vince Gerardis will serve as executive producers.
Colin Farrell’s The Penguin gets a teaser
The spinoff of Matt Reeves’ The Batman will focus on the Penguin as he consolidates power in Gotham. The series is set to premiere in 2024.
The It prequel series is happening
Welcome to Derry will star Taylour Paige, Jovan Adepo, James Remar and Chris Chalk will star in the show, which is also set for 2024.
Tiny Toons is coming back
Didn’t expect this news. Tiny Toons will return with Tiny Toons Looniversity. I’m very curious to see how these characters hold up in 2023 or beyond.
There’s another Big Bang Theory spinoff coming
Just what the world needs, right?
The Super Mario Bros. Movie made all the money
Turns out there’s a huge market for a movie that kids and families can enjoy together. (And, no, Shazam! Fury of the Gods didn’t count.) The Super Mario Bros. Movie absolutely dominated the Easter weekend box office, bringing in $146.6 million over the three-day weekend and $204.6 million over the five-day weekend.
The three-day weekend total was the biggest debut of 2023, beating Ant-Man: Quantumania’s $106.1 million by over $40 million.
I’m not sure if this is how we’re supposed to be measuring box office success these days, but Popculturology reader Anton Ali pointed out to me that The Super Mario Bros. Movie’s worldwide haul has already topped what Black Adam made its entire run, $410 million-plus to $391.3 million.
Morena Baccarin and Stefan Kapicic are back for Deadpool 3
With rumors that Deadpool 3 will employ some multiversal timeline shenanigans, it only makes sense that Ryan Reynolds’ Deadpool bring along a few friends from the first two movies. Deadline reported on Wednesday that Morena Baccarin and Stefan Kapicic will return as Vanessa and Colossus.
For a moment, I was thinking that Deadpool 3 will use time travel to bring Baccarin’s Vanessa back from the dead, but then I remembered that Deadpool 2 already did that.
Will all of these characters stay in the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Or will Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine and Kapicic’s Colossus return to their original timelines? Can you have members of the X-Men before the X-Men exist?
- The Expanse’s Wes Chatham joins Ahsoka. Deadline reported that he’s playing Thrawn’s right-hand man. Gizmodo theorized he’s playing Eli Vanto.
- Mia Goth signs on for Blade. Deadline reported on Wednesday that the Pearl star was joining Mahershala Ali in the MCU reboot.
- “I knew I was playing an elf.” Morfydd Clark told Vanity Fair that she showed up to start shooting The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power without knowing she was playing Galadriel.
- Stranger Things gets animated. While the original Stranger Things is set to wrap up with its next season, Netflix announced that the franchise will continue with an animated series.
- Scream team working on a monster movie for Universal. Deadline reported that Radio Silence, the group of filmmakers that brought Scream (the fifth one, not the first one) and Scream VI to life have found their next project.
- Frank Grillo joins the DCU. TheWrap broke the news that the former MCU actor will play Rick Flag Sr. in the animated Creature Commandos. James Gunn confirmed the news and added that Grillo will portray the character “across all media.” Collider fleshed out the cast shortly after TheWrap’s story.
- Hannah Gadsby’s next Netflix special sets a date. The comedian will return with her third standup special, Someone Special, on May 9.
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I love everything about this trailer. Iman Vellani belongs on the big screen alongside Brie Larson and Teyonah Parris. I’m sure there are implications for the multiverse somewhere in The Marvels .
The Marvels premieres on Nov. 10.
Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny
This really feels like the end for Indy, doesn’t it? They even rolled out the triumphant version of John Williams’ theme to close out this trailer. What’s everyone think about the dial? It’s going to do some time travel. It’s definitely going to do some time travel.
Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny opens on June 30.
The first season of The Afterparty was a blast. Tiffany Haddish and Sam Richardson are back for Season 2.
The Afterparty Season 2 premieres on Apple TV+ on July 12.
Charlie Day’s directorial debut has a cast (including Ray Liotta in one of the late actor’s final performances) that would make any director jealous.
Fool’s Paradise opens on May 12.
💬 💬 💬 Comments, questions or recommendations? Let me know!
Episode: “The Spies”
Now that we know Lucasfilm is working on a movie that’ll close out the stories behind told across The Mandalorian and Ahsoka, this season of The Mandalorian makes so much more sense.
There was once a show called The Mandalorian. It told the father/son story of Din Djarin and Grogu. It ended when Luke Skywalker took Grogu for Jedi training. The Mandalorian currently on Disney+ has the same name and characters, but it’s a new show. It’s a preamble to Filoni’s upcoming movie.
“The Spies” is one of the best of the best episodes we’ve gotten from The Mandalorian, regardless of what version of the show we’re talking about. Moff Gideon talking to Imperial remnant officers. Mandalorians flying repainted Light Cruisers. The return of the Maul-styled Mandalorian armor.
With one episode left to go this season, The Mandalorian has all the pieces on the board needed to deliver a thrilling season finale. Will that finale also come with a major betrayal? We’ve watched the Armorer with suspicion this entire season, and now she happens to leave Din and Bo-Katan’s scout group just before they’re ambushed by Gideon? And it’d be quite the coincidence that both Gideon and the Armorer are the only characters wearing horned Mandalorian helmets …
Loved Grogu’s new IG-12 suit, even it was a total desecration of IG-11’s corpse.
And finally, here’s one last “this is the way” to Paz Vizsla. Went out like a badass against the Praetorian Guard.
“Your song is not yet written. I will serve you until it is.” — Din Djarin to Bo-Katan
Episode: “Big Week”
AFC Richmond’s Cinderella story was interrupted by Nate and West Ham United. More importantly, we got to see Ted and Nate together again. While Ted is dealing with his own demons (hello, Dr. Jacobs), Nate seems unable to escape the darkness that is slowly consuming him.
“Sounds silly. Maybe you should quit your big new busy job.” — Jade the hostess responding to Nate
- 15 years ago, How I Met Your Mother reset Britney Spears (Drew Gillis, AV Club)
- 17 Pop Culture Moments That Define the Covid Era (The New York Times)
- Michael Cera Is Barbie Land's Most Stylish Toy Boy (Zak Maoui, GQ)
- Dril Is Everyone. More Specifically, He’s a Guy Named Paul. (Nate Rogers, The Ringer)
- It's Pedro Pascal's World Now (Dave Holmes, Esquire)
- Succession’s Echoing Crescendo (Roxana Hadadi, Vulture)
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Ana de Armas hosts SNL
Ana de Armas hosts SNL for the first time this weekend, so here’s her promo. The Blonde actor teamed up with Chloe Fineman to brainstorm some ideas of questionable quality for the episode.
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