'Always Sunny' keeps us laughing

Now in its sixteenth season, the show is as funny as ever. PLUS: Sony updates 'Spider-Verse' sound mix, 'Winning Time' gets a trailer, and will Zazie Beetz return for 'Deadpool 3'?

'Always Sunny' keeps us laughing
Charlie Day, Glenn Howerton, Rob McElhenney, Danny DeVito and Kaitlin Olson in the It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia episode “The Gang Inflates.” / FXX

Welcome to a Tuesday edition of Popculturology! It was a quiet weekend on the pop culture front.

We started Platonic on Sunday night, flying through three of the five episodes that were available. It’s a fun watch, especially if you enjoyed Rose Byrne and Seth Rogen in the Neighbors movies. The married duo of Francesca Delbanco and Nicholas Stoller created the Apple TV+ show, with Stoller directing (as he did with Byrne and Rogen on the Neighbors movies).

I also saw Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse again on Friday. Still an absolute masterpiece on second viewing. A second viewing gave me a chance to catch some of the tiny details that I missed the first time around. (I see what you’re doing there, Spider-Punk …)

It’s not cheap seeing Across the Spider-Verse over and over again. Tickets are pricey. I need to buy a large soda that I won’t finish. You can help fund that addiction, though, by becoming a paid Popculturology subscriber.

For just $50, you can get a full year of Popculturology. A monthly subscription $5. Both subscriptions bring you the two weekly editions of the newsletter plus Deep SNL Thoughts and The Box Office Report.

I love writing this newsletter, and if you’re interested in becoming a supporting subscriber, please consider upgrading your subscription.

In Today's Edition
  • Feature Presentation: Always Sunny returns
  • The News: Zazie Beetz’s Deadpool future looks grim, Sony updates Spider-Verse’s sound mix, and is Idris Elba in Star Wars?
  • Trailer Watch: Winning Time, Star Wars Outlaws
  • Odds and Ends: Hocus Pocus gets the Lego treatment

Feature Presentation
Rob McElhenney, Charlie Day and Lynne Marie Stewart in the It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia episode “Frank Shoots Every Member of the Gang.” / FXX

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia has become our go-to rewatch show.

We’ve rewatched the entire series from start to finish twice since our daughter was born at the end of 2022. The first time was in a haze of newborn diaper changes and feedings. I’m sure there were episodes we watched that I don’t remember during that time. The second time was just over the past few months. Sometimes you’d rather return to a favorite than start a new show. (It also helps that it takes awhile to run out of episodes.)

I was late to Always Sunny. A former college roommate once showed me random episode, but it didn’t click for me at that point. (It was the episode with Sinbad and Rob Thomas, which is an insane episode to try to draw anyone in with.)

It wasn’t until I moved to Washington, D.C., in the summer of 2011 when the show finally clicked for me. My roommate Steve and I would watch marathons of Always Sunny as it aired on Comedy Central or whatever cable network had the syndicated rights to it back then. It was the perfect show to plop down on the mysterious couch that was already part of the house’s decor when I moved in and enjoy a few beers while watching.

I eventually decided that I needed to buy the show on DVD. At this point, Always Sunny had only aired for six seasons, so picking up a handful of DVD sets wasn’t a tall order. It was also during my era of buying everything on DVD and Blu-ray, so these were no-brainers for my collection. I hopped on the Metro and visited the Best Buy in Columbia Heights to scoop up the seasons that were available on DVD.

Years later, Always Sunny would become a show that my future wife and I would watch. (Archer was the first show that we bonded over, but that may have been more of an excuse to keep hanging out than an actual love of the show.)

Over the past year or so, we added The Always Sunny Podcast to our watchlist. While Rob McElhenney, Glenn Howerton, Charlie Day and Megan Ganz began the podcast as a true podcast (you know, the kind you just listen to), I think the show really hit its stride when they added a video format for YouTube. If you’re not watching this one, the three castmembers along with Ganz, who’s an executive producer and writer on the show, have spent the podcast breaking down Always Sunny episodes one by one. You get to see the guys chat about life while also revealing what went into making the episodes.

The Always Sunny Podcast has also given viewers a window into the making of the show’s sixteenth season. While McElhenney, Howerton, Day and Ganz were careful to not reveal anything major about the new season, they did give almost weekly updates on how where they were in the production cycle. It was a rare window into the birth of a season of TV — when they were brainstorming, when they were writing, when shooting began.

The sixteenth season of Always Sunny premiered this past week, with two new episodes available on FXX and Hulu. We watched both episodes on Saturday night — and loved them enough to immediately rewatch them.

Always Sunny has had its rough patches over its remarkable run. I wouldn’t say last season was the strongest season, but the show was working around the pandemic. It’s impressive, though, to see a show remain this creative and be interested in still taking risks all these years later.

If you really want to see how long Always Sunny had been running, marathoning the show is the perfect way. In addition to watching the characters themselves grow up from 20-somethings in 2005, the episodes are a time capsule of how television itself has changed. The early seasons were made before we had widescreen TVs. They’re formatted to fit the old square-ish TVs many of us grew up watching. Even after the show switched to widescreen, it still looks grainy on a 4K television. It took a few more seasons before Always Sunny made the jump to the resolution we’re all now used to seeing.

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia has at least two more seasons to go after its sixteenth, with Disney renewing it for four seasons back in 2020. Based on the episodes that premiered last week, there’s no reason to doubt that Always Sunny will be just as good during those future seasons.

I love writing about pop culture, and I hope you enjoy reading this newsletter. Are you a subscriber yet? It’s the easiest way to make get Popculturology in your inbox. Become a paid subscriber to get every edition of Popculturology.

The News
Zazie Beetz in Deadpool 2. / 20th Century Fox

Zazie Beetz: ‘I’m actually not in Deadpool 3

Marvel Studios has been reassembling much of the Deadpool 2 cast for the character’s upcoming Marvel Cinematic Universe debut. In addition to Ryan Reynolds, various reports say Morena Baccarin, Leslie Uggams, Karan Soni, Brianna Hildebrand, Shioli Kutsuna, Stefan Kapičić and Rob Delaney are returning.

X-Force teammate Zazie Beetz had been rumored to be coming back for Deadpool 3, but according to Beetz herself, Domino will not be in the mix.

“Well I’m actually not in Deadpool 3, so I don’t know what they’re doing [about improvisation],” Beetz told Decider. “I’m assuming they’re probably taking a pause. […] I’m excited to watch it.”

I’d love to see Beetz back in the MCU, but I get that not everyone from the previous Deadpool movies can make the cut. I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of these returning actors are in quick cameos and Deadpool and Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine make there way across various timelines.

Game over for Pat Sajak

Pat Sajak announced on Twitter Monday evening that the current season of Wheel of Fortune will be his last

“Well, the time has come,” he tweeted. “I’ve decided that our 41st season, which begins in September, will be my last. It’s been a wonderful ride, and I’ll have more to say in the coming months. Many thanks to you all. (If nothing else, it’ll keep the clickbait sites busy!)”

Do the clickbait sites report on Sajak and Wheel of Fortune? Anyways, Sajak has hosted the game show since 1981. No word yet on who will follow in Sajak’s footsteps, but Mike Richards — the man who infamously tried to install himself as host of Jeopardy! after Alex Trebek — is an executive producer on Wheel of Fortune …

Idris Elba in Hobbs & Shaw. / Universal Pictures

Is Idris Elba heading to a galaxy far, far away?

The MCU and Star Wars come for every actor eventually. Idris Elba has already checked the MCU off that list, and according to a new report will soon do the same for Star Wars.

Giant Freakin Robot reports that Elba, who is has also appeared in the DCEU and Fast & Furious franchises, is in talks to join Daisy Ridley’s Star Wars movie set after the events of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Based on Giant Freakin Robot’s report, Elba would play the film’s villain, hinting that the character could be a Sith.

I’d love to see Elba in a Star Wars movie. The concept of a Sith being the film’s villain originally made me groan, but short of reintroducing the Yuuzhan Vong back into Star Wars, where do films set in the franchise’s future timeline go? Lucasfilm basically has to reopen the Jedi/Sith wound over and over again. They tried to avoid that with Kylo Ren specifically not being a Sith Lord in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but J.J. Abrams gave up on that idea by the time he got to direct The Rise of Skywalker.

Versions of Across the Spider-Verse with improved sound mix go out to theaters

One of the only complaints I’ve heard about Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse was that the dialogue can be a bit hard to hear in spots. Sony has taken this criticism seriously and sent out versions of the film with a new sound mix to theaters at the end of last week.

When I first saw Across the Spider-Verse, it was in a Dolby Cinema at AMC theater. That may have helped the sound mix, but there were still moments where I thought the dialogue was a tiny bit quiet. I noticed the issue more when I saw the film for a second time on Friday. This time was in a normal AMC theater, and I found the Gwen Stacy prologue to be especially hard to track what was being said.

I might have to see Across the Spider-Verse for a third time to check the updated sound mix. For science.

Don’t expect to see Across the Spider-Verse on digital anytime soon

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse writer and producer Christopher Miller tweeted on Monday that fans shouldn’t expect to see the film on digital until “August at the earliest.”

Sony has no reason to cannibalize Across the Spider-Verse’s box office potential like Universal Pictures has done with Fast X (already available on digital!) and Paramount Pictures with Transformers: Rise of the Beasts (coming to digital on July 11!).

I preordered my UHD Blu-ray copy of Across the Spider-Verse last week and don’t expect to see that show up until the fall.

The Hop characters. / Max

New series coming from Arthur creator

Arthur may have ended last year, but creator Marc Brown is returning with a new animated series called Hop.

“Even before Arthur ended, I was nurturing a new project about a little frog named Hop, for a younger audience,” Brown said in a statement (via The Hollywood Reporter). “As Hop’s world grew in my imagination, I drew inspiration from the great work my friend Fred Rogers had done. With Arthur, we occasionally introduced characters with disabilities, but they never became part of the ensemble cast in any meaningful way. But the characters in Hop reflect many kids who are underrepresented in the media. Some of our characters have disabilities but they never define who they are or what they can achieve. Kids are kids and each one is unique and filled with potential. And kids love to have fun — that’s what Hop is all about.”

Tolon Brown, one of Marc Brown’s kids, is a producer on the show. If you’re as old as I am, you’ll remember that Marc Brown used to hide his kids’ names in the Arthur books, giving readers something to search for.

Venom in Venom: Let There Be Carnage. / Sony Pictures

Quick hits

  • Third Venom movie targets October 2024 release date. After a chat with Ted Lasso star Juno Temple, Variety revealed that while the actress had yet to start shooting the film, it was on pace to hit theaters next fall.
  • Hollywood Foreign Press Association sells Golden Globes, shuts down. Good. I don’t know what value Dick Clark Productions sees in the Golden Globes at this point, especially after Jerrod Carmichael eviscerated them while hosting earlier this year.

Enjoy reading Popculturology? Share it!

Trailer Watch

Winning Time

I watched the first season of Winning Time while on paternity leave during our daughter’s contact-nap phase. I really enjoyed this show — as a TV series, as a history lesson, and as a “gotta check Wikipedia to see who this actor is and what the person they’re playing really looked” scavenger hunt.

Winning Time Season 2 premieres on Max on Aug. 6.

Star Wars Outlaws

I really should look into getting that PS5, huh? Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, Sony’s Spider-Man 2 and now another Star Wars game?

Star Wars Outlaws is expected in 2024.

💬 💬 💬 Comments, questions or recommendations? Let me know!

The Box Office Report
Not quite sure what’s going on in this scene from Transformers: Rise of the Beasts … / Paramount Pictures

The Box Office Report is Popculturology’s look at the weekend box office. It’s another great add-on available to paid Popculturology subscribers.

Did you know that Popculturology is on Instagram?

The Links

Spread the news! Share Popculturology on social media.

Odds and Ends
Disney Hocus Pocus: The Sanderson Sisters’ Cottage. / LEGO

Lego unveils Hocus Pocus set

There’s never been a better time to be a Hocus Pocus fan. A sequel finally came out last year. (Big moment for fans of Walgreen’s too!) There’s another sequel in the works. And now Lego has unveiled a giant Hocus Pocus set.

Hocus Pocus: The Sanderson Sisters’ Cottage has 2,316 pieces and will cost you $229.99. In addition to a highly detailed recreation of the Sanderson sisters’ cottage, the set also comes with minifigures of Winifred Sanderson, Sarah Sanderson (yes, you can now get Bette Midler and Sarah Jessica Parker in Lego form), Mary Sanderson, Max Dennison, Dani Dennison and Allison Watts.

The set will be available beginning July 4.

That’s the end of this issue of Popculturology. Thanks for reading. If you don’t already subscribe, please hit the “Subscribe now” button. Tapping the ♥️ at the bottom of each post also helps the newsletter.