Is this where the fun begins for 'Ahsoka'?

Big changes for 'Popculturology.' PLUS: In-depth reads on Jimmy Fallon and Bob Iger, a new 'Loki' trailer, and a rumored director for 'Avengers: Secret Wars.'

Is this where the fun begins for 'Ahsoka'?
Rosario Dawson in Ahsoka. / Lucasfilm

Hello! You might notice that Popculturology looks a bit different this edition. You’re right. Some changes have been made.

I’ve found the newsletter to be more challenging to pull together over the past few months. With the dual writers/actors strikes still in affect, the usual stream of pop culture news has changed. Sure, there are trailers and announcements, but official casting news is on pause for the moment. New TV shows aren’t in production. And Saturday Night Live, one of Popculturology’s biggest subjects, is off the air.

I’ve also felt stuck when it comes to the format of the newsletter. While the giant headers gave the newsletter a framework, they also became boxes to check off. Maybe I didn’t have a recommendation for what to watch over the weekend. Maybe none of the shows we’d watched were worthy of breakdowns.

So I’m shaking things up. The old framework is gone. Popculturology is brisker and easier to skim through. It’ll continue to publish on Fridays. The Box Office Report will still hit your inbox on Mondays.

I’m also putting the paid subscriber program on pause. Both editions of the newsletter will be available for all subscribers. No one will be billed for anything more until Popculturology gets cranking on all cylinders again.

Welcome to the first fall edition of Popculturology.

I love writing about pop culture, and if you enjoy reading Popculturology and aren’t already a subscriber, please subscribe to the newsletter.


Ahsoka goes Between Worlds

The first three episodes of Ahsoka have kind of bored me. I love Ahsoka Tano, but the live-action version of the character really hasn’t shown the same spark that Ashley Eckstein and the Lucasfilm animated team gave her across Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Star Wars Rebels and Tales of the Jedi.

The fourth episode of Ahsoka? This is (hopefully) where the fun begins.

I wasn’t going to watch the latest episode until later in the week, but a late-night text from one of my brothers advising my other brother and I that we’ll “wanna watch Ahsoka sooner rather than later” changed that. With so many Star Wars shows and a viewing schedule based around raising a toddler, I’ve grown used to seeing these episodes spoiled on social media. Oh, Sabine got stabbed? But then she lived? OK. No big deal.

I’m happy I got to see the live-action meeting of Anakin Skywalker and Ahsoka Tano without being spoiled, though.

Or, at least we think that’s Anakin, right? Would a Force ghost need a lightsaber and be accompanied by “Darth Vader’s Theme”? I guess we’ll find out next week just who (or what) Ahsoka has encountered in the World Between Worlds.

Ah, the World Between Worlds. A groundbreaking storytelling device that, up until now, existed only in a handful of Star Wars Rebels episodes — which I’m sure is in no way confusing to people trying follow the Ahsoka storylines …


Ahsoka in theaters

Lucasfilm must be very confident in the fifth episode of Ahsoka. The studio announced this week that it’ll play in select theaters on Tuesday night, an unprecedented move for a Disney+ show, especially an episode that isn’t even a season or series finale. (Or they’re hoping to use the theatrical release for free publicity during a time when the show’s stars are on the picket lines …)

Read the tweet.


A long time ago …

A quick and fun bit of Star Wars lore keeping: The official site updated recently to include the nine major eras of Star Wars storytelling, listing which movies and TV shows fall under each of the era.

The nine eras of Star Wars. / Lucasfilm

Two of the eras — Dawn of the Jedi and New Jedi Order — are blank, with the upcoming films from James Mangold and Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy expected to seed those timeframes.


“It was like, if Jimmy is in a bad mood, everyone’s day is fucked”

“Good rule of thumb: whenever a public-facing person's entire brand is built around how unfailingly nice they are, run like hell,” a Twitter mutual of mine tweeted on Thursday. It was the perfect way to sum up Rolling Stone’s bombshell exploration of The Tonight Show during the Jimmy Fallon era.

Rolling Stone talked to sixteen current and former Tonight Show staffers and came away with a picture of a highly toxic culture at the late-night staple with anecdotes of a possibly drunk or hungover Fallon sprinkled throughout.

Fallon addressed his Tonight Show staff after the Rolling Stone piece published.

“It’s embarrassing and I feel so bad. Sorry if I embarrassed you and your family and friends,” Fallon said during a Zoom meeting, according to Variety. “I feel so bad I can’t even tell you.”

All great apologies include the phrase “sorry if” …

Read the story at Rolling Stone.


The ballad of “Big Bob” and “Little Bob”

CNBC published a lengthy look at the breakdown of Disney’s CEO succession plan, digging into just about every angle of how the transition from Bob Iger to Bob Chapek and back to Bob Iger went wrong.

Some of the pieces of this story have been floating around in the almost-year since Disney fired Chapek and brought Iger back for a second stint as CEO, but seeing this entire story stitched together is impressive. It’s a long read, but it covers a ton of territory. (Including how the drive to please shareholders repeatedly took precedence over creativity and culture, a theme we’re seeing come up as the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strike for fair contracts.)

The story closes out with yet another mention of the long-rumored idea that Disney could sell to Apple, writing that “more than a dozen past and present Disney executives said privately they believe Iger’s desired end game is to stay as CEO for as long as possible and then sell the company to Apple.”

Read the story at CNBC.


🗓️ Marvel scrambles Disney+ dates

If you’re one of the people who think there are too many MCU shows on Disney+ to keep up with (and after Secret Invasion, that’s a fair stance), you’re going to be pleased to hear that Marvel Studios has pushed several titles from 2023 into 2024.

While Loki and What If…? will still air their seconds seasons this year, shows like Echo, X-Men ’97 and Agatha: Darkhold Diaries will now premiere next year.

Read the story at The Hollywood Reporter.


🎞️ “I’m being pulled through time”

While a handful of MCU shows have been pushed into 2024, Loki is still scheduled to hit Disney+ on Oct. 6. Based on this new trailer for the show, it looks like Jonathan Majors remains a big part of the MCU.


Will Sam Raimi lead the MCU’s Secret Wars?

Take this one with a grain of salt, but Twitter scooper My Time to Shine tweeted on Wednesday that Sam Raimi is Marvel Studios’ top choice to direct Avengers: Secret Wars. Raimi is obviously no stranger to the world of superhero movies. In addition to directing the iconic Spider-Man trilogy starring Tobey Maguire, Raimi helmed Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness for the MCU.

If Raimi does direct Secret Wars, he’ll put that multiversal knowledge to good use. (And probably bring Maguire back for another swing as Spider-Man.)

Read the tweet.


🚫 Now we’ll never know how she met the father

There were few bigger fans of How I Met Your Mother than I was. I religiously watched the show. I found common themes between the show and my life during my 20s. But How I Met Your Father, the show’s spinoff on Hulu, was never my thing. Different show for a different generation.

Unfortunately for fans of that show, they’ll never find out how Hilary Duff met the eponymous father since Disney canceled How I Met Your Father after two seasons.

Read the story at Variety.


🎞️ Who wins in a weird-voice-off between Austin Butler and Tom Hardy?

I didn’t even know The Bikeriders was a movie that was happening until the first trailer hit the Internet on Wednesday. Now all I can imagine is Tom Hardy giving Austin Butler advice on committing to a weird voice. The Bikeriders hits theaters on Dec. 1.


🎞️ Our Flag Means Death sails again

Loved the first season of Our Flag Means Death, and I’m thrilled to see that the second season is coming to Max on Oct. 5.


“If it sounds like a conflict of interest for a movie-review aggregator to be owned by two companies that make movies and another that sells tickets to them, it probably is”

The overall usefulness of Rotten Tomatoes has been questionable for awhile. Fan reviews have been bombed by people angry that superhero movies now have female leads, and now a new story alleges that the side of Rotten Tomatoes that features professional critics is, we’ll, rotten too.

Read the story at Vulture.


🎞️ Zoom zoom

The trailer for Michael Mann’s Ferrari dropped last week. It’s the director’s first film since 2015’s Blackhat and stars Adam Driver and Penélope Cruz. It opens on Dec. 25.


📺 Barbie and Dial of Destiny set digital dates

Barbie is one of the biggest box office hits ever. Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny is also a movie that was released this year. Both films are on their way to digital home releases.

You’ll be able to purchase or rent a digital copy of Barbie on Sept. 12, a few weeks after Dial of Destiny becomes available via digital copy on Aug. 29.

I’ll be holding out for physical copies of both movies. For only a couple bucks more than what the studios charge for digital copies, you can buy 4K discs of each movie if you’re willing to wait a few weeks. Discs that the studios can’t alter or send to the vault for a tax credit in the future.


🎞️ “You can hire the sex toy if I can hire my mom”

Here’s the first trailer for Pain Hustlers starring Emily Blunt, Chris Evans and Andy Garcia. It premieres on Netflix on Oct. 27.


📺 Disney+ fires up Elemental

Pixar’s latest hits Disney+ on Sept. 13. While Elemental was considered a box office failure when it opened behind The Flash in June (yeeeeeesh), the film has shown surprising life. Its worldwide box office haul is now greater than ten other Pixar films, including Cars, Cars 3 and the original Toy Story.



The most disgusting thing I’ve ever seen

I love a tuna sandwich. Tuna melts are great too. What The Bear star Matty Matheson does in this video is a crime against humanity. Caitlin and I were aghast as Matheson added scoop after scoop of mayo to his bowl of tuna before topping it off with several scoops of Miracle Whip. If we had to watch this, you have to watch it too.

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.