Discover more from Popculturology
Is 'The Mandalorian' a cohesive show or just a checklist of Very Cool Star Wars Things™️?
The 'Star Wars' series is spending a lot time setting up future storylines. PLUS: The final season of 'Barry' gets a new trailer, Liv Tyler returns to the MCU, and is 'Curb Your Enthusiasm' ending?
The Mandalorian somehow manages to be a show with massive, galaxy-defining stakes — while at the same time having almost no stakes at all.
The third season has balanced telling the story of how the ineffective and overly bureaucratic New Republic wound up allowing the First Order to rise (gotta check off those sequel trilogy boxes) with the mundanity of Nevarro.
“The Pirate,” like previous episodes, is a shell of a storyline wrapped around setup for the larger narrative that Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni are seeding across The Mandalorian and Ahsoka. Even if that means The Mandalorian barely holds it together as an actual show itself.
Yes, Din Djarin, Bo-Katan and their Mandalorian crew had to rescue Greef Karga and the people of Nevarro (the planet appeared to have dozens of inhabitants) from space pirates, but “The Pirate” was more interested in setting up the reveal that Moff Gideon never made it to trial and was possibly taken during transport by Mandalorians (cough, it’s a trap, cough) and that Bo-Katan has been appointed the savior of the Mandalorian people as they look to reclaim their homeworld.
Don’t get me wrong. I love the bureaucratic bits that The Mandalorian is sprinkling in. I love visiting Coruscant. The sequel trilogy could’ve spent more time taking these steps, explaining how the New Republic cratered and allowed the remnants of the Empire to regroup and form the First Order.
But like with The Book of Boba Fett spending huge chunks of its run setting up Season 3 of The Mandalorian, Season 3 of The Mandalorian is sacrificing its own narrative to get the pieces on the board for whatever big plans Favreau and Filoni have.
The arc of the first two seasons of The Mandalorian was pretty clear: Din Djarin found Grogu, the two became a father-son duo, and then Din made the hard decision to allow Grogu to go with Luke Skywalker to resume his Jedi training.
What’s the arc of this season? Din not only already redeemed himself for the sin of taking off his helmet, but now the Armorer has given up on even caring about that one tenant of her cult. (For Bo-Katan, at least.)
Maybe thinking about The Mandalorian as a cohesive show is the wrong way to look at it.
Oh, and we got to see Star Wars Rebels favorite Zeb Orrelios as a stunningly perfect looking live-action character. (This bodes well for Ahsoka.) Perhaps Lucasfilm learned the lesson from Cad Bane that sometimes bringing an animated character to life requires CGI instead of practical effects.
Anyone else slightly disappointed that Bo-Katan gets to take her helmet off now? (Besides Din, who I’m sure was pissed that she gets special rules after everything he need to redeem himself.) While it’s great to see Katee Sackhoff’s face again, her acting behind the helmet was fantastic. Her presence dominated every frame she was in while wearing that helmet.
Happy Thursday, and thanks for reading Popculturology. 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 sure you get every edition of Popculturology.
Share your thoughts on The Mandalorian, Bo-Katan and everything else pop culture below.
And please tap the ♥️ button at the bottom of each post if you enjoyed the newsletter. Now let’s get to the news.
Fewer episodes for House of the Dragon’s second season
When House of the Dragon returns, expect it to take up less of your Sunday nights than the first season did. Deadline reported on Tuesday that Season 2 of the Game of Thrones prequel series will consist of eight episodes compared to the first season’s 10-episode run.
I hear executive producer-showrunner Ryan Condal, working with author/executive producer George R.R. Martin, took a step back as Season 2 was being put together to take a big-picture view of the series, which follows Martin’s Fire & Blood, and figure out the overall narrative flow, including how to break up the stories season-to-season and what battles to include and when.
As part of that, I hear Season 3 has been mapped out and might be greenlighted, with HBO seriously considering committing to moving ahead with scripts, casting and a production plan as the network too is trying to think long-term instead of season-to-season.
According to Deadline, Season 3 of House of the Dragon is close to being greenlit. The shuffling of episodes will reportedly push the series to four seasons.
Honestly, the number of episodes in a season of these HBO shows (especially Game of Thrones and House of the Dragon) is kind of meaningless when an episode can be 55 minutes long — or 90 minutes long. Sure, HBO might shave two episodes of House of the Dragon’s second season, but how long will the remaining eight episodes be?
Liv Tyler returns to the MCU for Captain America: New World Order
Raise your hand if you had Captain America: New World Order being a secret sequel to The Incredible Hulk.
Tyler joins Tim Blake Nelson among the returning Incredible Hulk cast. While their costar William Hurt passed away last year, his character, Thaddeus Ross, will return with Harrison Ford in the role.
A lot of people forget that The Incredible Hulk is a full-fledged member of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As the second film in the megafranchise — and the first to feature a cameo from a previous film — The Incredible Hulk was the movie that turned the entire thing into a cinematic universe.
Yes, Edward Norton was recast with Mark Ruffalo, but The Incredible Hulk still counts. Hurt played Ross in several latter MCU films and Tim Roth returned as Abomination in She-Hulk. It’s nice to see the cast and characters from that film be further interwoven into the MCU.
Disney fires Ike Perlmutter
Ike Perlmutter might not be a household name, but the power he once wielded at Marvel shaped much of the early years of the MCU. As chairman of Marvel Entertainment, Perlmutter pushed back against adding diversity to the MCU with the films like Black Panther and Captain Marvel, wanted to make the Inhumans a centerpiece of Marvel to sideline the X-Men and keep Fox, which was at the time not yet under the Disney banner, from profiting from the characters, and even reportedly tried to fire Kevin Feige at one point.
Perlmutter time with Marvel and Disney came to an end on Wednesday, with Disney notifying via a phone call that his department “was redundant and would be folded into larger Disney business units.”
The former exec’s role in a recent Disney board proxy battle probably didn’t win Perlmutter any favor when it came time to cut him loose.
Molly Shannon and Ana de Armas added as SNL hosts
In addition to being an iconic SNL castmember, Shannon previously hosted on May 12, 2007, with Linking Park (!!!) as the musical guest. Will any of Shannon’s old castmates return for her episode? I assume Fred Armisen just lurks outside Studio 8H.
The April 15 episode will be de Armas’ first time hosting SNL.
One of the Disgusting Brothers joins Deadpool 3
I’m shocked more Succession actors haven’t cashed in with a big franchise role. While we wait for Kieran Culkin to be announced as the new Wolverine, Deadline reported on Tuesday that Matthew Macfadyen has joined Deadpool 3.
We don’t officially know anything about Deadpool 3’s plot. There might be some time travel nonsense (will Loki’s TVA make an appearance?), and know that Ryan Reynolds and Hugh Jackman are back as Deadpool and Wolverine.
Wanna speculate on who Macfadyen is playing? Make him the new William Stryker — the character his Succession costar Brian Cox played in X2. That would be the ultimate Succession move, right?
Deadline also reported on Wednesday that Karan Soni and Leslie Uggams will reprise their roles as Dopinder and Blind Al in Deadpool 3.
Questlove to direct an Aristocats remake
After winning an Oscar last year for his documentary Summer of Soul (...Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised), Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson has the right to choose whatever he wants as his next project. I didn’t expect that pick to be a live-action remake of Disney’s The Aristocats.
(To clarify, this movie won’t actually be live action. Just like the “live-action” Lion King remake wasn’t live action. They’re not going to have actual cats playing these roles.)
This has to be a Disney+ movie, right? Unless there’s something wild we don’t know about this remake, I can’t see it opening in theaters.
Is White Lotus going to Thailand for its third season?
After the first two seasons of The White Lotus took viewers to Hawaii and Italy, there’s been a lot of speculation over where the show will go for its third season. According to a Variety report on Monday, Thailand is the next stop on the itinerary.
As the first two seasons of Mike White’s The White Lotus were shot at Four Seasons resorts in Hawaii and Italy, respectively, it’s possible that Season 3 will take place at one of the luxury hotel giant’s four properties in Thailand, which are located in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Koh Samui and the Golden Triangle. Thailand’s Four Seasons resorts are spread across the city, country, jungle and beach, giving White plenty of settings to play with, if he so chooses.
Will show creator White continue the trend of having one major returning character bridge the previous season and this upcoming season?
‘The last scene of the last episode of the final season’
Curb Your Enthusiasm writer and producer Jon Hayman may have accidentally broken some news about Larry David’s show on Tuesday when he tweeted a photo of David and the crew looking at a monitor.
“Maybe you love the show. Maybe you hate the show. Maybe you don’t give a shit. In any event, shooting the last scene of the last episode of the final season,” Hayman wrote.
The “last season” part of his tweet came as a surprise to pretty much anyone who saw the tweet. David has never called the upcoming twelfth season of Curb Your Enthusiasm the final season of the show. I’ve always assumed that every season of Curb is the final season — until it isn’t.
Hayman wound up deleting his tweet. Maybe we’ll get some more clarity from David now that one of his producers has possibly spilled the beans.
Variety reported later on Tuesday that David’s deal with HBO is done at the end of 2023. If there’s a plan for more Curb in the future, David and HBO will need to reach a new contract.
💬 💬 💬 Wanna share your comments, questions or recommendations? Leave a comment at the bottom of the newsletter.
“I love comedy,” Popculturology reader Kristen Bolden wrote as she quote-tweeted the new Barry trailer. Remember when it was first announced that Bill Hader — you know, Bill Hader of SNL, the guy who played Stefon? — was going to play a hitman in an HBO series? Was Barry going to be funny?
Yes, Barry is funny. And, yes, Barry somehow one of the darkest shows on TV. Let’s see how funny and dark the final season can be.
Barry premieres on April 16.
I’ll never stop rooting for Pixar, but does anyone else feel like Elemental is a remix of Inside Out and Zootopia? I’m happy to see this one going to theaters. Hopefully audiences will see Elemental as a theatrical release and not just something to expect on Disney+ a few weeks later.
Elemental opens on June 16.
The Wes Anderson machine has now claimed Tom Hanks.
Asteroid City opens on June 16.
For the last time, Succession is back.
As always, this episode was an embarrassment of riches when it came to one-liners and insults. But more importantly, we saw the Roy kids finally get a win over their dad. Or, at least, they felt they got a win, bidding several billion more for an old media empire — “we get to talk to an old lady about newspapers” — than Logan Roy did, snatching away what the elder Roy saw as a final piece of his legacy.
“Congratulations on saying the biggest number, you fucking morons.
Episodes of Bluey … on TikTok
I’m a big fan of watching TV shows and movies through sanctioned platforms. Creators and artists need to be paid, and if you’re pirating your content, they’re not getting paid.
I succumbed to the siren song of Bluey episodes on TikTok this week.
Or, more accurately, Caitlin did and brought me along with her.
Hey, I still pay for Disney+. And I’ll still be paying for Disney+ when Bluey episodes like “Puppets,” “Onesies” and “Granny Mobile” finally premiere in America.
5 lessons from John Wick’s mega success I assume Hollywood won’t take (Matt Patches, Polygon)
Twitter is dying (Natasha Lomas, TechCrunch)
A seafood company has designed the world’s first octopus farm: Here’s why that’s horrifying (Brian Kateman, Fast Company)
Pepsi unveils new logo: See the updated branding ahead of iconic cola's 125th anniversary (Mike Snider, USA Today)
Panera rolls out hand-scanning technology that has raised privacy concerns (Juliana Kim, NPR)
Elusive ‘Einstein’ Solves a Longstanding Math Problem (Siobhan Roberts, The New York Times)
Spread the news! Share a free Popculturology subscription with your friends.
Quinta Brunson hosts SNL
Turns out you want to be pranked by Abbott Elementary creator and star Quinta Brunson.
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.