It’s Friday, so it’s Popculturology time.
Before we dive into this week’s news, I wanted to quickly discuss something funny that’s going on with television.
You’ll probably remember that there was a time when new shows once aired at a specific time on a specific day. You got one episode a week. Then you had to wait until the next week for a new episode. This kind of wait was excruciating for a show like Lost.
Then came the streaming era. Netflix ushered in a new way of releasing shows. Entire seasons all at once! No wait! Maybe the show released at midnight on the East Coast! Maybe it was midnight on the West Coast! Go! Watch! Consume!
While HBO stuck to the traditional weekly release format, we’ve now seen some of the other streamers come around to the old way of doing things. Disney+ has stuck to releasing an episode (or two) per week for its shows.
With recent episodes of Ahsoka and Loki’s upcoming premiere, though, Disney’s streaming service seems to have rediscovered the classic way of releasing shows.
“Marvel Studios’ Loki Season 2, an Original series, is time slipping to a new date, streaming October 5 at 6PM PT,” the show’s Twitter account announced this week.
Like with Ahsoka, that means these shows are premiering new episodes at 9 p.m. for East Coast viewers. Not midnight. Not 3 a.m. You don’t have to worry about staying up late or getting up early. I was able to watch Ahsoka and Anakin Skywalker hang out together last week and still go to sleep by 11 p.m.
Streaming services might be losing money and are canceling shows left and right, but at least they’ve found a tiny bit of sanity when it comes to releasing new episodes.
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NEWS, NOTES AND TRAILERS
It’s me, hi, I’m the hit movie, it’s me
Box office tracking numbers for Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour are live — and it’s going to be a big one. With a few weeks to go before Taylor Swift’s concert movie hits theaters, the film is tracking for a domestic opening weekend between $75 million and $100 million, with some other sources even predicting it could open as big as $125 million.
🎞️ Disney characters … assemble
As part of the studio’s 100th anniversary celebration, Disney will release next month Once Upon a Studio. The short brings together animated Disney characters from across the studio’s centurylong history, which means you’ll get to see fan favorites like Moana and Flounder (the classically animated one, not the weird dead-eyed CGI one) hang out together.
🪧 Drew Barrymore backtracks
Phew, busy week for Drew Barrymore. After announcing she would bring The Drew Barrymore Show back during the dual writers/actors strike, the daytime host received a wave of backlash. In response, Barrymore posted a now-deleted Instagram video where she tried to justify her decision while making zero attempt to actually do the right thing.
“Since launching live in a pandemic, I just wanted to make a show that was there for people in sensitive times, and I weighed the scales and I thought if we could go on during a global pandemic, and everything that the world experienced through 2020, why would this sideline us?” Barrymore said in the post. “So I want to just put one foot in front of the other and make a show that’s there for people regardless of anything else that’s happening in the world because that’s when I think we all need something that wants to be there being very realistic in very realistic times.”
Wow. “So I want to just put one foot in front of the other and make a show that’s there for people regardless of anything else that’s happening in the world” is fantastic nonsense.
Shortly after that, Barrymore announced that The Drew Barrymore Show would not continue to produce new episodes and would hold its premiere until after the writers strike was over.
“I have listened to everyone, and I am making the decision to pause the show’s premiere until the strike is over,” Barrymore said in another Instagram video. “I have no words to express my deepest apologies to anyone I have hurt and, of course, to our incredible team who works on the show and has made it what it is today. We really tried to find our way forward. And I truly hope for a resolution for the entire industry very soon.”
Amazing how this could’ve all been avoided by not being a scab.
- “Managed to squander much of the goodwill she stockpiled over more than four decades in the business”: The Los Angeles Times’ Meredith Blake dives into how Barrymore unraveled her brand.
- The Talk, Bill Maher pause returns: The backlash to Barrymore seems to have paid off, causing several other shows to rethink returning during the strike. The Talk confirmed to Entertainment Weekly that it would hold off on returning to air. Meanwhile Bill Maher tried to save face by claiming that he was only coming back since “it seemed nothing was happening and there was no end in sight to this strike,” a massively stupid reason to undermine the striking writers.
- Sherri Shepherd also pauses her return — but it’s because she got Covid: Sherri Shepherd’s plans to bring her show back during the dual strike hit a snag this week as the host of Sherri came down with Covid.
- Dancing With the Stars loses contestants, may delay: Veep actor Matt Walsh became the first contestant on the upcoming season of Dancing With the Stars to walk away from the show in solidarity with the unions. “I am taking a pause from Dancing with the Stars until an agreement is made with the WGA,” Walsh told Variety in a statement. “I was excited to join the show and did so under the impression that it was not a WGA show and fell under a different agreement. This morning when I was informed by my union, the WGA, that it is considered struck work I walked out of my rehearsal. I have been and will always stand with my union members of the WGA, SAG and DGA.” Variety also reports that ABC is working on plans to postpone the season.
“Well, Las Vegas, I got Covid”
Sherri Shepherd isn’t the only celebrity getting Covid. Jimmy Kimmel announced that he too has Covid (is this his third time?), forcing the late-night host to cancel his upcoming Las Vegas show with his Strike Force Five partners Jimmy Fallon and Stephen Colbert.
🎞️ “What are the Hunger Games for?”
New trailer for The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes debuted this week. I’m very curious to see if this franchise still has box office juice. Was it all about Jennifer Lawrence?
Guillermo del Toro was going to direct a Star Wars movie?
During an episode of the Happy Sad Confused podcast that posted on Thursday, screenwriter David S. Goyer revealed that he wrote not just one but two unproduced Star Wars scripts. Learning that someone wrote a Star Wars movie that’ll never be produced isn’t new for this era of Star Wars. What makes this one especially interseting, though, is that Goyer told host Josh Horowitz that Guillermo del Toro was supposed to direct one of his Star Wars movies.
“True. Can’t say much,” del Toro tweeted in response to the news. “Maybe two letters ‘J’ and ‘BB’ is that three letters?”
Was del Toro working on a Jabba the Hutt movie? The whole “real sets, practical effects” thing has been overblown when it comes to recent Star Wars movies (the prequels used a ton of real sets and practical effects in addition to cutting-edge CGI), but I would’ve loved to have seen what the Pan’s Labryinth and Shape of Water director’s brand of practical effects would’ve looked like with Jabba and Star Wars. (This is also a reminder how how much more interesting the Hobbit movies would’ve been had del Toro stayed on board as director.)
New Rick and Morty voices still under wraps
The seventh season of Rick and Morty debuts on Oct. 15, but we still don’t know who’ll be voicing the title characters after Justin Roiland was fired. Adult Swim released the new opening credits for Rick and Morty, and, well, they’re devoid of actual credits …
A trailer for the upcoming season is coming Monday. There’s gotta be voices in that, right?
🚫 Game over for Winning Time
I haven’t watched the second season of Winning Time yet, but HBO has given me a reason to not bother now. As the show’s Season 2 finale aired this past weekend, news broke that the episode was actually the series finale.
“This saga is not complete and needs to continue,” Jeff Pearlman, author of the book Winning Time is based on, previously tweeted. “For the actors, the crew, the storyline. Plus, no fucking way can a Lakers show end in 1984.”
But it did. The networks and streamers have to realize that killing shows like this only sends the message to viewers that they’re not worth the investment of time. I really enjoyed the first season of Winning Time, but why would I watch the second season knowing that the creators couldn’t even finish the story the way they wanted?
🎞️ “Have you been dreaming about me?”
A film where Nicolas Cage plays a guy who keeps appearing in people’s dreams sounds like something created by an A24 film generator.
🎞️ “It’s not about glory, it’s about belonging to something”
The new trailer for Our Flag Means Death’s second season should remind you how great this show is.
🎞️ Hell yeah!
The trailer for Kite Man: Hell Yeah! reminds me that I’m a few episodes behind on the most recent season of Harley Quinn.
- The Gruesome Story of How Neuralink’s Monkeys Actually Died (Dhruv Mehrotra and Dell Cameron, Wired)
- Hasan Minhaj’s “Emotional Truths” (Clare Malone, The New Yorker)
- Lying in Comedy Isn’t Always Wrong, but Hasan Minhaj Crossed a Line (Jason Zinoman, The New York Times)
- Elemental Director Peter Sohn Tracks the Film’s Journey From Shocking Pixar Flop to Huge Hit (Fletcher Peters, The Daily Beast)
- Conner O’Malley Opens His Digital Womb (Pablo Goldstein, Vulture)
- ‘This Was Simply How This Story Had to Go’ (Jesse Armstrong, Vulture)
- The Obscure Animated Series That Rewrote James Bond History (Witney Seibold, Slash Film)
AND FINALLY …
What, you thought we weren’t going to talk about this week’s episode of Ahsoka? I’m closing out this edition of Popculturology with my thoughts on “Far, Far Away.”
The return of Thrawn: Yay, they did it. They found Thrawn. After years of people asking Dave Filoni where Thrawn was, we finally got to see Lars Mikkelsen bring the villain to life in a live-action project. I thought he looked pretty good. Thrawn’s facial features aren’t as pronounced as they were in Star Wars Rebels, but this isn’t anywhere near as big a disconnect as there was with the Grand Inquisitor going from Rebels to Obi-Wan Kenobi.
But did Thrawn look a bit familiar? I wish we could send Elon Musk to a galaxy far, far away.
The Nightsisters come to life: This episode also brought the Nightsisters into live action for the first time. The characters were a major force in Star Wars: The Clone Wars, and now we’re seeing them on their ancient homeward of Peridia. Makes sense that Thrawn, a villain who has long prided himself on understating various cultures and using that knowledge to his advantage, would form an alliance with the Great Mothers. (Pretty convenient that he randomly wound up on their planet …) Are Thrawn’s Night Troopers undead? We’ve already seen Nightsister magic at work in Ahsoka with Marrok.
Oh, hey, Ezra: There were several moments in this episode when I thought we’d see Ezra Bridger make a grand entrance, using the Force to save Sabine from the Nightsisters or the marauders. Nope. He’s just casually living with those shell folks. Oh boy, is he going to be pissed when finds out Sabine handed Thrawn the keys back to the galaxy, undoing the sacrifice Ezra made in Rebels.
Intragalactic! Love the intragalactic hyperspace star warp.
Poster time: Star Wars released character posters of Thrawn, Captain Enoch, the Great Mothers and Ezra Bridger.
“When I got the phone call to talk about being part of the Ahsoka project …”: Let’s close this edition out with a quick video looking at how Hayden Christensen returned to play Anakin in Ahsoka.
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.