#SetTheVCR: June 28 – July 4, 2021

From World UFO Day to the 4th of July this week’s #SetTheVCR is timely appointment television. Because in this hectic life timing is everything for comedy, arriving at parties and of course TV recommendations. #LifeLessons

Monday, June 28

Time Lapse (Anytime / Prime Video (Canada))

Three friends discover a mysterious machine that takes pictures twenty-four hours into the future, and conspire to use it for personal gain, until disturbing and dangerous images begin to develop.
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Sammy Suggestion: Could You Survive the Movies? Season 1 (Anytime / YouTube Originals)

COULD YOU SURVIVE THE MOVIES is a Daytime Emmy winning series dedicated to exploring the magic and science of cinema. In each episode, Vsauce3’s Jake Roper takes the audience on an immersive journey into the world of a different movie; blending unscripted scientific exploration with narrative storytelling. From the jungles of Jumanji, to the vastness of space in Alien, the audience is transported to an exciting educational cinematic experience filled with mind-blowing experiments!
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The YouTube Originals hit Could You Survive The Movies? returns for a second season on July 1st. If you’ve ah…”survived” this long without checking out this show now is a good time to get into it. Its premise is simple: a science series that explores the science behind what you see in movies. Or in some cases “science” since ah Hollywood Science is totally different than like…science science. Season one explored classics like Back to the Future, Men in Black, Ghostbusters, Alien, Jumanji and Die Hard. Highly informative and wildly useful for the next time you find yourself in 1955 having to Tinder your parents at the Enchantment Under the Sea dance. (Oh Season 2 covers Top Gun, Jurassic Park, Harry Potter, Titanic, A Quiet Place and the endlessly fascinating nerd debate: Can You Survive A Zombie Movie? Here’s the trailer for Season 2.)

Tuesday, June 29

Vicious Fun (Anytime / Shudder)

Joel, a caustic 1980s film critic for a national horror magazine, finds himself unwittingly trapped in a self-help group for serial killers. With no other choice, Joel attempts to blend in or risk becoming the next victim.
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Sammy Suggestion: The Queen of Basketball (Anytime / NYTimes.com)

She is arguably the greatest living women’s basketball player. She’s won three national trophies; she played in the ‘76 Olympics; she was drafted to the NBA. But have you ever heard of Lucy Harris?
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Lucy Harris became the first and only woman officially drafted by the NBA, when the New Orleans Jazz selected her in 1977. Really? I’ve never heard this story and I’m curious how this happened. This documentary short was well received at 2021 Tribeca Film Festival so this is a rare and classy #SetTheVCR recommendation. Today the doc debuts as part of The NY Times’ Op-Docs series. (To reduce the classy a bit I recommend a fantastic graphic novel: The Comic Book Story of Basketball: A Fast-Break History of Hops, Hoops, and Alley-OOPS by Fred Van Lente and Joseph Cooper. Whew. I feel better and less classy already. It’s an excellent historical resource that covers the game’s beginnings right up to Steph Curry.)

Wednesday, June 30

Sammy Suggestion: America: The Motion Picture (Anytime / Netflix)

A chainsaw-wielding George Washington teams with beer-loving bro Sam Adams to take down the Brits in a tongue-in-cheek riff on the American Revolution.
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Look, in 2004 I happily paid cash money to see Team America: World Police at the local cinema. So I haven’t got a lot of moral high ground here. Archer director Matt Thompson brings a similar animated sensibility to am R-rated retelling of the American Revolution with Channing Tatum voicing George Washington, Judy Greer as Mrs. Washington, Simon Pegg as Sam Adams and Bobby Moynihan as Paul Revere. It’s out today but you may wanna save it for the 4th of July after you…I dunno buy a mattress or grill hamburgers while you fret about the Red Menace. USA! USA! USA!

Thursday, July 01

Could You Survive the Movies? Season 2 (Anytime / YouTube Originals)

COULD YOU SURVIVE THE MOVIES is a Daytime Emmy winning series dedicated to exploring the magic and science of cinema. In each episode, Vsauce3’s Jake Roper takes the audience on an immersive journey into the world of a different movie; blending unscripted scientific exploration with narrative storytelling. From the jungles of Jumanji, to the vastness of space in Alien, the audience is transported to an exciting educational cinematic experience filled with mind-blowing experiments!
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Sammy Suggestion: No Sudden Move (Anytime / HBO Max & Crave)

A new crime thriller from Academy Award®-winning director Steven Soderbergh. Set in 1954 Detroit, NO SUDDEN MOVE features an ensemble cast, including Don Cheadle, Benicio del Toro, David Harbour, Jon Hamm, Kieran Culkin, and Brendan Fraser; with Ray Liotta.
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My cinematic love language: we got “a group of criminals” (mmm) brought together under mysterious circumstances (oh yes!) and have to work together to uncover what’s really going on when their simple job goes completely sideways. (That’s the spot!). And yes you got Brendan Fraser, Don Cheadle, Ray Liotta etc. what’d you expect from a cast like this and yes it’s directed by Steven Soderbergh. Fine. The legit hook is it’s written by Ed Solomon who penned Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Men in Black and Now You See Me. Oh it’s all happening. (This debuts on July 1 for Americans on HBO Max and for Canadians on Crave.)

Friday, July 02

Fear Street Part 1: 1994 (Anytime / Netflix)

After a series of brutal slayings, a teen and her friends take on an evil force that’s plagued their notorious town for centuries. Welcome to Shadyside.
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Sammy Suggestion: The Tomorrow War (Anytime / Prime Video)

Time travelers arrive from 2051 to deliver an urgent message: 30 years in the future mankind is losing a war against a deadly alien species. The only hope for survival is for soldiers and civilians to be transported to the future and join the fight. Determined to save the world for his daughter, Dan Forester teams up with a brilliant scientist and his estranged father to rewrite the planet’s fate.
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On World UFO Day 2021 you can watch The Tomorrow War where humans wage war against aliens (that’s the message we want to send out to aliens?!) Director Chris McKay best known for directing and editing three seasons of Robot Chicken makes his live film debut with The Tomorrow War. Which focuses on future humanity’s war against an alien invasion: as humans now use a new ability to draft soldiers from 30 years in the past to help combat an alien invasion in 2051. That totally makes sense. I’m hoping the movie explains why they can only go into the past and ah…not to the future to see how they actually defeated the aliens. And want to know why none of us know that? Because The Tomorrow War is an original movie. What?! It’s not based on comic books or a novel or a video game. When’s the last time that has happened almost everything is Borg-adapted. We’re all going into this one cold. What a wonderful and rare treat.

Saturday, July 03

Sammy Suggestion: Summer of Soul (Anytime / Hulu & Disney+ (Canada))

In his acclaimed debut as a filmmaker, Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson presents a powerful and transporting documentary—part music film, part historical record created around an epic event that celebrated Black history, culture and fashion.
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Smart marketing: Questlove’s documentary Summer of Soul about the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival will debut in the…you know: Summer. If you dig Dave Chappelle’s Block Party then you’ll dig Summer of Soul. We got never-before-seen concert performances from: Stevie Wonder, Nina Simone (YES!), Sly & the Family Stone, Gladys Knight & the Pips, B.B. King, The 5th Dimension and so much more. Over the course of six weeks in the summer of 1969, just one hundred miles south of Woodstock, The Harlem Cultural Festival was filmed in Mount Morris Park (now Marcus Garvey Park). And then the other classic: the footage sat in a basement for 50 years. Similar to Sydney Pollack’s sublime Amazing Grace documentary on Aretha Franklin: shot in 1972 until it was recused from a Warner Bros. vault in 2007 to become a 2018 documentary. Pics or It Didn’t Happen right? (Please Note: for Americans this debuted on July 2nd on Hulu while for Canadians they can check it out on Disney+.)

Sunday, July 04

Sammy Suggestion: The One and Only Dick Gregory (9/8c PM / Showtime & Crave)

Feature-length documentary examining activist, pop-culture icon and thought leader Dick Gregory, whose work as a self-described ‘agitator’ shaped a generation demanding justice. As a renowned Black comedian, Gregory had a platform to take on the most incendiary battles of hunger, gender equity, and civil rights – stirring trouble and making headlines in the service of social justice. Featuring Gregory’s personal reflections, archival footage and interviews with the artists he influenced – including Dave Chappelle, Chris Rock and Wanda Sykes.
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You know what’s funny? Racism. The best comedy is rooted in experience where the comic can articulate the absurd nature of words and actions we mostly do not question. We’ve seen that with Dave Chappelle and Chris Rock but before those gifted jokers we enjoyed that with Dick Gregory. As lyrical as George Carlin and as culturally savvy as Dick Cavett, Gregory was a savage comedic force. Ready for a Costco sized sample? “Segregation is not all bad. Have you ever heard of a collision where the people in the back of the bus got hurt?” See? Racism lol. Gregory primarily worked during the turbulent 60s and the upheavals in the 70s. Though black and he deftly addressed racial injustice in his act he was outspoken about the Vietnam War, went on a hunger strike to call attention to Native American rights, conducted landmark research into the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and wrote several books. (The best is Nigger: An Autobiography. Highly recommended and I believe it’s never been out of print since being published in 1965). So this Showtime documentary is his Last Dance: it will introduce his work and comedy to a new generation. Because chances are you don’t know Dick. (I had to drop that one…I ain’t a comic I hadda go with the easy ones.)

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Sammy Younan is the affable host of My Summer Lair: think NPR’s Fresh Air meets Kevin Smith: interviews & impressions on Pop Culture.

206 | Scott Howard-Cooper (Steve Kerr: A Life)

My Summer Lair Chapter #206: Are You Grateful For Steve Kerr?

From the “diary” of sportswriter Scott Howard-Cooper:

On August 10, 2019…he wrote:
“Beginning work on a biography of Warriors coach Steve Kerr, to be published by William Morrow in Fall 2020. Kerr’s journey through triumph and tragedy is unmatched anywhere — not just sports — with layers of growing up around the world, activism, overcoming adversity, constantly having to prove himself and, of course, basketball. I look forward to sharing new details of his fascinating path to becoming one of the biggest names in the NBA and giving fresh context to familiar events.”

Then on March 19, 2020 he revealed more about his Steve Kerr biography:
“What a labor of love. The twists and turns of the last year leave me more appreciative than when the project began in 2019.”

Scott Howard-Cooper’s Steve Kerr: A Life is out now. A freshtastic NBA biography.

From the back of the book: “Few individuals have had a career as storied, and improbable, as Steve Kerr. He has won eight NBA titles—five as a player and three as a coach—for three different franchises. He played alongside the best players of a generation, from Michael Jordan to Shaquille O’Neal to Tim Duncan, and learned the craft of basketball under four legendary coaches. He was an integral part of two famed NBA dynasties. Perhaps no other figure in basketball history has had a hand in such greatness.”

When you look back on your life…are there particular moments that naturally prompt gratitude?

Are there circumstances that at first seemed like darkness was setting up camp only over time they became significant moments of light?

If you read Scott Howard-Cooper’s Steve Kerr: A Life the answer for Kerr is yes to both questions. There is a relentless optimism and an undaunted joy that rings out on almost every page of this special NBA biography.

This is an inspiring My Summer Lair episode that even acknowledges the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park. My hope is that you’ll make gratitude a habit in your life…not because it is easy but because it is hard (according to JFK). Kinda like resurrecting dinosaurs in Jurassic Park.

Scott Howard-Cooper @ WT F

Host Sammy Younan

Recorded: Tuesday November 9, 2021 at 1:00pm (EST)

#SetTheVCR: June 21-27, 2021

What an incredible week of TV from James Bond to KISS to serial killers to Charlie Brown? Oh yes. Let’s jump off the high dive and get into all of this.

Monday, June 21

Super Channel Free Preview (Anytime / Super Channel On Demand)

From hit movies and series to exciting sports, Super Channel brings you four channels of entertainment at its best: Super Channel Fuse, Super Channel Heart & Home, Super Channel Vault and GiNX Esports TV Canada. Right now, it’s all yours to enjoy – live or On Demand – during a free preview for Fibe TV customers, from June 14–23. I highly recommend a documentary The Corporate Coup D’Etat.
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Sammy Suggestion: I’ll Be Gone In the Dark: Special Episode (Anytime / HBO Max & Crave)

A six-part documentary series based on the book of the same name, I’ll Be Gone in the Dark explores writer Michelle McNamara’s investigation into the dark world of the violent predator she dubbed “The Golden State Killer,” the man who terrorized California in the 1970s and 80s and is responsible for 50 home-invasion rapes and 12 murders.
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The penultimate episode of I’ll Be Gone In the Dark brings up the uneasy question: what’s more “satisfying” a solved murder/crime or an unsolved murder/crime? The six-part docuseries based on the popular book of the same name debuted in June 2020. They both explored writer Michelle McNamara’s investigation into the dark world of the violent predator she dubbed The Golden State Killer. Who was revealed to be Joseph James DeAngelo (does real life need a spoiler alert?!). Now almost a year later this p.s. episode offers revelations in the Kathy Lombardo case a 1984 unsolved murder while highlighting the trauma that sadly persists when a crime goes unsolved. Not that solved crimes are “case closed” on trauma. Eventually we’ll hafta reckon with our passion for true crime and serial killers…we can name em and their crimes but rarely do we remember the victims. (I enjoyed I’ll Be Gone In the Dark but I couldn’t name a victim if you gave me multiple choice answers.)

Tuesday, June 22

2021 NBA Draft Lottery (8:30 PM ET / ESPN)

Unlike Shirley Jackson’s Lottery the NBA Draft Lottery will determine only the top four picks in the draft, meaning the team with the worst record this season (Houston Rockets) is still guaranteed no worse than a top-five pick. Well it’ll be either Houston Rockets (17-55) – 14% chance at getting number 1 or Detroit Pistons (20-52) – 14%.
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Sammy Suggestion: Fight the Power: The Movements That Changed America (Anytime / History Channel on Demand)

Public protest has always forced our country to take an uncompromising look at itself to judge if we are on the right course. Civil disobedience created this country in 1776 and continues to serve as a charged impetus for change in the 21st century.
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Many of America’s previous moments were inspiring and highly effective. History has confirmed they ushered in significant change and radically improved the lives of so many. This documentary is like protest Wonder Years a look back at turbulent times which really is just classic American DNA. America is a country founded on the core principle of people standing up and saying: “No. We ain’t doing that.” Helps this doc is executive produced by active activist Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (I highly recommend his excellent book Writings on the Wall: Searching for a New Equality Beyond Black and White as well as his comic book Mycroft Holmes and The Apocalypse Handbook…so dope!). Oh this doc premiered on June 19 on live tv however check Hulu soon…lotta History Channel content eventually ends up on Hulu.

Wednesday, June 23

Good On Paper (Anytime / Netflix)

After years of putting her career first, a stand-up comic meets a guy who seems perfect: smart, nice, successful… and possibly too good to be true.
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Sammy Suggestion: 007 – For Our Eyes Only (Anytime / Hoopla)

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The description says it best: “In anticipation of the 25th chapter in the iconic James Bond Saga, based on the novels of British writer Ian Fleming, Sabbatical Entertainment presents “For Our Eyes Only” an enthralling documentary that recounts and relives all of 007’s menacing missions throughout this legendary cinematic franchise, from 1962’s premiere of Dr. No to the highly anticipated No Time To Die.” The quality of these Bond docs varies: some people taking being On Her Majesty’s Secret Service seriously; others shrug and say Live and Let Die. I miss classic Bond with the gadgets, the filthy double entendres (Honey Ryder is so lol! while Pussy Galore is not even trying anymore…still funny though), flirting with Miss Moneypenny and Bond’s classic one-liners: of which Sean Connery was the best Bond for those.

Thursday, June 24

Long Shot (Anytime / Netflix (Canada))

When Juan Catalan is arrested for a murder he didn’t commit, he builds his case for innocence around raw footage from a popular TV show. A documentary.
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An Unquiet Grave (Anytime / Shudder)

A year after the death of his wife, a man enlists her sister to help him bring her back.
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Sammy Suggestion: Enemy of the State (Anytime / Disney+ via Star)

A lawyer becomes targeted by a corrupt politician and his N.S.A. goons when he accidentally receives key evidence to a politically motivated crime.
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Enemy of the State is gonna seem quaint post-9/11. In 1993 The Fugitive sparked a handful of 90s high octane movies as innocent men/women went on the lam relentlessly pursued by shadowy and ethically dubious men and organizations. Through The Firm and The Pelican Brief, The Net, Speed and many more similar movies ordinary and slightly suburban characters discovered they could perform incredible feats to stay alive and stay free. (I’d even include The Matrix…Neo thought he was just a junkie hacker…turns out he stumbled onto something far bigger than he realized.) Enemy of the State is a 1998 thriller directed by Tony Scott, produced by Jerry Bruckheimer (Aaron Sorkin and Tony Gilroy each performed an uncredited rewrite of the script) and stars…ready for this: Will Smith, Gene Hackman, Jon Voight, Lisa Bonet, Gabriel Byrne, Jake Busey, Barry Pepper and Regina King. Whew! I dunno who wrote the IMDB description but it’s gold: “A lawyer becomes targeted by a corrupt politician and his N.S.A. goons when he accidentally receives key evidence to a politically motivated crime.” Goons really? Really.

Friday, June 25

Mary J Blige’s My Life (Anytime / Prime Video)

Mary J. Blige set the music world on fire with her trailblazing 1994 LP “My Life,”. In Vanessa Roth’s documentary Mary J. Blige’s My Life, the singer, rapper and actress reveals the demons and blessings that inspired the record and propelled her to international stardom. She celebrates the 25th anniversary of her most influential work by performing the album live for the first time.
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Fathom (Anytime / Apple TV+)

Two biologists set out on an undertaking as colossal as their subjects—deciphering the complex communication of whales. Dr. Michelle Fournet and Dr. Ellen Garland journey to opposite hemispheres to uncover a culture eons older than our own.
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Sammy Suggestion: Who Are You, Charlie Brown? (Anytime / Apple TV+)

Honoring the “everyman” creator, Charles “Sparky” Schulz, “Who Are You, Charlie Brown?” is an Apple Original Documentary that celebrates the significance and global multi-generational popularity of the comic strip and its timeless artistry and design to profile the man whose simple characters would touch the lives of millions through the decades and become beloved cultural icons.
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A Charles M. Schulz documentary! Good grief I actually don’t know much about Charles M. Schulz; though I read a lot of the comics. I’m sure this doc won’t be to “Snoopy” into his past but rather focus on the incredible and vast legacy he left behind with the Peanuts gang. My two favourites are Woodstock and Pig-Pen. (I know…I know…even when Charlie Brown practically stars in a comic strip he’s not my favourite…what a loser: but please don’t tell him.)

Saturday, June 26

Sammy Suggestion: False Positive (Anytime / Hulu)

As if getting pregnant weren’t complicated enough, Lucy sets out to uncover the unsettling truth about her fertility doctor.
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I’m a sucker for time loop movies and movies where one character has trouble trusting reality: especially the same reality everyone else is comfortable trusting. (Netflix just gave us The Woman in the Window where Amy Adams insists Julianne Moore is real…the reveal was sadly disappointing.). In False Positive the reality is that Lucy is pregnant that seems to be true true however the truth about her fertility doctor well that seems unsettling. But only depending on which reality you subscribe to: yes False Positive is a horror movie. Reports from the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival suggest it’s a contemporary take on Rosemary’s Baby. That’s “pushing” it.

Sunday, June 27

Sammy Suggestion: Biography: KISStory (9pm / A&E)

Celebrating one of the most iconic bands of all time, A&E announces the new definitive documentary film telling the stories behind the phenomenon of KISS. Directed by D.J. Viola, Biography: KISStory chronicles the band’s five decades in the business as founders Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons reflect on their historic career.
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Confession: I’ve never seen KISS live. I gotta go one of these days. (While notable live performers their distinct music has populated many wonderful film soundtracks so truly a lot of people know their music. Liking it is another matter but at least ya know who they are.) Coming out of comic books one of the primary themes that runs through most comics is who is the man behind the mask? That’s what this documentary does: reveals the men behind the grease paint masks. KISStory celebrates 5 decades of KISS and please note this is doc is on two nights on June 27 and 28 at 9pm both nights. That way you can #SetTheVCR while you continue to Rock And Roll All Nite.

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Sammy Younan is the affable host of My Summer Lair: think NPR’s Fresh Air meets Kevin Smith: interviews & impressions on Pop Culture.

#SetTheVCR: June 14-20, 2021

I’m your TV Super Friend providing super suggestions for #SetTheVCR including Super Friends. So meta.

Monday, June 14

Boss Level (Anytime / Netflix Canada)

A retired Special Forces officer is trapped in a never ending time loop on the day of his death.
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Sammy Suggestion: Shock Docs: The Devil Made Me Do It (Anytime / Discovery+)

Chronicles the real-life case of a Connecticut man who was charged with a brutal murder and claimed innocence by insisting “the devil made me do it.”
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In 1981 the Trial of Arne Cheyenne Johnson AKA the “Devil Made Me Do It” case, is the first known court case in the US in which the defense sought to prove innocence based upon the defendant’s claim of demonic possession and denial of personal responsibility for the crime. That case as you can tell from the movie’s title inspired The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It the third chapter in that horror franchise. While that’s a classic horror movie this Discovery+ documentary Shock Docs: The Devil Made Me Do It offers an in-depth examination into the real life case. Loaded with the classic never-before-seen interviews with the Glatzel family, the Warrens, the defendant’s lawyer, and local police. This should help to illuminate just what happened in 1980…I mean The Devil is in the details right?

Tuesday, June 15

Headspace: Unwind Your Mind (Anytime / Netflix)

Another Netflix co-production with the HEADSPACE meditation app. Company representatives tell you, with the aid of animation, three different techniques for mind-unwinding, depending on what time it is and whether you want to call it “meditation” or not.
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Sammy Suggestion: Michael Smerconish: Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started Talking (Anytime / Hulu)

Michael Smerconish celebrates his 30th year as a talk radio host in a dynamic one-man performance, recorded live during a pandemic. The result is both an intimate memoir and a unique explanation of the origin of a nation’s partisan divide.
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I generally don’t enjoy most of CNN’s talking heads; though Michael Smerconish will offer up moments of sarcasm in between bursts of insight. That’s all I ask! On July 11, 2020, Michael premiered his special on CNN; it’s now surfaced on Hulu. To celebrate 30 years in talk radio and ah…talk TV the original plan was to have Smerconish go all Spalding Gray and review his life experiences so he and the audience could understand how he got here. The TED Talk style event was booked as a nationwide tour; tickets were selling briskly and then…the pandemic happened. (We don’t talk enough about how the pandemic thwarted momentum for so many creative projects across various mediums.) Rather than let his work go to waste he recorded the program at the historic – and empty – Bucks County Playhouse in New Hope. Which is the special we see now.

Wednesday, June 16

Spider-Man: Far from Home (Anytime / Netflix Canada)

Even your friendly neighborhood superhero can use a vacation. But a new threat forces Peter Parker to swing into action during a school trip to Europe.
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Sammy Suggestion: The Hurricane Heist (Anytime / Netflix Canada)

A deadly hurricane with mile-high waves provides the perfect cover for stealing $600 million from a U.S. Treasury outpost in Mississippi.
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If ya dug Army Of The Dead then check out Hurricane Heist. Similar to Army of the Dead Hurricane Heist is a heist movie with impossible and slightly ridiculous odds. The plan and the plot are simple: “Thieves attempt a massive heist against the U.S. Treasury as a Category 5 hurricane approaches one of its Mint facilities.” But of course this isn’t the A-Team and the plan doesn’t come together. Bonus Fun? The film was released on March 9, 2018, received negative reviews and was a box-office bomb which is what you want from a bin-action movie. Cheeze It Up!

Thursday, June 17

Intelligence: Season 2 (Anytime / Peacock)

Somewhere between MI5, MI6 and the malfunctioning third-floor printer at the U.K.’s labyrinthine Government Communications Headquarters, an arrogant, maverick NSA liaison arrives from the U.S. to join a ragtag bureaucracy of cybersecurity misfits.
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The Prime Day Show (Anytime / Prime Video)

THE PRIME DAY SHOW is a three-part special event featuring award-winning artists Billie Eilish, Kid Cudi and H.E.R. in an immersive musical experience. These groundbreaking performers fuse music with powerful visuals and storytelling transporting fans into unique worlds.
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Sammy Suggestion: The Little Things (Anytime / HBO Max)

Kern County Deputy Sheriff Joe Deacon is sent to Los Angeles for what should have been a quick evidence-gathering assignment. Instead, he becomes embroiled in the search for a serial killer who is terrorizing the city.
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It took decades for this movie to see the light of day. The first draft was written by John Lee Hancock in 1993 for Steven Spielberg to direct, but Spielberg passed feeling the story was too dark. Even Brandon Lee was briefly attached before he passed away. Anyways Hancock decided to direct his own screenplay and here we are in 2021. Your two detectives are Denzel Washington and Rami Malek and your creepy loner is Jared Leto. Is he the serial killer stalking Los Angeles? And doesn’t this all sound a “little” like Se7en? Tonight it debuts on HBO Max for Americans; for Canadians it’s on Crave tomorrow.

Friday, June 18

Physical: Season 1 (Anytime / Apple TV+)

Sheila Rubin is a quietly tormented housewife in ’80s San Diego. Behind closed doors, she battles extreme personal demons and a vicious inner voice. But things change when she discovers aerobics, sparking a journey toward empowerment and success.
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Sammy Suggestion: Super Friends (Anytime / HBO Max)

The greatest of the DC Comics superheroes work together to uphold the good with the help of some young proteges.
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Super Friends yes the classic 1973 animated series produced by Hanna-Barbera debuts on HBO Max today. You’ll hafta give the opening narrator side-eye for saying: “In the Great Hall of the Justice League there are assembled the world’s four greatest heroes created from the cosmic legends of the universe: Superman! Wonder Woman! Batman! AND Aquaman!” Hah. No Green Lantern? No Flash? (Really: Superman, Batman and Aquaman had each previously appeared in their own animated series produced by Filmation. So Aquaman’s presence isn’t that fishy.)

Yes this is Casey Kasem as Robin while Olan Soule (what a great name! Sounds like a DC Comics villain!) voiced Batman for decades: from the late 60s into the late 80s. (Though there was a number of Super Friends incarnations throughout the 70s and 80s so I’m not sure how HBO will be packaging all this…I assume there will be 93 episodes rather than just the original 16.)

Each episode begins with the superheroes responding to an emergency detected by the massive TroubAlert computer located within the mighty Hall of Justice. (This show was the debut of the Hall of Justice. Kinda like how the Superman radio serial gifted us Kryptonite.)

While the plotting will not doubt be dated; even corny in places (like the episode where Dr. Thinkquick brazenly uses global warming to heat up his cold country with little concern for how it would impact the rest of Earth. Dr. Thinkquick wasn’t the only subtle war on intelligentsia running throughout the show: the Super Friends battled Professor Baffles and confronted Professor Goodfellow with his G.E.E.C. (Goodfellow’s Effort-Eliminating Computer) invention. Clearly the 70s were a much simpler time. So yeah look the show won’t be any good however for many people these are some of the most iconic representations of these DC characters. Oh and “look out” for Wonder Woman’s invisible jet. See It?

Saturday, June 19

Sammy Suggestion: Fatherhood (Anytime / Netflix)

A widowed new dad copes with doubts, fears, heartache and dirty diapers as he sets out to raise his daughter on his own. Inspired by a true story.
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This “I dunno what I’m doing as I never expected to be a Daddy!” movie genre seems to be a rite of passage for celebrity men. Less Big Daddy though more Three Men and a Baby Kevin Hart is left alone to raise his daughter after his wife suddenly dies. So like Jersey Girl only this time the stand up comic is Hart not George Carlin. Honestly? Anthony Carrigan plays Oscar and that’s primarily why I’m passing this on! If you’ve watched Barry on HBO dude plays Chechen mobster NoHo Hank with such dry wit it’s fantastic. So if this movie isn’t working out for you; then jump over to HBO for Barry. Either way spending time with Anthony Carrigan makes for a solid weekend.

Sunday, June 20

Sammy Suggestion: Marvel’s Wastelanders: Old Man Star-Lord (Anytime / Pandora)

In a post-apocalyptic future, Marvel’s WASTELANDERS: OLD MAN STAR-LORD finds Peter Quill and Rocket a little paunchier, a little slower, and a lot saltier than they were during the glory days of the Guardians of the Galaxy.
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I’m going to cheat a bit and give you a classic option: there was a time when the family gathered around the radio for theatre of the mind. Back in 2008 Marvel readers were introduced to Old Man Logan and Wastelands. The success of that Mark Millar co-creation generated a couple of follow ups: Old Man Hawkeye and Old Man Quill. (I highly recommend Old Man Quill. Despite the disposable concept it’s well written: the best Guardians of the Galaxy comics are marred in Peter Parker melancholy: poor Peter Quill he is wasting away in the aptly named Wastelands and it’s devastating tragedy.) Anyways Old Man Quill has been adapted into a fictional podcast! Timothy Busfield the dude from West Wing plays Peter Quill and Chris Elliott the dude from Letterman’s late night talk show plays Rocket. That’s solid casting. It’s written by Benjamin Percy who previous penned the podcasts: Wolverine: The Long Night and Wolverine: The Lost Trail. The first three chapters are up so give it a shot. You’ll hang out with ancient Emma Frost, run into outlaw Ghost Riders, do your best to avoid a bloodthirsty Kraven the Hunter. And you hear that…is that…Doctor Doom?! This podcast can be found at all the classic podcast spots.

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Sammy Younan is the affable host of My Summer Lair: think NPR’s Fresh Air meets Kevin Smith: interviews & impressions on Pop Culture.

#SetTheVCR: June 7-13, 2021

We got mischief; elder abuse, samurai…boxing and late night talk shows. It’s a packed #SetTheVCR this week. Yes!

Monday, June 07

Sammy Suggestion: The Story of Late Night (Anytime / CNN go)

Carson, Leno, Letterman – legendary hosts that changed late-night television. Through good times and bad, they gained America’s trust and kept the country laughing. But it wasn’t all laughter all the time. From secret deals to broken promises, some of the most dramatic stories were the ones that didn’t play out in front of the television cameras.
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Last night the final episode of CNN’s scintillating The Story of Late Night aired. Entitled Reinventing Late Night it closed with current late night talk Jimmy Fallon, James Corden etc. however before that it explored the dynamic work of Leno, Letterman, and Stewart on The Daily Show. Oh and of course: Johnny Carson. Decades later his work is still crazy impressive. As per the original media release: “The Story of Late Night is a six-part docuseries…that will take viewers on a 60-year journey through late-night television’s most memorable moments.” Now all 6 episodes are complete if you wanna to sit down and engage this series as a “trade paperback” via CNNgo and later on HBO Max (date to be confirmed). (Which ironically is now Conan O’Brien’s new TV home.) Bonus Recommendation: if all this is making your funny bone salivate CNN Audio has created Behind the Desk: Story of Late Night a podcast companion. So some witty content for your eyes and some witty content for ears. Big Monday Recommendation.

Tuesday, June 08

Sammy Suggestion: The Amusement Park (Anytime / Shudder)

An elderly gentleman goes for what he assumes will be an ordinary day at the amusement park, only to find himself in the middle of a hellish nightmare instead.
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The Amusement Park is a 1973 thriller film directed and edited by George A. Romero. The Amusement Park is…ah also a 2019 thriller film directed and edited by George A. Romero. Even though he died in 2017. I mean you gotta figure if anybody is gonna come back from the dead with a new movie it’ll be George A. Romero. Actually in 73 the Lutheran Service Society of Western Pennsylvania hired Romero to make a PSA about elderly abuse. I know. “An elderly gentleman goes for what he assumes will be an ordinary day at the amusement park, only to find himself in the middle of a hellish nightmare instead.” I know. For what it’s worth there are no zombies, no vampires and no homicidal maniacs so I give Romero points for his restraint. Anyways the Lutheran Society rejected the horror movie. The print was lost then obviously found, restored and here we are: enjoying a 1973 George A. Romero Amusement Park in 2021.

Wednesday, June 09

Sammy Suggestion: Loki (Anytime / Disney+)

In Marvel Studios’ LOKI, the mercurial villain Loki (Tom Hiddleston) resumes his role as the God of Mischief in a new series that takes place after the events of “Avengers: Endgame.” Kate Herron directs and Michael Waldron is head writer.
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And now for some mischief in the middle of the week. Interesting move airing Loki on Wednesdays instead of Fridays but it’s what you’d expect from Loki. This show introduces the Time Variance Authority (TVA) who’ve enlisted (I don’t think that’s the correct word) Loki’s help (Loki doesn’t “help” so I know that’s not the right word) to repair the timeline. Ah…based on Loki’s dubious track record I can safely assume human history is radically alerted. While we wait to see how much trouble he generates 2 notes:

Owen Wilson plays The Honorable Mr. Mobius “Moby” M. Mobius. (Mobius was one of the presiding judges during the trial of She-Hulk. So I wonder if his character will surface on that MCU show.)

And David Oster who directed Todd McFarlane: Like Hell I Won’t a doc has worked on film set for some MCU productions including Endgame, Infinity War and Loki.

His “admittedly biased, not really that bold, and non-spoiler predictions are:

– It’ll be a big hit around the world

– Tom Hiddleston’s performance will be highly praised

– People will want more of Owen Wilson as Mobius.” S’nice to hear somebody has an honest word to say about Loki.

Thursday, June 10

Starstruck: Series 1 (Anytime / HBO Max)

STARSTRUCK follows Jessie (Matafeo), a millennial living in East London juggling two dead end jobs and navigating the awkward morning-after-the-night-before when she discovers the complications of accidentally sleeping with famous film star Tom (Nikesh Patel). What she thought would become an amusing anecdote soon turns into something more, as the couple realize they can’t keep away from each other.
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Sammy Suggestion: Awake (Anytime / Netflix)

After a global event wipes out humanity’s ability to sleep, a troubled ex-soldier fights to save her family as society and her mind spiral into chaos.
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Awake on Netflix: a global event causes all electronics to go reverse Maximum Overdrive. This time they’re all dead. The chaos has left humans wide Awake. Now they’re all busy crazy as The Machinist trying to solve their involuntary insomnia. This is a movie not a TV show so let’s see where this all goes.

Friday, June 11

Trese: Season 1 (Anytime / Netflix)

Based on the comic series created by Budjette Tan and Kajo Baldisimo, this show’s title character, Alexandra Trese (voiced in English by Shay Mitchell), is a private detective who is frequently called in to solve cases involving mythological or fantasy creatures.
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Sammy Suggestion: The Kid Detective (Anytime / Crave)

A once-celebrated kid detective, now 32, continues to solve the same trivial mysteries between hangovers and bouts of self-pity. But a naive client brings him his first adult case — to find out who brutally murdered her boyfriend.
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And now for a dark comedy with some wasted childhood potential! “A once-celebrated kid detective, now 32, continues to solve the same trivial mysteries between hangovers and bouts of self-pity. Until a naive client brings him his first ‘adult’ case, to find out who brutally murdered her boyfriend.” Hah. A whodunit is some fresh Friday fun.

Saturday, June 12

Sammy Suggestion: 47 vs 57 (Netflix & Crave)

47 RONIN : This action-adventure follows the exploits of 47 samurai warriors who plot to exact revenge on a court official responsible for their master’s death.

PASSENGER 57: An airline security expert must take action when he finds himself trapped on a passenger jet when terrorists seize control of it.
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This weekend if you wanna see some strong men do a violent number on someone else I got 2 great suggestions. First up is 47 Ronin on Netflix Canada: “A band of samurai set out to avenge the death and dishonor of their master at the hands of a ruthless shogun.” Basically they’ve crunched the numbers and feel revenge is worth it. Or! There’s Passenger 57 on Starz via Crave a paint by numbers action thriller: Die Hard on a airplane. “An airline security expert must take action when he finds himself trapped on a passenger jet when terrorists seize control of it.” It’s Wesley Snipes so you know the bad guy’s number is…up. It’s Saturday; fire up the microwave popcorn and put on one or both of these movies: it’s the best way to look out for Number One.

Sunday, June 13

Sammy Suggestion: The Kings (Anytime / Showtime & Crave)

A four-part series featuring four champions who ushered in a boxing renaissance. The series showcases the dominance of Roberto Duran, Marvelous Marvin Hagler, Thomas Hearns and Sugar Ray Leonard and their battles in and out of the ring.
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The Kings is a four-part series chronicling the fierce rivalry between world champions and future Hall of Famers known as the “Four Kings” – Roberto “Manos de Piedra” Durán, Marvelous Marvin Hagler, Thomas “The Hitman” Hearns, and Sugar Ray Leonard. It chronicles the four fighters’ dramatic and divergent ascents to greatness and the legendary matches they produced.” I don’t know enough about boxing to grasp the strategy or comprehend the nuance so an informative documentary is much helpful. And Showtime Sports does a solid job with these docs; they’re 30 for 30 quality. The series is airing living on Sundays starting on June 6 at 8pm however they’re all On Demand.

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Sammy Younan is the affable host of My Summer Lair: think NPR’s Fresh Air meets Kevin Smith: interviews & impressions on Pop Culture.

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