#SetTheVCR: January 31-February 6, 2022

We got football and monsters! I mean that’s an excellent week right there; #SetTheVCR or not right?

Monday, January 31

Celebrating Betty White: America’s Golden Girl (10 p.m. / NBC)

In honor of one of the world’s most beloved entertainers, NBC is presenting an hourlong primetime special commemorating the life and legacy of trailblazing television star Betty White.
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Sammy Suggestion: Astrid & Lilly Save the World: Season 1 (Anytime / Crave)

It’s not easy being outcasts at Pine Academy but at least Astrid and Lilly have each other. One night, the bullying escalates too far and the girls have had enough. Their sadness and fury accidentally open a portal to a terrifying and quirky monster dimension. Now, not only do Astrid and Lilly have to navigate high school, their families and their crushes, but they also have to vanquish a bunch of terrifying monsters with the help of their guide Brutus and their hilarious new superpowers.
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Syfy is quietly turning out strong TV from bold creators. Their recent shows (Resident Alien, Chucky etc.) would probably benefit from appearing a streamer or two…better to connect with a larger audience you know? For now: Astrid & Lilly are your classic high school losers; clearly far from cool. Even worse they “accidentally” cracked open a portal to a monster dimension. So they ain’t even nerd-bright high school losers. Think Buffy meets Supernatural; Brutus is their guide…their Wikipedia page who knows what is going on and will help them vanquish the monsters. That they unleashed. (In America you can enjoy Astrid on Syfy Channel every Wednesday night or in Canada you can watch this TV show live on Wednesdays on Sci-Fi Channel or stream the episodes to end up on Crave.)

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Tuesday, February 01

Barbara Lee: Speaking Truth to Power (8 p.m. / Starz)

TRUTH TO POWER paints a vivid and timely portrait of Congresswoman Barbara Lee, a steadfast voice for human rights, peace, and diplomacy in the U.S. Government.
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Sammy Suggestion: Terry Bradshaw: Going Deep (9 p.m. / HBO)

TERRY BRADSHAW: GOING DEEP is an HBO special that takes a unique look at the life of the four-time Super Bowl Champion and Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback. In August of 2021, Bradshaw took the stage at the Clay Cooper Theater in Branson, Missouri for a series of live performances that offered a mix of singing, music, colorful stories, and honest and emotional reflections on his life. Presented in Bradshaw’s own words, this is a first-person account of one of the most popular and versatile sports personalities of modern times.
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Terry Bradshaw got a Last Dance. That’s gonna be a consistent #SetTheVCR endorsement for most of 2022. Sports documentaries and sports journalism are heating up! And Terry’s documentary Going Deep is timely. If you’ve enjoyed his insights and humor as an NFL analyst on NFL Sunday it’s easy to “forget” dude was an outstanding quarterback. (The same thing is happening to Charles Barkley over on TNT. I saw Chuck play live and he is indeed one of the 75 greatest NBA players. The new generation of fans only know the dude as a TV host. Sigh…) Over a 14-season career with the Pittsburgh Steelers Bradshaw won four Super Bowl titles in a six-year period (1974, 1975, 1978, and 1979). Basically he was Tom Brady before we had Tom Brady. And if you accept Father Figures at face value Terry’s other notable accomplishment is siring a number of funny children. All this and more is covered in this documentary a joint production of HBO Sports and NFL Films.

Wednesday, February 02

Pam & Tommy: Limited Series (Anytime / Hulu & Disney+ Canada [Star])

Set in the Wild West early days of the Internet, PAM & TOMMY is based on the incredible true story of the Pamela Anderson (Lily James) and Tommy Lee (Sebastian Stan) sex tape. Stolen from the couple’s home by a disgruntled contractor (Seth Rogen), the video went from underground bootleg-VHS curiosity to full-blown global sensation when it hit the Web in 1997. A love story, crime caper and cautionary tale rolled into one, the eight-part original limited series explores the intersection of privacy, technology and celebrity, tracing the origins of our current reality TV Era to a stolen tape seen by millions but meant to have an audience of just two.
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Sammy Suggestion: Nightmare Alley (Anytime / HBO Max)

An ambitious carny with a talent for manipulating people with a few well-chosen words hooks up with a female psychiatrist who is even more dangerous than he is.
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Based on the box office receipts you haven’t seen Guillermo del Toro’s latest. “When charismatic but down-on-his-luck Stanton Carlisle (Bradley Cooper) endears himself to clairvoyant Zeena (Toni Collette) and her has-been mentalist husband Pete (David Strathairn) at a traveling carnival, he crafts a golden ticket to success, using this newly acquired knowledge to grift the wealthy elite of 1940s New York society.” This is a del Toro movie so expect an ominous mood in a creepy setting and Ron Perlman to naturally appear. (Please Note: this is the colour version; currently in cinemas is a black-and-white version subtitled Vision in Darkness and Light.)

Thursday, February 03

Raised By Wolves: Season 2 (Anytime / HBO Max & Crave)

In season two of RAISED BY WOLVES, Android partners Mother (Amanda Collin) and Father (Abubakar Salim), along with their brood of six human children, join a newly formed atheistic colony in Kepler 22 b’s mysterious tropical zone. But navigating this strange new society is only the start of their troubles as Mother’s “natural child” threatens to drive what little remains of the human race to extinction.
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Sammy Suggestion: Murderville: Season 1 (Anytime / Netflix)

Eccentric detective Terry Seattle teams up with clueless celebrity guest stars to investigate a series of murders in this improvisational crime comedy.
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Will Arnett killed Conan O’Brien with the last name bit. That’s Smartless fun. Anytime there is comedic ball busting I’m usually in. Murderville is a police procedural crime comedy with an irresistible hook: the guest celebrity partner hasn’t been given the script. So they’re literally improvising their way through the case. Ha! Amazing. The script-less partners are Annie Murphy, Sharon Stone, Ken Jeong, Conan O’Brien, Marshawn Lynch and Kumail Nanjiani. Like classic SNL let’s see who can keep a straight face in the face of all that murder and comedy and who…cannot.

Friday, February 04

Reacher: Season 1 (Anytime / Prime Video)

When retired Military Police Officer Jack Reacher is arrested for a murder he did not commit, he finds himself in the middle of a deadly conspiracy full of dirty cops, shady businessmen and scheming politicians. With nothing but his wits, he must figure out what is happening in Margrave, Georgia. The first season of Reacher is based on the international bestseller, Killing Floor by Lee Child.
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Sammy Suggestion: Phat Tuesdays: The Era of Hip Hop Comedy Docuseries (Anytime / Prime Video)

In the words of Anthony Anderson, Tiffany Haddish, Steve Harvey, Regina King and more, Phat Tuesdays tells the unbelievable story of how one man, Guy Torry, moved mountains to launch an all-Black comedy night at The Comedy Store. What started as an experiment in 90’s Los Angeles turned into a breeding ground for today’s greatest comedians, elevating Black voices to have their turn on the stage.
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Phat Tuesdays was a notable showcase for Black comedians at The Comedy Store in ’90s Los Angeles. It’s everyone you’re thinking of: Nick Cannon, Dave Chappelle, Cedric the Entertainer, Steve Harvey, Jo Koy and lots more who shares their experiences. Following the 1992 LA riots Black comedians wanted to respond positively; they wanted to heal and connect a community all the special aspects comedy is proficient at. So this docuseries is that hilarious origin story. Please Note: all three episodes of the series premieres today. (Also? Highly Recommended Viewing is Showtime’s The Comedy Store docuseries from 2020. Watch that as you watch this; should pair well.)

Saturday, February 05

Finding Ola (Anytime / Netflix)

After a life-altering event, Ola embarks on a journey of self-discovery while dealing with the challenges of raising two children and making ends meet.
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Sammy Suggestion: White Men Can’t Jump (Anytime / Hulu)

A comedy about basketball hustlers who work on the premise that white men can’t play as well as black men.
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One of Stanley Kubrick’s favorite movies is celebrating it’s 30th anniversary this year. Another amazing fun fact? This movie mastered the art of the Yo Momma joke. “We were rehearsing and everybody is complaining that everyone else has the best ‘yo mama’ jokes”, recalls director Ron Shelton. “I said, ‘Shut up, come back with your best ones tomorrow.’ Guys had computer printouts with ‘yo mama’ jokes. We were just roaring at all the jokes. The problem was most of them were rated NC-17, when I was an R and already had one hundred seventy motherfuckers in there.” Yes! This movie was a breakout hit for all involved Wesley Snipes was no longer that guy Spike Lee movies while Woody Harrelson was no longer that guy on Cheers. And director Ron Shelton went on to make a number of other notable sports movies. (To give you a sense of 1992 it was Batman Returns, Lethal Weapon 3, Under Siege, Basic Instinct, Wayne’s World and A Few Good Men. Big movie year!)

Sunday, February 06

NFL Pro Bowl (3 p.m. / ESPN)

The 2022 PRO BOWL will be the National Football League all-star game for the 2021 NFL season. It is scheduled to be played at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, Nevada.
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Sammy Suggestion: 30 for 30: The Tuck Rule (8:30 p.m / ESPN)

The Tuck Rule isn’t just one of the most controversial plays in sports history, it is one of the most consequential moments in pop culture history; an inflection point where the world tilted left instead of right, leading to the first NFL playoff win for a young quarterback named Tom Brady.
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“Without the Tuck Rule, Tom Brady wouldn’t have won his first playoff game – and who knows where his destiny might have gone from there. But whether what happened on January 19, 2002 was the right call or a terrible call, divine providence or deep conspiracy, one thing is certain: The life of Tom Brady, as well as the life of the Hall of Famer who hit him on the play, Brady’s college teammate Charles Woodson, was forever changed that night.” It’s another classic 30 for 30.

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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: January 31-February 6, 2022

We got football and monsters! I mean that’s an excellent week right there; #SetTheVCR or not right?

Read the rest of this page »

#SetTheVCR: January 24-30, 2022

Welcome to Monster Week at #SetTheVCR: We got a Wolf, a Resident Alien, a Boris Karloff Monster and the ugly rich creatures in Snowpiercer. Gonna be a scary yet delightful week on TV, get your G.I. Joe nightlight ready.

Monday, January 24

Pennyworth: Seasons 1 and 2 (Anytime / HBO Max)

The series, which aired for two seasons on EPIX, has been renewed for a third season on HBO Max, moving both seasons 1 & 2 with it.
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Sammy Suggestion: Snowpiercer: Season 3 (9 p.m. / TNT)

For the first time since the world ended, a brighter future awaits beyond the train.
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TNT’s Snowpiercer adaptation (Vanilla Ice’s favourite show: Too Cold!) returns for a third season. (Unless you’re in Canada which is ironic because we’ve a reputation for being a frozen dystopia. January 25 on Netflix Canada. Helpful if you ah…need to “backtrack” for a quick Season 2 recap.). “Season three picks up with Layton (Daveed Diggs) and his inner circle commanding a small 10 car “pirate train” in search of Melanie (Jennifer Connelly) and a possible warm location to restart civilization; while back on Snowpiercer, Mr. Wilford (Sean Bean) is consolidating power, awaiting Layton’s return.” The future continues to be derailed…I’m done now.

Tuesday, January 25

Hot Docs Podcast Festival is broadcasting from Toronto and available online worldwide from January 25-28. A freshtastic virtual event is Michael Lewis in Conversation with Ira Glass! How dope is that?

Charlamagne’s Tha God’s Honest Truth debuted September 17 on Comedy Central. Today the entire first season has been added to Crave.
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Sammy Suggestion: Wolf LIke Me (Anytime / Peacock & Prime Video Canada)

When Mary’s universe collides with Gary and his 11-year-old daughter, Emma, all the signs tell her they’re meant to be in each other’s lives; but as their connection deepens, they grow more terrified of their respective baggage tearing them apart.
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“Everyone brings their own set of baggage to a new relationship. Gary (Josh Gad) and Mary (Isla Fisher) are no different. Gary is an emotional wreck and struggles to provide for his daughter since the death of his wife. Mary has a secret she can’t bring herself to share with anyone. The universe brought these two together for a reason, they just need to keep following the signs.” That’s a rather ominous description coupled with the strange title: Wolf Life Me. I suspect over the 6 episodes this will reveal itself to be a genre-bending romantic dramedy. Let’s see where this goes and hmm…who is the wolf?

Wednesday, January 26

The Book Of Boba Fett: Chapter 5 (Anytime / Disney+)

No longer just a hired gun, Boba Fett reinvents himself on Tatooine alongside Fennec Shand.
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Sammy Suggestion: Resident Alien: Season 2 (9PM / USA Network & SYFY & CTV SCI-FI CHANNEL)

An alien crash lands on Earth and must pass himself off as small-town human doctor Harry Vanderspeigle. Arriving with a secret mission to kill all humans, Harry starts off living a simple life…but things get a bit rocky when he’s roped into solving a local murder and realizes he needs to assimilate into his new world.
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Alan Tudyk plays an extraterrestrial stranded in a small Colorado town in the darkly comic sci-fi drama Resident Alien. Think E.T. but with lots of sarcasm. That works for me! I was sad when Season 1 finished…that went by so fast. According to the “resident alien” attempting to master social cues: “Humans have a term for this: “Bad luck,” & “raw deal,” and “this is some bullshit.” This modern Mork & Mindy offers an ominous twist. Mork has been assigned to observe human behavior by Orson; that’s why he’s on Earth. In Resident Alien his nefarious mission is to kill all humans. Slight difference right? The problem was by the end of season 1 he was infected with humanity…turns out pizza is really tasty. Season 2 will pick up with the alien struggling with the moral dilemma of his “secret” mission which isn’t a secret anymore. (The Sheriff is the best character if a lousy cop. All his lines were gold.)

Thursday, January 27

Escape Room: Tournament Of Champions (Anytime / Prime Video Canada)

Six people unwillingly find themselves locked in another series of escape rooms, slowly uncovering what they have in common in order to survive.
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Sammy Suggestion: Boris Karloff: The Man Behind the Monster (Anytime / Shudder)

A documentary examining Boris Karloff’s illustrious 60-year career in the entertainment industry and his enduring legacy as one of the icons of 20th century popular culture.
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The Universal Studios Monsters from the 1930s to the 1950s formed a seminal foundation to our modern horror movies (with dubious sci-fi contributions.). As did Hammer Films known for their Gothic horror and fantasy films made from the mid-1950s until the 1970s. Indeed their Frankenstein has a terrifying face and is more brutal than the iconic Boris Karloff performance which injected the monster with humanity. “Beginning just before his debut as Frankenstein’s creation, Boris Karloff: The Man Behind The Monster compellingly explores the life and legacy of a cinema legend, presenting a perceptive history of the genre he personified.” And yes no surprise Guillermo Del Toro is in this.

Friday, January 28

A Life in Ten Pictures: Muhammad Ali (Anytime / CBC Gem)

Muhammad Ali is one of the most photographed men in history. But can just a handful of photos uncover new truths about someone we think we know?
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Sammy Suggestion: Janet Jackson: Part 1 (9PM / A&E & Lifetime)

The four-hour event, in celebration of the 40th anniversary of Janet’s first album, Janet Jackson (1982), is set to simulcast on Lifetime and A&E, two of the flagship channels of the A+E Networks portfolio. With full, unprecedented access to the global icon, JANET JACKSON. is an intimate, honest and unfiltered look at her untold story. Producers Workerbee have been filming the incredible documentary for over three years and were granted exclusive
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Janet Jackson has scored a 4 hour Last Dance. Filmed for over three years and featuring access to archival footage and Janet’s never before seen home videos, along with star-studded interviews including Q-Tip. Like Michael Janet has operated as a private celebrity; she is a popular mystery. And like Michael she has worked for decades; she first appeared on television as Penny on Good Times when she was 11. Since then she has of course continued to act and release a slew of hit records while operating in her brother’s giant shadow. Documentaries such as this succeed with intimacy; That’s The Way Love Goes. Though Janet is a producer so she’s retained some Control. Please Note: this Escapade airs over 2 nights; tonight is Part 1; tomorrow is Part 2. Same channel and time. Hopefully you remember to set the VCR twice; remember that the next time you say to me: What Have You Done For Me Lately?

Saturday, January 29

The Fallout (Anytime / Crave & HBO Max)

High schooler Vada navigates the emotional fallout she experiences in the wake of a school tragedy. Relationships with her family, friends and view of the world are forever altered.
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Sammy Suggestion: Reminiscence (Anytime / Crave)

From the co-creator of Westworld, Lisa Joy. Nick Bannister (Hugh Jackman) is a private investigator of the mind who helps his clients access lost memories. But when he takes on Mae (Rebecca Ferguson) as a client, a simple matter of lost and found becomes a dangerous obsession.
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With Reminiscence Christopher Nolan’s sister-in-law has entered into the family business (plot-wise but also this is produced by Jonathan Nolan). This is opposite of Inception; rather Joy working as a writer and director presents a feature where memories are recovered. “Nick Bannister a private investigator of the mind, navigates the darkly alluring world of the past by helping his clients access lost memories. Living on the fringes of the sunken Miami coast, his life is forever changed when he takes on a new client, Mae. A simple matter of lost and found becomes a dangerous obsession. As Bannister fights to find the truth about Mae’s disappearance, he uncovers a violent conspiracy, and must ultimately answer the question: how far would you go to hold on to the ones you love?” (Please Note: for Americans this is on HBO Max tonight; it was added to Crave yesterday.)

Sunday, January 30

Atlanta: Seasons 1-2 (Anytime / Disney+ Canada)

Two cousins work through the Atlanta music scene in order to better their lives and the lives of their families. Donald Glover serves as Executive Producer, along with Paul Simms, Dianne McGunigle and Stephen Glover.
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Sammy Suggestion: The NFL Conference Championships (6pm & 9:30PM/ Fox)

The Bengals take on the Chiefs followed by the 49ers vs the LA Rams.
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Welcome to the NFL Conference Championships…it’s the final 4 teams. Tonight: 2 teams will be eliminated; 2 teams will go onto the Super Bowl. This year it’s held on Sunday, February 13 at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California. Man by extending the regular season and having the Super Bowl go into mid-February it’s surreal how much oxygen and especially TV ratings the NFL consumes. There might be something else on TV tonight but what’s the use? Plus the games on Saturday January 22 were stunners while the 23rd’s games were dynamic: Titans and Packers both lost. At home. Brady’s out but Mahomes is in. So anything can and will happen; it’s one of those years. The AFC game: Bengals at Chiefs, 3 p.m. on CBS. The NFC game: 49ers at Rams, 6:30 p.m. on FOX. Fewest mistakes wins!

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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: January 24-30, 2022

Welcome to Monster Week at #SetTheVCR: We got a Wolf, a Resident Alien, a Boris Karloff Monster and the ugly rich creatures in Snowpiercer. Gonna be a scary yet delightful week on TV, get your G.I. Joe nightlight ready.

Read the rest of this page »

232 | Jefferson Moneo (Cosmic Dawn)

My Summer Lair Chapter #232: Why Do You Believe What You Believe?

Welcome writer and director Jefferson Moneo to My Summer Lair; his latest feature is Cosmic Dawn. A trippy UFO cult saga starring Camille Rowe and Emmanuelle Chriqui.

I’ll give you the basic description but know there is lots more going on than this:
“After witnessing the alien abduction of her mother as a child, Aurora joins the UFO cult The Cosmic Dawn.”

As you’re about to hear in this far-out My Summer Lair conversation, this movie…visually yes it’s an arresting kaleidoscope.

Yet it’s also inspired by Jefferson’s unexplained experience he had in his youth…what he says are “crazy lights.” He openly shared his unique experience and I dunno what to make of it. Part of me is Mulder, part of me is Scully.

Like being prompted by the movie…you have to question your assumptions. Between the UFO cult and the experience of Aurora who witnessed the alien abduction of her mother as a child…it’s all off-kilter. What’s going on here?

The only certainty is uncertainty. Which is what you’d expect from a nonlinear movie.

This close encounter suggests an equally difficult question: Why do you believe what you believe?

Some contemplation music is provided by MGMT who contributed a number of songs to the Cosmic Dawn soundtrack; that wonderful synth and the style of the movie smoothly combine to offer up a warm 80s sci-fi movie feeling.

Currently Cosmic Dawn is available on On Demand Platforms.

But oh yes let’s start with Jefferson’s personal experience with the crazy lights.

The Cosmic Dawn trailer:

Cosmic Dawn @ WT F

Host Sammy Younan

Recorded: Wednesday January 26, 2022 at 11:30am EST

What are you watching on YouTube? There’s divine delight at discovering delicious pop culture. Sign up now so you can enjoy the My Pal Sammy newsletter.

232 | Jefferson Moneo (Cosmic Dawn)

My Summer Lair Chapter #232: Why Do You Believe What You Believe?

Welcome writer and director Jefferson Moneo to My Summer Lair; his latest feature is Cosmic Dawn. A trippy UFO cult saga starring Camille Rowe and Emmanuelle Chriqui.

I’ll give you the basic description but know there is lots more going on than this:
“After witnessing the alien abduction of her mother as a child, Aurora joins the UFO cult The Cosmic Dawn.”

As you’re about to hear in this far-out My Summer Lair conversation, this movie…visually yes it’s an arresting kaleidoscope.

Yet it’s also inspired by Jefferson’s unexplained experience he had in his youth…what he says are “crazy lights.” He openly shared his unique experience and I dunno what to make of it. Part of me is Mulder, part of me is Scully.

Like being prompted by the movie…you have to question your assumptions. Between the UFO cult and the experience of Aurora who witnessed the alien abduction of her mother as a child…it’s all off-kilter. What’s going on here?

The only certainty is uncertainty. Which is what you’d expect from a nonlinear movie.

This close encounter suggests an equally difficult question: Why do you believe what you believe?

Some contemplation music is provided by MGMT who contributed a number of songs to the Cosmic Dawn soundtrack; that wonderful synth and the style of the movie smoothly combine to offer up a warm 80s sci-fi movie feeling.

Currently Cosmic Dawn is available on On Demand Platforms.

But oh yes let’s start with Jefferson’s personal experience with the crazy lights.

Cosmic Dawn @ WT F

Host Sammy Younan

Recorded: Wednesday January 26, 2022 at 11:30am EST

Stress free pop culture tastefully harvested for your divine delight. Once a week a carefully curated edition of My Pal Sammy goes directly to your inbox. Sign up for my newsletter because the F in FOMO doesn’t stand for Fun.

#SetTheVCR: January 17-23, 2022

And for this week’s #SetTeVCR I present a Legion of Documentaries for your viewing pleasure.

Monday, January 17

NBA’s MLK Day Slate (starting at noon on various TV channels)

Everything you need to know for MLK Day’s 12-game slate, including 4 nationally-televised matchups.
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Sammy Suggestion: MLK/FBI (Anytime / Netflix Canada)

This documentary details how the FBI secretly wiretapped and harassed civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. from 1963 until his death in 1968.
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The premise is simple yet frightening: “Based on newly declassified files, Sam Pollard’s resonant film explores the US government’s surveillance and harassment of Martin Luther King, Jr.” We complain about social media’s penchant for misinformation and disinformation yet what about state-sanctioned surveillance? The FBI file has become my standard; lots of people talk a lot, hashtag a lot but if the FBI is opening a file on you: you’re officially dangerous. So much for “civil” rights. Happy MLK Day 2022?

Tuesday, January 18

Commando (Anytime / Hulu)

Snappy punch lines and explosive action highlight the tale of a retired special ops military man forced back into the violent world of political intrigue when his daughter is kidnapped. Arnold’s classic COMMANDO has been added to Hulu. You’ll want to “log” some time with this action classic, see?
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Sammy Suggestion: Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched: A History of Folk Horror (Anytime / Shudder)

Explore the rural roots, occult creeds and cultural lore that continue to shape international cinema. From writer/director/co-producer Kier-La Janisse comes “a seductive mega-text” (Indiewire) through the history of folk horror, featuring clips from over 200 films and interviews with more than 50 filmmakers, authors and scholars.
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In this Shudder exclusive explore “the history of folk horror, featuring clips from over 200 films and interviews with more than 50 filmmakers, authors and scholars that explore the rural roots, occult creeds and cultural lore that continue to shape international cinema.” I so dig and appreciate this growing “new” genre of horror documentaries. And this timely reminder to not go into the woods.

Wednesday, January 19

The Book Of Boba Fett: Chapter 4 (Anytime / Disney+)

No longer just a hired gun, Boba Fett reinvents himself on Tatooine alongside Fennec Shand.
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Sammy Suggestion: Legion: Seasons 1-3 (Anytime / Disney+ Canada)

David Haller is a troubled young man diagnosed as schizophrenic, but after a strange encounter, he discovers special powers that will change his life forever.
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Legion was an X-Men related television show created for FX by Noah Hawley; based on the Marvel Comics character David Haller / Legion. Produced in association with Marvel Television, Legion ran for three seasons from 2017 to 2019. David Haller was diagnosed with schizophrenia at a young age but…his mental illness is not exactly what it seems. Something sinister lurks in the shadows. This is the “hair-rising” world of the X-Men right? I never watched it back when it was on the air; now it’s been added to Disney+ Canada today (along with a number of FX shows such as Hip Hop Uncovered a docuseries and What We Do in the Shadows. Atlanta and Baskets, two other popular FX shows, will be added on January 26.).

Thursday, January 20

Sundance Film Festival opens today.

The 2022 Sundance Film Festival will take place ONLINE ONLY, Jan 20th through Jan 30th. So if you want to watch some Sundance at home – with no pants – you can do so starting today. Be classy yet comfortable.
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Sammy Suggestion: The Center Seat: 55 Years of Star Trek (Anytime / Crave)

The Center Seat: 55 Years Of Star Trek is a multi-episode documentary series that takes viewers on the definitive in-depth journey behind the scenes of one of the greatest landmark franchises of all time: Star Trek.
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The ten-part docuseries debuted on Friday, November 5 for Americans; while for Canadians via Crave it aired on November 18. In comics the debate is often do you read/buy the monthlies or wait for the trade? What about with TV shows? Do you wait for the whole season or do you watch weekly? Well today the 10th and final episode of The Center Seat has been added to Crave; if like me you’ve been patiently waiting for all of em like a thick and tasty trade. For background History Channel celebrated Star Trek’s 55th year with this ten-part documentary series. What were the fateful creative decisions that led to 55 years? How do you build something significant from a quickly cancelled 60s TV show that lasted only 79 episodes? All these questions and more were explored. Everybody is in this. Do I hafta add something like set your phasers to fun?! (Please Note: American viewers can enjoy the entire docuseries on History Vault the network’s subscription video service.)

Friday, January 21

Servant: Season 3 (Anytime / Apple TV+)

From M. Night Shyamalan, SERVANT follows a Philadelphia couple in mourning after an unspeakable tragedy creates a rift in their marriage and opens the door for a mysterious force to enter their home.
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Sammy Suggestion: Talk It Out/Feelings Friday >> (10PM & 11PM / HBO Max)

Real Time with Bill Maher: Season 20 Premiere VS
Back On The Record with Bob Costas Season 2 Premiere

Bill Maher hosts this live one-hour talk series that features an opening monologue, ’roundtable discussions with Maher and a guest forum, segments with other special guests, and Maher’s ‘New Rules’ segment that exposes society’s most absurd habits and institutions.


28-time Emmy®-winner and legendary broadcaster Bob Costas returns to HBO for this series. Each new edition features in-depth interviews with the biggest names in sports, entertainment and popular culture, along with roundtable discussions and Costas’ signature commentaries that capture his distinctive voice and point of view.

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Legendary broadcaster Bob Costas returns for a second season of Back on the Record. The sports themed talk show “will be driven by in-depth interviews with the biggest names in sports, entertainment, and popular culture, and discussions led by Costas that will address today’s most topical sports issues.” While before Bob legendary TV host Bill Maher returns for a twentieth season of Real Time . The political theme talk show “will be driven by in-depth interviews with the biggest names in politics, entertainment, and popular culture, and discussions led by Maher that will address today’s most topical political issues.” So choose…one or both and talk it out. Welcome to Feelings Friday on HBO.

Saturday, January 22

As We See It: Season 1 (Anytime / Prime Video)

Finding love, making friends, getting a job, adulting. Watch as three roommates on the autism spectrum navigate their early 20s with all its joy, tears and laughter. From the Emmy award winning Jason Katims (Parenthood, Friday Night Lights) comes the new series As We See It, launching January 21st, only on Prime Video.
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Sammy Suggestion: Slugfest: Docuseries (Anytime / The Roku Channel)

A chronicle of the growth of comic books as a new American art form, following the rise of Marvel and DC Comics that went on to become publishing and Hollywood powerhouses.
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“This is a story about innovation.” That’s the opening of the introduction in Reed Tucker’s book Slugfest: Inside the Epic, 50-year Battle Between Marvel and DC. Ah the classic Marvel vs DC battles. Just recently in 2017 it was “BIG News” that Brian Michael Bendis defected to DC after years of Marvel comics. In the same fashion as Jack Kirby though back then that was truly seen as a defection. That Kirby story and more is recounted in Tucker’s excellent book; highly recommended reading. However if as in English class you haven’t read the book that’s fine watch the ten-part docuseries narrated by Kevin Smith and exec produced by the Russo Brothers. Each episode includes a history of the rivalry via interviews and re-enactments. And yes lots of famous and familiar folks are in this. Like a sports rivalry DC vs Marvel made each other better: a simple example is Marvel’s self-contained comic book universe (we see that in the MCU as well where everything and everyone is connected.) This was designed as a reaction to DC’s messy solo-approach: Superman first met Batman in 1952…yet he was created in 1938 and Batman showed up in 1939. That seems silly now after everything we’ve read. (Slugfest was originally a Quibi documentary but it never aired before the streamer was shut down; thankfully it’s now rebranded as an Roku Originals documentary.)

Sunday, January 23

Fanny: The Right to Rock (Anytime / Crave)

The story of a Filipina American garage band that morphed into the ferocious rock group Fanny, which almost became the female version of the Beatles.
~~

Sammy Suggestion: Sex Appeal (Anytime / Hulu)

Avery Hansen-White doesn’t do things she isn’t excellent at. So when her long-distance boyfriend hints at wanting to take their relationship to the next level at the upcoming STEM conference (“nerd prom”), she sets out to master her sexuality.
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Since today is National Pie Day I suppose you could go back and watch American Pie! Or how about some new filthy fun? A high school super dork hasn’t gotten laid; basically on her busy To Do List she never put “You” on it. So she’s getting her education on…and she ain’t leavin’ till six in the mornin’. Of course in school as in life you can be book smart and/or street smart so…her “study results in the realization that there’s more to sex, and live, than mechanics.” Oh that’s so bootyiful.

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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.

Lockdown The Logic

As I write this it’s currently minus 20. Toronto has a naturally built in lockdown season; it’s called January.

Ain’t no need for vapid political machinations to shut down pop culture as an attempt to look they’re doing something. Politically something is always better than nothing, right? That’s like hitting the side of a TV to make it work.

Read the rest of this page »

231 | Will Di Novi (Hot Docs Podcast Festival)

My Summer Lair Chapter #231: What Makes You Push Play On A Podcast?

Growing up we had TV hosts. MuchMusic and MTV had classic VJs and even now though it’s been years since they’ve been on the air the connection to these individuals runs deep. Lots of children’s TV shows have popular hosts Mister Rogers, Mr. Dressup and others.

A connection was forged through intimacy…we invited these people into our homes and into our lives. And that love was reciprocated; they shared their lives and told us stories. It’s a different relationship than what we had with celebrities. Yes we had a connection…or wished we did with a celebrity but they were often playing a character stuck in unrealistic situations.

A music VJ was authentic…they had the same enthusiasm for the bands I liked. They were excited about a new album…or an upcoming tour.

So podcasting as a form of media intimacy isn’t entirely new. We’ve always had digital friends; we respond to strong or distinct personalities. Though the medium has changed we know this experience; just as we know the hosts of our favourite podcasts.

And on January 25 through January 28 some of those familiar hosts will be coming to the Hot Docs Podcast Festival.

We got Michael Lewis in conversation with Ira Glass, yo! Moneyball means This American Life. Full Release Live with Samantha Bee will have a surprise guest. I asked Will Di Novi, co-curator of the Podcast Festival, for a hint.

You’ll hafta stay tuned for that.

And there’s informative panels for podcast creators: from editing to crafting a good talk show to networking with decision makers from the CBC, Amazon and Wondery and lots more.

Will is gonna get into all of this and lots more. His enthusiasm for podcasting and his vision for what it could be is infectious. As he shares in this conversation: “At Hot Docs our main MO is to celebrate the art and craft of nonfiction storytelling.” And with the Hot Docs Podcast Festival they’ve done just that.

Go to HotDocs.ca for the schedule, ticket prices and to check out the full lineup.

Though as you’ll listen Will and I chronicle this incredible podcast festival.

Oh! And even though it’s based in Toronto you don’t hafta be: this is all online and you can sign up anywhere you got wifi. How sweet is that…a no pants podcast festival. (#DownWithPants!)

Chilling on your couch and hanging out with Ira Glass. Behold the power of the podcast medium.

Hot Docs Podcast Festival @ WT F

Host Sammy Younan

Recorded: Friday January 21, 2021 at 2:30pm (EST)

Stress free pop culture tastefully harvested for your divine delight. Once a week a carefully curated edition of My Pal Sammy goes directly to your inbox. Sign up for my newsletter because the F in FOMO doesn’t stand for Fun.

#SetTheVCR: January 10-16, 2022

Super big nerd week. There’s something for EVERYBODY in this week’s #SetTheVCR. If you’re not happy watching TV after this week well then…there’s always Revenge of the Nerds!

Monday, January 10

Terminator: Dark Fate (Anytime / Netflix Canada)

An augmented human and Sarah Connor must stop an advanced liquid Terminator from hunting down a young girl, whose fate is critical to the human race.
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Sammy Suggestion: The Eyes of Tammy Faye (Anytime / HBO Max)

Starring Jessica Chastain and Andrew Garfield, The Eyes of Tammy Faye looks at the rise, fall, and redemption of televangelist Tammy Faye Bakker. Legendary for her indelible eyelashes and idiosyncratic singing, Tammy’s religious empire was wrought with schemes and scandals.
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“An intimate look at the extraordinary rise, fall and redemption of televangelist Tammy Faye Bakker.” Tammy Faye and her husband Jim Bakker weren’t just televangelists they had their own theme park! I dunno how much of this biopic spends on the theme park but I’m sure it’s “not enough.” Otherwise this is a classic American story: extraordinary rise, extraordinary fall, extraordinary eyelashes, extraordinary wealth and extraordinary sandal. (Please Note: this is not to be confused with the 2000 documentary The Eyes of Tammy Faye narrated by ah…RuPaul. Yup I know.)

Tuesday, January 11

The Many Saints of Newark (Anytime / Crave)

Young Anthony Soprano is growing up in one of the most tumultuous eras in Newark, N.J., history, becoming a man just as rival gangsters start to rise up and challenge the all-powerful DiMeo crime family. Caught up in the changing times is the uncle he idolizes, Dickie Moltisanti, whose influence over his nephew will help shape the impressionable teenager into the all-powerful mob boss, Tony Soprano.
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Sammy Suggestion: Naomi: Season 1 (9 p.m. / The CW & Showcase)

Naomi follows a teen girl’s journey from her small northwestern town to the heights of the multiverse. When a supernatural event shakes her hometown to the core, Naomi sets out to uncover its origins, and what she discovers will challenge everything we believe about our heroes. Based on the DC comic.
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Series Premiere: In 2019 Brian Michael Bendis introduced Naomi McDuffie, a brand new DC superhero he co-created with David F. Walker, with artwork by Jamal Campbell. Raised by ordinary human parents Naomi lives an ordinary life in an ordinary town until Superman crashes through the center of town battling with Mongul. It sets off a chain reaction where Naomi learns she is not only adopted but that she possesses this unknown energy. This is the origin story we read in her comic books; this being a CW show much of that will hafta be tweaked. (The official CW description replaces the Superman vs Mongul battle with “a supernatural event shakes her hometown to the core.”) As you can tell from the name of the show Naomi doesn’t have a classic superhero name (all the other CW shows The Flash, Arrow, Batwoman etc. are all branded superheroes. So this’ll clearly be her hero’s journey. Are you gonna join the journey?

Wednesday, January 12

The Book Of Boba Fett: Chapter 3 (Anytime / Disney+)

No longer just a hired gun, Boba Fett reinvents himself on Tatooine alongside Fennec Shand.
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Sammy Suggestion: Eternals (Anytime / Disney+)

Marvel Studios’ “Eternals” follows a group of ancient heroes from beyond the stars who had protected Earth since the dawn of man. When monstrous creatures called Deviants, long thought lost to history, mysteriously return, the Eternals are forced to reunite in order to defend humanity once again.
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Not a fan of their Marvel comics means I was reluctant to don pants and head to the cinema to check out the 26th MCU movie. Well now I don’t hafta wear pants and I can check out “the saga of the Eternals, a race of immortal beings who lived on Earth and shaped its history and civilizations.” (As you already know this was followed by Spider-Man: No Way Home and 2022 will offer us Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and Thor: Love and Thunder as movies as well stay tuned for Disney+ for additional MCU TV shows…I can’t wait for Moon Knight!)

Thursday, January 13

Station Eleven: Limited Series (Anytime / HBO Max & Crave)

Episode 10 *Season Finale* of the Hiro Murai produced TV show.
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Sammy Suggestion: Peacemaker (Anytime / HBO Max & Crave)

PEACEMAKER explores the continuing story of the character that John Cena reprises in the aftermath of executive producer James Gunn’s 2021 film The Suicide Squad – a compellingly vainglorious man who believes in peace at any cost, no matter how many people he has to kill to get it!
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Series Premiere: The original Peacemaker first appeared in Fightin’ 5 #40 (November 1966) and was created by writer Joe Gill and artist Pat Boyette. So while he’s been around comics for decades his most notable connection was he was used as an inspiration and influence for The Comedian in Alan Moore’s Watchmen (In Empire James Gunn described Peacemaker as “a bit like Eastbound & Down with Watchmen.”). So that should give you a sense of what James Gunn and John Cena have been cooking. These series is set before and after the events of The Suicide Squad (like the notable post-credit scene…). Like Marvel, DC Films is adapting their upcoming film slate into spin-off television series’ for HBO Max. This’ll be the first series; with Gunn writing all eight episodes of the first season and directing five of them. So are you ready for a “peace” of the action?

Friday, January 14

After Life: Season 3 (Anytime / Netflix)

Struggling to come to terms with his wife’s death, a writer for a newspaper adopts a gruff new persona in an effort to push away those trying to help.
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Sammy Suggestion: Nobody (Anytime / Crave)

Hutch Mansell fails to defend himself or his family when two thieves break into his suburban home one night. The aftermath of the incident soon strikes a match to his long-simmering rage. In a barrage of fists, gunfire and squealing tires, Hutch must now save his wife and son from a dangerous adversary — and ensure that he will never be underestimated again.
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Oh! Universal Pictures released Nobody theatrically on March 26, 2021. I never got around to it; it was one of those “fell through the cracks” movies for me. So much ruckus!! Nobody is like Falling Down (remember how good that movie is?!) meets John Wick (remember how good that movie is?!). Just starring Bob Odenkirk. Amazing. Team Ruckus Reporting for Duty!

Saturday, January 15

Deadly Class: Season 1 (Anytime / Netflix Canada)

In 1980s San Francisco, a homeless teen is recruited to a storied private school where kids from crime families learn to master “the deadly arts.”
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Sammy Suggestion: Archive 81: Limited Series (Anytime / Netflix)

An archivist takes a job restoring damaged videotapes and gets pulled into the vortex of a mystery involving the missing director and a demonic cult.
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Oh…creepy Netflix; one of my favourite Netflix moods. “When archivist Dan Turner takes a mysterious job restoring a collection of damaged videotapes from 1994, he finds himself reconstructing the work of documentary filmmaker Melody Pendras and her investigation into a dangerous cult. As Dan is drawn into Melody’s story, he becomes convinced he can save her from the terrifying end she met 25 years ago.” This is adapted from a podcast of the same name and will consist of 8 moody episodes.

Sunday, January 16

Reframed: Marilyn Monroe: Docuseries (9 p.m. / CNN)

A new four-part documentary series reclaims the life and legacy of Hollywood bombshell Marilyn Monroe to reveal a new story, of a complex and powerful woman ahead of her time like…Marilyn Monroe was the first women in Hollywood to own her production company.
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Sammy Suggestion: All Madden (Anytime / Tubi & Peacock)

Youngster Ralphie Parker spends most of his time dodging a bully and dreaming of his ideal Christmas gift, a Red Ryder air rifle.
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John Madden’s recent passing on December 28 has prompted a number of tributes for the coach, commentator and famed video game pitchman. As coach of the Raiders he defined their silver and black modern era eventually winning a Super Bowl and as a TV commentator he was the NFL voice (and face!) of childhood; a much more innocent time. Just like the guy who voices Optimus Prime. Thankfully before he passed away Madden and his family viewed All Madden as a sort of living eulogy. Though this in-house Fox Sports documentary (same spark as ESPN’s 30 for 30!) aired on Christmas Day; his passing has renewed interest in the documentary. As such it’s been added to Peacock and Tubi for streaming; also ESPN+ if you have that. Fine way to pay respects to a giant and a legend…especially on another classic NFL Sunday as The Shield heads into the 2021 Playoffs.

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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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