#SetTheVCR: February 21-27, 2022

Lots of familiar faces in this week’s #SetTheVCR. So park your face in front of the TV and we can begin.

Monday, February 21

The Endgame: Season 1 (10 p.m. / NBC)

In this heist drama, criminal mastermind Elena Federova squares off against a principled FBI agent.
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Sammy Suggestion: All the Streets Are Silent (Anytime / CBC Gem)

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, skateboarding and hip-hop culture collide in downtown Manhattan. Archival footage from the era showcases the fusion of these two forms of expression.
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You’ll want to Kick, Push this TV recommendation. All the Streets Are Silent a documentary from director Jeremy Elkin is a portrait of time 1987-1997, capturing the transformative moment when hip hop and skateboarding culture converged in New York. We got Stretch Armstrong, Fab 5 Freddy, Rosario Dawson, DMC, DJ Clark Kent and so much more in this unique doc. Another excellent way to celebrate Hip Hop’s 50th birthday. I know basketball has taken over as a core element of hip hop but skateboarding as a side culture has always been there. It’s freshtastic it gets recognized with this doc.

Tuesday, February 22

The Sky is Everywhere (Anytime / Apple TV+)

Lennie is a teen musical prodigy grieving the death of her sister when she finds herself caught between a new guy at school and her sister’s devastated boyfriend. Through her vivid imagination and conflicted heart, Lennie navigates first love and first loss.
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Sammy Suggestion: Wild ‘N Out: 300 (8 p.m. / VH1)

Nick Cannon and a celebrity guest battle it out in hip-hop and improv competitions.
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Say what you want about Nick Cannon (and most people freely do) but he’s had a surreal career. Take for example today’s recommendation: Wild ‘N Out celebrates its 300th Episode with a new season. Come on…did you really expect Wild ‘N Out to get to 300 episodes?? Fat Joe, Wyclef Jean, G-Eazy and Kossiko, Mariah the Scientist, Jimmy Allen, Lisa Raye, D.Smoke, Naughty By Nature, Kid ‘N Play, Dave East, Saucy Santana, Darius McCrary, Belly, Dreamdoll, Spice, Baby Tate, EST Gee and more are set to appear. Whew. Now that’s a Wild party. (Following the premiere, fans can catch all-new episodes every Tuesday and Wednesday night.)

Wednesday, February 23

Robot Chicken: Season 11 (Anytime / HBO Max)

Rapid-fire channel flips propel viewers through Robot Chicken’s twisted takes on pop culture. The quarter-hour Adult Swim entry brings action figures to life in three-dimensional worlds through the old-school magic of stop-motion animation.
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Sammy Suggestion: jeen-yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy (Anytime / Netflix)

The lives of an emerging superstar and a filmmaker intertwine in this intense, intimate docuseries charting Kanye West’s career, filmed over two decades.
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Act 2 of the Kanye West documentary is titled act ii: PURPOSE. Last week’s act i was Vision and we witnessed the frustrating hustle of Kanye West. Who wanted to be more than an outstanding producer; he wanted to be a rapper but record labels and even friends wouldn’t take him seriously. Now he’s (finally) signed by Roc-A-Fella as an artist rather than just an in-house producer. This’ll be the rise of Kanye including that fateful car accident in 2002 which shattered his jaw and which prompted him to record Through the Wire…when his jaw was still wired shut. The first act introduced us to a Kanye West we’ve never met; the hungry up and coming kid trying to find his voice. This second act will clearly align with the public face of Kanye West as the hits and fantastic beats slowly roll out.

Thursday, February 24

The Porter (Anytime / CBC Gem)

Inspired by real events and set in the roar of the 1920s, THE PORTER follows the journeys of an ensemble of characters who hustle, dream, cross borders and pursue their ambitions in the fight for liberation – on and off the railways that crossed North America.
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Sammy Suggestion: Wolfe: Season 1 (Anytime / Showcase On Demand)

The adventures of Professor Wolfe Kinteh, a crime scene investigator in the north of England.
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Wolfe a British television police procedural drama on Sky Max touches down in Canada. All 6 episodes debuted in the UK on September 10, 2021. Here it’s a weekly TV show which follows Professor Wolfe Kinteh, a crime scene investigator and academic who solves crimes in northern England. Wolfe (who of course is brilliant but flawed) is assisted by a team that includes child prodigy Maggy, middle-aged single mom Dot, team entomologist Steve, and new recruit Dominique, “who has a dark past that brings her into conflict with Wolfe.” CSI with Bangers & Mash, then?

Friday, February 25

Cry Macho (Anytime / Crave)

Mark leads a team of office workers whose memories have been surgically divided between their work and personal lives. When a mysterious colleague appears outside of work, it begins a journey to discover the truth about their jobs.
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Sammy Suggestion: No Exit
(Anytime / HULU &
Disney+ Canada)

Stranded by a blizzard, a young woman is forced to find shelter at a highway rest area with a group of strangers. Discovering an abducted girl in a van in the parking lot, she embarks on a terrifying mission to discover who among them is the kidnapper.
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In No Exit “Havana Rose Liu makes her feature film leading role debut as Darby, a young woman en route to a family emergency who is stranded by a blizzard and forced to find shelter at a highway rest area with a group of strangers. When she stumbles across an abducted girl in a van in the parking lot, it sets her on a terrifying life-or-death struggle to discover who among them is the kidnapper.” Based solely on the trailer? My money is on the All State Guy…he’s so the kidnapper. Who do you think is the kidnapper?

Saturday, February 26

Finding You (Anytime / Netflix Canada)

After failing an audition, a violinist travels to Ireland to find inspiration and meets a famous movie star looking for a real connection.
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Sammy Suggestion: The French Dispatch (Anytime / HBO Max & Disney+ Canada)

A love letter to journalists set in an outpost of an American newspaper in a fictional 20th-century French city that brings to life a collection of stories published in “The French Dispatch.”
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It’s Wes Anderson. By now you know what to expect. Just as you know what to expect when you watch a Quentin Tarantino film, right?

Sunday, February 27

Free Guy (Anytime / Disney+ & HBO Max)

A bank teller discovers he is actually a background player in an open-world video game, and decides to become the hero of his own story. Now, in a world where there are no limits, he is determined to be the guy who saves his world his way before it’s too late.
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Sammy Suggestion: Super Pumped: The Battle For Uber (10 p.m. / Showtime & Crave)

Based on the shocking true story, strap in for the meteoric rise and fall of Uber founder, Travis Kalanick. With a lift from venture capitalist Bill Gurley and board member Arianna Huffington, Kalanick takes a win-at-all-costs approach to forge the fledgling start-up into a multi-billion-dollar tech titan. But every surge comes at a price – and as his visionary drive spirals out of control, it threatens to be the downfall of it all.
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uper Pumped: The Battle For Uber is adapted from a most excellent book by Mike Isaac. As always I’d rather a documentary than a biopic yet here we are. Uma Thurman is Arianna Huffington; Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Travis Kalanick and Hank Azaria is Tim Cook. Remember the Jerry Maguire vs Bob Sugar phone call scene that led to Show Me The Money? That’s the hyper energy you can expect with Super Pumped…as narrated by Quentin Tarantino. It’s 5 parts and it’ll air weekly starting tonight.

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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: February 14-20, 2022

No one has peace this week’s #SetTheVCR: that’s the State of the Union it doesn’t matter where you’re From or even if you’re a jeen-yuhs. It does make for excellent TV, though.

Monday, February 14

Ali Wong: Don Wong (Anytime / Netfix)

In her third Netflix stand-up special, Ali Wong reveals her wildest fantasies, the challenges of monogamy and how she really feels about single people.
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Sammy Suggestion: State of the Union: Season 2 (Anytime / SundanceTV & AMC+)

A series of ten, ten-minute episodes of an original comedy series about contemporary relationships. Each episode is set immediately before a couple has their weekly marital therapy session. Unacknowledged and unanalyzed, these stolen moments used to get their story straight for the therapist, may be starting to build bridges back to what made them what they were.
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Why not spend Valentine’s Day with Brendan Gleeson and Patricia Clarkson’s troubled marriage? Wait…do you miss Season 1? No worries: this is a romantic anthology TV Show: Season 1 documented Rosamund Pike and Chris O’Dowd’s…troubled relationship. So for “this season, liberal campaigning Ellen (Clarkson) drags her traditional, self-made husband Scott (Gleeson) out of his comfort zone and into a hipster Connecticut coffee shop, where they have 10 minutes before their marriage counselling session to drink a coffee, gather their thoughts and argue about everything from Quakerism to pronouns. Each week, between the bickering, they begin to piece together what has gone wrong between them.” You read that right: new episodes of the 10-minute per episode drama will debut across 10 nights on SundanceTV and as binge premiere on Sundance Now and AMC+. I figure if love at first sight is an instant reaction it should take at least 10 minutes to know what went wrong right?

Tuesday, February 15

American Experience: The American Diplomat (9 p.m. / PBS)

THE AMERICAN DIPLOMAT explores the lives and legacies of three African American ambassadors — Edward Dudley, Terence Todman and Carl Rowan — who pushed past historical and institutional racial barriers to reach high-ranking appointments in the Truman, Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations.
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Sammy Suggestion: Icahn: The Restless Billionaire (9P.M. / HBO & Crave)

A documentary that explores the fascinating contradictions at the heart of the famed financier, Carl Icahn. Amassing close to $20 billion dollars over the last half century and at the forefront of some of the most legendary business deals of our times, Icahn, often referred to as the “Lone Wolf of Wall Street,” is a feared negotiator and master strategist in the art of corporate takeovers and investments.
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Directed by Bruce David Klein The Restless Billionaire explores financier Carl Icahn’s fascinating contradictions. If you don’t know who that is think of a legit Donald Trump meets a pre-3 ghost Scrooge: this doc takes viewers inside some of the biggest deals of the last half century including his takeover of TWA in the 1980s, his high-profile investment in Apple in 2013 which provoked a stock rise of $17 billion dollars (this effect is known on Wall Street as “The Icahn Lift”), his very public battle with Bill Ackman over Herbalife, and his intervention during the Texaco bankruptcy, the largest in the world. (I wonder if his public spat with Marvel Comics is deeply acknowledged in this.) Basically this documentary is the cool answer is to The Social Network’s famous quote: “A million dollars isn’t cool. You know what’s cool? A billion dollars is cool.”

Wednesday, February 16

Marvel Studios: Assembled — The Making of Eternals (Anytime / Disney+)

An in-depth look at the making of ETERNALS that takes viewers behind-the-scenes with on-set footage, conversations with stars and filmmakers, and more.
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Sammy Suggestion: jeen-yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy (Anytime / Netflix)

The lives of an emerging superstar and a filmmaker intertwine in this intense, intimate docuseries charting Kanye West’s career, filmed over two decades.
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“This is my life, homie, you decide yours. / Old folks talking ’bout, “Back in my day” / But homie, this is my day.” Indeed. Kanye West has earned a Last Dance. ieen-yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy begins today and will air on the next 3 Wednesdays (February 16, February 23 and finally Part 3 on March 2). This docuseries will showcase “his formative days trying to break through and his life today as a global brand and artist.” If you think yesterday’s Carl Icahn documentary was controversial you gotta wait for the Heartless response to Kanye; it’s often without Mercy like a Runaway Monster.

Thursday, February 17

Fistful of Vengeance (Anytime / Netflix)

A revenge mission becomes a fight to save the world from an ancient threat when superpowered assassin Kai tracks a killer to Bangkok.
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Sammy Suggestion: Peacemaker (Anytime / HBO Max & Crave)

Picking up where THE SUICIDE SQUAD (2021) left off, PEACEMAKER returns home after recovering from his encounter with Bloodsport – only to discover that his freedom comes at a price.
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The final episode of DC Extended Universe (DCEU) television series comes to a close. (It’s clever pun title is It’s Cow or Never…get it?) Safe to say this series was a resounding success and many people adore DC Comics’ Karen. Did you enjoy Peacemaker? And what happens now? Marvel has clear timelines and promotes phases…the audience knows what to anticipate next and when that next is coming. While there are some notable DC Films coming up later this year (notably The Flash and The Batman) what else can we as viewers expect from DC TV? Will the above-ground swimming pool of “superheroes” get a second season? There are some questions even the questions even the season finale cannot address to bring us all…peace.

Friday, February 18

Severance: Season 1 (Anytime / Apple TV+)

Mark leads a team of office workers whose memories have been surgically divided between their work and personal lives. When a mysterious colleague appears outside of work, it begins a journey to discover the truth about their jobs.
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Sammy Suggestion: The King’s Man (Anytime / HULU & Disney+ Canada)

Discover the origins of the very first independent intelligence agency.
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Though this is the third installment in the Kingsman film series; it’s actually a prequel and reveals the birth of the Kingsman organization. While I’ve enjoyed the Kingsman films…solid British ruckus a prequel isn’t alluring. I suppose that coupled with how difficult it was to watch movies during COVID (The King’s Man was released on December 22, 2021 in the US and on December 26, 2021 in the UK) meant this movie didn’t score a reception fit for a king. Well here it is on TV for your Royal Highness.

Saturday, February 19

Space Force: Season 2 (Anytime / Netflix)

A four-star general begrudgingly teams up with an eccentric scientist to get the U.S. military’s newest agency — Space Force — ready for lift-off.
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Sammy Suggestion: Red Heat (Anytime / Crave via Starz)

A tough Russian policeman is forced to partner up with a cocky Chicago police detective when he is sent to Chicago to apprehend a Georgian drug lord who killed his partner and fled the country.
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I haven’t seen this Arnold classic in like what 20 years? This was Rush Hour before Rush Hour. Arnold is a Russian cop and Jim Blushie is an American cop (in Chicago). Together they must set aside their (cultural) differences to capture a Georgian drug lord. So getting a 2L bottle of Coke and a pile of Popeyes. Going out hard on this classic from 1988.

Sunday, February 20

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Season 9 (11 p.m. / HBO & Crave)

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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Sammy Suggestion: From: Season 1 (10 p.m. / EPIX)

FROM unravels the mystery of a nightmarish town that traps all those who enter. As the unwilling residents search for a way out, they must also survive the threats of the forest including the terrifying creatures that come out at night.
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One of the 2022 TV shows I’m most looking forward too. Doesn’t this freely offer eerie Stephen King small town vibes? “The series unravels the mystery of a nightmarish town in middle America that traps all those who enter. As the unwilling residents fight to keep a sense of normalcy and search for a way out, they must also survive the threats of the surrounding forest – including the terrifying creatures that come out when the sun goes down.” I’m a sucker for these types of trapped sci-fi horror mysteries. If all the books in the library are blank my heart blooms. Hopefully From is strong enough to find the right audience so it gets to Season 2.

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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: February 7-13, 2022

There’s a Super Bowl at the end of this week so until then here are some Super #SetTheVCR recommendations.

Monday, February 07

Angela Black (Anytime / ITV)

Trapped in a relationship she cannot escape, Angela is approached out of the blue by Ed, a private investigator, who spills her husband’s darkest secrets.
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Sammy Suggestion: American Experience: Riveted: The History of Jeans (9 p.m. / PBS)

Riveted: The History of Jeans reveals the fascinating and surprising story of this iconic American garment. At any given moment, half the people on the planet are wearing them.
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I know this is a surprising recommendation coming from me considering my movement is #DownWithPants. Still culturally symbolically jeans mean so much. I know so little about them. “From its roots in slavery to its connection to the Wild West, youth culture, the civil rights movement, rock and roll, hippies, high fashion and hip-hop, jeans are the canvas on which the history of American ideology and politics is writ large.” Huh. I wonder if this’ll acknowledge Rob Liefeld’s Levi’s commercial. Yo Youngblood remember that; from like 30 years ago?

Tuesday, February 08

Super Bowl Greatest Commercials: All Time Classics (8 p.m. / CBS)

The greatest commercials to ever come out of the Super Bowl.
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Sammy Suggestion: This Is Going To Hurt (Anytime / BBC ONE & AMC+)

Ben Whishaw stars in an adaptation of Adam Kay’s hit memoir, the series follows junior doctor Kay in his chaotic job in Obstetrics and Gynaecology.
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You’ll recognize Ben Whishaw from the recent James Bond movies. Here he’s not as proficient. This Is Going To Hurt is a seven-part drama/comedy based on Adam Kay’s book of the same name. “It tells the unvarnished story of life on a hospital ward through the eyes of a junior doctor, charting the heart-lifting highs and the gut-wrenching lows.” This is a BBC-AMC co-production so today it appears on BBC; no American date yet…so that’s a bit of a Q-uandary.

Wednesday, February 09

Free Guy (Anytime / Crave)

A bank teller decides to become the hero of his own story after discovering he’s a background player in an open-world video game.
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Sammy Suggestion: The Book Of Boba Fett: Season 1 (Anytime / Disney+)

THE BOOK OF BOBA FETT, a thrilling Star Wars adventure teased in a surprise end-credit sequence following the Season 2 finale of “The Mandalorian,” finds legendary bounty hunter Boba Fett and mercenary Fennec Shand navigating the galaxy’s underworld when they return to the sands of Tatooine to stake their claim on the territory once ruled by Jabba the Hutt and his crime syndicate.

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When The Mandalorian first appeared on Disney+ back in November 2019 I waited until my Christmas break to sit down with the full season. It was a great watch for me…doing nothing; watch an episode take a nap then watch another episode. Similarly writing this TV column means I’ve been distracted with other TV shows and movies. So I guess this is gonna become my Star Wars tradition: wait for the entire season of a TV show then sit down and work through it at my own pace. Today is The Book Of Boba Fett’s Season 1 finale. Unlike Mr. Green who has been watching weekly I haven’t a clue what is happening; the only character I know is Boba Fett. Some TV shows work great weekly; others are best when you can do it in chunks. Though I do wonder if that’ll affect a second season. Currently Lucasfilm has yet to officially announce whether The Book of Boba Fett will continue for a second season. I hope that isn’t my fault.

Thursday, February 10

Peacemaker: Season 1 (Anytime / HBO Max & Crave)

Chapter 7 is out today! 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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Sammy Suggestion: The Girl Before: Limited Series (Anytime / HBO Max & Crave)

Jane falls in love with an extraordinary minimalist house, but when she discovers that another damaged woman died in the same property three years earlier, she starts to wonder if her own story is just a rerun of the girl before.
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Another BBC co-production this one with BBC and HBO Max; yes also adapted from book. Here’s the description but the magic is in the last 7 words: “A traumatized woman falls in love with an extraordinary minimalist house, which remains under the spell of the architect who originally designed it, but not everything may be as it seems.” “Not everything may be as it seems” indeed! All 4 episodes will be added to the streamer so you can quickly find out what happened to…The Girl Before.

Friday, February 11

Antlers (Anytime / HBO Max)

In an isolated Oregon town, a middle-school teacher and her sheriff brother become embroiled with her enigmatic student, whose dark secrets lead to terrifying encounters with an ancestral creature.
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Sammy Suggestion: Malignant (Anytime / Crave)

Paralyzed by fear from shocking visions, a woman’s torment worsens as she discovers her waking dreams are terrifying realities.
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I saw this horror movie in the cinema! I ain’t gonna tell you anything about it. You gotta see this for yourself…watch it and let me know what you think. Woah.

Saturday, February 12

Just Call Out My Name (Anytime / HBO Max)

Just Call Out My Name is a documentary about the creative pairing of Carole King and James Taylor and focuses on the duo’s 2010 world tour, dubbed the “Troubadour Reunion Tour.”
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Sammy Suggestion: Kimi (Anytime / HBO Max & Crave)

An agoraphobic tech worker discovers recorded evidence of a violent crime but is met with resistance when she tries to report it. Seeking justice, she must now do the thing she fears the most: she must leave her apartment.
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Director Steven Soderberg and screenwriter David Koepp teamed up to bring us an original HBO Max movie: “an agoraphobic tech worker discovers evidence of a violent crime while reviewing a data stream, and is met with resistance and bureaucracy when she tries reporting it to her company. To get involved, she realizes she must face her greatest fear by venturing out of her apartment and into the city streets, which are filled with protestors after the city council passes a law restricting the movements of the homeless population.” Sounds like a solid sci-fi TV movie; I dunno that I’d put on pants and go see that at the movies for money but on HBO Max? That works. Kimi more movies like that HBO Max!

Sunday, February 13

Tall Girl 2 (Anytime / Netflix)

Landing the lead in the school musical is a dream come true for Jodi, until the pressure sends her confidence — and her relationship — into a tailspin.
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Sammy Suggestion: Super Bowl LVI (6:30PM / NBC)

Super Bowl LVI will be the upcoming championship game of the National Football League for the 2021 NFL season. It will be played between the National Football Conference champion Los Angeles Rams and the American Football Conference champion Cincinnati Bengals.
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Go NFL teams! Though really as a Canadian the Super Bowl is an excuse to eat chili and chicken wings. Maybe even laugh at a handful of witty commercials.

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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?

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 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 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.
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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.

#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.

#SetTheVCR: January 3-9, 2022

Happy New Year! May 2022 not be the absolute disaster of the last two years. At least we’ve got TV. Here’s your first-of-the-year #SetTheVCR recommendations.

Monday, January 3

The Cleaning Lady: Season 1 (9 p.m. / Fox)
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Premiere! A Cambodian doctor with an ailing son and an expired visa gets mixed up with the mob in a new Las Vegas-set drama. Based on the 2017 Argentinian television series La Chica Que Limpia.

Sammy Suggestion: The Super Bob Einstein Movie (Anytime / HBO Max)

A hilarious and intimate documentary celebrates the life and legacy of the late actor, writer, and producer Bob Einstein. Exploring Einstein’s unlikely discovery and enduring career, the film features interviews with those who knew him best.
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Look at this astonishing run: “actor, writer and producer Bob Einstein becomes famous for his iconic alter ego Super Dave Osborne, working with the Smothers Brothers, and playing Marty Funkhouser on the hit TV series Curb Your Enthusiasm.” Super Dave is an incredible TV show so it’s no surprise in this documentary slash eulogy (Einstein passed away on January 2, 2019, aged 76, after being diagnosed with cancer) it’s loaded with Jerry Seinfeld, Larry David, David Letterman, Sarah Silverman, Norman Lear, Steve Martin, Albert Brooks, Rob Reiner and JB Smoove…I mean Bob brought all these people together. Now that’s a Super Duper legacy.

Tuesday, January 4

Frontline: American Insurrection (10 p.m. / PBS)

In the aftermath of the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol, FRONTLINE, ProPublica and Berkeley Journalism’s Investigative Reporting Program team up to examine how far-right extremist groups have evolved in the wake of the deadly 2017 Charlottesville rally — and the threat they pose today.
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Sammy Suggestion: Judge Steve Harvey: Season 1 (8 p.m. / ABC)

Steve Harvey a comic and TV personality demonstrates his sarcastic knowledge of American jurisprudence in the new courtroom series.
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If you’ve ever enjoyed Steve Harvey on Family Feud you’ve seen his gift for sarcastic common sense on full display. If Harvey was an X-Man that would be his natural ability. So it’s no surprise he’s acting as a “judge” in this new unscripted courtroom comedy. For 10 episodes enjoy Harvey’s arbitration handling approach…some derision, some common sense and good old fashioned verdicts. Is this legal? Probably not but the humour is so good; I’ll allow it. Please proceed Judge Steve Harvey and badger the witness. And her mom!

Wednesday, January 5

American Greed: Season 15 (10 p.m. / CNBC)

CNBC’s longest-running primetime original series, “American Greed” is back for a momentous 15th season on a new night – Wednesday, January 5th at 10pm ET; and this season the series celebrates reaching its 200th episode. The award-winning series is narrated by legendary actor Stacy Keach. Two hundred episodes in, the truth remains: some people will do anything for money.
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Sammy Suggestion: Stay Close: Limited Series (Anytime / Netflix)

When Carlton Flynn vanishes 17 years to the night after Stewart Green did, it sets off a chain reaction in the lives of people connected to both men.
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This eight-episode British crime drama was released on December 31. However it was hard to “Stay Close” to this with all the year end specials happening. In August 2018, writer Harlan Coben signed a five-year deal with Netflix; that deal has provided us with Netflix originals like Safe (2018), The Stranger, The Woods (both 2020) and now Stay Close. “The lives of a photojournalist (Ray: the once promising documentary photographer, now stuck in a dead-end job pandering to celebrity obsessed rich kids), a soccer mom (Megan: a working mother of three) and a homicide detective (Broome: a detective who’s unable to let go of a missing person’s cold case. ) are disturbed by a terrible event from the past.” Classic British-ness…what was done horribly in the dark is horribly revealed in the light.

Thursday, January 6

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

Episodes 8 & 9 of the Hiro Murai produced TV show. One more episode to go.
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Sammy Suggestion: Joe Montana: Cool Under Pressure (Anytime / Peacock)

This 6-part premium sports documentary series, Joe Montana: Cool Under Pressure features stories that most people don’t know; the doubt from his coaches, the controversies with teammates, and the insecurities from within that drove one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the sport.
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OH! Joe Montana scored a Last Dance. I appreciate how he bodied NFL teams; dude is a GOAT. This “6-part sports documentary series featuring stories that most people don’t know; the doubt from his coaches, the controversies with teammates, and the insecurities from within that drove one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the sport.” (I hope the final episode is current; Montana is a GOAT celebrity investor; seriously ask Google.) We got interviews with Jerry Rice, Steve Young, George Seifert, Ed Debartolo, Peyton Manning, Magic Johnson, Ken Griffey Jr. and yes Tom Brady. Some most excellent greatness is an inspiring way to start the new year. The first two episodes of Joe Montana: Cool Under Pressure premieres today with new episodes premiering weekly.

Friday, January 7

The Tender Bar (Anytime / Prime Video)

From director George Clooney and based on the best-selling memoir, The Tender Bar follows an aspiring writer (Tye Sheridan) pursuing his romantic and professional dreams. From a stool in his uncle’s (Ben Affleck) bar, he learns what it means to grow up from a colorful group of local characters.

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Sammy Suggestion: Mother/Android (Anytime / Netflix Canada)

In a post-apocalyptic world rocked by a violent android uprising, a young pregnant woman and her boyfriend desperately search for safety.
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Americans have had since December 13 to check out Mother/Android when it premiered on Hulu on December 13. Today it comes to Canada so we can see how cheezy it is, eh? I dig the I Am Legend vibes replacing vampires with renegade androids. That’s fresh. “Georgia (Chloe Grace Moretz) and Sam (Algee Smith), a couple who go on a treacherous journey to escape their country, which is caught in an unexpected war with artificial intelligence. Days away from the arrival of their first child, the couple must face No Man’s Land— a stronghold of the android uprising, in hopes of reaching safety before Georgia give birth.” Wait, is this not based on a comic book or a book or a TV show or a video game?! Original sci-fi? Is that possible?

Saturday, January 8

The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard (8 p.m. / HBO)

The bodyguard Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds) continues his friendship with assassin Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson) as they try to save Darius’ wife Sonia (Salma Hayek).
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Sammy Suggestion: BTK: Confession of a Serial Killer (9 p.m. / A&E)

Come examine the horrific crimes and psyche of notorious serial killer Dennis Rader. From Wolf Entertainment and Good Caper Content, this gripping documentary provides unprecedented access into the mind of Rader who is currently serving 10 consecutive life sentences in El Dorado Correctional Facility.
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A sort of conclusion to Fincher’s Mindhunter? In several short vignettes throughout the first two seasons the ADT serviceman is Dennis Rader the BTK Killer. However we’ve yet to get a third season to properly conclude the saga of the BTK Killer. Season 2 left it open ended so thankfully we have A&E as a semi-conclusion to Mindhunter. BTK stands for: Bind, Torture, Kill an American serial killer who operated from January 15, 1974 – January 19, 1991. He’s still alive which why we’ve got this documentary; it “provides unprecedented access into the mind of Rader who is currently serving 10 consecutive life sentences in El Dorado Correctional Facility.” Sorta like a real life Mindhunter. Until we get Season 3, this’ll hafta tide us over. (Please Note: Part 2 is tomorrow same time and channel.)

Sunday, January 9

The Righteous Gemstones: Season 2 (10 p.m. / HBO & Crave)

In this irreverent comedy series, celebrity televangelist Eli Gemstone struggles to keep his family in check — and their big-money megachurch afloat. Season 2 finds the blessed Gemstone family threatened by outsiders who wish to destroy their holy empire.
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Sammy Suggestion: MacGruber: Season 1 (9 p.m. / Showcase)

After rotting in prison for over a decade, America’s ultimate hero and uber patriot MacGruber (Will Forte) is finally released. His mission: to take down a mysterious villain from his past—Brigadier Commander Enos Queeth (Billy Zane). With the entire world in the crosshairs, MacGruber must reassemble his old team, Vicki St. Elmo (Kristen Wiig) and Dixon Piper (Ryan Phillippe) in order to defeat the forces of .
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If you’re in Canada and want to check out MacGruber the latest Peacock original that’s ah…blowing up…then here ya go. “After rotting in prison for over a decade, America’s ultimate hero and uber patriot MacGruber is finally released. His mission: to take down a mysterious villain from his past—Brigadier Commander Enos Queeth. With the entire world in the crosshairs, MacGruber must race against time to defeat the forces of evil — only to find that evil may be lurking within.” It is exactly what you think it is. Great way to start 2022 with a bang, eh?

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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: December 27- January 2, 2022

Congratulations: you survived Christmas and Boxing Day. All that’s left is New Year’s Eve. And to keep you entertained here’s some excellent #SetTheVCR recommendations.

Monday, December 27

Last Man Standing: Suge Knight and the Murders of Biggie & Tupac (Anytime / Starz)

The story of Suge Knight, the former CEO of legendary rap music label Death Row Records, recently sentenced to 28 years imprisonment for manslaughter.
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Sammy Suggestion: Vigil: Limited Series (Anytime / Peacock)

The mysterious disappearance of a Scottish fishing trawler and a death on-board a Trident nuclear submarine bring the police into conflict with the Navy and British security services.
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Vigil and Line of Duty are BBC’s highest-rated crime dramas this year. Vigil no doubt for offering a unique premise: the 6-part series is a police procedural of a homicide on a British nuclear submarine. Oh. Fresh. That’s not your everyday mystery. The death on the HMS Vigil was “classified” as an accidental overdose but of course…nothing is what it seems. The investigation runs on parallel tracks…one cop is embedded in the nuclear submarine still on active duty and the other is on land following up leads. Because this investigation involves Britain’s national security, I can only hope the conspiracy goes “right to the top!” If you’ve enjoyed shows like Bodyguard these are the terrific tension types of shows BBC excels at. All 6 episodes were released at once.

Tuesday, December 28

Tha God’s Honest Truth With Charlamagne tha God: Season 1 (Anytime / Crave)

Charlamagne’s Tha God’s Honest Truth debuted September 17 on Comedy Central. Today the entire first season has been added to Crave. Rooted in truth, coated in comedy and unapologetically Black, Charlamagne Tha God takes on social issues and topics permeating politics and culture.
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Sammy Suggestion: Day of the Dead: Season 1 (Anytime / Crave)

Six strangers try to survive the first 24 hours of an undead invasion.
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Did you enjoy PG: Psycho Goreman on Shudder? It’s a fantastic I dunno what that is…sci-fi horror comedy thriller? Something…excellent. Steven Kostanski directed that bizarre movie and here he’s directing the first 4 of the season’s 10 episodes. Day of the Dead is a 1985 zombie movie; the third in George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead series. In the movie the zombie apocalypse has ravaged the entire world, with zombies outnumbering humans 400,000 to 1. That sucks. The TV show takes a more local approach where the dead begin to rise in Manihawken, Pennsylvania. Now six strangers must try to survive the first 24 hours of an undead invasion. The entire 10-episodes covers only that first 24 hours so that’s an intriguing premise. Steven Kostanski is more than just a director; he’s also got a makeup/special effects background so enjoy some GQ good looking zombies. Snyder’s zombies ran; Michael Jackson’s zombies danced; while Day Of The Dead is a joyful reminder that Romero’s zombies shuffle. If you failed to watch Day Of The Dead as it aired Crave has the brainsssss…to share the entire first season.

Wednesday, December 29

2021 and Done With Snoop Dogg & Kevin Hart (Anytime / Peacock)

Snoop Dogg and Kevin Hart take an unfiltered, irreverent look back at the biggest moments from 2021 in pop culture, social media, politics and sports by hilariously dissecting trending videos and interviewing a wide range of celebrity guests.
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Sammy Suggestion: The Book of Boba Fett: Season 1 (Anytime / Disney+)

No longer just a hired gun, Boba Fett reinvents himself on Tatooine alongside Fennec Shand.
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The enigmatic bounty hunter gets an opportunity to shine! Like W-T-Fett is going on… “Boba Fett and Fennec Shand attempt to make a name for themselves in the galaxy’s underworld by taking over the territory once controlled by Jabba the Hutt.” Basically the sci-fi Dog the Bounty Hunter provides “unFETTered access: a day in the life of a guy named Boba. While the Star Wars movies have struggled to connect with audiences The Mandalorian has been a hit; an authentic Stars Wars story that is part sci-fi and part Wild Wild Western. Disney+ has done a great job wit their MCU TV offerings; now they turn their attention to crafting a stable of Star Wars TV shows.

Thursday, December 30

The Center Seat: 55 Years of Star Trek (10 p.m. / Crave)

Episode 7 of the Star Trek docuseries is added to Crave to today for Canadians. (Americans can check out the series on History Vault.)
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Sammy Suggestion: The Silent Sea (Anytime / Netflix)

During a perilous 24-hour mission on the moon, space explorers try to retrieve samples from an abandoned research facility steeped in classified secrets.
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Netflix’s Korean offerings have been a mixed bag (remember Space Sweepers?) but I’ll dip my toes into The Silent Sea. An adaptation from the 2014 short film The Sea of Tranquility the TV series follows a soldier for the space agency. (What a great line! A space agency soldier…). “During a perilous 24-hour mission on the moon, space explorers try to retrieve samples from an abandoned research facility steeped in classified secrets.” The trailer is reminiscent of old school late 80s/early 90s “in space no one can hear you scream…” kinda movies. And those are fun.

Friday, December 31

Death to 2021 (Anytime / Netflix)

This darkly comedic retrospective mixes real news footage and scripted talking-head interviews as it sends up the year that tried to one-up 2020.
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Sammy Suggestion: Cobra Kai: Season 4 (Anytime / Netflix)

Decades after the tournament that changed their lives, the rivalry between Johnny and Daniel reignites in this sequel to the “Karate Kid” films.
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I’ve been repeatedly Crane Kicked in the nuts for failing to watch Cobra Kai. I know; I know. There’s no pressure to watch; Netflix has renewed the show for a fifth season. Still for now? Cobra Kai “takes place over 30 years after the events of the 1984 All Valley Karate Tournament with the continuation of the inescapable conflict between Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) and Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka). Season 4 finds the Miyagi-Do and Eagle Fang dojos joining forces to take down Cobra Kai at the All Valley Under 18 Karate Tournament… and whoever loses must hang up their gi.” I better hurry up and watch this before fans continue to wax on and wax off philosophically about the show’s qualities.

Saturday, January 1

Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts (Anytime / HBO Max)

In this retrospective special, Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson join filmmaker Chris Columbus and other legendary cast members as they journey back to Hogwarts to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the first Harry Potter film.
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Sammy Suggestion: Doctor Who: Eve of the Daleks (8 p.m. / CTV Sci-Fi Channel & Crave)

The Doctor and Jamie, shortly after losing the TARDIS, are transported to 1866, where the Daleks force the Doctor to help them implement the human factor into Dalek brains in order to turn themselves into even deadlier living weapons.
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A classic Doctor Who tradition! The 2022 Doctor Who specials will be the final three “episodes” that will conclude the thirteenth series and usher in a new Doctor. The first special is set to air on today with the additional specials airing later this year. These will be the final episodes to feature Jodie Whittaker as the Thirteenth Doctor and Chris Chibnall as showrunner. Russell T Davies returns following Chibnall and that is a #SetTheVCR special. I cannot wait for Davies to return.

Sunday, January 2

Around the World in 80 Days: Season 1 (8 p.m. / PBS)

A thrilling, new adaptation of Jules Verne’s classic adventure novel starring David Tennant.
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Sammy Suggestion: The Simpsons: Season 33 (9 p.m. / Fox)

A musical comes to life in Springfield as Marge stages a revival of her beloved high school show.
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Season 33 resumes in 2022! The NFL season should be concluding soon with the Super Bowl on February 13th. To get you in the mood for the upcoming playoffs The Simpsons have a football focused episode tonight. “Marge and Mr. Burns fight for the soul of a brash young football prodigy in the all-new “The Longest Marge.” The guest voices are: Beck Bennett as Grayson, Adam Schefter as himself, John Mulaney as Warburton Parker.

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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: December 20-26, 2021

Some TV joy for your holidays. A variety of #SetTheVCR recommendations that’ll fill you with cheer. Christmas or otherwise.

Monday, December 20

MacGruber: Season 1 (Anytime / Peacock)

Based on a recurring “Saturday Night Live” sketch that was eventually made into a 2010 movie, Will Forte returns to the small screen as American hero MacGruber. After serving over a decade in a maximum security prison, MacGruber is called upon by General Barrett Fasoose to take on a suicide mission.
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Sammy Suggestion: Power On: The Story of Xbox (Anytime / YouTube)

Xbox almost didn’t happen. Find out why in this behind-the-scenes, six-part series that takes you back to the scrappy beginnings of Microsoft’s video game console. It’s the untold story of the people behind the box, glitches and all.
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The few years have given us a number of notable video documentaries: Console Wars, High Score, From Bedrooms to Billions: The Playstation Revolution and many others. Well now Xbox has earned a Last Dance. (It’s directed by Andrew Stephan who has directed two 30 for 30s so that works well.) First announced on November 15 as part of Microsoft’s 20th-anniversary Xbox celebrations, the documentary was created to mirror a superhero origin story. “This behind-the-scenes, six-part series that takes you back to the scrappy beginnings of Microsoft’s video game console. It’s the untold story of the people behind the box, glitches and all. Here’s Chapter 1: The Renegades.” All 6 chapters are free to enjoy on YouTube.

Tuesday, December 21

Prisoners of the Ghostland (Anytime / Crave)

In the treacherous frontier city of Samurai Town, a ruthless bank robber (Nicolas Cage) is sprung from jail by a wealthy warlord, The Governor (Bill Moseley), whose adopted granddaughter Bernice (Sofia Boutella) has run away. Strapped into a leather suit that will self-destruct within five days if he doesn’t find the missing girl, the bandit sets off on a journey to find the young woman — and his own path to redemption.
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Sammy Suggestion: Being The Ricardos (Anytime / Prime Video)

During one production week of “I Love Lucy” — from Monday table read through Friday audience taping — Lucille Ball (Nicole Kidman) and Desi Arnaz (Javier Bardem) face a series of personal and professional crises that threaten their show, their careers and their marriage, in writer-director Aaron Sorkin’s behind-the-scenes drama.
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Do you love Lucy? Because I Love Lucy. “A revealing glimpse of the couple’s complex romantic and professional relationship, the film takes audiences into the writers’ room, onto the soundstage and behind closed doors with Ball and Arnaz during one critical production week of their groundbreaking sitcom I Love Lucy.” Written and directed by Aaron Sorkin Being The Ricardos stars Nicole Kidman as Lucille Ball and Javier Bardem as Desi Arnaz. Often I prefer a documentary to these biopics but that’s not always possible. Still it’s great considering Aaron Sorkin has written and directed yet another classic American story like he did with Social Network, A Few Good Men, Moneyball and The West Wing.

Wednesday, December 22

The 44th Annual Kennedy Center Honors (9 p.m. / CBS)

CBS presents THE 44th ANNUAL KENNEDY CENTER HONORS, hosted by Emmy® Award-winning television host, comedian, writer, and producer David Letterman. Operatic bass-baritone Justino Díaz; Motown founder, songwriter, producer, and director Berry Gordy; “Saturday Night Live” creator Lorne Michaels; legendary stage and screen icon Bette Midler; and singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell will be honored for their lifetime of artistic achievement at this star-studded ceremony.
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Sammy Suggestion: Jim Gaffigan: Comedy Monster (Anytime / Netflix)

Comedy icon Jim Gaffigan offers some thoughts on the hot mess that was 2021, as well as his takes on marching bands, billionaires in space and more.
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I recommend the Big & Bold: Chicken Bacon Ranch Hot Pocket for this new Jim Gaffigan comedy special. What do you think? Which Hot Pocket pairs well with new Jim Gaffigan?

Thursday, December 23

The Center Seat: 55 Years of Star Trek (10 p.m. / Crave)

Episode 6 of the Star Trek docuseries is added to Crave to today for Canadians. (Americans can check out the series on History Vault.)
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Sammy Suggestion: The Suicide Squad (Anytime / HBO Max)

The government sends the most dangerous supervillains in the world — Bloodsport, Peacemaker, King Shark, Harley Quinn and others — to the remote, enemy-infused island of Corto Maltese. Armed with high-tech weapons, they trek through the dangerous jungle on a search-and-destroy mission, with only Col. Rick Flag on the ground to make them behave.
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“Belle Reve, the prison with the highest mortality rate in the country, houses the worst Super-Villains, including Bloodsport, Peacemaker, Captain Boomerang, Ratcatcher 2, Savant, King Shark, Blackguard, Javelin, and Harley Quinn. When the prisoners join Task Force X in exchange for their freedom, they are heavily armed and dropped on the remote, enemy-infused island of Corto Maltese to destroy evidence of the giant alien starfish Starro the Conqueror.” While not as fun as James Gunn’s Guardian movies this is one of the better DC Films and you don’t hear that statement that often. It’s a Christmas Miracle!

Friday, December 24

The Suicide Squad (Anytime / Crave)

The government sends the most dangerous supervillains in the world — Bloodsport, Peacemaker, King Shark, Harley Quinn and others — to the remote, enemy-infused island of Corto Maltese. Armed with high-tech weapons, they trek through the dangerous jungle on a search-and-destroy mission, with only Col. Rick Flag on the ground to make them behave.
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Sammy Suggestion: Don’t Look Up (Anytime / Netflix)

Two astronomers go on a media tour to warn humankind of a planet-killing comet hurtling toward Earth. The response from a distracted world: Meh.
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Netflix has upped their big budget game with Michael Bay’s 6 Underground, Red Notice, The Old Guard and Bright among many other films. The latest big budget spectacle (and granted most of the budget may be devoted to hiring Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Jonah Hill and many others rather than classic Independence Day blow-up-ness…) “tells the story of two low-level astronomers who must go on a giant media tour to warn mankind of an approaching comet that will destroy planet Earth.” Look, it’s Christmas Eve. Do you want to watch It’s A Wonderful Life (again?!) or do you want a movie written and directed by Adam McKay? Now that is a wonderful life.

Saturday, December 25

NBA Christmas Games Slate (Various times/channels…starting at Noon.)

NFL gets Thanksgiving. NBA gets Christmas: 5 games starting with Hawks at Knicks and concluding with Mavs at Jazz.
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Sammy Suggestion: Dealer’s Choice: Fade To Shane Black Christmasy Movie Magic! (Anytime / Various Channels)

Action cinema legend Shane Black has set everything from Lethal Weapon to The Nice Guys at Christmas, but why does he love festive action movies?
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Sigh. Okay so on December 18 I recommended an actual totally legit for real Christmas movie: Last Train To Christmas. And people who know me as a charming Grinch were shocked. So today on Christmas Day…baby Jesus, Santa Claus all of it…what am I gonna recommend? Why any Shane Black movie of course. As a filmmaker his hallmark is Christmas. Christmas has been used as a backdrop in Lethal Weapon, Last Action Hero, The Long Kiss Goodnight, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Iron Man 3 and The Nice Guys. Even his original script for The Last Boy Scout featured Christmas (less so the released movie). He said this in 2016 in EW: “Christmas represents a little stutter in the march of days, a hush in which we have a chance to assess and retrospect our lives. I tend to think also that it just informs as a backdrop. I also think that Christmas is just a thing of beauty, especially as it applies to places like Los Angeles, where it’s not so obvious, and you have to dig for it, like little nuggets. One night, on Christmas Eve, I walked past a Mexican lunch wagon serving tacos, and I saw this little string, and on it was a little broken plastic figurine, with a light bulb inside it, of the Virgin Mary. And I thought, that’s just a little hidden piece of magic. You know, all around the city are little slices, little icons of Christmas, that are as effective and beautiful in and of themselves as any 40-foot Christmas tree on the lawn of the White House. So that, in a lot of words, is the answer.” So there ya go…seek little slices of Christmas magic in movies Shane Black has written and/or directed. “Love, Actually, Is All Around.”

Sunday, December 26

Letterkenny: Season 10 (Anytime / Hulu)

The residents of Letterkenny belong to one of three groups: the Hicks, the Skids, and the Hockey Players, who are constantly feuding with each other over seemingly trivial matters that often end with someone getting their ass kicked.
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Sammy Suggestion: Dead Man’s Switch (Anytime / Discovery+)

In 2018, Gerry Cotten, a shrewd cryptocurrency mogul, dies suddenly, losing the passwords to customer accounts worth more than $215,000,000. Now, journalists, regulators, and account holders want to know if Cotten is really dead — or on the run.
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A riveting cryptocurrency thriller (new genre alert!) unravels the story of a Canadian blockchain wizard (new business card alert!) who mysteriously died on his honeymoon in India and the fate of his investors’ $200 million. Did it vanish into the digital void or does it remain locked away in password-protected accounts? You know how frustrating it is to get into Facebook or IG if you’ve forgotten your password? Imagine not having the password to an account with hundreds of millions of dollars.

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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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