#SetTheVCR: January 25-31, 2021

We got jokes and sports. We got science to science-fiction. Yo: should be a solid TV week.

Monday, January 25

Sammy Suggestion: Snowpiercer: Season 2 (9 PM / TNT)

Take your place among the world’s elite on Snowpiercer, a ultra-luxury travel experience from Wilford Industries. Our thoughtfully-designed train cars are designed to help you fulfill your every desire. Take a tour and secure your reservation now.

TNT’s Snowpiercer adaptation (Vanilla Ice’s favourite show: Too Cold!) returns for a second season. Unless you’re in Canada which is ironic because we’ve a reputation for being a frozen dystopia. January 26 on Netflix for us. This season Sean Bean gets his ticket punched which makes sense as he is Mr. Wilford aka the mythical Great Engineer. Oh! Appears as if things are heating up in this frozen wasteland. Do know Snowpiercer TNT’s gravy train TV show about Strangers On A Train has been renewed for a third season. Even though the second season hasn’t even left the station yet. Rather comforting for viewers and the writers to know that upfront: they will not train in vain.

Tuesday, January 26

Frontline: Trump’s American Carnage (10 PM / PBS)

FRONTLINE offers a critical assessment of former President Donald Trump’s single term in office in the new episode Trump’s American Carnage.

Sammy Suggestion: Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel: Season 27 (10 PM / HBO)

Bryant Gumbel hosts this investigative sports newsmagazine series that features in-depth reports from REAL SPORTS correspondents Mary Carillo, Bernard Goldberg, Soledad O’Brien, Andrea Kremer, Jon Frankel and Gumbel himself.

Season 27 of the Real Sports kicks off today. (Think of it as 60 Minutes but sports focused.) One of the investigative segments for tonight’s season premier is Nike’s Oregon Project. I’m curious as I don’t know the full story. Nike’s Oregon Project was a runners group to experiment and effectively promote American long-distance running. However the team folded on October 10, 2019 after an investigation resulted in a four-year ban of longtime coach Alberto Salazar. Oh. So…what happened? What went wrong? Why did they…hit a wall?

Wednesday, January 27

Sammy Suggestion: Resident Alien: Season 1 (10 PM / Syfy)

An alien crashes on Earth and hides in a remote Colorado mountain town; after assuming the identity of the town doctor, his nefarious mission is threatened when he realizes one of the townspeople, a 9-year-old boy, can see his true alien form.

TV Show Premiere! 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! Please Note: Canadians can view this witty Extra-Terrestrial on the CTV Sci-Fi Channel. Same time, same date.

Thursday, January 28

Sammy Suggestion: Dealer’s Choice: COMEDY SPECIALS (Anytime / Peacock)

A slew of Stand-Up Comedy specials to drop on same date.

Peacock adds a pile of stand up comic specials: just under 50 specials to tickle your funny bone. We got Bob Saget, 2 specials from D.L. Hughley, Henry Rollins, Kevin Smith, Mike Birbiglia (My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend back in 2013 is soooo good!), Sinbad, Tom Arnold, Tim Allen (1990’s Men Are Pigs! This was gold back in the day…does it hold up?), Whitney Cummings. Comedy specials from 1990 all the way to 2018: oh joy!

Friday, January 29

Below Zero (Anytime / Netflix)

When a prisoner transfer van is attacked, the cop in charge must fight those inside and outside while dealing with a silent foe: the icy temperatures.

Palmer (Anytime / Apple TV+)

Justin Timberlake plays a small-town football star turned ex-con turned unlikely protector of a young boy in a movie directed by Fisher Stevens.

Sammy Suggestion: You Should Have Left (Anytime / Crave)

Strange events plague a couple and their young daughter when they rent a secluded countryside house that has a dark past.

Screenwriter David Koepp teamed up with Blumhouse Productions to tell this creepy story about a family and an unrestful vacation house rental. S’hard to tell from the trailer but it’s either ghosts or secrets that are 6 degrees from Kevin Bacon. Either way Kevin Bacon is great with horror movies: from Stir of Echoes to Footloose (where a small town bans dancing! Talk about sleeping with my G. I. Joe nightlight on!).

Saturday, January 30

Sammy Suggestion: Apollo 11 (Anytime / Netflix (Canada))

Using newly unearthed film footage and audio recordings, this documentary goes deep behind the scenes of APOLLO 11’s historic 1969 landing on the moon.

There’s a powerful word used 3 or 4 times in the Apollo 11 documentary: curiosity. NASA truly didn’t know what was out there…or what to fully expect which mirrors the documentary filmmaking process. Director Todd Douglas Miller didn’t know what film footage was out there or what to expect…it turned out to be a 3 year journey gathering all of that footage. What’s staggering is this isn’t just the technology and the engineering to launch a rocket and get to the moon…that’s already a daunting challenge. But to document the entire process through film and still photography and even broadcast the launch and moon walk live on television is astonishing. This is a special and sublime documentary.

Sunday, January 31

Sammy Suggestion: The Circus (8 p.m. / Showtime)

Groundbreaking weekly docu-series that pulls back the curtain on American politics.

As President Trump was an incredible gift for mass media: ratings, sales and clicks. It was an amazing run. But is it over? The hosts of The Circus continue to explore the fractures in the American political landscape, despite a new administration. The oddest part of electing Biden is the flawed premise of going back to normal. There’s no such thing as “back to normal.” Celebrating dude’s inauguration as normal is like closing a wedding with “and they lived happily ever after.” What? How? Like: yo. So if we can’t go “back” to normal, how do we go ahead?


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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