#SetTheVCR: May 31 – June 6, 2021

Music, Sports, Women, and War. Looks like June’s gonna be a good one.

Sammy Suggestion: The Shop: Uninterrupted: Season 4 (Anytime / HBO & Crave)

In collaboration with LeBron James and Maverick Carter’s Uninterrupted, HBO Sports presents unfiltered conversation and debate from the biggest names in sports and entertainment.

The infrequency of The Shop: Uninterrupted doesn’t make it an event. It makes it irritating because it’s hard to find like good weapons in a role-playing game. The latest episode dubiously entitled as Season 4 quietly dropped on HBO on Friday, May 28. LeBron James and Maverick Carter are joined by Jay-Z, Bad Bunny, Nneka Ogwumike and Paul Rivera. The informal conversations don’t always feel authentic but can veer into short moments of personal reflection: such as Jay suddenly learning to swim because he and B had a child.

Tuesday, June 01

Sammy Suggestion: Mike Tyson: The Knockout: Part 2 (8pm / ABC)

Part 2 of a special four hour documentary series on the life of boxing legend Mike Tyson. MIKE TYSON: THE KNOCKOUT will put viewers ringside for a main event that will chronicle the former champion’s climb, crash and comeback, from his difficult childhood to becoming undisputed world champion to his 1992 rape conviction and his personal struggles. Through the lens of his life’s extreme highs and lows, the two-part primetime event will examine some of the most pressing questions about resilience and reinvention.

Last week I was excited about my TV recommendation: Mike Tyson: The Knockout. Tonight Part 2 drops covering Tyson’s conviction and prison sentence, his bouts against Evander Holyfield including the ear biting moment and much more as Tyson prepares to rumble with life. I haven’t watched Part 1 yet saving it for Part 2 so I can watch the whole thing. As we saw with The Last Dance that docuseries provided a suitable end-coda for the Bulls’ and Jordan’s 90s work. So does Mike Tyson: The Knockout do the same thing or does Mike Tyson still need a legit Last Dance?

Wednesday, June 02

Kim’s Convenience: Season 5 (Anytime / Netflix)

While running a convenience store in Toronto, members of a Korean-Canadian family deal with customers, each other and the evolving world around them.

Sammy Suggestion: Songbird (Anytime / Prime Video (Canada))

In the terrifying thriller SONGBIRD, the COVID-23 virus has mutated and the world is in its fourth year of lockdown.

In Songbird “the COVID-23 virus has mutated and the world is in its fourth year of lockdown.” While this sounds like a documentary about Ontario’s handling of the pandemic it’s really a thriller set in a dystopian landscape. “Nico, a fearless courier who’s immune to the deadly pathogen, finds hope and love with Sara though her lockdown prohibits them from physical contact. When Sara is believed to have become infected, Nico races desperately across the barren streets of Los Angeles in search of the only thing that can save her from imprisonment…or worse.” As we saw with 9/11 a profound experience such as the current pandemic will generate a whole new sub-genre of COVID movies. (Even though broadly we’ve been enjoying virus stories for decades: remember The Stand?) I dig dystopian thrillers so let’s give this a “shot.” See what I did there?

Thursday, June 03

We Are Lady Parts: Season 1 (Anytime / Peacock)

Geeky biochemical engineering Ph.D. student Amina Hussein becomes the unlikely lead guitarist of Lady Parts, an all-female Muslim punk band on a mission to get a proper gig. Saira, the band’s fierce and enigmatic frontwoman, sees something in Amina the others can’t. Saira leverages Amina’s desperation to find a husband and offers to set her up with potential matches if she agrees to join. Torn between her straitlaced university friends and members of Lady Parts, Amina tries to find her voice.

Sammy Suggestion: Woman In Motion: Nichelle Nichols, Star Trek and the Remaking of NASA (Anytime / Paramount+)

Nichelle Nichols’ daunting task to launch a national blitz for NASA, recruiting 8,000 of the nation’s best and brightest, including the trailblazing astronauts who became the first African American, Asian and Latino men and women to fly in space.

We got a documentary bursting with fantastic folks: Neil deGrasse Tyson, George Takei, Pharrell Williams, Martin Luther King III, Walter Koenig, Michael Dorn and Nichelle Nichols. If you recognized a number of Star Trek names in that mix it’s because Woman In Motion is the last doc to focus on Star Trek’s impact on our society and our culture. More than just flip phones and paper transporters (we called them fax machines) “Nichelle Nichols pioneered the NASA recruiting program to hire people of color and the first female astronauts for the space agency in the late 1970s and 1980s.” We’re gonna need a bold NASA if we as in humanity intended to live long and prosper.

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Friday, June 04

The New York Times Presents: Who Gets To Be an Influencer? (10/9c PM / FX & Hulu)

The latest installment chronicles the rise of Collab Crib, one of the first mainstream Black creator mansion, exclusively documenting their whirlwind drive to achieve social media stardom in 90 days.

Sammy Suggestion: Sweet Tooth (Anytime / Netflix)

On a perilous adventure across a post-apocalyptic world, a lovable boy who’s half-human and half-deer searches for a new beginning with a gruff protector.

Sweet Tooth is a wonderful comic book series written and drawn by Jeff Lemire. (I said is present tense as the original series ran on the defunct Vertigo imprint (RIP!) from 2009-2013. A sequel, subtitled The Return, began publishing in November 2020. I’ve yet to read The Return however I highly recommend the original 40 issue run: outstanding comics.) Sweet Tooth has now been adapted for Netflix which’ll fully allow us to explore what’s left of America following The Great Crumble. Which was the mysterious emergence of hybrid babies born part human, part animal. You don’t hafta read X-Men comics to know these mutants would be feared and hunted. And so Gus, a “sweet” young latchkey kid with deer-like features, meets drifter Jepperd after the boy’s father passes away. Jepperd promises Gus he will bring him to The Preserve a safe haven for hybrid children such as himself. And the adventures begin. If you’ve ah…got a “Sweet Tooth” for a dystopian thriller tale about Bambi fighting to exist in a Mad Max style world then here ya go: this should satisfy your craving.

Saturday, June 05

Sammy Suggestion: Lisey’s Story (Anytime / Apple TV+)

Based on the novel by Stephen King, this terrifying thriller follows widow Lisey Landon (Julianne Moore) as a series of disturbing events revives memories of her marriage to author Scott Landon (Clive Owen) and the darkness that plagued him.

J.J. Abrams, the non-union Mexican Spielberg equivalent, has returned to mine Stephen King. Again. I did not enjoy Lisey’s Story as a novel. So I dunno about this. The Shawshank Redemption is one of the rare examples of when a movie/TV show is better than King’s story. Thankfully Stephen King wrote the script for each of the show’s eight episodes: 1 writer for the series is a major plus. After King was hit by a van in 99 he came home from the hospital and saw his books and office in boxes foreshadowing his death. Which prompted Lisey’s Story: throughout the book Lisey (played by Julianne Moore) begins to face certain realities about her writer husband Scott (Clive Owen) that she had repressed and forgotten. Let’s see where the latest King-adaptation goes.

Sunday, June 06

DC Super Hero Girls (Anytime / Cartoon Network)

At Super Hero High School, Wonder Woman, Supergirl and their Super Hero friends attend exciting classes and deal with the awkwardness of growing up.

Sammy Suggestion: War of THe Worlds: Season 2 (9/8c PM / EPIX)

In this multifaceted reimagining of the timeless classic by H.G. Wells, a catastrophic attack on Earth by intelligent extraterrestrial life forces the remainder of humanity to struggle for survival.

War of the Worlds has been appearing as a #SetTheVCR recommendation since 2019. (Because it debuted internationally then debuted in America before finally coming to Canada: sigh. Season 2 has been airing in Europe since May 17: this is the American premiere. I have no Canadian updates at this time: double sigh. Though Disney+ recently confirmed they’ve picked up the show…so I dunno if it’ll be airing on CBC Gem again or Disney+. We wait, eh?) When Season 1 concluded this modern retelling of the classic H. G. Wells novel the human survivors were slowly starting to assemble as we’ve seen in shows like Walking Dead. Even better some of those pesky humans think they’ve found a way to combat the intelligent aliens. Which is great but leaves so many questions unanswered. The show was renewed for a third season on February 9, 2021: sometimes these sci-fi shows end prematurely so this is good news for viewers and the writers. Watch for me Americans and lemme know how the War is going.


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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