#SetTheVCR: November 29 – December 05, 2021

We’re in December but I’m doing my best to keep the Christmas movies at bay. I mean if you wanna check out Die Hard or Lethal Weapon I’m cool with that; those work. But until the 3 ghosts come for you in the middle night here are some non-Christmas recommendations because TV watching is always in season.

(PS: Steph here ~ I have commandeered this post and added Nightmare Before Christmas because I’m in charge of polishing and publishing this and I believe in anarchy. Scrooge – er – Sammy can’t get mad tho because you COULD just call it Halloween nostalgia. See what I did there? Freakin genius.)

Monday, November 29

The Harry Potter Collection (Anytime / Crave)

For anyone who’s been waiting to relive the magic, there’s good news because all eight Harry Potter movies will be streaming soon in Canada! (via narcity)

Sammy Suggestion: Bill Burr Presents Immoral Compass (Anytime / The Roku Channel)

A dark comedy anthology series exploring life’s most difficult dilemmas, all filtered through the lens of one jaded man in his garage.

A rare Roku Original. Bill Burr Presents Immoral Compass is a dark slash comedy anthology series that “explores life’s most difficult dilemmas, all filtered through the lens of one jaded man in his garage.” If you’re familiar with Bill Burr you know exactly what that last sentence means. According to the TV Guide: “In this off-the-cuff sketch comedy, Rick, played by Bill Burr, rants about many topics he wishes someone had educated him on thirty years ago. We see sketches play out these topics with hilarious, but also tragic, outcomes.” Which again is classic Bill Burr. I appreciate he found a way to combine his work with smoking a cigar. Well played Bill Burr.

Tuesday, November 30

Life of Crime 1984-2020 (9 p.m. / HBO Max)

The third and final part of an epic documentary trilogy tells the full story of three friends from Newark, New Jersey whose lives have been defined by and torn apart by their addictions.

Sammy Suggestion: Mo Amer: Mohammed In Texas (Anytime / Netflix)

In his hometown of Houston, Mo Amer takes on pandemic panic, disappointing Bradley Cooper, hummus appropriation and the subtle art of cursing in Arabic.

I “met” Mo Amer in Ramy, the popular Hulu series Amer co-created with Ramy Youssef. Then I saw Mo in Dave Chappelle’s excellent documentary Untitled. He was kind and compassionate; Chappelle was encouraging his stand up and helping him craft his jokes. So let’s see if Chappelle’s comedy tutoring paid off: “In the hourlong set he discusses pandemic politics, the stock market, the spread of Arab culture in the West — including hookah, hummus and the proliferations of bidets — cursing in Arabic, having two homes but no land, the need for greater civility and neighborliness and more.” Hah while I don’t live in Texas I do all those things…I enjoy hookah and hummus. So while I’m not sure if other people will get these jokes I’m in.

Wednesday, December 01

Lost in Space: Season 3 (Anytime / Netflix)

After crash-landing on an alien planet, the Robinson family fights against all odds to survive and escape. But they’re surrounded by hidden dangers.

Sammy Suggestion: The Power of the Dog (Anytime / Netflix)

A domineering but charismatic rancher wages a war of intimidation on his brother’s new wife and her teen son — until long-hidden secrets come to light.

I’m not a Jane Campion fan but I dig Benedict Cumberbatch so here we are all Once Upon a Time in the West. Cumberbatch is a City Slicker whose got Blazing Saddles for his brother’s new bride. And I’m certain he’ll be Unforgiven as that sorta thing even in the 1920s while it doesn’t go on a person’s Tombstone it is News of the World. So because they can’t be the Three Amigos it’s High Noon in this Westworld. This is a Maverick movie from Cumberbatch as I doubt any of us expected to see him out on the Open Range. As such I’m curious…let’s saddle up and see The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of these characters in The Power of the Dog. Just another sad and dark chapter in America’s Wild Wild West.

Thursday, December 02

Santa Inc. (Anytime / HBO Max& Crave)

In this adult stop-motion animated series from Seth Rogen and Sarah Silverman, intrepid elf Candy Smalls (Silverman) will do anything to be named as Santa’s (Rogen) first female successor – even if it earns her a spot on the naughty list.

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

Episode 3 of the Star Trek docuseries is added to Crave to today for Canadians. (Americans can check out the series on History Vault.)

Sammy Suggestion: Music Box: Listening to Kenny G (Anytime / HBO)

Listening to Kenny G takes a humorous but incisive look at the best-selling instrumentalist of all time – and quite possibly one of the most famous living musicians.

We’ve had 3 Music Box documentaries so far: Alanis (Jagged), DMX (Don’t Try to Understand) and Woodstock 99. The latest in the 6 doc collection is this week’s offering on…Kenny G?! The “Sentimental” Listening to Kenny G documentary is on HBO Max today. Directed by Penny Lane, Listening to Kenny G simply asks: “what makes music good or bad?” A fun debate that’ll leave you…”Breathless.”

Friday, December 03

Mixtape (Anytime / Netflix)

In 1999, 12-year-old Beverly discovers a broken mixtape made by her late parents. She sets out to find the songs — and learn more about her mom and dad.

Sammy Suggestion: You’re Watching Video Music Box (8 p.m. / Showtime & Crave)

YOU’RE WATCHING VIDEO MUSIC BOX chronicles the longest-running music video show in the world, Video Music Box, launched and hosted in New York City by visionary DJ and MC Ralph McDaniels.

On October 27, 2021 Showtime announced a multi-year, cross-platform initiative with Nas’ Mass Appeal entertainment company (it’s all lumped together under the #HipHop50 tag which is obviously celebrating 50 years of Hip Hop!). One of the first projects from that partnership is the Nas directed You’re Watching Video Music Box. Created by Ralph McDaniels and Lionel C. Martin, Video Music Box first aired on public TV throughout the New York area in 1983. The show introduced emcees from the past Public Enemy, Salt N’ Pepa, LL Cool J, Big Daddy Kane right up to the present like Lil Kim, The Notorious B.I.G., Jay Z and Nicki Minaj. I really enjoyed Stretch and Bobbito: Radio That Changed Lives a 2015 documentary that travelled along the same path; that was radio in NYC introducing listeners to incredible music and astonishing artists. Hip hop is old enough to indulge in nostalgia how surreal is that?

Saturday, December 04

The Last O.G. Seasons 1-3 (Anytime / HBO Max)

An ex-con is shocked to see just how much the world has changed when he is released from prison for good behavior after a 15-year stint and returns to his newly gentrified Brooklyn neighborhood.

Sammy Suggestion: Dealer’s Choice! with DC Universe Animated Original Movies (Anytime / Crave)

Crave has added 6 DC Universe Animated Original Movies. This whole franchise began with 2007’s Superman: Doomsday and for a while Marvel was killing it with live movies (MCU) while DC was killing it with animation. The 6 offerings are: Justice League: The New Frontier (2008), Green Lantern: First Flight (2009), Wonder Woman (2009), Batman: Year One (2011), Batman: The Dark Knight Returns (Part 1 was released on September 25, 2012, and Part 2 was released on January 29, 2013) and Superman: Unbound (2013). As you can tell from titles such as Batman: Year One and Green Lantern: First Flight these animated movies are typically adapted from popular comic book stories. They’re often loaded with celebrity actors…Keri Russell voices Wonder Woman, Neil Patrick Harris as Barry Allen/Flash, Peter Weller as Batman etc. just a broad range of actors (it’s kinda annoying actually because your brain goes I know that voice! But won’t tell you who it is…sigh…to the IMDB!) So yeah it’s the weekend…why not have an animated Saturday night?

Sunday, December 05

A Nightmare Before Christmas (Anytime / Disney+)

Bored with the same old scare-and-scream routine, Pumpkin King Jack Skellington longs to spread the joy of Christmas. But his merry mission puts Santa in jeopardy and creates a nightmare for good little boys and girls everywhere.

Sammy Suggestion: Mr. A & Mr. M: The Story of A&M Records (10 p.m. / Epix)

This two-part docuseries takes an in-depth look at A&M’s artist-focused approach, and uncovers how they discovered talent while adapting to the ever-changing music industry. Featuring the music of The Police, The Carpenters, Carole King and many more.

First: Herb Alpert is dope and has earned a Last Dance. This two-part docuseries will hafta do…for now. A&M was founded by Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss in 1962; like every successful startup these days it ran outta Alpert’s garage. And like many startup founders they developed an exit strategy: after the boutique label was purchased by PolyGram in 1994 the duo left. So what’s the deal with A&M Records? Well according to the media release: “One-time A&M artists Sheryl Crow, Yusuf/Cat Stevens and Peter Frampton are among those who sat for interviews for the doc series, which will include the music of the Police, the Go-Go’s, the Carpenters, Carole King and Joe Cocker, among others.” Whew. Think of 1919 when Charlie Chaplin co-founded the distribution company United Artists for artistic control and a talent friendly and wildly creative environment. These noble endeavours start with a bold vision then success and fame and money become the cataracts that cloud the vision and it’s difficult to know which path to follow. I hafta say I’m enjoying this popular shift from sports docs to music docs. “Please sir, can I have some’mo?”


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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