#SetTheVCR: September 13-19, 2020

Sammy Younan

Girth Radio Presents…

Lots of documentaries this week proving yet again for all the CGI and the bright spectrum of talented actors at our disposal: Life is stranger than fiction.

Sunday, September 13

The Circus (8 p.m. / Showtime & Crave)

Sammy Suggestion: Brave New World (9 p.m. / Showcase)

Brave New World is a dystopian novel by Aldous Huxley, written in 1931 and published in 1932. Brave New World is a TV adaption of Huxley’s novel; it premiered on the NBCUniversal streaming service Peacock on July 15, 2020. Today, happily it comes to Canada. I included the novel’s publishing dates as this is a modern version: this show has added an artificial intelligence system named Indra. This is a utopian society echoing Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four: where monogamy is enforced, sleep is regulated and peace is firmly established. Of course, since this is a sci-fi world utopia prompts questions…turns out not everyone is happy. Imagine a world where Star Trek’s Borg have succeeded. The novel harrowingly depicts the fear of losing an individual identity so there is much to mine for a TV show. Though as we’ve seen from the recent Man In The High Castle adaptation how this will differ from the book remains to be seen. And so that journey begins tonight.

Monday, September 14

The Third Day (9 p.m. / HBO)

Sammy Suggestion: The Divide and Conquer: The Story of Roger Ailes (Anytime / Crave)

The 2018 documentary debuts on Crave just in time for the upcoming American election which is less than 7 weeks away. Considering his legion of sins and faults Fox was clearly better under Roger Ailes; in his death, it has floundered and become visionless. This is a documentary about the media and the creation of Fox News; how we got to where we are because, way before Trump, Americans decided electing an actor, Ronald Reagan, was a good idea. It’s fascinating to see the image construction because actual politics, which is the passing of sensible bills and sound laws, does not make for compelling TV. So what does make for Must See TV? Apparently Roger Ailes knew.

Tuesday, September 15

Frontline: Policing The Police (9 p.m. / PBS)
The Public (Anytime / Peacock)

Sammy Suggestion: Hope Frozen: A Quest to Live Twice  (Anytime / Netflix)

Well, this is an unsettling Netflix documentary. A Thai scientist and his family decide to cryogenically freeze their dying toddler: the child has brain cancer so they give her the Walt Disney treatment. Making her the youngest person in the world to undergo cryo-preservation. The hope is that she can be “injected” into a regenerated body. I’m uncomfortable with all this; a dying child; freezing the kid…she’s two-years-old like her brain is still developing. She barely knows her family. I’m going to watch this but I’m deeply troubled.

Wednesday, September 16

The Devil All The Time (Anytime / Netflix)

Sammy Suggestion: Challenger: The Final Flight (Anytime / Netflix)

It was the O-rings! 1986’s Space Shuttle Challenger disaster, while devastating, is so vital; everything has a cost. We learned so much from that awful moment…it made us better. Only fools legitimize fear. This four-part documentary series on the 1986 Challenger space shuttle disaster is produced by JJ Abrams and should provide valuable background info for Stranger Things viewers who did not experience the 80s.

Thursday, September 17

Departure: Season 1 (Anytime / Peacock)
Spiralhttps://www.shudder.com/ (Anytime / Shudder)

Sammy Suggestion: The Sit-In: Harry Belafonte Hosts The Tonight Show (Anytime / Peacock)

This is fascinating. Peacock is mining its rich offerings for documentary status. Their first offering is The Sit-In: Harry Belafonte Hosts The Tonight Show. Which is one of those strange things we don’t properly do anymore: The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson had guest hosts for entire weeks during Carson’s vacations. (Jimmy Kimmel recently employed guest hosts. Yet for the most part, you get the TV host you expect or you get a rerun.) Carson’s guest hosts included Frank Sinatra, Burt Reynolds, Joan Rivers, David Letterman, and Don Rickles among so many other luminaries. The Sit-In captures Belafonte’s week as a guest host in February 1968. The intelligent activist went all in on black culture; guests included Aretha Franklin, Sidney Poitier, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. against a backdrop of a Wonder Years country struggling with riots and the Vietnam War. Right? Fascinating. Belafonte appears in the film, along with Questlove and a few others as they look back on the impact of this one week in a prominent talk show that clearly generated…you know: talk.

Friday, September 18

Wilmore (Anytime / Peacock)
Long Way Up (Anytime / Apple TV)

Sammy Suggestion: All In: The Fight for Democracy (Anytime / Amazon Prime)

Americans are addicted to “vote!!” as an effective solution but voting has no value if the candidates are lousy. When the system offers Trump or Hillary it’s clearly not good. So I was surprised that the recent boycott by NBA players resulted in a push for voting. While not the most elegant solution it was the easiest change they could promote. The problem is the system is unfair because that’s how it was designed. This Amazon Prime documentary follows former Georgia state Rep. Stacey Abrams and other activists battling against efforts to suppress voter participation in elections. Before the system can be corrected it must first be understood.

Saturday, September 19

Sammy Suggestion: The Invisible Man (8 p.m. / HBO)

Have you seen The Invisible Man? I’m sure you saw that coming a mile away but I couldn’t resist. I have lived a good life with no regrets.

Sammy Baltic WebSammy Younan @ W • T • F

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