#SetTheVCR: April 12-18, 2021

Oh! TV shows/movies and TV recommendations: I enjoy both of those things.

Monday, April 12

Run (Anytime / Netflix (Canada))

Desiring freedom after years of isolated medical care, teenager Chloe suspects her mother might be holding her back — and harboring sinister secrets.

Sammy Suggestion: Spontaneous (Anytime / Hulu & Prime Video)

Mara Carlye’s life is forever changed when students in her senior class literally explode for no reason. Mara and her friends stay close together as they await possible combustion – wondering what part of life is worth living.if it might end suddenly.

Oh! The angst and romance of a teen movie and spontaneous combustion: I enjoy both those things. “When students in their high school begin inexplicably exploding, seniors Mara (Katherine Langford), Dylan (Charlie Plummer) and others navigate in a world where each moment may be their last. As spontaneous explosions continue unexplained, an unexpected romance blossoms between Mara and Dylan, who discover that when tomorrow is no longer promised, they can finally start living for today.”

Tuesday, April 13

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

Over the last three years, FRONTLINE has collaborated with ProPublica to investigate the rise of extremism in America. In the aftermath of the assault on the U.S. Capitol, FRONTLINE and ProPublica team up again to examine how far-right groups were emboldened and encouraged by former President Trump and how individuals were radicalized and brought into the political landscape.

Sammy Suggestion: The Inside Story (Anytime / HBO Max)

This documentary takes viewers on a journey that started in 1989 and traces its evolution into a phenomenon. Each episode reveals stories that highlight the chemistry between Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith, Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal.

Oh! NBA basketball games and deeply sarcastic responses to those games: I enjoy both those things. I shared this TV recommendation back in March when it premiered on TNT. Now it’s all together on HBO Max. The TV Guide description says it well: “Inside the NBA – the Sports Emmy Award-winning studio show known for its entertaining style and unfiltered commentary – pulls back the curtain on its more than 30-year history in this four-part documentary series. Interviews with celebrities, crew members, sports reporters and more illuminate the show’s evolution into a cultural phenomenon with untold stories that highlight the chemistry between Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith, Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal.” TNT is among the best NBA game packagers and I wish they could broadcast more games. So good. So fun. Even if the games are blowouts the Inside The NBA team is often entertaining and deeply sarcastic. That’s all I ask!

Wednesday, April 14

Dad Stop You’re Embarrassing Me (Anytime / Netflix)

A single dad and cosmetics brand owner figures out fatherhood on the fly when his strong-minded teen daughter moves in with him.

Sammy Suggestion: Love and Monsters (Anytime / Netflix)

Seven years after he survived the monster apocalypse, lovably hapless Joel leaves his cozy underground bunker behind on a quest to reunite with his ex.

Oh! love and monsters: I enjoy both those things. “Joel (Dylan O’Brien) ventures out of his underground bunker seven years after the Monsterpocalypse and sets out on a journey to find his girlfriend.”

Thursday, April 15

Exit Plan (Anytime / Crackle)

We follow Max, who in the midst of an existential crisis and looking to solve a cold case checks into the clandestine Hotel Aurora. A unique secretive facility that specializes in elaborate assisted suicide fantasies. His investigation uncovers a disturbing truth that forces Max to question the very nature of life, death and his own perception of reality.

Sammy Suggestion: Spy City (Anytime / AMC+)

An English spy who is sent to Berlin in 1961 to sift out a traitor in the UK Embassy or among the Allies, shortly before the construction of the Berlin Wall.

Oh! A British spy and traitors: I enjoy both those things. “A British spy (Dominic Cooper) is up to his ankles in intrigue in Cold War-era Berlin in the new espionage drama Spy City.” This six-episode series has already aired in Germany, it’s now State side.

Friday, April 16

Van Helsing: Season 5 (10 p.m. / SYFY)

Van Helsing is set in the near future, where vampires have risen and taken control. Vanessa Van Helsing is humanity’s last hope, as her unique blood composition gives her the ability to turn vampires human. With this secret weapon, Vanessa becomes a prime target for the vampires.

Songbird (Anytime / Hulu)

In 2024 a pandemic ravages the world and its cities. Centering on a handful of people as they navigate the obstacles currently hindering society: disease, martial law, quarantine, and vigilantes.

Sammy Suggestion: Mr. Mercedes: Season 1-3 (Anytime / Prime Video)

A demented killer taunts a retired police detective with a series of lurid letters and emails, forcing the ex-cop to undertake a private, and potentially felonious, crusade to bring the killer to justice before he can strike again.

Oh! A Stephen King detective and a lazy turtle: I enjoy both those things. Mr. Mercedes arrived on Peacock on October 15, 2020 (from the rarely viewed Audience Channel; which I believe is now defunct.) now it’s in Canada. Easily one of the best Stephen King adaptations…in yo’face Castle Rock; and sorry IT with John Ritter and see you in hell Langoliers with Bronson Pinchot! Brendan Gleeson is an Irish treasure and as detective Bill Hodges he’s outstanding as is the show’s soundtrack. Mr. Mercedes rocks the disco and jams the nightclub. Based on Stephen King’s spellbinding Mr. Mercedes trilogy (Mr. Mercedes, Finders Keepers, and End of Watch) for over 3 TV seasons the David E. Kelley series combined supernatural elements, a murder mystery; devious characters, and characters seeking redemption. There’s also a lazy turtle if you dig animals. Enjoy…you’re so in for a treat. The show concluded on November 12, 2019 and I doubt there’s any reason for a fourth season still I’m eagerly sharing it now because with strong ratings “never say never.”

Saturday, April 17

Sammy Suggestion: The Blade Trilogy (Anytime / Crave)

“Blade” -Wesley Snipes plays a half-mortal, half-immortal charged with ridding the earth of a race of vampires led by Stephen Dorff in this action-packed blockbuster.
“Blade 2” – When the world is threatened by a new and deadlier breed of super vampire, the legendary Blade and his mentor, Whistler, must join forces with the Bloodpack, an elite team of vampire warriors made up of his sworn enemies.
“Blade: Trinity” – The final battle begins and the trinity comes to an end!

Oh! vampires and vampire hunters: I enjoy both those things. 10 years before Iron Man big banged the MCU Marvel somehow got Blade right. (Well the first 2 movies for sure…the third is flawed.) The first set up a “Underworld” feud between “pure-blood” vampires and those who had been human, but were “turned.” Not that Wesley Snipes cares: always bet on black! The second was directed by Guillermo del Toro while the third has the strangest cast: Parker Posey, Triple H, Patton Oswalt, Kris Kristofferson and Jessica Biel. You gotta see it to believe it. Marvel Studios have muttered they want to make another Blade…a script has been written so we wait.

Sunday, April 18

Confronting a Serial Killer: Season 1 (Anytime / Starz & Crave)

The astonishing story of the unprecedented relationship between acclaimed author and journalist Jillian Lauren and the most prolific serial killer in American history, Sam Little.

Godfather of Harlem: Season 2 (Anytime / EPIX)

Season 2 finds Bumpy Johnson battling the New York Crime Families for control of the lucrative and murderous “French Connection” heroin pipeline in an ambitious plan that will pit him against not only the Italians and the law but also friends and family.

Sammy Suggestion: Mare Of Easttown: Limited Series (10 p.m. / HBO & Crave)

As her life crumbles around her, a small-town Pennsylvania detective Mare Sheehan (Kate Winslet) investigates a local murder. The series explores the dark side of a close community and provides an authentic examination of how family and past tragedies can define our present.

Oh! local murder and Pennsylvania: I enjoy both those things. “A detective (Kate Winslet) in a small Pennsylvania town investigates a local murder while trying to keep her life from falling apart.” You got 7 episodes to figure out who the killer is. I’m putting my money on Guy Pearce he’s always wonderfully shifty.


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 13-19, 2020

Still a bit more Christmas Sneer Than Christmas Cheer considering the late date but I’m trying!

Sunday, December 13

The Simpsons: Season 32 (8 p.m. / Fox)

Sammy Suggestion: Pennyworth: Season 2 (9 p.m. / EPIX)

SEASON PREMIERE! Alfred Pennyworth is no longer in Batman comics (RIP!) but he lives on in TV with all kinds of EPIX adventures. “In Pennyworth: Season 2 civil war has erupted in London, leaving Alfred in the middle and looking for an escape route.” Season 2 will feature the introduction of Lucius Fox (Simon Manyonda) who if you’ve read DC Comics will make you say oooo. (Please Note: in Canada Pennyworth: Season 2 debuts on Sunday, January 17, 2021, on Showcase.)

Monday, December 14

Sammy Suggestion: Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey (Anytime /Hollywood Suite)

Last week I suggested Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. I actually did my #SetTheVCR homework and found the movie so sweet. The comedic collision of low brow humour (“69 Dude!”) with high brow culture (Beethoven, Freud etc.) makes it magic. (That’s what I do here…I’ve suggested the cheezy along with the compelling. TV is low brow and high brow and unibrow if you’re watching an Anthony Davis NBA game so it just depends what you’re in the mood for.) Anyways let’s keep going: Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey lived up to its name. At the time I didn’t enjoy it. I really haven’t watched this much since 1991 so let’s do this…let’s go down this road and see what’s what.

Tuesday, December 15

30 for 30: The Infinite Race (8 p.m. / ESPN2)

Sammy Suggestion: Song Exploder: Volume 2 (Anytime / Netflix)

Enjoy the second volume of the podcast that’s become a Netflix docuseries. Volume 1 featured sonic sculptors such as Alicia Keys and R.E.M. (Oh how I miss R.E.M.) For Volume 2 the 4 songs and artists are: Nine Inch Nails – “Hurt,” (a classic!) Dua Lipa – “Love Again,” (Who is this again?) The Killers – “When You Were Young,” (Not a Killers fan but this is one of their better tunes!) Natalia Lafourcade – “Hasta La Raíz.” (Who? What?) Each of these artists will explore their songwriting process: like an online class for cool sonic nerds.

Wednesday, December 16

The Expanse: Season 5 (Anytime / Amazon Prime)

Sammy Suggestion: The Ripper: Docuseries (Anytime / Netflix)

No: not Jack the Ripper. Drop the Jack…just Ripper: it’s cleaner. Over 4 episodes you’ll learn The Ripper was a serial killer who operated in England in the late 70s ultimately killing 13 before he was caught. Like this Summer’s I’ll Be Gone in the Dark docuseries we know who the Ripper is. In fact, he just died on November 13, 2020. Netflix has done well with true crime i.e. Unsolved Mysteries and other similar offerings: I suppose you could say they’re killing it.

Thursday, December 17

Sammy Suggestion: The Stand: Miniseries (Anytime / CBS All Access)

Like the recent revitalization of IT: which was originally a flawed yet decent TV miniseries in 1990 and then a captivating horror movie in 2017. Now it’s The Stand’s turn. First came the haphazard 1994 miniseries which being broadcast on ABC curtailed much of the book’s impact. The Stand is easily among Stephen King’s many masterpieces (I highly recommend the Complete and Uncut Edition of The Stand) focusing on a weaponized strain of influenza that decimated the global population. The “good guys” slowly pilgrimage to Boulder while the “bad guys” congregate in Vegas. Of course. There’s more…lots more but this is a “Final Stand” for humanity. King rewrote the ending for this latest incarnation so even if you’ve read the book there’s something new for you. As long as you’re an American. R.E.M. was wrong when they sang: “Stand in the place where you live/Now face north.” Actually do not face north. Unless anyone else knows otherwise as of December 10th CBS officially confirmed: due to streaming rights (for now) The Stand is not available in Canada (Though Canadians can sign up for CBS All Access). Yet. (Which is rude considering they filmed it in Canada!). Things change daily so stay tuned for a possible announcement. Thankfully Canadians do get a treat tomorrow!

Friday, December 18

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (Anytime / Netflix)
A Creepshow Holiday Special (Anytime / Shudder )

Sammy Suggestion: Palm Springs (Anytime / Amazon Prime (Canada))

Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti meet again, and again, and again in Hulu’s Groundhog Day-rom-com. Cristin Milioti and Andy Samberg meet again, and again, and again in Hulu’s Groundhog Day-rom-com. I can go on and on…

Saturday, December 19

Sammy Suggestion: Letters to Satan Claus (9 p.m. / Syfy)

Lol! Does this count as Christmas Cheer?! “A news reporter from the city is hand-selected to break a story from her childhood hometown, as she relives her past and reveals what seemed to be an innocent mistake, now turns out to be a deadly one.” Tis the season for body counts and terror…and apparently movies nuttier than grandma’s spiced rum fruitcake.


Sammy Younan is the affable host of My Summer Lair: think NPR’s Fresh Air meets Kevin Smith: interviews & impressions on Pop Culture.

On average, creative geniuses aren’t qualitatively better in their fields than their peers, they simply produce a greater volume of work which gives them more variation and a higher chance of originality.

Prof. Dean Simonton

Quantity leads you to quality hence #GOATs like Stephen King.

#SetTheVCR: June 21-27, 2020

Sammy Younan

Girth Radio Presents…

How I Spent My Summer Vacation: well…watching good tv. Maybe get some Vitamin D and take the tablet outside? (Bonus Story: I walked into the living room to find my Mom dozing on the couch with The Manchurian Candidate unfolding on the tv. Is that a Sunday afternoon nap or irony?)

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#CouchWorthy: Creepshow – S01E02

Sammy Younan

Girth Radio Presents…

As you may have heard or seen Creepshow ? originally a 1982 horror-comedy anthology film directed by George A. Romero and written by Stephen King ? has been adapted into a 2019 horror anthology television series which began airing on Shudder on September 26. (And can now be seen on AMC starting May 4, 2020.) As we move into October and slowly zombie shuffle to Halloween Creepshow continues to offer up EC Comics like tales that suit the season.

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#CouchWorthy: Creepshow – S01E01

Sammy Younan

Girth Radio Presents…

Horror movies have consistently taught us it’s hard to keep a good creep down.

Then: Creepshow is a 1982 horror-comedy anthology film directed by George A. Romero and written by Stephen King (this film is his screenwriting debut!).

Now: Creepshow is a 2019 horror anthology television series airing on Shudder debuted on September 26, 2019. And more now Creepshow is broadcast on AMC starting on May 4, 2020.

From Walking Dead producer and special effects wizard Greg Nicotero who is Creepshow’s showrunner and one of the key individuals bringing back this horror goodness.

The reanimated tv show features graphic and cool comic book style work from Michael Broom, Ron Frenz and Kelley Jones who is creepily perfect for this. We’re almost back to the EC horror comics of the 1950s…Seduction of the Innocent days.

Creepshow not only successfully means the return of the Creep but also the horror classic cliche: it was a dark and stormy night.

The show begins with Greg Nicotero adapting Stephen King’s “Gray Matter.” (Gray Matter is a short story in King’s 1978 anthology Night Shift.) Classic King the episode opens on a small town boarded up patiently awaiting the passing of a fierce storm. Doc (Giancarlo Esposito) and Chief (Tobin Bell who most will recognize as Jigsaw from the Saw movies) are holed up in the local general store. When suddenly a terrified teen arrives to…buy his dad beer. This isn’t Superbad; as it’s a small town all the characters including the shop owner (Adrienne Barbeau) are aware of the dad’s alcoholism.

Still, rather than send the youth out into the storm Doc and Chief decide to deliver the beer and check up on the alcoholic dad. As they trek towards the house in the fierce storm the teen begins to tell a disturbing tale. Something is wrong with his dad…and it’s not alcoholism. Slowly the teen shares his story via frightening flashbacks and as the past catches up to the present Doc and Chief arrive at the house to make a gruesome discovery. It has gotten worse since the teen left, but to tell you what got worse would be…creepy.

Keep your eyes wide open for many Stephen King easter eggs. This is classic horror all grounded in the present with a this could happen in any town type of vibe and an ideal way to kick off this Creepshow revival.

The darkness continues with “The House of the Head” the second segment written by John Malerman who is the Bird Box writer. (Never read the book or saw the Netflix movie…any good?). While the first short connected back to Stephen King The House of the Head builds on the show’s eerie tone with a haunted dollhouse.

To use a phrase I picked up from King’s novel-writing: now we’re cooking with gas.

Little Evie (Cailey Fleming) is your classic girl (beret and all) with a classic dollhouse home to a warm doll-family that is abruptly menaced by a grisly severed doll head. (The playful symbolism is endearing…connecting back to that girls aren’t in horror narrative that, of course, isn’t true.) As the horrific segment unfolds Evie is initially puzzled by the bloody head’s appearance but then so are her doll-family.

Like every haunted house story the doll-family grow more disturbed as their home becomes more unsettled: the viewers don’t see dolls move but their fear and emotions are readily conveyed by Evie. Who, in a failed effort to protect the doll-family buys a police officer doll. There that should keep the doll-family safe from the menacing severed head, right? She wakes up to find the police-officer doll beheaded in a pool of his own blood. Oh.

I really enjoyed the second segment: the tension and fear are real; just like the danger the doll-family is in.

The doll-family are not the only ones in danger. As Creepshow unfolds we can expect scary segments from Joe Hill (By The Silver Water of Lake Champlain), Skincrawlers written by Paul Dini (woah…really?) and a broad range of actors like David Arquette, DJ Qualls, Big Boi, and Kid Cudi. Strange and curious lineup.

It’s great to have a (horror) anthology show as a break from the continuity heavy tv shows popular these days. This lets viewers pop in and out…to select which of the 2 stories per episode they will watch. Watch ’em all or watch some of them, either way, keep your G.I. Joe night light handy to keep those night terrors at bay.

Sammy Baltic Web

Sammy Younan @ W • T • F

New Book Alert: January 20-24, 2020

My weekly collection of new and notable books for your pop culture pleasure and edification: #ReadMoreTweetLess.

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New Book Alert: October 14-18, 2019

My weekly collection of new and notable books for your pop culture pleasure and edification: #ReadMoreTweetLess.

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Trial By Trailer: Including…Mystify: Michael Hutchence 

Is this good?
Will this be good?
Every movie trailer answers or challenges those 2 questions. The ham-fisted rebuttal comes swiftly, however: no you don’t need to always see a movie to know it’s tank.

Do you really need to sit through a Michael Bay Transformers movie to know for sure? Tank is Tank. And Fresh…well Fresh is always Fresh. I’m down like I’m Brown for that.

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Trial by Trailer: Including…It: Chapter Two

Is this good?
Will this be good?
Every movie trailer answers or challenges those 2 questions. The ham-fisted rebuttal comes swiftly however: no you don’t need to always see a movie to know it’s tank.

Do you really need to sit through a Michael Bay Transformers movie to know for sure? Tank is Tank. And Fresh…well Fresh is always Fresh. I’m down like I’m Brown for that.

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