#SetTheVCR: January 31-February 6

We got football and monsters! I mean that’s an excellent week right there; #SetTheVCR or not right?

Monday, January 31

Celebrating Betty White: America’s Golden Girl (10 p.m. / NBC)

In honor of one of the world’s most beloved entertainers, NBC is presenting an hourlong primetime special commemorating the life and legacy of trailblazing television star Betty White.

Sammy Suggestion: Astrid & Lilly Save the World: Season 1 (Anytime / Crave)

It’s not easy being outcasts at Pine Academy but at least Astrid and Lilly have each other. One night, the bullying escalates too far and the girls have had enough. Their sadness and fury accidentally open a portal to a terrifying and quirky monster dimension. Now, not only do Astrid and Lilly have to navigate high school, their families and their crushes, but they also have to vanquish a bunch of terrifying monsters with the help of their guide Brutus and their hilarious new superpowers.

Syfy is quietly turning out strong TV from bold creators. Their recent shows (Resident Alien, Chucky etc.) would probably benefit from appearing a streamer or two…better to connect with a larger audience you know? For now: Astrid & Lilly are your classic high school losers; clearly far from cool. Even worse they “accidentally” cracked open a portal to a monster dimension. So they ain’t even nerd-bright high school losers. Think Buffy meets Supernatural; Brutus is their guide…their Wikipedia page who knows what is going on and will help them vanquish the monsters. That they unleashed. (In America you can enjoy Astrid on Syfy Channel every Wednesday night or in Canada you can watch this TV show live on Wednesdays on Sci-Fi Channel or stream the episodes to end up on Crave.)

Tuesday, February 01

Barbara Lee: Speaking Truth to Power (8 p.m. / Starz)

TRUTH TO POWER paints a vivid and timely portrait of Congresswoman Barbara Lee, a steadfast voice for human rights, peace, and diplomacy in the U.S. Government.

Sammy Suggestion: Terry Bradshaw: Going Deep (9 p.m. / HBO)

TERRY BRADSHAW: GOING DEEP is an HBO special that takes a unique look at the life of the four-time Super Bowl Champion and Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback. In August of 2021, Bradshaw took the stage at the Clay Cooper Theater in Branson, Missouri for a series of live performances that offered a mix of singing, music, colorful stories, and honest and emotional reflections on his life. Presented in Bradshaw’s own words, this is a first-person account of one of the most popular and versatile sports personalities of modern times.

Terry Bradshaw got a Last Dance. That’s gonna be a consistent #SetTheVCR endorsement for most of 2022. Sports documentaries and sports journalism are heating up! And Terry’s documentary Going Deep is timely. If you’ve enjoyed his insights and humor as an NFL analyst on NFL Sunday it’s easy to “forget” dude was an outstanding quarterback. (The same thing is happening to Charles Barkley over on TNT. I saw Chuck play live and he is indeed one of the 75 greatest NBA players. The new generation of fans only know the dude as a TV host. Sigh…) Over a 14-season career with the Pittsburgh Steelers Bradshaw won four Super Bowl titles in a six-year period (1974, 1975, 1978, and 1979). Basically he was Tom Brady before we had Tom Brady. And if you accept Father Figures at face value Terry’s other notable accomplishment is siring a number of funny children. All this and more is covered in this documentary a joint production of HBO Sports and NFL Films.

Wednesday, February 02

Pam & Tommy: Limited Series (Anytime / Hulu & Disney+ Canada [Star])

Set in the Wild West early days of the Internet, PAM & TOMMY is based on the incredible true story of the Pamela Anderson (Lily James) and Tommy Lee (Sebastian Stan) sex tape. Stolen from the couple’s home by a disgruntled contractor (Seth Rogen), the video went from underground bootleg-VHS curiosity to full-blown global sensation when it hit the Web in 1997. A love story, crime caper and cautionary tale rolled into one, the eight-part original limited series explores the intersection of privacy, technology and celebrity, tracing the origins of our current reality TV Era to a stolen tape seen by millions but meant to have an audience of just two.

Sammy Suggestion: Nightmare Alley (Anytime / HBO Max)

An ambitious carny with a talent for manipulating people with a few well-chosen words hooks up with a female psychiatrist who is even more dangerous than he is.

Based on the box office receipts you haven’t seen Guillermo del Toro’s latest. “When charismatic but down-on-his-luck Stanton Carlisle (Bradley Cooper) endears himself to clairvoyant Zeena (Toni Collette) and her has-been mentalist husband Pete (David Strathairn) at a traveling carnival, he crafts a golden ticket to success, using this newly acquired knowledge to grift the wealthy elite of 1940s New York society.” This is a del Toro movie so expect an ominous mood in a creepy setting and Ron Perlman to naturally appear. (Please Note: this is the colour version; currently in cinemas is a black-and-white version subtitled Vision in Darkness and Light.)

Thursday, February 03

Raised By Wolves: Season 2 (Anytime / HBO Max & Crave)

In season two of RAISED BY WOLVES, Android partners Mother (Amanda Collin) and Father (Abubakar Salim), along with their brood of six human children, join a newly formed atheistic colony in Kepler 22 b’s mysterious tropical zone. But navigating this strange new society is only the start of their troubles as Mother’s “natural child” threatens to drive what little remains of the human race to extinction.

Sammy Suggestion: Murderville: Season 1 (Anytime / Netflix)

Eccentric detective Terry Seattle teams up with clueless celebrity guest stars to investigate a series of murders in this improvisational crime comedy.

Will Arnett killed Conan O’Brien with the last name bit. That’s Smartless fun. Anytime there is comedic ball busting I’m usually in. Murderville is a police procedural crime comedy with an irresistible hook: the guest celebrity partner hasn’t been given the script. So they’re literally improvising their way through the case. Ha! Amazing. The script-less partners are Annie Murphy, Sharon Stone, Ken Jeong, Conan O’Brien, Marshawn Lynch and Kumail Nanjiani. Like classic SNL let’s see who can keep a straight face in the face of all that murder and comedy and who…cannot.

Friday, February 04

Reacher: Season 1 (Anytime / Prime Video)

When retired Military Police Officer Jack Reacher is arrested for a murder he did not commit, he finds himself in the middle of a deadly conspiracy full of dirty cops, shady businessmen and scheming politicians. With nothing but his wits, he must figure out what is happening in Margrave, Georgia. The first season of Reacher is based on the international bestseller, Killing Floor by Lee Child.

Sammy Suggestion: Phat Tuesdays: The Era of Hip Hop Comedy Docuseries (Anytime / Prime Video)

In the words of Anthony Anderson, Tiffany Haddish, Steve Harvey, Regina King and more, Phat Tuesdays tells the unbelievable story of how one man, Guy Torry, moved mountains to launch an all-Black comedy night at The Comedy Store. What started as an experiment in 90’s Los Angeles turned into a breeding ground for today’s greatest comedians, elevating Black voices to have their turn on the stage.

Phat Tuesdays was a notable showcase for Black comedians at The Comedy Store in ’90s Los Angeles. It’s everyone you’re thinking of: Nick Cannon, Dave Chappelle, Cedric the Entertainer, Steve Harvey, Jo Koy and lots more who shares their experiences. Following the 1992 LA riots Black comedians wanted to respond positively; they wanted to heal and connect a community all the special aspects comedy is proficient at. So this docuseries is that hilarious origin story. Please Note: all three episodes of the series premieres today. (Also? Highly Recommended Viewing is Showtime’s The Comedy Store docuseries from 2020. Watch that as you watch this; should pair well.)

Saturday, February 05

Finding Ola (Anytime / Netflix)

After a life-altering event, Ola embarks on a journey of self-discovery while dealing with the challenges of raising two children and making ends meet.

Sammy Suggestion: White Men Can’t Jump (Anytime / Hulu)

A comedy about basketball hustlers who work on the premise that white men can’t play as well as black men.

One of Stanley Kubrick’s favorite movies is celebrating it’s 30th anniversary this year. Another amazing fun fact? This movie mastered the art of the Yo Momma joke. “We were rehearsing and everybody is complaining that everyone else has the best ‘yo mama’ jokes”, recalls director Ron Shelton. “I said, ‘Shut up, come back with your best ones tomorrow.’ Guys had computer printouts with ‘yo mama’ jokes. We were just roaring at all the jokes. The problem was most of them were rated NC-17, when I was an R and already had one hundred seventy motherfuckers in there.” Yes! This movie was a breakout hit for all involved Wesley Snipes was no longer that guy Spike Lee movies while Woody Harrelson was no longer that guy on Cheers. And director Ron Shelton went on to make a number of other notable sports movies. (To give you a sense of 1992 it was Batman Returns, Lethal Weapon 3, Under Siege, Basic Instinct, Wayne’s World and A Few Good Men. Big movie year!)

Sunday, February 06

NFL Pro Bowl (3 p.m. / ESPN)

The 2022 PRO BOWL will be the National Football League all-star game for the 2021 NFL season. It is scheduled to be played at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Sammy Suggestion: 30 for 30: The Tuck Rule (8:30 p.m / ESPN)

The Tuck Rule isn’t just one of the most controversial plays in sports history, it is one of the most consequential moments in pop culture history; an inflection point where the world tilted left instead of right, leading to the first NFL playoff win for a young quarterback named Tom Brady.

“Without the Tuck Rule, Tom Brady wouldn’t have won his first playoff game – and who knows where his destiny might have gone from there. But whether what happened on January 19, 2002 was the right call or a terrible call, divine providence or deep conspiracy, one thing is certain: The life of Tom Brady, as well as the life of the Hall of Famer who hit him on the play, Brady’s college teammate Charles Woodson, was forever changed that night.” It’s another classic 30 for 30.


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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