#SetTheVCR: April 05-11, 2021

Lotta young people with powers are powering this week’s #SetTheVCR this week. Which is rather inspirational when you think about it.

Monday, April 05

Coded Bias (Anytime / Netflix)

This documentary investigates the bias in algorithms after M.I.T. Media Lab researcher Joy Buolamwini uncovered flaws in facial recognition technology.

Sammy Suggestion: 2021 NCAA Basketball Tournament Final (9/8c PM / CBS)

The final game of the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament.

The Madness is almost over. And Madness for true: Gonzaga’s Jalen Suggs epic buzzer-beater in OT to win the Final Four and play for a national title is forever a One Shinning Moment. I watched that shot 4 times and I still can’t fully process it. Tonight it’s Gonzaga vs. Baylor. According to ESPN: “Since November 8, 2019, Baylor has lost just five games. Gonzaga has lost two during that stretch.” This is gonna be a classic Rocky Balboa fight. Might hafta go to Costco for that Family Sized bag of Doritos to eat all of my feelings. Lock N Load. Rather than show any NCAA moments I leave you with the Rocky theme song: Gonna Fly Now.

Tuesday, April 06

Sammy Suggestion: Words on Bathroom Walls (Anytime (on Friday) / Netflix Canada)

Diagnosed with a mental illness halfway through his senior year of high school, a witty, introspective teen struggles to keep it a secret while falling in love with a brilliant classmate who inspires him to open his heart and not be defined by his condition.

This is a #SetTheVCR Heads-Up: Words on Bathroom Walls appears on Netflix Canada on Friday but Friday is busy and Tuesday is not so I’ma talk about it here. Plus I’m in the mood for a solid teen movie. “Diagnosed with a mental illness during his senior year of high school, a witty, introspective teen struggles to keep it a secret while falling in love with a brilliant classmate who inspires him to open his heart and not be defined by his condition.” Not quite John Hughes but he’s been dead since 2009 so I’ll take what I can get. (If you actually want something on TV tonight: on NCIS I dunno what that stands for…I generally don’t watch any of the acronym shows but Pam Dawber guest stars with real life husband Mark Harmon. They got married? Huh. I did not know that. I miss Mork and Mindy too but not as much I miss John Hughes.)

Wednesday, April 07

This Is A Robbery: The World’s Biggest Art Heist (Anytime / Netflix)

In 1990, two men dressed as cops con their way into a Boston museum and steal a fortune in art. Take a deep dive into this daring and notorious crime.

Home Economics (8:30 p.m. / ABC)

The heartwarming yet uncomfortable relationship between three adult siblings: one in the 1%, one middle-class and one barely holding on.

Sammy Suggestion: Liar Liar (Anytime / Netflix Canada)

After a fateful wish, he cannot tell a lie. But this shady lawyer (Jim Carrey) needs to think fast if he’s going break this curse.

From 1997 (seriously?!) Liar Liar is Jim Carrey at his rubbery best. (So much so among the emergency response personnel in the airport scene, Jim Carrey is dressed as his popular In Living Color character, Fire Marshall Bill. Amazing cameo!). “A fast-track lawyer can’t lie for 24 hours due to his son’s birthday wish after he disappoints his son for the last time.” Basically it’s a “Big” wish but the kid doesn’t grow up; he wishes his Dad would grow up. Two casting notes that are shocking: Steve Martin turned down the lead role in this film due to scheduling conflicts with another film. Martin is great but not for this: that would not have worked…at all. And lastly this is surreal: Jim Carrey declined the role of Dr. Evil in Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery so he could commit to this film. Wow. Dr. Evil is so iconic I believe everyone involved made the correct cinematic choice but I kinda wonder about Carrey’s Dr. Evil.

Thursday, April 08

No Activity: Season 4 (Anytime / Paramount+)

NO ACTIVITY follows the misadventures of two low-ranking cops who spend way too much time together.

Sammy Suggestion: Amazing Grace (Anytime / Netflix Canada)

This documentary features never-before-seen footage of legendary singer Aretha Franklin performing her 1972 gospel album in Watts, Los Angeles.

You don’t hafta wait until Sunday to go to church: Amazing Grace is playing on Netflix (Canada). If Avengers: Endgame is them at their most powerful then this is Aretha Franklin at the height of her powers. It’s astonishing to belt out Amazing Grace in a black church just 4 years after MLK’s death. This Sydney Pollack documentary is a powerful coda to the turbulent 60s (the doc was shot in 1972 in the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles) and is a fitting memorial to a fierce activist whose career was sadly boiled down to Respect.

Friday, April 09

Nomadland (Anytime / Disney+ Star)

Canadian premiere!

A woman in her sixties who, after losing everything in the Great Recession, embarks on a journey through the American West, living as a van-dwelling modern-day nomad.

Them (Anytime / Prime Video)

Canadian premiere!

THEM is an anthology series that explores terror in America. The first season, set in 1950’s, centers around a Black family who move from North Carolina to an all-white Los Angeles neighborhood. Their idyllic home becomes ground zero where malevolent forces, next door and otherworldly, threaten to taunt, ravage and destroy them.

Sammy Suggestion: Oliver Sacks: His Own Life (9/8C PM / PBS)

OLIVER SACKS: HIS OWN LIFE explores the life and work of the legendary neurologist and storyteller, as he shares intimate details of his battles with drug addiction, homophobia, and a medical establishment that accepted his work only decades after the fact.

A fitting title: American Masters. The neurologist and bestselling author Oliver Sacks is saluted on a new “American Masters.” We lost Oliver Sacks in 2015 the doctor and writer behind Awakenings. In Everything in Its Place: First Loves and Last Tales he wrote “Nonetheless, I dare to hope that, despite everything, human life and its richness of cultures will survive, even on a ravaged earth. While some see art as a bulwark of our culture, our collective memory, I see science, with its depth of thought, its palpable achievements and potentials, as equally important; and science, good science, is flourishing as never before, though it moves cautiously and slowly, its insights checked by continual self-testing and experiment.” Fantastic documentary that has become a sad end coda to a well thought out life. He healed so much and touched so many.

Saturday, April 10

Johnny Cash: Road to Redemption (9/8c PM / Reelz)

Set to the backdrop of the tumultuous sixties, the drama of Folsom is examined moment-to-moment while simultaneously branching out to reveal a life surrounded by danger and haunted by death. Only one man is capable of traveling from the darkness At Folsom Prison to the light of The Holy Land.

Sammy Suggestion: The New Mutants (8/7c PM / HBO)

In this 13th film in the X-Men franchise, a group of teenage mutants band together while being held in a secret facility.

The New Mutants were the apocalyptic sign of this pandemic. Originally shot from July to September 2017 this Marvel Mutant Movie was supposed to come out on April 13, 2018. Then it was delayed to February 22, 2019, which was then pushed to August 2, 2019 then finally it was no longer in “Limbo:” April 3, 2020 was the confirmed date! Trailers and everything. Then the pandemic shut everything down in March and we should have interpreted a New Mutants release as a sign. It finally came out on August 28, 2020 (I opted to see Tenet over this.) There were many reasons for the delay: the chief among them was the vision for the movie: Breakfast Club detention crossed with a Cuckoo’s Nest institution. Should they emphasize the YA teenager growing pains (the hallmarks of a classic teen movie) or double down on the horror aspects (teens in trouble is classic horror). After all that it’s now on HBO and like the recently restored Snyder Cut of Justice League it’s doubtful this will go anywhere: there’s no need to restore the New Mutants verse.

Sunday, April 11

Sammy Suggestion: The Irregulars vs The Nevers ( 9/8C PM / HBO & Crave)

THE IRREGULARS follows a crew of misfits investigating a series of supernatural crimes in Victorian London for Dr. Watson and his shadowy associate, Sherlock Holmes.

THE NEVERS August, 1896. Victorian London is rocked to its foundations by a supernatural event which gives certain people — mostly women — abnormal abilities, from the wondrous to the disturbing. But no matter their particular “turns,” all who belong to this new underclass are in grave danger.

Did you watch The Irregulars on Netflix on March 26? A group of teenagers solve increasingly supernatural crimes in Victorian London. Ok; sounds decent: Stranger Things set in Sherlock Holmes. While Joss Whedon’s Nevers is described as “a science fiction drama about a gang of Victorian women who find themselves with unusual abilities, relentless enemies, and a mission that might change the world.” Huh. I’m not really sure how they’re different. If you had to choose which one would you watch?


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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