So rather than subject you to typical TV recommendations for this rather slow week (seriously: on Christmas Eve TBS is running The Christmas Story on a 24 hour loop.) let’s look ahead to 2021 and see what we can expect (we hope!). This is just 5 simple selections…there’s so much more coming in 2021; this is the start of the conversation.
Top 2021 TV Pick #1
Sammy Suggestion: War of the Worlds: Season 2 (Early-2021 / EPIX & CBC Gem)
Originally War of the Worlds premiered on October 28, 2019 on MyCanal/Fox in France. America did not get it until February 2020 while Canada waited even longer finally receiving it in October 2020. So my hope is that this is a 2021 show not a 2022 show.
One of my favourite sci-fi shows this past year it transformed H.G. Wells’ seminal story into a Walking Dead style TV show: “In series one of War of the Worlds, an alien attack all but wiped out mankind, with just a handful of humans fighting to survive.” When season 1 concluded there were many unresolved mysteries yet the one glimmer of hope the survivors had was they had developed a way fight back against the alien intruders. How successful they would be in this “war” well that’s where season 2 comes in.
Based on tweets of the those involved season 2 successfully wrapped on October 22nd. So that’s a good sign; editing is easier to do during coronavirus than shooting. Umbrella Academy is fun sci-fi, while Star Trek is space sci-fi: War of the Worlds is dark sci-fi. All the characters are complex capable of oscillating between darkness and light they do what they have to do to survive. We know some of us don’t have the ability or the skills to survive in a zombie apocalypse: I don’t know how many of us could survive a War of the Worlds.
Top 2021 TV Pick #2
Sammy Suggestion: Invincible: Season 1 (Mid-2021 / Amazon Prime)
Invincible was an Image comic book by Robert Kirkman and Ryan Ottley: it ran for 144 issues (all written by Kirkman) concluding in early 2018. It was filled with standard Marvel comics joy there were touches of Stan Lee right up to modern style writing. The premise of the comic will also be the premise of the TV show: “Mark Grayson is a normal teenager, except for the fact that his father Nolan is the most powerful superhero on the planet. Shortly after his seventeenth birthday, Mark begins to develop powers of his own and enters into his father’s tutelage.”
A deceptively simple premise (wait for the twist!) meant the comic book became a Spider-Man meets Green Lantern style book: awkward teenage moments in space. Interestingly Amazon is now adapting it into an adult cartoon: expect violence and relationships. Unlike international markets Disney has corrupted the cartoon market here in North America; we don’t generally enjoy many violent adult type cartoons.
Thankfully this is slowly changing so Invincible’s success or breakout could help and ignite a broader appetite for adult cartoons. As for some of the voices: Steven Yeun, J. K. Simmons, Seth Rogen, Zachary Quinto and many, many more.
Top 2021 TV Pick #3
Sammy Suggestion: Y: The Last Man (Late 2021 / FX On Hulu)
Yet another adaptation. (Though to be honest I don’t know how much of the stuff we consume anymore is original source material…it’s all hot dogs now.) Y: The Last Man was a Vertigo comic book by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra; it ran from 2002 to 2008.
Welcome to a post-apocalyptic world in which a cataclysmic event decimates every mammal with a Y chromosome except for one loser and his pet monkey. Why? Or how? And now a society ruled solely by women have to deal with him: some see him as a threat; some see him as a symbol of hope or restoration.
While the obvious clunky analogies of power dynamics deftly lend themselves to typical twitter diatribes and cliched op-eds we get when movies like Wonder Woman open that’s not overly engaging. Rather the engaging aspect is the upending of society. We just saw this with Stephen King’s The Stand over on CBS.
How does a radically gutted society adapt: that’s what makes it so compelling for television because we get to visually see a society being constructed; being arranged like Lord of the Flies but bigger. Filming begins in Mississauga/Toronto on January 25 2021 and based on permits will run until July 05, 2021 (so we probably will not get a trailer for a few more months.).
A pilot has also been shot and finally one last encouraging sign: FX on Hulu has released the title card. We’re at the logo stage. Hopefully, this will be some sort of fall release.
Top 2021 TV Pick #4
Sammy Suggestion: Justice League: Miniseries (March 2021 / HBO Max)
So here’s a whole bunch of Flash Facts. Justice League was a 2017 box office bomb for Warner Bros. It left many nerd-fans upset while for the general public it failed to spark the same passion as the Marvel movies (generally speaking about a large group of individuals). Director Zack Snyder didn’t finish making the movie following the death of his daughter. Lastly?
I’ve often felt that one of the best ways for DC Films to separate themselves from the MCU is to go hard R. Superheroes are all about righting a wrong and so now we find ourselves with Zack Snyder’s Justice League: a 4 part miniseries.
The filmmaker did not pull punches when asked about Whedon’s Justice League version during a virtual convention panel over the summer, saying he would “destroy the movie before I use a single frame that I didn’t photograph. That is a fucking hard fact. I’d blow the fucking thing up.” Yikes! So in March, we find out what all the fuss is about. And that’s the last Flash Fact.
Top 2021 TV Pick #5
Sammy Suggestion: To All the Boys: Always and Forever, Lara Jean (Early/Mid 2021 / Netflix)
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before: Part 3! Shut up! Look it’s a teen movie so why not? Teen movies are part of a healthy pop culture media diet. While the second movie 2020’s P.S. I Still Love You wasn’t quite as charming as the first one (all the way back in 2018! That one had the element of surprise) it was still far better than the two Kissing Booth movies combined. (We’re sadly getting a third Kissing Booth movie this year: ugh. I’ll watch but complain about it the whole time.) Well Lana Condor has found limited success in roles such as Deadly Class and movies such as X-Men: Apocalypse here her character Lara Jean Covey empowers her a clumsy sweetness that makes her endearing. It’s fun. So that works fun is good. Shut up!
Sammy Younan is the affable host of My Summer Lair: think NPR’s Fresh Air meets Kevin Smith: interviews & impressions on Pop Culture.