Welcome to another edition of #SetTheVCR. This is a judgment-free zone: I’ll never shame you for your screen time even when it is way up. If anything I’m an enabler: to help you get your screen time up here’s some TV recommendations!
Sunday, April 12
Run: Season 1 (10:30 p.m. / HBO)
Sammy Suggestion: Tales From the Loop (Anytime / Amazon Prime)
Last weekend I was awed by the first episode of Tales From The Loop the new Amazon show based on Simon Stålenhag’s book with the same title and produced by Mark Romanek. Romanek directed the first episode and visually it’s stunning. You could watch the whole thing with the sound off so good. (Although Phillip Glass supplies the score. I know!!). Romanek did the Batman: The Animated Series thing where you can’t tell what year it is. One of the main characters their house is all 70s a rotary phone on the wall in the kitchen, those Miami Vice mirrors in the living room but his father has a cybernetic arm like Arnold’s unfleshed arm in Terminator and there is an unexplained robot in the backyard. People just don’t do that enough and I’m a sucker for that. The tv show hasn’t made a significant dent on social media so sigh…I dunno if it’ll get a second season. Please watch; be great to get this to a second season. We’re all in this together.
Monday, April 13
The Stranger (Anytime / Quibi)
Independent Lens: Bedlam (10 p.m. / PBS)
Sammy Suggestion: 50 States Of Fright: Season 1 (Anytime / Quibi)
I broke up with Supernatural the ongoing show about the Winchester brothers fairly early on. As the show was no longer able to satisfy my horror needs. The first season was exactly what I was seeking from a horror tv show. Set in all kinds of off the map American locations like Lost Creek, Colorado (X-Files did that so good too! So many odd settings.) Sam and Dean and Baby would investigate and often “resolve” urban legends such as Wendigo, Bloody Mary and Hook Man. Yes! I’m in; let’s do this thing. (Eventually, the show would expand its mythology and by the time Dean got the Mark of Cain I packed up my toothbrush and memories and started seeing other horror tv shows. I like to think we’re both happy and made the correct decision.) The latest horror tv show to fulfill my horror needs is Sam Raimi’s 50 States of Fright. As you can guess from the title we’re road tripping into America’s darkness. The Red Rum episode is about the Colorado urban legend that inspired The Overlook Hotel. Grey Cloud Island is “one of the most haunted places in Minnesota.” Yes! I’m in; let’s do this thing. You’ll also recognize a variety of faces in front of the camera (Christina Ricci, Asa Butterfield, Ron Livingston etc.) and behind the camera (A Quiet Place writers Bryan Woods and Scott Beck, Sam Raimi is also directing etc.). So are you my new love or what?
Tuesday, April 14
Definition of Insanity (10 p.m. / PBS)
Scarborough: Series 1 (Anytime / BritBox)
Sammy Suggestion: Chris D’Elia: No Pain (Anytime / Netflix)
Savour this as whatever comedy specials have been shot is all we’ll be getting for a while until audiences can fill comedy clubs and arenas. (Late night hosts have gamely been trying to make with the funny but a monologue is flat without the audience. Books, movies, tv shows…music most of our pop culture can function as created. As the audience, we only have to make adjustments to the experience (like no longer going to the cinema) for them to work. However, comedy requires laughs. So I’m recommending this as Chris D’Elia is wildly funny yet also to celebrate an art form that is currently on hold. (Netflix has confirmed Jerry Seinfeld’s comedy special 23 Hours to Kill will air on May 5th while Patton Oswalt’s I Love Everything arrives on May 19th. And last week we got Sincerely Louis CK from the irreverent comic. Thankfully we’re not done just yet.)
Wednesday, April 15
Outer Banks: Season 1 (Anytime / Netflix)
Sammy Suggestion: The Innocence Files (Anytime / Netflix)
I’ve never understood or agreed with the moral superiority we often display on Twitter. Especially towards celebrities. Because even with due process, evidence, DNA testing, lawyers, courts and a judge even with all of this legal infrastructure we get so much wrong. That terrifies me. If somebody has done something bad or committed a horrendous wrong then yes they should be punished. But we must be absolutely certain we’re punishing the guilty. That’s the issue. The Innocence Files is a Netflix documentary that “unravels missteps and deceit in a series of wrongful convictions, exposing the injustice inflicted on victims and the accused.” I dunno if I can watch this; this frightens me more than a horror movie. I don’t even want to know how often we punish the innocent or fail to offer a second chance.
Thursday, April 16
Sammy Suggestion: Citizen K (Anytime / Amazon Prime)
Citizen K about Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Russian billionaire exile Mikhail Khodorkovsky is Alex Gibney’s newest documentary. (It screened here in Toronto at TIFF 2019.) While we tend to associate The Red Room and spies like Natasha Romanoff with Russia; Russia is big enough and murky enough to also contain Putin’s plans and those who oppose his plans. There’s a solid U2 lyric that goes:
“Choose your enemies carefully, ’cause they will define you
Make them interesting ’cause in some ways they will mind you
They’re not there in the beginning but when your story ends”
And we’ll see if that’s true as Mikhail Khodorkovsky battles Vladimir Putin.
Friday, April 17
Stuber (Anytime / Crave)
Sammy Suggestion: Zombieland: Double Tap (Anytime / Amazon Prime Canada)
Mentioned this movie as a #SetTheVCR recommendation on April 3rd because at the time it aired on Starz in the US. Well, now Canadians via Amazon Prime can roll with: Columbus, Tallahassee, Wichita, and Little Rock. As I said then I say now: there’s never a bad time to watch a zombie movie. No matter what country you live in.
Saturday, April 18
Sammy Suggestion: Michael Jordan (Hang Time / YouTube)
Prepare. Tomorrow one of the most anticipated documentaries in recent years will air. The Last Dance is a sports docu-series from ESPN/Netflix focusing on 1997-98 Chicago Bulls which culminated in a championship and is sadly Michael Jordan’s final season (with the Bulls). This documentary will ignite debates, friendships will end, there will be generational battle lines and social media will be a hot mess of blocking, muting and unfollowing. Prepare. I cannot wait for all of it. If you search on YouTube you can enjoy the following Jordan docs.
Michael Jordan: Come Fly with Me (1989)
Michael Jordan’s Playground (1990)
Michael Jordan: Air Time (1993)
I hope you’re ready for this.