During the holidays TV recommendations can often put you between a Rock and a Hart place. I get that so here’s some fantastic (and slightly sarcastic) #SetTheVCR fun for you and/or your whole family.
Monday, December 11
Culprits: Complete Season 1 (Anytime / Hulu)
After a heist, the crew have gone their separate ways, but now, they are being targeted by a killer one-by-one.
SAMMY SUGGESTION: THE KILLING KIND: LIMITED SERIES (ANYTIME / CRAVE)
Can you trust the man you fear the most?
As a top-shelf barrister, Ingrid Lewis is used to dealing with tricky clients, but no-one rivals John Webster. She wins his case and then wins his heart. But when she decides to collect her legal briefs and exit the relationship; Webster reminds her she didn’t read the fine print. In an ironic twist she defended him in court against harassment; the exact same thing he was doing to her. That’s all past tense when the first of the 6 episodes opens…only John Webster is now back. Is Ingrid Lewis’ life really in danger? Like from somebody other than John Webster? Who can she trust? Paranoia is always fashionable. Programming Note: This is an adaptation of the novel of the same name by Jane Casey. The Killing Kind premiered on September 7, 2023 on Paramount+ but it may be removed from that streamer. If this limited series doesn’t work for you…check out The Serial Killer’s Wife another British murder mystery which’ll stream on Paramount+ on December 15. 4 episodes for that one.
Tuesday, December 12
Talk To Me (Anytime / Netflix – Canada)
When a group of friends discover how to conjure spirits using an embalmed hand, they become hooked on the new thrill, until one of them goes too far and unleashes terrifying supernatural forces.
SAMMY SUGGESTION: KEVIN HART & CHRIS ROCK: HEADLINERS ONLY (ANYTIME / NETFLIX)
From back in the day to the top of their game, Kevin Hart and Chris Rock offer an unparalleled, behind-the-scenes look at their friendship and careers.
Yo, son! It’s Kevin Hart and Chris Rock. One of those alone prompts pushing the play button. Both of them? There’s no reason to skip this. Make a strong tea and chill with this. This is the story of how we got here.
Wednesday, December 13
Road to the NHL Winter Classic (6:30 p.m. / TNT)
Hard Knocks for Hockey: 4-part docuseries takes viewers behind scenes with the Kraken and the Golden Knights ahead of their January 1st outdoor game. (I know; I’m an NBA guy not an NHL dude but the Winter Classic is so cool.)
SAMMY SUGGESTION: CANDY CANE LANE (ANYTIME / PRIME VIDEO)
Eddie Murphy is determined to win the neighborhood’s annual Christmas decorating contest. He makes a pact with an elf to help him win–and the elf casts a spell that brings the 12 days of Christmas to life, which brings unexpected chaos to town.
I can’t stand Christmas: it’s cold, there’s lineups at the store and it’s cold, TV goes to crap (it’s better now with streaming) and it’s cold. As such I reluctantly attended the virtual press conference for Candy Cane Lane this past week. This is Eddie Murphy’s first Christmas movie. (During the press conference he confirms it is his first Christmas movie. He pauses then adds: well I did wear a red suit in Delirious. Yes!! Ice Cream Man Forever!! Oh I miss Eddie so much.) Candy Cane Lane is directed by Reginald Hudlin. (Who is a fantastic comic book writer. His Black Panther run is solid…I do wanna revisit his Moon Knight work too.) Most people of course know Reginald Hudlin as the writer/director of House Party a 1990 movie staring Kid ‘n Play. And Candy Cane Lane also has Chris Redd whose improv in the movie is fantastic. So sure…why not? A real honest to goodness, sarcastic Christmas movie. Ya happy now?
Thursday, December 14
The Crown: Season 6: Part 2 (Anytime / Netflix)
British Succession returns for one final season…with the Commonwealth irrevocably changed, Queen Elizabeth II reflects on her life and legacy, and paves the way for her successors Charles and William. These final 6 episodes will draw to a close the prestige royal saga that has been on screens since 2016.
SAMMY SUGGESTION: JOHN LENNON: MURDER WITHOUT A TRIAL (ANYTIME / APPLE TV+)
A three-part docuseries offers the most comprehensive look into the truth of the tragic murder of John Lennon, and the investigation and conviction of Mark David Chapman.
From director Nick Holt this is a deep dive into John Lennon’s murder on December 8, 1980. (When you visit New York City you can pass by The Dakota where Lennon lived and was murdered and it’s unsettling. I know New York’s history is layered with murder and yet this one stands out because it’s not like…a mob hit.) The story is this: Mark David Chapman fired five shots at John Lennon from a few yards away with a Charter Arms Undercover .38 Special revolver. Lennon was hit four times from the back. Mark David Chapman then calmly sat down and began reading The Catcher in the Rye. Which is an extraordinary novel. How much of that is…true? A pop culture true crime doc that reveals details on the murder via interviews with eyewitnesses, Chapman’s defense lawyers, psychiatrists, detectives and prosecutors. Turns out there is no such thing as…Instant Karma.
Friday, December 15
Reacher: Season 2 (Anytime / Prime Video)
Based on Bad Luck and Trouble, the 11th book in Lee Child’s series; Reacher Season 2 begins when veteran military police investigator Jack Reacher receives a coded message that the members of his former U.S. Army unit, the 110th MP Special Investigations, are being mysteriously and brutally murdered one by one. Pulled from his drifter lifestyle, Reacher reunites with three of his former teammates turned chosen family to investigate. No stress…it has been renewed for a third season.
SAMMY SUGGESTION: THE FAMILY PLAN (ANYTIME / APPLE TV+)
A former top assassin living incognito as a suburban dad must take his unsuspecting family on the run when his past catches up to him.
It’s one of those movies: Dan Morgan (Mark Wahlberg) loves his quiet suburban life as a devoted husband, father of three and successful car salesman. But that’s only half the story. Decades earlier, he was an elite government assassin tasked with eliminating the world’s deadliest threats. Yup. Marky Mark is a “Nobody.” He’s also making family movies. But like True Lies, The Spy Next Door and Mr. & Mrs. Smith. It’s one of those movies. So is your plan to watch Family Plan?
Saturday, December 16
Night Court: Seasons 1-9 (Anytime / Amazon Freevee)
You can stream the good Night Court! All 9 seasons have been added: An eccentric fun-loving judge presides over an urban night court and all the silliness going on there. There are some classic gems and outstanding comedy bits.
Barbie suffers a crisis that leads her to question her world and her existence.
I didn’t understand this latest wave of Barbie popularity. After decades of criticism of promoting shopping over math, body issues etc. how did Warner Bros. bamboozle an audience? (Tiny Shoulders: Rethinking Barbie was on Hulu just in 2018!) Well still here we are. Just in time for the holidays…a Truman Show for chicks. Gather round children. To live in Barbie Land is to be a perfect being in a perfect place. Unless you have a full-on existential crisis.
Sunday, December 17
The Lamberts must go deeper into The Further than ever before to put their demons to rest once and for all.
SAMMY SUGGESTION: SHORTCOMINGS (ANYTIME / HOOPLA)
Ben, a struggling filmmaker, lives in Berkeley, California, with his girlfriend, Miko, who works for a local Asian American film festival. When he’s not managing an arthouse movie theater as his day job, Ben spends his time obsessing over unavailable blonde women, watching Criterion Collection DVDs, and eating in diners with his best friend Alice, a queer grad student with a serial dating habit.
Fresh from Tribeca 2023…take a break from comic book movies and watch…a comic book movie! Directed by Randall Park (MCU) and starring Justin H. Min (Umbrella Academy) Shortcomings is based on Adrian Tomine’s graphic novel of the same name. (I recommend his Loneliness of the Long-Distance Cartoonist both are published by Drawn & Quarterly.). This is a classic indie movie that is sorta kinda a romrom though most certainly is a slacker comedy. After all don’t Shortcomings often leave you Dazed and Confused?
Sammy Younan is the affable host of My Summer Lair: think NPR’s Fresh Air meets Kevin Smith: interviews & impressions on Pop Culture.