Smile! It’s a fresh week of TV; you don’t need The Consultant to know the Circus is back in town. It’s #SetTheVCR.
Monday, February 20
Thunder Bay (Anytime / Crave)
Thunder Bay is a four-part Crave Original docuseries about a journalist on a quest to uncover the truth in the deaths of numerous Indigenous people in Thunder Bay, Ontario – a city known as the homicide and hate crime capital of Canada.
SAMMY SUGGESTION: CASSIUS X: BECOMING ALI (9 P.M. / SMITHSONIAN CHANNEL)
This documentary explores the transformation of Cassius Clay into international boxing icon and activist, Muhammad Ali, as he risks everything for his new religion while approaching the biggest fight of his life.
While there are a number of notable Muhammad Ali documentaries we don’t have many that feature Cassius Clay. “Based on Stuart Cosgrove’s book Cassius X: The Transformation of Muhammad Ali, the documentary will include invaluable testimonies from Malcolm X’s eldest daughter, Attallah Shabazz, R&B singer and Ali’s girlfriend in the 1960s Dee Dee Sharp, boxing broadcasting legend and Ali’s friend Jim Lampley, biographer Thomas Hauser as well as veteran sports writers such as Robert Lipsyte and Jerry Izenberg.” This is Cassius Clay’s spiritual and intellectual transformation fueled in part by his American experiences. You’ll want to box out some time to watch this fascinating saga.
Tuesday, February 21
Babylon (Anytime / Paramount+)
Babylon follows an ambitious cast of characters – the silent film superstar (Brad Pitt), the young starlet (Margot Robbie), the production executive (Diego Calva), the musical sensation (Jovan Adepo) and the alluring powerhouse performer (Li Jun Li) – who are striving to stay on top of the raucous 1920s Hollywood scene and maintain their relevance at a time when the industry is moving on to the next best thing.
SAMMY SUGGESTION: SMILE (ANYTIME / PRIME VIDEO-US)
After witnessing a bizarre, traumatic incident involving a patient, Dr. Rose Cotter starts experiencing frightening occurrences that she can’t explain. Rose must confront her troubling past in order to survive and escape her horrifying new reality.
Some scary news that’ll make you Smile…the recent horror movie directed by Parker Finn is now streaming on Paramount+. And now also on…on Prime Video-Us.
Wednesday, February 22
Mr. A & Mr. M: The Story of A&M Records (Anytime / Crave)
The four-part docuseries sheds new light on the infamous 1958 Charles Starkweather and Caril Ann Fugate murder case, in which the teenage couple was charged and convicted of brutally killing 11 victims at random.
SAMMY SUGGESTION: THE FALL: SEASONS 1-3 (ANYTIME / CBC GEM)
The psychological thriller examines the lives of two hunters — one is a serial killer who preys on victims in and around Belfast, Northern Ireland, and the other is a female detective drafted from the London Metropolitan Police to catch him.
Welcome to Northern Ireland where Gillian Anderson as Detective Superintendent Stella Gibson is on the case of a serial killer. The RTÉ/BBC production is now streaming in Canada (it aired on Bravo Canada for a bit. And for Americans this was on Tubi.). The three series aired over there from 2013 to 2016, 17 episodes in total. Much like Fincher’s classic Zodiac wasn’t about the killer really…it was the emotional damage the killer caused to journalists, police officers and everyone else in that grim orbit. This is a British police procedural with dark repercussions. Plus when Gillian Anderson is opening strange files; searching for the truth…that’s usually X-cellent TV.
Thursday, February 23
Bel-Air: Season 2 (Anytime / Peacock)
Season two picks up with Will at a crossroads in his life as a new figure comes into his life who challenges what he’s learned in Bel-Air and competes for control of his influence. Programming Note: The Canadian Broadcast Premiere is March 20 on Showcase.
SAMMY SUGGESTION: RAP TRAP: HIP-HOP ON TRIAL (ANYTIME / HULU)
Explores use of lyrics in criminal case against hip-hop stars Young Thug and Gunna.
This is fascinating and disturbing at the same time…this ABC News Studios documentary explores historical mischaracterizations of hip-hop. On May 9, 2022 Young Thug and Gunna were arrested in Atlanta after being named in a 56-count gang indictment. Basically conspiracy to violate the state’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act or RICO. The indictment cited multiple song lyrics as evidence. What? True enough it worked…they went to jail. Can you use rap lyrics in a trial to convict a rapper?? Umm, like what about the First Amendment? Is this racism or getting dangerous individuals off the street? Fire up this doc to see Yo! MTV Raps…crime unfold.
Friday, February 24
The Reluctant Traveler: Season 1 (Anytime / Apple TV+)
The eight-episode globe-trotting travel series hosted and executive produced by Eugene Levy is another Goop For Guys TV show. Levy visits some of the world’s most beautiful and intriguing destinations, experiencing thrilling local adventures with new friends.
SAMMY SUGGESTION: DIE HART: THE MOVIE (ANYTIME / PRIME VIDEO)
Die Hart follows a fictionalised version of Kevin Hart as he tries to become a serious action movie star.
Remember Quibi? It was a short form platform so rather than watch Kevin Hart’s Die Hart in one shot as you do a regular movie it was chopped up into 10 shorter chapters, sorta like a mini-season 1. Well Quibi died, most of their content was rebranded as Roku Originals after the network bought em up and here we are: this Kevin Hart movie has been stitched together as 1 full movie for Prime Video. Kevin Hart – playing a version of himself – is on a death-defying quest to become an action star. And with a little help from John Travolta he’s on his way. Production has begun on Die Hart 2: Die Harter (Season 2-ish) and that’ll be on Roku soon. Programming Note: Enjoy another Quibi movie that was sown back together and surfaced on Prime Video…Most Dangerous Game with Non-Thor Hemsworth. That may still be floating about on the streamer.
Saturday, February 25
The Weeknd: Live at SoFi Stadium (8:00 p.m / HBO Max)
In front of a sold-out crowd in Los Angeles, The Weeknd brings fans up-close with a special intimate concert performance.
SAMMY SUGGESTION: THE CONSULTANT: SEASON 1 (ANYTIME / PRIME VIDEO)
No one is who they seem in Sharper, a neo-noir thriller of secrets and lies, set amongst New York City’s bedrooms, barrooms and boardrooms.
At a hospital it’s not good if Annie Wilkes is your nurse. Similarly Christoph Waltz is the Annie Wilkes of the tech industry. If you’ve read Bentley Little’s novel (same name) Waltz was brought in to improve the business at the app-based gaming company CompWare. Only some workers are curious about The Consultant. Perhaps his murder-life balance is off? It appears so. What is happening and who is in charge are never static. Office Space meets Misery? You can watch all 8 episodes as this is a binge drop…unless you hand in your resignation letter halfway through the season.
Sunday, February 26
LIV Golf – Mexico (1 p.m. / The CW)
Beginning with the first LIV Golf tournament on February 24-26 at Mayakoba in Mexico, The CW will air all 14 global events starting at 1:00 p.m. with Friday rounds airing exclusively on The CW App. Today is the final round of LIV Golf’s first TV broadcast, history, kids.
SAMMY SUGGESTION: THE CIRCUS: SEASON 8 (8 P.M. / SHOWTIME & CRAVE)
Hosts John Heilemann, Mark McKinnon and Jennifer Palmieri pull back the curtain on this extraordinarily fractured and volatile moment for American democracy.
Yo…The Circus is back! One of my favourite non-fiction TV shows. It deftly covers upcoming elections and current American politics through smart analysis and minimal commentary. Super helpful…a tight 30 minute summation is all I want: I’ve no interest in CNN’s 4 hour analysis of a President Trump tweet, zero interest in stiff Twitter snark…just break down the American political week for 30 minutes and I’m smart enough to get it. The hosts of The Circus continue to explore the fractures in the American political landscape, despite a Trump-less administration. The oddest part of electing Biden is the flawed premise of going back to normal. There’s no such thing as “back to normal.” Celebrating dude’s inauguration as normal is like closing a wedding with “and they lived happily ever after.” What? How? So if we can’t go “back” to normal, how do we go ahead? This is Must See TV.
Sammy Younan is the affable host of My Summer Lair: think NPR’s Fresh Air meets Kevin Smith: interviews & impressions on Pop Culture.