This week TV Recommendations recognize MLK and much more mystery and murder. It’s a dark week for #SetTheVCR with many detectives on the case.
Monday, January 15
I Am Martin Luther King Jr. (8:00 p.m. / The CW)
A documentary on the life and legacy of legendary statesman, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. that tells the story and celebrates the life of this American icon from an engaging contemporary perspective structed around seminal events of the Civil Rights Movement.
SAMMY SUGGESTION: MLK/FBI (TODAY / AMC+)
This documentary details how the FBI secretly wiretapped and harassed civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. from 1963 until his death in 1968.
The premise is simple yet frightening: “Based on newly declassified files, Sam Pollard’s resonant film explores the US government’s surveillance and harassment of Martin Luther King, Jr.” We complain about social media’s penchant for misinformation and disinformation yet what about state-sanctioned surveillance? The FBI file has become my standard; lots of people talk a lot, hashtag a lot but if the FBI is opening a file on you: you’re officially dangerous. So much for “civil” rights. Happy MLK Day 2024?
Tuesday, January 16
June (Anytime / Paramount+)
June is a feature-length documentary that explores singer/songwriter June Carter Cash’s life and career through rare and never-before-seen archival material and interviews with family, admirers, and friends, including Dolly Parton, Reese Witherspoon, and Willie Nelson.
SAMMY SUGGESTION: DUMB MONEY (ANYTIME / PRIME VIDEO – CANADA)
David vs. Goliath tale about everyday people who flipped the script on Wall Street and got rich by turning GameStop (the video game store) into the world’s hottest company.
I appreciate this GameStop feature is called Dumb Money. That’s exactly what it is. Doesn’t matter how much it is, dumb money is still dumb money. This wasn’t a Reddit Rebellion: it’s a financial reboot of Jackass. Investors investing in stupidity praying to their patron saint Steve-O that they don’t get hit in the balls. Anyone can and should invest in the free market but this current anti-intellectual trend is freedumb. Stupidity is always popular but it doesn’t hafta be fashionable. Notice how the description reads: “David vs. Goliath?” Being dumb isn’t noble. In January 2021, a short squeeze resulted in a 1,500% increase in GameStop’s share price over the course of two weeks, reaching an all-time intraday high of over US $500.00. It was all coordinated via Reddit. This is that story…appreciably entitled as Dumb Money.
Wednesday, January 17
American Nightmare (Anytime / Netflix)
True Crime? After a home invasion and abduction, a young couple’s recounting of the events is too far fetched for the police to believe. Why did the victims seem so calm? Was it all a hoax? From the filmmakers behind The Tinder Swindler, this three-part docuseries unravels the consequences of our cultural rush to judgment, and the damage done when law enforcement decides the truth can’t possibly be true.
SAMMY SUGGESTION: DEATH AND OTHER DETAILS (ANYTIME / HULU & DISNEY+ CANADA)
Centers on the brilliant and restless Imogene Scott, who finds herself in the wrong place/wrong time and becomes the prime suspect in a locked room murder mystery. The setting? A lavishly restored Mediterranean ocean liner.
Series Premiere: When Steven Seagal’s epic Under Siege opened in cinemas in 1992; 4 years after Die Hard it was branded as “Die Hard on a boat.” Well Death and Other Details follows 2019’s Knives Out. So…this is Knives Out on a boat. Replace detective Daniel Craig with detective Mandy Patinkin. His primary suspect is Violett Beane who swears she is innocent. If she is…then who committed murder? It’s a boat so all the suspects are right there. And did they use a candle stick or a lead pipe? No Clue. Shall we investigate this 10 episode series? Programming Note: This has a strange release schedule. Now streaming with the first two episodes, then one episode weekly, and finally a two-episode finale on March 5, 2024.
Thursday, January 18
From Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, the supernatural adventure series follows a preacher who enlists the help of a vampire and his ex to find God.
SAMMY SUGGESTION: VIGIL SEASON 2: LIMITED SERIES (ANYTIME / CRAVE VIA STARZ)
In a brand-new investigation, Amy Silva and Kirsten Longacre look to the skies as they enter the secret world of drone warfare to catch a killer.
Limited Series Premiere: Vigil (and Line of Duty) were BBC’s highest-rated crime drama in 2021. Vigil no doubt for offering a unique premise: the 6-part series is a police procedural of a homicide on a British nuclear submarine. Oh. Fresh. That’s not your everyday mystery. The death on the HMS Vigil was “classified” as an accidental overdose but of course…nothing is what it seems. The investigation runs on parallel tracks…one cop is embedded in the nuclear submarine still on active duty and the other is on land following up leads. If you’ve enjoyed shows like Bodyguard these are the terrific tension types of shows BBC excels at. That was then; this is now. Series 2 ran on BBC from December 10 to 19, 2023. Here’s the description: “When a prototype Air Force combat drone is compromised and kills several soldiers during a joint demonstration in Scotland, Silva’s team are tasked with finding the perpetrator. She travels to joint Al-Shawka Air Base in the fictional Kingdom of Wudyan, a controversial ally in the Persian Gulf, and discovers a wider conspiracy intertwined with current regime’s collaboration with the British government and private enterprise on drone development.” Again: fresh. That’s not your everyday mystery. This is both a second season and a limited series. The British are so dope when it comes to TV. Programming Note: Peacock will binge drop this on Thursday, February 15th.
Friday, January 19
Bill Maher offer his unique perspective on contemporary issues, the show continues with its opening monologue, one-on-one interviews with notable guests, roundtable discussions with panelists, and its signature New Rules.
SAMMY SUGGESTION: KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON (ANYTIME / APPLE TV+)
Based on David Grann’s book of the same name, Killers of the Flower Moon is set in 1920s Oklahoma and depicts the serial murder of members of the oil-wealthy Osage Nation, a string of brutal crimes that came to be known as the Reign of Terror.
Martin Scorsese’s latest. That’s it. That’s the entire hook. The only valid reason to push play. Scorsese is 81 years old so I’m not sure how much longer he’ll be working or he’ll be with us. (Hopefully he finally releases the SCTV documentary he’s promised Netflix.) So enjoy his craft while he’s here; for as long as we have him.
Saturday, January 20
NFL Divisional Playoff Games (4:30 p.m. & 8:15 p.m.)
More NFL Playoffs following the shocking Wildcard Weekend: today’s doubleheader is Texans vs Ravens in Baltimore that’s at 4:30 p.m. on ABC/ESPN. Followed by Packers at 49ers in San Francisco at 8:15 p.m. on Fox. Sunday also features a Divisional Round doubleheader: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Detroit Lions 3 p.m. on NBC and Kansas City Chiefs at Buffalo Bills at 6:30 p.m. on CBS. By the end of Sunday the Super Bowl picture will start to become more clear.
SAMMY SUGGESTION: THE WOMAN IN THE WALL: LIMITED SERIES (ANYTIME / PARAMOUNT+)
The series centers on Lorna Brady (Ruth Wilson), a woman from the small, fictional Irish town of Kilkinure, who wakes one morning to find a corpse in her house.
Limited Series Premiere: Well that sucks to wake up with a corpse in her bed. Classically Lorna Brady (Wilson) has no idea who the dead woman is or if she is responsible for the murder. Dum Dum Dum. Complicating matters is Detective Colman Akande is on Lorna’s tail for a crime seemingly unrelated to the body she has discovered in her house. Obviously there’s secrets here…the kind that certain people don’t want held up to the light. Also the title is weird…what does The Woman In The Wall mean? 6 episodes; set in Ireland and there’s a nameless corpse. And we’re off!
Sunday, January 21
Sight Unseen: Season 1 (10:00 p.m. / CTV)
Series Premiere: A top homicide detective who is forced to quit the job she loves after nearly killing her partner and being diagnosed as clinically blind. Reluctant to accept help, Tess uses an assistance app and connects with Sunny Patel (Agam Darshi), a professional seeing-eye guide and an agoraphobe living 3,000 miles away. After losing her vision, Tess is haunted by the unsolved cases she left behind. Programming Note: Actress Agam Darshi recently said to me this will be on The CW in 2024 in the Spring.
SAMMY SUGGESTION: THE MAN WHO STOLE EINSTEIN’S BRAIN (ANYTIME / CBC GEM)
A doctor steals the brain from Albert Einstein’s corpse sure it will reveal the roots of genius, but it upends his life like a relic cursed.
An Oppenheimer post-script! Ready for this? “Upon Einstein’s death in April 1955, Dr. Thomas Stoltz Harvey, the chief pathologist at Princeton Hospital, conducted the autopsy. While the family prepared for the body’s burial, Harvey covertly maneuvered to keep the esteemed physicist’s brain, hoping research could reveal the secrets to its brilliance and bring him acclaim.” Seriously? Can you even…absorb or even soak up Einstein’s intelligence…like that? Or once he’s dead…that’s it? There’s rumours of Hitler’s brain floating around as well. Docs like these have an obligation to separate fact from fiction. The problem is that…fact can sometimes be wilder than fiction. Truth is wild sometimes. Programming Note: You can check out Einstein and the Bomb a BBC Studios docu-drama which will use archived footage and dramatizations of Albert Einstein’s life and his scientific work’s impact on the world. That’ll be on Netflix on February 19th, 2024.
Sammy Younan is the affable host of My Summer Lair: think NPR’s Fresh Air meets Kevin Smith: interviews & impressions on Pop Culture.