Two Canadians: one esteemed, one disgraced, Al Pacino is hunting Hitler and The Daily Show host is regenerating…kinda. It’s not strange if it’s on TV; it’s #SetTheVCR!
Monday, January 16
The Calling: Season 1 (9 p.m. / Showcase)
Canadian Broadcast Premiere (aired November 10, 2022 on Peacock): The Calling is your classic NYPD TV show; an investigative drama unfolding over 8 episodes. The series tells the story of NYPD Detective Avraham Avraham, whose belief in mankind is his superpower when it comes to uncovering the truth.
SAMMY SUGGESTION: HALLELUJAH: LEONARD COHEN, A JOURNEY, A SONG (ANYTIME / CRAVE)
This feature-length documentary explores the life of singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen as seen through the prism of his internationally renowned hymn, Hallelujah.
Hallelujah another Leonard Cohen documentary! “This feature-length documentary weaves together three creative strands: The songwriter and his times. The song’s dramatic journey from record label reject to chart-topping hit. And moving testimonies from major recording artists for whom Hallelujah has become a personal touchtone.” Indeed if you’re a creative individual this documentary is inspiring for how Cohen crafts his work. And for recognizing the legacy he is going to leave behind (well left behind…he was alive when production on this doc began, he’s been dead since 2016). This is the scintillating origin of the hit song on the Shrek soundtrack. Programming Note: The AGO’s (in Toronto) Leonard Cohen exhibition (on now!) is magnificent. Don your Famous Blue Raincoat and go because Closing Time is in The Future and Hey, That’s No Way to Say Goodbye. Everybody Knows you should go today.
Tuesday, January 17
Truth & Lies (9 p.m. / TVO)
Each episode of Truth & Lies unpacks the fascinating—and often infuriating—details of history’s greatest deceits, from falsifying justifications for war to spreading conspiracy theories to engaging in scandalous corruption. Episode 1: Conspiracy – Conspiracy theories feed on insecurity and have the potential for incredible destruction.
SAMMY SUGGESTION: THE DAILY SHOW (11 P.M. / COMEDY CENTRAL)
The Daily Show unpacks urgent issues in a compelling way, helping audiences make sense of the world around them.
In Doctor Who when an actor’s time as the Doctor is up it prompts a golden regeneration scene. This is the audience’s cue that a new Doctor…with a different fashion style, odd personality quirks is taking over. After 7 years Trevor Noah wrapped up his Daily Show run in early December. It is time for the Comedy Central “Fake News” show host to regenerate yet again as we witnessed with Trevor Noah who followed Jon Stewart. But before a new host with a different fashion style, odd personality quirks sits behind the desk “Comedy Greats and All-Star Correspondents” will kick off the next chapter as Guest Hosts starting tonight. The witty line up includes: Al Franken, Chelsea Handler, D. L. Hughley, John Leguizamo, Hasan Minhaj, Kal Penn, Sarah Silverman, Wanda Sykes, Marlon Wayans who’ll all be joined with classic correspondents and contributors. First up is Leslie Jones tonight. I dunno if he wants the gig but I’m rooting for Roy Wood Jr. to become the new host; he’s outstanding.
Wednesday, January 18
Batman and Superman: Battle of the Super Sons (Anytime / HBO Max)
The 46th installment in the DC Universe Animated Original Movies and the first fully-CGI animated film from DC Entertainment comes to HBO Max today. Yes indeed; based on the popular comic book series Super Sons. (Highly Recommended Reading.)
SAMMY SUGGESTION: THE HUNTERS: SEASON 2 (ANYTIME / PRIME VIDEO)
After an accident derails their exploits in Europe, the Hunters must band back together to hunt down history’s most infamous Nazi, Adolf Hitler, who’s hiding in South America.
The debut season of Hunters followed a diverse band of Nazi hunters including Al Pacino living in 1977 New York City. The Hunters have discovered that hundreds of Nazi officials are living among us and conspiring to create a Fourth Reich in the United States. Replace Eliot Ness with Al Pacino, the Untouchables with Hunters and substitute booze for Nazis and you get this Prime TV show. For this second (and final) season The Nazi is still alive: Hitler. (So…yeah Al Capone.) Though beyond that revelation is Al Pacino nurturing a secret? The entire season is now out; this is a binge release. Programming Note: The Hunters released an official six-episode companion podcast series Chutzpah: Hunters Presents True Stories of Resistance on December 13 if you want to Hunt that down.
Thursday, January 19
The Undeclared War: Season 1 (9 p.m. / Showcase)
Canadian Broadcast Premiere (aired June 30, 2022 on Peacock): Simon Pegg stars in this cyber thriller: You Got Mail meets…Sneakers I guess? Set in 2024, The Undeclared War tracks a leading team of analysts buried in the heart of GCHQ, secretly working to ward off a series of cyber-attacks on the UK in the run up to a general election.
SAMMY SUGGESTION: SICK (ANYTIME / PEACOCK)
As the pandemic steadily brings the world to a halt, Parker and her best friend Miri decide to quarantine at the family lake house alone – or so they think.
Kevin Williamson’s latest…you know the dude who wrote Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer is Sick, now streaming on Peacock. Parker and her best friend Miri decide to quarantine at the family lake house alone…yeah we all know how that is gonna go. Remember the classic Scream opening? Poor Drew Barrymore thought she was all alone in the house…turns out, she wasn’t. So who will survive this movie? Parker or her best friend Miri?
Friday, January 20
HBO Max TV Talk Premieres: Real Time with Bill Maher: Season 21 (10 p.m.)
Game Theory With Bomani Jones: Season 2 (11 p.m. / HBO Max)
Dealer’s Choice: Bill Maher talking politics & Bomani Jones talking sports returns for your Ear Joy.
SAMMY SUGGESTION: AMBULANCE (ANYTIME / CRAVE)
Needing money to cover his wife’s medical bills, a decorated veteran teams up with his adoptive brother to steal $32 million from a Los Angeles bank.
Michael Bay + the biggest bank heist in Los Angeles history: $32 million + their getaway goes spectacularly wrong = Ambulance. That totally adds up.
Saturday, January 21
Amber: The Girl Behind The Alert (Anytime / Peacock)
This is the story of Amber Hagerman, the girl whose abduction and murder inspired the Amber Alert – which has since saved over 1000 kids. Amber’s case remains unsolved.
SAMMY SUGGESTION: SHADOWLAND: DOCUSERIES (9 P.M. & 10 P.M. / HISTORY CHANNEL CANADA)
A shocking wakeup call about the dangerous influence of conspiracy thinking on the functioning of our democracy, as families, friends, and the nation are increasingly being torn apart.
The past September Peacock ran a virtual DocFest featuring 6 documentaries. The first one aired on September 14: a COVID doc on the Diamond Princess cruise ship. Not particularly compelling. However their second documentary in that TV film festival, Shadowland is gripping. Here’s the description: “Shadowland, a deeply immersive six-part docuseries, reveals how conspiracy theories have moved from the margins to the mainstream, exploring how people come to their beliefs, and what makes these theories so alluring. The series is a shocking wakeup call about the dangerous influence of conspiracy thinking on the functioning of our democracy, as families, friends, and the nation are increasingly being torn apart.” Should be much better than Daredevil’s 2010 crossover event Shadowland. Programming Note: all 6 episodes of this docuseries are on Peacock. This is the Canadian Broadcast Premiere with the first two episodes tonight.
Sunday, January 22
Mayor of Kingstown: Season 2 (Anytime / Paramount+)
The series follows the McLusky family, power brokers in Kingstown, Michigan, where the business of incarceration is the only thriving industry. (Godspeed Jeremy Renner)
SAMMY SUGGESTION: OFFSIDE: THE HAROLD BALLARD STORY (8 P.M. / CBC & CBC GEM)
The tragic and true story of the Toronto Make Me Laughs…
Jason Priestley’s pandemic project debuts today on CBC; it had its world premiere at the Whistler Film Festival back in December. Priestley’s documentary focuses on Harold Ballard who owned the Toronto Maple Leafs from 1972 until his death in 1990. Basically? Ballard was a Canadian Donald Sterling who drove the Original Six hockey team into the ground; he fired 13 coaches and six general managers during his reign. He was misogynistic, homophobic and racist all on the record too; though many of his comments with aligned with past societal values. (Documentaries like this are great because they reveal how far we’ve come while underscoring many of the common values we hold today will be super cringey to future generations; thankfully we’ll all be dead.) So those are the basic bio beats of Harold Ballard but who was he really? This is what Priestley will unpack in this decidedly unCanadian heritage minute. Programming Note: The Leafs won their last championship in 1967. Their 48-season drought between championships is currently the longest in the NHL. And yet with an estimated worth of US$1.3 billion, the Leafs are the most valuable franchise in the NHL. So that’s where they are these days.
Sammy Younan is the affable host of My Summer Lair: think NPR’s Fresh Air meets Kevin Smith: interviews & impressions on Pop Culture.