From the Smiths to the Kings from Queens this week’s #SetTheVCR covers the Greatest Night In Pop. And if music isn’t your jam than no worries, lots of funtastic TV recommendations.
Monday, January 29
Badland Hunters (Anytime / Netflix)
After a major earthquake, Seoul, South Korea, transforms into an apocalyptic wasteland where everything from civilization to law and order has collapsed. A dystopian action movie should be a Hallmark section.
SAMMY SUGGESTION: THE GREATEST NIGHT IN POP (ANYTIME / NETFLIX)
On a January night in 1985, music’s biggest stars gathered to record We Are the World. This documentary goes behind the scenes of the historic event.
We Are the World > Do They Know It’s Christmas? Easily.
Tuesday, January 30
The Last Repair Shop (Anytime / Disney+)
Once commonplace in the United States, today Los Angeles is by far the largest and one of the last American cities to provide free and freely repaired musical instruments to its public schoolchildren, a continuous service since 1959.
SAMMY SUGGESTION: MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – DEAD RECKONING (ANYTIME / PARAMOUNT+)
Ethan Hunt and the IMF team must track down a terrifying new weapon that threatens all of humanity if it falls into the wrong hands. With control of the future and the fate of the world at stake, a deadly race around the globe begins.
Ethan Hunt and his amazing friends have returned. This is the seventh Mission: Impossible movie so you know the deal by now. The standard stop a terrifying new weapon that threatens all of humanity before it falls into the wrong hands deal. Tom Cruise will dangle or jump or fall. Enjoy the cool scene with a train on this one. The eighth Mission: Impossible movie arrives on May 23, 2025.
Wednesday, January 31
Alexander: The Making of A God (Anytime / Netflix)
A six part docudrama series that reveals the extraordinary life of Alexander the Great through expert interviews and gripping reenactments combine to reveal Alexander the Great’s burning desire to conquer the world.
SAMMY SUGGESTION: EXPATS: LIMITED SERIES (ANYTIME / PRIME VIDEO)
Set against the vibrant and tumultuous tapestry of 2014 Hong Kong, Expats centers on three American women – Margaret, Hilary, and Mercy – whose lives intersect after a sudden family tragedy.
Is this Lost in Translation? Not exactly…the Prime Video description is all vague talking about poor decisions, a terrible accident, shared secrets…and because this is all set in Hong Kong political unrest. I’ve never read the novel this is all based on The Expatriates by Janice Y.K. Lee so I dunno what’s going on. I do recognize this comes out shortly before Tokyo Vice Season 2 on HBO Max so expect to spend TV time in China and Japan which are not your typical TV settings. Always fun when you can travel by TV.
Thursday, February 01
Shattered Glass: A WNBPA Story (Anytime / Tubi)
Shattered Glass explores professional women’s basketball, spotlighting the lives, resilience and achievements of a few WNBA players: Jonquel Jones, Nneka Ogwumike, and Breanna Stewart, as well as Sheryl Swoopes. From intense off-season routines to the intricacies of family dynamics to navigating the politics of women’s sports, this documentary offers viewers a rare, all-encompassing look at the athletes as holistic individuals. Executive Producer Jessica McCourt said to me: “Try it…we hope you’ll like it.”
SAMMY SUGGESTION: KINGS FROM QUEENS: THE RUN DMC STORY (ANYTIME / PEACOCK)
The never-been-told story of the influential rap group: Run DMC have earned a Last Dance.
A pop culture two-fer: Kick off Black History Month and continue to celebrate #HipHop50. I’m reminded of the My Summer Lair conversation I had with DMC: MC lost his voice and had to rediscover who he is. It’s one of my favourite MSL conversations because it’s just two dudes sitting around talking about comic books and old school hip hop. And yet there’s so much vulnerability and openness and reflection. This is a story about comic books and about New York City and rap when it was derided as crap and how big things start real small. This is the story about Kings from Queens. Programming Note: You can enjoy Michael Rapaport’s 2011 documentary Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest also added to Peacock today.
Friday, February 02
The Tourist: Season 1 (Anytime / Netflix)
When a man wakes up in the Australian outback with no memory, he must use the few clues he has to discover his identity before his past. Season 2 will be available to stream on February 29.
SAMMY SUGGESTION: MR. & MRS. SMITH: SEASON 1 (ANYTIME / PRIME VIDEO)
A reimagining of the 2005 film: In this version, two lonely strangers land jobs working for a mysterious spy agency that offers them a glorious life of espionage, wealth, world travel, and a dream brownstone in Manhattan.
Series Premiere: In an open letter, the co-creator and showrunner Francesca Sloane wrote “While we asked questions, so did the internet trolls. Once we were announced, we saw the comment, “Who needs this show?” We didn’t blame them. In a culture heavily inundated with remakes, this was a reasonable reaction. No one would need a show that retold the same blockbuster movie. But what we set out to do was to make something wholly original.” Is it though? Her comments were clearly aimed at me. And I stand by em. Today we’ll all see what the Smiths are up to. (Excellent British pop band…)
Saturday, February 03
Jeff Dunham: I’m With Cupid (8 p.m. / Comedy Central)
With Valentine’s Day just around the corner and love in the air at Comedy Central, Dunham is back for his 11th standup special. Bushwhacking their way through the topics of love, relationships, and all-things-Valentines are Dunham and his beloved dummy cohorts Walter, Bubba J, Peanut, Jose Jalapeño “on a steek!”, and the suspiciously familiar ‘new’ guy, “Achamedes, Greek god of KEELER LOVE.”
SAMMY SUGGESTION: ORION AND THE DARK (ANYTIME / NETFLIX)
A boy with an active imagination faces his fears on an unforgettable journey through the night with his new friend: a giant, smiling creature named Dark.
Saturday Morning Cartoons: Charlie Kaufman has written an animated children’s movie. Orion and the Dark is based on the book of the same name by Emma Yarlett. The TV Guide description is fantastic: “Orion is a ball of adolescent anxiety, completely consumed by irrational fears of bees, dogs, the ocean, cell phone waves, murderous gutter clowns, and even falling off a cliff. But of all his fears, the thing he’s the most afraid of is what he confronts on a nightly basis: the dark. So when the literal embodiment of his worst fear pays a visit, Dark whisks Orion away on a roller coaster ride around the world to prove there is nothing to be afraid of in the night. As the unlikely pair grow closer, Orion must decide if he can learn to accept the unknown –– stop letting fear control his life and finally embrace the joy of living.” Alright this sounds fun and it’s not to Pixar-y. Plus…ah the Dark can be scary.
Sunday, February 04
Don’t be mad he’s leaving, be mad he stayed so long. 10 final episodes this is the last season.
SAMMY SUGGESTION: CHRISTOPHER NOLAN COLLECTION (ANYTIME / PEACOCK)
A Christopher Nolan Memento from Peacock.
Peacock will be streaming Oppenheimer on February 16. As such since February 1st Peacock is also streaming the following Christopher Nolan-directed films: Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises, Dunkirk, Inception and Memento. Dunkirk is terrible and The Dark Knight Rises is fatally flawed. However Inception is a masterpiece…you’ll find it’s deep movie with many layers. Hah. Programming Note: Tenet is returning to movie theaters for a week in IMAX 70mm and on other large-format screens on February 23rd. It’s a Nolan month.
Sammy Younan is the affable host of My Summer Lair: think NPR’s Fresh Air meets Kevin Smith: interviews & impressions on Pop Culture.