Ark you excited for another #SetTheVCR? Train your Watchful Eye on these fresh recommendations that’ll make you Stand and cheer.
Monday, January 30
Frank Lloyd Wright: The Man Who Built America (Anytime / Acorn TV)
Frank Lloyd Wright is America’s greatest ever architect. But few people know about the Welsh roots that shaped his life and world-famous buildings.
SAMMY SUGGESTION: THE WATCHFUL EYE: SEASON 1 (9 P.M. & 10 P.M. / FREEFORM)
Elena Santos is a young woman with a complicated past, maneuvering her way into working as a live-in nanny for an affluent family in Manhattan. She quickly learns that everyone in the mysterious building has deadly secrets and ulterior motives.
Series Premiere: A Hitchcockian Rear Window all set in the same building this time: The Greybourne in Manhattan. After a woman’s mysterious death (is there any other kind?) her aunt enlists the live-in nanny for the affluent family who may have had something to do with the young woman’s death to investigate. So basically the aunt turned her into a Nanny-Cam?? As the ah…Nanny-Cam conducts her investigation she learns…of course everyone in the freaky building has deadly secrets and ulterior motives (is there any other kind?). This is a serious Only Murders In The Building. Programming Note: two back-to-back episodes tonight; streams the next day on Hulu.
Tuesday, January 31
Pamela: A Love Story (Anytime / Netflix)
In her own words, through personal video and diaries, Pamela Anderson shares the story of her rise to fame, rocky romances and infamous sex tape scandal.
SAMMY SUGGESTION: FIGHT THE POWER: HOW HIP HOP CHANGED THE WORLD (9 P.M. / PBS)
A four-part docuseries with Chuck D explores four decades of Hip Hop History featuring interviews with Ice-T, Fat Joe, Run DMC, John Forté, Lupe Fiasco, B-Real, MC Lyte and more!
“Rap music is the CNN of the ghetto,” so says Chuck D. Produced in partnership with BBC Music this is another hip hop origin story; though this four part docuseries is set against the backdrop of American history. Which is exactly what you would expect from Chuck D. As an expression of the street rap music allowed people to safely visit neighbourhoods that are not even safe in the day. You could hear first hand experiences, street testimonies, compelling truths the six o’clock news was unable or unwilling to share. Rap is all about expression. By looking back…the medium is celebrating its 50th anniversary…may this be an inspiration for rap’s next 50 years.
Wednesday, February 01
Schoolhouse Rock! 50th Anniversary Singalong (8 p.m. / ABC)
ABC is taking viewers to school to gather and enjoy classic Schoolhouse Rock! hits that are as educational as they are catchy, all in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the beloved series. This special will stream the next day on Hulu and at a later date on Disney+.
SAMMY SUGGESTION: THE ARK: SEASON 1
(10 P.M. / SYFY (US) & CTV SCI-FI (CANADA))
Created by Dean Devlin, The Ark takes place 100 years in the future when planetary colonization missions have begun as a necessity to help secure the survival of the human race.
Series Premiere: Ark One is the Godspeed Little Doodle of the human race. The 12 episode sci-fi show is set “100 years in the future when planetary colonization missions have begun as a necessity to help secure the survival of the human race.” Only a year away from reaching the target planet Ark One suffers catastrophic damage. Nothing disrupts a road trip like a passenger who has to pee…right now! This is a harrowing tale of human race survival. To far from home and not close enough to safety…The Ark is adrift and only Noah can relate. Programming Note: A weekly release with episodes streaming the next day on Peacock.
Thursday, February 02
Dionne Warwick: Don’t Make Me Over (Anytime / HBO Max)
The CNN Films documentary follows the life and career of Dionne Warwick.
SAMMY SUGGESTION: BLACK PANTHER: WAKANDA FOREVER (ANYTIME / DISNEY+)
The people of Wakanda fight to protect their home from intervening world powers as they mourn the death of King T’Challa.
The 30th Marvel Cinematic Universe movie comes to Disney+. With Chadwick Boseman’s real life death, it’s time for a new Black Panther. Shuri steps up as the new Black Panther; no surprise if you’ve read the Marvel comics. The movie also introduces Riri Williams who’ll be the focus in the upcoming Disney+ series Ironheart. And Namor makes his MCU debut. This movie mercifully closes the much maligned Phase Four of the MCU often criticized for being rudderless and stale. On February 17, 2023 Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania kicks off Phase 5 branded as The Multiverse Saga with Kang the Conqueror replacing Thanos as The Big Heavy. It appears to be a return of earlier compelling arcs. For now; why not visit Wakanda? Programming Note: Marvel Studios’ Assembled: The Making Of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever will stream on Disney+ on Wednesday, February 08.
Friday, February 03
We Are Not Alone (Anytime / The Roku Channel)
This UK comedy is set six weeks after the Gu’un aliens have invaded and completely conquered Earth. What happened to Doctor Who?
SAMMY SUGGESTION: STAND (9 p.m. / Showtime)
The raw and unflinching documentary details Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf’s unprecedented journey from schoolboy prodigy to NBA All-Rookie team to national pariah.
This is a hard documentary for me to watch; I lived through all this nonsense. Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf was born Chris Jackson. Just like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar who was previously known as Lewis Alcindor. Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf was a fantastic NBA player whose time in the league was cut short because he began protesting the national anthem in 1996. It’s notable that at the same time SuperSonics’ Sam Perkins, a Jehovah’s Witness, also protested the national anthem. And yet he didn’t receive death threats or have his house burned down like Abdul-Rauf. We go through these cycles of shooting the messenger, emotionally reacting to what they’re saying rather than you know…listening. Everybody who bullied Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf were loud wrong and over time his Stand has been proven to be correct.
Saturday, February 04
Tár (Anytime / Peacock)
Set in the international world of Western classical music, the film centers on Lydia Tár, widely considered one of the greatest living composer-conductors and the very first female director of a major German orchestra.
SAMMY SUGGESTION: Dear Edward: Season 1 (Anytime / Apple TV+)
In the wake of a tragic plane crash, a group of strangers comes together to learn there is life after loss.
Based on the best-seller by Ann Napolitano, 12-year-old Edward Adler is the sole survivor on a flight. A commercial plane crash that kills every other passenger on the flight — including his family. Oh Dear…Edward tries to rebuild his life without his family, he’ll find connections in unlikely places. Often with others who have been affected by this unlikely tragedy. Taylor Schilling plays Edward’s aunt Lacey, who takes him in, while Britton portrays DeDe, a woman who befriends Lacey in a support group after losing her husband in the crash. Seems Apple TV+ is poised to have a strong TV 2023; they’ll be showing more often in #SetTheVCR.
Sunday, February 05
God’s Country (Anytime / AMC+)
When a college professor confronts two hunters she catches trespassing on her property, she’s drawn into an escalating battle of wills with catastrophic consequences.
SAMMY SUGGESTION: 30 FOR 30: BULLIES OF BALTIMORE (8:30 P.M. / ESPN)
Directed by Ken Rodgers and Jason Weber, the documentary is a lively and colorful look back at the team’s magical season framed by a reunion of its key figures filmed in front of a live audience in Baltimore in May 2022.
Co-director and NFL Films Senior Producer Jason Weber says this about the 2000 Ravens: “In making this film, we decided the best way to highlight these incredible personalities was to bring them together for a reunion. Being on stage together, just a month before Tony Siragusa passed away, gave them an opportunity to celebrate their glory days in the perfect setting. There was a reason these Ravens were the first team selected for Hard Knocks – they’re a team made for the screen and the stage.” One Last Dance with an iconic football team that has now been eliminated from the current NFL playoffs.
Sammy Younan is the affable host of My Summer Lair: think NPR’s Fresh Air meets Kevin Smith: interviews & impressions on Pop Culture.