This week’s #SetTheVCR is a fantastic TV tour: from Local comedy, to Irish hospitality to an Essex County visit after seeing Changeland you’ll want to wear comfortable pants. Or no pants…even better!
Monday, March 13
Real Madrid: Until the End (Anytime / Apple TV+)
A three-part series that steps onto the field and, for the first time ever, goes behind the scenes with the iconic football club for a look at their astonishing 2021–2022 season, filled with dramatic come-from-behind victories and no shortage of on-field heroics.
SAMMY SUGGESTION: RUSSELL BRAND: BRANDEMIC (ANYTIME / LOCALS)
A call for freedom, a call for unity, a call for sanity!
You know Russell Brand but you may not know Locals. Locals is a social media platform that enables creators to build their own (local) communities, interact with their followers, and monetize their content without interference or censorship from large tech companies. So like another Patreon, really. And as you may know Louis C.K.’s comedy specials don’t air on Netflix or HBO Max. Rather he shoots them himself and uploads em to his website for his (local) fans to consume. Long-winded way to say that Russell Brand is imitating Louis C.K. and he is self-releasing his comedy special directly to fans and comedy nerds via Locals. (You can enjoy Brand’s previous comedy special from 2018 Re: Birth which is still on Netflix if you don’t want to bother with Locals. Oddly enough this Re:Birth trailer explains how Brand went from Netflix to Locals.)
Tuesday, March 14
Frontline: Age of Easy Money (9 p.m. / PBS)
The role of the Federal Reserve’s “easy money” policies, from the Great Recession to the rise in inflation.
SAMMY SUGGESTION: GRAILS: WHEN SNEAKERS CHANGED THE GAME (ANYTIME / DISNEY+ CANADA)
Profiles entrepreneurs Earl Cooper and Olajuwon Ajanaku, former Morehouse College golf champions who created the lifestyle brand Eastside Golf to promote diversity on the golf course.
This six-part docuseries profiles entrepreneurs and golf champions Earl Cooper and Olajuwon Ajanaku who created the lifestyle brand Eastside Golf to promote diversity on the golf course. Yes; this includes their inspiring Jordan collab; recently launched on November 12, 2022. And…it’s directed by ESPN’s Hannah Storm so that’s an appealing hook. (Storm is a passionate sneakerhead. She’s can kick it like nobody’s business.) The series includes interviews with notable figures such as DJ Khaled, Chris Paul, sports executive Shawn Costner, founder of Stock X, Joseph “Fat Joe” Cartagena, former MLB All-Star pitcher CC Sabathia; among others. So you’ll want to sneak this into your TV watching now that it’s in Canada (this originally aired on Hulu on December 14th). I’m so gonna “kicks” it with this; now that’s finally on Canadian Disney Plus. (I checked this time…)
Wednesday, March 15
Ted Lasso: Season 3 (Anytime / Apple TV+)
In the 12-episode third season of Ted Lasso, the newly-promoted AFC Richmond faces ridicule as media predictions widely peg them as last in the Premier League and Nate, now hailed as the “wonder kid,” has gone to work for Rupert at West Ham United.
SAMMY SUGGESTION: MONEY SHOT: THE PORNHUB STORY (ANYTIME / NETFLIX)
The documentary probes into the allegations of non-consensual material and trafficking on the site, and Pornhub’s crackdown on its own content.
Money Shot: The Pornhub Story is a Netflix documentary that promises to be a gripping (distasteful pun?) and insightful look into one of the most contentious companies in recent years. Obviously it’ll explore the rise of the popular pornographic website Pornhub, as well as their numerous sex-related scandals. Featuring interviews from former employees, industry experts, and even victims of abuse, Money Shot offers a comprehensive consideration at how the site became one of the most visited in the world. While highlighting the darker side of the online sex industry, including allegations of trafficking, exploitation, and revenge porn. All beneficial for the myriad dialogues we’re struggling to thoughtfully articulate…from the impact of pornography on our society to the need for greater accountability in this industry. (And not just to protect women but protect women and men: “I was addicted to porn. I know, billion-dollar industry. Just me. Right? I was addicted to porn.” So says Chris Rock in his 2018 comedy special Tamborine.) Chris Rock is bring into light what is so often shrouded in secrecy and taboo. Money Shot is doing the same work: so: are you…gonna hit it? (distasteful pun?)
Thursday, March 16
Jussie Smollett: Anatomy of a Hoax (Anytime / Fox Nation)
A five-part docuseries about an elaborate plot to perpetrate a staged hate crime on actor Jussie Smollett…is this true crime or just a hoax gone wrong?
SAMMY SUGGESTION: CHANGELAND (ANYTIME / HULU)
While visiting Thailand, two estranged friends realize there’s no rule book for finding purpose and meaning in life. Aww: Group Hug!
The latest project from beloved actor and writer Seth Green is a heartwarming and inspiring journey of self-discovery and adventure. So the opposite of Robot Chicken? Green plays Brandon and his childhood friend is Dan played by Breckin Meyer. Together they’re forced to confront the challenges of their past and present relationships, including Brandon’s crumbling marriage. No…they didn’t go to Europe to find themselves; that’d be so corny. They went to Thailand instead! And like any “good” Hallmark movie through their shared experiences and heartfelt conversations, the two friends begin to rediscover the joy and beauty in life, and learn to embrace new perspectives and opportunities. Welcome to Changeland; where everybody has baggage.
Friday, March 17
Agent Elvis: Season 1 (Anytime / Netflix)
Elvis Presley trades in his jumpsuit for a jet pack when he is covertly inducted into a secret government spy program to battle the dark forces that threaten the country he loves – all while holding down his day job as the King Of Rock And Roll.
SAMMY SUGGESTION: BONO & THE EDGE: A SORT OF HOMECOMING WITH DAVE LETTERMAN (ANYTIME / DISNEY+)
Part concert movie, part travel adventure plus a whole lot of Bono and The Edge, with Dave’s humor throughout.
Ready for a spectacular evening of music, inspiration and Irish hospitality with Bono and The Edge rolling with David Letterman in Dublin? I mean if you’re ever gonna go to Dublin you may as well “see it” on St. Patrick’s Day right? This docu-special is set to coincide with the release of U2’s new-ish album, Songs of Surrender on the same day. 40 re-recorded songs that the band spent the pandemic reinterpreting, writing new lyrics and recording new vocals. Not a greatest hits album and not a new album either: hence “A Sort of” Homecoming. With your standard exclusive interviews, behind-the-scenes footage, and of course memorable performances, this doucu-special is sure to leave you feeling uplifted like…a New Year’s Day.
Saturday, March 18
A bracing drama that introduces a near future where the chaotic effects of climate change have become embedded into our everyday lives. Eight interwoven stories about love, work, faith and family from across the globe will explore the intimate, life-altering choices that must be made when the planet is changing faster than the population.
SAMMY SUGGESTION: LAST LIGHT: LIMITED SERIES (ANYTIME / PRIME VIDEO-CANADA)
Last Light follows a petro-chemist named Andy Nielson who has discovered his worst fears are coming true during a visit to the Middle East as the world’s oil supplies have been cut off.
The best novels or in this case a limited series begin by asking “what if?” Well: petro-chemist Andy Nielsen knows how dependent the world is on oil; if something were to happen to the world’s oil supply, it would set off a chain reaction: transportation would grind to a halt, supplies would cease to be delivered, law enforcement would be overwhelmed. All seems “Lost.” Peacock’s Last Light, is a limited drama series based on the best-selling novel by Alex Scarrow; never read it. But over 5 episodes the expected complete chaos and things unravel as oil goes bad; like milk. That’s the thing with the future: it’s already here. (Saw Last Light when it was released a few months back…starts strong but I dunno about that ending…lemme know what you think, comments are below.)
Sunday, March 19
Lucky Hank is a mid-life crisis tale set at Railton College, told in the first person by William Henry “Hank” Devereaux, Jr. the unlikely chairman of the English department in a badly underfunded college in a working-class American town. Hank’s discontent is rooted in unresolved issues with his father, a mediocre and entitled student body, and in the fact that his department is more savagely divided than the Balkans.
SAMMY SUGGESTION: ESSEX COUNTY: LIMITED SERIES (ANYTIME / CBC GEM)
The loss and loneliness in rural Ontario is offset by the redemption can be found through human connection. That all sounds vague or worse corny but that is so a solid description of Jeff Lemire’s writing.
Ready for a fresh family drama? Welcome to – Essex County, a five-part limited series by the CBC. Set in the heart of rural Ontario, this must-see series follows the lives of three families as they navigate love, loss, and everything in between. If you’ve read the comics you know, Essex County is a deft blend of heart and drama. “The story of four disparate characters linked together through bloodlines. From old Uncle Lou, to young Lester, to Anne the country nurse and Ken, the stoic farmer, the four lead characters ebb and flow into each other’s lives, slowly weaving connections between them that ultimately save and redeem them.” Whether you’re a fan of family sagas, small-town charm, or just great storytelling, this series is one of those that has something for everyone. And if you want to experience more of Essex County’s subtle magic check out Jeff Lemire’s engrossing graphic novel (with the same name) on which this is all based. Highly Recommended Reading.
Sammy Younan is the affable host of My Summer Lair: think NPR’s Fresh Air meets Kevin Smith: interviews & impressions on Pop Culture.