We’re wrapping up November and easing in December. You know what that means right? Indeed. So to help here’s some non-Christmas #SetTheVCR selections for this week. You’re welcome!!
Monday, November 28
Happy Happy Joy Joy: The Ren & Stimpy Story (Anytime / Tubi-Canada)
A documentary that explores the rise and fall of The Ren & Stimpy Show (1991) and its controversial creator, John Kricfalusi.
SAMMY SUGGESTION: THE MAKING OF ROCKY VS. DRAGO: KEEP PUNCHING (ANYTIME / PRIME VIDEO – US & YOUTUBE)
Filmed by Stallone’s close friend John Herzfeld, work alongside Stallone as he creates his brand new director’s cut of Rocky IV.
The 90 minute version is on YouTube (see video below) as part of Stallone’s channel while the 60 minute version for I guess MGM Studios is now streaming on Prime in the US. This documentary directed by John Herzfeld goes behind the scenes of the recently released Rocky IV: Rocky vs. Drago – The Ultimate Director’s Cut. Stallone’s pandemic project was recutting Rocky IV. (I’ve yet to see this new cut to understand how it differs from the original we’ve watched and quoted for decades…) It’s weird there’s a popular expression no one wants to see how the sausage is made and yet for filmmaking; we do often do. This isn’t a Rocky documentary so much as it’s a filmmaking documentary. Programming Note: 40 Years of Rocky: The Birth of a Classic (now that is a Rocky documentary) and all 6 Rocky movies will be added to Crave on December 30. Excellent way to either end the year or start a year.
Tuesday, November 29
CMT Crossroads: Robert Plant & Alison Krauss (9 p.m. / CMT)
A special 90-minute presentation and their long-awaited return to CMT Crossroads since 2008.
SAMMY SUGGESTION: ANALOG LOVE (ANYTIME / TUBI)
Do you remember sharing your feelings with someone through a “mix tape?” Analog Love is a joyful look at why this ritual of communication through music still continues to be so meaningful.
When was the last time you made a mixtape? I always felt the pressure of a mixtape was the opening song; ya gotta come out with fire right at the start. A bold opening. Somehow making an playlist just isn’t the same vibe. Interviews this documentary offers: Henry Rollins, Money Mark (Beastie Boys), Kim Shattuck (The Muffs), Jennifer Finch (L7), Jimmy Urine (Mindless Self Indulgence), Chantal Claret, Jude “Rude Jude” Angelini, Zernell Gillie (Grimy!), Mona Lisa Murray, Christian James Hand (The Session) and the usual many more. All of which is makes for a compelling mixtape…that’s all the best movie soundtracks are: mixtapes issued by studios.
Wednesday, November 30
Willow: Season 1 (Anytime / Disney+)
The story began with an aspiring magician from a Nelwyn village and an infant girl destined to unite the realms, who together helped destroy an evil queen and banish the forces of darkness.
SAMMY SUGGESTION: LEGACY: THE TRUE STORY OF THE LA LAKERS (ANYTIME / DISNEY+)
Docuseries chronicles the history of the storied Los Angeles Lakers NBA franchise.
Disney+ Canada’s decision to wait until Americans consumed this docuseries on Hulu is understandable. Even though most Hulu programming here mirrors America’s. The decision though to run a 10 part docuseries weekly was ridiculous and embarrassing. That’s as bad as the current Lakers who stand at 7-11. And the timing is terrible as this docuseries follows Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty a much maligned fictional account of the Showtime Lakers. I often prefer documentaries over biopics; a documentary is forced to be honest. This 10-part documentary series chronicles the shaky ground of the earlier Lakers; pre-Magic it wasn’t a certainty the NBA would last…or like even be around tomorrow. From there right to Kobe and all the famous fans…and famous feuds, trades, overcoming on-court obstacles, the Buss family and yes…winning so many championships it’s all covered. Every sports league has royalty; for MLB it’s the Yankees…for the NBA it’s the Lakers (don’t tell the Celtics I said that!) and this is their epic saga. The Lakers got a Last Dance; this is a slam dunk recommendation. It is now on Disney+ Canada in its entirety. Programming Note: Episode 2 “The Rise” of Shaq’s Last Dance airs today on HBO Max and Crave: “The forming of a new dynasty in Los Angeles, as Shaq reaches the apex of his career.” So that’ll pair well.
Thursday, December 01
Troll (Anytime / Netflix)
Deep in the Dovre mountain, something gigantic wakes up after a thousand years in captivity. The creature destroys everything in its path and quickly approaches Oslo.
Alongside exclusive interviews with Branson himself, the series features his colleagues and employees, as well as insights from both business journalists and industry experts.
Richard Branson got a Last Dance! Branson’s story mirrors Peter Parker’s only without the radioactive spider. Struggling with dyslexia Branson drops outta school and becomes the a 15-year-old publisher of a student magazine. By 22 he’s a millionaire. And yet still a Virgin. (Okay so maybe none of that mirrored Peter Parker.) Interviews will not be with famous folks; rather expect intimate insights from Joan, his wife of 33 years, his sisters, his daughter Holly and son Sam. Programming Note: The four-part docuseries debuts tonight with subsequent episodes dropping Thursdays at 10 p.m.
Take Your Pills: Xanax (Anytime / Netflix)
A cure for some and a curse for others, widely prescribed anti-anxiety medication is examined by patients and experts in this revealing documentary.
SAMMY SUGGESTION: SR. (ANYTIME / NETFLIX)
Like Father. Like Son. Like No Other.
I haven’t seen Robert Downey Sr.’s film work. Have you? Jr. we all know of course; even long before Iron Man. Unfortunately (or fortunately?) Sr.’s unconventionality wasn’t limited to his work; it extended to his family (well families: he was married three times) and how he raised Jr. In the end this isn’t a Hollywood story; this is about a father and a son both of whom have the same name. Especially as Sr. is dying from Parkinson’s disease and now Jr. must be strong…make peace. Like a good boy Avenger.
Saturday, December 03
Irreverent: Season 1 (Anytime / Peacock)
A criminal from Chicago is forced to hide in a small Australian reef town posing as the new church Reverend.
SAMMY SUGGESTION: HOLLYWOOD SUITE: FREE PREVIEW (ANYTIME / HOLLYWOOD SUITE CHANNELS)
Hollywood Suite 70s, 80s, 90s & 00s Movies are on FREE PREVIEW!
Now, this is a holiday tradition I can get into. It’s the annual Hollywood Suite Free Preview for Canadians. This year it runs from December 1 to January 5. Hollywood Suite is a collection of movie channels: one channel is dedicated to the 70s, another to the 80s, 90s, and finally 2000s. All uncut and no edits: swears and sex and satire. All the movies are also On Demand so basically, it’s like having another Netflix…for free! Some of this year’s features include They Live, Network, Hellboy, Wide Awake (M Night), Frantic, Planes, Trains and Automobiles, 48 Hrs., Anaconda…there’s lots more. So yeah check this out…it’s free. I mentioned it’s free yeah?
Sunday, December 04
Slow Horses: Season 2 (Anytime / Apple TV+)
Follows a team of British intelligence agents who serve as a dumping ground department of MI5 due to their career-ending mistakes.
SAMMY SUGGESTION: THREE PINES: SEASON 1 (ANYTIME / PRIME VIDEO)
Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Québec and his team investigate a series of perplexing murders in the mysterious Eastern Townships village of Three Pines.
An adaptation of Louise Penny’s Chief Inspector Armand Gamache novels. Indeed, Penny is a Canadian writer, and this series was all shot in Montreal and rural Quebec. Three Pines is a Quebec village with the classic long-buried secrets. Which’ll now come to the surface following a spate of murders. Alfred Molina is Chief Inspector Armand Gamache is on the case. What will he uncover this Christmas season? I say Christmas season because…a pine tree is a Christmas tree ergo; this is close enough to Christmas. Works for me. Programming Note: This’ll premiere with 2 episodes today; then 2 episodes will be released weekly…8 episodes in total.
Sammy Younan is the affable host of My Summer Lair: think NPR’s Fresh Air meets Kevin Smith: interviews & impressions on Pop Culture.
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