This week’s #SetTheVCR is Based on a True Story. Lots of TV recommendations that’ll guide you through the Wilderness but do look out for a sudden Swarm or even a comedic Wolf.
Monday, September 11
Spy Ops (Anytime / Netflix)
In this intense true crime docuseries, intelligence operatives from MI6 to the CIA share insider stories of spy craft, Cold War campaigns, and coups carried out by covert agents.
SAMMY SUGGESTION: BASED ON A TRUE STORY: SEASON 1 (9 P.M. / W NETWORK)
A dark comedic thriller, the series is about a realtor, a former tennis star and a plumber who seize a unique opportunity to capitalize on America’s obsession with true crime.
I’m not entirely certain how different this is from Hulu’s outstanding Only Murders In The Building. Kaley Cuoco’s passion is true crime, pretty basic…so when she realizes that plumber-turned-family friend Matt is the serial killer behind a string of unsolved murders in LA, she recognizes a podcast opportunity. See? Echoes of Only Murders. What started out as a domestic comedy quickly escalates to blackmailing Matt into co-creating a podcast about his “work.” Of course as all True Crime fans know…serial killers are all about the narrative. And those who have the creative control to spin that narrative. Especially if it’s Based on a True Story. Programming Note: This comedy thriller TV series premiered on Peacock on June 8, 2023.
Tuesday, September 12
Welcome to Wrexham: Season 2 (10 p.m. / FX)
Welcome to Wrexham is a docuseries tracking the dreams and worries of Wrexham, a working-class town in North Wales, UK, as two Hollywood stars take ownership of the town’s historic yet struggling football club. Something tasty to tide you over until the next season of Ted Lasso.
SAMMY SUGGESTION: THE SWARM (9:00 P.M. / THE CW)
A deadly pathogen spreads into the drinking water. Across the globe, lives are increasingly imperiled, the situation worsening by the day – and yet, nobody can draw a connection between the seemingly random attacks.
This eight-part series about an unknown enemy that lives deep below the sea launched in Germany earlier this year (it premiered on ZDF! German TBS?). A group of scientists have identified an intelligent life force, dwelling in the deep—capable of manipulating the ocean. So Namor? When the Ocean fights back…can humans survive? Like most environmental problems…only a handful of people truly understand what is happening yet that knowledge traps them as they struggle to figure out how to effectively solve this unsolvable problem. I rather enjoyed Season 1 of Prime Video’s The Rig…I hope The Swarm’s terror matches that. Programming Note: Speaking of Prime Video…Swarm (no The) is a Prime Video TV series co-created by Donald Glover. It premiered on March 17. THE Swarm is based on Frank Schätzing’s bestselling novel and airs on The CW today. It’s a Swarm of stupidity and laziness with these TV show names. We’re still in the golden era of TV?!
Wednesday, September 13
The Morning Show: Season 3 (Anytime / Apple TV+)
The stakes are high as the future of the network is thrown into question and loyalties are pushed to the brink when a tech titan takes an interest in UBA. Unexpected alliances form, private truths are weaponized and everyone is forced to confront their core values both in and out of the newsroom. (Yeah I dunno what any of that means either.)
SAMMY SUGGESTION: MICHELLE WOLF: IT’S GREAT TO BE HERE (ANYTIME / NETFLIX)
Comedian Michelle Wolf wryly riffs on nude beaches, the gross things men like and the serial killer gender gap in this three-part stand-up special.
Two confessions to start this recommendation. First…her 2019 stand-up special Michelle Wolf: Joke Show was just okay. Not terrible, not amazing just….middle of the road okay. I’m not a Michelle Wolf fan but I’m not a hater either. My second confession is…she was endearing in Dave Chappelle’s Untitled 2021 documentary. Wolf along with many other comics performed COVID friendly shows in Dave’s Yellow Springs, Ohio community during the pandemic. There’s fresh scenes where he is mentoring her, encouraging her and basically supporting her comedy dreams. So I’m watching these specials (plural) to see if Dave’s investment has paid off. Yes…specials…this is also why I’m recommending It’s Great To Be Here because it’s a different comedy format. Instead of the classic 1 hour special Wolf has created 3 half-hour episodes (all of them stream today): New Neighborhood, All Struggles Matter+ Me Too and News To Me + All Beautiful. Alright…let’s see where we go and if it’s Great To Be Here.
Thursday, September 14
Marvel Studios’ Assembled: The Making of the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (Anytime / Disney+)
Join visionary director James Gunn and superstars such as Chris Pratt and Zoe Saldaña as they recount how Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 was conceived, shaped, and delivered to the world. Programming Note: Marvel Studios’ Assembled: The Making of Secret Invasion premieres Wednesday, September 20.
SAMMY SUGGESTION: REVIVAL69: THE CONCERT THAT ROCKED THE WORLD (ANYTIME / CRAVE)
A young concert promoter launches a festival in 1969 to revive the kings of rock ‘n’ roll and present new bands. John Lennon’s performance with the Plastic Ono Band triggers him to leave the Beatles.
The Toronto Rock and Roll Revival was a one-day, twelve-hour music festival held in Toronto (at Varsity Stadium, at the University of Toronto) on September 13, 1969. It was such a strange un-Woodstock like lineup: Bo Diddley, Chicago, Junior Walker and the All Stars, Alice Cooper, Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, John Lennon, Yoko Ono, and Eric Clapton as the Plastic Ono Band and The Doors. (The Doors closed the show…Jim Morrison would be “dead” by 1971.) So…what happened? A classic mixture of behind-the-scenes footage with never-before-seen original performances plus the standard interviews. Conversations with musicians including Alice Cooper, Robbie Krieger (The Doors), Alan White (Yes), Geddy Lee (Rush), Danny Seraphine (Chicago). Heh…69, dude!
Friday, September 15
The End of Sex (Anytime / Paramount+)
A couple feeling the pressures of parenting and adulthood, send their kids to winter camp for the first time and embark on a series of sexual adventures to reinvigorate their relationship. Rawr!
SAMMY SUGGESTION: FAST X (ANYTIME / PEACOCK)
Dom Toretto and his family are targeted by the vengeful son of drug kingpin Hernan Reyes.
You’re either in or you’re out. S’it. Me? Team Ruckus Reporting for Duty…I saw Fast X at the cinema. I’d need to watch Fast X again but the Letty/Cipher fight was a weird distraction. The scene dragged and didn’t resolve much by the end of it. This 10th movie wasn’t as tight as it shoulda been. (Truly this entry wasn’t as sharp or as tight as previous Fast and the Furious movies…we’re “family” so I can speak honestly…I paid for these movies, got this violent franchise to 10. So I’m still in; let’s finish this. Mash up those cars, mash em up good! I hope with the 10.5 that follows this they stick the landing…) Yes this is the first part of a a two-part finale planned since October 2020, though with the Hollywood strike we’ll most likely see the second part in 2025.
Saturday, September 16
Holy Batman Day!
Batman debuted in Detective Comics #27 back in May 1939. Celebrations for DC’s Batman will once again span the globe as fans celebrate the World’s Greatest Detective, and the over 80 years of Dark Knight storytelling. Celebrate The Dark Knight with a can’t miss lineup of movie and TV marathons, exclusive comic books, digital collectibles, clothing items and so much more.
SAMMY SUGGESTION: WILDERNESS: LIMITED SERIES (ANYTIME / PRIME VIDEO)
How far would you go to get revenge on the person who ripped out your heart?
Jenna Coleman’s always fun but just don’t treat her like a “companion” and leave her alone in the Wilderness. She’s half of a happily ever after married couple. Or rather she was…now she’s learned about her husband’s affair. Well nothing repairs a broken marriage like a Grand Canyon road trip! For the husband…it’s a chance to make amends. For Jenna…it’s a chance to make revenge. Your classic accidents happen all the time. Dial R for Revenge.
Sunday, September 17
Psycho: The Lost Tapes of Ed Gein (Anytime / MGM+)
For years, filmmakers, journalists, and scholars have tried to unravel the mind of this notorious killer, and with new reveals and never-before-heard recordings, viewers will be transported to late-1950s Middle America and submerged in Gein’s perverse mind. Something terrifying to tide you over until the next season of Mindhunter.
Supernatural horror, based on the eponymous online phenomenon, a ritual conducted in an elevator, in which players attempt to travel to another dimension using a set of rules that can be found online.
I watch horror movies all year round but there is something seasonally special about watching horror movies as we creep into Fall. A September Shudder highlight is Rebekah McKendry’s Elevator Game. I dig this intersection of horror and technology (but nothing corny like an “evil app.”). The Elevator Game is a ritual conducted in…well an elevator, in which players attempt to travel to another dimension using a set of rules that can be found online. Tonight we all get to meet…The 5th Floor Woman. Oh…we’re so going down…
Sammy Younan is the affable host of My Summer Lair: think NPR’s Fresh Air meets Kevin Smith: interviews & impressions on Pop Culture.