New Year: New TV Recommendations. Shall we get all into it?
Sunday, January 3
The Simpsons: Season 32 (8 p.m. / Fox)
The longest running animated TV show in history, Homer and Marge Simpson raise Bart, Lisa and baby Maggie in Springfield, where eccentric residents make everyday life interesting.
Sammy Suggestion: Jimmy Carter: Rock & Roll President (9 p.m. / CNN)
From the gospel sung in local Georgia churches, to the country music he could pick up on his childhood radio, to the Bob Dylan lyrics that set him apart as a politician, “Rock & Roll President” plays like a virtual soundtrack to Carter’s life story.
One of the oddest reasons to elect Barack Obama was because he was “just like us.” He too has Jay-Z on his iPod. Err sure. Obama was the 44th President; however before him and his rap filled iPod there was the 39th President Jimmy Carter and his unique relationship to music. According to the media release: President Carter “formed lifelong bonds with artists Willie Nelson, the Allman Brothers, Rosanne Cash, Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin, Nile Rodgers, and many, many others. Director Mary Wharton’s engaging film explores how President Carter’s deep love of all forms of music has been both a feature and an asset for his storied life and career.” Many of whom you’ll see in this documentary. Music has uplifted dissent voices (anything by Bob Dylan); shared bold often tragic American experiences (Springsteen’s Atlantic City) so it’ll be fascinating to see how music has shaped Carter’s Presidency. After all the primary job of the President is to listen. But listen to who?
Monday, January 4
Welcome Discovery+ to the streaming party! It launches today.
A Woman’s Work: The NFL’s Cheerleader Problem (10 p.m. / PBS)
A Woman’s Work” sheds light on the continued fight to end the gender pay gap prevalent throughout the National Football League, chronicling the journeys of cheerleaders from the Raiders and the Bills, each of whom put their careers on the line to take legal action and fight for fair pay.
Sammy Suggestion: Jeopardy! (7:30 p.m. / CBS)
Welcome to Jeopardy!, home of America’s Favorite Quiz Show®.
The end of an era. Alex Trebek’s final Jeopardy! episodes will begin tonight. The first of the five episodes will start with Trebek’s “powerful message about the season of giving.” The final episode, on Friday, will conclude with a tribute to the longtime and beloved host. He died of pancreatic cancer on November 8, 2020 at age 80. A permanent host has yet to be announced, though I don’t envy that person. I saw the Bulls play after Jordan and Pippen departed and it was awful. It’s a lot to live up to; a burdensome legacy yet I suppose the show must go on.
Tuesday, January 5
History of Swear Words: A Docuseries (Anytime / Netflix)
Nicolas Cage hosts this proudly profane, funny and engagingly educational series about the history and impact of the most notorious English swear words.
Sammy Suggestion: The Proof Is Out There: Season 1 (10 p.m. / History Channel)
Host Tony Harris investigates alleged videos, photos and audio recordings of giant beasts, UFOs, alleged mutants from the deep, and other mysterious phenomenon.
“Featuring clips of found footage, still images and audio recordings sourced from private citizens and government agencies, The Proof Is Out There uses the latest technology, rigorous authentication techniques, and cutting-edge analytic processes to separate the fantastic from the fraudulent.” I mean considering the proliferation of smart phones you’d think we would have seen a clear UFO video by now; maybe the Loch Ness Monster but nooooo: all we get on IG is photos of avocado toast. Thanks for nothing! Make “look up a lot” a 2021 resolution.
Wednesday, January 6
Surviving Death (Anytime / Netflix)
What happens after we die? This docuseries explores personal stories and research on near-death experiences, reincarnation and paranormal phenomena.
Sammy Suggestion: Tony Parker: The Final Shot (Anytime / Netflix)
This film examines the background and career of Tony Parker, whose determination led him to become arguably the greatest French basketball player.
“If I can’t be Tony Parker anymore and I can’t play for a championship, I don’t want to play basketball anymore.” That was how Tony Parker signed off after 18 seasons in the NBA. Parker, who is French, was drafted 28th by the San Antonio Spurs in the 2001 NBA draft. He would form a championship nucleus with Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, and coach Gregg Popovich and win 4 championships. Not bad for an international player huh? This Netflix documentary should neatly cap his career and his contributions; turns out international players can become popular in a playground influenced league. I can’t find an English trailer so I hope the documentary is an English…or at least subtitled? I may be Canadian but my French is not that good.
Thursday, January 7
Pieces of a Woman (Anytime / Netflix)
A heartbreaking home birth leaves a woman grappling with the profound emotional fallout, isolated from her partner and family by a chasm of grief.
Sammy Suggestion: Escape Room (Anytime / Netflix (Canada))
A birthday celebration among friends in an escape room takes a terrifying turn when the clues that lead to the exit door become increasingly deadly.
In 2015 some friends and I were unable to escape an escape room…we failed! However: I did open a combination lock by listening to the tumblers though. Just like the movies. Speaking of the movies plural…the 2019 Escape Room surfaces on Netflix. This is the 2019 movie with Deborah Ann Woll (which was oddly compelling. Escape Room 2 is coming soon. Can’t wait! Originally Escape Room 2 was slated for April 17, 2020 but ah…you know how that turned out. It was later scheduled for December 30 but I doubt it materialized.). PSA: the 2017 movie also called Escape Room is like The Game meets Saw with none of the charm or intelligence of either movie…it’s Nerve for Millennials. It should be avoided at all costs. As for the good Escape Room: it’s 6 rooms with 6 strangers which means 6 secrets. It’s a surprisingly engaging movie for such a disposable concept.
Friday, January 8
Herself (Anytime / Amazon Prime)
Single-mother Sandra (Clare Dunne) escapes her abusive partner with her two young children, only to find herself trapped in temporary accommodation. After months of struggling, she decides to self-build an affordable home, but rebuilding a life from the ground up cannot be done alone.
Marvel Studios: Legends (Anytime / Disney+)
As the Marvel Cinematic Universe continues to expand, Marvel Studios: Legends celebrates and codifies what has come before.
Sammy Suggestion: Pretend It’s a City (Anytime / Netflix)
Wander the New York City streets and fascinating mind of wry writer, humorist and raconteur Fran Lebowitz as she sits down with Martin Scorsese.
Oh! Martin Scorsese & Fran Lebowitz: Return…This Time It’s Personal. I hope. We haven’t see this dynamic duo since 2010’s Public Speaking…yeah? Is this a rare documentary sequel? Dope. Fran takes us on tour of the Mean Streets of New York City. Of the many gangsters Scorsese has given us Fran Lebowitz is one of my favs.
Saturday, January 9
Sammy Suggestion: The King of Staten Island (8 p.m. / HBO)
The King of Staten Island is the latest movie from 40 Year-Old Virgin and Trainwreck director Judd Apatow, starring SNL’s Pete Davidson as a man trying to cope with his mom dating a new fireman after his fire-fighter father died.
The return of the slacker! We’ve haven’t gotten a solid slacker movie who is all Dazed and Confused for a while now. These ah…Mallrats are trapped on Staten Island led by SNL’s Pete Davidson. (Kinda echoes SNL’s Mike Myers whose famous film slacker is Wayne Campbell. Though that movie has way more heart than King.) This debuted on Crave in Canada on January 1st.
Sammy Younan is the affable host of My Summer Lair: think NPR’s Fresh Air meets Kevin Smith: interviews & impressions on Pop Culture.