And for this week’s #SetTeVCR I present a Legion of Documentaries for your viewing pleasure.
Monday, January 17
NBA’s MLK Day Slate (starting at noon on various TV channels)
Everything you need to know for MLK Day’s 12-game slate, including 4 nationally-televised matchups.
Sammy Suggestion: MLK/FBI (Anytime / Netflix Canada)
This documentary details how the FBI secretly wiretapped and harassed civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. from 1963 until his death in 1968.
The premise is simple yet frightening: “Based on newly declassified files, Sam Pollard’s resonant film explores the US government’s surveillance and harassment of Martin Luther King, Jr.” We complain about social media’s penchant for misinformation and disinformation yet what about state-sanctioned surveillance? The FBI file has become my standard; lots of people talk a lot, hashtag a lot but if the FBI is opening a file on you: you’re officially dangerous. So much for “civil” rights. Happy MLK Day 2022?
Tuesday, January 18
Commando (Anytime / Hulu)
Snappy punch lines and explosive action highlight the tale of a retired special ops military man forced back into the violent world of political intrigue when his daughter is kidnapped. Arnold’s classic COMMANDO has been added to Hulu. You’ll want to “log” some time with this action classic, see?
Sammy Suggestion: Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched: A History of Folk Horror (Anytime / Shudder)
Explore the rural roots, occult creeds and cultural lore that continue to shape international cinema. From writer/director/co-producer Kier-La Janisse comes “a seductive mega-text” (Indiewire) through the history of folk horror, featuring clips from over 200 films and interviews with more than 50 filmmakers, authors and scholars.
In this Shudder exclusive explore “the history of folk horror, featuring clips from over 200 films and interviews with more than 50 filmmakers, authors and scholars that explore the rural roots, occult creeds and cultural lore that continue to shape international cinema.” I so dig and appreciate this growing “new” genre of horror documentaries. And this timely reminder to not go into the woods.
Wednesday, January 19
The Book Of Boba Fett: Chapter 4 (Anytime / Disney+)
No longer just a hired gun, Boba Fett reinvents himself on Tatooine alongside Fennec Shand.
Sammy Suggestion: Legion: Seasons 1-3 (Anytime / Disney+ Canada)
David Haller is a troubled young man diagnosed as schizophrenic, but after a strange encounter, he discovers special powers that will change his life forever.
Legion was an X-Men related television show created for FX by Noah Hawley; based on the Marvel Comics character David Haller / Legion. Produced in association with Marvel Television, Legion ran for three seasons from 2017 to 2019. David Haller was diagnosed with schizophrenia at a young age but…his mental illness is not exactly what it seems. Something sinister lurks in the shadows. This is the “hair-rising” world of the X-Men right? I never watched it back when it was on the air; now it’s been added to Disney+ Canada today (along with a number of FX shows such as Hip Hop Uncovered a docuseries and What We Do in the Shadows. Atlanta and Baskets, two other popular FX shows, will be added on January 26.).
Thursday, January 20
Sundance Film Festival opens today.
The 2022 Sundance Film Festival will take place ONLINE ONLY, Jan 20th through Jan 30th. So if you want to watch some Sundance at home – with no pants – you can do so starting today. Be classy yet comfortable.
Sammy Suggestion: The Center Seat: 55 Years of Star Trek (Anytime / Crave)
The Center Seat: 55 Years Of Star Trek is a multi-episode documentary series that takes viewers on the definitive in-depth journey behind the scenes of one of the greatest landmark franchises of all time: Star Trek.
The ten-part docuseries debuted on Friday, November 5 for Americans; while for Canadians via Crave it aired on November 18. In comics the debate is often do you read/buy the monthlies or wait for the trade? What about with TV shows? Do you wait for the whole season or do you watch weekly? Well today the 10th and final episode of The Center Seat has been added to Crave; if like me you’ve been patiently waiting for all of em like a thick and tasty trade. For background History Channel celebrated Star Trek’s 55th year with this ten-part documentary series. What were the fateful creative decisions that led to 55 years? How do you build something significant from a quickly cancelled 60s TV show that lasted only 79 episodes? All these questions and more were explored. Everybody is in this. Do I hafta add something like set your phasers to fun?! (Please Note: American viewers can enjoy the entire docuseries on History Vault the network’s subscription video service.)
Friday, January 21
Servant: Season 3 (Anytime / Apple TV+)
From M. Night Shyamalan, SERVANT follows a Philadelphia couple in mourning after an unspeakable tragedy creates a rift in their marriage and opens the door for a mysterious force to enter their home.
Sammy Suggestion: Talk It Out/Feelings Friday >> (10PM & 11PM / HBO Max)
Bill Maher hosts this live one-hour talk series that features an opening monologue, ’roundtable discussions with Maher and a guest forum, segments with other special guests, and Maher’s ‘New Rules’ segment that exposes society’s most absurd habits and institutions.
28-time Emmy®-winner and legendary broadcaster Bob Costas returns to HBO for this series. Each new edition features in-depth interviews with the biggest names in sports, entertainment and popular culture, along with roundtable discussions and Costas’ signature commentaries that capture his distinctive voice and point of view.
Legendary broadcaster Bob Costas returns for a second season of Back on the Record. The sports themed talk show “will be driven by in-depth interviews with the biggest names in sports, entertainment, and popular culture, and discussions led by Costas that will address today’s most topical sports issues.” While before Bob legendary TV host Bill Maher returns for a twentieth season of Real Time . The political theme talk show “will be driven by in-depth interviews with the biggest names in politics, entertainment, and popular culture, and discussions led by Maher that will address today’s most topical political issues.” So choose…one or both and talk it out. Welcome to Feelings Friday on HBO.
Saturday, January 22
As We See It: Season 1 (Anytime / Prime Video)
Finding love, making friends, getting a job, adulting. Watch as three roommates on the autism spectrum navigate their early 20s with all its joy, tears and laughter. From the Emmy award winning Jason Katims (Parenthood, Friday Night Lights) comes the new series As We See It, launching January 21st, only on Prime Video.
Sammy Suggestion: Slugfest: Docuseries (Anytime / The Roku Channel)
A chronicle of the growth of comic books as a new American art form, following the rise of Marvel and DC Comics that went on to become publishing and Hollywood powerhouses.
“This is a story about innovation.” That’s the opening of the introduction in Reed Tucker’s book Slugfest: Inside the Epic, 50-year Battle Between Marvel and DC. Ah the classic Marvel vs DC battles. Just recently in 2017 it was “BIG News” that Brian Michael Bendis defected to DC after years of Marvel comics. In the same fashion as Jack Kirby though back then that was truly seen as a defection. That Kirby story and more is recounted in Tucker’s excellent book; highly recommended reading. However if as in English class you haven’t read the book that’s fine watch the ten-part docuseries narrated by Kevin Smith and exec produced by the Russo Brothers. Each episode includes a history of the rivalry via interviews and re-enactments. And yes lots of famous and familiar folks are in this. Like a sports rivalry DC vs Marvel made each other better: a simple example is Marvel’s self-contained comic book universe (we see that in the MCU as well where everything and everyone is connected.) This was designed as a reaction to DC’s messy solo-approach: Superman first met Batman in 1952…yet he was created in 1938 and Batman showed up in 1939. That seems silly now after everything we’ve read. (Slugfest was originally a Quibi documentary but it never aired before the streamer was shut down; thankfully it’s now rebranded as an Roku Originals documentary.)
Sunday, January 23
Fanny: The Right to Rock (Anytime / Crave)
The story of a Filipina American garage band that morphed into the ferocious rock group Fanny, which almost became the female version of the Beatles.
Sammy Suggestion: Sex Appeal (Anytime / Hulu)
Avery Hansen-White doesn’t do things she isn’t excellent at. So when her long-distance boyfriend hints at wanting to take their relationship to the next level at the upcoming STEM conference (“nerd prom”), she sets out to master her sexuality.
Since today is National Pie Day I suppose you could go back and watch American Pie! Or how about some new filthy fun? A high school super dork hasn’t gotten laid; basically on her busy To Do List she never put “You” on it. So she’s getting her education on…and she ain’t leavin’ till six in the mornin’. Of course in school as in life you can be book smart and/or street smart so…her “study results in the realization that there’s more to sex, and live, than mechanics.” Oh that’s so bootyiful.
Sammy Younan is the affable host of My Summer Lair: think NPR’s Fresh Air meets Kevin Smith: interviews & impressions on Pop Culture.