Having lived through The Cola Wars how are you enjoying The Streamer Wars? The latest shot is via Disney+ which this week adds STAR, their Adult Section. Sadly it’s not behind a beaded curtain. But that’s not all that’s on TV.
Monday, February 22
Independent Lens: “Mr. SOUL!” (10/9c PM / PBS)
Righteous! The documentary Mr. SOUL! on Independent Lens remembers Ellis Haizlip, host of a nationally syndicated 1960s-70s variety show whose guests included Black luminaries like Stevie Wonder, Cicely Tyson, James Baldwin and Muhammad Ali.
Sammy Suggestion: The Sit-In: Harry Belafonte hosts the Tonight Show (Anytime / Crave)
In early 1968, as riots rock American cities and the Vietnam War escalates, the legendary entertainer and activist Harry Belafonte takes over “The Tonight Show” for one week. With a guest list that includes Bobby Kennedy, Aretha Franklin, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Sidney Poitier, Belafonte introduces a fractured, changing country to itself for five historic nights.
I never expected this to come to Canada. One of Peacock’s original programs when they launched it all seemed so…in-house? Anyways I’m happy to report it’s here and I cannot wait to make a seriously serious tea. “For one week in February 1968, Johnny Carson gave up his chair to Harry Belafonte, the first time an African-American had hosted a late night TV show for a whole week.” I revere Johnny Carson and his astonishing work on The Tonight Show. This week with Harry Belafonte is part of Carson’s legacy; so happy happy to see it acknowledged.
Tuesday, February 23
Pelé (Anytime / Netflix)
The Brazilian soccer legend, considered by many to be the greatest player of all time, is saluted in the sports documentary “Pelé.”
After years of facing supervillains, monsters and alien invaders, the world’s most famous superhero, The Man of Steel aka Clark Kent and comic books’ famed journalist Lois Lane come face to face with one of their greatest challenges ever — dealing with being working parents in today’s society.
Immediately following the premiere, The CW takes fans behind the scenes with the brand-new special SUPERMAN & LOIS: LEGACY OF HOPE. The special features sneak peeks and interviews from the cast and executive producers of the new series, plus special guests discussing the legacy of the Man of Steel.
Sammy Suggestion: Dealer’s Choice!! (Anytime / Disney+ Star)
STAR is a hub within the Disney+ streaming service for television and film content intended for an adult audience.
On April 13, 2020 Disney endured a plethora of legit criticisms for their Splash “think of the children” edit. On Disney Plus they chose to CGI edit the Tom Hanks movie so when Daryl Hannah his mermaid girlfriend runs off into the ocean instead of seeing her butt they literally gave her hair extensions to cover it up. No butts about it: that was a lousy life choice and created an uneasy tension with the audience (it’s one thing for George Lucas to continually CGI tinker with Star Wars it’s another for a studio to blindly alter the vision of a creator out of a misguided morality.). Well today Disney Plus adds Star with all kinds of wonderfully Rated R movies and more. We got 4 Alien movies, Deadpool and Die Hards to TV shows like all the Marvel Hulu shows to the Orville and much more. (Even Hill Street Blues…no way that holds up!). Original programming includes Love, Victor (a Love, Simon spin-off) and Helstrom (which was canceled on December 14, 2020.). Do these offerings make Disney Plus a Super Star Streamer? Or will it deepen their uneasy relationship with morality?
Wednesday, February 24
Ginny & Georgia: Season 1 (Anytime / Netflix)
Free-spirited Georgia and her two kids, Ginny and Austin, move north in search of a fresh start but find that the road to new beginnings can be bumpy.
Sammy Suggestion: Age of Samurai: Battle for Japan (Anytime / Netflix)
Dynamic reenactments and expert commentaries bring to life the tumultuous history and power struggles of a warring 16th-century feudal Japan.
And now a mid-week trip to feudal Japan. Age of Samurai produced in part by Smithsonian Canada is an attempt to be educationally and historically accurate in depicting this violent yet honourable era in Japan’s history. Over 6 episodes a handful of actors (you’ll recognize some faces…from The Wolverine, Altered Carbon, 47 Ronin, Heroes Reborn) will play the villains and warlords attempting to become Japan’s absolute ruler. Yes: this includes Masamune Date (head of the Date Clan and aka One-Eyed Dragon!) who was the inspiration for Darth Vader’s helmet/design. While Japanese history is fascinating (and gory) a lot of our pop culture is rooted in this ancient time period. So this is an enchanting two-fer. Learn about them to learn about us.
Thursday, February 25
Jimmy Carter: Rock & Roll President (Anytime / HBO Max)
JIMMY CARTER, ROCK & ROLL PRESIDENT charts the forgotten story of how Carter, a lover of all types of music, forged a bond with musicians Willie Nelson, the Allman Brothers, Bob Dylan and others.
Sammy Suggestion: Spaceship Earth (Anytime / Prime Video Canada)
A look at the group of people who built the Biosphere 2, a giant replica of the earth’s ecosystem, in 1991.
Is it possible to have culture without a cult? Every now and then we’ll run into a documentary and go: how do people live like this? None of us fully appreciate or grasp just what’s out there and how not everyone lives and works the “exact” same way. “Spaceship Earth is the true, stranger-than-fiction, adventure of eight visionaries who in 1991 spent two years quarantined inside of a self-engineered replica of Earth’s ecosystem called BIOSPHERE 2.” Was this science or science fiction? A dream or dreamers? Only one way to find out.
Friday, February 26
Billie Eilish: The World’s a Little Blurry (Anytime / Apple TV+)
Take a deeply intimate look at extraordinary teenager Billie Eilish. Award-winning filmmaker R.J. Cutler follows her journey on the road, onstage, and at home with her family as the writing and recording of her debut album changes her life.
Sammy Suggestion: Irresistible (Anytime / Crave)
A Democratic political consultant helps a retired Marine colonel run for mayor in a small Wisconsin town.
Jon Stewart’s follow up to Rosewater is pretty much what you expect from the former host of The Daily Show. “A Democratic strategist helps a retired veteran run for mayor in a small, conservative Midwest town.” It’s like a political version of Mamet’s State and Main. Americans can laugh at the political antics as well since this was added to HBO Max on February 6.
Saturday, February 27
Sammy Suggestion: John Lewis: Good Trouble (Anytime / Netflix (Canada))
The life of John Lewis is celebrated in this documentary that follows his journey from civil rights activist to United States Representative.
The latest CNN Films documentary has magically appeared on Netflix (Canada). The 2020 documentary John Lewis: Good Trouble salutes the late Georgia congressman and lion of the civil rights movement. (If that isn’t appealing Netflix Canada has 2 other CNN Films: RBG (on Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg) and Apollo 11 (a sublime documentary on the Moon Landing.). All 3 docs are worth the time investment.
Sunday, February 28
Sammy Suggestion: The Simpsons (8/7c pm / 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.
Did you get the memo? Milton from Office Space is gonna be the guest voice on The Simpsons. Yes Stephen Root. This episode should be “fire.” And help prevent a case of the Mondays.
Sammy Younan is the affable host of My Summer Lair: think NPR’s Fresh Air meets Kevin Smith: interviews & impressions on Pop Culture.