This week’s #SetTheVCR is the stuff of Nightmares. From an American civil war to what Putin is doing, to a March Madness top seed’s unexpected exit to losing Ana de Armas there’s lots of terrifying visions. Oh good: let’s get started then!
Monday, March 14
Blade Runner: Black Lotus Season 1 (Anytime / HBO Max)
Animated series that takes place 17 years before ‘Blade Runner 2049’. Just admit you’re in.
SAMMY SUGGESTION: Blink (Anytime / YouTube)
Emma, a blind violinist who had recently undergone a revolutionary surgery, joins with a police detective to track a serial killer after she was an inadvertent witness to his latest crime.
Sony Pictures’ genre label Screen Gems has launched Scream Gems a horror movie initiative. Scream Gems is “an initiative to identify up-and-coming director talent and develop high concept horror films through proof of concepts. The first short film to be greenlit under the initiative is Blink, directed and co-written by Spenser Cohen.” Oh, cool right? The first short Blink premiered at SXSW on March 13 and was then uploaded to YouTube; see below. “After being violently pushed from a window, Mary wakes up in the hospital, almost completely paralyzed. Trapped inside the prison of her own body, Mary’s only way to communicate is by blinking her eyes. She tries to warn the nurse that a sinister, inhuman force is trying to kill her.” Hmmm. What do you think? Would you want to see a full length feature?
Tuesday, March 15
Frontline: Putin’s Road to War (9 p.m. / PBS)
FRONTLINE tells the story of what led to Vladimir Putin’s war on Ukraine. Veteran filmmaker Michael Kirk and his team examine the events that shaped the Russian leader, the grievances that drive him and how a growing conflict with the West exploded into war in Europe.
SAMMY SUGGESTION: NCAA March Madness: First Four (6:30 p.m. / truTV)
The complete television and streaming schedule for how to watch 2022 March Madness
Selection Sunday was this past Sunday, now we’re shifting attention towards the on court action. The 2022 men’s NCAA March Madness tournament starts tonight with First Four games in Dayton, Ohio and continues through to the 2022 Final Four in New Orleans on April 2nd. The First Four is a play-in round to determine which teams earn the four lowest-seeded bids in the tournament; games will be on tonight and tomorrow. As you’ll recall: “VCU was the only team to have made the Final Four from the First Four until 2021, when the UCLA Bruins…lost in overtime to No. 1 overall seed and then-undefeated Gonzaga.” So even the lowest-seeded teams can surprise you; that’s the beauty of confidence. Nobody has a monopoly on it and you need as much as you can muster to survive March Madness. This season I don’t see any clear winners though the usual gangs look good: Butler, Gonzaga etc. And of course this will conclude Coach K’s epic run. Sadly Duke is a strong team I just don’t believe they have enough to get to the end. Though even if they fail Coach K has had many brilliant One Shining Moments. Let the Madness begin!
Wednesday, March 16
MCU Netflix TV Shows (Anytime / Disney+)
We got Matt Murdock in Spider-Man: Far From Home. And now we’re getting the Netflix series’ on Disney+. Does this mean that Disney and Marvel finally recognize the OG Netflix series canon???
SAMMY SUGGESTION: Nightmare Alley (Anytime / Disney+ Canada)
An ambitious carny with a talent for manipulating people with a few well-chosen words hooks up with a female psychiatrist who is even more dangerous than he is.
Based on the box office receipts you probably haven’t seen Guillermo del Toro’s latest. “When charismatic but down-on-his-luck Stanton Carlisle (Bradley Cooper) endears himself to clairvoyant Zeena (Toni Collette) and her has-been mentalist husband Pete (David Strathairn) at a traveling carnival, he crafts a golden ticket to success, using this newly acquired knowledge to grift the wealthy elite of 1940s New York society.” This is a del Toro movie so expect an ominous mood in a creepy setting and Ron Perlman to naturally appear. (Please Note: this is the colour version; cinemas featured a black-and-white version subtitled Vision in Darkness and Light. Not sure if/when that’ll arrive on any streamers.)
Thursday, March 17
A follow-up series to ‘Star Trek: Next Generation’ centering on Captain Jean-Luc Picard in the next chapter of his life.
Starring Rosario Dawson, DMZ centers around a civil war that breaks out in a futuristic America where Manhattan becomes a demilitarized zone.
So I never read Brian Wood’s DMZ comics; published via Vertigo…72 issues from 2005 to 2012. Are you down with the DMZ? Ya you know me! “In the near future, America is embroiled in a bitter civil war, leaving Manhattan a demilitarized zone (DMZSo I never read Brian Wood’s DMZ comics; published via Vertigo…72 issues running from 2005 to 2012. Are you down with the DMZ? Ya you know me! “In the near future, America is embroiled in a bitter civil war, leaving Manhattan a demilitarized zone (DMZ), destroyed and isolated from the rest of the world.” And “caught between forces of the United States of America and secessionist Free States of America” is a mother seeking her son in the DMZ. Over 4 episodes we got gangs, militias, demagogues and warlords. All four episodes of this limited series will be out today; the first episode is directed by Ava DuVernay however the remaining 3 are directed by the esteemed Ernest Dickerson. Oh. He’s fantastic.
Friday, March 18
Dune: Part One (Anytime / Crave)
A gifted young man must travel to the most dangerous planet in the universe to ensure the future of his family and his people. As malevolent forces explode into conflict over a precious resource, only those who can conquer their fear will survive.
SAMMY SUGGESTION: Deep Water (Anytime / Hulu & Prime Video Canada)
A psychological thriller that takes us inside the marriage of picture-perfect Vic (Ben Affleck) and Melinda (Ana de Armas) Van Allen to discover the dangerous mind games they play and what happens to the people that get caught up in them.
Based on the celebrated novel by famed mystery writer Patricia Highsmith (The Talented Mr. Ripley) Deep Water is about…eh whatever. Look you’re gonna see it. Ana de Armas is hot, Ben Affleck is hot and it’s an erotic psychological thriller which is code for the film’s budget wasn’t spent on clothing for the actors. Even if you ain’t gonna admit it at parties you’re still gonna watch this because culturally you’ll be in hot water if you miss Deep Water.
Saturday, March 19
The Game (Anytime / Prime Video Canada)
Financial genius and coldhearted loner Nicholas receives an unusual birthday present – a gift certificate to play a unique kind of game formulated by the mysterious Consumer Recreation Services.
MINX is a raunchy and witty new comedy series set in the wild and glamorous backdrop of 1970s Los Angeles. A well-meaning yet overly judgmental feminist writer joins forces with a low-rent publisher to create the first erotic magazine for women.
“In the 1970s, Joyce (Ophelia Lovibond) is a young feminist from Los Angeles who creates an unlikely bond with editor Doug (Jake Johnson) as they set out to create the first women’s erotic magazine.” HBO Max went back to the 70s again as they did with Winning Time?? What a strange trend. This ten-episode Max Original comedy offers two new episodes debuting each week through April 14. I mean Jake Johnson being Jake Johnson…that’s what you pay admission for right?
Sunday, March 20
An Audience with Adele (9:00 p.m. / NBC)
“One of the biggest artists of all time, Adele Adkins performs at the London Palladium in front of an audience of family, friends, fans and celebrities in an unforgettable night of music.”
SAMMY SUGGESTION: The Circus: Inside the Greatest Political Show on Earth: Season 7 (8 p.m. / Showtime & Crave)
THE CIRCUS returns for a 7th season. This documentary series pulls back the curtain on the Trump era of presidential politics, revealing the stories behind the headlines.
Last week The Circus included a scintillating interview with Ambassador Mark Brzezinski about the Ukraine vs Putin Battle Royale. This week the focus on that topic continues with an interview with the Estonian Prime Minister as well as balancing classic American politics. The other half of The Circus crew is working in America specifically New York City and Washington. Your weekly erudite civics lesson is about to begin.
Sammy Younan is the affable host of My Summer Lair: think NPR’s Fresh Air meets Kevin Smith: interviews & impressions on Pop Culture.