The return of superheroes and the madness of March: this is one “Blockbuster” of a week. Let’s see what we’ve got!
Monday, March 15
Doctor Who: Fury from the Deep (Anytime / AMC+)
The Doctor, Jamie and Victoria find themselves on the east coast of England where a gas refinery is experiencing problems and a sinister heartbeat is throbbing through the pipes.
Sammy Suggestion: The Last Blockbuster (Anytime / Netflix)
This nostalgic documentary reveals the real story of Blockbuster’s demise, and how one last location in Oregon keeps the spirit of a bygone era alive.
While I still enjoy visiting the record shop I don’t miss renting movies all that much. I’m grateful for streaming even if it isn’t perfect. Renting was an event. Going to the movies was an experience while renting was an event. There was a lot of pressure to get it right. You might only end up with one maybe two movies so you had to do your best to avoid a lemon. The new releases were all about timing; get there too late on a Friday and Jurassic Park might be fully rented out. You had to be deeply snobby to protect your financial investment though sometimes there was a rare opportunity to lean into low brow blood guts violence whatever adults would not let you typically watch. All these poignant moments and more are celebrated in The Last Blockbuster as told through the lens of the last remaining Blockbuster Video in Bend, Oregon. (It actually became a Airbnb right before the whole world went on lockdown. So. Yeah.) Join Kevin Smith, Ione Skye, Jamie Kennedy and many others as they reflect on an old timey ritual while we understand how the ironically named Blockbuster chain became an endangered species.
Tuesday, March 16
Staged: Season 2 (Anytime / Hulu)
David Tennant and Michael Sheen star as two actors whose West End play has been put on hold due to Covid-19, but whose director has persuaded them to carry on rehearsing online.
Sammy Suggestion: The Pee-Wee Herman Show on Broadway (Anytime / Crave)
Subversive humor and childlike wonder based on both Reubens’ original stage show, THE PEE-WEE HERMAN SHOW.
Pee-Wee’s Playhouse ran from 1986 to 1990 a wonderfully absurd cult TV show. Though I guess it scored mainstream attention with the successful Tim Burton movie Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure. And Netflix recently released Pee-Wee’s Big Holiday in 2016. In between the Tim Burton movie and the Netflix movie there was The Pee-Wee Herman Show revival a Broadway show recorded for HBO. While we wait for Broadway to reopen, unusual specials such as this and David Byrne’s American Utopia (also on Crave & HBO) help fill in that jazz hands gap. Please Note: this will be removed from Crave on March 18 so act fast.
Wednesday, March 17
Operation Varsity Blues: The College Admissions Scandal (Anytime / Netflix)
Reenactments drive this documentary investigating the mastermind behind a scam to get the kids of rich and famous families into top US universities.
Sammy Suggestion: Abla Fahita: Drama Queen (Anytime / Netflix)
Falsely incriminated, Abla Fahita is separated from her kids, but the self-indulgent diva will stop at nothing to redeem herself and reunite her family.
Does anybody out there know/watch Abla Fahita? “She” is a deeply sarcastic basically Egyptian Muppet; a diva who hosts a late night TV talk show. I’ll watch some bits with my parents here and there on Middle East satellite channels: she mocks a lot of cultural taboos (so it’s that Simpsons humour…mock the culture which works for me.). Netflix has committed to cultural investments (the international stuff on Netflix is ridiculously good.) and this is the second Egyptian product following the horror TV show Paranormal. Though Drama Queen is actually a drama with I guess comedy? The puppet Abla Fahita has to go on the run after being implicated in a crime (lol!) and she has to clear her name and return to her two children, Caro and Boudi. So this is a departure from her talk show and I’m curious to see if American audiences will accept this. This will be interesting.
Thursday, March 18
The tournament tips off with the first four matchups. Let the madness begin.
Sammy Suggestion: Zack Snyder’s Justice League (Anytime / Crave & HBO Max)
Determined to ensure Superman’s sacrifice was not in vain, Batman and Wonder Woman recruit Aquaman, Cyborg, and The Flash to form an unprecedented league of heroes to save the planet from the catastrophic threat of Darkseid, Steppenwolf & DeSaad.
After a year of witnessing unintelligent politicians fail whose blind bumbling closed our cinemas…the Snyder Cut is the blockbuster we deserve but not the one we need right now. So we take it. I could rehash all the various Joss Whedon issues with the previous Justice League cut, Superman’s Mission Impossible “mustache,” point out JL was a box office bomb when it was released in 2017 etc. etc. Ultimately you’re in or you’re out: it’s Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman. This new cut is 4 hours long. Pop Culture is loud, explosive, rude and raw. So yes Justice League’s timing is ideal: welcome to The Age of Heroes.
Friday, March 19
The Stand: Season 1 (Anytime / Prime Video)
THE STAND is Stephen King’s apocalyptic vision of a world decimated by plague and embroiled in an elemental struggle between good and evil. The fate of mankind rests on the frail shoulders of the 108-year-old Mother Abagail and a handful of survivors. Their worst nightmares are embodied in a man with a lethal smile and unspeakable powers: Randall Flagg, the Dark Man.
Blumhouse’s The Craft: Legacy (Anytime / Prime Video (Canada))
In Blumhouse’s continuation of the cult hit THE CRAFT, an eclectic foursome of aspiring teenage witches get more than they bargained for as they lean into their newfound powers.
Sammy Suggestion: Falcon & Winter Soldier: Season 1 (Anytime / Disney+)
Marvel Studios’ THE FALCON AND THE WINTER SOLDIER stars Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson aka The Falcon, and Sebastian Stan as Bucky Barnes aka The Winter Soldier. The pair, who came together in the final moments of “Avengers: Endgame,” team up on a global adventure that tests their abilities—and their patience.
The latest Disney+ MCU series begins today; broadcast weekly for six episodes until April 23, 2021. Following Avengers: Endgame Sam Wilson aka The Falcon mentioned in the title has been burdened with Captain America’s shield so yeah that’s why he’s grumpy. The other half of the title is the Winter Soldier aka Bucky Barnes who is coping with his murderous past and adjusting to 21st century life without Captain America’s assistance since he had a similar adjustment so that’s why he’s grumpy. Together Statler and Waldorf team up to take on the anti-patriotism group the Flag-Smashers because politics makes them grump and Zemo the mastermind villain from Captain America: Civil War. His plot failed in that movie so that’s why he’s grumpy. Even John F. Walker appears in the show and he’s grumpy because he believes he’s a better embodiment of American values than Captain America. So lots of grumpy emotions here (some understandably justified): let’s see who is the first to turn their frown upside down.
Saturday, March 20
The Burnt Orange Heresy (Anytime / Crave)
Hired to steal a rare painting from one of the most enigmatic painters of all time, an ambitious art dealer becomes consumed by his own greed and insecurity as the operation spins out of control.
Sammy Suggestion: Dude Perfect: Backstage Pass (WATCH Below!!)
Best known for trick shots, stereotypes, battles, bottle flips, ping pong shots and all-around competitive fun, Dude Perfect prides ourselves in making the absolute best family-friendly entertainment possible! Welcome to the crew!
Like Jackass but family fun. Best known for trick shots, stereotypes, battles, bottle flips, ping pong shots and all-around competitive fun, Dude Perfect are responsible for many viral videos. However I don’t know much about these Dudes and I’d so enjoying seeing lots of footage of trick shots that failed. Jackie Chan movies showed the stunts that went wrong during the credits so even though it looked amazing in the movie you leave knowing it was a lie. That’s all I ever ask. Their YouTube documentary is free to watch on well YouTube. Here’s the whole thing rather than the typical trailer.
Sunday, March 21
The Gloaming: Miniseries (9 p.m. / Starz)
When a woman is found brutally killed, the clues surrounding her death connect to murders both past and present. At the center of this web are two detectives who share a tragic past.
Q: Into the Storm (Anytime / HBO Max)
This follow-up to ‘The Gathering Storm’ follows Winston Churchill from 1940 to 1945 as he led his beleaguered nation through World War II.
Sammy Suggestion: Genius: Aretha (9/8c PM / Nat Geo)
Anthology series focusing on the untold stories of the world’s most brilliant innovators. This season of GENIUS will explore Aretha Franklin’s musical genius, her incomparable career, and the immeasurable impact she has had on music and culture.
On April 25, 2017 National Geographic premiered its first scripted event: Genius: Season 1 a 10 part miniseries on the inspiring and troubling life of Albert Einstein. (You can currently watch it on Disney+Star.) They followed up with Season 2 on April 24, 2018 focusing on Picasso. 3 years later Genius has returned with Aretha Franklin. Which is an odd choice. Aretha is of course a phenomenal talent however Genius is a word we tend to associate with…well Einstein and Picasso. The season follows Aretha as she struggles with motherhood while establishing her music career. This is a 4 night stand so #SetTheVCR accordingly: 2 episodes every night starting on March 21 running to March 24. (All 8 episodes will be available to stream on Hulu on what would have been her 79th birthday: March 25.) And in December 2020 Genius was renewed for a fourth season, which is set to be released on Disney+ and that follows the life of Martin Luther King Jr.
Sammy Younan is the affable host of My Summer Lair: think NPR’s Fresh Air meets Kevin Smith: interviews & impressions on Pop Culture.