Dreams and Documentaries oh this is a fun #SetTheVCR week!
Monday, March 22
Debris (10/9c PM / NBC)
Two agents from two different continents, and two different mindsets, must work together to investigate when wreckage from a destroyed alien spacecraft has mysterious effects on humankind.
Sammy Suggestion: Independent Lens: Coded Bias(10/9c PM / PBS)
In an increasingly data-driven, automated world, the question of how to protect individuals’ civil liberties in the face of artificial intelligence looms larger by the day. CODED BIAS follows M.I.T. Media Lab computer scientist Joy Buolamwini, along with data scientists, mathematicians, and watchdog groups from all over the world, as they fight to expose the discrimination within algorithms now prevalent across all spheres of daily life.
We’ve reached the point where it’s not enough to have strong opinions on many critical concerns; they have to be deeply informed opinions. Otherwise how are we going to arrive at effective solutions? The problem is that we’re not smart enough or educated enough to address the issues facing us: “Coded Bias follows M.I.T. Media Lab computer scientist Joy Buolamwini, along with data scientists, mathematicians, and watchdog groups from all over the world, as they fight to expose the discrimination within algorithms now prevalent across all spheres of daily life.” Whew: You know when M.I.T. eggheads are getting involved that’s above our pay grade. Yet A.I. and algorithms and our messy digital lives are of significant value and we must address these topics in a timely and well thought out method. This documentary is a start.
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Tuesday, March 23
Demi Lovato: Dancing with the Devil: Miniseries (Anytime / YouTube Premium)
Demi Lovato holds nothing back in this powerful four part documentary series exploring every aspect that led to her nearly fatal overdose in 2018, and her awakenings in the aftermath.
Sammy Suggestion: Another Earth (Anytime / Disney+Star)
Rhoda Williams (Brit Marling), a bright young woman accepted into MIT’s astrophysics program, aspires to explore the cosmos.
Back in February Prime Video added Mike Cahill’s latest feature: Bliss. However I’m highly recommending one of his previous movies which is also one of my favourite all time sci-fi movies: Another Earth. One wild night a high school student is celebrating her graduation and that she got into M.I.T. That celebration horrifically ends when she car crashes into a composer: killing his pregnant wife and his baby son. Though her personal tragedy is overshadowed by the discovery of a new Earth?! As she grapples with the fallout from her accident the scientists discover that Earth 2 is a mirror of Earth and the synchronicity between the planets was interrupted when the Earths connected. Is it possible on that other Earth she didn’t have the car accident that killed a family? What if she went to that new Earth what would she find? Who had she become on Another Earth? Yes.
Wednesday, March 24
Sammy Suggestion: The Day Sports Stood Still (Anytime / HBO & Crave)
THE DAY SPORTS STOOD STILL is a feature-length documentary that tells the story of the unprecedented sports shutdown in March of 2020 and the remarkable turn of events that followed.
Less a documentary and more like a living document because these events are barely a year old. On March 10, 2020 “a moment that will live in infamy” Rudy Gobert jokingly touched all the reporter microphones by March 12 all professional sports were shut down. (We’d experienced this before when the September 11 terrorist attacks pushed the end of the MLB regular-season from September 30 to October 7 which meant a lost week. During that same week the NFL rescheduled Super Bowl XXXVI because the attacks postponed all Week 2 games (September 16 and 17). That was only a week of no sports yet it was a strange precursor to what we’d experience by March 11, 2020.) One of the darkest chapters in professional sports especially since many fans were still reeling from Kobe’s passing. 2020 was a hard dark year for sports. This is supposed to be fun!
The documentary features NBA players like Donovan Mitchell, Karl-Anthony Towns, Mavs team owner Mark Cuban, NBA commissioner Adam Silver; MLB’s Mookie Betts; the NHL’s Ryan Reaves; NFL’s Laurent Duvernay-Tardif; Natasha Cloud of the WNBA and many more. What happened to the simple pleasure of going to the game getting a hotdog and yelling at millionaire players about having graphic relations with their mom?!
Thursday, March 25
Sammy Suggestion: John Wayne Gacy: Devil In Disguise: Docuseries (Anytime / Peacock)
The chilling story of one of the world’s most notorious serial killers told through the words of Gacy himself, those who were forever changed by his unspeakable deeds and those who believe that the full truth about the case remains concealed to this day.
HBO broadcast I’ll Be Gone in the Dark about the Golden State Killer, Netflix offered The Hunt for a Serial Killer focusing on the Night Stalker, EPIX profiled Charles Manson and well there’s a many more recent examples: some have been listed here for #SetTheVCR. It’s now Peacock’s turn with the six part John Wayne Gacy: Devil In Disguise. Yes the clown dressing serial killer who operated during the 70s. So who is left? And does this trend on true crime TV generate any significant commentary?!
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Friday, March 26
The Irregulars (Anytime / Netflix)
A crew of misfits investigates a series of supernatural crimes in Victorian London for Dr. Watson and his shadowy associate, Sherlock Holmes.
Welcome to Sudden Death (Anytime / Crave)
A security guard battles a group of tech-savvy terrorists after they take hostages inside a basketball arena.
Possessor (Anytime / Crave)
POSSESSOR follows an agent who works for a secretive organization that uses brain-implant technology to inhabit other people’s bodies – ultimately driving them to commit assassinations for high-paying clients.
Sammy Suggestion: Invincible: Season 1 (Anytime / Prime Video)
INVINCIBLE is an adult animated superhero series that revolves around 17-year-old Mark Grayson, who’s just like every other guy his age — except his father is the most powerful superhero on the planet, Omni-Man. But as Mark develops powers of his own, he discovers his father’s legacy may not be as heroic as it seems.
Invincible works as animated TV show; Season 1 will be 8 episodes (the first 3 episodes will be up today then the rest will be released weekly.). (Is the real life movie necessary? It’s not like Bloodshot tore up the scene.)The Robert Kirkman comics are wonderfully violent and a bloody good time: think early Stan Lee Spider-Men meets Geoff Johns Green Lantern. It’s an astonishing run with some impressive mustaches along the way: highly recommended reading. So yes: if the cartoon gets the tone right it should be a decent hit. Though I’m curious how much cross-over appeal it’ll have: will civilians conditioned after years of cute Pixar watch a violent adult cartoon about a superhero and aliens?! Only one way to find out.
Saturday, March 27
Tina: Documentary (8 p.m. / HBO & Crave)
With a wealth of never-before-seen footage, audio tapes, personal photos, and new interviews, including with the singer herself, TINA presents an unvarnished and dynamic account of the life and career of music icon Tina Turner.
Sammy Suggestion: The Stand: How One Gesture Shook the World (Anytime / Hulu)
THE STAND: HOW ONE GESTURE SHOOK THE WORLD explores the motives behind Tommie Smith and John Carlos’s gesture of defiance during the 1968 Olympics and the consequences.
We now divide professional athletes into two groups: those that stand and those that kneel. It’s a weird response because we put the focus and energy on the athlete rather than on the issues. Yes firemen are hunky and should be celebrated in Tiger Beat style calendars but while those calendars are all about heat they don’t exactly promote fire safety right? So I appreciate that this documentary The Stand recognizes what two African-American medal winners (Tommie Smith and John Carlos) at the 1968 Olympics did is misunderstood just as much as it inspires.
Sunday, March 28
Sammy Suggestion: Bill & Ted Face The Music (Anytime / Netflix)
Once told they’d save the universe during a time-traveling adventure, 2 would-be rockers from San Dimas, California find themselves as middle-aged dads still trying to crank out a hit song and fulfill their destiny.
While parts of Bill & Ted 3 that are well: heinous…and bogus it is comforting to return to these 2 excellent dudes. It’s been years since “strange things are afoot at the Circle-K.” Turns out fulfilling their destiny wasn’t was easy or as smooth as they (or us!) expected. Woah.
Sammy Younan is the affable host of My Summer Lair: think NPR’s Fresh Air meets Kevin Smith: interviews & impressions on Pop Culture.