This week’s #SetTherVCR is all about motivations: motivation to get into a van and tour as a band, motivation to take up boxing, motivation for…murderous animatronic characters and more! May you find much motivation to enjoy this week’s offerings.
Monday, May 24
Sammy Suggestion: What Drives Us (Anytime / Prime Video (Canada))
WHAT DRIVES US tells the stories of some of the biggest artists in music, recalling the romance and adventure, as well as the idiocy and chaos, of their time on the road. While the world has changed, the custom has not changed. There is no other way to know whether you can make it in this business. You have to get in the van. A Coda Cornerstone Collection.
“All of the biggest bands in the world, they had to start somewhere. Everybody I know started out like this: in a van,” Dave Grohl says at the onset of his new documentary What Drives Us, a film that chronicles the early touring days of some of rock’s most enduring groups, including U2, Metallica, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and, yes, the Foo Fighters. “What happens in the van is the foundation of who we become,” adds Grohl. “It creates this unique perspective that we all share. Personally, I don’t think that I’d still be here if it weren’t for those early experiences, touring in a van, touring with my friends. If it weren’t for that old van, I don’t know where I’d be.” As such here is Dave Grohl’s salute to the van and touring. Having toured Canada with a band in a van I can attest to the truth of what Grohl is saying: bonds are forged or bonds are broken.
Tuesday, May 25
Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel (10/9c PM / HBO)
REAL SPORTS is TV’s most-honored sports journalism series, with 33 Sports Emmy Awards, including 19 for Outstanding Sports Journalism. Now in its 27th season, the monthly magazine broadcast produces unchartered investigative pieces and in-depth profiles from across the sports spectrum.
Sammy Suggestion: Mike Tyson: The Knockout (8/7c PM / ABC)
A special four hour documentary series on the life of boxing legend Mike Tyson. MIKE TYSON: THE KNOCKOUT will put viewers ringside for a main event that will chronicle the former champion’s climb, crash and comeback, from his difficult childhood to becoming undisputed world champion to his 1992 rape conviction and his personal struggles. Through the lens of his life’s extreme highs and lows, the two-part primetime event will examine some of the most pressing questions about resilience and reinvention.
As expected the upshot of The Last Dance‘s success is that it unleashed the documentary Kraken. ESPN confirmed this year we’re getting a long-form docuseries on the 86 Mets (I believe that’s Darryl Strawberry, a vague fun fact I sorta picked up from Simpsons references.). And Hulu announced a Lakers docuseries basically covering Jerry Buss’ ownership. While we wait for those ABC News will debut a four hour docuseries on Mike Tyson on Tuesday night. Tyson has earned a Last Dance…I’m not sure if this is it though. (Also why is it on ABC News and not ESPN which is the same channel?!) The Tiger HBO doc was so disappointing. It was gossip not journalism: nah man: do it properly. You punk kids will only know Tyson from The Hangover movies but he was a violent fighter…in many ways desperate to punch his way up and out his circumstances. The problem of course was that he had trouble turning off that combatant mentality outside of the ring. Hopefully ABC can knock it out with this documentary. Mike Tyson: The Knockout premieres on back-to-back Tuesdays, May 25 and June 1, 8:00 – 10:00 p.m. on ABC.
Wednesday, May 26
Ghost Lab (Anytime / Netflix)
After witnessing a haunting in their hospital, two doctors become dangerously obsessed with obtaining scientific proof that ghosts exist.
Sammy Suggestion: Roku Originals (Anytime / Roku)
Stream ROKU ORIGINALS for free right now, with shows like Die Hart, Most Dangerous Game, Dummy, Punk’d, Reno 911!, #FREERAYSHAWN, Royalties, Chrissy’s Court, and many others.
We barely survived the Cola Wars only to be plunged into the Streamer Wars! Quibi launched in April 2020 and was initially only available on mobile devices at a time when much of the country was sheltering at home amid the global pandemic. They made content for the commute when nobody was commuting. As such the service shut down six months later. Then in January 2021 Roku acquired Quibi’s 75-show library in a deal that was estimated to be worth around $100 million. Roku rebranding its acquired library as Roku Originals basically creating a new streaming platform since most people really hadn’t seen the Quibi shows. They’re new to you! 30 of the 75 acquired shows launched on May 20 including Die Hart and The Fugitive. That leaves three upcoming highly expected releases: Sam Raimi’s 50 States of Fright, After Dark a horror series from Steven Spielberg and Slugfest: Inside the Epic, 50-year Battle Between Marvel and DC a comic book documentary adapted by the Russo Brothers with Kevin Smith as the narrator. Welcome to the party Roku.
Thursday, May 27
AKA “The One Where They Get Back Together”, it’s what we’ve all been waiting for: an unscripted FRIENDS reunion special.
Sammy Suggestion: The Banana Splits Movie (Anytime / Netflix (Canada))
A family attends a live taping of The Banana Splits television series, but are forced to survive as soon as the characters go haywire and start a killing spree around the studio.
History Lesson! The Banana Splits Adventure Hour was a variety show produced by Hanna-Barbera Productions and featuring the Banana Splits, a fictional rock band composed of four funny animal characters in red helmets. The show’s hosts are Fleegle (guitar, vocals), Bingo (drums, vocals), Drooper (bass, vocals) and Snorky (keyboards, effects). The series ran for 31 episodes on NBC Saturday mornings from September 7, 1968 to September 5, 1970. So of course all IP is valuable including…the Banana Splits. Only this time it was adapted into a comedy horror film for modern audiences. (This seems to be a trend…Syfy who produced this horror retelling; recently announced a Bring It On horror movie…oh interesting. While Willy’s Wonderland is a recent entry offering murderous animatronic characters like this Splits movie.) So yeah: if you’re up some old school murderous animatronic characters here ya go!
Friday, May 28
Plan B (Anytime / Hulu)
After a regrettable first sexual encounter, a straight-laced high school student (Kuhoo Verma) and her slacker best friend (Victoria Moroles) have 24 hours to hunt down a Plan B pill in America’s heartland.
Sammy Suggestion: The Kominsky Method: Season 3 (Anytime / Netflix)
Acting coach Sandy Kominsky and best friend Norman Newlander keep each other laughing as they navigate the ups and downs of getting older.
While I adore Alan Arkin I’ve never gotten around to watching The Kominsky Method. Well like a comic book omnibus this show is all done and collected on Netflix. This is the third and final season of Chuck Lorre’s comedy starring Michael Douglas as a successful acting coach and until recently: Alan Arkin. He’s not back for Season 3 and will be written out. Still now I can sit down and watch the senior hijinks ensue at my own pace. So great to and watch a fully completed TV show.
Saturday, May 29
Sammy Suggestion: Panic (Anytime / Prime Video)
On the surface, Alex (William H. Macy) is a normal man with a wife, a son and a steady job. But Alex has a secret life no one knows about: he’s a contract killer suffering a midlife crisis.
“Panic on the streets of London / Panic on the streets of Birmingham / I wonder to myself…Could life ever be sane again?” With all due respect to the Smiths it’s Panic in a small Texas town. Basically unsupervised teens engage in a fatal rite of passage: think The Running Man with the holodeck safeties off! (What’s up with all these trapped teen movies tying to escape their crappy circumstances by escaping death?! Maze Runner, Hunger Games, Nerve, Ready Player One etc.
Sunday, May 30
The Nevers (9/8c PM / HBO & Crave)
Joss Whedon’s Nevers is described as “a science fiction drama about a gang of Victorian women who find themselves with unusual abilities, relentless enemies, and a mission that might change the world.” August, 1896. Victorian London is rocked to its foundations by a supernatural event which gives certain people — mostly women — abnormal abilities, from the wondrous to the disturbing. But no matter their particular “turns,” all who belong to this new underclass are in grave danger.
Sammy Suggestion: NBA Playoffs: Game 4 (Various Times / Various Channels)
The 2021 NBA playoffs are here.
By today most NBA Playoffs battles will have reached Game 4. While I’m not expecting any sweeps in the 2021 NBA Playoffs by Game 4 we’ll all have a sense of which way a series is shaking out. Tonight’s Game 4s include Knicks vs Hawks, Sun vs Lakers, Nets vs Celtics and Clippers vs Mavs. While tomorrow 2 Game 4s include 76ers vs Wizards and Jazz vs Grizzlies. To quote The Transformers Movie currently celebrating it’s 35th anniversary this week: One Shall Stand; One Shall Fall.
Sammy Younan is the affable host of My Summer Lair: think NPR’s Fresh Air meets Kevin Smith: interviews & impressions on Pop Culture.