This week is a less TV recommendations and more a trip down memory lane. We got Jack Kirby, Aretha Franklin, Punky Brewster, the murders of Tupac and Biggie and so much more!
Monday, August 30
Sammy Suggestion: King Kirby: The Complete Series (Anytime / See Below)
Los Angeles police officer Brian O’Conner must decide where his loyalty really lies when he becomes enamored with the street racing world he has been sent undercover to destroy.
August 28 was Jack Kirby’s birthday. And there are two way most excellent ways to celebrate his birthday: (re)Read the King’s excellent Fantastic Four run with Stan Lee. And check out King Kirby an audio drama adapted by a play written by Crystal Skillman and Fred Van Lente (most comic book readers should recognize that name). I saw the outstanding play in NYC so this is highly recommend. And because it’s Jack Kirby’s birthday they released the entire audio drama in a binge episode: no commercial interruptions. (Initially the podcasts were released in episodes: you know how like TV is weekly then the entire season is dumped onto Netflix and you can watch at your own pace? Like that.) Enjoy this ear treat.
Tuesday, August 31
Untold: Season 1: Crime and Penalties (Anytime / Netflix)
They were the bad boys of hockey — a team bought by a man with mob ties, run by his 17-year-old son, and with a rep for being as violent as they were good.
Sammy Suggestion: Only Murders In The Building: Season 1 (Anytime / Hulu & Disney+ Star Canada)
Only Murders in the Building follows three strangers (Steve Martin, Martin Short, and Selena Gomez) who share an obsession with true crime and suddenly find themselves wrapped up in one. When a grisly death occurs inside their exclusive Upper West Side apartment building, the trio suspects murder and employs their precise knowledge of true crime to investigate the truth.
It’s Steve Martin and Martin Short. That’s it. That’s the hook. They’re two of the best to ever do it. I could tell you this is a comedy about strangers who share a true crime obsession and suddenly find themselves in a real true crime but eh…the hook is irresistible and that those talented gents make this Must See TV.
Wednesday, September 01
The Simpsons: Seasons 31-32 (Anytime / Disney+ Star Canada)
This animated comedy focuses on the eponymous family in the town of Springfield. The head of the Simpson family, Homer, is not a typical family man. A nuclear-plant employee, he does his best to lead his family but often finds that they are leading him. The family includes loving, blue-haired matriarch Marge, troublemaking son Bart, overachieving daughter Lisa and baby Maggie.
Sammy Suggestion: Genius: Season 3 (Anytime / Disney+ Star Canada)
National Geographic Channel’s GENIUS focuses on the untold stories of the world’s most brilliant innovators. This season will explore Aretha Franklin’s musical genius, her incomparable career, and the immeasurable impact she has had on music and culture. Starring Academy-Award Nominee Cynthia Erivo as Aretha Franklin.
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. Highly recommended viewing…) 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. 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. Hanging out with a Genius is an excellent way to kick off a new month.
Thursday, September 02
Afterlife of the Party (Anytime / Netflix)
Cassie lives to party… until she dies in a freak accident. Now this social butterfly needs to right her wrongs on Earth if she wants to earn her wings.
Sammy Suggestion: City of Lies (Anytime / Prime Video Canada)
Disgraced LAPD detective Russell Poole teams with journalist Jack Jackson to uncover the truth behind the murders of Tupac Shakur and The Notorious B.I.G.
Hip Hop Murder Has Jumped The Shark. On February 27, 2018 the USA Network premiered Unsolved. (Nothing’s worse than offering viewers a murder-mystery tv show called Unsolved…how unsatisfying is that?!) Josh Duhamel was on the case trying to solve…The Murders of Tupac and the Notorious B.I.G. Yup. I know. Then several months later on September 7, 2018 City of Lies were supposed to be released. This time Johnny Depp is the Encyclopedia Brown on the case trying to solve who shot Biggie & Tupac. Yup. I know. At least this time Depp is joined by Forest Whitaker and there’s a scene with Killer Mike so this does offer some hip hop credibility. Like every movie released in 2020 City of Lies had numerous release dates, a PVOD release and now it’s finally here on Prime Video. (Bonus: If the murders of Tupac and B.I.G. interest you track down Nick Broomfield’s 2021 documentary Last Man Standing: Suge Knight and the Murders of Biggie & Tupac.)
Friday, September 03
Worth (Anytime / Netflix)
In the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, a lawyer faces an emotional reckoning as he attempts to put a dollar value on the lives lost. Based on real events.
Sammy Suggestion: Bitchin’: The Sound and Fury of Rick James (9 p.m. / Showtime & Crave)
A raw and intimate documentary look at the wildly colorful life of legendary funk artist Rick James from acclaimed Director Sacha Jenkins. Original interviews with artists, collaborators and friends focus on the “punk-funk” music James left behind while illuminating his fearless attitude, social justice advocacy and bold musical aspirations. Featuring rare footage of James’ incredible live shows and never-before-seen home video.
“I’m Rick James, bitch!” Yes! “A profile of legendary funk/R&B icon Rick James capturing the peaks and valleys of his storied career to reveal a complicated and rebellious soul, driven to share his talent with the world.” A long way of saying “Cocaine is a hell of a drug.” This is from director Sacha Jenkins who gifted us Wu-Tang Clan: Of Mics and Men and Fresh Dressed plus a couple of other stellar docs. This is gonna be a wild ride…buckle up before you watch this: Rick James just wants to “Party All The Time.”
Saturday, September 04
News of the World (Anytime / HBO)
A Civil War veteran agrees to deliver a girl, taken by the Kiowa people years ago, to her aunt and uncle, against her will. They travel hundreds of miles and face grave dangers as they search for a place that either can call home.
Sammy Suggestion: https://www.primevideo.com/ (Anytime / Prime Video Canada)
From Soleil Moon-Frye, KID 90 presents a true time capsule of a group of friends growing up in Hollywood and New York City in the ‘90s, balancing childhood and fame pre-internet and social media explosion.
The premise is simple: “In the 1990s, Soleil Moon Frye carried a video camera with her everywhere she went. David Arquette, Balthazar Getty, Brian Austin Green, Stephen Dorff, Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Harold Hunter, Justin Pierce, Danny Boy O’Connor, Jenny Lewis and Jonathan Brandis appear in the film.” I suppose it helps it is executive produced by the kid on Growing Pains: Leonardo DiCaprio. That was a strange TV era. We’ve lived through so much and seen so much.
Sunday, September 05
Promising Young Woman (Anytime / Crave)
Traumatized by a tragic event in her past, Cassie (Carey Mulligan) seeks out vengeance in this thrilling and wildly entertaining story about a delicious new take on revenge.
Sammy Suggestion: The Story of Late Night (Anytime / CBC Gem)
Carson, Leno, Letterman – legendary hosts that changed late-night television. Through good times and bad, they gained America’s trust and kept the country laughing. But it wasn’t all laughter all the time. From secret deals to broken promises, some of the most dramatic stories were the ones that didn’t play out in front of the television cameras.
CNN’s scintillating The Story of Late Night is now on CBC Gem. The final episode Reinventing Late Night closed with current late night talk Jimmy Fallon, James Corden etc. however before that it explored the dynamic work of Leno, Letterman, and Stewart on The Daily Show. Oh and of course: Johnny Carson. Decades later his work is still crazy impressive. As per the original media release: “The Story of Late Night is a six-part docuseries…that will take viewers on a 60-year journey through late-night television’s most memorable moments.” Now all 6 episodes are complete if you wanna to sit down and engage this series as a “trade paperback.” (Bonus Recommendation: if all this is making your funny bone salivate CNN Audio has created Behind the Desk: Story of Late Night a podcast companion. So some witty content for your eyes and some witty content for ears.)
Sammy Younan is the affable host of My Summer Lair: think NPR’s Fresh Air meets Kevin Smith: interviews & impressions on Pop Culture.