This week everything is good…let’s be honest there have been some lousy recommendations. But not this #SetTheVCR week. This week they’re all good…sports and Halloween horrors and comedy and more. I like this week; I hope you do to!
Monday, October 04
The Office: Season 1 (UK series) (Anytime / CBC Gem)
Ricky Gervais stars in this critically acclaimed and award-winning comedy set in a dysfunctional paper company led by the world’s worst boss, David Brent.
Sammy Suggestion: 30 for 30: Once Upon a Time in Queens (7-11 p.m / TSN 2)
The 1986 Mets were one of the most dominating, infamous, and magical teams of all time
Once Upon a Time in Queens is a four-part docuseries on the 1986 Mets: it’s basically The Last Dance for 80s Mets. Executive produced by Jimmy Kimmel and directed by Nick Davis. I dunno much about baseball being an NBA guy but I’m always in for a 30 for 30 (oh yes please note…this is a 30 for 30 not a classic ESPN Films Presents…). “Once Upon a Time In Queens tells the story of the Mets’ World Series comeback, using hours of never-before-seen footage of the team. Players featured include: Bobby Ojeda; Darryl Strawberry (from The Simpsons?!); manager Davey Johnson; Dwight Gooden; Keith Hernandez (from Seinfeld?); Kevin Mitchell; Lenny Dykstra; Mookie Wilson; Roger McDowell; Sid Fernandez; and Wally Backman.” Originally debuted in America on ESPN in September all 4 parts are on TSN tonight: aren’t you glad we Mets?
Tuesday, October 05
Level Playing Field: Season 1 Episode 4 (8 p.m. / HBO Max)
Finale of a four-part sports documentary series featuring a range of stories that illuminate how public policies have contributed to inequities in the sports landscape and society at large.
Sammy Suggestion: Dave Chappelle: The Closer (Anytime / Netflix)
As he closes out his slate of comedy specials, Dave takes the stage to try and set the record straight — and get a few things off his chest.
The Sixth Chapter is coming! Dave Chappelle’s Netflix specials are The Age of Spin, Deep In The Heart of Texas, Equanimity and The Bird Revelation (all 2017), Sticks & Stones (2019) and now The Closer. It’s Dave Chappelle…that’s the hook.
Wednesday, October 06
Black Widow (Anytime / Disney+)
Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow confronts the darker parts of her ledger when a dangerous conspiracy with ties to her past arises. Pursued by a force that will stop at nothing to bring her down, Natasha must deal with her history as a spy and the broken relationships left in her wake long before she became an Avenger.
Sammy Suggestion: War of the Worlds: Season 2 (8 p.m. / CBC & CBC Gem)
In this multifaceted reimagining of the timeless classic by H.G. Wells, a catastrophic attack on Earth by intelligent extraterrestrial life forces the remainder of humanity to struggle for survival.
One of my Top 5 Can’t Wait Highly Anticipated Fall TV shows. War of the Worlds takes place in contemporary Britain and France so it serves as a re-imagining of the classic H. G. Wells novel (which took place in the 1890s.). The first season consists of eight episodes, and premiered in France in October 2019. It obviously set up most of the world and of course the war where the humans are painfully perishing. An eight episode second season premiered in France on May 17, 2021; the season concluded on June 7, 2021 but not before asking burning questions — like who are these alien attackers and why are they hell-bent on our destruction? War of the Worlds was renewed for a third season in July 2021, which is set to air in 2022. I appreciate when sci-fi is renewed like that so it avoids a messy end without a proper conclusion. (Please Note: though this entire second season finished months ago CBC will be airing it weekly.)
Thursday, October 07
One of Us Is Lying: Season 1 (Anytime / Peacock)
ONE OF US IS LYING is the story of what happens when five high schoolers walk into detention and only four make it out alive. Everyone is a suspect, and everyone has something to hide.
Sammy Suggestion: Fauci (Anytime / Disney+ Canada)
A feature documentary about the nation’s top infectious disease expert and dedicated public servant, Dr. Anthony Fauci, M.D.
Anthony Fauci has become the face of the pandemic kinda like Ronald McDonald is for McDonalds. (That’s not a slight against Fauci that’s an apt commentary on twisted perception. Google Ronald McDonald and one of the FAQs is “Is Ronald McDonald a serial killer?” as well as rampant clown criticism which often masks fear. You know how “IT” goes.) The thing is while I know who Fauci is…I ah…actually don’t know who Fauci is. Hence a helpful documentary absent most of the needless social media commentary. “Fauci is a revealing portrait of the nation’s top infectious disease expert and one of our most dedicated public servants.” Alright reveal away and let’s see just who we’re dealing with here.
Friday, October 08
Muppets Haunted Mansion (Anytime / Disney+)
World-famous daredevil The Great Gonzo takes on the greatest challenge of his life by spending the night in the scariest place on Earth — the Haunted Mansion. Teamed with his friend Pepé the King Prawn, this musical comedy reunites Kermit and the entire Muppets gang, who portray the beloved grim grinning ghosts of the Haunted Mansion in this star-studded, frightfully funny Muppets adventure.
Sammy Suggestion: The Jump: Final Episode (3/2c PM / ESPN & TSN)
THE JUMP is a daily NBA show. The fast-paced program originates from Los Angeles — across the street from where the Lakers and Clippers play — and features appearances by current and former players, as well as a rotating cast of ESPN analysts, reporters and insiders who provide commentary.
In 2016 ESPN introduced The Jump, a daily discussion show created by Rachel Nichols to cover the NBA. I prefer broader NBA TV shows like The Jump: they cover a variety of topics rather than local news all hyper focused on the home team. So this was ideal for hoop fans. You could instantly get the highlights without having to tolerate the NFL hype. (ESPNers should switch to decaf during the NFL season.) Unfortunately this past Summer ESPN has undergone a mid-life crisis that has affected its programming. After 10 years Highly Questionable was cancelled, First Take underwent cosmetic surgery, Max Kellerman launched This Just In and The Jump was cancelled. As such today is the final episode of The Jump. It’s a brusque ending, not an emotional one like the conclusion of a sitcom. Simply our time together has come to an end. I appreciated all the journalists who cultivated sources, who offered sound reporting over internet speculation; the jokes when things on the court did not go…smoothly and any pertinent news from the West because I don’t always stay up to watch the late games. It was fun and informative and it’s done. (NBA Today replaces The Jump as a daily NBA TV show and will debut on October 18 on ESPN 2.)
Saturday, October 09
Artificial Immortality – The AI Documentary (Anytime / Crave)
If you could live forever, would you?
Sammy Suggestion: The Kids in the Hall Seasons 1-5 (Anytime / Prime Video Canada)
The hilarious Canadian sketch comedy troupe consisting of comedians Dave Foley, Bruce McCulloch, Kevin McDonald, Mark McKinney, and Scott Thompson who, more often than not, put bizarre, unique, and insane twists in their skits.
The Kids in the Hall is (present tense!) a Canadian sketch comedy TV series that aired for five seasons from 1988 to 1995, starring the comedy troupe The Kids in the Hall and was produced by Lorne Michaels. The troupe…Dave Foley, Kevin McDonald, Bruce McCulloch, Mark McKinney, and Scott Thompson, appeared as almost all the characters throughout the series, both male and female, and also wrote most of the sketches. (While I like Kids and enjoy SCTV they’re both fantastic; I dig Kids more.) I dunno how else to explain the zany Canadian antics. How would you explain SNL or In Living Color to someone who has never seen any of it? Their goofy name came from Sid Caesar, who, if a joke did not go over would attribute it to “the kids in the hall” (referring to a group of young writers hanging around the studio). Oh and the reason why I said present tense? In March 2020 Amazon confirmed the series would return with an eight-episode season. The new series will feature all five members, and will again be executive produced by Lorne Michaels. The revived series is billed as “the first Canadian Amazon Original series.” It is planned to include some of the popular characters from the original series so…you may as well meet some of em now.
Sunday, October 10
The Circus: Inside the Wildest Political Show on Earth: Season 6 (8 p.m. / Showtime & Crave)
Come one, come all to THE CIRCUS. This documentary series pulls back the curtain on the Trump era of presidential politics, revealing the stories behind the headlines.
Sammy Suggestion: The Simpsons: Treehouse of Horror XXXII (8 p.m. / Fox)
The Simpsons Annual Spoopy Scary Special.
The Simpsons hit the 666-episode mark with Treehouse of Horror XXX which is happy horror fun. Well the latest edition of the animated series’ annual Halloween episode Treehouse of Horror XXXII is also notable because it offers five stories instead of the typical three. Such as this gem The Telltale Bart as voiced by Vincent Price (well Maurice LaMarche). We can also expect a parody of the 2019 film Parasite. This is a fantastic Halloween tradition: I can’t dress up and take candy from strangers so this’ll do just fine.
Sammy Younan is the affable host of My Summer Lair: think NPR’s Fresh Air meets Kevin Smith: interviews & impressions on Pop Culture.