It’s Thanksgiving in America so give thanks because if football is not your jam here’s a bunch of excellent TV recommendations that pair well with leftovers.
Monday, November 22
Beverly Hills Ninja (Anytime / Hulu)
A goofball ninja sets out on a self-fulfilling journey to uncover a deadly counterfeiting scheme.
Sammy Suggestion: JFK Revisited: Through the Looking Glass (7 p.m. / Showtime)
Thirty years after acclaimed director Oliver Stone’s first examination of JFK’s assassination, Stone reassesses the horrific event that shaped a generation. Using newly declassified and reexamined footage, Stone presents a case that conspiracy theories about the president’s death are actually “conspiracy facts.” Narrated by Whoopi Goldberg and Donald Sutherland.
Oliver Stone has returned to JFK’s assassination via recently declassified evidence and testimony; with “an important bookend to my 1991 film.” JFK Revisited: Through the Looking Glass was added to Showtime on Demand on November 12. Today it makes its linear TV debut because…of course JFK was killed on November 22, 1963 almost 60 years ago. On July 24, 2017 the National Archives began to release previously withheld documents including audio files, photos and materials used by the FBI and CIA in the 63 investigation. By April 26, 2018, NARA released another 19,045 documents in accordance with President Trump’s order but stopped short of dumping all of them: many documents remained classified in full. (Currently (though this is subject to change) President Biden’s future releases of JFK documents are scheduled for December 15, 2021 (soon!) and December 15, 2022. We’ll see if that remains on track.) So what do all these declassified documents reveal about the JFK murder? Do the conspiracy theories deepen or are they effectively repudiated? And what now…history’s primary value is when we apply the lessons we’ve learned to the present so we can affect the future.
Tuesday, November 23
Masters Of The Universe: Revelation (Part 2) (Anytime / Netflix)
After a calamitous battle fractures Eternia, Teela and an unlikely alliance must prevent the end of the Universe in this sequel to the ’80s classic.
Sammy Suggestion: 8-Bit Christmas (Anytime / HBO Max)
Set in 1980s suburban Chicago, 8-BIT CHRISTMAS centers on ten-year-old Jake Doyle’s quest to get the latest and greatest video game system. The film stars Neil Patrick Harris, Winslow Fegley, June Diane Raphael, David Cross, and Steve Zahn.
I’m reluctant to share a Christmas movie…a “bit” because it’s too early (literally this movie debuts tomorrow not today) and because my heart is a black hole where light and love rarely escape. However this is 1980s Chicago (actually 2021 Toronto but carry on…) and it’s the epic quest to secure the Nintendo Entertainment System. We’ve all been there. So fine…a Christmas Comedy. “Now I Have A Heart Ho Ho Ho.”
Wednesday, November 24
True Story: Limited Series (Anytime / Netflix)
A world-famous comedian desperately searches for a way out after a night in Philadelphia with his brother threatens to sabotage more than his success.
Sammy Suggestion: Hawkeye: Season 1 (Anytime / Disney+)
Marvel Studios’ HAWKEYE is an original new series set in post-blip New York City where former Avenger Clint Barton aka Hawkeye has a seemingly simple mission: get back to his family for Christmas. But when a threat from his past shows up, Hawkeye reluctantly teams up with Kate Bishop, a 22-year-old skilled archer and his biggest fan, to unravel a criminal conspiracy.
The latest MCU TV show debuts today with 2 of its 6 episodes. Loosely based on the favourable Matt Fraction/David Aja run, the premise is: “While in New York City post-Blip, Clint Barton must work together with the young archer Kate Bishop to confront enemies from his past as Ronin in order to get back to his family in time for Christmas.” (Pay attention to Alaqua Cox playing Maya Lopez / Echo as the recent Disney+ Day revealed a spin-off series Echo is currently in development.) All that’s left is to quote Shakespeare as Clint Barton undergoes his existential crisis…hit it Bill: “To be, or not to be, that is the question: Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer/The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune/Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles.”
Thursday, November 25
The Beatles: Get Back Miniseries (Anytime / Disney+)
Directed by three-time Oscar®-winning filmmaker Peter Jackson (“The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, “They Shall Not Grow Old”), “The Beatles: Get Back” is a three-part documentary series that takes audiences back in time to the band’s intimate recording sessions during a pivotal moment in music history.
Sammy Suggestion: Music Box: DMX-Don’t Try to Understand (8 p.m. / HBO Max)
Focusing on a year in the life of rapper Earl “DMX” Simmons as he is released from prison in early 2019, the film bears witness to a man searching for reinvention and redemption, striving to stay true to himself while reestablishing himself as a father, an artist and an icon. Directed by Christopher Frierson (The King).
I know Peter Jackson’s The Beatles: Get Back miniseries is on Disney+ today however I’ma focus on DMX. Who we lost on April 9, 2021; he was 50 years old. DMX is the personification of raw he was all passion and fire. By taking off his shirt like an intense lothario he had the girls screaming and by yelling out “Where my dogs at?!” like an unhinged supervillain he had the boys scheming and he brought em all together with a prayer?! DMX was all contradictions: a rapper with an adversarial anti-commercial approach whose first five studio albums all debuted at Number 1. So here we are with the aptly titled documentary Don’t Try to Understand. Following his release from a 12 month sentence in 2019 DMX is eager to get back to work. This is the story of what happened. (For Canadian viewers this’ll be added to Crave on November 26. Though all viewers can go to YouTube and see the ah…DMX Bible Study from April 2020. Sunday school with cussing. Again that’s just DMX!
Friday, November 26
The Curse of Von Dutch (Anytime / Prime Video Canada)
“The Curse of Von Dutch” chronicles the unbelievable true story behind the rise and fall of the 2000’s most iconic fashion trend. In this epic character-driven saga, Venice Beach surfers, gangsters, European garmentos, and Hollywood movers and shakers all vie for control of the infamous brand — pushing it from obscurity to one of the most recognizable labels on Earth. After a decade of backstabbing, greed, and bloodshed, their lives – and pop culture – will never be the same.
Sammy Suggestion: Pig (Anytime / Crave)
A truffle hunter who lives alone in the Oregonian wilderness must return to his past in Portland in search of his beloved foraging pig after she is kidnapped.
Did you enjoy Taken with Liam Neeson? A thriller where a CIA officer’s daughter is ah…taken and now he will stop at nothing to get her back. Okay so now replace Liam Neeson with Nicolas Cage and replace the daughter with…a pig. Specifically a truffle forager pig. When Nicolas Cage is assaulted by unidentified assailants they abscond with his pig. Now he must track them down to Portland (Pig in the City!) before they harm his…ah pig. And why did they take his pig? Oh what a Charlotte’s Web of lies and deception: Wilbur ever find out who is behind all this? I mean John Wick’s cycle of violence started when they killed his dog. I like truffles but I enjoy bacon more so let’s give this quirky movie a shot. That’ll do Pig…that’ll do.
Saturday, November 27
Super Crooks (Anytime / Netflix)
Johnny Bolt recruits a group of ragtag supervillains for one last heist. Their target: A ruthless super-powered crime boss. What can go wrong?
Sammy Suggestion: Becoming Cousteau (Anytime / Disney+)
A look at the life, passions, achievements and tragedies surrounding the famous explorer and environmentalist Jacques Cousteau, featuring an archive of his newly restored footage.
Oh! Jacques Cousteau has earned a Last Dance. So making tea for this doc. You know documentary director Liz Garbus from What Happened, Miss Simone?, The Fourth Estate, I’ll Be Gone in the Dark and All In: The Fight for Democracy. All highly recommended docs. This time her subject is Jacques Cousteau who co-developed the Aqua-Lung, pioneered marine conservation and established an environmental protection foundation with 300,000 members dedicated to protecting the Earth and the seas. This dude died in 1997 yet spent a massive chunk of his life warning us about climate change. It doesn’t always pay to be ahead of the curve. Still Jacques Cousteau is basically Aquaman. He divided his time on land battling selfish humans and underwater communing with the fish. Thankfully he never wore an orange shirt doing any of that. (Please Note: this debuted on November 24 but that was Hawkeye day so I focused on another superhero with no powers.)
Sunday, November 28
One Last Time: An Evening With Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga (8 p.m. / CBS)
A new concert special honoring the musical legacy and enduring friendship of Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga.
Sammy Suggestion: The Toys That Built America: Docuseries (9 p.m. / History Channel)
Against the backdrop of major events in American history like the Civil War and the Great Depression, THE TOYS THAT BUILT AMERICA shares a different story—one that brings new products and nostalgic toys to the forefront as driving forces behind untold cultural and economic shifts.
I’m not playing around with today’s recommendation. The Toys That Built America: “Against the backdrop of major events in American history like the Civil War and the Great Depression, “The Toys that Built America” shares a different story—one that brings new products and nostalgic toys to the forefront as driving forces behind untold cultural and economic shifts.” Toys are big business and yet there’s so much human value to play and having fun and imagination. This four-part debuts today with episodes released weekly.
Sammy Younan is the affable host of My Summer Lair: think NPR’s Fresh Air meets Kevin Smith: interviews & impressions on Pop Culture.