Hey not sure what to watch this week on the small screen? No worries #SetTheVCR is here to help you make some of those decisions easier. Each week Sammy Younan and I will give you our picks for each day of the coming week. Please note – enjoyment NOT guaranteed.

All times are Eastern Standard Time so please adjust for your time zone.

As the summer is now half over we begin what would be the final countdown to a fresh new fall season of TV starting up. However, with the pandemic still showing us how it can continue to affect us each week things are still up in the air. Hollywood is trying to get back to work but that is proving difficult and it will be interesting to see how the new seasons are effected as we move into the major networks fall lineups. Still, we have documentaries, animation, sci-fi, horror and more to recommend for you.

It’s August like how did that happen? Because the calendar is so scary let’s kick off this week’s #SetTheVCR with a horror documentary, shall we?

Sammy Younan

Monday, August 3

Sammy’s Pick of the Week

In Search of Darkness (3am / Shudder) – Shudder is slowly assembling an impressive horror documentary library. (Though no word if they’re picking up a recent Nightmare on Elm Street doc: Scream, Queen! My Nightmare On Elm Street. Apparently there was a whole gay subtext to Nightmare 2?! I missed all of that.) Their latest addition began screening (began screaming?) on July 30. In Search of Darkness is: “an exploration of ’80s horror movies through the perspective of the actors, directors, producers and SFX craftspeople who made them, and their impact on contemporary cinema.” Whew. Everybody is in this: Dante, Cunningham, Carpenter you name it. It’s 4 hours and a half however like Kill Bill it was cut in half (most likely with a machete) and Part II comes out in October. (These filmmakers are working on a “sequel” called In Search of Tomorrow which recounts the history of 1980’s sci-fi movies. Yo… in for that one too.) (Sammy)

Bob Hearts Abishola (8:30pm / CBS) – A rerun episode from the shows first season. Well established in their relationship as far as the story is going. Bob gets invited to church by Abishola as she wants to share that part of her life with him. Of course, Bob’s idea of church is on his couch watching football, but the season is over. In typical Chuck Lorre fashion, there are hijinks and hurt feelings as these two ideas clash within a new relationship. I continue to be surprised how much I have come to like this show as the season went on. If you are looking for some light and fun this week here is a good chance for you. (Mr. Green)

Tuesday, August 4

The Swamp (9pm / HBO) – Drain the Swamp quickly became one of those linguistic Rorschach tests as we’ve seen with “cancel culture,” “entrepreneurship” and “no-pants-party.” They each mean different things to different people yet we all argue as if we’re operating from a commonly established definition. This documentary follows 3 Republican Congressmen: Thomas Massie of Kentucky, Ken Buck of Colorado, and Matt Gaetz of Florida as they attempt to navigate a Washington government run by President Trump. These documentaries are beneficial as it’s embarrassingly easy to dehumanize: to treat these individuals as a Swamp Thing. Swamp is directed by Daniel DiMauro and Morgan Pehme (Get Me Roger Stone) so it should prompt reflection and discussion as we’re hurtling towards the November election slash showdown. (Sammy)

Extreme Unboxing (10pm / A&E)SERIES PREMIERE! Yes, just another nail in the coffin that was shut on A&E two decades ago as it switched from Arts & Entertainment to reality shows all the time. While there is something to be said about some reality TV shows many are exploitive and reductionist in their presentations. This show may not be that reductionist but it does follow in the footsteps of Storage Wars and similar “hunting treasure” shows. I will give it a chance and maybe surprised if it turns out to be any good. I’m also more curious to see how a phenomenon that started on YouTube several years ago fares being transitioned over to a more polished and produced format like on A&E. (Mr. Green)

Wednesday, August 5

Bad Boys For Life (3am / Amazon Prime) – A Nelson Muntz review of Bad Boys: “I can think of at least two things wrong with that title.” There was a time when bad meant good (ask your parents kids…they were hip once.) but in this case bad means…bad. And boys well there’s a whole subplot with Martin Lawrence needing glasses. So Nelson is right. Still despite the absence of Michael Bay whose slo-mo-ed high octane action style vaulted Will Smith into action stardom this third entry is the highest-grossing installment of the series. So the way these things work expect more Bad Boys movies. It’s on Amazon Prime (Canada) today and for Americans will debut on Starz on Friday night. Whatcha gonna do? (Sammy)

Upgrade (8pm / FXX) – An artificial intelligence implant called STEM gives a paralyzed man superhuman strength and agility — skills he uses to seek revenge against the thugs who killed his wife. This movie is not for the faint of heart at times and asks some very interesting questions about our futures, especially one with AI. This is the kind of low-budget sci-fi films that are being made now that feels very akin to the sci-fi films of the ’70s. More contemplative than just strict action set-pieces. That is part of this film too but not at the expense of deeper questions about humanity, AI and our eventual interconnectivity of these two disparate ideas. (Mr. Green)

Thursday, August 6

On The Trail (3am / HBO Max)The Circus Showtime’s weekly documentary covering the 2020 presidential race returns (I think…) on August 16. (I said I think because I dunno how tv shows fiction or non-fiction are going to work and shoot with the coronavirus. So we’ll see what August 16 brings us.). So for now as a warmup of sorts here’s On the Trail the first of 4 CNN-backed projects that will be broadcast on HBO Max. (The other 3 coming soon docs are Heaven’s Gate (yes the cult), Persona (a personality testing obsession documentary) and Generation Hustle (a 10 part docuseries about fame and fortune.) On the Trail is the story of several female CNN journalists and their attempt at (you know and you love it) balancing work and home. (Sammy)

Big Hero 6 The Series (8:30 / Disney XD) – As a big fan of the 2014 movie I love that the series picks up after the movie ends. My only regret is that I keep missing out on the series and have to play catch up. Still having Hiro shaped by the events of his recent past and moving forward with his life and friends he made along the way is encouraging even if he stills sees evil in almost every shadow. Tonight on Disney XD they have a block of episode from the second season so this might be a good time to dip the toe and check it out. But, of course if that’s not your thing (which I get) by all means check out Sammy’s recommendation above. (Mr. Green)

Friday, August 7

The Booksellers (3am / CBC Gem) – Remember bookstores? The way they smell; the possibilities of discovering a fantastic writer or adding an outstanding first edition to your collection. This charming documentary is not a vintage-book hunt rather it is filled with dynamic characters as only New York City can offer. This is a documentary about the city as much as it is about readers and collectors and books. And science fiction and old school hip hop and that time Fran Lebowitz lent David Bowie a book. Now that… that is Modern Love. (Sammy)

Mr. Green’s Pick of the Week

Wizards: Tales from Arcadia (3am / Netflix) – I have been a fan of the Tales of Arcadia series since the beginning. Troll Hunters to 3 Below and now this series from Guillermo Del Toro. This time we get some serious time travel action taking place as Merlin is looking for help against an ancient enemy that is threatening all of human existence… is there any other kind? If you are not familiar with the series and like me enjoy animation go check out the previous series before Friday and then you can binge-watch this over the weekend. (Mr. Green)

Saturday, August 8

Richard Jewell (8 pm / HBO) – Richard Jewell is yet another tragic representative of how America and its media ecosystem badly functions. On July 27, 1996, during the Summer Olympics in Atlanta, a bomb detonated killing one person and wounding 11. An Centennial Olympic Park security guard Richard Jewell spotted one of the explosive devices and instantly began clearing the area thus saving lives. Of course, he was hailed as a hero and America adores heroes. However, cue “you either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.” Despite having been initially hailed as a hero Jewell came under FBI suspicion for his alleged involvement in the crime and he became the prime suspect and worse an international news story. That whiplash from hero to villain is terrifying. (Everybody was wrong too. Eric Rudolph is the Olympic Park Bomber.) This is Clint Eastwood’s feature on these horrific events. (Sammy)

Tiny Creatures (Anytime / Netflix) – Taking a look at the world from the point of view of some of the smallest creatures to exist. I like animal documentaries and this one looks fascinating just from the trailer alone. Another must-watch for me. Thankfully we have Netflix and the other streamers to help us get through these ever-thinning times of entertainment. (Mr. Green)

Sunday, August 9

NBA Games (12:30 pm-? / ESPN, NBA TV, ABC) – There are 7 NBA games today starting at 12:30 pm. What a wonderfully lazy Sunday: put the NBA on and doze on the couch. That’s a rare and beautiful gift. For all the darkness and frustrations we’ve endured since March; when grief ends hope begins. (Sammy)

We Hunt Together (10pm / Showtime)SERIES PREMIERE! Former child soldier Baba rescues Freddy from a sexual assault and things only get worse from there. A new series that shows a couple whose chance meeting turns into a murderous killing spree. Some Bonnie & Clyde mixed with Natural Born Killers and with the requisite on the run motifs makes this look like it has the potential to be a good show. Plus, I like the oddball buddy cop team-up also happening here. (Mr. Green)

Well, there you go plenty of options for the week ahead. Enjoy yourself and watch responsibly.

If you’re gonna geek out, GEEK HARD!