TV July 30-Aug. 1: Assholes: A Theory, Total Eclipse, Black Is King, Real Time with Bill Maher, The Fight, Umbrella Academy, The Last Narc, The Go-Go’s, Free Up!, Defending Your Life, Jojo Rabbit

So how about them Emmys! Go Zendaya! Go Watchmen! Go Mandalorian! Go Hannah Gadsby! Go TV! Anyway, here’s a roundup of nominees and other useful links from NYTimes (so they still do some things right).

In other TV news, Netflix was patting itself on the back for a block of programming they’ve been calling Strong Black Lead, with a slate of new shows set to drop in August. Only Canadian Netflix subscribers are irate that it doesn’t look like they’ll be seen up here, unless of course you have a VPN and know how to use it (though that is beside the point).

Thursday July 30

Assholes: A Theory (8-10pm CBC) This film was completed in 2019 and premiered at Toronto’s Hot Docs and now makes what looks like its Canadian broadcast premiere. And could an exploration of assholery be any more timely than now? “Inspired by Aaron James’ New York Times bestseller of the same name, Assholes investigates the breeding grounds of contemporary ‘asshole culture’ — and locates signs of civility in an otherwise rude-n-nasty universe. Venturing into predominantly male domain, Walker moves from Ivy League frat clubs to the bratty princedoms of Silicon Valley and bear pits of international finance. Why do assholes thrive in certain environments? What explains their perverse appeal? And how do they keep getting elected! Lively commentary is provided by the likes of actor John Cleese, former RCMP officer Sherry Lee Benson-Podolchuk, and Italian LGBTQ activist Vladimir Luxuria who famously locked horns with Silvio Berlusconi, the p****y-grabbing prototype of the 21st century demagogue.”

Total Eclipse (Seasons 1, 2 and 3 (CBC Gem) “At Millwood High, Cassie (Mackenzie Ziegler, Nicky, Ricky, Dicky & Dawn) is a pensive teenager who is ditched by her childhood friends Diana (Emily Skinner, Andi Mack), Morgan (Devenity Perkins, Gina’s Journey: The Search for William Grimes, Boss Cheer) and Jenna (Nadia Turner). To cope with their bullying, she dreams of a world where she is an astronaut on the moon, a fantasy that she and her friends had devised as children.”

Friday July 31

Black Is King, a film by Beyoncé (new on Disney+) “Experience a new visual album inspired by The Lion King: The Gift. Black Is King, a film by Beyoncé, is streaming exclusively July 31 on Disney+. Black Is King, based on the music of The Lion King: The Gift, will premiere two weeks after the one-year anniversary of the theatrical release of Disney’s global phenomenon, The Lion King. The film reimagines the lessons from the 2019 blockbuster for today’s young kings and queens in search of their own crowns.”

Get Even (new series on Netflix) “In a secret act of skillful revenge, four private school classmates team up and work together to expose a strong of schooled injustices.”

Real Time with Bill Maher (10-11pm HBO / Crave next day) is back! Guests tonight are Kerry Washington, Jim Carrey, thomas Chatterton Williams and Bari Weiss.

Speaking of Ms Washington, The Fight (ACLU documentary available for streaming from your video purchase/thievery site of choice) premieres. “THE FIGHT is an inspiring, emotional insider look at how these important battles are fought and the legal gladiators on the front lines fighting them. Directors Elyse Steinberg, Josh Kriegman, and Eli Despres capture the rollercoaster ride of the thrill and defeat in these deeply human battles. When a mother is separated from her child, a soldier is threatened to lose his career, a young woman’s right to choose is imperiled at the pleasure of a government official, and the ability to exercise our basic right to vote is threatened, the consequences can be devastating to us and to future generations. THE FIGHT celebrates the unsung heroes who fiercely work to protect our freedoms.”

The Umbrella Academy (Season 2 premiere on Netflix) “Five warned his family (so, so many times) that using his powers to escape from Vanya’s 2019 apocalypse was risky. Well, he was right – the time jump scatters the siblings in time in and around Dallas, Texas. Over a three year period. Starting in 1960. Some, having been stuck in the past for years, have built lives and moved on, certain they’re the only ones who survived. Five is the last to land, smack dab in the middle of a nuclear doomsday, which – spoiler alert! – turns out is a result of the group’s disruption of the timeline (déjà vu, anyone?). Now the Umbrella Academy must find a way to reunite, figure out what caused doomsday, put a stop to it, and return to the present timeline to stop that other apocalypse. All while being hunted by a trio of ruthless Swedish assassins. But seriously, no pressure or anything.”

The Last Narc (new series Amazon Prime) “In 1985, American DEA agent Enrique ‘Fifi’ Camarena was kidnapped, tortured and murdered by Mexico’s most notorious drug lords. Thirty-five years later, three former cartel insiders share unprecedented details. this is the story of Camarena, the drug cartel he infiltrated and the narc who risked everything to discover the truth.”

Saturday Aug. 1

The Go-Go’s (9pm Crave) “The Go-Go’s are rooted in music history as not just a pop phenomenon but groundbreakers as well. Born out of the L.A. punk scene, Charlotte Caffey (lead guitar, keyboards and vocals), Belinda Carlisle (lead vocals), Gina Schock (drums), Kathy Valentine (bass and vocals) and Jane Wiedlin (guitar and vocals) didn’t play the part of bad girls – they were genuine punk rockers. Their 1981 debut album Beauty and the Beat, featuring the hits “Our Lips Are Sealed” (one of Rolling Stone’s Top 100 Pop Singles) and “We Got the Beat,” was one of the most successful debut albums of all time, No. 1 on the Billboard charts for six consecutive weeks and resulted in a Grammy® nomination for Best New Artist. The Go-Go’s will release their first new recording in nearly 20 years, “Club Zero,” on July 31st on UMe: ”

Free Up! (CBC Gem) “CBC Arts partners with Ngozi Paul and Emancipation Arts to present FREE UP!, the annual youth-led celebration of Emancipation Day featuring music, theatre, spoken word and dance.”

Defending Your Life (Sundance Now) I don’t usually bother with non-premiere movies appearing on streaming services, but this movie is so important and good, I couldn’t resist. No preaching, except to say that I think now, of all times, would be the best time to hear one of this film’s strongest messages (which come alongside much humour and excellent performances), which is to think about what the hell you are doing with what Mary Oliver calls your one wild and precious life (and btw, the answer is not a finger-wagging admonition to DO GOOD or anything that obvious). “Daniel Miller (Albert Brooks, Drive) isn’t having a good week. For starters, he died after getting hit by a bus. Then he discovers that, in the afterlife, he must defend his actions on Earth in order to ascend to a higher plane of existence. While awaiting judgment, he falls in love with Julia (Meryl Streep, The Devil Wears Prada), whose near-perfect life on Earth seemingly makes her a shoo-in for ascension. However, Daniel’s actions in his lifetime might not be enough for him to move on. Also starring Rip Torn (Men in Black). (1991)”

Also, since I’ve broken with form already: JO JO RABBIT IS ON CRAVE 9-10:55PM AND ON THE CRAVE APP. If you haven’t seen this weird, wonderful, harrowing, heartfelt Oscar-winner, please do so immediately. For you heart and your soul. If you don’t like it, I will find a way to make it better but I don’t think that will be necessary. “Directed by Taika Waititi (THOR: RAGNAROK), the Oscar-winning film JOJO RABBIT is a World War II satire that follows a lonely German boy named Jojo (Roman Griffin Davis) whose world view is turned upside down when he discovers his single mother (Scarlett Johansson) is hiding a young Jewish girl (Thomasin McKenzie) in their attic. Aided only by his idiotic imaginary friend, Adolf Hitler (Taika Waititi), Jojo must confront his blind nationalism.”

What is d2tv anyway? I’m so glad you asked. This is the latest iteration of my TV writing/blogging that began back in 1986 or so? at the Winnipeg Sun, continued briefly in print and on the web at the Montreal Gazette and finally, here, for myself and YOU! Having newly (July 2020) left the full-time journalism business for a brief rest aka vacation, I am hoping to put more time and features on this blog, which is still currently mostly a collection of Canadian streaming and broadcast programming notes focussing on premieres of new and returning series, specials etc, with the occasional series finale thrown in for sentimental reasons. Reviews are, for the moment, only occasional. If you spot an error or oversight or have a recommendation to share, please do so in the comments or by emailing me at the above address. Glad you’re here. And isn’t this era of too much TV a great time to be alive?

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