TV Oct. 15-17: A Babysitter’s Guide to Monster Hunting, DES, Social Distance, Grand Army, Trial of the Chicago 7, pen15, Clouds, Star Trek: Discovery, Meet the Chimps, Perfect Weapon, SNL, David Byrne’s American Utopia, Enslaved

Beautiful people! May I offer some TV solace for your crankiness? We’re all there. No worries. Breathe. Eat potato chips. Maybe ice cream. Possible cocktail. This too shall pass.

Catching up:

Mystery Road (Acorn) “Called “Australia’s answer to True Detective” (Junkee), “a visual knockout” (New York Times) and “reinvigorating…with fresh Indigenous Australian perspectives [that reflect] the idea that this country is only just beginning to come to terms with its past” (The Guardian), the multiple award-winning hit crime series MYSTERY ROAD is back with a riveting, suspenseful second season on Monday, October 12, with new episodes through November 9. Set in the remote Outback and a spinoff of two acclaimed films, MYSTERY ROAD delves into powerful, timely Indigenous storylines (incidentally, most of the cast and key creatives are Indigenous) and is brimming with neo-Western elements and settings. With an all-new investigation and many new characters (no need to brush up on series 1 first!), Series 2 marks the return of award-winning actor Aaron Pedersen (Jack Irish, A Place to Call Home) as Jay Swan, the gruff yet sharp Indigenous homicide police detective. He arrives in the coastal town of Gideon, where he investigates a grisly case that may unearth a drug trafficking ring. Also, he faces obstruction from a visiting ambitious Swedish archaeologist (Sofia Helin, The Bridge) who has set up a survey site to uncover Indigenous cultural artifacts, but is confronted by protesters in the local community who do not want her digging up their land to rewrite their history. In this small community where the desert meets the ocean, Jay must expose the web of corruption plaguing the town as the body count rises. Many timely Indigenous issues feature in the plots, including the perceived mistreatment of the natives by police and the attempted return of human remains dug up during scientific expeditions to its descendants for reburial.

Thursday Oct. 15

A Babysitter’s Guide to Monster Hunting (movie premiere on Netflix) “When high school freshman Kelly Ferguson (Tamara Smart) reluctantly agrees to babysit Jacob Zellman (Ian Ho) on Halloween, the last thing she expects is to be recruited into an international secret society of babysitters who protect kids with special powers from monsters. In order to keep Jacob safe from harm, Kelly teams with no-nonsense chapter Vice President Liz Lerue (Oona Laurence), tech genius Berna Vincent (Troy Leigh-Anne Johnson), creature expert Cassie Zhen (Lynn Masako Cheng) and potions master Curtis Critter (Ty Consiglio) to defeat a Boogeyman known as “The Grand Guignol” (Tom Felton), a glamorous witch named “Peggy Drood” (Indya Moore) and their legion of mysterious monsters. Based on the first installment of Joe Ballarini’s popular scary book series of the same name,  A Babysitter’s Guide to Monster Hunting is directed by Rachel Talalay, produced by Ivan Reitman and Amie Karp, with Naia Cucukov, Tom Pollock, and Ilona Herzberg executive producing. Alessio Scalzotto, Tamsen McDonough, Ashton Arbab, Crystal Balint, and Ricky He also co-star in this action-packed adventure about working together to overcome your fears.” DES (series premiere on Sundance Now) stars “David Tennant (Doctor Who, Broadchurch, Good Omens) with a “career-defining performance” (Daily Mail). Ranking as ITV’s highest rated drama of 2020 and ITV’s biggest drama launch since 2006 with more than 10.9 million viewers, DES will be available to stream exclusively on Sundance Now, including the Sundance Now offering within the AMC+ bundle, beginning Thursday, October 15, 2020 with a new episode available every following Thursday. This highly anticipated drama is “worth the wait” (Digital Spy) and “not to be missed” (Radio Times). Akin to Netflix’s Mindhunter, this engrossing 3-part series also stars Daniel Mays (Sam Mendes’ 1917, Line of Duty, Good Omens | INTERVIEWS AVAILABLE) as Detective Peter Jay and Jason Watkins (The Crown, A Very English Scandal) as Brian Masters, Nilsen’s biographer.”
Social Distance (anthology series premiere on Netflix) “Set in the initial months of the COVID-19 pandemic, SOCIAL DISTANCE is an eight-part anthology series that showcases the power of the human spirit in the face of uncertainty and isolation. Each standalone episode is told through a virtual lens and captures the unique emotional experience of being forced apart by circumstance and having no choice but to communicate remotely and rely on technology to maintain any sense of connection. Through these varied and deeply human stories, SOCIAL DISTANCE aims to provide some much-needed catharsis during a tumultuous time while also capturing a snapshot of this singular moment in history. Conceived, cast and executed entirely remotely during quarantine, SOCIAL DISTANCE is created and executive-produced by showrunner Hilary Weisman Graham and executive-produced by Tara Herrmann, Blake McCormick and Jenji Kohan. Diego Velasco serves as co-executive producer.”

Friday Oct. 16

Grand Army (premiere on Netflix) “Grand Army tunnels into a generation that’s raging and rising. Five students at the largest public high school in Brooklyn take on our chaotic world as they fight to succeed, survive, wild out, break free and seize the future.” What the Constitution Means to Me (Amazon Prime) “Fifteen-year-old Heidi Schreck earned her college tuition by winning Constitutional debate competitions across the United States. In this hilarious, hopeful and achingly human show, Heidi resurrects her teenage self in order to trace the profound relationship between four generations of women and the founding document that shared their lives.”

The Trial of the Chicago 7 (movie premiere on Netflix) “What was intended to be a peaceful protest at the 1968 Democratic National Convention turned into a violent clash with police and the National Guard. The organizers of the protest—including Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, Tom Hayden and Bobby Seale—were charged with conspiracy to incite a riot and the trial that followed was one of the most notorious in history. Director/Writer: Academy and Emmy Award Winner Aaron Sorkin. Cast: Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Sacha Baron Cohen, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Michael Keaton, Frank Langella,John Carroll Lynch, Eddie Redmayne, Mark Rylance, Alex Sharp, Jeremy Strong, Noah Robbins, Danny Flahery, Ben Skenkman, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Caitlin Fitzgerald, Alice Kremelberg, John Doman, J.C. MacKenzie, Damien Young, Wayne Duvall, C.J. Wilson.”

pen15 (Season 2 premiere on CBC Gem) “Produced by The Lonely Island, Primetime Emmy™-nominated PEN15 is middle school as it really happened, in all its R-rated glory. Maya Erskine (Betas, Insecure) and Anna Konkle (Rosewood, Maron) star, playing younger versions of themselves as awkward seventh grade outcasts, surrounded by actual 13-year-olds. Set in 2001, Maya and Anna face the trials and tribulations of middle school, from boys to school dances to overbearing parents – where the best day of your life can turn into your worst with the stroke of a gel pen.”

Clouds (movie premiere on Disney+) “Inspired by an incredible true story, “Clouds” is a poignant and beautiful look at the heartbreaking duality of life and a testament to what can happen when you start to live as if each day might be your last. Zach Sobiech (Fin Argus) is a fun-loving high school student with raw musical talent living with osteosarcoma, a rare bone cancer. At the start of his senior year, he is ready to take on the world, however when he receives the news that the disease has spread, he and his best friend and songwriting partner, Sammy (Sabrina Carpenter), decide to spend Zach’s limited time following their dreams. With the help of Zach’s mentor and teacher, Mr. Weaver (Lil Rel Howery), Zach and Sammy are given the chance of a lifetime and are offered a record deal. Along with the support of the love of his life, Amy (Madison Iseman) and his parents, Rob and Laura (Tom Everett Scott and Neve Campbell); Zach embarks on an unforgettable journey about friendship, love and the power of music.”

Star Trek: Discovery (Season 3 premiere 8pmCT/9ET Sci-fi, streaming on Crave) “After following Commander Burnham into the wormhole in the second season finale, season 3 of STAR TREK: DISCOVERY finds the crew of the U.S.S Discovery landing in an unknown future far from the home they once knew. Now living in a time filled with uncertainty, the U.S.S Discovery crew, along with the help of some new friends, must work together to restore hope to the Federation. Season 3 cast members include Sonequa Martin-Green (THE WALKING DEAD), Doug Jones (The Shape of Water), Anthony Rapp (Rent: Live), Mary Wiseman (ROOM 104), Wilson Cruz (13 REASONS WHY), and David Ajala (SUPERGIRL). Also appearing this season are Blu del Barrio, Ian Alexander (THE OA), and Michelle Yeoh (Crouching Tiger, Crazy Rich Asians).”

Meet the Chimps (documentary premiere on Disney+) “Meet the Chimps” takes viewers into the secret life of one of the largest and most unique wildlife sanctuaries in the world – Chimp Haven—a 200-acre refuge tucked deep in the forested heart of Louisiana, which is home to more than 300 chimpanzees. Narrated by Emmy Award-winning actress Jane Lynch, this six-part series, from National Geographic, tracks the ups and downs of this extraordinary group of chimps that are given a second chance at life by a staff whose dedication, compassion and commitment knows no bounds. Through a seamless blend of natural history and observational-documentary filmmaking, “Meet the Chimps” puts the chimps – the heart and soul of the series – at front and center. A real-life drama with a full emotional range, the series gives unparalleled access to everything happening at Chimp Haven, including food squabbles, alliances, romances, ‘bromances’, tears, tantrums, high jinxes and heartbreaks.

Perfect Weapon (documentary premiere HBO Crave 8pmET / 7CT streaming on Crave) “Based on a best-selling book by New York Times national security correspondent David E. Sanger, The Perfect Weapon explores the rise of cyber conflict as the primary way nations now compete with and sabotage one another. Directed by Emmy-winning filmmaker John Maggio (Panic: The Untold Story of the 2008 Financial Crisis) and featuring interviews with top military, intelligence, and political officials on the frontlines of cyberterrorism, the documentary brings to light the combatants and innocent victims caught in the crosshairs of a hidden war that has been going on for decades — a war that America started, but has no idea how to finish.‌ Traveling from the deserts of Iran and Las Vegas to the back alleys of Beijing and Moscow, the film chronicles America’s pursuit of enemies who have plotted against its institutions, its economy, and its democracy. A never-before-seen look inside the secret world of spies, hackers, and scammers in the lead-up to the 2020 U.S. elections, for which fear of cyberattacks has mounted to an all-time high, The Perfect Weapon is a timely reflection on the ultimate price — and potential “victors” — of this high-stakes conflict.”

Saturday Oct. 17

Saturday Night Live (10:30pmCT/11:30ET NBC Global) Issa Rae hosts and the musical guest is Justin Beiber.

David Byrne’s American Utopia (Crave 8pmET/ 7CT) “The Opening Night Film for the 2020 Toronto International Film Festival, HBO’s DAVID BYRNE’S AMERICAN UTOPIA brings the Talking Heads frontman’s critically acclaimed Broadway show to HBO in a one-of-a-kind film directed by Oscar and Emmy-winner Spike Lee (Do the Right Thing). Recorded during its late 2019 to early 2020 run at Broadway’s Hudson Theatre in New York City, Byrne is joined by an ensemble of 11 musicians, singers, and dancers from around the globe, inviting audiences into a joyous dream-world where human connection, self-evolution, and social justice are paramount. The special is described by The Globe and Mail as “a house party, then a science lesson, then a cultural essay, then a political protest. But always – always – with a fierce rhythm and energy unique to the 68-year-old, eternally impossible-to-classify Byrne.”

Enslaved (six-part documentary series premiere on documentary channel 8pmET/7CT and repeating Sunday on CBC 9pmET/8CT / CBC Gem) “Led by icon and activist Samuel L. Jackson, ENSLAVED sheds new light on 400 years of human trafficking from Africa to the New World. Based on a DNA test identifying his ancestral tribe, the series traces Jackson’s personal journey from the U.S. to Gabon for his induction into the Benga tribe, with rare and unprecedented access to secret ceremonies and local customs. … Using new diving technology – such as advanced 3D mapping and ground-penetrating radar – to locate and examine sunken slave ships on three continents, the series reveals an entirely new perspective on the history of the transatlantic slave trade. The series also tracks the efforts of Diving With a Purpose (DWP),  a collaborating organization with The National Association of Black Scuba Divers (NABS), as they search for and locate six slave ships that sank, drowning the enslaved humans aboard. Featuring the most dives ever made on sunken slave ships, Enslaved also chronicles the first positive identification of a“Freedom Ship,” an American schooner that ferried African American runaways to Canada. Each episode follows three separate story lines: the quest for a sunken slave ship, a personal journey by Samuel L. Jackson and a historical investigation led by investigative journalists Simcha Jacobovici and Afua Hirsch.”

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