Here again to give you the rundown of the latest networks’ offerings is our TV guru, Media Manda. She scours the listings and binges nearly anything, from true crime to celebrity documentaries. Where that might sound like a typical Saturday for many people, she watches with purpose. And that purpose is to keep you informed. Enjoy and watch on!
By Amanda Thornton a.k.a Media Manda
Truth & Iliza
Comedian Iliza Shlesinger is bringing her incisive perspective to a new weekly late-night talk show, “Truth & Iliza.” The series will serve as a platform for Iliza’s societal observations and sketches fueled by her opinions as well as in-studio celebrity guest and expert interviews. The show will be centered around a themed question which Iliza will seek to answer using audience interaction, field pieces, commentary, and of course, jokes. Iliza will draw from her decade of stand-up experience to focus on the sociopolitical issues of the day, providing a forum for viewers to discuss everything from the necessary to the inane to the taboo. Premieres May 2 for a six week run.
REVIEW: Every network wants a late-night talk show these days. They’re all trying to ride off the success of HBO’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver and TBS’s Full Frontal With Samantha Bee. Because the same producers from Full Frontal With Samantha Bee make this show, maybe it will actually be better than some of the other new late-night talk shows out there (looking at you TV Land’s Throwing Shade). The trailers make it look pretty good, but we’ll see when it premieres if it will be the new late night talk show to watch.
Mommy Dead and Dearest
On June 15, 2015, Dee Dee Blanchard was found murdered in her Springfield, Mo. home, and her wheelchair-bound daughter, Gypsy Rose Blanchard, was reported missing. But after Gypsy was tracked to Wisconsin and implicated in the murder, what started out as a grisly tale of matricide morphed into a bizarre story of deception and abuse. Premieres May 15.
REVIEW: I remember reading about this case when it was happening and being blown away by this crazy story. This case is an example of Munchausen syndrome, which is a disorder where people fake illnesses for attention. This family lived off of donations in their small town until this young woman had enough pretending and murdered her mother. I’m interested to hear more details behind this case and see the motivations behind why someone would even pretend to be sick like that. It reminds me of my an fascinating Facebook page I follow called “Go Fraud Me” where people post Go Fund Me scams.
Superheroes Decoded: A New Age (Documentary Special)
“Superheroes Decoded” reveals how the origin stories of our most iconic superheroes are the building blocks of a uniquely American mythology. This special 2-night event is equal parts fan film and informed documentary, mixing clips from present-day blockbuster films with vintage comic book artwork and historical archival to tell the surprising story of the modern era through the lens of our fictional heroes. The program features heroes and villains from both MARVEL and DC side by side, as well as commentary from creators, artists, filmmakers, famous fans, and the stars who bring these characters to life on TV and film. We’ll see how the rise of the superhero parallels America’s rise as a superpower in the 20th century, and how both stories continue to evolve into the future. Premieres April 30 and May 1.
REVIEW: History Channel is going after that comic book nerd audience with this series and I’m all for it. History seems to be moving more toward historic events in popular culture nowadays instead of Ancient Aliens and the WWII history documentaries they used to air. CNN has seen a lot of success with their decades documentary series, and it seems History wants to jump on that trend train while reeling in a younger audience. This looks like this will be an interesting documentary series, if only the trailer showed a little more.
Now, after 25 years, National Geographic Documentary Films presents LA 92, a riveting look back at the controversial Rodney King trial and subsequent protests, violence and looting of the city. Viewed from a multitude of vantage points through visceral and rarely seen archival footage, the film brings a fresh perspective to a pivotal moment that reverberates to this day. LA 92 premieres at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival on Friday, April 21. Furthering the national conversation, National Geographic has also partnered with Picture Motion to provide free screenings of the film to colleges and universities nationwide and has developed a robust free discussion guide to accompany the film. Premieres April 30 at 9p.
REVIEW: This year marks the 25th anniversary of the LA Riots. Many networks are making documentaries for the anniversary, but this one looks to be the most interesting, because it only uses archival footage to tell the history and culmination of the riots. This film also premiered at Tribeca Film Festival before airing on National Geographic.
Celebrity Ninja Warrior
Stephen Amell, the well-trained, well-sculpted star of the CW superhero series, is among the nine famous faces that will brave the “American Ninja Warrior” course in the series’ first-ever celebrity edition. Premieres May 25 at 8p as part of NBC’s annual Red Nose Day programming.
REVIEW: Who doesn’t want to see celebrities competing in obstacle courses? I remember when Disney Channel used to have a Disney Channel Games that aired in the summer where network stars would compete against each other. This sounds like it could be more interesting because there will be celebrities across popular culture competing. Each of the celebrities will be paired up with accomplished ninjas to coach them through the process as well, like how Dancing With the Stars pairs celebs with dancers. All in all, this should be an interesting special, and it’s for a good cause (Red Nose Day) so why not watch and support?
(soon to be Paramount Network)
I Am Heath Ledger (Documentary Film)
This film provides an intimate look at Heath through the lens of his own camera, with a treasure trove of never-before-seen footage, as he films and often performs in his own personal journey – extravagant in gesture and in action. Through these personal home movies, we get a rare glimpse into his true character – demonstrating his creative energy and unshakable willingness to take risks that instilled such an extraordinarily deep love and affection in the people that entered his life. Premieres May 17.
REVIEW: This documentary is one I’ve been looking forward to since the trailer was released on Heath Ledger’s birthday, April 4th. I never knew Heath Ledger was so big into filming in his spare time, and I can’t wait to see more revelations from his life in this documentary. He was such a talented actor and died too soon. So far, Spike is doing a good job rebranding from what I call “the 24 hour COPS channel” to a highbrow documentary and scripted channel that will become The Paramount Network.