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What to Watch This Week: April 13 to 19

From Billy Joel in concert to a new HBO drama featuring Robert Downey, Jr., we round up our top 10 shows to watch this week

1. Best Bite in Town – Saturday, April 13, Food | Series Premiere

Best Bite in Town on Food Network Canada. Pictured: Noah Cape and Guy Fieri.

Canadian host Noah Cappe (Carnival Eats) is tasked each week with assembling a “Bite Club” made up of himself and two Food Network chefs, who travel to an American city of Fieri’s choosing and sample the menus of six local restaurants. After that, Cappe and that week’s chefs each select one dish to be reviewed by a culinary panel, who will anoint the “Best Bite in Town.”

Competitors joining Cappe will include the likes of Tiffani Faison, Shota Nakajima, Joe Sasto, Aarti Sequeira and Jet Tila, whose Bite Clubbing will take them to Placerville, California, for some fresh oysters; Joplin, Missouri, for the state’s finest tacos; and Clarksville, Tennessee, for gourmet pizza, among other underappreciated locales.

Teases Fieri in a press release: “For years, I’ve been rollin’ out to towns big and small lookin’ for joints serving up amazing dishes. But no matter how many miles I put on the Camaro, I just can’t fit ’em all into DDD [Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives]. So, I’ve called in my buddy Noah Cappe and the Bite Club to help me out and they are hittin’ the road to find some killer small-town dishes on their own.”

Adds Cappe: “It’s more than just finding the best bite in town; it’s about celebrating the heart and flavour of each community.”

2. The 100th: Billy Joel at Madison Square Garden — The Greatest Arena Run of All Time – Sunday, April 14, Global & CBS

The 100th: Billy Joel at Madison Square Garden – The Greatest Arena Run of All Time on Global & CBS. Pictured: Billy Joel.
Sonja Flemming/CBS

Billy Joel has sold out Madison Square Garden more times than any other music artist — in fact, since his first show at the venue back in 1978, every single one of his concerts there has sold out. Starting in 2014, Joel began playing one show a month at MSG, with this ongoing residency going on to become legendary. After 10 years, Joel will be bringing it all to an end with his final run this summer, and this two-hour concert special documents his historic 100th show at the iconic New York City venue. “When this franchise run at Madison Square Garden began in January 2014, I said I’d play one show a month ‘as long as the demand continues.’ I never imagined I’d still be playing one show a month 10 years later,” said Joel in a statement. “It’s a testament to my amazing fans, and the 1.6 million people from around the world who have already been part of this historic residency.”

3. The Sympathizer – Sunday, April 14, HBO Canada | Series Premiere

The Sympathizer on HBO Canada. Pictured: Hoa Xuande and Robert Downey, Jr.

One of modern cinema’s most distinctive auteurs, South Korean director Park Chan-wook has given us such dark, off-kilter thrillers as Oldboy, The Handmaiden and just recently, Decision to Leave

While most of his films have been made in his native country and in his native language, the director has occasionally crossed over to Hollywood. A few years back, he helmed AMC spy series The Little Drummer Girl. Now, he returns to the North American small screen with another espionage drama, based on Viet Thanh Nguyen’s Pulitzer-winning novel The Sympathizer

Opening in the aftermath of the Vietnam War, the seven-part limited series is a darkly comedic saga that follows The Captain (Hoa Xuande) — a North Vietnamese spy who is evacuated to the United States along with the South Vietnamese soldiers he’s been spying on. Utterly displaced and confused, he adjusts to a new life in Los Angeles, but is unexpectedly ordered by the Viet Cong to continue his work as a double agent abroad — kicking off a perilous mission and a profound identity crisis.

Described as part espionage thriller and part cross-culture satire, the show was co-created by Park and Canadian writer-director-actor Don McKellar (Sensitive Skin). Another Canadian connection: McKellar’s old Last Night co-star Sandra Oh (late of Killing Eve) is in the cast as Ms. Mori, an alluring co-worker at the liberal arts college where The Captain lands a job. But the real star power in this ensemble comes from Robert Downey, Jr., fresh off his Academy Award win for Oppenheimer. In addition to being an executive producer on the series, the erstwhile Iron Man looks to demonstrate his range by playing an array of oddball characters, united only by the common trait of making our young hero’s life a lot more complicated.

4. NCIS – Monday, April 15, Global & CBS

NCIS on Global & CBS. Pictured: Gary Cole as Alden Parker.

One of TV’s most enduring franchises achieves something few others have managed since the dawn of the medium, as the combined episode total of NCIS and its spinoffs hits 1,000. Fittingly, it’s the proverbial mothership that takes centre stage. 

In an hour of television that promises plenty of Easter eggs for longtime fans, Parker and his team land in the crosshairs of an old enemy. “One of our own beloved characters is going to end up in grave danger,” co-showrunner David North told TVLine, before adding that “you’re going to see all of the different franchises brought into this in a little bit of a different way.” Speaking of which, it’s been confirmed that Vanessa Lachey, who plays top naval cop Jane Tennant on NCIS: Hawai’i, and Daniela Ruah, who played Agent Kensi Blye on now-defunct NCIS: Los Angeles, will both drop by to mark the occasion. (Plus, per TVLine, there’s at least one more, top-secret cameo in the works.) 

A more personal storyline in the episode will revolve around Director Vance struggling to explain to his estranged son why he won’t just quit this perilous job.

Later, at 10 p.m., stick around for a new NCIS: Hawai’i — boldly titled “The Next Thousand.”

5. Jimmy Carr: Natural Born Killer – Tuesday, April 16, Netflix

Jimmy Carr: Natural Born Killer on Netflix. Pictured: Jimmy Carr.

One of England’s most successful standup comics, Jimmy Carr is never one to shy away from controversy — and here, he returns to stir up some more with a special that touches on such hot-button topics as “gun control, religion, cancel culture and consent.”

6. Our Living World – Wednesday, April 17, Netflix | Series Premiere

Our Living World on Netflix. Pictured: Elephants in the jungle.

It would be easy to assume that the daily habits of hippos in Africa have nothing to do with the grazing patterns of reindeer in the Arctic. Yet despite the thousands of miles separating these disparate habitats, the survival of both species are bound together in a vast and intricately linked network of connections that allows our planet to sustain life itself. 

 That’s the premise underlying this visually stunning four-part docuseries, which strives to illustrate how extraordinary and unexpected these connections can be. 

“Traveling from Angola to New Zealand and dozens of countries in between, filmmakers, wildlife photographers, and scientists come together to depict the wondrous tapestry of creatures and ecosystems that sustain Earth’s existence — and that are under serious threat due to human activity,” explains Netflix’s synopsis of the series, which boasts narration from Oscar winner Cate Blanchett. “We found it very natural for her to speak with authority on the subject,” executive producer James Honeyborne told Netflix’s Tudum, revealing that Blanchett had some very specific experience that made her an ideal choice as narrator. “She is a beekeeper,” added Honeyborne, “so she has such a natural affinity for the subject and knows a lot about ecology. We found it very natural for her to speak with authority on the subject.”

7. We Were the Lucky Ones – Wednesday, April 17, Disney+ | Series Premiere

We Were the Lucky Ones on Disney+. Pictured: The Kurc family celebrates Passover in Radom, Poland. One year later, the onset of World War II forces a devastating separation.
Vlad Cioplea/Hulu

Based on Georgia Hunter’s acclaimed debut novel, this miniseries follows one tight-knit family of Polish Jews who are torn apart by the Second World War. As the Nazis rampage through Europe, siblings Halina (Joey King), Addy (Logan Lerman) and the rest of the Kurc clan scatter across the continent — some making it into hiding, while others are forced into concentration camps. Over the years, they fight to keep themselves, and hope, alive. Inspired by the real-life experiences of Hunter’s great-grandparents and their five children, the book was described by fellow author Paula McLain (The Paris Wife) as “like being swung heart-first into history.” 

The first three episodes of this eight-part drama debut on Wednesday.

8. Don’t Hate the Player – Wednesday, April 17, Netflix | Series Premiere

Don't Hate the Player on Netflix. Pictured: Contestants in a game show boat to a run-down camp where they square off in a game of strategy.

From a Netflix game show where the players never see each other to one where they’re way too close for comfort, this new French series drops 13 contestants into a run-down camp, where they square off in an intricate game of strategy to move on up to a luxury villa, and a shot at €150,000.

9. The Upshaws – Thursday, April 18, Netflix | Season Primiere

The Upshaws on Netflix. Pictured: Mike Epps and Kim Fields.

In an age where multi-cam comedies have become a rarity (especially on streaming), The Upshaws has proven that there’s some life left in the format. Now, Bennie, Regina, Lucretia and the fam are back for a fifth season of throwback sitcom hijinks balanced out with just the right amount of heart. As co-star/co-creator Wanda Sykes once summed up in an interview with “When I watched sitcoms as a kid, it’s like the conversations that the Evans family [of Good Times fame] were having . . . we were having those conversations in our home. That’s what we wanted to do [in this show].” 

Per Netflix’s synopsis, this year the blue-collar Indianapolis clan will “continue to ride life’s ups and downs, including new jobs, bigger dreams, health struggles and some major life surprises — but still hanging on with the love that comes with family.”

10. We’re All Gonna Die (Even Jay Baruchel) – Friday, April 19, Crave1 | Season Premiere

We're All Gonna Die (Even Jay Baruchel) on Crave1. Pictured: Jay Baruchel at right.

An accomplished actor whose CV spans from raunchy comedy This Is the End to Oscar-winning drama Million Dollar Baby, Ottawa’s own Jay Baruchel has a varied and enviable career. But the man’s rise to fame actually began as a boy, when he was a correspondent for edu-tainment series Popular Mechanics for Kids. In that sense, you could argue that We’re All Gonna Die is a full-circle moment.

Returning Friday night with its second season (all six episodes of which debut back-to-back on Crave1), the comedic docuseries once again finds its host on a charming, relatable journey to conquer his own neuroses as he explores various, potentially apocalyptic threats to humanity.

This year, that includes artificial intelligence; “gamma bursts and coronal mass ejections” from outer space; the ecosystem-destabilizing extinction of insects; nanotech breakthroughs that pose a massive risk to the environment; and the conspiracy theory that human life itself is just an elaborate, Matrix-style computer simulation. Then, in the final episode, Jay turns his attention from specific catastrophes to the concept of death itself, which we all must find a way to live with. In addition to hosting, Baruchel directs all six eps.

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