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What to Watch This Week: March 23 to 29

From the JUNO Awards to a double-sized documentary about comedy legend Steve Martin, we round up our top 10 shows to watch this week

1. The 2024 JUNO Awards – Sunday, March 24, CBC

The 2024 JUNO Awards on CBC. Pictured: Nelly Furtado, host
Courtesy of CBC

We feel pretty confident in saying that the best Canadian musical performance of the past year was already delivered in early March when Ryan Gosling’s “I’m Just Ken” blew the roof off the Oscars. But there’s still plenty to celebrate this weekend, as our home and native land’s answer to the Grammys returns on Sunday. This year’s gala takes place in Halifax and it’s hosted by Victoria-born pop superstar Nelly Furtado, who will also belt out a few of her own chart-toppers. 

“The JUNOS have always put a spotlight on the abundance of musical talent we have coming out of Canada, while helping launch many young careers,” Furtado said in a press release. “I am beyond excited to share the stage and perform alongside this unbelievable lineup.” 

That lineup of nominees/performers includes Montreal singer-songwriter Charlotte Cardin, country crooner Josh Ross, Toronto rockers The Beaches and one of this year’s true breakout artists, TALK.

Also in attendance will be alt-rock duo Tegan and Sara and hip-hop legend Maestro Fresh Wes — the former receiving the JUNOS’ Humanitarian Award for their work supporting LGBTQ+ causes and the latter being inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. 

“When I began my journey into rap, there were only a few of us finding success in the genre and it was a struggle to find a place for our music,” said Wes. “After a decades-long career, it’s a full-circle moment for me to be honoured with this award that recognizes my life’s work. I’m grateful to have helped pave the way for younger Canadian artists and I can’t wait to celebrate in Halifax.” 

Finally, expect tributes to late homegrown icons Robbie Robertson and Gordon Lightfoot, as well as lesser-known musical pioneer Karl Tremblay of Les Cowboys Fringants.

2. Ramy Youssef: More Feelings – Saturday, March 23, HBO Canada

Ramy Youssef: More Feelings on HBO Canada. Pictured: Ramy Youssef

One of the most exciting young voices on the comedy scene, Ramy Youssef has had an eventful five years, to say the least.

2019 marked the debut of Starz dramedy Ramy, a loosely autobiographical series based on the star/creator’s experiences as an Egyptian-American millennial in New Jersey. Since then, his stock has only continued to rise, as evidenced by his appearance in one of last year’s most celebrated films, Poor Things. In addition to being the toast of Tinseltown, Youssef has also become a talking point for pundits in the Israel-Hamas conflict, after donating the proceeds from his standup shows to humanitarian efforts in Palestine, and being one of several red carpet walkers at the Academy Awards to wear a pin advocating for a ceasefire. 

More Feelings marks the comic’s first special since 2019’s Feelings, and the first time he’s had a platform to engage with the impact of the war, both abroad and at home. Given that part of Ramy’s third season was filmed in Israel with a largely Palestinian crew, we’d imagine he has some thoughts, but it’s unclear to what extent Youssef plans to tackle this particular hot-button issue. The synopsis says he’ll quip on “the 2024 presidential election, the importance of prayer and a childhood book report that changed the course of his life.” Yet it also notes, cheekily, that we can expect him to discuss “the perils of charitable giving.” Furthermore, the trailer finds Youssef vowing to stop catering to Islamophobes, saying: “Every time you turn on CNN, there’s some Arab dude talking about how ‘Islam’ means ‘peace.’ You know that guy? But he’s always shouting it. He’s always like, ‘We come in peace!’ You’re like, ‘Bro, that’s the slogan for aliens. That’s what aliens say before they take over the f***ing planet, bro.’ I’m done. I’m done saying sorry.”As for stop-motion, it too is a tricky genre, but Woods et al. felt right at home: “As people who are very similar to Lauren Caspian in our own lives, [it] is a perfect medium to capture people like us: delicate, precious, twee puppet people who are being controlled by forces that we know not — and who uses phrases like ‘we know not.’”les rise to power, often relying on cooperation and wisdom over brute strength to get ahead.”

3. Prosper – Sunday, March 24, Super Channel Fuse| Series Premiere

Prosper on Super Channel Fuse. Pictured: Rebecca Gibney as Abi and Richard Roxburgh as Cal Quinn
Courtesy of Lionsgate

This Australian drama is set in the inner sanctum of one of the fastest-growing evangelical megachurches in the world: U Star, based in Sydney, Australia, and run by the powerful Quinn family. At the head of the organization is charismatic church leader Cal Quinn (Richard Roxburgh), whose faith is genuine — but also at odds with his narcissistic love of the spotlight. Then there’s his calculating wife Abi (Rebecca Gibney) and their three grown children — one of whom is estranged from his parents — along with Cal’s right-hand man Eli (Jacek Koman), who’s not averse to getting his hands dirty when needed. Cal is consumed by bringing the church to America, a move that will expand his reach, his influence and his already swollen bank account. Behind closed doors, however, the Quinns are protecting some shockingly shameful secrets. As a press release declares, “Prosper studies a damaged family inextricably bound together while tearing themselves apart.”

4. The Truth vs. Alex Jones – Tuesday, March 26, HBO Canada

The Truth Vs. Alex Jones on HBO Canada. Pictured: Alex Jones (centre)
Courtesy of Crave

This doc chronicles the epic story of how families whose children were murdered at Sandy Hook took on notorious conspiracy theorist Alex Jones in two historic courtroom trials. Holding Jones to account involved years of effort by grieving parents and their legal teams, but the result was America’s biggest-ever defamation verdict, a death-blow for Jones with damages of nearly $1 billion as fake news was put on trial for the first time.

5. Hot Cross Buns with Dave Atell – Tuesday, March 26, Prime Video

Hot Cross Buns with Dave Atell on Prime Video. Pitured: Dave Atell

One of the standup world’s most respected minds delivers a new special this week. Here, Queens native Dave Attell offers his endearingly prickly takes on “hard seltzers, strip clubs, unsatisfying snacks and his wild trip to a petting zoo.” 

6. Testament: The Story of Moses – Wednesday, March 27, Netflix | Series Premiere

Testament: The Story of Moses on Netflix. Pictured: Avi Azulay as Moses

Think you know the whole story of Moses from watching The Ten Commandments? Think again, with this docuseries from the makers of Rise of Empires: Ottoman blending historical fact and dramatic re-enactments for what’s billed as “an immersive journey” into his life.

7. American Rust: Broken Justice – Thursday, March 28, Prime Video | Season Premiere

American Rust: Broken Justice on Prime Video. Pictured: Maura Tierney and Jeff Daniels
Prime Video

Way back in September 2021, a slow-burning crime thriller called American Rust debuted on U.S. cable network Showtime (and on Crave in Canada), starring Jeff Daniels as small-town Pennsylvania lawman Del Harris. Over the course of nine episodes, Del was forced to choose between his heart and his badge when the troubled son of the woman he loves (Maura Tierney) was accused of murdering an ex-cop.

The show was, alas, axed after season one, but a few months later it was saved by Amazon. Now subtitled Broken Justice, all 10 episodes of season two hit Prime this Thursday.

Once again, we open in the struggling Rust Belt town of Buell, as Del and Grace try to recover from the traumas of season one, only for another twisted conspiracy to envelop their lives. When a series of unrelated murders turn out to be not so unrelated after all, Del must unravel an insidious case that this time threatens not just his relationship but the entire community. 

Joining the ensemble are Dexter alum Luna Lauren Vélez, Orange Is the New Black’s Nick Sandow and Ozark’s Marc Menchaca

8. Jerrod Carmichael Reality Show – Friday, March 28, HBO Canada

Jerrod Carmichael Reality Show on HBO Canada. Pictured: Jerrod Carmichael

You could be forgiven for thinking we were peddling yet another comedy special, given that Jerrod Carmichael is, undoubtedly, one of the world’s most in-demand standups. But even though it does throw a few standup sets into the mix, Reality Show, like its creator, defies easy categorization. Here, the erstwhile sitcom star and Golden Globes host aims for a series that’s as raw and honest as it is hilarious. Along with co-creators Eli Despres and Ari Katcher, Carmichael embarks on a journey of love, sex, truth and self-discovery that plays out largely via uncomfortable conversations with those closest to him.

Introducing his new show at the SXSW fest, Carmichael said (via IndieWire): “I really liked the idea of someone who’s telling the truth despite himself, and I tried to do that with standup, and I wanted to do that with my life . . . Eli made work that I was inspired by, and I was like, ‘OK, well, the camera is like a lie detector.’ It’s something that can capture the truth. Can it hold my feet to the fire?”

“Nobody you see on screen wanted to do it,” he continued. “I think that’s why it made good television, because nobody wanted that type of attention — even the public figures didn’t want any part . . . I still deal with a text a day from someone who has second thoughts about the whole thing.”

9. A Gentleman in Moscow – Friday, March 28, Paramount+ | Series Premiere

A Gentleman in Moscow on Paramount+. Pictured: Ewan McGregor (centre)

In recent years, as actors previously categorized as “movie stars” have become willing to make the jump to TV, few have found more success than Ewan McGregor. First, the Scottish thesp led season three of Fargo with a juicy dual role playing two feuding brothers — for which he landed an Emmy nom in 2017. A few years later, he got not only a nomination but a win for Netflix’s fashion bio-series Halston.

Now, he’s back on the small screen with another miniseries. Based on Amor Towles’ bestselling 2016 novel, McGregor plays Count Alexander Rostov, a Russian aristocrat who, following the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, finds himself a target of the new regime due to his opulent upbringing. Narrowly dodging execution, the count is instead confined to a lifetime of house arrest in the attic of Moscow’s Hotel Metropol.  

“As the years pass and some of the most tumultuous decades in Russian history unfold outside the hotel’s doors, Rostov’s reduced circumstances provide him entry into a much larger world of emotional discovery,” reads the synopsis. “As he builds a new life within the walls of the hotel, he discovers the true value of friendship, family and love.”

The eight-part drama also marks a reunion between McGregor and his Fargo co-star Mary Elizabeth Winstead, whom he met and fell in love with during filming, leading the dramatic duo to start a family. Here, she plays Rostov’s glamorous yet enigmatic paramour, actress Anna Urbanova. Speaking with Vanity Fair, McGregor noted: “To be in love and married to somebody, and then to get to play all those cold shoulder scenes, was just hilarious . . . You just have to see what she’s done with this role — she’s such a brilliant actor . . . We have a scene where we have to part [ways], and we just were an absolute mess.”

10. Steve! – Friday, March 29, Apple TV+

Steve! on Apple TV+. Pictured: Steve Martin, 2024. Steve Martin, yesteryear.
Apple TV+

Those who’ve been paying attention over the years may have noticed there are two distinct sides to Steve Martin. One is Martin the comedian, who exploded on the scene in the 1970s as a banjo-plucking “wild and crazy guy,” sporting a fake arrow through his head while spouting hilariously absurdist punchlines (“Well, excuuuuse me!”) that became pop-culture catchphrases.

The other side of Martin has emerged gradually, in parallel with his zany comedy persona. This version is a thoughtful intellectual who’s written novels (Shopgirl, An Object of Beauty) and several stage plays (including Picasso at the Lapin Agile and Meteor Shower), a Grammy-winning musician and also one of the world’s pre-eminent art collectors — all while becoming a beloved mainstream movie star in numerous box-office hits and, more recently, the acclaimed TV series Only Murders in the Building.

With that in mind, it’s appropriate that a new documentary about Martin — titled Steve! — is split into two distinct halves, the first presenting an in-depth retrospective look at his storied comedy career, the other offering a cinema vérité deep dive into his various artistic pursuits beyond comedy.

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