So here we are, with many of us in isolation and relying on the internet for information and connectivity. Isn’t it a great gadget entirely? Skype or FaceTime with friends and family. Information and entertainment galore. Yoga and Pilates classes in your home with your favourite instructor.
Well, yes and no. This weekend, there’s a gripping, witty and cautionary documentary about where the internet is taking us. Some of us don’t want to go there at all, thanks. The doc’s maker, Brett Gaylor, says, “I’m a reformed techno-utopian who works in the tech industry and has spent a decade critiquing it.”
The Internet of Everything (Sunday, CBC Docs POV, 9 p.m.) is what he’s made, with an unerring eye for the gullibility of you, me and everyone. The “activated house” is where he begins and he wonders if the internet, once seen as a democratizing force, has become absurdly invasive. This is a shrewd observation since later he introduces a woman, a survivor of domestic abuse, who was terrorized in her “smart home” by an ex-partner.
She would awaken in the night to blasts of loud music, be terrorized by endlessly flickering lights and a TV that went on and off repeatedly. All done by someone who didn’t need to be anywhere nearby or even in the same country. Think about that the next time you see a commercial selling you an app to automate devices and doors and lights in your home and keep an eye on the kids.
The doc also questions the new intersection of the human body and the internet. At a trade show, we meet Kristina Cahojova, who is developing a “Kegel” device that, from women’s vaginas, transmits fertility data to the cloud. That then takes the doc to the matter of data, who owns it and how it is used. One pundit explains that if a woman in the United States buys plus-sized clothing online, that information can be used to determine the cost of her health care, because the health-care provider assumes she is living an unhealthy lifestyle.
Jeremy Rifkin, the American economic and social theorist, appears too, and pithily explains the series of industrial and social revolutions that have led us to where we are now. And now is where “predictive policing” or “algorithmic policing” can be categorized as the smart use of technology in police work or the dehumanizing criminalization of people who live in certain areas. It’s a must-see program, terrifically shrewd about the ominous side of technology that comforts us, for now.
Also airing this weekend
I Do, Redo (Sunday, CTV, 7 p.m.) is your high-end lifestyle show. A wedding show, really, but not about giddy first-timers tingling with bridal excitement. It features couples who, for various reasons, need an opportunity to redo their weddings. The host and producer is Jessica Mulroney. According to CTV, she’s an “internationally acclaimed wedding expert and stylist.”
Certainly, Mulroney has studied the lifestyle genre, and while there’s nothing new about the format and style, Mulroney is going for uplifting and heartwarming stories here. Big-time heartwarming. The first couple featured is in the United States. That’s Mark and Mia from Windsor, Conn., who were first wedded in the prison where Mark spent 27 years after being wrongfully convicted of murder. Mia stood by him all that time and now that he’s free, Mulroney is giving them the wedding they deserve. In the first episode, Mulroney’s emphasis on her empathy and benevolence goes a tad too far. But it’s hard to be cynical about a series that has warmth at its core.
Mary’s Kitchen Crush (Sunday, CTV 7:30 p.m.) returns. Stand back, boys and girls, because Mary Berg, all down-home charm, with her bangs, big glasses and long arms waving willy-nilly, is back in the kitchen. Her first task is an engagement brunch for a chap in her family and his new fiancée. You might get a little lost as she makes elaborate danishes, but the show, as before, has a redeeming simplicity and charm. Fun to watch even if you have no intention of matching the cooking.
Finally, at the suggestion of many readers, this column has a “Stay-at-home-period daily streaming pick” for the next while. Today’s pick is Hanna (on Amazon Prime Video). It is very entertaining, lavishly made and at times ridiculously uneven. It stands as an example of the wobbly quality of so many expensively made series on streaming services. It is not, mind you, devoid of value. It’s the kind of high-end trashy TV storytelling that often contains surprising depths.
The central figure Hanna (Esme Creed-Miles) is an avenger, a formidable teenage girl, raised in remote forests by her father (Joel Kinnaman) and sought after by a rogue CIA agent (Mireille Enos). Think Orphan Black and La Femme Nikita. Think charming coming-of-age drama with wild action scenes.
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