Let's face it: this week is all about the Oscars. All other entertainment events fall under the great Academy Awards shadow but — believe it or not — a few TV, music and video game releases are braving the blackout.
So, envelope please, here are Popjournalism's top 10 new & upcoming things to see and do this week:
1. 89th Academy Awards
ABC (simulcast on CTV), Sunday, Feb. 26
Will Moonlight upset Oscar favourite La La Land? How many times will Jimmy Kimmel's (faux) arch-enemy Matt Damon be ridiculed during the show? All will be revealed on Sunday (unless the always-overlong show runs late until early Monday morning).
2. Halo Wars 2
Xbox One/PC, Tuesday, Feb. 21
Oscars-schmoscars, Halo Wars 2 is already pre-destined for greatness. With early glowing reviews, the real-time strategy game sees the return of the human crew aboard the UNSC warship Spirit of Fire and introduces a new alien faction known as the Banished. It's also the first Halo game to be released simultaneously on PC and Xbox One — part of the Xbox Play Anywhere that means the digital copy can be played on both Windows and Xbox One.
CBC, Monday, Feb. 20
True Blood's Anna Paquin and Downton Abbey's Allen Leech headline CBC's new drama series about a police officer (Paquin) investigating the disappearance of a transgender teen while also dealing with the return of a mysterious person from her past.
4. Diana Krall, "Night and Day"
Canada's favourite contralto is back with a new single from her upcoming album Turn Up the Quiet. The Nanaimo-born songstress impeccably covers Cole Porter featuring her typical, lush jazz-influenced arrangements. (We're still waiting for a Canadian stop on your upcoming world tour, Ms. Krall!) Download/preview on iTunes.
5. Murdoch Mysteries Secret City Adventures
Begins Thursday, Feb. 23
CBC's Murdoch gets the escape game treatment in Toronto. In the game, Detective Murdoch is missing and as Toronto’s newest constables you’re called into action to find him within 60 minutes. Get tickets here.
USA (simulcast on Bravo Canada), Wednesday, Feb. 22
Will Harvey get Mike back into practicing the law after his imprisonment? Will the bizarre, interminable Donna-as-AI sub-plot come to a much-needed end? We're clearly hooked on Suits — the best legal series ever to be shot in Toronto and air on a U.S. network.
7. Sneaky Pete
Queue up this Amazon Prime series on your binge-playlist. The Giovanni Ribisi-starring crime drama is finally available to stream in Canada. (Coming soon to Amazon Prime Canada: Woody Allen's Crisis in Six Scenes!)
8. Leif Vollebekk, Twin Solitude
Secret City Records, Friday, Feb. 24
Montreal-based singer-songwriter Leif Vollebekk returns with Twin Solitude, a thoughtful "slow" record recorded live. (He sounds like the love child of Jeff Buckley and Bob Dylan.) Download/preview on iTunes.
9. The Blacklist: Redemption
NBC, Feb. 23
Spin-off! Ryan Eggold's telegenic Tom Keen stars in an eight-part series of his own featuring Famke Janssen as Susan Scott "Scottie" Hargrave, president of Halcyon Aegis, a private military company with teams of corporate operatives.
10. (tie) Legend of Zelda: 30th Anniversary Concert
Nintendo's got a lot of Zelda coming your way this year to celebrate the landmark game's 30th anniversary. First up: a limited-edition CD and vinyl release featuring highlights from the series conducted by the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra.
10. (tie) Becoming Mike Nichols
Cravetv, Friday, Feb. 26
The 2016 HBO documentary about the late, legendary director makes its Canadian streaming premiere on Cravetv. The intimate doc features some of the last interviews Nichols gave before his death in 2015.