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Orange Is the New Oz?

Orange Is the New Oz?

A new prison drama worth mentioning comes every few years. In 1997, it was Oz, a show about a prison with a cell block built under idealistic views of rehabilitation. They called it Emerald City. Oz ended with six seasons after wrapping up most of story lines that kept their viewers tuning in. Since then, there wasn’t a show that brought its audience into the world of prison life quite the way that HBO did. Netflix has quickly gone from being a subscription-based streaming service to producing an arsenal of original content. Among its shows, Orange Is the New Black is getting a lot of attention. You may have even seen a commercial for...

From Rome to King’s Landing

From Rome to King’s Landing

Missing Game of Thrones yet? Our watch has just begun, so we thought it’d be interesting to explore some of the influences on HBO’s most watched show. Roman and medieval epics have lent a lot of their aesthetic and themes to Game of Thrones. In fact, one can say that Game of Thrones is a deconstruction of the epic and the fantasy genres. Some of its earliest literary ancestors include everything from the Greek epics to the stories of King Arthur. Martin himself has emphasized the influence of historical conflicts like the Wars of the Roses, and the history of the Capetians as chronicled by Maurice Druon in The Accursed...

Hail, Ciarán Hinds, the King-Beyond-the-Wall

Hail, Ciarán Hinds, the King-Beyond-the-Wall

Some might argue that the only task possibly more difficult than uniting the Roman Empire under one supreme ruler is joining 90 different clans of Wildlings. Ciarán Hinds is no stranger to great conquests on HBO.  Playing Julius Caesar in the critically-acclaimed Rome probably hasn’t hurt his brooding portrayal of the similar Mance Rayder. Caesar in Rome, and Mance in GOT are middle-aged warriors who’ve been put through the wringer for their reputations in battle. During times of crisis the people demand a leader. When the Roman Republic was under attack it elected one man to make critical decisions. Julius Caesar was a...

Lisa Kudrow’s THE COMEBACK Coming Back?

Lisa Kudrow’s THE COMEBACK Coming Back?

Everyone remembers THE COMEBACK don’t they? It was a single season comedy in 2005 by Michael Patrick King of SEX AND THE CITY and Lisa Kudrow. Ohh, now you remember. It aired thirteen episodes coupled with ENTOURAGE the summer of that year and may now be coming back to HBO a decade later. Both King and Kudrow are in preliminary discussion about bringing the lauded sitcom back on the air. It was a mockumentary style spoof of the reality TV genre and of celebrities fighting to stay relevant. Kudrow plays has-been actress Valerie Cherish who gets a reality show documenting her attempt at a career comeback. The show was a total ‘inside...

A DEADWOOD Marathon!

A DEADWOOD Marathon!

HBO wants to draw our attention to the fact that DEADWOOD is having an anniversary! The Emmy Award winning series began on March 21, 2004 and ran for three 12-episode seasons. To mark the 10th anniversary of its debut a marathon of the series will air on two of HBO’s platforms. HBO Zone – If you have HBO Zone, which I gather not everyone does have as a part of their HBO package, than you can watch or record all 36 episodes back-to-back beginning Saturday, 03.15  at 10:00am ET and concluding Sunday, 03.16 at 10:oopm.  HBO Signature – This channel will play out the series on a slower pace, but won’t start its run of the series until...

The Fall and Rise of Rome

The Fall and Rise of Rome

The Fall and Rise of ROME? HBO is littered with wonderful, brilliant, and engaging shows that were cancelled before their time. Production costs, controversies, and countless other factors resulted in shows like Carnivàle, Life’s Too Short, Luck, and Deadwood to be lost to the annals of time (and the wondrous bounty of HBOGO and DVD). But few shows have left the gaping, sucking chest wound of sorrow created by the cancellation of ROME. In the 7 years since the series ended, HBO has worked tirelessly to replace the dramatic epic. Of course we have Game of Thrones, and no one is complaining, but ROME paved the way for George R.R....

Girls vs Sex and the City: Can You Even Compare?

Girls vs Sex and the City: Can You Even Compare?

Girls’ four female friends, living in New York City and dealing with their everyday lives, seem to regularly inspire comparison to HBO’s Sex and the City (SATC). But really, beyond the superficial similarities, Girls is NOT the modern day Sex and the City. Another notable, and pretty frustrating, similarity is the absence of any meaningful racial diversity in the casting or story. This is a serious criticism of SATC, and criticism from which one would hope Girls would have learned. The differences between the shows, however, are more pronounced than the similarities. GIRLS Girls is an honest look at a whole cast of misfit...

HBO Classics: 1ST & TEN

HBO Classics: 1ST & TEN

Last Fall HBOWatch launched a new category onsite dedicated to the HBO Classics. It kicked off with a look at the long-running show TALES FROM THE CRYPT. Since then we have also looked at such programming as HBO Holiday programming; ROME and even FRAGGLE ROCK. This writer now returns back to the archives to look at an older series that seems apropos to discuss this time of year. It is 1ST & TEN.  It is football season and everyone has their favorite teams and players. HBO sort of had one also. The team was the California Bulls. Does anyone here remember them? I do. They were the focal point of an early HBO comedy series that lasted...

Donnie Andrews: The Real Omar Little

Donnie Andrews: The Real Omar Little

“You come at the king you best not miss” – Omar Little; the name alone conjures up images of a truly iconic character, a man who didn’t just transform The Wire and HBO, but also fiction and quite possibly hell. Living a rather precarious life, Omar specialized in robbing and ripping off drug dealers with his shotgun and mob of merry men. As ruthless as Omar was, the man had his code, an ethical conscience, ensuring that he never killed a civilian. A character that will forever be remembered and celebrated; let us never forget the joyous “It’s Omar! It’s Omar!” screams from those pesky street kids. A complex character,...

Rome: The Complete Series Review

Rome: The Complete Series Review

Existing as the pinnacle of what HBO is capable of achieving in terms of quality entertainment, Rome was perhaps too good to be true. With an estimated total budget of $100,000,000, it was grossly expensive for its time. The attention to detail was apparent throughout the show’s two seasons, however, and while it was short-lived, it still remains one of the best shows HBO has ever produced. The quality of the show noticeably declined during the second season, although this can be fully explained by the fact that it was cut short. Originally planned to be five seasons long (the second ending with Brutus’ death, the third and...

How The Sopranos & The Wire Changed Society

How The Sopranos & The Wire Changed Society

With little in common besides coarse language and regular displays of brutality, both The Sopranos and The Wire have influenced our fascination with crime and social delinquency. With a consistently high level of acting, writing and filmmaking, both of these shows have pushed the boundaries, raised our expectations as avid TV viewers. Influential is a word heavily linked with both HBO masterpieces, but a show that’s distinguished exclusively because of its influence cannot be a truly terrific show. A terrific show, like a terrific movie or song, takes its influences and converts them, or at the very least adds a new dimension. Both The...

A Look Back at Carnivàle

A Look Back at Carnivàle

It has been nearly a decade since HBO launched the record-setting premier of a show that bewildered fans with its creative and elusive story, and dismayed them at its early cancellation. I am, of course, speaking of Carnivàle. On September 14th, 2003 at 9 P.M., 5.3 million viewers tuned in to see HBO and Daniel Knauf’s stunning and ambitious new show. Unfortunately for the fans, and the writers, Carnivàle was never able to maintain its high ratings, and with a $2 million per episode budget, the show was doomed. Despite the show’s numerous awards, including 5 Emmy Awards and 15 nominations over the course of its 2 seasons,...

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