HBO is wrapping up another year of programming. In fact, one of December’s highlights for me on HBO is the interstitial that plays at the end of the month that lets us reflect back on the quality programming we viewed for the year and the tease for what is ahead in the upcoming 365 days. I’m sure we at HBOWatch will post that special advertising when it airs. December is often considered a light month for the premium channel. There are no series that month and the rough R-rated movies don’t dominate the schedule. There might be a smattering of stand-up comedy late in the month or even a re-airing of a concert. Let’s look at, for one last time this year, what plays on HBO for the month. Hopefully, you’ll find something of interest.
Theatrical Movies: There are five theatrical movies making their premieres on HBO in December. They are CONTRABAND; JOURNEY 2: THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND; NEW YEAR’S EVE; JOYFUL NOISE and BIG MIRACLE. Only one of these is an R-rated flick and it gets out of the way of the holidays by airing first. It is called CONTRABAND and it opens on 12.01. It is a Mark Wahlberg action movie with a problematic premise. It seems in order to protect his brother-in-law from a drug lord, a former smuggler heads to Panama to score millions of dollars in counterfeit bills. He uses his expertise to save the day, but, of course, his wife & family end up in jeopardy as well. Catch it if you want to before more family fare dominates Saturday nights.
12.08 is the night for JOURNEY 2: THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND. There is the family adventure flick for you. It is the sequel to 2008’s “Journey to the Center Of the Earth.” Young Josh Hutcherson traveled to Jules Verne’s land of wonder below the earth’s crust with Brendan Fraser in the first one but now journeys to the famous author’s Mysterious Island with Dwayne Johnson in this film that came out early this year. It is mindless fun filled with CGI that you might find entertaining enough. The lady of the house might enjoy the next premiere. It is NEW YEAR’S EVE beginning on 12.15. Director Gary Marshall seems to be on a roll. He started with an ensemble of actors telling the story of “Valentine’s Day” in L.A. Now he offers a different cast playing out lives during NEW YEAR’S EVE in New York. The who’s who includes Michelle Pfeiffer, Zac Efron, Robert De Niro, Halle Berry, Cary Elwes, Alyssa Milano, Common, Jessica Biel and Seth Meyers. Marshall can always get a big cast it seems. He makes nice movies but, I have to wonder, just what holiday will he tackle next?
The next movie to make a Saturday debut is JOYFUL NOISE on 12.22. It fits the season I think because Holiday time is filled with its own distinctive sound and the sound of music here just might be rousing. Queen Latifah and Dolly Parton offer it up in this movie where their musical styles clash. Parton’s church choir is traditional Gospel but their new director, played by Queen, arrives to shake it up for a competition the choir enters. Come on, it’s obvious this one is going to end one a high, uplifting note just in time for the Holiday. The last movie is onscreen on 12.29. Hey, what a fun way to transition from one year to the next but with a BIG MIRACLE! It is about a news reporter in small town Alaska who recruits his ex-girlfriend – a Greenpeace volunteer – on a campaign to save a family of gray whales trapped by rapidly forming ice in the Arctic Circle. It is the mandatory feel-good movie of the month because everybody loves whales, right?
Well, just because I love whales doesn’t mean I’ll find time in this busy month to catch this movie or any of the others. Alas, Saturday nights are reserved for Christmas shopping or parties. I won’t make definite plans here but, as usual, if I manage to catch any one of them I’ll let you know. That was certainly the case in November. I watched both TOWER HEIST and RED TAILS but they were seen at unconventional times. I must say I enjoyed them both for different reasons. The Ben Stiller flick was a fun comedy caper that amused me and LucasFilms created a war movie that looked and felt like a classic John Wayne WWII movie. Of course he wouldn’t have starred in this picture; but Richard Roundtree and Sidney Poitier would have!
Originals: HBO offers one season finale, one documentary, one special presentation and one concert when it comes to the Originals to air before year’s end. Mark the calendar for 12.02.12 as the end date for Season Three of BOARDWALK EMPIRE. You know, it all comes to head in this last episode. Nucky Thompson is going to face off against Gyp Rosetti and it isn’t going to be pretty. HBOWatch, of course has good coverage and will surely not only recap the finale but the entire season in the weeks to come. Brace yourself.
Also get ready for Vogue and Mel Brooks. On Thursday, 12.06.12 viewers will see the latest from HBO Documentary Films. It is IN VOGUE: THE EDITOR’S EYE. It will chronicle the best fashion images the magazine has to offer. It has a lot to choose from. The magazine is 120 years old! This work may not be for everyone but those who watch it will surely see some of the hottest, most provocative imagery the fashion world has to offer. If comedy is your whim than check out the return of a classic comedian on Monday, 12.10.12. The hour special presentation is called MEL BROOKS STRIKES BACK! He was on HBO a little while ago with Dick Cavett and I guess Mr. Brooks has more humorous stories to tell. See it alone or with others but this should make your belly laugh like a bowlful of jelly if you appreciate Mel Brooks and his oeuvre. The concert airing 12.12.12 is THE CONCERT FOR SANDY RELIEF. They still need our help.
This look at December’s choices is flying by. Next up is …
Sports: Sports programming for the month is dominated by the ‘sweet science’, as they say, of boxing. First, carrying over from November is two more episodes of PACQUIAO/MARQUEZ 4. They air on 12.01 & 12.17 leading up to the pay-per-view event on 12.18.12. I’m sure boxing fans will be most attentive. A bout is also airing Live in December. It is DONAIRE VS. ARCE for the Super Bantamweight Championship. It airs 12.15. and upon its conclusion Jim Lampley offers another installment of THE FIGHT GAME. He, of course, will keep those interested updated on all the pugilistic news out there.
If that is not enough boxing for you than know that HBO has a marathon at the end of the year as well. Every night from 12.25 – 12.29 at 11:00pm ET HBO will air BOXING’S BEST OF 2012. It is a chance to relive some of the best bouts of the year. Some of the matches offered include MAYWEATHER Vs. COTTO; CHAVEZ JR. Vs. MARTINEZ; WARD Vs. DAWSON; RIOS Vs. ALVARADO; DEMARCO Vs. BRONER and more. Enjoy it fans! Lastly, in sports, REAL SPORTS WITH BRYANT GUMBEL offers another edition on 12.18.12.
Other Movies & Shows: Hmmm, let’s see if we can uncover some holiday treats from the other programming choices on the menu. Here is one of those treats if you like VEEP’s Emmy Award winning actress Julia Louis -Dreyfus. It’s called PICTURE PARIS and it is advertised as an HBO Special Presentation. Why is this piece tucked away in the Guide and not getting any featured billing? I’m not sure but the least I can do is draw your attention to it here. It is a 29 minute comedic bit about a woman obsessed with the City of Lights. Louis-Dreyfus’s husband Brad Hall is the writer and director of the film. It airs 12.17, 12.19, 12.23, 12.26, and 12.29. A few other treats on the schedule for the kids or family include the animated ANASTASIA, Jack Black in GULLIVER’S TRAVELS, Will Smith voicing, among others, in SHARK TALE and SHERK 2.
HBO’s Other Platforms: Other channels in the HBO family might have something of interest as well. HBO Latino, if you prefer, also airs the Saturday movie premieres the same time as on HBO. It also airs the Denzel Washington work called THE BONE COLLECTOR, UNDER MY NAILS about A Puerto Rican lady in a volatile relationship and EXTRATERRSTRE, a quirky work about an alien invasion. These three movies aren’t anywhere near Holiday fare but that what first-time premieres on the channel this month. HBO Family is where you need to go if you want the suitable flicks for the little ones, but the channel doesn’t seem to be offering anything new and exciting. HBO Signature is running something exciting for HBO fans. It is running Season One of THE SOPRANOS every weeknight at 8:00pm ET beginning 12.07.12. NEW YEAR’S EVE: HBO2 has a TRUE BLOOD marathon; HBO Signature offers a THE NEWSROOM marathon and HBO Comedy gives us a VEEP marathon.
HBOGO Let’s me throw some titles to those who enjoy their HBO via streaming video. The site has just added BACK TO THE FUTURE I, II and III; Tim Burton’s BIG FISH; THE NAKED GUN and its sequels; ROBOCOP I, II and III and the great Holiday movie SCROOGED and a few more. Cinemax The first-run premieres in December are the raunchy PROJECT X on 12.01; Jennifer Aniston in WANDERLUST on 12.08; THE SITTER with Jonah Hill on 12.15; the gory horror THE REVENANT is premiering 12.22 (ohh, that is good Christmas movie) and the just as creepy ASYLUM BLACKOUT on 12.29. The channel offers a STRIKE BACK marathon on New Year’s Eve.
December 2012 on HBO proves full of treats and gifts for you to enjoy. Treat us to a comment about what you’ll watch.