Boom! And then it was February and HBO becomes jam-packed with content it can’t contain itself. We’ve got big drama, hot comedy, live commentary, big personalities, flicks from Hollywood and news from VICE and squeeze a bit more. So gather your loved ones and get ready for some HBO. Oh, yeah! Here is What’s On for February.
Original Series: Directed by Paolo Sorrentino, THE YOUNG POPE continues its story of Lenny Belardo, aka Pius XIII and his odd journey through faith. The ten-episode limited drama series wraps with new episodes debuting SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 5 and MONDAY, FEBRUARY 6 and on SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 12 and lastly MONDAY, FEBRUARY 13. All start times are at 9:00pm.
Concerned by negative publicity surrounding the suicide of a would-be priest, Voiello (Silvio Orlando) ponders new and familiar scenarios to take down Lenny (Jude Law). Sister Mary (Diane Keaton) struggles with her conscience as Lenny is distracted by the possibility of a family reunion. In the disturbing aftermath of a social event in Rome, Dussolier (Scott Shepherd) informs the pope he wants to return to Honduras. Written by Paolo Sorrentino and Umberto Contarello; directed by Paolo Sorrentino.
–Episode #8: “Eighth Episode” Debut date: MONDAY, FEBRUARY 06 (9:00-10:00pm)
Lenny (Jude Law) and Sister Mary (Diane Keaton) deal with a shared loss in their own peculiar ways. Returning to the Vatican, Sofia (Cécile De France) suggests that the new pope embarks on his first trip abroad: a visit to Africa in celebration of the 30th anniversary of Sister Antonia’s (Milvia Marigliano) much-heralded “Village of Goodness.” Lenny is heartened by a visit from his favorite author and dismayed by the sudden departure of a friend. Written by Paolo Sorrentino and Umberto Contarello; directed by Paolo Sorrentino.
–Episode #9: “Ninth Episode” Debut date: SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 12 (9:00-10:00pm)
Lenny (Jude Law) and Sister Mary (Diane Keaton) relive a momentous incident from the past as the pope faces the prospect of an unthinkable loss in the present. In New York, Gutierrez (Javier Cámara) faces daunting odds, including the threat of blackmail, in his ongoing investigation of Kurtwell (Guy Boyd), a powerful archbishop suspected of longtime sexual misconduct. Written by Paolo Sorrentino and Umberto Contarello; directed by Paolo Sorrentino.
Reunited with a changed Gutierrez (Javier Cámara) at the Vatican, the pope (Jude Law) considers an appropriate course of action regarding Archbishop Kurtwell (Guy Boyd). Father Tomasso (Marcello Romolo) gets a promotion, while Sister Mary (Diane Keaton) takes on a new role. The prospect of a reconciliation leads the young pope to make an unexpected change of travel plans – and policy. Written by Paolo Sorrentino and Umberto Contarello; directed by Paolo Sorrentino.
And upon the conclusion of one limited series, the following weekend we see the launch of another. And this one was just as greatly anticipated. Based on Liane Moriarty’s best-selling book of the same name, the subversive, darkly comedic BIG LITTLE LIES tells the tale of three mothers of first-graders whose seemingly perfect lives unravel to the point of murder. Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Shailene Woodley, Alexander Skarsgard, Laura Dern, Adam Scott, Zoe Kravitz, James Tupper and Jeffrey Nordling star in the seven-part limited drama series, debuting SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 19 beginning at 9:00pm each week.
Check out the characters:
The Mothers of Monterey are –
— Madeline Martha Mackenzie (Reese Witherspoon) is a whirlwind of energy and good intentions, but her compulsion to set things right has unintended consequences.
— Celeste Wright (Nicole Kidman) is the envy of her peers, a statuesque beauty who appears to have it all: twins, wealth and the perfect husband.
— Jane (Shailene Woodley), a single mom of modest means with a mysterious past, is new not only to Monterey but to the complicated social hierarchy of Otter Bay Elementary School, where her son is a student.
— Renata Klein (Laura Dern) is a powerful career woman and anti-bullying crusader at the center of schoolyard politics, on and off the playground.
— Bonnie Carlson (Zoë Kravitz), married to Madeline’s ex-husband, is a spiritual yoga instructor and a sensitive soul with a strong moral compass.
— Perry Wright (Alexander Skarsgård), half of the seemingly perfect Monterey couple, is a successful businessman, loving father and devoted husband to Celeste.
— Ed Mackenzie (Adam Scott) is Madeline’s stable and loving second husband, who copes with feelings of being second-best and, unlike his wife, believes in playing it safe.
— Nathan Carlson (James Tupper), ex-husband of Madeline, is re-married to the beautiful and younger yoga instructor, Bonnie. He faces the challenges of co-parenting a teenage daughter with his ex.
— Gordon Klein (Jeffrey Nordling) is a high-powered executive who loves and supports his wife, Renata, in her professional endeavors, but doesn’t always understand her actions.
You’ve been schooled; now check out the episode details
–Episode #1: “Somebody’s Dead”
Debut: SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 19 (9:00-10:00pm)
In the affluent beachfront community of Monterey, Cal., a suspicious death at a coastal elementary school fundraiser draws attention to the frictions among some of the mothers. Madeline (Reese Witherspoon) and Celeste (Nicole Kidman), longtime friends and confidantes, welcome newcomer Jane (Shailene Woodley) and her son, Ziggy (Iain Armitage), into their inner circle, much to the chagrin of another mother, Renata (Laura Dern). An incident with the children at school causes battle lines to be drawn. Written by David E. Kelley; directed by Jean-Marc Vallée.
–Episode #2: “Serious Mothering”
Debut: SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 26 (9:00-10:00pm)
Jane (Shailene Woodley) deflects Ziggy’s (Iain Armitage) questions about why they moved to Monterey. Madeline (Reese Witherspoon) gets news that her community theater production might get derailed, and is outraged over a slight from Renata (Laura Dern). Celeste (Nicole Kidman) suggests to Perry (Alexander Skarsgård) that they see a counselor. Nathan (James Tupper) and Ed (Adam Scott) meet in hopes of smoothing out the tensions between their wives, and themselves. Written by David E. Kelley; directed by Jean-Marc Vallée.
Then our girls are back for one last fling! GIRLS returns for its ten-episode, sixth and final season SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 12 (10:00-10:45 p.m.), with other new episodes debuting subsequent Sundays at the same time. In this last season of the Emmy-winning comedy series, created by and starring Lena Dunham, our four familiar friends attempt to get closer to becoming the women they always envisioned – even as life sometimes gets in the way. Judd Apatow, Jenni Konner, Lena Dunham, Ilene S. Landress, Murray Miller and Bruce Eric Kaplan executive produce the show. The cast also includes Allison Williams, Jemima Kirke, Zosia Mamet, Adam Driver, Alex Karpovsky, Andrew Rannells and Ebon MossBachrach. But you knew that.
What you don’t know, though, is how the first few episodes break down.
–Episode #53 (season 6, episode 1): “All I Ever Wanted” Debut: SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 12 (10:00-10:45pm ET/PT)
Riding a wave of newfound career success, Hannah (Lena Dunham) gets an assignment to write a story about a female surf camp in the Hamptons, where she meets Paul-Louis (Riz Ahmed), an uncomplicated waterski instructor. Hoping to break her old patterns post-divorce, Marnie (Allison Williams) tells Ray (Alex Karpovsky) he needs to spend more time at his own place, but Adam (Adam Driver) and Jessa’s (Jemima Kirke) intensity drives him out of the apartment. Written by Lena Dunham & Jenni Konner; directed by Lena Dunham.
Hannah (Lena Dunham) provides cover for Marnie’s (Allison Williams) secret weekender to Poughkeepsie, which she hopes will help clarify an old chapter in her life. Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet) enlists Elijah (Andrew Rannells) to be her plus-one at a networking event for young professional women, where Jessa’s (Jemima Kirke) antics lead Shosh to reevaluate her post-college friendships. Written by Lena Dunham; directed by Lena Dunham.
Hannah (Lena Dunham) has a tense tête-à-tête with Chuck Palmer (Matthew Rhys) – an acclaimed author she once greatly admired – about the disturbing allegations swirling around him. Written by Lena Dunham; directed by Richard Shepherd.
The new comedy series CRASHING begins its eight-episode season SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 19 (10:30-11:00 p.m.), with other new episodes debuting subsequent Sundays at the same time. The show was created by and stars Pete Holmes as an aspiring standup comic who discovers that his wife is unfaithful, forcing him to reevaluate his priorities and plunging him into the rough-and-tumble New York City comedy scene. Also featured Lauren Lapkus and George Basil. Among the notables appearing as versions of themselves on the show are Dave Attell, Hannibal Burress, Artie Lange, T.J. Miller, Jim Norton, Rachael Ray and Sarah Silverman. Executive produced by Judd Apatow and Pete Holmes.
Here is what we know:
–Episode #1: “Artie Lange” Debut: SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 19 (10:30-11:00pm ET/PT) Aspiring comedian Pete (Pete Holmes) finds himself without a home after he catches his wife, Jessica (Lauren Lapkus), in a compromising position. As Pete attempts to find solace at a New York comedy club, he befriends cynical comedy legend Artie Lange, who reluctantly offers him some pizza, some advice and a couch. Written by Pete Holmes; directed by Judd Apatow.
–Episode #2: “The Road” Debut: SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 26 (10:30-11:00pm) Pete (Pete Holmes) wallows in his new reality, but Artie Lange snaps him out of it with an offer: In exchange for a ride to Albany, Pete can be Artie’s opening act. Pete meets co-headliner T.J. Miller and attempts to save Artie from breaking his sobriety by getting between him and the temptations of an ardent fan (Gina Gershon). Written by Pete Holmes & Oren Brimer; directed by Chris Kelly.
Outspoken comedian/social commentator Bill Maher continues the 15th season of REAL TIME WITH BILL MAHER on FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 3 (10:00-11:00pm), followed by other shows subsequent Fridays at the same time. Devoted primarily to news and comedy, the show’s format includes an opening monologue, roundtable discussions with special guests, and interviews with guests. LAST WEEK TONIGHT WITH JOHN OLIVER returns for its fourth season SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 12 (11:00-11:30pm. Presenting a satirical look at the week in news, politics and current events, as well as addressing broader issues, the Emmy-winning show is the only weekly news-oriented comedy series to be presented on Sunday night.
VICE NEWS TONIGHT, the half-hour nightly newscast from VICE Media and HBO, debuts a new edition THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 02 (7:30-8:00pm), with other new editions airing subsequent weeknights on HBO.Taking viewers around the globe as its correspondents investigate the stories not being told, season five of the Emmy-winning weekly news magazine series VICE launches FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 24 (11:00-11:30pm), followed by other episodes subsequent Fridays at the same time. This season will feature 30 episodes, up from 18 episodes in season four. That excites no one but me, right?
Movies: Only you can tell me if these titles are exciting enough for you. They debut Saturday nights in the prime time slot. They are THE HUNTSMAN: WINTER’S WAR, CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE, THE LEGEND OF TARZAN and MIKE AND DAVE NEED WEDDING DATES. Okay, I’ve heard of two of these and the others I needed help with. So might you so below are details.
A prequel to Snow White and the Huntsman, THE HUNTSMAN: WINTER’S WAR tells the story of two sisters and the actions that tore them apart and incited a war when it debuts SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 04 (8:00pm). The fairytale fantasy stars Chris Hemsworth, Charlize Theron, Emily Blunt and Jessica Chastain. Huh, I didn’t know this one existed. Did they need a prequel? I guess Theron thought so. A mild-mannered accountant (Kevin Hart) gets caught up in the world of espionage after a chance encounter with a high school acquaintance (Dwayne Johnson) who is now a CIA operative in CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE, debuting SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 11 (8:00pm). Yeah, Hart has been linking up with everyone so why not The Rock, too? I thought that when this movie came out and still think it a good combo on HBO. Having acclimated to London society and married Jane (Margot Robbie), Tarzan (Alexander Skarsgard) is called back to the jungle to fight injustice when THE LEGEND OF TARZAN debuts SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 18 (8:00pm). Samuel L. Jackson, Djimon Hounsou and Christoph Waltz also star. There are certain movies you always gravitate to and Tarzan movies fit that bill for me. Two hard-partying brothers seeking dates for their sister’s nuptials get more than they expected in MIKE AND DAVE NEED WEDDING DATES, debuting SATURDAY, FEB. 25 (8:00pm). Zac Efron, Anna Kendrick, Adam Devine, Audrey Plaza and Stephen Root star in the outrageous comedy, directed by Jake Szymanski with a screenplay by Andrew Jay Cohen & Brendan O’Brien. Okay, I never heard of this one. I think a clip is in order.
HBO Documentary Films: Watch now, the start times on the following documentaries bounce about a bit. They look like good ones and I wouldn’t want you to miss them assuming you must watch when they premiere lime me. First up is SOLITARY: INSIDE RED ONION STATE PRISON which is an unflinching exploration of the lives of inmates and corrections officers in one of America’s most notorious “supermax” prisons, built to hold inmates in 8’x10’ cells, 23 hours a day, for months, years and sometimes decades. With unprecedented access, the film paints a complex, unexpected and deeply moving portrait of life inside a world rarely seen. Directed by Kristi Jacobson, the documentary debuts MONDAY, FEBRUARY 06 (10:00-11:30pm). Directed by Colin Hanks, EAGLES OF DEATH METAL: NOS AMIS (OUR FRIENDS) spotlights the American rock band as they recount their experiences before and after the terrorist attack at their concert at the Bataclan Theatre in Paris that claimed 89 lives on Nov. 13, 2015. Debuting MONDAY, FEBRUARY 13 (10:00-11:30pm), the film spotlights the group’s deep bonds with each other and with their fans, which inspired them to return to Paris to perform once again in Feb. 2016. Exploring animal rights lawyer Steven Wise’s unprecedented challenge to break down the legal wall that separates animals from humans, UNLOCKING THE CAGE debuts MONDAY, FEBRUARY 20 (8:00-9:30pm). After 30 years of struggling with ineffective animal welfare laws, Wise and his legal team, the Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP), are making history by filing the first lawsuits that seek to transform an animal from a “thing” with no rights to a “person” with legal protections. Directed by Chris Hegedus (HBO’s Emmy-winning ELAINE STRITCH AT LIBERTY) and Academy Award winner D A Pennebaker. TICKLED follows journalist David Farrier as he stumbles upon a bizarre “competitive endurance tickling” video online, wherein young men are paid to be tied up and tickled. Delving deeper, he encounters fierce resistance, but eventually uncovers a shocking story stranger than fiction when the documentary debuts MONDAY, FEBRUARY 27 (10:00-11:30pm). Directed by David Farrier and Dylan Reeve.
HBO Kids: For more than four decades, SESAME STREET has helped children grow smarter, stronger and kinder by providing preschoolers with the gold standard in quality educational programming. The show continues its 47th season with a new episode debuting SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 04 (9:00-9:30am), followed by other episodes subsequent Saturdays at the same time. The four episodes this month: Season 47, Episode 5 titled “Having a Ball,” when Saul the Ball is disappointed that he can’t play ball with Elmo and Rosita inside the house, they help him use his imagination to play other games. On Season 47, Episode 6: “Elmo’s Sweet Ride” Elmo shares his scooter with Zoe and learns how to be patient and wait for his turn while she practices and learns how to ride. On Season 47, Episode 7: “Dress Up” Abby and Elmo play dress up and pretend to be different people, like bike repair assistants to help Nina fix Rosita’s bike. Season 47, Episode 8: “Lifting Snuffy” Zoe choreographs a ballet and the dancers have to work together to figure out how to make Snuffy fly through the air. Guest star: Jason Derulo.
HBO Sports:REAL SPORTS WITH BRYANT GUMBEL goes behind the box scores and statistics to tackle timely subjects in the world of contemporary sports. Featuring a top lineup of contributors, the next monthly edition debuts TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 21 (10:00-11:00pm).
Other Movies and Shows: Let’s see what we can find. HBO is offering six first-run movies this month. Have you ever seen A BIGGER SPLASH? It debuts 02.03 in late night. It seems while vacationing on a remote Italian island, the lives of a famous rock star and her lover are disrupted by the arrival of her former flame and his seductive daughter. This ”sly and wildly unpredictable erotic thriller” (Variety) stars Ralph Fiennes, Dakota Johnson, Matthias Schoenaerts and Tilda Swinton. Imagine if you had the ability to freeze time? For high-school teen Jesse Bradford, it’s a dream come true in CLOCKSTOPPERS. It and SNOW DOGS had long runs on HBO Family and now both make it over to the main channel. You can also find the debut of THE GOOD GUY in which a hotshot Wall Street trader takes a shy co-worker under his wing; the demonic Bughuul is back in SINISTER 2 and CRIMSON PEAK, from the mind of Guillermo del Toro, premieres 11:00pm on 02.05.
HBO2 is running some documentary encores throughout the month including HEART OF A DOG, GOING CLEAR, 50 CHILDREN and ITS ME, HILARY. It also has what can only be described as mini-binges of Season 5 of GIRLS, Season 4 of VICE and a run of LAST WEEK TONIGHT before they debut their new seasons this month.
HBO’s Other Platforms: Cuddle up with your favorite valentine in front of one of these choices. I’m not responsible if the romantic date falls flat based upon these recommendations. HBO Latino: Two new movies to the channel starting with BRILLANTES. A man, after losing his job and his girlfriend on the same day visits his friend in Arizona for some R&R, but a series of improbable events turns the pair into fugitives. Oh, that just brilliant! The other is a short film titled EL HUECO (The Hole) in which a man goes to comical extremes to be buried next to the woman he loves. Now that’s romantic! There is also the documentary LANDFILL HARMONIC about a Paraguayan musical group that plays instruments made entirely out of garbage and the series PSI continues. If all else fails watch SIXTEEN CANDLES in Spanish. HBO Family: The younger valentines in your life can get a treat also with THE BORROWERS, THE PRINCESS DIARIES 1 and 2, MONSTERS VS. ALIENS, Power Rangers, Chipmunks, Mother Goose and all the usual fare right where they expect them to be. HBO Signature: This channel has some great movies, but they have been on forever. I know I have mentioned CASTAWAY, THE AVIATOR, ROAD TO PERDITION, PRELUDE TO A KISS, ONE HOUR PHOTO and RAGING BULL all before, but, when a movie is good…HBO Comedy: This channel debuts LITTLE NICKY with Adam Sandler and EVIL DEAD II. Nothing like some comedic horror to woo your valentine. I NOW PRONOUNCE YOU CHUCK AND LARRY or DEFINITELY, MAYBE might play better. HBO Zone: Two short films here with FLOWERS and UGLY. In the first two Brooklyn teens seek revenge against a teacher, but their well-calculated plans spiral out of control; while in the second film a boy goes looking for love in the wrong place. Uh oh! But wait, the ultimate Valentine movie – PARANORMAL SEXPERIMENTS! The video of choice is just because Valentine’s Day is around the corner.
HBONow/Go: Part of my job is to show you something different out of a library of content that doesn’t change often. That leads me to FANTASMAGORIAS. Say, what? Using the most advanced animation techniques, by blending traditional 2-D and computer animation, this collection of eight animated short films brings to life some of Latin America’s most hair-raising supernatural legends. They show up on the sites. The eight installments are “The Weeping Woman,” “The Babysitter,” “Organ Theft,” “The Whistler,” “Ghost Passenger,” “The Chupacabras,” “The Sayona” and “Cursed Twins.” The sites also tout 11 Movies You Must Watch, Real Scary: True Crime Docs That Will Haunt You and 12 Bill Maher Moments You Need To Watch. New movies onsite include THE DANCER UPSTAIRS, MYSTIC RIVER, WHITE PALACE, JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH, DECEMBER BOYS, MO’ BETTER BLUES and DO THE RIGHT THING.
Cinemax: In February, CINEMAX continues to be the only premium channel presented in100% True HD (1080i). Showcasing the network’s unparalleled movie volume and variety daily in prime time, CINEMAX has the best selection of the most movies, including new top theatrical films, timeless favorites, classics, critically acclaimed independents and more. Movie debuts include THE MARTIAN, TED 2, MAZE RUNNER: THE SCORCH TRIALS, THE DARKNESS and SPY. But with seven channels to choose from you know there is a whole lot more out there.
With no big series to push at the moment, we will offer 2016 highlights instead.
Next Month’s Tease: A number of characters in this show share the same names – Phil & Mike.
To answer last month’s Tease follow the connections now: John Clayton is Tarzan. He is portrayed this time around by Alexander Skarsgard (“Iceman” in HBO Films’ GENERATION KILL). He is best known on HBO, of course, as Eric Northman of TRUE BLOOD. See him as Tarzan in February.
Final Clip: Since I’ve grown up loving the exploits of Tarzan indulge me with his latest incarnation as THE LEGEND OF TARZAN comes to HBO.