And so begins another year of HBO quality entertainment. You have chosen to shell out a bit of extra money in order to see a variety of content that will sweep you with a range of emotions. You will feel elated, shocked, sad, inspired, enraged, happy, silly and perplexed. You will be amazed at the talents on screen and behind the scenes and hopefully and genuinely enjoy the real and imagined places you will see and the compelling and impassioned characters you will meet. You will find it all on Home Box Office. Let’s start of the year together with what is on for January 2015.
Originals: Starting us off in the new year is a comedy block of original programming. We will see the return of some familiar friends from New York and San Francisco and a new cast of characters takes us to a neighborhood of Los Angeles as well.
On GIRLS Hannah has left New York to attend the prestigious Iowa Writers’ Workshop, hoping to become a more serious writer, while facing uncertainty in her relationship with Adam. Back in the city, Marnie is pursuing a music career, trying to balance her personal and professional relationship with Desi. New graduate Shoshanna is interviewing for jobs and struggling to sort out her relationship with Ray. And Jessa is trying sobriety through AA, but her knack for creating drama is undiminished. It kicks off this ten-episode fourth season SUNDAY, JANUARY 11 at 9:00pm.
Created by and starring Lena Dunham, the Emmy-winning HBO series takes a comic look at the assorted humiliations and rare triumphs of a group of women in their 20s. The cast also includes Allison Williams, Jemima Kirke, Zosia Mamet, Adam Driver, Alex Karpovsky, Andrew Rannells and Ebon Moss-Bachrach. Judd Apatow, Jenni Konner, Lena Dunham, Ilene S. Landress, Murray Miller, Paul Simms and Bruce Eric Kaplan executive produce the show. Returning guest stars for the fourth season include: Rita Wilson as Marnie’s mother; Peter Scolari and Becky Ann Baker as Hannah’s parents; Jon Glaser as Laird; Gaby Hoffman as Adam’s sister, Caroline; Louise Lasser as Beedie; and Bob Balaban as Dr. Rice. New guest stars this season include Ana Gasteyer and Anthony Edwards as Shoshanna’s parents; Natasha Lyonne as Rickie; Gillian Jacobs as Mimi-Rose Howard; Marc Maron as Ted; Zachary Quinto as Ace; Jason Ritter as Scott; Maude Apatow as Cleo; and Spike Jonze as Marcos.
Take in this Invitation to the Set:
Also here is a brief breakdown of the first three episodes:
— Episode #33: “Iowa”: After a congratulatory dinner with her parents, Hannah and Adam pack up the last of Hannah’s boxes and discuss “the plan” for their soon-to-be long-distance relationship. Marnie and Desi perform as part of a jazz brunch for a distracted crowd at a downtown restaurant. Shoshanna signs for her diploma with her parents, who make a bigger deal out of the event than she thinks necessary. Jessa is confronted by Beedie’s daughter Rickie, and later seems nonplussed by Hannah’s impending departure. (Written by Lena Dunham & Judd Apatow; directed by Lena Dunham.) Air dates: 01.11at 10:30pm & midnight;, 01.12 at 9:50pm; 01.13 at 11:00pm; 01.14 at 8:30pm; 01.15 at midnight; 01.16 at 1:00am and 01.17 at 11:55pm.
— Episode #34: “Triggering”: In her first days as a grad student, Hannah discovers she can get more for her money, rent-wise, in Iowa. Later, during a video chat, she slyly prods Marnie for intel about Adam. At her first seminar, Hannah warns her fellow workshop writers that her piece might trigger some intense emotions – but doesn’t get the feedback she had hoped for. (Written by Jenni Konner & Lena Dunham; directed by Lena Dunham.) Air dates: 01.18 at 10:30pm & midnight; 01.19 at 11:25pm; 01.20 at 11:15pm; 01.21 at 8:30pm; 01.22 at midnight; 01.23 at 1:00am and 01.24 at 11:45pm.
— Episode #35: “Female Author”: With only one class a week, Hannah finds herself doing a lot of nothing with her free time, while a visiting Elijah has become the social butterfly of Iowa. Ray gives Marnie a wake-up call about Desi’s true intentions before their meeting with a record lab el. Shoshanna aces, then blows, a job interview. Adam unwittingly gets drawn into Jessa’s chaotic web after an AA meeting. At a poets’ party in Iowa, Hannah rants about the undue expectations put on women writers, and takes things too far in critiquing her classmates. (Written by Sarah Heyward; directed by Jesse Peretz.) HBO air dates: 01.25 at 10:30 & midnight; 01.26 at 10:30pm; 01.27 at 11:05pm; 01.28 at 8:30pm; 01.29 at midnight; 01.30 at 1:00am and 01.31 at 12:45am.
The new show is TOGETHERNESS which debuts SUNDAY, JANUARY 11 at 9:30pm. In this one, Brett and Michelle are struggling to rekindle the spark in their relationship, which has puttered out from the stresses of marriage and children. When Brett’s friend Alex and Michelle’s sister, Tina, move in with them, the foursome engage in a tragically comedic struggle to follow their personal dreams, while still remaining good friends, siblings and spouses to each other.
Shot on location in and around the Eagle Rock neighborhood of Los Angeles, The series explores deeper issues related to friendship, careers and approaching middle age, celebrating the small, everyday moments of life that feel epic. Series regulars include writer-director-producer Mark Duplass (The League, The Mindy Project) as Brett Pierson, a straitlaced sound designer trying to rediscover himself as he nears his 40s; Melanie Lynskey (Heavenly Creatures, Two and a Half Men) as Michelle Pierson, eager to rekindle her passion for romance and life; Amanda Peet (The Way, Way Back, The Good Wife) as Tina Morris, desperate to get her bouncy-castle business off the ground while looking for a husband; and Steve Zissis (Jeff, Who Lives at Home, Baghead) as struggling actor Alex Pappas, who nearly leaves town but is convinced by Brett to give his career one last try.
Guest stars include Peter Gallagher (The O.C.) as Larry, a movie producer; John Ortiz (HBO’s LUCK) as David, a divorced dad campaigning for a charter school; and Mary Steenburgen (HBO’s last season of BORED TO DEATH as Bas Linda, a free spirit who takes an interest in helping Brett come out of his shell. This series is the latest offering from filmmaking brothers Jay and Mark Duplass, who have written, directed and/or produced more than 20 films, including their 2005 breakout hit, The Puffy Chair, which won the Audience Award at SXSW and two Independent Spirit Awards.
— Episode 1: “Family Day”: After Alex, a struggling actor, is evicted from his apartment, his best friend, Brett, a sound designer who’s married and has two young kids, tries to convince him to stay in LA. Meanwhile, Brett’s wife, Michelle, deals with her directionless big sister, Tina, who’s visiting from Houston. Following a group outing at the beach, Michelle and Brett clash while Tina confronts an ex, with Alex’s help. (Written by Jay Duplass & Mark Duplass & Steve Zissis; directed by Jay Duplass & Mark Duplass.) Additional HBO air dates are 01.11 at 11:00 & 12:30am; 01.12 at 10:20pm; 01.13 at 8:30pm & 2:25am; 01.14 at 12:05am; 01.15 at 10:00pm and 01.16 at midnight.
— Episode 2: “Handcuffs”: Tina tries to shake Alex out of his funk by enlisting him to help with her business and vowing to help him get the career of his dreams. Brett gets in trouble at work when his creative instincts rub co-workers the wrong way. Tina convinces Michelle to spice things up in the bedroom. (Written and directed by Jay Duplass & Mark Duplass.) Air dates are: 01.18 at 9:30pm, 11:00pm & 12:30am; 01.19 at 11:55pm; 01.20 at 8:00pm & 2:00am; 01.21 at midnight; 01.22 10:00pm and 01.23 at midnight.
— Episode 3: “Insanity”: Brett’s invite to a movie premiere leads to an impromptu night on the town for everyone. Tina and Alex engage in a personal “mission,” Brett looks to mend a work relationship, and Michelle meets David, a divorced dad who wants to start a new charter school. Brett finds a way to cheer up Alex. (Written and directed by Jay Duplass & Mark Duplass.) HBO dates: 01.25 at 9:30pm, 11:00pm & 12:30am; 01.26 at 12:40am; 01.27 at 8:30pm & 2:05am; 01.28 at midnight; 01.29 at 10:00pm and 01.30 at midnight.
From collaborators Michael Lannan and Andrew Haigh the comedy-drama series LOOKING completes our new Sunday nights on HBO. The show returns for its ten-episode second season SUNDAY, JANUARY 11 at 10:00pm. The series takes a frank look at the experiences of three close friends living in San Francisco as they explore the options available to a new generation of gay men seeking fulfillment in love and life. How are they guys doing? Well, Patrick is on the verge of a new relationship that could complicate life at work and home, even as he tries to salvage a friendship from an old one. Agustín, still floundering from his own breakup, leaves old aspirations behind while making a new connection and Dom continues to pursue his restaurant dreams, but encounters obstacles at every turn.
If you need a bit more background we recently published a post that may help entitled LOOKING Season Two Trailer: The Boys Are Back! It updates the plot nicely. What follows here are January’s episodes.
— Episode #9: “Looking for the Promised Land”: Patrick, Agustín and Dom head to the Russian River to stay at Lynn’s weekend cabin for relaxation and bonding. Though Patrick wants to lay low, the guys end up at a bacchanalian party in the woods after running into a Faerie. Meanwhile, Patrick mulls over what he wants back in the city, and Dom looks for clues in the house about Lynn’s old life. (Written by Andrew Haigh; directed by Andrew Haigh.) Play dates: 01.11 at 10:00pm, 11:30 & 1:00am; 01.13 at 11:30pm; 01.14 at 8:00pm & 12:35am; 01.15 at 10:30pm; 01.16 at 12:30am and 01.17 at 12:25am.
— Episode #10: “Looking for Results”: After reminiscing over their respective childhood obsessions, Patrick and Kevin decide to develop a gay game app on the side, but Patrick soon descends into a panic spiral when he discovers a small rash. Dom scopes out a location in the Tenderloin for a peri peri chicken take-out window; Doris gets chatted up by a cute political aide; and Agustín makes plans to meet up with Eddie, the “bear” he met at the Russian River, but gets sidetracked by an old co-worker. (Written by Michael Lannan; directed by Andrew Haigh.) HBO dates: 01.18 at 10:00pm, 11:30pm & 1:00am; 01.20 at 11:45pm; 01.21 8:00pm & 12:30am; 01.22 at 10:30pm 01.23 at 12:30am and 01.24 at 12.15am.
— Episode #11: “Looking Top to Bottom”: Patrick gets ready for his first official overnight with Kevin, who’s also agreed to attend Dom’s rugby match – though Kevin doesn’t want any of Patrick’s friends to know they are seeing each other. Agustín visits Richie to make amends and to thank him for the night before. At breakfast with Doris and her new fling, Malik, Dom questions whether Lynn fully supports his dream of opening his own restaurant. (Written by John Hoffman; directed by Ryan Fleck.) Air dates are 01.25 at 10:00pm, 11:30pm & 1:00am; 01.27 at 11:35pm; 01.28 8:00pm & 12:30am; 01.29 at 10:30pm; 01.30 at 12:30am and 01.31 1:15am.
The team involved includes Executive producers, Andrew Haigh, Michael Lannan, Sarah Condon; co-executive producers, John Hoffman, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa; producer, Kat Landsberg and consulting producer, Jhoni Marchinko.
Outspoken comedian/social commentator Bill Maher kicks off the 13th season of REAL TIME WITH BILL MAHER, with a new edition on FRIDAY, JANUARY 09 beginning at 10:00pm. Unfortunately, there is never anything much to say about the show. We never know in advance what the hot topics might be or who the guests on the panel will be, but we do know that Bill Maher will always have something scathing, biting and too some shockingly funny to say. Oh, and we have this clip
(Executive producer/host, Bill Maher; executive producers, Scott Carter, Sheila Griffiths, Brad Grey, Marc Gurvitz and Billy Martin; produced by Dean E. Johnsen; producer, Matt Wood; director, Paul Casey.) Air dates: Edition #338: 01.09, 01.11, 01.12, 01.13 and 01.14; Edition #339: 01.16, 01.18, 01.19, 01.20 and 01.21; Edition #340: 01.23, 01.25, 01.26, 01.27 and 01.28; Edition #341: 01.30.
Theatrical Movies: Five first run premieres make it to your home screen on Saturday nights in January. They are diverse choices and each one a great opportunity for viewers to watch again in the comfort of their own homes that hopefully, doesn’t have the sticky floors and rude patrons that the Cineplex offers. Our choices to start the year are RIO 2, THE OTHER WOMAN, BLENDED, 300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE and NON-STOP. Here we take a look at each.
RIO 2: Blu, Jewel and their three baby birds travel to the Amazon in this follow-up to the family-friendly adventure. Anne Hathaway, Jesse Eisenberg, Jemaine Clement, Kristin Chenoweth, Bruno Mars, George Lopez, Tracy Morgan, Leslie Mann and Rodrigo Santoro lend their voices to the animated hit, along with Andy Garcia and Jamie Foxx. (Directed by Carlos Saldanha; screenplay by Don Rhymer and Carlos Kotkin and Jenny Bicks and Yoni Brenner.) (G – 2014) HBO air dates are on 01.03, 01.04, 01.06, 01.11, 01.15, 01.17, 01.21, 01.24 and 01.30.
They say the musical numbers are the best part, so settle your family in a see if that is true. It premieres on SATURDAY, JANUARY, 03 at 8:00pm.
THE OTHER WOMAN: A woman (Cameron Diaz) learns that her boyfriend (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau of GAME OF THRONES) is married, and soon joins forces with his wife (Leslie Mann) and second mistress (Kate Upton) to exact revenge. Nicki Minaj, Taylor Kinney and Don Johnson also star in the comedy. (Directed by Nick Cassavetes; written by Melissa K. Stack.) (PG-13 – 2014 Playdates: 01.10, 01.11, 01.13, 01.15, 01.18, 01.21, 01.24, 01.29 and 01.31. Is this a woman of empowerment comedy or a mess? Check out the movie on SATURDAY, JANUARY 10 at 8:00pm and our review forthcoming. There is also, a week later, the rom-com coupling of Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore in BLENDED. After an ill-fated blind date, single parents reconnect at a family resort with happier results. (PG- 13 – 2014) HBO air dates: 01.17, 01.18, 01.22, 01.25, 01.27, 01.30 and 01.31. Does this comedy blend all the right cinematic ingredients to get you to watch? It debuts on SATURDAY, JANUARY 17 at 8:00pm.
The other two movies of the month offer up some action, some of it quite bloody. Case in point is 300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE In this one General Themistokles (Sullivan Stapleton) attempts to unite Greece in order to defeat advancing Persian forces. Eva Green, Lena Headey, Hans Matheson and Rodrigo Santoro also star in this new chapter of the epic saga. (Directed by Noam Murro; screenplay by Zack Snyder and Kurt Johnstad; based on the graphic novel by Frank Miller.) (R – 2014) Air dates are 01.24, 01.25 and 01.29 and into February. It premieres at 8:00pm on SATURDAY, JANUARY 24 and if you like stylized gore and over-the-top performances than mark that date. Liam Neeson is going non-stop in action roles as of late and presents another such character in NON-STOP. When a U.S. Air Marshal (Neeson) receives threatening text messages aboard a transatlantic flight, he must hunt for the killer to save the lives of his fellow passengers. Julianne Moore, Michelle Dockery and Lupita Nyong’o also star in the thriller. (PG-13 – 2014) It debuts on SATURDAY, JANUARY 31 starting at 7:00pm and airs throughout February. Here is a trailer.
Specials: There is one special to note and it is a return of a classic comedic artist to HBO. The one and only Mel Brooks takes the stage for a memorable comedy special filled with jokes, songs and hilarious anecdotes culled from 63 years in comedy when MEL BROOKS LIVE AT THE GEFFEN debuts SATURDAY, JANUARY 31 at 9:00pm exclusively on HBO. The special marks the comedy legend’s third HBO special in recent years. (A Brooksfilm production; executive producer, Mel Brooks; producers, Kevin Salter, Steve Haberman and Rudy DeLuca; written by Mel Brooks; music director, Gerald Sternbach.) HBOWatch will be reviewing.
Documentary: There is also only one fresh new documentary slated for the month, but it is a powerful one. Debuting MONDAY, JANUARY 26 at 9:00pm is HBO Documentary Films: NIGHT WILL FALL. This harrowing film reveals the previously untold story behind an unfinished 1945 documentary about the horrors of World War II concentration camps that was commissioned by the Allied Forces and directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Using unflinching, restored, rarely-seen archival footage and eyewitness testimony, the documentary reveals what allied cameramen and troops encountered on Liberation. Helena Bonham Carter narrates. (Directed by André Singer; narrator, Helena Bonham Carter; narrator for German Concentration Camps Factual Survey, Jasper Britton; producers, Sally Angel and Brett Ratner; executive producers, Richard Melman, James Packer and Stephen Frears; written by Lynette Singer; director of photography, Richard Blanshard; editors, Arik Lahav-Leibovich and Stephen Miller; composer, Nicholas Singer.) HBO air dates: 01.26, 01.29 and into February. HBOWatch will review.
Sports: HBO is also going rather light in the sports arena as well to start the year. REAL SPORTS WITH BRYANT GUMBEL Hosted by Bryant Gumbel, the Emmy Award-winning HBO Sports magazine show looks at the world of contemporary sports, going behind the box scores and statistics to tackle timely subjects. (Executive producer, Rick Bernstein.) Playdates: Edition #214: 01.20, 01.22, 01.24, 01.26 and 01.30. This is another of those shows that does not announce topics or profiles until the last minute, but you can be sure it is going to be a top-notch installment when it debuts TUESDAY, JANUARY 20 at 10:00pm.
Other Movies and Shows: If you are looking for alternative programming on New Year’s Day here is what HBO is airing. Starting in the morning there is DECK THE HALLS, a FLIGHT OF THE CONCHORDS episode, MOULIN ROUGE and Halle Berry’s CATWOMAN. The afternoon offers PRIME, EPIC MOVIE, ABOUT A BOY and the Peter Jackson version of KING KONG. Later that evening is THE HANGOVER III and to end the first day of the year THE ORGASM SPECIAL: A REAL SEX XTRA. Just because I feel silly so here is a reminder of Halle Berry’s performance.
Sorry about that one. Also during the month are such movies as 16 BLOCKS, THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA and WALK THE LINE.
HBO’s Other Platforms: The network is not limited to one channel of course, so here is a look at some content across the dial. HBO Latino: A new series launches on this channel entitled PSI. It is a one-hour weekly drama that seems to focus on relationships with complications. A newly single Carlo begins dating a street performer with a violent ex-husband and an autistic 7-year-old daughter. As he observes the child’s behavior, Carlo suspects an additional diagnosis: deafness. In the second episode he meets his stepson’s girlfriend who is a cutter and in the third episode he confronts a fighting couple who needs that anger to fuel their sexual desire in one another. So the show title may refer to psychiatry as Carlos counsels the people he encounters. HBO Family:As well as featured throughout the month New Year’s Day on the channel offers a run of the series popular there including, HAPPILY EVER AFTER, CRASHBOX and HBO STORYBOOK for the younger set. Movies airing include FLUSHED AWAY, MR. NICE GUY and HILDAGO. While your kids are on Holiday Break enjoy some programming with them. HBO Signature: At midnight 01.01 THE CONCERT FOR VALOR will be on. Later in the day you can catch THE GREAT GATSBY and ERIN BROCOVICH. Later in the month there are offerings of ENDER’S GAME, FALLEN and THE MAGNIFICANT SEVEN. I often watch old classics like that last title on Signature. Does anyone else? HBO Comedy: Laugh it up with BILL MAHER: LIVE FROM D. C. and BILLY CRYSTAL: 700 SUNDAYS if you missed them in 2014. HBOGO: Does anyone binge watch? This site, which will see big changes in 2015, is the perfect place to marathon programming. For example, if you didn’t see THE COMEBACK, or all the installments of LATE NIGHT WITH JOHN OLIVER or an HBO Latino series than this is the site for you. In movies you can check out Donald Sutherland in THE TROUBLE WITH SPIES, BEING FLYNN starring Robert De Niro and Burt Reynolds in DELIVERANCE. There are even horror and sci-fi films at your disposal onsite with HOUSE OF WAX and TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE as examples. Just to be fair I’ll throw out a romance movie debuting in January. How about the acclaimed MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING? New surprises await the site! Cinemax: Season three of the Emmy-winning BANSHEE kicks off FRIDAY, JANUARY 09 at 10:00pm. The show stars Antony Starr as Lucas Hood, an ex-con and master thief who assumes the identity of the sheriff of Banshee, Pa., where he continues his criminal pursuits while enforcing his own code of justice. Other new episodes debut subsequent Fridays at the same time. Look for an upcoming post with more details forthcoming. The movies the channel is giving high profile the first month out of 2015 are DEVIL’S DUE on 01.03; TRANSCENDENCE on 01.09; GODZILLA on 09.16; LONE SURVIVOR on 01.23 and BAD WORDS on 01.30.
Next Month’s Tease: Cassius said via the quill pen of William Shakespeare – “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in the stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings.”
Final Clip: We have already posted most of what is out there for the shows of Sunday night so how about singling out one of our movies. Here is the trailer for…
So there you go. When the nights turn sub-zero cold just snuggle up with HBO programming and forget the frigid weather and help usher in another year of HBO entertainment and its # 1 fansite – HBOWatch. Happy New Year!