Here we go, launching off another year of HBO programming. It will be a bit out of the norm as some limited series pop up, which is the case in January. As you will see as the months go on some series are pushed off their usual schedule and some new shows appear. Once again, we will report the schedule each month in the new year so that viewers can more easily plot what they what to watch. So, with that, let us take a look at what is on for January 2017. We think you’ll be pleased. For more details about HBO check out our Schedule & Movie pages.
Original Series: Directed by Paolo Sorrentino, THE YOUNG POPE tells the story of Lenny Belardo, aka Pius XIII, the first American Pope in history when the ten-episode limited drama series debuts SUNDAY, JANUARY 15 (9:00-10:00pm), and the second part debuts the next night, MONDAY, JANUARY 16 (9:00-10:00pm), followed by other episodes subsequent Sundays and Mondays at the same time.
His election seems to be the result of a simple yet effective media strategy on the part of the College of Cardinals. But appearances can be deceptive – above all, in the place where people have chosen the great mystery of God as the compass guiding their existence. That place is the Vatican and those people are the leaders of the Church. And Pius XIII proves to be the most mysterious and contradictory of them all.
Shrewd and naïve, ironic and pedantic, primeval and cutting edge doubting and resolute, melancholy and ruthless, Pius XIII tries to cross the endless river of human solitude to find a God he can give to mankind. And to himself. Jude Law stars in the title role; Diane Keaton stars as Sister Mary, a nun from the U.S. now living in Vatican City. The cast also includes Silvio Orlando, Scott Shepherd, Cécile de France, Javier Cámara, Ludivine Sagnier, Toni Bertorelli and James Cromwell.
January’s episodes follow –
–Episode #1: “First Episode”
Debut date: SUNDAY, JANUARY 15 (9:00-10:00 p.m. ET/PT)
Newly elected Pope Pius XIII (Jude Law), a.k.a. Lenny Belardo, defies expectations as he settles in at the Vatican to begin his reign. The youngest and first American pope in history, Lenny’s ascension was orchestrated by the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Voiello (Silvio Orlando), who mistakenly believed the young pope would follow his lead on policy and protocol. Instead, Lenny shuns Voiello and tasks his confessor, Don Tommaso (Marcello Romolo), to share details on the private thoughts and motives of those in his inner circle.
Meanwhile, as Cardinal Spencer (James Cromwell), Lenny’s onetime mentor, stews about being passed over as pontiff, the new pope flies in Sister Mary (Diane Keaton), who raised him since he was delivered to an orphanage at seven, to serve as his chief advisor. While Sister Mary urges Lenny to put aside dark memories and focus on leading his billion followers, the young pope shows no inclination towards making himself available, either to the College of Cardinals or to the masses. Written by Paolo Sorrentino; directed by Paolo Sorrentino. Other HBO playdates: 01.15 at 10:00pm & 11:00pm, 01.16 at 8:00pm, 01.18 at 10:35pm, 01.19 at 6:30pm, 01.20 at 11:00pm and 12.21 at 4:00pm.
–Episode #2: “Second Episode”
Debut date: MONDAY, JANUARY 16 (9:00-10:00 p.m.)
Sofia (Cécile De France), the Vatican’s marketing director, receives a surprise directive as Lenny (Jude Law) prepares for his first public appearance. While the cardinals await an audience with their new pope, Sister Mary (Diane Keaton) catches up with Lenny’s childhood friend Andrew Dussolier (Scott Shepherd), another orphan-turned-cardinal. Lenny reaches out to Cardinal Spencer (James Cromwell) to take over a high Vatican post, but the meeting doesn’t go as he hoped. Ester (Ludivine Sagnier), wife of a Swiss Guardsman, eagerly joins the throng of followers in St. Peter’s Square on the night of Lenny’s first public homily as Pope Pius XIII. Written by Paolo Sorrentino; directed by Paolo Sorrentino. Other HBO playdates: 01.16 at 11:50pm & 2:40am, 01.17 at midnight, 01.18 at 11:35pm, 01.20 at 1:00am and 01.21 at 5:00pm & 9:45pm.
–Episode #3: “Third Episode”
Debut date: SUNDAY, JANUARY 22 (9:00-10:00 p.m.)
Baffled by the pope’s intentions and desperate to retain control in the Vatican, Voiello (Silvio Orlando) considers his options in the face of public reaction to Lenny’s (Jude Law) speech. In a press conference, Sister Mary (Diane Keaton) outlines the pope’s policy towards questions and concerns from the media. Elder Cardinal Caltanissetta (Toni Bertorelli) enjoins Spencer (James Cromwell) to put his resentment aside and accept Lenny’s offer. Moved by Lenny’s message, Ester (Ludivine Sagnier) is summoned by Valente (Ignazio Oliva), the pope’s aide, to meet her pontiff. Gutierrez (Javier Cámara) finds that his shared confidences with Lenny are jeopardized by a secret. Written by Paolo Sorrentino with Stefano Rulli; directed by Paolo Sorrentino. Other HBO playdates: 01.22 at 10:00pm & 12:45am, 01.23 at 8:00pm, 01.25 at 10:10pm and 01.26 at 6:30pm.
–Episode #4: “Fourth Episode”
Debut date: MONDAY, JAN. 23 (9:00-10:00 p.m.)
Tonino (Franco Pinelli), a rural shepherd, appeals to the Vatican to recognize his miracle-working stigmata. Lenny (Jude Law) councils a nun whose sister is gravely ill in Sri Lanka. Ester (Ludivine Sagnier) is torn by a threat from Voiello (Silvio Orlando) and her devotion to the pope. Lenny makes a bold decision regarding a sex-abuse case in New York, deciding to send an unlikely envoy. A visit from the prime minister of Greenland (Carolina Carlsson) stirs Lenny’s musical sensibilities. Written by Paolo Sorrentino with Stefano Rulli; directed by Paolo Sorrentino. Other HBO playdates: 01.23 at 2:40am, 01.24 at 11:00pm, 01.25 at 11:10pm, 01.27 at 11:00pm and 01.28 at 10:00pm.
–Episode #5: “Fifth Episode”
Debut date: SUNDAY, JANUARY 29 (9:00-10:00 p.m.)
Voiello (Silvio Orlando) orchestrates a scandalous scenario designed to cripple the pope. Lenny (Jude Law) decamps with old friend Andrew Dussolier (Scott Shepherd), both in the present and the past. As his ornate papal tiara arrives, Pius XIII decides the time has come to address the College of Cardinals in the Sistine Chapel. Written by Paolo Sorrentino; directed by Paolo Sorrentino. Other HBO playdates: 01.29 at 10:00pm & 12:45am and 01.30 at 8:00pm.
Episode #6: “Sixth Episode”
Debut date: MONDAY, JANUARY 30 (9:00-10:00 p.m.)
Nine months after being elected, Lenny (Jude Law) has a testy first meeting with the Italian prime minister (Stefano Accorsi), a progressive at odds with Pius XIII’s uncompromising vision of the church. Newly minted Cardinal Gutierrez (Javier Cámara) reluctantly moves out of the Vatican for his new assignment abroad. After a brief reunion with the faithful in Honduras, Dussolier (Scott Shepherd) assumes his new duties as Prefect of the Congregation of the Clergy, but is thrown by Lenny’s strict guidelines towards prospective priests. Voiello (Silvio Orlando) is questioned about the disappearance of Tonino (Franco Pinelli), who is looking to break from the church. Ester’s (Ludivine Sagnier) miracle comes true. Written by Paolo Sorrentino; directed by Paolo Sorrentino. Other HBO playdates: 01.30 at 1:30amand 01.31 at 11:40pm.
Bill Maher kicks off the 15th season of REAL TIME WITH BILL MAHER on FRIDAY, JANUARY 20 (10:00-11:00 p.m.), followed by other shows subsequent Fridays at the same time. VICE NEWS TONIGHT, the half-hour nightly newscast from VICE Media and HBO, debuts a new edition TUESDAY, JANUARY 03 (7:30-8:00 p.m.), with other new editions airing subsequent weeknights on HBO.
Movies: Of course, HBO still has access to all the Warner Bros. movies it wants and it gives us up four more in January. They are DEMOLITION, NOW YOU SEE ME 2, THE BOSS and THE NICE GUYS.
After losing his wife in a car accident, a man (Jake Gyllenhaal) begins to rebuild his life in DEMOLITION, debuting SATURDAY, JANUARY 07 at 8:00pm. Directed by Jean-Marc Vallée with a screenplay by Bryan Sipe, the drama also stars Naomi Watts and Chris Cooper, and introducing Judah Lewis. For me, the only reason I might take a gander at this one is because of who directed. You? The Four Horsemen are recruited by an evil tech titan to pull off their most dangerous heist yet when NOW YOU SEE ME 2 debuts SATURDAY, JANUARY 14 at 8:00pm. Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson, Dave Franco, Daniel Radcliffe, Lizzy Caplan, Jay Chou and Sanaa Lathan star in the adventure caper with Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman. After serving time for insider trading, a business maven (Melissa McCarthy) plots her comeback in THE BOSS, debuting SATURDAY, JANUARY 21 at 8:00pm. Kristen Bell, Kathy Bates, Tyler Labine and Peter Dinklage also star in the outrageous comedy. Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling play mismatched private investigators in 1970’s Los Angeles when the action comedy THE NICE GUYS debuts SATURDAY, JANUARY 28 at 8:00pm. Meh, not the best batch of movies to kick off the year, but so be it. Check out this nice cinematic duo:
HBO Documentary Films: With the new limited series THE YOUNG POPE taking the prime spot on Monday nights the following documentaries have been bumped to a later timeslot. We want to mention that because these two films sound well worth the watch.
BEWARE THE SLENDERMAN takes a chilling look at an infamous case in which two 12-year-old girls in Wisconsin stabbed their friend 19 times, claiming they were paying tribute to the popular Internet legend “Slenderman.” The sobering documentary delves deep into the story behind this shocking crime, examining how an Internet urban myth could take root in impressionable young minds, leading to an unspeakable act. Directed by Academy Award nominee Irene Taylor Brodsky, the film debuts MONDAY, JANUARY 23 from (10:00pm-midnight). With a net worth of over $60B, Warren Buffett is truly one-of-a-kind. Now 86 years old, the legendary investor still lives in a modest home in Omaha, and continues to drive himself to the office every morning to manage Berkshire Hathaway, the fifth-largest public company in the world. But more surprising than his humble lifestyle and self-effacing personality is Buffett’s exemplary moral core. The same principles of decency and integrity that helped him pile up a fortune led him to give much of it away in the largest philanthropic donation in history. The documentary BECOMING WARREN BUFFETT, chronicling the evolution of an ambitious, numbers-obsessed boy from Nebraska into one of the richest, most respected men in the world, debuts MONDAY, JANUARY 30 (10:00pm-11:30pm).
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 kicks off its 47th season with a new episode debuting SATURDAY, JANUARY 07 (9:00-9:30 a.m.), followed by other episodes subsequent Saturdays at the same time. 47 years – can you believe that? The new season brings exciting new changes to the Street, like a greatly anticipated, reimagined “Elmo’s World” segment, as well as a new kindness curriculum throughout, including the new, interactive “kindness cam” segment. In addition to a host of A-list celebrity appearances, Season 47 also marks the introduction of new Sesame Street Muppet characters who will become a part of the Sesame Street family in future episodes.
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, JANUARY 24 (10:00-11:00pm).
BOXING AFTER DARK: VARGAS VS. BERCHELT / MIURA VS. ROMAN gets us onto the ring on SATURDAY, JANUARY 28 at 10:00pm. Undefeated super featherweight champion Francisco Vargas (23-0-2, 17 KOs) makes his 2017 debut against challenger Miguel Berchelt (30-1, 27 KOs) in a much anticipated 12-round title showdown. Following his victory over Takashi Miura in the BWAA’s 2015 Fight of the Year, Vargas, 31, turned in another crowd-pleasing performance in his June 2016 fight against Orlando Salido, which ended in a majority draw. The Mexico City native has quickly become a must-see attraction due to his relentless, come-forward fighting style, which he will need to get past his younger opponent.
In the co-main event of the evening, Takashi Miura (30-3-2, 23 KOs), Vargas’ opponent in the 2015 Fight of the Year, faces battle-tested vet Miguel Roman (56-11, 43 KOs) in a super featherweight 12-round slugfest. Tokyo’s Miura, 32, aims to use his aggressive southpaw style to beat Roman and earn another shot at the title he lost to Vargas. Roman, 31, of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, enters the fight having notched six impressive knockout victories in 2015 and 2016.
Other Movies and Shows: There are actually enough First Run flicks and a marathon or two to fill out this section The First Runs not on Saturday nights include THE CELL in which Jennifer Lopez enters the demented mind of a serial killer; GENIUS in which the complex relationship between famed literary editor Max Perkins (who discovered Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald) and the eccentric novelist Thomas Wolfe. Okay, those two movies based on those premises prove interesting. But I really like Martin Scorsese’s title BRINGING OUT THE DEAD. It is a story of redemption on the mean streets of New York City which stars Nicolas Cage as a burned-out paramedic on the brink of madness who is haunted by the ghosts of those he was unable to save.
Plus, HBO chooses to spotlight M. Night Shyamalan. It is playing up THE VIST, THE VILLAGE, UNBROKEN and, of course, THE SIXTH SENSE. And over on HBO2 beginning 01.01 through 01.02 a marathon of the first five seasons of GIRLS.
HBO’s Other Platforms: Now to find some cinematic treats to toast the New Year. HBO Latino: Well, how about THE BLUES BROTHERS and BLACK MASS as a comedy & drama to watch? Oh, better yet there is ME CASE CON UN BOLUDO which translates into “I Married a Dumbass”. In this one an unknown actress marries the star of the film she’s working on but soon realizes that he’s a complete idiot and that she fell in love with the character he was playing. In NADA S. A. (Nothing Co.) a man who has been unemployed for years gets a job at a company looking for someone who wants to get paid for doing nothing. What? There is also YO NO SOY GUERRILLERO (I’m Not a Rebel.) In it a rich kid and his pals pretend to be guerrillas and hijack a plane in order to rescue the girl he loves in this darkly comic short film. HBO Family: It was only a matter of time. FRAGGLE ROCK first appeared on the streaming sites but now also runs weekdays at 4:30pm so, dance your cares away. Not only does the channel have Henson content but also Dr. Seuss with DR. SEUSS’ HORTON HEARS A WHO! And HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS (which should be going off soon.) JIMMY NEUTRON: BOY GENIUS claims to be a First Run debuting 01.11. It was nominated for Best Animated Feature Oscar when that category first came in existence in 2001. HBO Signature. Always great choices here. In January you can catch COLD MOUNTAIN, HBO Films’ CINEMA VERITE, PAPER MOON, and ROMNCING THE STONE for starters. HBO Comedy: Some hardcore comedy here with KEANU, DEADPOOL, TED 2 plus the comedy of Bill Maher and Mel Brooks. HBO Zone: This channel does not seem to have as many First Runs this time around. Under that banner, they list Ice Cube & Chris Tucker in FRIDAY, the Coen Bros.’ THE BIG LEBOWSKI and Samuel Jackson in UNBREAKABLE. You can also take in films like THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES, WE WERE SOLDIERS and FORGETTING SARAH MARSHALL. Singling out a clip we give up one for the family – here is Jimmy Neutron!
HBONow/Go: During the cold and wintery month of January perhaps you can curl up with your device of choice and watch something good on the streaming sites. In fact they are touting right now a collection entitled “10 Shows To Make you Love Winter.” They are each the pilot episode of 10 shows that will totally engross you and make you forget how nasty it is outside. They are DIVORCE (pictured), GAME OF THRONES, GIRLS, THE LARRY SANDERS SHOW, THE LEFTOVERS, OZ, SIX FEET UNDER, THE SOPRANOS, TRUE DETECTIVE and THE WIRE. Another collection offers “Golden Globe Nominees” which include HBO Films’ ALL THE WAY and CONFIRMATION as well as WESTWORLD, INSECURE and VEEP. Also maybe, it is time to catch a series you have never seen like the ones offered by Chris Lilley (pictured), for example or TODD MCFARLANE’S SPAWN.
And I haven’t even brought up theatrical movies on the site. Coming soon are such films as THE ROAD WARRIOR, THE TROUBLE WITH SPIES, INNERSPACE, THE MAIN EVENT, CLOUD ATLAS, LADY IN THE WATER and FLASHPOINT just to name a few. Leaving the sites in January are the five movies in the Dirty Harry franchise if you want to catch them all back-to-back as well as DEAD POET’S SOCIETY, THE MARTIAN and many others. Any one of these is great with a warm blanket and hot chocolate so, go for it.
Cinemax: Straight from a Press release comes a couple of new movies to the channel. Four young people are transported to an alternate universe and discover their superpowers when FANTASTIC FOUR debuts SATURDAY, JANUARY 07 (10:00pm). Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan, Kate Mara, Jamie Bell, Toby Kebbell, Reg. E. Cathey and Tim Blake Nelson star in the latest adaptation of the popular Marvel comic, which was directed by Josh Trank and written by Jeremy Slater and Simon Kinberg & Josh Trank. A CIA agent and a KGB operative join forces against an evil organization manufacturing nuclear weapons in THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E., debuting SATURDAY, JANUARY 14 (10:00pm). Directed by Guy Ritchie, the reboot of the hit 1960s spy series stars Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer, Alicia Vikander, Elizabeth Debicki and Hugh Grant. Paranormal investigators (Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson) explore another house plagued by demons, this time in north London when THE CONJURING 2 debuts JANUARY 21 (10:00pm).
Also, the channel spotlights Al Pacino –
Kick off the New Year with the great Al Pacino with three of his finest films on Cinemax this month. Sidney Lumet’s electrifying DOG DAY AFTERNOON is one of the best films of the 1970s, winning a Best Original Screenplay Oscar for its brilliant blend of gripping suspense and gallows humor to chronicle an actual 1972 Brooklyn bank robbery that goes horribly awry. Pacino delivers one of his most iconic performances as Tony Montana, the small-time Cuban punk who becomes the cocaine king of Miami, in Brian DePalma’s legendary 1983 gangster epic SCARFACE. A decade later, Pacino finally won an Oscar after seven nominations, for 1992’s SCENT OF A WOMAN, giving a subtle, funny and moving performance as an irascible, blind ex-military officer who goes on an impulsive excursion around New York with a prep school student over the Thanksgiving holiday.
Next Month’s Tease: The character John Clayton comes to life in February but we know him best by another name. He is played by the actor who portrayed “Iceman” Colbert in an HBO Film but we know him for a bigger HBO role. Can you come up with the names?
Last month’s clue was just a cryptic symbol which signified the creepy Slenderman coming our way in January.
Final Clip: We go in a completely different direction for our final clip. Here is a moment from WISHFUL DRINKING which can be seen on HBONow/Go. Plus, HBO remembers Carrie Fisher with an encore presentation of the documentary this SUNDAY, JANUARY 01 at 9:00pm on the main channel. The Carrie Fisher/Debbie Reynolds documentary BRIGHT LIGHTS is also scheduled to appear in 2017.