August through November is a busy time for HBO. As new seasons and series start their fall schedules all across the TV dial HBO tries to lure them over to its content. Everyone tries to put out there best. Only time will tell how HBO will fare in the effort since THE DEUCE will be its only big dramatic draw. It starts in August with some big movie premieres and the return of a couple of favored comedies. Let’s take a look at what is in store as the battle for viewership ramps up.
Original Series: We start with the return of some half-hour series as Issa, Dwayne and some inner-city critters return to the lineup. Spencer Strasmore and his colleagues, rivals and pro-football clients return for a new season of BALLERS, debuting SUNDAY, AUGUST 12 (10:00-10:30pm). HBO’s hit comedy from Steve Levinson (HBO’s ENTOURAGE) digs deeper into the extravagant, high-stakes, big-money world of professional football. This season, having refused to compromise his principles by joining an alliance with the filthy-rich Anderson brothers to move a football franchise to Las Vegas, Spencer (Dwayne Johnson) and his partner Joe Krutel (Rob Corddry) set their sights on expanding their firm’s foothold in the client-management business. Other returning cast regulars include John David Washington, Rob Corddry, Omar Benson Miller, Donovan Carter, Troy Garity, London Brown and Brittany S. Hall. Returning guest stars include Carl McDowell, Jazmyn Simon, Robert Wisdom, Richard Schiff and Steven Weber. New guest stars for season four include Russell Brand, Joy Bryant, Ernie Hudson and Grace Zabriskie. Here is the episode breakdown for the start of Season Four:
Spencer (Dwayne Johnson) and Joe (Rob Corddry) weigh the pros and cons of acquiring an extreme-sport agency. Ricky (John David Washington) sets down roots in LA with Amber (Brittany S. Hall) and their daughter but finds himself yearning for something else. Charles (Omar Benson Miller) rallies a group of disgruntled employees as he begins his new tenure with the Rams. Written by Stephen Levinson & Rob Weiss; directed by Julian Farino.
–Episode #32 (season 4, episode 2): “Don’t You Wanna Be Obama?” Debut date: SUNDAY, AUGUST 19 (10:00-10:30pm)
Spencer (Dwayne Johnson) becomes immersed in a marketing controversy. Still smarting from their feud in Miami, Charles (Omar Benson Miller) agrees to give Ricky (John David Washington) a chance, against his better instincts. Written by Stephen Levinson & Rob Weiss; directed by Julian Farino.
–Episode #33 (season 4, episode 3): “This Is Not Our World” Debut date: SUNDAY, AUGUST 26 (10:00-10:30pm)
Spencer (Dwayne Johnson) looks to reign in Lance’s (Russell Brand) excesses. Vernon (Donovan W. Carter) gets carried away at a ceremony retiring his number at his old LA high school, to Reggie’s (London Brown) dismay. Written by Stephen Levinson & Rob Weiss; directed by Julian Farino.
Creator, writer and star Issa Rae returns for the third season of the acclaimed comedy series INSECURE, debuting SUNDAY, AUGUST 12 (10:30-11:00pm). The series follows best friends Issa (Rae) and Molly (Yvonne Orji) on their quest to “have it all,” dealing with work woes, romantic escapades and awkward moments along the way. Picking up just two weeks after the end of Season Two, which saw Issa and Lawrence (Jay Ellis) both admitting fault in their breakup, the new episodes find Issa trying to get her life back together, working as a ride-share driver to earn extra cash while crashing on Daniel’s (Y’lan Noel) couch – an arrangement that proves complicated given their history. Molly, meanwhile, starts a new job at a black-owned law firm, but finds her confidence put to the test when she’s not automatically anointed “the star.” Featuring Rae’s hilarious and pointed rap monologues and fantasies, the show continues to be an authentic, incisive and insightful exploration of the contemporary black experience. August’s breakdown follows:
Issa (Issa Rae) crashes on Daniel’s (Y’lan Noel) couch and tries to save up extra cash. Molly (Yvonne Orji) returns from a beach vacation with renewed determination to maintain boundaries in her life. Written by Issa Rae; directed by Prentice Penny.
Issa (Issa Rae) gets advice from Kelli (Natasha Rothwell) about her financial situation and plays wingwoman as Daniel (Y’lan Noel) tries to make a music-industry connection. Written by Amy Aniobi; directed by Pete Chatmon.
Issa (Issa Rae) is inspired while recruiting at a job fair with Frieda (Lisa Joyce). Later, she treats Daniel (Y’lan Noel) to a thank-you dinner as she remains hopeful about their future. Molly (Yvonne Orji) starts her dream job at a black-owned law firm. Written by Ben Dougan; directed by Mo Marable.
From executive producers Mark and Jay Duplass (HBO’s ROOM 104 and TOGETHERNESS) ANIMALS. begins its third season FRIDAY, AUGUST 03 (11:30-midnight). The genre-bending adult animated series, created by writers/directors Phil Matarese and Mike Luciano, blends live-action and animated segments, along with an eclectic lineup of talent from TV, film, music and comedy, exploring the ongoing dramas, joys and anxieties that face NYC’s animal population as they strive to make sense of their lives. For its wide-ranging third season, the genre-bending show visits a humanless, post-apocalyptic Big Apple, blending live-action and animated segments along with the show’s usual eclectic casting. It is a wholly unique season of television that has never been done before.
Three years after the green bomb wiped out humans in New York, rats Phil and Mike traverse the city following a wild, drunken night, searching for a missing car and encountering multiple species and terrors along the way. Written and directed by Phil Matarese and Mike Luciano.
This episode recounts the heroic saga of Wallet, a diminutive, but fiercely heroic bird who leaves his home after tragedy strikes and makes his way to Pigeon Heights. There, he becomes the right-hand man to recently crowned Pigeon King Phil and is tasked with saving the day when terrorists take over a bar mitzvah. Written and directed by Phil Matarese and Mike Luciano.
In the new classist society that’s been established among the equine community, a rich horse’s daughter finds herself in a love triangle with a suitor approved by her father and a carriage horse from the wrong side of the tracks. Written and directed by Phil Matarese and Mike Luciano.
After a freak accident brings an assorted pile of random objects to life, the sentient items experience all of life’s ups and downs on the path towards self-realization – and the meaning behind it all. Written and directed by Phil Matarese and Mike Luciano.
Also debuting in late night – From Terence Nance, the subversively funny series RANDOM ACTS OF FLYNESS premieres FRIDAY, AUGUST 03 (midnight-12:30am). The show explores topical and complex issues of race, gender and sexuality flipping them on their heads to illuminate new and distinctive perspectives. A fluid, stream-of-conscious look at the zeitgeist, each episode features a handful of short vignettes, showcasing an ensemble cast of emerging and established talent, intermixing live-action shorts with animation, stop-motion and music.
Two shows, are big dramatic hour ones, conclude in August. The drama seriesSUCCESSION concludes its first season SUNDAY, AUGUST 05 (10:00-11:00pm). The show explores themes of power, politics, money and family, played out within a rich and dysfunctional family ruled by an aging patriarch (Brian Cox). The show also stars Jeremy Strong, Kieran Culkin, Sarah Snook, Alan Ruck, Hiam Abbass, Nicholas Braun and Matthew Macfadyen. No details to that final episode but, HBOWatch has been following the series here.
The eight-episode limited drama series SHARP OBJECTS concludes SUNDAY, AUGUST 26 (9:00-10:00pm). The show stars five-time Academy Award nominee Amy as Camille Preaker, a city journalist with a troubled history, who returns to her rural Missouri hometown to cover the apparent murders of two preteen girls. Trying to put together a psychological puzzle from her past, Camille finds herself clashing with her overbearing mother, falling back into dangerous habits and identifying with the young victims a bit too closely.,The series also stars Patricia Clarkson, Chris Messina, Eliza Scanlen, Elizabeth Perkins, Matt Craven, Henry Czerny, Miguel Sandoval, Taylor John Smith, Sophia Lillis and Madison Davenport. HBOWatch has been reviewing each installment.
–Episode #5: “Closer Debut date: SUNDAY, AUGUST 05 (9:00-10:00pm)
Despite a potential serial killer on the loose in the community, Wind Gap residents gather for Calhoun Day, an annual southern-pride festival hosted by Adora (Patricia Clarkson) on the grounds of her house. As Amma (Eliza Scanlen) and her friends act out a traditional play depicting the sacrifices made by the wife of a Confederate soldier, Adora shares confidences with Richard (Chris Messina) that may impact his relationship with Camille (Amy Adams). Written by Scott Brown; directed by Jean-Marc Vallée.
–Episode #6: “Cherry” Debut date: SUNDAY, AUGUST 12 (9:00-10:00pm)
Adora (Patricia Clarkson) provides Chief Vickery (Matt Craven) with a key piece of evidence in the Ann Nash murder case. Richard (Chris Messina) probes for details about Camille’s dark past. John’s (Taylor John Smith) girlfriend, Ashley (Madison Davenport), looks to make news for herself. Amma (Eliza Scanlen) bonds with Camille (Amy Adams) during and after a wild party. Written by Dawn Kamoche & Ariella Blejer; directed by Jean-Marc Vallée.
–Episode #7: “Falling” Debut date: SUNDAY, AUGUST 19 (9:00-10:00pm)
Camille (Amy Adams) crosses a line in her investigation of the prime suspect. Richard (Chris Messina) coaxes Jackie (Elizabeth Perkins) to offer up info about Marian Preaker’s death. Adora (Patricia Clarkson) takes pains to keep an ailing Amma (Eliza Scanlen) under her roof and in her care. Written by Gillian Flynn & Scott Brown; directed by Jean-Marc Vallée.
–Episode #8: “Milk” (finale) Debut date: SUNDAY, AUGUST 26 (9:00-10:00pm)
Concerned for the safety of Amma (Eliza Scanlen), Camille (Amy Adams) puts her own life in jeopardy as she gets closer to the truth behind the shocking mysteries surrounding the Wind Gap killings. Written by Marti Noxon & Gillian Flynn; directed by Jean-Marc Vallée
Season Five ofLAST WEEK TONIGHT WITH JOHN OLIVERcontinues with a new edition debuting SUNDAY AUGUST 05 (11:00-11:30pm) followed by other shows subsequent Sundays with a hiatus August 26. REAL TIME WITH BILL MAHER continues its 16th season FRIDAY, AUGUST 03 (10:00-11:00pm), followed by other new editions subsequent Fridays at the same time. Allowing Maher to offer his unique perspective on contemporary issues, the show includes an opening monologue, roundtable discussions with panelists and interviews with guests. Hosted by VICE Media founder Shane Smith, the innovative weekly news magazine show VICE covers the kinds of stories often overlooked by mainstream media outlets. The weekly series continues its sixth season FRIDAY, AUGUST 03 (7:30-8:00pm), followed by other editions subsequent Fridays at the same time, with a hiatus August 31. VICE NEWS TONIGHT, the half-hour nightly newscast from VICE Media and HBO, debuts a new edition WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 01 (7:30-8:00pm.), followed by other new editions subsequent weeknights Monday through Thursday. VICE NEWS offers this clip:
Movies: Here are the big names on the theatrical movie front I promised you would be on the schedule. For August they are: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri; Murder on the Orient Express, Darkest Hour and Father Figures. Okay, that last one might not be a big critic’s darling, but we needed a comedy in the lineup.
THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI, debuting SATURDAY, AUGUST 04 (8:00-10:00pm), follows a mother’s bitter quest to solve her daughter’s murder after the authorities fail to close the case. The wrenching drama stars Oscar winner Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson, Oscar winner Sam Rockwell and Peter Dinklage. Written and directed by Martin McDonagh.
Starring Kenneth Branagh and Penelope Cruz and based upon the novel by Agatha Christie, MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS debuts SATURDAY, AUGUST 11 (8:00-9:55pm). The film tells the story of legendary detective Hercule Poirot, who must solve a perplexing murder case that occurs on his traveling train. Directed by Kenneth Branagh, screenplay by Michael Green. DARKEST HOUR, debuting SATURDAY, AUGUST 18 (8:00-10:05pm) chronicles British Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s as he wrestles with the choice of siding with Adolf Hitler or going to war with Germany, risking the destruction of the British Empire. The film stars Oscar winner Gary Oldman, Kristin Scott Thomas, Lily James and Ben Mendelsohn. FATHER FIGURES, debuting SATURDAY, AUGUST 25 (8:00-10:0pm), follows fraternal twin brothers who set out to find their biological father after being wrongfully told for years that he was deceased. The comedy stars Owen Wilson, Ed Helms, and Glenn Close.
HBO Comedy: DREW MICHAEL, the comedian’s first HBO special, debuts SATURDAY, AUGUST 25 (10:00-11:00pm). Jerrod Carmichael, who has starred in two specials of his own on the network, directs. The special follows him as he navigates his fears, anxieties and insecurities in an unconventional stand-up setting. Michael’s darkly comic, stream-of-consciousness monologue raises questions of identity, narrative, self-awareness and the limits of the medium itself. Suki Waterhouse also appears.
HBO Kids: The classic series SESAME STREET may have concluded its season but a new series, also from Sesame workshop, debuts in its place. ESME & ROY, the first new animated series from the makers of Sesame Street in more than a decade, will debut in the U.S. on SATURDAY, AUGUST 18 (9:30-10:00am). The show follows a young girl, Esme, and her best monster friend, Roy, on their adventures as the best monster babysitters in Monsterdale. Aimed at children ages four to six, it offers a creative new approach to teaching “learning through play” and mindfulness strategies. With loveable characters who spark strong emotional connections among preschoolers and parents alike, ESME & ROY invites children into a colorful world where even the littlest monsters can overcome big challenges together. Across 26 episodes, the series will use the power of play to help younger monsters through familiar situations, including trying new foods and feeling scared during loud thunderstorms.
HBO Sports: WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING: SERGEY KOVALEV VS. ELEIDER ALVAREZ & DMITRY BIVOL VS. ISSAC CHILEMBA airs SATURDAY, AUGUST 04 (10:00pm-12:15am). Two-time light heavyweight world champion Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev (32-2-1, 28 KOs) puts his WBO Light Heavyweight World Title on the line against Eleider “Storm” Alvarez (23-0, 11 KOs) at the Etess Arena in the brand new Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City. Also, WBA Light Heavyweight World Champion Dmitry Bivol (13-0, 11 KOs) of St. Petersburg, Russia will make his third title defense against light heavyweight contender Isaac “Golden Boy” Chilemba (25-5-2, 10 KOs) of Blantyre, Malawi as the co-main event. Also airing is 24/7 CANELO/GGG debuting August 28. HBO Sports, NFL Films and the Cleveland Browns team up for an all-access look at what it takes to make it in the National Football League, as HARD KNOCKS: TRAINING CAMP WITH THE CLEVELAND BROWNSkicks off its five-episode season TUESDAY, AUGUST 07 (10:00-11:00pm). The Browns endured a winless season in 2017, but are looking to reverse their fortunes – and HBO will be there to record their progress. Through vérité footage shot by NFL Films, the show will chronicle players’ and coaches’ routines, practices and hopes during the intense five-week camp in the Cleveland suburb of Berea, Ohio. 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, AUGUST 21 (11:00pm-midnight).
But that is not all in sports as LeBron James has something to say. HBO Sports will collaborate with LeBron James and Maverick Carter’s award-winning digital media company to present the innovative, unscripted series THE SHOP, debuting TUESDAY, AUGUST 28 (11:00-11:30pm). THE SHOP gives viewers an unprecedented barbershop experience, which for many provides a sanctuary for spirited, free-flowing discussions. The series will visit barbershops around the country to gather distinguished individuals who can speak honestly on sports, music, pop culture, world events, business and other culturally relevant topics.
Other Movies and Shows: Now is the time where I do a little extra digging around to see what else is playing on the main channel. New movies include four showings each of THE GHOST WRITER and REIGN OF FIRE. They also point out showings of THE HUNTED, VANILLA SKY, JUST VISITING and SHINE. Over on HBO2 they hare replaying 2 DOPE QUEENS and a marathon run of INSECURE.
HBO’s Other Platforms: We offer up four choices each from the other channels. HBOLatino: MAMARTUILE is a 12-minute short film and VALENTINE is a 9-minute one. LOS BUSCADORES (Gold Seekers) is a full-length movie in which Manu, a 21-year-old newspaper boy, discovers a map in a book gifted by his treasure hunting grandfather. Believing the map points to a treasure buried during the Paraguayan War, he finds the site is now an embassy and decides to infiltrate it. Also available is TACO SHOP. In this comedy workers at a taco restaurant band together to fight back when a gourmet taco truck parks right across the street. HBO Family: The Sendak book comes to life in WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE. BIG MIRACLE is the ‘save the whales’ tale and THE DOCTOR is not Doogie Howser but William Hurt as an arrogant physician. And, lastly, who could not watch THE PRINCESS BRIDE one more time? HBO Signature: Here are some titles we haven’t mentioned in a while or ever – CAPTURING THE FRIEDMANS which is a documentary on the Friedmans, a seemingly typical, upper-middle-class Jewish family whose world is instantly transformed when the father and his youngest son are arrested and charged with shocking and horrible crime; THE GOOD LIE which details the harrowing plight of Sudanese War orphans who survive tragedy and face new challenges when they come to the U. S (Reese Witherspoon stars) and 5 FLIGHTS UP where downsizing lands aging New York City couple Morgan Freeman and Diane Keaton in the midst of a riotous real-estate circus. Also, there is THE DOOR IN THE FLOOR in which a writer’s young assistant becomes both pawn and catalyst in his boss’s disintegrating household with Jeff Bridges and Kim Basinger. HBO Comedy: ALL ABOUT STEVE with Sandra Bullock, RUN FATBOY RUN with Simon Pegg and VERY BAD THINGS with Cameron Diaz are movie choices. In stand-up how about CHRIS ROCK: NEVER SCARED? HBO Zone: Let’s recycle some pictures you might not have gotten around to seeing yet like DEAD PRESIDENTS, DRAG ME TO HELL, OWNING MAHOWNY and BLACK SEA. That last title is just as good as any to highlight with a clip.
HBONow/Go: We noted last month that the continuing HBO Latino series SR. AVILA was featured. Well, a whole second batch of HBO International titles has joined that series on the websites. The first three seasons of the hitman series can also be seen alongside three HBO Europe stories. They have the 4-part miniseriesTHE SECRET VALLEY, and the comedies series WHEN SHALL WE KISS? and HEAD OVER HEELS. Also new to the sites are HBO Asia entries GRACE, a horror miniseries and the comedy SENT. We will elaborate on each in a future post. Also uploading will be the series ARANYELET(The Golden Life) about a corrupt businessman and family man who attempts to navigate his way through increasing domestic, legal, and financial problems. Consider it HBO Europe’s answer to THE SOPRANOS. Some movies coming on include HEAVEN CAN WAIT, MURDER BY NUMBERS, SUPER TROOPERS and FARGO.
Cinemax: The suspense-horror series OUTCASTcontinues its ten-episode second season FRIDAY, AUGUST 03 (10:00-11:00pm) followed by other episodes subsequent Fridays at the same time. Continuing to probe the mystery of what lies behind the town of Rome’s supernatural manifestations, the show explores how people cope with extreme circumstances while protecting the ones they love. Patrick Fugit and Philip Glenister star.
Here is intel on the first episodes of the month:
–Episode #13 (season 2, episode 3): “Not My Job to Judge” Debut date: FRIDAY, AUGUST 03 (10:00-11:00pm)
Kyle (Patrick Fugit) and Amber (Madeleine McGraw) visit Allison (Kate Lyn Sheil) at the facility she’s checked herself into, where Amber encounters a creepy patient. Holly (Callie McClincy) rejects Megan’s (Wrenn Schmidt) attempts to return to normalcy. Sidney (Brent Spiner) poses a challenge to a new convert. Patricia (Melinda McGraw) confronts Giles (Reg E. Cathey) about his investigation of Aaron’s case. Anderson (Philip Glenister) and Kyle track down a mysterious figure behind a spate of Rome abductions. Written by Jeff Vlaming; directed by Howard Deutch.
–Episode #14 (season 2, episode 4): “The One I’d Been Waiting For” Debut date: FRIDAY, AUGUST 10 (10:00-11:00pm)
Kyle (Patrick Fugit) and Anderson (Philip Glenister) learn more about the role Kyle’s father played in Rome’s history of possession. Anderson is taunted by an old foe, who recently resurfaced and is wreaking havoc in town. With nowhere to go, Megan (Wrenn Schmidt) takes Holly (Callie McClincy) to a familiar but forbidding place. Sidney (Brent Spiner) instructs an ally to keep Giles (Reg E. Cathey) in line. Written by Rebecca Sonnenshine; directed by Alrick Riley.
On the movie front the channel is touting the following: When an interracial couple (Allison Williams of HBO’s GIRLS and Oscar nominee Daniel Kaluuya) goes upstate for the weekend to meet her parents, the family’s odd behavior leads to the discovery of their alarming secret in GET OUT, debuting SATURDAY, AUGUST 03 (8:15-10:00pm). Starring Rosario Dawson, Katherine Heigl and Geoff Stults, UNFORGETTABLE debuts FRIDAY, AUGUST 10 (8:15-10:00pm). The thriller explores the deranged mind of an ex-wife who makes it her mission to torment her ex-husband’s new fiancée. KONG: SKULL ISLAND follows the journey of a team of scientists who study a small island in the Pacific and invade the land of the mighty Kong. The adventure yarn stars Samuel L. Jackson, Tom Hiddleston and Brie Larson and debuts FRIDAY, AUGUST 17 (8:00-10:00pm). Starring Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine and Alan Arkin, the remake of the crime comedy GOING IN STYLE debuts AUGUST 24 (8:20-10:00pm), telling the story of lifelong friends who plot a bank heist to score some badly needed cash.
Next Month’s Tease: Munro Leaf penned the story for a title coming to HBO in September. Do you have a copy?
Last month was the phrase “HOW COME, CHIEF WILLOUGHBY?” which was one of the trio of signs crucial to the plot of Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.
Final Clip: All Aboard the HBO Train!
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