The final month of another year is upon us already. Time sure flies when you are enjoying HBO, doesn’t it? In this month of gift giving for many can also look back at all the gifts we received all year long from the pay channel we enjoy. The televised pleasures across HBO’s platforms were diverse and met everyone’s tastes whether it was sports, movies, specials or series. There was something for everyone Now, December will add a few more entertainment choices before we close out another year. So, let’s find out what gifts await with What’s On: HBO Schedule for December 2014.
Originals: We bid goodbye to yet another series as this year closes when THE NEWSROOM offers up its last episodes. It wraps its third and final season with a new episode debuting SUNDAY, DECEMBER 07 at 9:00pm followed by the series finale on SUNDAY, DECEMBER 14, also at 9:00pm ET.
— Episode #24: “Oh Shenandoah”: Incarcerated for contempt, Will refuses to reveal the name of Neal’s government source. Appearing to embrace Pruit’s mandate to capture younger viewers, Charlie orders a reluctant Don to track down principals in a sexual-abuse case at an elite college. Sloan voices her objection to a new digital site built by Neal’s replacement, Bree. Stranded in a Russian airport, Jim and Maggie look to land seats for a Cuban-bound plan, hoping to interview one of its high-profile passengers. Written by Aaron Sorkin; directed by Paul Lieberstein. HBO air dates: 12.07, 12.09, 12.10, 12.11, 12.12 and 12.13.
— Episode #25: “What Kind of Day Has It Been”: A colleague’s death leads William and Mac to ponder the milestones that transformed the newsroom, and to look ahead towards ACN’s uncertain future. Maggie lands a field-producer interview in Washington; Neal’s digital site is shut down for repairs; Leona offers sage advice to Pruit. Written by Aaron Sorkin; directed by Alan Poul. HBO air dates are 12.14, 12.16, 12.17, 12.18, 12.19 and 12.20. — Encore airings of Episode #23 are on 12.02, 12.03, 12.04, 12.05 and 12.06.
It seems like the ACN team is going out with a struggle; don’t miss it. HBOWatch won’t as we continue our reviews weekly and wrap up with a Series Reflection post in December.
Also wrapping up on Sunday nights is the comedy block that follows Sorkin’s masterwork. It is too early to tell if THE COMEBACK will return, but stranger things have happened. I mean, the show returned after a nine year absence this time, right? In December we will see the concluding episodes of season two as Lisa Kudrow returns in the comedy series with a new episode debuting SUNDAY, DECEMBER 07 at 10:00pm. It will run each week leading up to the one-hour season finale SUNDAY, DECEMBER 28. There are no episode specifics, but here are the air dates. Additional dates for Episode # 17 are on 12.01, 12.02, 12.03 and 12.05. Episode #18 runs on 12.07, 12.08, 12.09, 12.10 and 12.12; Episode #19 is on 12.14, 12.15, 12.16, 12. 17 and 12.19; Episode #20 airs 12.21, 12.22, 12.23, 12.24 and 12.26; look forEpisode #21 on 12.28, 12.30 and 12.31. Here is a little dose of Valerie Cherish!
Yeah, THE WIRE and BIG LOVE would be a bit above her intellect. In the 10:30pm slot is GETTING ON from creators Mark V. Olsen and Will Scheffer, the co-creators of the acclaimed HBO series BIG LOVE. The season concludes with two more episodes in December. An episode debuts SUNDAY, DECEMBER 07 followed by the season finale SUNDAY, DECEMBER 14 at 10:35pm. They are –
— Episode #11: “The Revolving Door Admit”: DiDi struggles to deal with her younger sister Sherrie, who’s filling in at Billy Barnes and cozying up to Dawn. Jenna gets a new look and runs into resistance to her research methods. Patsy lets an award go to his head. The staff tries to balance patient flow and has issues discharging a patient they’d hoped to never see again. Teleplay by Mark V. Olsen & Will Scheffer; directed by Howard Deutch. It runs on HBO on 12.07, 12.08, 12.09, 12.10 and 12.12.
— Episode #12: “Doctor Death”: A whistleblower brings disturbing news about the hospice program to light, putting the entire staff’s future in question. Dawn takes a big romantic step, but unexpectedly finds herself caught between two suitors. DiDi takes her salary issues to Jenna, who tries to hold everything together. Teleplay by Mark V. Olsen & Will Scheffer; directed by Howard Deutch. Air dates are 12.14, 12.15, 12.16, 12.17 and 12.19. Encore play dates for Episode #10 are on 12.01, 12.02, 12.03 and 12.05.
I believe the patient surfacing in Episode #11 is June Squibb as Varla last seen in Episode # 2 last year. Also the description for the final episode makes it look like this season is going to end on a far more serious note than Season One.
The only other series running is the limited series FOO FIGHTERS: SONIC HIGHWAYS. It also concludes this coming month on FRIDAY, DECEMBER 05 at 11:00pm. Episode # 7 still plays 12.01., 12.0 and 12.04. That is the Seattle, Washington episode that you’d think they’d do last as a way of returning home to their roots. Episode # 8 should be New York City and airs 12.05, 12.06, 12.07, 12.08, 12.09 and 12.11. Here is a taste of what you are missing if you haven’t been watching. This is a clip for Episode # 7.
Theatrical Movies: A quick four weeks and a whole lot of reveling and the month of December will be over. Just enough time to slip in four theatrical movies making their premieres on HBO Saturday nights. They are GRUDGE MATCH, 47 RONIN, THE DIVERGENT and THE GRAND BUDEPEST HOTEL. They will be reviewed on HBOWatch as they come up, but for now here is a brief look at each.
GRUDGE MATCH: Is the pitch for this movie enough to make it a good movie? Picture this – Sylvester Stallone (Rocky Balboa) and Robert De Niro (Jake LaMotta) return to the boxing ring after thirty years for one final rematch, uh…grudge match to cap their rivalry. Also in the movie are Kevin Hart, Alan Arkin and Kim Basinger. It debuts SATURDAY, DECEMBER 06 at 8:00pm . Man, Sly still tries hard to be relevant on the big screen, doesn’t he? Basinger is who I am most eager to see again. Air dates are 12.06, 12.07, 12.09, 12.14, 12.16, 12.19, 12.20, 12.24, 12.27 and 12.30. Keanu Reeves is another one of those actors begging to be noticed up on that screen. If you didn’t see it last winter you can catch 47 Ronin on HBO. It debuts on SATURDAY, DECEMBER 13 at 8:00pm. Other show dates are 12.14., 12.16, 12.19, 12.21, 12.25, 12.27 and 12.31. In this one a nasty band of samurai warriors grow by one when an outcast joins them in order to seek revenge on an evil warlord. Hiroyuki Sanada, Tadanobu Asano, Rinko Kikuchi and Ko Shibasaki also star. Here is a clip from that last movie.
Also in December there is DIVERGENT. In a world where people are divided based on virtues, a woman (Shailene Woodley) who doesn’t fit in uncovers a conspiracy and must fight to save herself and others when this movie debuts SATURDAY, DECEMBER 20 at 8:00pm. Theo James, Ashley Judd, Jai Courtney, Ray Stevenson, Zoë Kravitz, Miles Teller, Tony Goldwyn, Ansel Elgort, Maggie Q and Kate Winslet also star in this futuristic thriller, based on the bestselling book series of the same name. Is this YA franchise popular in your house? Look for it on HBO on 12.20, 12.21, 12.23, 12.26, 12.28 and 12.31. For a completely different sort of movie there is THE GRAND BUDEPEST HOTEL. This one reminds me of a classic Hollywood comedy. Between the two world wars, the legendary concierge (Ralph Fiennes) and the lobby boy (Tony Revolori) of a famous European hotel get caught up in the pursuit of a priceless Renaissance painting and the battle over a family fortune when this movie debuts SATURDAY, DECEMBER 27 at 8:00pm. F. Murray Abraham, Mathieu Amalric, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Jude Law, Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Saoirse Ronan, Jason Schwartzman, Tilda Swinton, Tom Wilkinson and Owen Wilson also star in this offbeat comedy by Wes Anderson. It also runs 12.30 and into the 2015. Here is one of the alternative trailers.
Specials: I am going to go ahead and treat this documentary as a special because it is in two-parts and is featured across many of the channels, especially HBO and HBO Family. It is SAVING MY TOMORROW. In a unique partnership, HBO and the American Museum of Natural History present a two-part family special about the environment when the PART ONE debuts MONDAY, DECEMBER 15 at 7:00pm, followed by PART TWO at 7:30pm. From the children who will inherit the planet comes a collection of songs, activism and heartfelt tips for protecting the earth. Kids share their thoughts on subjects ranging from endangered animals to climate change, while exploring stories with the museum’s scientists about the plants and animals that are affected. This lyrical mix of science, animation and music celebrates the wonders of the natural world and is a call from kids to kids to help take care of the planet. (Produced and directed by Amy Schatz; produced by Beth Aala; edited by Tom Patterson; director of photography, Tom Patterson. For HBO: supervising producer, Lisa Heller; executive producer, Sheila Nevins.) (TV-G) Air dates on HBO for Part One are on 12.15, 12.18, 12.20, 12.23 and 12.25. . Air dates on HBO for Part Two are on 12.15, 12.18, 12.20, 12.23 and 12.25. HBOWatch will review.
Documentary: A few encore presentations are in the schedule, but the two documentary premieres in December single out two unique individuals. REGARDING SUSAN SONTAG, debuting MONDAY, DECEMBER 08 at 9:00pm, is an intimate profile of one of the most influential and provocative thinkers of the 20th century, exploring the life of the literary, political and feminist icon through archival materials and accounts from friends, family, colleagues and lovers, as well as her own words, as read by Patricia Clarkson. From an early infatuation with books to Sontag’s first experience in a gay bar, from her early marriage to her last lover, the documentary is a fascinating look at a towering cultural critic and writer whose works on photography, war, illness and terrorism still resonate today. Produced and directed by Nancy Kates; executive producer, Tom Dolby; voice of Susan Sontag, Patricia Clarkson; written by John Haptas and Nancy Kates. For HBO: senior producer, Lisa Heller; executive producer, Sheila Nevins. Dates: 12.08, 12.11, 12.13, 12.17, 12.22, 12.28 and 12.30.
Sports: An HBO Sports Documentary entitled TAPIA is the other one. HBO Sports presents a compelling documentary about the life and career of a talented but tormented world champion boxer when this documentary debuts on TUESDAY, DECEMBER 16 at 11:00pm. The film uses first-person narration and archival footage to explore the achievements, personal demons and ultimate redemption of the popular fighter Johnny Tapia, who died in 2012 at age 45. HBO Sports presents a compelling documentary about the life and career of a talented but tormented world champion boxer. The film uses first-person narration and archival footage to explore the achievements, personal demons and ultimate redemption of the popular fighter Johnny Tapia, who died in 2012 at age 45. It is a G Unit Film and Television and BK Blu Productions Presentation in association with Live Star Entertainment; executive producers, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson and Lou DiBella; directed by Eddie Alcazar. For HBO: executive producer, Rick Bernstein; director, Bentley Weiner. Liev Schreiber narrates. Airings on HBO are on 12.16, 12.18, 12.20, 12.22, 12.28 and 12.29. We don’t always review HBO Sports documentaries but this one has our attention.
STATE OF PLAY: HBO Sports and executive producers Peter Berg and Sarah Aubrey team up again to present two new editions of this innovative documentary film series when CULTURE SHOCK debuts TUESDAY, DECEMBER 02 at 10:00pm and FIRST LADIES debuts TUESDAY, DECEMBER 09 also at 10:00pm.
— “CULTURE SHOCK”: The third new edition begins with a 30-minute documentary that explores how the National Football League, America’s most popular sports organization, is confronting the enormous challenge of making the game safer, chronicling the physical toll of the game on its players, a subject that has taken center stage over the past two years. How does the sport survive amidst a proliferation of long-term injuries and lawsuits? CULTURE SHOCK features unprecedented access to the halls of the NFL and its Players Association, gathering viewpoints of football’s business leaders and fans. HBO air dates: 12.02, 12.03, 12.04, 12.05, 12.06, 12.07 and 12.08.
— “FIRST LADIES”: A deeply personal look at another side of professional sports, the fourth film focuses on the challenges of balancing the pursuit of professional success and family obligations. This edition focuses on three couples whose vows shape their decisions on the field and at home. What role has each of these spouses played in her family’s success? Profiled are Mike and Kiya Tomlin, Kevin and DeLana Harvick, and Scott and Megan Lenhoff. Mike Tomlin is head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Kevin Harvick drives a racecar on the NASCAR circuit, and Scott Lenhoff is head football coach at Steele High School in Cibolo, Tex. HBO air dates: 12.09, 12.10, 12.11, 12.12, 12.13, 12.14 and 12.15.
Here is a clip from one of the editions HBOWatch will be covering in December.
Of course the sports stalwarts are around. We got both Jim Lampley and Bryant Gumbel as the year winds down. Hosted by the four-time Sports Emmy winner, THE FIGHT GAME WITH JIM LAMPLEY is a provocative, engaging and informative experience that delves into intriguing storylines, newsmakers and issues that are top-of-mind in boxing. The latest edition debuts TUESDAY, DECEMBER 23 at 11:00pm and also plays 12.26, 12.28 and 12.29. REAL SPORTS WITH BRYANT GUMBEL goes behind the box scores and statistics to tackle timely subjects in the world of contemporary sports. The next monthly edition debuts TUESDAY, DECEMBER 16 at 10:00pm. Air dates for Edition #213: 12.16, 12.19, 12.21, 12.23, 12.26, 12.27 and 12.30.
World Championship Boxing: Timothy Bradley Jr Vs. Diego Chaves Matt Korobov Vs. Andy Lee And Mauricio Herrera Vs. Jose Benavidez, presented SATURDAY, DECEMBER 13 beginning at 10:00pm is headlined by the return of one of the sport’s biggest stars. In the main event of the evening, former champion Timothy Bradley Jr (pictured) (31-1, 12 KOs) of Palm Springs, Cal., faces off against Argentina’s Diego Chaves (23-2, 19 KOs) in a scheduled 12-round affair. In the second fight of the tripleheader, Matt Korobov (24-0, 13 KOs) meets Andy Lee (33-2, 23 KOs) in a scheduled 12-round fight for a vacant middleweight title. In the opening bout, Mauricio Herrera (21-4, 7 KOs) of Riverside, California, takes on Jose Benavidez Jr. (21-0, 15 KOs) of Phoenix, in a super lightweight showdown scheduled for 12 rounds. The HBO Sports team will be ringside at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City for the event, which will be available in HDTV, closed-captioned for the hearing-impaired and presented in Spanish on HBO Latino. It will air 12.13, 12.14 and 12.15.
HBO Sports Boxing After Dark: David Lemieux Vs. Gabriel Rosado, Hugo Centeno Jr. Vs. James De La Rosa And Thomas Dulorme Vs. Hank Lundy is presented on SATURDAY, DECEMBER 6 at 10:00pm. It features an action-packed tripleheader at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The main event of the evening pits knockout artist David Lemieux (32-2, 30 KOs) of Montreal against hard-nosed brawler Gabriel Rosado (21-8, 13 KOs) of Philadelphia in a middleweight fight scheduled for 12 rounds. In the evening’s middle bout, Hugo Centeno Jr. (21-0, 11 KOs) from the boxing hotbed of Oxnard, Cal., meets James De La Rosa (23-2, 13 KOs) of Harlingen, Tex. in a middleweight clash scheduled for 10 rounds. The all-action tripleheader opens with a 10-round, junior welterweight contest between Thomas Dulorme (21-1, 14 KOs) of Puerto Rico and Hank Lundy (25-3-1, 12 KOs) of Philadelphia. The HBO Sports team will be ringside at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City for the event, which will be available in HDTV, closed-captioned for the hearing-impaired and presented in Spanish on HBO Latino. Play dates: 12.06, 12.07 and 12.08. Also in December HBO Sports replays the top five HBO fights of the year on BOXING’S BEST OF 2014. The bouts (to be determined) will air on four consecutive nights beginning SATURDAY, DECEMBER 27 at 11:30pm. The final fight will be seen TUESDAY, DECEMBER 30.
Other Movies and Shows: It doesn’t play often in the month, but it does play on the 24th & 25th. It is Langston Hughes’ BLACK NATIVITY. NOW YOU SEE ME also plays primetime Christmas night. New Years Eve has THE LEGO MOVIE and GRAVITY in primetime. AUSTIN POWERS: INTERNATIONAL MAN OF MYSTERY and THE FIRST WIVES CLUB are fun. HBO FIRST LOOK: EDODUS: GODS AND KINGS and HBO FIRST LOOK: UNBROKEN are informative and HBO DOCUMENTARY FILMS: THE NEWBURGH STING and Ang Lee’s RIDE WITH THE DEVIL are on the dramatic side of things. Check this out.
HBO’s Other Platforms: Here are some quick choices from the other channels. HBO Latino: This channel has two movies with odd titles or so I thought; 7 CAJAS (7 BOXES) and THE AMAZING CATFISH. In the first one a Paraguayan youth dreams of becoming famous when he is offered a chance to deliver seven boxes with unknown contents in exchange for a quick US$100. But what sounds like an easy job soon gets complicated. The other movie, originally titled LOS INSOLITOS PECES GATO. In this one two hospitalized women bond when the one is taken in to help the other recuperate. HBO Family: Besides the SAVING FOR TOMORROW special there is the likes of INSPECTOR GADGET and WEST SIDE STORY to enjoy with the family. HBO Signature: I thought this channel was meant to highlight high quality movies. So how does HALLOWEEN H20: TWENTY YEARS LATER, POISON IVY: THE NEW SEDUCTION and THE CELL 2 get on there? Besides they are a couple of holidays behind. HBO Comedy: The channel has movies like HOW STELLA GOT HER GROOVE BACK and BIG and New Year’s Eve as got the comedy of John Leguizamo, Sarah Silverman, Chris Rock, Ricky Gervais, Tracy Morgan, Jim Jeffries and David Spade. HBOGO: The website rotates movies monthly and here is a short list of a few going off soon: G. I. JANE, OVERBOARD, WET HOT AMERICAN SUMMER and 12 YEARS A SLAVE. Available soon to replace them are HILDAGO, RUSH HOUR, WARGAMES, DEAD MEN DON’T WEAR PLAID, MONTY PYTHON’S THE MEANING OF LIFE and ICE AGE: THE MELTDOWN. Cinemax: The movies it highlights include THE SECRET LIFE OFWALTER MITTY; THE HULK, FAST AND FURIOUS 6, R.I.P.D. and DALLAS BUYER’S CLUB. Remember, on Cinemax there is a different movie premiering every night in primetime. You’ll catch something interesting every time.
This is just a meager sampling of the cinematic gifts you can find on the HBO network of channels as we round out another year. HBOWatch hopes you enjoy want you discover.
Next Month’s Tease: The Greeks and the Girls Rise Again!
Final Clip: As THE NEWSROOM concludes its run how about some of Will McAvoy’s best quips.