We are wrapping up another year with HBO already. Where does the time go? What kind of gifts is HBO giving us? Well, a nice variety of quality entertainment of course. Here is a sampling of what there is across HBO in December. Happy Holidays!
Original Series: Tick…Tock…The clock still moves but it is getting closer to the end time…of the season that is. Set in an alternate history where masked vigilantes are treated as outlaws, WATCHMENcontinues its first season SUNDAY, DECEMBER 01 (9:00-10:00pm), with new episodes airing subsequent Sundays at the same time, leading up to the season finale on December 15. The assembled cast includes Regina King, Jeremy Irons, Don Johnson, Jean Smart, Tim Blake Nelson, Louis Gossett Jr., Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Tom Mison, Sara Vickers, Andrew Howard, Jacob Ming-Trent and Dylan Schombing in Damon Lindelof’s play on the classic graphic novel. Here is a clue to how it all plays out:
–Episode 7: ” An Almost Religious Awe” Debut date: SUNDAY, DECEMBER 01 (9:00-10:00pm)
Under Lady Trieu’s (Hong Chau) care, Angela (Regina King) undergoes an unconventional treatment while Agent Blake (Jean Smart) chases down a lead. Elsewhere, The Smartest Man in The World (Jeremy Irons) delivers a stunning defense of his past actions. Written by Stacy Osei-Kuffour & Claire Kiechel; directed by David Semel.
–Episode 8: ” A God Walks Into Abar” Debut date: SUNDAY, DECEMBER 08 (9:00-10:00pm)
Angela’s (Regina King) mysterious past in Vietnam is at last revealed. Written by Jeff Jensen & Damon Lindelof; directed by Nicole Kassell.
–Episode 9: “See How They Fly” (Season finale)
Debuts date: SUNDAY, DECEMBER 15 (9:00-10:00pm)
Everything ends. For real this time. Written by Nick Cuse & Damon Lindelof; directed by Frederick E.O. Toye.
Adapting Philip Pullman’s award-winning trilogy of the same name, which is considered a modern masterpiece of imaginative fiction, HIS DARK MATERIALS continues its first season MONDAY, DECEMBER 02 (9:00-10:00pm), followed by new episodes subsequent Mondays at the same time, leading up to the season finale on December 23. The series continues to follow Lyra (Dafne Keen), a seemingly ordinary but brave young woman from another world who is searching for a kidnapped friend. She uncovers a sinister plot involving stolen children and takes on a quest to understand a mysterious phenomenon called Dust. Here is what we know as the premiere season concludes:
–Episode 5: ” The Lost Boy”
Debut date: MONDAY, DECEMBER 02 (9:00-10:00pm)
The alethiometer sends Lyra (Dafne Keen) and Iorek (Joe Tandberg) on a new path, leading to a shocking but vital clue. Written by Jack Thorne; directed by Otto Bathurst.
–Episode 6: ” The Daemon-Cages”
Debut date: MONDAY, DECEMBER 08 (9:00-10:00pm)
Lyra (Dafne Keen) finds what she was looking for in the far North, but can she survive? Written by Jack Thorne; directed by Euros Lyn.
–Episode 7: ” The Fight to the Death”
Debut date: MONDAY, DECEMBER 16 (9:00-10:00pm)
Lyra (Dafne Keen) must use her methods of deception to outwit a formidable foe. Written by Jack Thorne; directed by Otto Bathurst.
Now to the half-hour shows. The HBO comedy series SILICON VALLEYcontinues its seven-episode, sixth and final season SUNDAY, DECEMBER 01 (10:00-10:30pm), followed by the series finale on December 08. A collaboration between Mike Judge and Alec Berg, the Emmy-winning and Golden Globe-nominated series has taken a comedic look at the modern-day epicenter of the high-tech gold rush. But the rush to a big finish is nigh. I’m going to miss Gilfoyle; just sayin’. The series stars Thomas Middleditch as Richard, Zach Woods as Jared, Kumail Nanjiani as Dinesh, Martin Starr as Gilfoyle, Amanda Crew as Monica, Jimmy O. Yang as Jian-Yang, Suzanne Cryer as Laurie Bream, Matt Ross as Gavin Belson and Josh Brener as Big Head.
Richard (Thomas Middleditch) and the Pied Piper team look to pull off a spectacular feat on the day of a big launch. Written and directed by Alec Berg. Berg also has been an executive producer, alongside Mike Judge, for the entire series.
Starring Kathryn Hahn in the title role,MRS. FLETCHER continues SUNDAY, DECEMBER 01 (10:30-11:00pm) followed by the series finale on December 08. Based on the bestselling novel of the same name by Tom Perrotta, the series is a dual coming-of-age story chronicling the personal and sexual journeys of an empty-nest mother and her college freshman son, who both embrace their newfound freedom with mixed results. And it all gets neatly tied up in a single season as it has been billed as a Limited Series. We will see more of Hahn on HBO in 2020. Here are clues as to how her turn in this series ends –
–Episode 6: “Solar Glow”
Debut date: SUNDAY, DECEMBER 01 (10:30-11:00pm)
While helping her friend Jane (Casey Wilson) through a marital crisis, Eve (Kathryn Hahn) is distracted by a series of flirtatious texts. Brendan (Jackson White) and Chloe (Jasmine Cephas Jones) have a study date. Written by Kate Thulin; directed by Gillian Robespierre E
Eve (Kathryn Hahn) celebrates a life-changing decision. Brendan (Jackson White) has an epiphany about college. Sanjay (Cheech Manohar) does a good deed. Written by Tom Perrotta; directed by Gillian Robespierre.
Movies:If you are one of those where Christmas is your entire focus for the month you might just appreciate the chance to rake a breather with a movie or get the kids in front of one. The new premieres on Saturday nights might just be that gift. In December you will find LONG SHOT, HELLBOY, THE SUN IS ALSO A STAR and POKÉMON DETECTIVE PIKACHU.
A struggling journalist reunites with his former babysitter and childhood crush, who is now running for President and hires him as her speechwriter in LONG SHOT, debuting SATURDAY, DECEMBER 07 (7:55-10:00pm). The film stars Seth Rogan and Charlize Theron.HELLBOY, a reboot of the original Hellboyfilm series starring David Harbour (HBO’s THE NEWSROOM), Milla Jovovich, Ian McShane (HBO’s DEADWOOD), Sasha Lane, Daniel Dae Kim and Thomas Haden Church (HBO’s DIVORCE) debuts SATURDAY, DECEMBER 14 (8:00-10:05pm). THE SUN IS ALSO A STAR,debuting SATURDAY, DECEMBER 21 (8:00-9:40pm), tells the story of an unlikely couple who fall in love over one unlikely day in New York City, all while one of their families faces deportation. The film stars Yara Shahidi and Charles Melton. When a detective goes missing, his son teams up with his former Pokémon partner, Detective Pikachu, to find him in POKÉMON DETECTIVE PIKACHU,debuting SATURDAY, DECEMBER 28 (8:00-9:45pm). The film stars Ryan Reynolds, Justice Smith and Kathryn Newton (HBO’s BIG LITTLE LIES).
HBO Documentary Films:MOONLIGHT SONATA: DEAFNESS IN THREE MOVEMENTS, debuting WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 11 (9:00-10:30pm), tells the story of eleven-year-old Jonas, who has a cochlear implant and is struggling to learn the first movement of Beethoven’s anguished “Moonlight Sonata,” which the composer wrote as he began to go deaf. Jonas’ grandparents, Paul and Sally, have been deaf for nearly 80 years, but unlike Jonas, the majority of their lives were shaped by silence. As Jonas dives deeper into Beethoven’s music, his grandparents begin to feel the gulf that lies between them. The story becomes an intergenerational tale of deafness and a deeply personal portrait of three lives, and the discoveries that lie beyond loss. Directed by Emmy winner Irene Taylor Brodsky. Inspired by the work of J.K. Rowling’s foundation Lumos, FINDING THE WAY HOMEdebuts WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 18 (9:00-10:05pm), telling the stories of eight children who have been reunited with family members or placed in loving foster homes after being exposed to the distressing conditions prevalent in orphanages and institutions around the world. Interweaving insights from families, social workers and dedicated foster parents, this eye-opening documentary illustrates what it truly means to be home. Directed by Emmy winners Jon Alpert and Matthew O’Neill.
HBO Specials:Comedian and actor Dan Soder (Billions) brings his honest and hilarious humor in his first HBO comedy special whenDAN SODER: SON OF A GARY debuts SATURDAY, DECEMBER 07 (10:00-11:00pm). Taped last month at The Bowery Ballroom in New York City before a sold-out, live audience, his stint showcases his down to earth approach to the material that affects his life on every level. The HBO comedy special MEL BROOKS UNWRAPPED features award-winning actor, writer, producer and director Mel Brooks in interviews past and present with Alan Yentob, former creative director for the BBC. It also shows Yentob following Brooks in his day-to-day life, including a visit with long-time friend and collaborator Carl Reiner. The special debuts FRIDAY, DECEMBER 13 (9:00-10:10pm).
HBO Kids:SESAME STREET continues its 50th season SATURDAY, DECEMBER 07 (9:00-9:30am), with other episodes airing Saturdays at the same time. This crazy bunch just got started celebrating its anniversary year with all it has to offer little tots. Here is what is in store Saturday mornings until the end of the year. Here is what the kid get this month –
–Season 50, Episode 4: “Get Dressed, Not Stressed” Topic: Getting Dressed Debut: SATURDAY, DECEMBER 07 (9:00-9:30am) Elmo wants to play with his friends in the snow, but he gets frustrated when trying to get dressed. With help from his friend Jacket, Elmo remembers to take a deep breath and keep trying until he does it and gets dressed in his winter clothes.
–Season 50, Episode 5: “A Dog and a Song” Topic: Music Debut: SATURDAY, DECEMBER 14 (9:00-9:30am) When Elmo and Abby can’t find a band for their friend Mick to sing in, they come up with the idea of making their own band. The music sounds just right for him. Special guest is Charlie Puth.
–Season 50, Episode 6: “Game Day on Sesame Street” Topic: Games Debut: SATURDAY, DECEMBER 21 (9:00-9:30am) Sesame Street has turned into a giant board game called Sesame Stoplight and Elmo, Abby, and Rudy are ready to play. When feeling frustrated during the game, they learn to stop and take a deep breath, think of a plan to solve the problem and then go try their plan. By working together and not giving up, they complete the challenges and win the game.
–Season 50, Episode 7: “Grouch University” Topic: Scientist Debut: SATURDAY, DECEMBER 28 (9:00-9:30am) Sesame Street friends become part of Oscar’s experiments when he enrolls in an online class to get his degree in Grouch Science. Special guest is Maren Morris.
HBO Sports: HBO Sports’ groundbreaking 24/7 documentary-reality franchise, which has captured 18 Sports Emmy Awards, will turn its spotlight on professional surfing when 24/7: KELLY SLATER debuts TUESDAY, DECEMBER 03 (9:00-10:00pm). The all-access, behind-the-scenes special will chronicle the most famous and prolific surfer of all time, 11-time world champion Kelly Slater, in the weeks leading up to the Billabong Pipe Masters in December in Oahu, Hawaii, the last leg in the World Surf League’s (WSL) Championship Tour.
The newest installment of the Emmy Award-winning programming partnership of HBO Sports® and NFL Films profiles the long-standing relationship between generational football coaches Bill Belichick and Nick Saban in a feature-length documentary titled BELICHICK & SABAN: THE ART OF COACHING, debuting TUESDAY, DECEMBER 10 (9:00- 10:30pm). The film is directed by award-winning documentarian Ken Rodgers and produced by Paul Camarata, both of NFL Films, and explores a four-decade-long friendship between two of the most successful and revered football coaches in the history of the sport. WELL GROOMED, a revealing documentary going behind the stage to explores the world of competitive and creative dog grooming, and those seeking to enrich their lives through this fascinating intersection of art and animals, debuts TUESDAY, DECEMBER 17 (9:00-10:00pm). From Director Rebecca Stern, the film chronicles a year in the visually stunning world of competitive and creative dog grooming and follows the lives of a group of dog lovers whose dedication to transforming their beloved poodles into living sculptures is bold, imaginative and eye-opening. The film is a vibrant dive into a colorful and glittery subculture of Americana, and tells an extraordinary tale of pets, families, friendships and the glory of creativity through a bright prism of color.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, DECEMBER 17 (10:00-11:00pm).
Other Movies and Shows: Let’s see if we can find some interesting titles that will appear on HBO’s main channel in December; which only applies to those who watch HBO programming via a cable provider. How about WAR DOG: A SOLDIER’S BEST FRIEND, THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE and GREEN LANTERN. The movie AMERICAN WOMAN makes its debut on 12.04 and is about the troubled life and relationships of a single mother raising her grandson in the wake of her teenage daughter’s shocking disappearance. It stars Sienna Miller and is by Ridley Scott. Also, Elisabeth Moss (pictured) gives an intense performance in this searing character study of a self-destructive and abusive punk-rock star who hits rock bottom and tries to clean up her act. It is called HER SMELL, co-starring Cara Delevingne & Dan Stevens. Another debut is UNFRIENDED: DARK WEB, on 12.05, makes its arrival on the actual channel. HBO FIRST LOOK: 1917 is a peek at a WWI-set movie already getting the Oscar buzz. It debuts 12.13.
Other HBO Platforms: Again, if you don’t do streaming then you’ve got actual channels to flip through. Here are some choices. HBO Latino:The six-episode limited series from Brazil, SANTOS DUMONT, continues MONDAY, DECEMBER 02 (8:00-9:00pm), with new episodes airing subsequent Mondays at the same time, leading up to the series finale on December 16. The show follows the life of Alberto Santos-Dumont, the man considered to be the father of aviation. The second season of the HBO Latin America series LA VIDA SECRETA DE LAS PAREJAS (THE SECRET LIFE OF COUPLES) continues FRIDAY, DECEMBER 06 (10:00- 11:00pm). Bruna Lombardi has returned as psychologist and therapist Sofia Prado, director of the Tantra Institute. She joined investigator Luis (Carlos Alberto Riccelli) and journalist Vicente (Alejandro Claveaux) to investigate the murder of Daniel (João Paulo Lorezon). Cuban dance legend Carlos Acosta called “Yuli” by his father stars in YULI, an autobiographical film that details his life. Ester and her overbearing mother run a small bed-and-breakfast near the US/Mexico border. One night, two unwanted guests arrive, threatening the safety of everyone. But the two women are hiding a secret, one that may prove the most dangerous of all in COYOTE LAKE debuting 12.20. HBO Family:With some children content shuffling over to HBO Max next year we don’t know whether that will help or hunt this channel. Very little fresh content is to be found here. We offer some titles anyway, like UNDERDOG, BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA and MR. POPPER’S PENGUINS. I’d sit youngsters in front of those. HBO Signature:If I had the time I’d sit in front of these ones – JERSEY GIRL, CEDAR RAPIDS, MEN OF HONOR, BLACK SWAN, AQUAMAN or THE HUDSUCKER PROXY. HBO Comedy: I wish this channel would liven up. Well, we can’t skip it so how about FLAWLESS, JINGLE ALL THE WAY, PETE HOLMES: DIRTY CLEAN and/or BRUCE ALMIGHTY? HBO Zone: LIFE AS WE KNOW IT, WAR OF THE WORLD (2005) and THE ABYSS are worth a mention.
HBONow/Go: There are the usual shuffling in and out of movies to consider. The sites have a convenient collection of last-chance picks. Some dropped titles by the end of December include – A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, ANNIE HALL, EARLY MAN, HANNAH AND HER SISTERS, LITTLE FOCKERS, SHARK TALE and THE SEIGE. How about if I did for some hidden gems from the streaming services? In Documentaries, I offer 4 LITTLE GIRLS. On September 15, 1963, a bomb destroyed a black church in Birmingham, Alabama, killing four young girls who were there for Sunday school. This is an examination of that incident. Under Sports I will pull out SHOT HEARD ROUND THE WORLD which looks at the teams, personalities and events that combined to create one of the most heated pennant races ever witnessed the 1951 NY Giants/Brooklyn Dodgers. In Comedy there is classic RICHARD KLEIN: UNFAIR & UNBALANCED and in Series I suggest you seek out, at your leisure, PROFUGOS about south if the border drug trafficking operation and those caught up in it and, if you haven’t yet, now is a good time to start bingeing on SILICON VALLEY from beginning to end.
Cinemax: Movies the sister channel is pushing & promoting are below:A once violent convict finds humanity when he is given the opportunity to participate in a rehabilitation therapy program in which he is tasked with training wild mustangs in THE MUSTANG, debuting FRIDAY, DECEMBER 06 (8:00-9:40pm).The film stars Matthew Schoenaerts, Connie Britton, Bruce Dern, Gideon Adlon and Josh Stewart. BLACKKKLANSMAN, debuting FRIDAY, DECEMBER 13 (8:00-10:15pm), tells the true story of Ron Stallworth, the first African American detective to serve in the Colorado Springs Police Department, who infiltrated and exposed the Ku Klux Klan. Oscar winner for Best Adapted Screenplay, the film is directed by Spike Lee and stars John David Washington, Oscar® nominee Adam Driver, Laura Harrier, and Topher Grace. When after traveling to Singapore to meet her boyfriend’s family, a young woman discovers that he comes from one of the country’s wealthiest families and is forced into the spotlight, finding herself seeking the approval of socialites and relatives in CRAZY RICH ASIANS, debuting FRIDAY, DECEMBER 20 (8:00-10:05pm). The smash hit stars Constance Wu, Henry Golding, Gemma Chan, Lisa Lu, Awkwafina, Ken Jeong and Michelle Yeoh. When a group of teens with powerful, supernatural abilities are detained by the government, they must use their collective abilities to fight for their freedom in THE DARKEST MINDS, debuting FRIDAY, DECEMBER 27 (8:00-9:45pm). The film stars Amandla Stenberg, Mandy Moore and Bradley Whitford. Also, in December –
Next Month’s Tease: Can you do this equation and find out what “HBO” is? — HBO = (HBO / Lenny Belardo) U (John Brannox)
Last month we tipped you off to a new premiere of the theatrical movie LONG SHOT (debuting 12.07) by giving you a one-sentence description. Is it on your watch list?
Final Clip: We close out with a trailer from The Sun Is Also A Star.
Enjoy the month! Discover HBO. Stop back here for more news, reviews and schedules.
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