The last month of the year already? It looks like our beloved HBO is still packing it light with its original fare; HBO Max gets the bulk in that category. We take what we can get though, and enjoy what we get knowing that in the coming year we will get some big shows. For now, in December, we can unwrap some wonderful gifts. Seek them out and you’ll enjoy what you reveal. Here is What’s On.
A few quick points:
Each Platform Gets an Intriguing Limited Series
Carrie Bradshaw Returns!
Documentaries Still Dominate
and We Take the Red Pill Once Again
HBO Original Series:The first intriguing Limited Series catching our eye is called LANDSCAPERS. This HBO four-episode series, starring Emmy-winner Olivia Colman (The Crown) and Emmy nominee David Thewlis (Fargo), debuts MONDAY, DECEMBER 06 (9:00-10:00pm ET/PT) on HBO and will be available to stream on HBO Max. The three subsequent episodes will debut each Monday at the same time.
Inspired by real events, this series tells a unique love story involving Chris and Susan Edwards (Thewlis and Colman), a seemingly ordinary British couple who become the focus of an extraordinary investigation when two dead bodies are discovered in the back garden of a house in Nottingham. Will Sharpe (The Electrical Life of Louis Wain, Flowers) directs the exploration of love and fantasy, which is created and written by screenwriter Ed Sinclair. Additional cast includes Kate O’ Flynn (Bridget Jones’s Baby), Dipo Ola (We Hunt Together), Samuel Anderson (The History Boys), David Hayman (The Boy in the Striped Pajamas), Felicity Montagu (I’m Alan Partridge), and Daniel Rigby (Flowers).
SUCCESSIONconcludes its third season in December. Fret not, however, it is renewed for Season Four. It picks up on SUNDAY, DECEMBER 05 (9:00-10:00pm ET/PT)and concludes a week later on DECEMBER 12. The final season of INSECURE is down to its last episodes. Fans, you don’t want to miss it. It resumes SUNDAY, DECEMBER 05 (10:00-10:30pm ET/PT) and plays out for four more episodes after that concluding its run on DECEMBER 26. CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASMimmediately follows. The eleventh season resumes SUNDAY, DECEMBER 05 (10:30-11:00pm ET/PT) and also concludes on DECEMBER 26.
Originals Exclusive to HBO Max:
Wow, where to begin? Well, how about with Carrie, Miranda and Charlotte. Three of the ladies from SEX AND THE CITY are back with AND JUST LIKE THAT…. This ten-episode Max Original series from executive producer Michael Patrick King, will debut with two episodes onTHURSDAY, DECEMBER 9 on HBO Max. The following eight episodes will premiere weekly on subsequent Thursdays. It is the new chapter of the groundbreaking HBO series “Sex and the City,” from executive producer Michael Patrick King which follows “Carrie” (Sarah Jessica Parker), “Miranda” (Cynthia Nixon) and “Charlotte” (Kristin Davis) as they navigate the journey from the complicated reality of life and friendship in their 30s to the even more complicated reality of life and friendship in their 50s. The series also includes previously announced cast members Sara Ramírez, Sarita Choudhury, Nicole Ari Parker, Karen Pittman, Chris Noth, Mario Cantone, David Eigenberg, Willie Garson, and Evan Handler. Executive producers are Sarah Jessica Parker, Kristin Davis, Cynthia Nixon, Julie Rottenberg, Elisa Zuritsky, John Melfi and Michael Patrick King. Writers include King, Samantha Irby, Rachna Fruchbom, Keli Goff, Julie Rottenberg and Elisa Zuritsky. The HBO series “Sex and the City” was created by Darren Star and based on the book “Sex and the City” by Candace Bushnell.
In the drama department, the arrival of STATION ELEVEN is upon us. This post-apocalyptic saga, spanning multiple timelines, tells the stories of survivors of a devastating flu as they attempt to rebuild and reimagine the world anew while holding on to the best of what’s been lost. It is based on the international bestseller of the same name by Emily St. John Mandel. STATION ELEVEN stars Mackenzie Davis, Himesh Patel, Daniel Zovatto, David Wilmot, Matilda Lawler, Philippine Velge, Nabhaan Rizwan and Lori Petty, with Gael Garcìa Bernal and Danielle Deadwyler recurring. Created for television and showrun by Patrick Somerville with Paramount Television Studios. This 10-episode limited series begins its upload onTHURSDAY, DECEMBER 16.
On the animation front is some adult holiday cheer with SANTA INC. All eight episodes of the stop-animation series debuts THURSDAY, DECEMBER 02. In this series from Seth Rogen and Sarah Silverman, intrepid elf Candy Smalls (Silverman) will do anything to be named as the first female Santa – even if she has to fight like a man to get it. Other voices include Leslie Grossman, Gabourey Sidibe, Craig Robinson, Nicholas Braun, Maria Bamford and Joel Kim Booster. Merry Christmas! On the non-scripted front, you can check out FINDING MAGIC MIKE. It debuts THURSDAY, DECEMBER 16 with all seven episodes of the series from Eureka Productions and Warner Bros. Unscripted Television in association with Warner Horizon. Ten regular guys who have “lost their magic” are put through the paces of a Magic Mike Live bootcamp, baring their souls – and more – as they learn to perform sexy and daring dance routines with one being crowned the real Magic Mike. The winner will pocket a cash prize. With Adam Rodriguez, Alison Faulk, Vincent Marini, Luke Broadlick. Guest judges include Whitney Cummings, Nikki Glaser, Nicole Scherzinger, Amanda Seales and Robin Thede. Who has the bod & the moves?
Three more series debut on Max and they remain a mystery. If someone checks them out how about letting us know? They are Latino series but they are not arriving on HBO Latino but on Max exclusively. They are DAFNE AND THE REST (aka Todo lo Otro) (12.10); THE CUT (aka O Grande Look) (12.16) and 40 MEANS NOTHING (aka 40 No es Nada), Max Original Season 1 Premiere (12.23).
Next is returning series and concluding ones. Both PERFECT LIFE (Vida Perfecta) and BEFOREIGNERS arrive for their sophomore seasons. The first one debuts with all six episodes on THURSDAY, DECEMBER 02 and in it Maria (Leticia Dolera) finds it harder to connect with her baby than she ever would have imagined; Pablo (Font García) is back in love with Cris (Celia Freijeiro) as Cris searches restlessly for the ultimate amorous adventure and Esther’s (Aixa Villagrán) wedding with her new partner Julia is coming up but she can never find the right moment to tell her that she’s not ready yet. Thus, is their (Ha!) perfect life. That latter series deals with all the crime and drama that is evoked when ‘timeigrants’ travel to the modern day. I hope to review this HBO International series one day, as it also uploads to HBO’s solo site. It arrives THURSDAY, DECEMBER 23. Wrapping up their respective seasons are GOSSIP GIRL on THURSDAY, DECEMBER 02, KAMIKAZE on SUNDAY, DECEMBER 05 and THE SEX LIVES OF COLLEGE GIRLS on DECEMBER 09.
HBO Saturday Night Movies: WarnerMedia got lucky and is able to run 20th Century Studios movies for one year in joint with Disney. So, that means a few more new titles going forward to fill our Saturday nights. Right now, though, we only get two titles Space Jam: A New Legacy and Ron’s Gone Wrong.
OnSATURDAY, DECEMBER 04 (8:00-10:00pm) gather the family around for some Looney action because making its way to HBO, after its Max Same-Day Premiere run, is SPACE JAM: A NEW LEGACY. The movie stars LeBron James, Don Cheadle, Khris Davis, and Sonequa Martin-Green in live-action roles, while Jeff Bergman, Eric Bauza, and Zendaya headline a Looney Tunes voice cast. The film follows a similar plot to the original. Basketball champion and global icon LeBron James and his youngest son Dom (Cedric Joe)—who dreams of being a video game developer rather than follow in his father’s footsteps—find themselves trapped in the Warner 3000 Server-Verse, a virtual space ruled by a tyrannical A.I. by the name of Al-G Rhythm (Don Cheadle). After Dom is captured, LeBron must save him and get home safely by leading Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Lola Bunny, and other notoriously undisciplined Looney Tunes to win a basketball match against Al-G’s digitized champions on the court, the Goon Squad: a team of powered-up virtual avatars of professional basketball stars. The next new release comes two weeks later on SATURDAY, DECEMBER 18(8:00- 9:50pm) and it is another family movie called RON’S GONE WRONG. It seems things go hilariously awry when Barney, a socially awkward middle-schooler, receives a malfunctioning, digitally connected device that’s supposed to be his “best friend out of the box.” In this action-packed animated story set against the backdrop of the social media age, a boy and his robot discover the wonderful messiness of true friendship. Perfect for Disney+, which will also run the movie, but again HBO has an intricate deal to run certain titles. It also uploads to HBO Max, of course, but a few days earlier on 12.15.
Repeats hit the other weeks. On SATURDAY, DECEMBER 10 is Will Smith in I, Robot and on SATURDAY DECEMBER 25 there is the 2-hour, 50-minute epic called The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.
Movies Exclusive to HBO Max: As far as we know now THE MATRIX RESURRECTIONSis the last Same-Day Premiere for WarnerMedia. This next film in the groundbreaking franchise that redefined a genre reunites original stars Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss in the iconic roles they made famous, Neo and Trinity. It uploads on THURSDAY, DECEMBER 22 and runs for its 31 days on the Ad-Free version of HBO Max. Not a lot is revealed about the plot but what is known easily pulls fans back in – twenty years after the events of The Matrix Revolutions, Neo lives a seemingly ordinary life as Thomas A. Anderson in San Francisco where his therapist prescribes him blue pills. Neither he nor Trinity recognizes each other. However, Morpheus offers him the red pill and reopens his mind to the world of the Matrix.
The only other title mentioned for December is the return of SUICIDE SQUAD which debuts on THURSDAY, DECEMBER 23 following its theatrical window earlier this year.
HBO Documentary Films: The documentary dump continues in December and there are a lot of good titles, including the remaining titles in the Music Box series. We look at them all chronologically. First up, on WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 01 comes ADRIENNE. This HBO feature documentary, directed by Andy Ostroy, the late Adrienne Shelly’s husband, is a celebration of the life and work of the actor, filmmaker, wife and mother and is a personal exploration of grief. The first of three in the Music Box series by Bill Simmons is Music Box: LISTENING TO KENNY G. is next. Through several interviews with renowned jazz critics, music professors and writers, and including a new in-depth, intimate interview with the artist, this documentary is a multifaceted exploration of the two extremes between the musician’s critics and his superfans, revealing a meditation on the larger idea of artistic taste and how our musical preferences define us. Find it on THURSDAY, DECEMBER 02. That is followed by a new film from master documentarian Alex Gibney. Appearing MONDAY, DECEMBER 06 is his THE FOREVER PRISONER. This documentary tells the chilling story of Abu Zubaydah, the first high-value detainee subjected to the CIA’s program of Enhanced Interrogation Techniques (EITs), later identified as torture by those outside the agency. THE SLOW HUSTLE is presented on TUESDAY, DECEMBER 07 and it is directed by Sondra Sohn of THE WIRE fame and takes us back into troubled Baltimore, Maryland. It focuses on the specific Detective Suiter murder which cast some serious shade on the city. After those two hard-hitting films, some more music is in order and we get it with Music Box: MR. SATURDAY NIGHT. We see it on THURSDAY, DECEMBER 09 and it gives us the career of Robert Stigwood, the dominate music icon of the day that gave us Saturday Night Fever.
Then get ready for some whimsy and mirth as HBO airs STREET GANG: HOW WE GOT TO SESAME STREET. I know, I know, I always find ways to put this franchise in front of your face, but this documentary will explain why. It is a rare window into the early days of “Sesame Street,” revealing the creators, artists, writers and educators who together established one of the most influential and enduring children’s programs in television history. The documentary focuses on the first two experimental and groundbreaking decades of Sesame Street, highlighting this visionary “gang” that audaciously interpreted radical changes in society and engaged children in ways that entertained and educated in new and innovative ways. Get schooled on MONDAY, DECEMBER 13. The next night, TUESDAY, DECEMBER 14, is a crime documentary debut called THE MURDERS AT STARVED ROCK. This three-part documentary series explores the 1960 brutal murders of three women in Starved Rock State Park (pictured) in LaSalle County, Illinois, and the decades of questions and doubts that have haunted the son of the prosecutor in the case, as the man found guilty seeks to clear his name after sixty years in prison. I hope the Music Box series continues in 2022 but the last one of this year premieres on THURSDAY, DECEMBER 16 and it is Music Box:JUICE WRLD: INTO THE ABYSS. It is a film exploring how the late hip-hop star impacted a genre during his short life and is directed by Tommy Oliver. Let me just squeeze in there that HOW TO WITH JOHN WILSON has its season finale on FRIDAY, DECEMBER 31.
HBO MAX Original Documentary Films: There are two original documentary films uploading in December. The first one drops on THURSDAY, DECEMBER 16 called DIEGO, THE LAST GOODBYE (Diego, elúlhimoadiós) and the second one, a day later, FRIDAY, DECEMBER 17, is A FORBIDDEN ORANGE. That first title is the second look at the life of futbol master Diego Maradona. (HBO Sports ran one also). This one is out of Argentina, the great player’s homeland. The last year of his life is told by friends, family and former companions that reveals his deep humanity. The other title seems like an odd title, but not when you realize this is a A Clockwork Orange retrospective with Malcolm McDowell himself.
HBO Original Special: Another stand-up routine comes to the channel and it is someone we have seen before drew michael: red blue green debuts SATURDAY, DECEMBER 04 (10:00-11:00pm ET/PT)on HBO and will be available to stream on HBO Max. In this hilarious, confessional hour of stand-up, Drew Michael airs his issues with relationships, social media, and comedy as therapy. Directed by Drew Michael; Executive producers: Drew Michael, Dave Becky, Jerrod Carmichael, Josh Rabinowitz, Christopher Storer, Matthew Vaughan. Here is the trailer:
HBO Max Original Special:The streaming service has a comedy special also. It is the 2NDANNUAL HA FESTIVAL: THE ART OF COMEDYarriving on THURSDAY, DECEMBER 16. The big Latinx Comedy Festival returns to HBO Max. Filmed earlier this year in San Antonio, Texas, the event offers up a mix of stand-up from big Latino names. Danny Trejo, Carlos Santos, Chingo Bling, Jessica Keenan, Steve Trevino, Danielle Perez, Lisa Alvarado, Emilio Rivera and Paul Rodriguez are amongst the featured celebrities hosting and participating. HBO Max was there and now brings the laughs to subscribers.
HBO Max Kids & Family: A new series for preschoolers is coming to the site. It is ODO (no, not the one from Deep Space Nine) and it uploads on THURSDAY, DECEMBER 02. This Cartoonito work welcomes kids ages three to five to a world full of possibilities as it teaches how to deal with setbacks in a meaningful way while promoting the development of self-efficacy and self-confidence. Also, the stream continues with new seasons of some older series Your younger set can find CRAIG OF THE CREEK Season 3 beginning 12.03; SUMMER CAMP ISLAND Season 5 on 12.09; THE FUNGIES Season 3 on 12.16;YOUNG JUSTICE Season 4, Part A on 12.30 and, dare I say, SESAME STREET continues Season 52.
HBO Sports: HARD KNOCKS IN SEASON: THE INDIANAPOLIS COLTScontinues WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 01 (10:00-11:00pm) and continues the subsequent Wednesdays through the month. REAL SPORTS WITH BRYANT GUMBEL does its thing with another installment on TUESDAY, DECEMBER 21 (10:00-11:00pm). It is the season finale and completes yet another year of sports journalism with HBO. Let’s find a clip:
Bryant Gumbel and company in the long haul too it seems as it completes season 26th season.
HBO Latino: I found only one new title. HBO Max has the rest. YERBA BUENA, debuting on the channel on FRIDAY, DECEMBER 03 (8:00-9:40pm). In the wake of the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria, three unsuspecting best friends launch a business selling pot brownies. They quickly achieve success while trying to help their community recover a sense of normalcy in this timely comedy. Starring Isel Rodriguez, Karla Monroig, and Jessica Rodriguez. Written and directed by Bruno Irizarry.
Other Movies & Shows: Two older shows coming to HBO Max are All Rise Seasons 1 & 2, The O. G. seasons 1 thru 3 and DC’s Stargirl Season 2. Movies rotating onto HBO include The Answer Man (2009), Bolero (1984), Days of Thunder (1990) Frontera (2014), The Incredible Burt Wonderstone (2013, Max Steel (2013) and Rubber (2010). Oh, that last one has got to be seen to be believed!
Next Month’s Tease: Meet Agnes van Rhijn and Ada Brook.
Last month’s answer – The she who was in Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends and the he who was in the Harry Potter franchise are Olivia Colman & David Thewlis. They appear together in this month’s LANDSCAPERS.
Final Clip: Well, since it is the Holiday season after all.
Enjoy the month! Discover HBO.
About The Author
Editor at Large of HBOWatch.com and the internet's foremost HBO expert.