What’s On: HBO Schedule for December 2022

Boom! We’ve landed at the last month of the year already and my, oh my, it has been interesting. Good thing is, HBO has left us with a pretty nice gift to unwarp for December. Before the whole thing blows up and really changes in 2023 let’s just unwrap that gift and appreciate it, enjoy it. Here is a strong sampling of what’s on for December 2022.


A few quick points:  

The long-awaited Terence Nance returns 

Kristen Bell is back to voice some GOSSIP 

The horrors of La Luz del Mundo are revealed 

Plus, THE INTRUDER makes us laugh   

Oh, and we usher in the New Year with big talent!  

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HBO Original Series: Our first gift of the month is HIS DARK MATERIALS returning for its final season which is based on “The Amber Spyglass,” the final novel in Philip Pullman’s award-winning trilogy. in this final chapter of this epic fantasy series, Lyra (Dafne Keen), the prophesied child, and Will (Amir Wilson), the bearer of The Subtle Knife, must journey to a dark place from which no one has ever returned. As her father’s great war against the Authority edges closer, they will learn that saving the worlds comes at a terrible price. The eight-episode third and final season will debut MONDAY, DECEMBER 05 (9:00-11:00pm ET/PT) with two back-to-back episodes on HBO and will be available to stream on HBO Max. Two new episodes will debut each week leading up to the series finale on December 26. Wow, why are we burning that off so fast?  

Season three stars Dafne Keen as Lyra, Amir Wilson as Will, Ruth Wilson as Mrs. Coulter, James McAvoy as Lord Asriel, Simone Kirby as Mary Malone, Will Keen as Father President McPhail, Jade Anouka as Ruta Skadi, Ruta Gedminstas as Serafina Pekkala, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as Commander Ogunwe, Jamie Ward as Father Gomez, Kobna Holdbrook-Smith, Simon Harrison and Chipo Chung as the rebel angels Balthamos, Baruch and Xaphania, and Amber Fitzgerald-Woolfe as Ama. Plus, Lin-Manuel Miranda will return as Lee Scoresby.

–Season 3, Episode 01 – “The Enchanter Sleeper”
Debut Date: MONDAY, DECEMBER 05 (9:00-10:00pm) HisDarkMaterials_S3KeyArt2

As Will searches for Lyra across worlds, Mrs. Coulter tests an unlikely new ally, while Asriel recruits for his war against the Authority.

–Season 3, Episode 02 – “The Break”
Debut Date: MONDAY, DECEMBER 05 (10:00-11:00pm)

As the Magisterium closes in on Mrs. Coulter, Will tries to help Lyra to safety. Asriel’s base is rocked by unexpected visitors.

–Season 3, Episode 03 – “The Intention Craft”
Debut Date: MONDAY, DECEMBER 12 (9:00-10:00pm)

–Season 3, Episode 04 – “Lyra and Her Death”
Debut Date: MONDAY, DECEMBER 12 (10:00-11:00pm)

Also, returning after a long wait is Terence Nance with RANDOM ACTS OF FLYNESS. We haven’t seen this since September of 2018! It explores the metaphysics of Black life through avant-garde storytelling, to put it mildly. It is hard to wrap your head around. Season two follows Terence and Najja (Alicia Pilgrim), a couple working towards healing generational wounds and reintroducing themselves to the ways of their ancestors. Each of the season’s six episodes explores a different dimension, while presenting a rich tapestry of audio-visuals to illustrate the spiritual practice of Black liberation. Maybe a trailer will help –

This show serves as yet another instance of scheduling. How damn hard is it to lock it into a date & time? All we know now is that Season two arrives sometime in DECEMBER. Look for it.

TheWhiteLotus_S2Titlecard-300x150Two more episodes to go of THE WHITE LOTUS, Season Two. What has played out In the Sicilian resort has been a real crowd-pleaser so, you don’t want to miss the conclusion of the 7-part series. Just look at some of the stats: The sophomore season’s premiere tallied just over 1.5 million viewers in the U.S.; total cross-platform viewing was up 63% vs. the season 1 premiere night (944K) and up 35% compared to the average debut night audience for each episode across season 1 (1.1M). Can Season Two garner as many Emmy nominations and wins as last year with 13 noms & 10 wins? The Mike White-driven show certainly is a top choice on HBO. Find it continuing SUNDAY, DECEMBER 04 (9:00-10:00pm ET/PT).

–Season 2, Episode 6: “Abductions”
Debut Date: SUNDAY, DECEMBER 04 (9:00-10:00pm ET)

–Season 2, Episode 7, Season Finale: “Byg”
Debut Date: SUNDAY, DECEMBER 11 (9:00-10:00pm ET)

WE’RE HERE Season Three just got underway. The Emmy and GLAAD Award-winning unscripted series just strutted through Granbury Texas, a proudly Christian conservative community, that wasn’t bowled over when the LGBTQ+ entourage was all aflame there. And there are still five more destinations to go. WereHere_S3LadiesThe six-episode, third season continues FRIDAY, DECEMBER 02 (10:00-11:00pm ET/PT), with a stop in Jackson Mississippi. Episodes will debut weekly on HBO and will be available to stream on HBO Max. 

Note that both Bill Maher and John Oliver have wrapped up their seasons and won’t return with no content until 2023.      

Original Series Exclusive to HBO Max: A bit of regifting happens on HBO Max as we briefly look at not one, but five titles that return for new seasons. First, launching on THURSDAY, DECEMBER 01 are GOSSIP GIRL S2 and SORT OF S2. That first title has Gossip Girl leaving no stone unturned in her SortOf_S2effort to control the scandalous lives/spin the scandalous lies of Manhattan’s elite. She’s learned a thing or two from her first go-round — namely what her audience wants, they shall get. It’s time for her to turn the heat up on what’s been simmering as well as look at her own impact, and how she can make it more catastrophic than it was before. The latter title returns us to the life of non-binary Sabi who decides that not only are they ready for some uncomplicated romance, but they also want everyone to love each other. Unfortunately, Sabi is faced with situations and relationships that are anything but simple, including their dad’s unexpected return from Dubai, the Kaneko-Bauers’ struggles as Bessy is released from rehab and issues at Bar Bük. 

Uploading on THURSDAY, DECEMBER 08 are SOUTH SIDE S3 and DOOM PATROL S4. The Bashir Salahuddin/Diallo Riddle comedy takes us back to the south side of Chicago sooner than expected. The third season was greenlit in February and a new season lands already for those who follow Simon (Sultan Salahuddin) and K (Kareme Young), two enterprising best friends hustling and dreaming their way through the Windy City while working as repo men. For the superhero lot, their fourth season opens with the team unexpectedly traveling to the future to find an unwelcome surprise. Faced with their imminent demise, the Doom Patrol must decide once and for all which is more important: their own happiness or the fate of the world?  It is not a show I follow, but for the fans here is the trailer –

The fifth show to arrive is Billie Piper’s I HATE SUZIE S2 on THURSDAY, DECEMBER 22. It is the continuation of the miserable life of Suzie Pickles. Piper is back as the child star turned actress who, after the unraveling of her personal and professional life in season 1, has gone through a bit of a rebrand. With a new agent, a new PR and a new job she hopes to regain the love of the British public. Continuing its run, with its season finale on THURSDAY DECEMBER 15 is THE SEX LIVES OF COLLEGE GIRLS.

MaxDocs_VivaMaestroHBO International Titles: Going in chronological order here is some international content for those out for the exotic present. Uploading on THURSDAY, DECEMBER 01 is ¡VIVA MAESTRO!, a 99-minute documentary. Ted Braun’s film offers viewers a glimpse into the professional life of Gustavo Dudamel, music director of Los Angeles Philharmonic, amidst growing political unrest in his home country, Venezuela. The film kicks off in 2017 with him rehearsing with Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra, his last time in Venezuela. From there, the film follows his journey since, including his musical endeavors and efforts to curb the adversity of his country’s situation through music and arts. A movie heading our way (SUNDAY, DECEMBER 04) is a French/Begin one entitled UNDER THE STARS (aka Sous les étoiles). Christine is homeless in Paris. On a winter night she finds Suli, an 8-year-old Eritrean MaxDoc_ColombianSoccerboy, sobbing in front of her shelter. Bound by their marginal conditions, they embark together on an emotional journey to find his mother in Paris, presumedly under the starry sky. Another Latino documentary turns up on THURSDAY, DECEMBER 15 entitled JUGADA PELIGROSA (El Patrón del Balón, Goles Limpios Dinero Sucio). As part of the subtitle states, it is about clean goals; dirty money. This HBO Max documentary, out of Colombia, recounts the power of drug trafficking in Colombian soccer during the 80s. Our last title is the return of the series THE HEAD S2. It comes from Spain and now, in its sophomore season, has turned into an anthology thriller series. Continuing with the show’s key themes of isolation and the struggle between good and evil, often highlighting the grey areas in between, Season 2 will relocate from the South Pole to an ocean freighter on a scientific mission. This series and GRACIA are two international shows I’m game to watch. It arrives onsite THURSDAY, DECEMBER 22

HBO Saturday Night Movies: Two new theatrical movies arrive to close out the year. I sure hope in 2023 we see a lot more Saturday Night movies or I’m going to have to delete this section. But for now, we have AMSTERDAM and THE BANSHEES OF INISHERIN.

Debuting SATURDAY, DECEMBER 10 from 7:45-10:00pm (a few days earlier on the streaming site) is AMSTERDAM. It is a 2022 period comedy thriller film written, directed, and produced by David O. Russell. It is led by Christian Bale, Margot Robbie, and John David Washington and features an ensemble cast including Chris Rock, Anya Taylor-Joy, Zoe Saldaña, Mike Myers, Michael Shannon, Timothy Olyphant, Andrea Riseborough, Taylor Swift, Matthias Schoenaerts, Alessandro Nivola, Rami Malek, and Robert De Niro. It follows three friends—a doctor, a nurse, and a lawyer, who meet up after WW1 in The Netherlands city, who are caught in the mysterious murder of a retired US general. But to reveal much more if you haven’t seen it would be criminal. Let the trailer inform you.

The other title to seek out is THE BANSHEES OF INISHERIN. At the tail end of the Irish Civil War in 1923, on the fictional Irish isle of Inisherin, folk musician Colm Doherty (Brendan Gleeson) abruptly begins ignoring his long-time friend and drinking buddy Pádraic Súilleabháin (Colin Farrell). Pádraic, though nice and well-liked by the islanders, is too dull for Colm, who wishes to spend the remainder of his life composing music and doing things for which he will be remembered. Pádraic’s life is destabilized by the loss of the friendship, however. Will they grow back together or not is the question to be answered, if you dare to take on the tale. This award winner from many a film festival this past year arrives on SATURDAY, DECEMBER 17; on streaming a few days earlier. We’ll offer its moody trailer also.  

Movies_AHollywoodChristmasMovies Exclusive to HBO Max: It is, however, my editorial ruling not to post the trailer to HBO Max’s movie contribution of the month. Oh, come on, it is yet another Xmas-themed movie. HBO Max has already uploaded a few in November. Go to Hallmark or Lifetime if you want one! Nevertheless, doing my job, what follows is information regarding A HOLLYWOOD CHRISTMAS. Jessica (Jessika Van) is a young, up-and-coming filmmaker in Hollywood who has made a name for herself directing Christmas movies. But when handsome network executive Christopher (Josh Swickard) shows up threatening to halt production on her latest movie she goes into panic mode. She must now juggle all the classic Holiday movie tropes, including falling in & out of love, but will there be enough Christmas magic to pull it all off? It is yours for the viewing come THURSDAY, DECEMBER 01.

HBO Documentary Films: Leading off on the documentary front for the month is yet another celebrity biography. It is the 4-part docu-series BRANSON. It takes viewers on an expansive and intimate 70-year journey, from Richard Branson’s upbringing as the son of a spirited, tough-love mother in Britain, to his pursuits of extreme, personal daredevilry that serves both to grow his businesses’ brands and feed his insatiable, lifelong thirst for high-stakes adventure. Directed by Chris Smith (HBO’s 100 FOOT WAVE), the series debuts THURSDAY, DECEMBER 1 (10:00-11:00pm ET/PT) on HBO and will be available to stream on HBO Max. New episodes will debut at the same time on subsequent Thursdays. 

–Episode 1: “Words and Music”
Debut date: THURSDAY, DECEMBER 1 (10:00-11:00pm ET/PT)

The series premiere explores Branson’s early years and the influence of his iconoclastic mother.  As a dyslexic teenager, he leaves school at age 15 to create a magazine called Student, leading to a mail-order record business and eventually Virgin Records and Virgin megastores. 

–Episode 2: ”Atlantic“Docs_Branson_KeyArt
Debut date: THURSDAY, DECEMBER 8 (10:00-11:00pm ET/PT

The episode tracks the launch of Virgin Atlantic and Branson’s efforts to attract media attention to his brand, including an attempt to break the trans-Atlantic speed record in a boat, and his death-defying balloon adventure across the Atlantic in 1986. 

–Episode 3: “Fight or Flight”
Debut date: THURSDAY, DECEMBER 15 (10:00-11:00pm ET/PT)

The episode chronicles Virgin Atlantic’s battle with British Airways, ending in a libel suit win for Branson. From outsider to wealthy capitalist, Branson continues to push for world records and promotional attention for his company, setting off on a nail-biting Pacific Ocean balloon voyage. He announces plans to develop a spaceflight company to take commercial passengers into space, beginning a decade long pursuit. 

–Episode 4: “Space”
Debut date: THURSDAY, DECEMBER 22 (10:00-11:30pm ET/PT) 

The series finale tracks the arduous history of Virgin Galactic, from conception to test flights, and the controversial bid from Virgin Atlantic to obtain government support for the airline during the Covid-19 pandemic. As the first passenger flight of Virgin Galactic approaches, Branson defends the benefits of privately funded space exploration and the paradoxes around Virgin’s eco-messaging. Set for July 11, 2021, the launch day follows 17 years of research, testing, accidents, and setbacks, culminating in a successful flight in which Branson realizes his ultimate dream.

In her 14th documentary film for HBO, acclaimed documentarian Alexandra Pelosi offers a candid, behind-the-scenes chronicle of the life of her mother and Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, through her career milestones leading up to the inauguration of President Joseph Biden in January 2021. Filmed in a cinéma vérité style over the course of three decades, the work provides a unique look into the life of the longstanding Democratic politician when PELOSI IN THE HOUSE debuts TUESDAY, DECEMBER 13 (9:00-10:50pm ET/PT). 

The other titles of the month actually interest me more. The HBO Original three-part documentary series UNVEILED: SURVIVING LA LUZ DEL MUNDO, directed by award-winning filmmaker Jennifer Tiexiera (P.S. Burn This Letter Please) and produced by Alex Gibney’s Jigsaw Productions in association with Law & Crime Productions, debuts TUESDAY, DECEMBER 06 (9:00-11:00pm ET/PT) with parts one and two, with part three debuting December 7 at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT on HBO. All three episodes of the series will be available to stream on HBO Max on December 6 with the linear premiere. It explores the horrifying, yet relatively unknown story of the Christian church La Luz del Mundo (LLDM) and the sexual abuse that scores of members, many of them minors, say they have suffered at the hands of its successive leaders, known as the “Apostles.” It is told from the point of view of the survivors who met on Reddit to share their stories of abuse.  

–Episode 1: “Darkness in the Light of the World”
Debut date: TUESDAY, DECEMBER 6 (9:00 – 10:00pm ET/PT)

In 2017, former members of LLDM form an online community on Reddit sharing stories of abuse at the hands of the church’s venerated “Apostles.” Groomed as children, and psychologically imprisoned within a cult-like society through indoctrination, familial pressures and strict, religious dogma, they were taught to surrender their free will (mind, body and soul) in return for eternal salvation. The survivor community expands and increases awareness while the church grows in prominence and spreads globally.

–Episode 2: “Unconditional” HBODocs_Titlecard
Debut date: TUESDAY, DECEMBER 6 (10:00 – 11:00pm ET/PT)

Despite the church’s expanding power and influence, award-winning investigative journalists Rhonda Schwartz and Brian Ross report on the decades-long scandal as law enforcement also takes note. Risking their own safety, ex-LLDM members come forward to speak out as the church plans the construction of a fundamentalist community in Georgia, USA. 

–Episode 3: “A Fight for Justice” 
Debut date: WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 7 (10:00 – 11:20pm ET/PT)

In 2019, LLDM’s incumbent “Apostle,” Naasón Joaquín Garcia is apprehended along with two of his alleged handmaidens and charged with crimes relating to five Jane Does. In a heartbreaking turn of events for Joaquín Garcia’s victims, prosecutors unexpectedly offer him a plea deal depriving the victims of their day in court. While Joaquín Garcia is sentenced to just 16 years and eight months in jail, the survivors are determined to keep fighting for justice while grappling with their trauma.

The last one of the year is THIS PLACE RULES debuting FRIDAY, DECEMBER 30. YouTube documentarian Andrew Callaghan directed the film that is an in-depth and insightful examination of the January 6 riots that forever changed this country.

HBO Original Special: Great personas claim the Specials coming to HBO and HBO Max in December. HBO has a Comedy Special that is so unique it shouldn’t be missed. ATSUKO OKATSUKA: THE INTRUDER, written and performed by comedian and actress Atsuko Okatsuka, debuts SATURDAY, DECEMBER 10 at 10:00pm ET/PT on HBO and will be available to stream on HBO Max. Directed by Tig Notaro, the special reveals a burgeoning talent with an unparalleled blithe charm. Okatsuka brings her brand of ingenious, offbeat storytelling to the Elsewhere stage in Brooklyn, New York where she dishes on the futile art of impressing teenagers, attending a “Magic Mike Live” show with her grandmother, and the alarming reactions that she and her husband had to the unwanted presence of an intruder. Here is the trailer:

 

HBO Max Original Special: The Max Original concert special LIZZO: LIVE IN CONCERT debuts SATURDAY, DECEMBER 31 (exact time to be announced!). Produced by Done+Dusted, LIZZO: LIVE IN CONCERT was filmed during singer, songwriter, rapper, flutist and actress Lizzo’s The Special Tour earlier this month at the iconic Kia Forum in Inglewood, CA. LIZZO: LIVE IN CONCERT is the culmination of her deeply personal documentary LOVE, LIZZO which debuted Thanksgiving Day on HBO Max.  

So come celebrate the new year with Emmy and three-time Grammy-winning superstar Lizzo, her band The Lizzbians and The Little Bigs, The Big Grrrls with special guests Cardi B, SZA and Missy Elliott for a spectacular show filled with lots of love, positivity and incredible music. Come usher in the New Year with Lizzo and HBO!  

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HBO Max Kids & Family: There are Holiday specials aplenty for the kids in December. Uploading TUESDAY, DECEMBER 06 are three alone. They are BATWHEELS HOLIDAY SPECIAL: HOLIDAYS ON ICE; BUGS BUNNY BUILDERS HOLIDAY SPECIAL: LOONEYBURG LIGHTS and SESAME STREET BugsBunnyBuilders_Xmas2022MECHA BUILDERS HOLIDAY SPECIAL: YIP YIP TREE/ THE SNOWMAN SCARECROW. They’re all featured via Cartoonito. Also is arriving, on THURSDAY, DECEMBER 01, is THE NUTCRACKER: STARRING ELMO & TANGO. At Elmo’s family holiday party, friends and family sing about how wonderful this holiday will be. The Count arrives bearing gifts for everyone, including a wind-up rocket ship for Elmo and a cute, nutcracker-shaped doggy toy for Tango. After a fun-filled night, Elmo and Tango fall asleep listening to Elmo’s dad, Louie, read them the story of The Nutcracker. Elmo drifts into a dream sequence where Tango can speak, and that’s when the adventure begins.


A highlight on SESAME STREET in December is Samuel L. Jackson coming on the street to celebrate Happy Hair Day (isn’t he bald?) and the show LELLOBEE CITY FARM begins its second season.

HBO Sports: HARD KNOCKS IN SEASON: THE ARIZONA CARDINALS continues to watch the Grand Canyon State’s players through the regular season picking up on WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 14 because of the team’s bye week. Appearing, as usual, for their annual recap of the year in sports will be REAL SPORTS WITH BRYANT GUMBEL. It is slated for TUESDAY, DECEMBER 20.

TrixieMotelOther Movies & Shows: In my opinion, the less said about these shows and ones like them the better – THE HAMPTONS, SELLING THE HAMPTONS, TRIXIE MOTEL, QUEEN OF VERSAILLES REIGNS AGAIN and SILOS BAKING COMPETITION: HOLIDAY EDITION are all Discovery+ titles imported over in December.

Other titles arriving are MARTIN: THE REUNION SPECIAL (over from BET), as in a re-visit to Martin Lawrence’s old sitcom; something called ADULT SWIM YULE LOG, God knows how sick that could be; HANK ZIPZER’S AdultSwimYuleLogCHRISTMAS CATASTROPHE, a British TV-movie for 2016 and old cinematic movies like THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E, a Cheech & Chong marathon of NICE DREAMS, THE CORSICAN BROTHERS and THINGS ARE TOUGH ALL OVER, six HELLRAISER movies, INTO THE FOREST, REINDEER GAMES, SMALL TOWN CRIME and URBAN COWBOY. Let’s see…I pick – 

Next Month’s Tease: Cordyceps.  

Last month’s answer – Last month’s answer – If you knew that Cecily von Ziegesar penned the novels about the GOSSIP GIRL then you knew that HBO Max’s series of the same name was returning in December.  

Final Clip: Usher in the New Year right!  

Enjoy HBO and HBOWatch! 

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