With the weather a little rough and raw at times February is a great time to settle in for some HBO quality entertainment. This coming month, as short as it is, is packed with content. Big movies, specials and the trio of Gumbel, Maher & Oliver are all here; so is the debut of a new drama. Here is What’s On.
Original Series: New drama series HERE & NOW, debuts SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 11 (9:00-10:00pm ET/PT), followed by other episodes debuting subsequent Sundays at the same time. Starring Holly Hunter and Tim Robbins and created by Oscar and Emmy winner Alan Ball (HBO’s SIX FEET UNDER, TRUE BLOOD, THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS and Cinemax’s BANSHEE) the show focuses on a contemporary multiracial family – a philosophy professor, his obsessive wife, their three adopted children from Liberia, Vietnam and Colombia, and a sole biological child – as it faces a series of life changes and emotional challenges.
–Episode #01 “Eleven Eleven” Debut: SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 11 (9:00-10:00pm ET/PT)
–Episode #02 “It’s Coming” Debut: SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 17 (9:00-10:00pm)
–Episode #03 “If A Deer Shits In the Woods” Debut: SUNDAY, February 24 (9:00-10:00pm)
Starring Sarah Jessica Parker and Thomas Haden Church, season two of DIVORCE continues SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 04 (10:00-10:30pm), followed by other new editions subsequent Sundays at the same time. The show centers on suburban exes Frances and Robert, who, after more than a decade of marriage and two children, find themselves caught up in the lengthy process of unwinding their relationship. The new season finds them dealing with the aftermath of their drawn-out separation, and learning to rebuild their lives. Other regulars include Molly Shannon, Talia Balsam, Tracy Letts, Sterling Jerins and Charlie Kilgore.
When Robert’s dad falls ill, Robert (Thomas Haden Church) and Frances (Sarah Jessica Parker) reunite in Ohio, where they reminisce about happier times, and deal with Robert’s overbearing sister, Cathy (Amy Sedaris). Back in Hastings-on-Hudson, Tom (Charlie Kilgore) jumps at the chance to chauffeur Diane (Molly Shannon) around town in her luxury car. Written by Adam Resnick; directed by Janicza Bravo.
–Episode #15 (season 2, episode 5): “Breaking the Ice” Debut: SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 11 (10:00-10:30pm)
Frances (Sarah Jessica Parker) learns that Robert (Thomas Haden Church) has a new woman in his life, and enlists Diane (Molly Shannon) and Dallas (Talia Balsam) to get intel on her before Lila’s (Sterling Jerins) 13th birthday party. Written by Stuart Zicherman; directed by Beth McCarthy-Miller. –Episode #16 (season 2, episode 6): “Losing It” Debut: SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 18 (10:00-10:30pm.)
After Robert (Thomas Haden Church) finds Tom (Charlie Kilgore) in a compromising position, Frances (Sarah Jessica Parker) and Robert re-visit their marriage counselor to set new ground rules for the kids. Frances weighs how serious her new relationship with Andrew (Steven Pasquale) should be. Jackie (Becki Newton) seeks out Dallas’ (Talia Balsam) advice during a chance encounter at Diane’s country club. Written by Kristen Lange; directed by Scott Ellis. –Episode #17 (season 2, episode 7): “Going, Going…Gone” Debut: SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 25 (10:00-10:30pm)
Frances (Sarah Jessica Parker) spots the dashing art bigwig Skip Zakarian (Marton Csokas) at an auction and takes the opportunity to invite him to Sylvia MacDonald’s (Roslyn Ruff) upcoming show, where he shows interest in more than art. A successful sale inspires Jackie (Becki Newton) to propose that she and Robert (Thomas Haden Church) team up on a house-flipping business, but he has qualms about the idea. Written by Julie Rottenberg & Elisa Zuritsky; directed by Adam Bernstein.
Executive produced by Judd Apatow and Pete Holmes, CRASHING continues its second season SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 04 (10:30-11:00pm) followed by other new editions subsequent Sundays at the same time. The series draws on Holmes’ own experiences as a comedian, offering a behind-the-scenes look at the world of stand-up comedy. Series veterans featured on season two include Lauren Lapkus and George Basil and comics Dave Attell, Dov Davidoff and Artie Lange, playing versions of themselves. Among the other established talents playing versions of themselves this season are Joy Behar, Doug Benson, Bill Burr, Whitney Cummings, Wayne Federman, Jermaine Fowler, Gilbert Gottfried, Penn Jillette, The Lucas Brothers, Eugene Mirman, John Mulaney, Aparna Nancherla, Dr. Oz, Jeff Ross, Bobby Tisdale, Melissa Villaseñor and Henry Zebrowski, while Jamie Lee appears in a recurring role.
Pete (Pete Holmes) tries to be supportive when a fellow comic at The Boston gets his big break. Later, he reconnects with Jess (Lauren Lapkus), who encourages him to find a healthy way to express himself. Written by Judah Miller; directed by Ryan McFaul.
Pete (Pete Holmes) reunites with Ali (Jamie Lee), who takes him on a tour of New York’s alternative comedy scene, where they encounter a wide array of comedians and venues over the course of one night. Written by Pete Holmes & Beth Stelling; directed by Jude Weng.
Pete’s (Pete Holmes) decision to organize a secret benefit for an ailing comedy vet finds him scrambling to put on a good show and facing hard truths about Artie (Artie Lange). Written by Pete Holmes & Judd Apatow; directed by Gillian Robespierre.
The acclaimed HBO comedy series HIGH MAINTENANCE continues its second season FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 02 (11:00-11:30pm) exploring the private lives of eccentric New Yorkers through a common thread: their weed deliveryman. Ben Sinclair stars as The Guy, whose client base includes a group of characters with neuroses as diverse as the city.
An industrious Brooklyn realtor (Danielle Brooks) endeavors to hustle her way to a new home. After winning an affordable-housing lottery, Candace (Candace Thompson) and John (John E. Peery) face culture shock and notice a class divide when they move into their new apartment. The Guy (Ben Sinclair) considers his living situation. Written by Hannah Bos, Paul Thureen and Shaka King; directed by Shaka King.
An ex-Hasidic man (Luzer Twersky) explores the world outside his sect as he connects with a writer who may have ulterior motives. A nightclub performer’s (Darrell Thorne) night out takes an unexpected turn. The Guy (Ben Sinclair) bonds with a driver (Abdullah Saeed) when he finds himself in need of a lift. Written by Ben Sinclair; directed by Shaka King.
The Guy (Ben Sinclair) tries to de-stress when he ends up in an uncomfortable situation. A freelance brand strategist (Kate Lyn Sheil) struggling with her latest assignment embarks on a desperate search for a weed fix. Written by Katja Blichfeld and Rebecca Drysdale; directed by Katja Blichfeld and Ben Sinclair.
Abdullah (Abdullah Saeed), a potential partner, takes over The Guy’s (Ben Sinclair) weed route while he attempts to take time off. Written and directed by Katja Blichfeld and Ben Sinclair.
REAL TIME WITH BILL MAHER continues its 16th season FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 02 (10:00-11:0pm live ET/tape-delayed PT), 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. LAST WEEK TONIGHT WITH JOHN OLIVER returns for its fifth season SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 18 (11:00-11:30pm.) followed by other new editions subsequent Sundays at the same time. The only weekly news-oriented comedy series presented on Sunday night, the Emmy-winning show features a mix of Oliver’s topical commentary, pre-taped pieces and occasional guests. VICE NEWS TONIGHT, the half-hour nightly newscast from VICE Media and HBO, debuts a new edition THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 01 (7:30-8:00pm) followed by other new editions subsequent weeknights Monday through Friday, with a hiatus February 16 and 19.
Movies: Just three theatrical debuts this month due to HBO Film presentation in February. It includes a big 2017 favorite with Gal Gadot. Here comes Wonder Woman, preceded by Gifted and before The House. Since the DC heroine generated a lot of buzz we’ll feature trailers from the other two movies here.
A man (Chris Evans) whose niece (Mckenna Grace) is a child prodigy fights to give her a normal life in the touching drama GIFTED, debuting SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 03 (8:00-9:45pm). Diana, a trained warrior princess of the sheltered and isolated Amazons, leaves home to fight alongside her allies in the outside world and discovers the extent of her powers in WONDER WOMAN, debuting SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 10 (8:00-10:25pm). This action-packed hit stars Gal Gadot, Chris Pine and Robin Wright. When their daughter’s scholarship falls through, a couple must resort to a life of crime to pay for her tuition in THE HOUSE, debuting SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 17 (8:00-9:30pm). This dark comedy stars Will Ferrell, Amy Poehler and Jason Mantzoukas.
HBO Films: A full production of Anna Deavere Smith’s “Notes from the Field” opened in late 2016 at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Mass., and immediately transferred to off-Broadway. Now, this acclaimed play comes to HBO, asNOTES FROM THE FIELD debuts SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 24 (8:00–9:30pm ET/PT). Adapting the actress, playwright, professor and activist’s powerful work, the HBO Films presentation focuses on the lack of opportunity and resources for young people living in poverty, which often leads them into the criminal justice system. Smith fearlessly brings to life the stories of 18 real-life people in the one-woman show, among them current and former inmates, protestors, educators and politicians. Shining a light on a lost generation of American youth, NOTES FROM THE FIELD is an expression of community, positivity and, ultimately, hope by inspiring awareness and change.
HBO Documentary Films: Illuminating and deeply troubling, the documentaryATOMIC HOMEFRONT, debuting MONDAY, FEBRUARY 12 (8:00-9:40pm) tells the story of average Americans fighting corporate and government secrecy, bureaucracy and inertia in the wake of a potentially devastating nuclear-waste catastrophe that could impact St. Louis and beyond.
HBO Specials: Jessica Williams and Phoebe Robinson, bring their hit comedy podcast to HBO for a series of four hour-long specials when 2 DOPE QUEENS debuts FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 02 (11:30-12:00 a.m.), followed by new editions subsequent Fridays at the same time through FEBRUARY 23. Taped before a live audience at Brooklyn’s Kings Theatre, the show features these fun, fearless queens dishing on Cocoa Khaleesis, dating white baes, sex, New York living, which borough has the best pizza and so much more, as well as showcasing some of the ladies’ favorite stand-up comedians. Guests include Uzo Aduba, Tituss Burgess, Sarah Jessica Parker and Jon Stewart.
HBO Kids:SESAME STREET continues its 48th season SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 03 (9:00-9:30 a.m.), with other episodes subsequent Saturdays at the same time.
Gabrielle and Prairie think they can’t dance together because their hair doesn’t move the same way. But Nina helps them realize it would be cool to just let their hair do what it wants to do. Then Elmo and Big Bird join their dance and let their fur and feathers do what they want to do. It’s more fun to dance together.
Elmo’s friend ZuZu is visiting Sesame Street all the way from South Africa, and he wants to make her feel welcome. Alan takes Elmo over to the Book Nook, where Elmo learns all about South Africa from books, and he creates a welcome party, with South African food, music and clothing. When ZuZu arrives, she is so thankful. It turns out she also looked in a book to find things to do when she visits.
Season 48, Episode 14: “Chinese New Year” Topic: Celebrations Debut: SATURDAY, FEB. 17 (9:00-9:30am)
To celebrate Chinese New Year on Sesame Street, Nina, Elmo, Abby, Grover and Cookie Monster get creative and make their own Chinese dragon costume, using all sorts of fun arts and crafts.
Big Bird tells Grover that his pen pal, a friend he has a lot in common with, is flying to Sesame Street all the way from India. Thinking that Big Bird’s friend is a bird just like him, Grover, Elmo, Rosita and Cookie Monster build a big bird feeder to help Big Bird’s friend feel welcome. When they find out his pen pal is actually Chamki, and not a bird after all, Big Bird explains that friends don’t have to look the same, or be from the same country, to have a lot in common.
Other Movies and Shows:We hunted down a few other new movies making their way to the main channel for the first time in February. They are THE 9TH LIFE OF LOUIS DRAX, a movie I know we mentioned before about a doctor’s attempts to delve into the mind of a comatose boy; BIRDS OF PARADISE with animated birdies, WESTSIDE STORY the classic musical, DIARY OF A WIMPY KID: THE LONG HAUL– so get ready for a road trip done Wimpy Kid-style in this comedy sequel; Jamie Lee Curtis and Lindsey Lohan swapping bodies thing in 2003’s FREAKY FRIDAY and OUIJA ORIGIN OF EVIL in which a phony psychic gets a very real taste of evil when a malevolent spirit enters her home by way of an Ouija board and takes possession of her daughter. Appearing just one night only on the channel (but at your whim on the sites) are AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS on 02.01, GLORY ROAD on 02.15 and ALIEN (DIRECTOR’S CUT) on 02.19. Also, airing is THE MAKING OF GIFTED.
HBO’s Other Platforms: We are making short work of the schedule going swift & sure. Kind of like we hope February goes, right? Now to check out the other cinematic destinations. HBOLatino: First, CHUMEL CON CHUMEL TORRES starts off Season Three of his talk show on 02.19. In other content we found DESAYUNO CON TIFFANY (Breakfast with Tiffany), a comical short film about a man who has an unusually difficult time preparing breakfast for the woman who sleeps beside him; SAMBA (Sandbag), about a washed-up boxer who helps train a troubled, but talented newcomer who returns home to the Dominican Republic after a 15-year stint in a U.S. prison and MAMA SE FUE DE VIAJE (Ten Days Without Mom) about an overworked and underappreciated housewife who takes a vacation away from her family, leaving her clueless husband to struggle at home with their four kids. HBO Family: THE EXPRESS (not the Polar one or the Orient one) is one I don’t recognize here. His name was Ernie Davis. But when he stepped on the football field, he was only known by one name: The Elmira Express. Dennis Quaid and Rob Brown star in this “inspiring” (Roger Ebert) drama about the spectacular Syracuse running back who became the first African American to win the Heisman Trophy. From the bestseller by Douglas Adams comes the hit sci-fi comedy THE HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY, about a hapless human (Martin Freeman) through space. If you’re looking for something for the younger set just sit them down in front of 101 DALMATIAN franchise or FRAGGLE ROCK. HBO Signature: Oh, 1968’s MIDNIGHT COWBOY with Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman is a good one. So is O, a retelling of Shakespeare’s Othello. Speaking of The Bard there is 2013’s version of ROMEO AND JULIET scripted by Julian Fellows (Downton Abbey). In contrast, also playing is all four ALIEN franchise movies back-to-back on 02.09. Offering one more I’ll list HOOSIERS. HBO Comedy: Laugh the shortest month of the year away with a dose of humor HBO style. There are fun movies like GOOD MORNING, VIETNAM with Robin Williams. There is also the likes of Austin Powers and Marty McFly, Need some standup? Sadly it is hard to find but I’ve managed to find some from Ellen DeGeneres, Tig Notaro and Tracey Morgan. HBO Zone: HALF PAST DEAD, TREMORS, ASSASSIN’S CREED, JACKASS: THE MOVIE and movies from the X-MEN franchise. Just perfect for the young adult market the channel is marketed for.
HBONow/Go: February, of course, is Black History Month and the sites observe this by uploading works in the American Black Film Festival Short Film Competition. As of 02.01, you’ll be able to see the finalists: AMELIA’S CLOSET, GEMA, PLAQUEMINES, SEE YOU YESTERDAY and WE LOVE MOSES. Also available is 10 collected clips that make up the WESTWORLD: SEASON ONE EXTRAS Collection. There is also the usual comings & goings of movies to the streaming services. The ones that are rotating off by month’s end include ALMOST CHRISTMAS, COAL MINER’S DAUGHTER, HACKSAW RIDGE, LOVING, SISTER ACT, THE CONJURING 2 and more. There is a Collection on site that will update that list when we get into February. Lastly, the sites are promoting the 10th Anniversary of IN TREATMENT thus, so are we.
Cinemax: In February, after a two-year hiatus, the high-octane series STRIKE BACK returns with ten all-new episodes – and a fresh team of fearless commandos, recruited by the newly reformed Section 20 to hunt down a fanatical terrorist and his renegade wife. The show kicks off its new season FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 02 (10:00-10:50pm ET/PT), followed by new episodes subsequent Fridays at the same time.
When Omair Idrisi (Don Hany), a ruthless terrorist held prisoner in Syria, escapes following an ambush near the Jordanian border, the secret British anti-terrorist unit Section 20 is resurrected to hunt him down. Equipped with the latest technology, the new S20 team members – Sgt. Samuel Wyatt (Daniel MacPherson), Sgt. Thomas “Mac” McAllister (Warren Brown), Captain Natalie Reynolds (Roxanne McKee) and Lance Corporal Gracie Novin (Alin Sumarwata) – travel to Libya with their sights set on a Saudi prince (Zaqi Ismail) who has ties to Idrisi and his British-born renegade wife, Jane Lowry (Katherine Kelly). Written by Jack Lothian; directed by MJ Bassett.
In Ajir, Libya, Section 20 endures a gauntlet of gunfire and an urban ambush to extract Morgan Ives (Trevor Eve), the unscrupulous American arms dealer who was double-crossed by Idrisi (Don Hany). Driving through hostile terrain, the team is forced to seek medical treatment at a Libyan nationalist compound presided over by General Farid (Selva Rasalingam), who has bad memories of both Mac (Warren Brown) and Wyatt (Daniel MacPherson). Eventually engaging Idrisi and his henchmen in a remote bunker, S20 finds its conventional firefight trumped by an imminent air strike ordered by Wyatt’s C.O., Colonel Parker (Corey Johnson). Written by Jack Lothian; directed by MJ Bassett.
Searching for Jane Lowry (Katherine Kelly) in Budapest, Colonel Adeena Donovan (Nina Sosanya) and Section 20 discover she has ties to Magyar Ultra, a white-nationalist gang led by Rosa Varga (Kelly Gough) and her volatile brother, Josef (Mark Strepan), and has enlisted the faction to kidnap a Russian chemical-weapons expert, Dr. Kareem Markov (Daniel Cerqueira). Infiltrating the gang by posing as an MMA fighter, Mac (Warren Brown) is faced with tough choices to prevent his cover from being blown. Written by Jack Lothian, James Payne and Steve Bailie; directed by Brendan Maher.
With Mac (Warren Brown) and Dr. Markov (Daniel Cerqueira) held captive in a remote Magyar Ultra survivalist camp outside of Budapest, Section 20 rushes through the forest in a desperate attempt to save their comrade and capture the Russian chemist before Lowry (Katherine Kelly) can get her hands on him. Written by Jack Lothian & James Payne; directed by Brendan Maher.
An explorer (Tom Cruise) searching for valuable artifacts encounters an ancient, vengeful Egyptian princess in THE MUMMY, debuting FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 02 (8:05-10:00pm). The film also stars Russell Crowe, Annabelle Wallis, Sofia Boutella, Jake Johnson and Courtney B. Vance. SULLY, debuting FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 09 (8:20-10:00pm), tells the true story of Captain Chesley Sullenberger, a pilot who miraculously saved all 155 passengers aboard US Airways Flight 1549 by making an emergency landing in the Hudson River in New York. Tom Hanks stars in this riveting story of heroism. A decade after leaving the agency that taught him everything he knew, a man is drawn back into a life of action in JASON BOURNE, debuting FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 16 (7:55-10:00pm). The film stars Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Kristin Wiig, Jeff Daniels, Michael Peña, Kate Mara, Sean Bean, Sebastian Stan, Aksel Hennie and Chiwetel Ejiofor. A graffiti artist navigates the world of East Los Angeles lowrider car culture in LOWRIDERS, debuting FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 23 (8:20-10:00pm). The crime drama stars Gabriel Chavarria, Demián Bichir and Theo Rossi. Other new movies to Cinemax include THE BIRTH OF A NATION, MICKEY BLUE EYES and HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER and CAKE.
Next Month’s Tease: Okay, I admit I’m getting lazy here. San Jose, California is the epicenter of what?
By now you should be aware that the two names mentioned last time, Jessica Williams and Phoebe Robinson are the 2 DOPE QUEENS we will see in February.
Final Clip:We know, we know, you want WONDER WOMAN! Here she is.
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