Yes, I will admit the schedule seems a bit light but we knew this was going to happen when the industry was forced to take precautions just like the rest of us. The sites & the channels do all have content but it is just not a lot of original, freshly shot content. It will enliven again at some point; just enjoy what we are given. Don’t forget, there is plenty of older content worth watching again or worth discovering for the first time. Here is what’s on.
A few quick points:
HBO International Content Dominates
John Oliver Returns after blowing up 2020
We’re Introduced to Elizabeth Carmichael
Jon Stewart Writes/Directs a Movie
And two Dual Debuts arrive on HBO Max.
Original Series: I’ve often said some of the best unseen HBO content is the International stuff from HBO foreign markets. I am eagerly awaiting the presence of two new entries from HBO Europe and already enjoying the continuation of another. We lead off with the two new debuts.
From Oscar-nominated Tobias Lindholm, THE INVESTIGATION explores the complex real-life investigation surrounding the 2017 murder of Swedish journalist Kim Wall, making international headlines around the world as one of the most notorious criminal cases in Danish media history. Based on the internationally followed “submarine case,” the series closely follows Jens Møller (Søren Malling), the Head of Homicide, and his team in the pursuit of the truth. With the hope of being able to provide the prosecutor (Pilou Asbæk GAME OF THORNES’ Euron Greyjoy) solid evidence in order to create a convincing case and give the relatives the certainty they deserve, the team enlists the use of methodical, unusual and technical work tactics. The series was made in close cooperation with the real-life Jens Møller and Kim Wall’s parents, Ingrid and Joachim Wall. The series on the sites and also on the HBO channel. It debuts MONDAY, FEBRUARY 01 at 10:00pm ET and runs for six (6) episodes.
When Head of Homicide for Copenhagen Police Jens Møller (Søren Malling) arrives for the morning briefing, an investigator reports on a strange case. A homemade submarine carrying Swedish journalist Kim Wall and the submarine’s inventor have gone missing. When the submarine is located later in the day, only the inventor is rescued before it suddenly sinks. Now Jens and his team of investigators must quickly decide how to approach the case, as Kim is still missing, and the submarine is at the bottom of the sea. Written and directed by Tobias Lindholm.
–Episode 02 – “What We Know and What We Assume” (Det vi ved, og det vi antager)
Debut Date: MONDAY, FEBRUARY 08 (10:05-10:55pm)
Jens (Søren Malling) is under constant pressure from reporters who are chasing news of the case. Meanwhile, rumors and theories abound. Were Kim and the accused previously acquainted? Did they stage it all as part of a “happening”? Kim’s parents (Pernilla August and Rolf Lassgård) are cooperating with the police to help find out what happened to their daughter, and the forensics team is working hard to find important clues in the capsized submarine – without any luck. Then, the case takes a sudden, dramatic turn. Written and directed by Tobias Lindholm.
–Episode 03 – “The Hunt” (Jagten)
Debut Date: MONDAY, FEBRUARY 15 (10:05-10:55pm)
While the forensic team works, Jens (Søren Malling) and his team of investigators wait for answers. Have they found conclusive evidence that Kim is dead, and if so, has a crime been committed? Later, Jens goes to Sweden to confirm Kim’s death for her grieving parents (Pernilla August and Rolf Lassgård), while Navy divers search the Sound’s seabed for more clues. Jens then has a radical idea that might help the investigation. Written and directed by Tobias Lindholm.
Jens (Søren Malling) gets assistance with the search from Swedish cadaver dogs that can locate bodies more than 20 meters below sea level. Although the dogs mark the areas quite accurately, the divers don’t find anything, and there’s a question as to whether the dogs can be used at all. Then, Jens hears from an oceanographer who offers new insight. Written and directed by Tobias Lindholm.
The second series, also from HBO Nordic, is titled BEARTOWN. It begins MONDAY, FEBRUARY 22 at 09:00pm ET. This five-episode drama series from Sweden, explores the hopes that bring a small community together, the secrets that tear it apart, the courage it takes for an individual to go against the group and the consequences of how we raise our children. With a small-town Swedish junior ice-hockey team having a shot at winning the national semi-finals, all the dreams of the locals now rest on the shoulders of a handful of teenage boys. This heavy burden becomes the catalyst for a violent act that will leave a young girl traumatized and a town in turmoil. Accusations are made, and like ripples on a pond, they travel through Beartown, leaving no resident unaffected.
–Episode 01 “Beartown” (Björnstad)
Debut Date: MONDAY, FEBRUARY 22 (9:00-10:00pm)
On a mission to rejuvenate the struggling community’s ice hockey program, recently retired pro player Peter Andersson (Ulf Stenberg) relocates his family to Beartown for a fresh start. But when the elite squad he was promised proves to be anything but, Peter switches his focus to the junior team, aggravating local tensions and reigniting his troubled past with star player Kevin Erdahl’s (Oliver Dufåker) father, Mats (Tobias Zilliacus).
The one drama series concluding its premiere run in February is 30 COINS. You find it airingMONDAY nights at 9:00pmfor three more episodes then BEARTOWN takes its space. Here is a brief look at its remaining premieres.
Vergara (Eduard Fernández) flees from Santoro (Manolo Solo) and hides among soldiers and war hospitals in Syria. Elena (Megan Montaner) follows Roque (Antonio Velázquez) to Paris, but is terrified when the coin finds its way back to her. In Pedraza, Paco (Miguel Ángel Silvestre) is about to resign when a sinister new priest arrives. Written by Álex de la Iglesia, Jorge Guerricaechevarría; directed by Álex de la Iglesia. –Episode 07: “The Glass Box” (La Caja de Cristal) Debut date: FEBRUARY 08 (9:00-10:05pm)
When the sinister new priest prepares a great ritual, a magical fog descends over the village. Vergara (Eduard Fernández) and Elena (Megan Montaner), return with the coin while Paco (Miguel Ángel Silvestre) attempts to resist the conspiracy. The epic confrontation of good vs. evil has finally arrived. Written by Álex de la Iglesia, Jorge Guerricaechevarría; directed by Álex de la Iglesia. –Episode 08: “Sacrifice” (Sacrificio) Debut date: FEBRUARY 15 (9:00-10:05pm)
Vergara (Eduard Fernández), Paco (Miguel Ángel Silvestre) and Elena (Megan Montaner) confront biblical demons while the Cainites seize the village. If they get hold of the 30 coins, an unprecedented power shall emerge, and with it, a Pope for the new world order under Satan’s rule. Written by Álex de la Iglesia, Jorge Guerricaechevarría; directed by Álex de la Iglesia.
The new unscripted series PAINTING WITH JOHN continues. Part meditative tutorial, part fireside chat, each episode of this series finds cult favorite musician, actor, director and painter, John Lurie doing his thing. It continues FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 05 (11:00-11:30pm).
–Episode 03 “Elephants”
Debut Date: FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 05 (11:00-11:30pm)
John recounts how the obsession he and his brother shared for John Coltrane’s “Live at Birdland” resulted in an unfortunate Sunday breakfast and chronicles his epic quest to procure a live eel in Manhattan. Written and directed by John Lurie.
–Episode 04 “Fame Is Bad”
Debut Date: FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 12 (11:00-11:30pm)
John explains the origin of the painting he made in “honor” of Gore Vidal, tells the story of the now-famous actor who used to clean his house, and ponders the toll that fame took on his friend Anthony Bourdain. Written & Directed by John Lurie.
–Episode 05 “The Disappearance of Chicken Man”
Debut Date: FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 19 (11:00-11:30pm)
John contemplates uncanny disappearances on the island where he lives. Next, he tells the story of being turned away from the DMV at 17 and how his mother tried to intervene. Written & Directed by John Lurie.
–Episode 06 “Finding Rudolph”
Debut Date: FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 26 (11:00-11:30pm)
Season finale. John considers the complex songs of tree frogs, recounts ongoing attempts to make his cameraman Erik laugh, and reflects on the challenges and benefits of painting with watercolors. Written & Directed by John Lurie.
REAL TIME WITH BILL MAHERwill continue its 19th seasonFRIDAY, FEBRUARY 05 (10:00-11:00pm live ET/tape-delayed PT), with a replay at 12:30am. His biggest guest to note so far has been Kellyanne Conway.
ReturningSUNDAY, FEBRUARY 14 at 11:00pmis LAST WEEK TONIGHT WITH JOHN OLIVER. So, will he remain in his “white void space” upon the debut or is he going to surprise viewers with a return to the studio set in NYC? Regardless of locale, Oliver will offer us the start of Season 8 with installment #210. We can also be assured he will do a recap of all that he has missed since he went on a lengthy hiatus.
Movies: One and only one theatrical movie debut in February with Irresistible. The rest of the Saturday night primetime slot is filled with classics we will look at a bit down the post. Right now, here is a look at Jon Stewart’s directing debut.
Very simply put, IRRESISTIBLE is an American political comedy film written and directed by Jon Stewart. It stars Steve Carell, Chris Cooper, Mackenzie Davis, Topher Grace, Natasha Lyonne, and Rose Byrne. The film follows a Democratic strategist who tries to help a local candidate win an election in a small right-wing town. Carell is the strategist Gary Zimmer to Cooper’s Jack Hastings, the candidate. Zimmer travels to Deerlaken, Wisconsin to persuade Hastings to run for mayor. Arriving in town, Gary experiences the vast cultural divide between his home of Washington, D.C. and the townspeople’s more rural mannerisms and political beliefs. The film, which went straight to VOD, earlier in 2020 has its debut SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 06 (8:00-9:45pm).
HBO Documentary Films: The first debut in this category actually begins SUNDAY, JANUARY 31 (9:00-11:00pm) with its first two installments but it arrived too late to hit our post last month.It isTHE LADY AND THE DALE. This four-part documentary series from Emmy-winning producers Mark and Jay Duplass (HBO’s ROOM 104, ANIMALS. & TOGETHERNESS) and directed by Nick Cammilleri and Zackary Drucker, traces the audacious story of Elizabeth Carmichael, a larger-than-life entrepreneur who rose to prominence during the 1970s oil crisis with her promotion of a fuel-efficient, three-wheeled car known as The Dale. At a time when three big American automobile manufacturers ruled the road, Liz launched a futurist vehicle that promised to get 70 miles to the gallon. Her promotional zeal thrust her into fierce public and media scrutiny which uncovered a web of mystery and suspicion about the car’s technology and her own checkered past.
–Episode 01 “Soldier of Fortune”
Debut Date: SUNDAY, JANUARY 31 (9:00-9:45pm)
Meet Liz Carmichael, trailblazing promoter of the fuel-efficient car of the future: The Dale. Just as publicity for the three-wheeled automobile reaches its peak, Liz, a trans woman, is outed as a fugitive who’s spent the last several decades running from the law with her wife Vivian and their five children. As Liz’s family and friends guide us through her chaotic yet riveting life, we learn how it all came to a crashing halt with the 1974 rise of The Dale.
With Liz at the helm, the 20th Century Motor Car Company launches The Dale, which soon takes on a life of its own. Investigative reporters question the operation and its leader, leading to government attempts to reign in Liz’s sales practices, upheaval at the company, and a fatal shooting.
–Episode 03 “The Guilty Fleeth”
Debut Date: SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 07 (9:00-10:00)
–Episode 04 “Celestial Bodies”
Debut Date: SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 14 (9:00-10:00pm)
Also, in February are films about social media influence and Black Art. The first is entitled FAKE FAMOUS. From first-time director and veteran journalist Nick Bilton, this film explores the industry of social media influencers through an innovative social experiment. The film’s journey into this world is driven by the casting of three people in Los Angeles who all have relatively small social followings and the attempt to grow them into famous influencers. By purchasing fake followers and an army of bots to “engage” with their social media, the newly made “influencers” discover both the wonders and costs of this unlikely, immersive lifestyle. Find it debuting TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 02 (9:00-10:30pm). Then the next week, TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 09 (9:00-10:30pm), is BLACK ART: IN THE ABSENCE OF LIGHT. This film is a vital and illuminating introduction to the work of some of the foremost African American visual artists working today, including Theaster Gates, Kerry James Marshall, Faith Ringgold, Amy Sherald and Carrie Mae Weems, the film is a testament to the indelible contributions of Black American artists in today’s contemporary art world. Two topics you might not have thought about but might be interesting to discover and you can on HBO. The docu-series AXIOS files a report SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 07 at 6:00pm and every subsequent Sunday at that time. In its season debut on 01.31 they talked with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv. In his first U.S. television interview this year, President Zelensky talked about the future of U.S.-Ukraine relations under the Biden Administration, his infamous phone call with former President Trump that led to impeachment, his reaction to the violence in the U.S. Capitol on January 6th, and Ukraine’s role in ongoing U.S. investigations. There was also a conversation between Washington Football Team President Jason Wright and Axios co-founder and CEO Jim VandeHei. A week ahead of Super Bowl LV, Wright talks about changing the NFL’s culture, systemic racism in the league, and breaking barriers as the first Black president of an NFL team.
HBO Sports:The two-part TIGER is still airing across the platforms. The newest content in the category will be another installment of REAL SPORTS WITH BRYANT GUMBEL. Find episode # 286 on TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 26 (10:00-11:00pm). In January they discussed athelets with after-effects of COVID.
Other Movies & Shows: Since new theatrical debut movies are far and few here is a look at the movies that are taking up the Saturday night prime time spot each week. Here is an opportunity to catch an older movie again or for the first time. THE BOOK OF ELI holds the 8:00 hour on 02.13. Walking a desolate, post-apocalyptic world populated by roving gangs of criminals and cannibals, a lone drifter protects the last hope for mankind: a Bible. Denzel Washington stars as the mysterious Eli whose copy of the holy book makes him a target of evil desert-town madman Gary Oldman who has his own twisted agenda. Mila Kunis, Ray Stevenson, Jennifer Beals, Frances de la Tour and Michael Gambon co-star in this “intense” (The Hollywood Reporter) futuristic thriller. Directed by The Hughes Brothers (From Hell); written by Gary Whitta. The next week, 02.20, is the Best Picture of 2012 called ARGO. this gripping drama directed by and starring Ben Affleck looks at the 1979 Iran hostage crisis from the perspective of six U.S. embassy workers who escaped the siege unbeknownst to Ayatollah Khomeini’s regime. Hiding out in the Canadian embassy and with time running out before they are discovered, the six are led in a daring escape by a C.I.A. operative (Affleck) whose screwball plan is to have them pose as a film crew for a phony sci-fi project. The last Saturday of the month, 02.27, gives us the first two movies from the BILL & TED Franchise. They are BILL & TED’S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE at 8:00pm and BILL & TED’S BOGUS JOURNEY at 9:30pm. Take in a movie, why don’t cha?
HBO Channels:Seek out some cinematic treats. HBO2: This channel has offered up short films aplenty. In the 1970-80s HBO played short films in between the main programming all the time; now it is a rare occurrence. Find DOLAPO IS FINE, THE CYPHER, BLACK BOY JOY, A STORYBOOK ENDING, A RODEO FILM, FLIGHT, EVELYN X EVELYN and WEDNESDAY each only between 13-18 minutes long and peppered through the schedule. Plus, you can binge the first seven episodes of 30 COINS on 02.13 beginning at 12pm and don’t miss MY BLOODY VALENTINE 3D at 9:00pm on Valentine’s Day! HBOLatino: EL INCONVENIENTE(One Careful Owner) debuts at 7:55pm on 02.12. A woman finds the perfect house to buy, only to learn that it has one ”small” inconvenience: the current owner will live there until the day she dies. I hope it is a comedy with that explanation. At 9:30pm that is followed by HAVANA STREET PARTY PRESENTS: BEATRIZ LUENGO. Spanish singer Beatriz Luengo performs hits from her latest album “Cuerpo & Alma” in this special show full of Cuban music and flavor. On 02.26 you can watch the debut of LUPEin which a Cuban immigrant wrestling with their transgender identity searches for their long-lost sister in New York City’s underground sex industry.
HBO Streaming:A flood of movies hit to freshen up HBO.com in February. They include ALL GOOD THINGS, THE AMITYVILLE HORROR (1979 & 2005 versions), BACKDRAFT, THE FOUR FEATHERS, GETTING EVEN WITH DAD, GHOULIES and GHOULIES II, LARS AND THE REAL GIRL, LIFE OF PI, PATHFINDER and RAW DEAL; just to name a few. You can also take a 90’s Flashback with a collection of movies that include FAR AND AWAY, THE HURRICANE and DICK TRACY.
HBO Max:February brings the release of two Warner Bros. theatricals premiering in theaters and on HBO Max on the same day. Let’s hype that one more time!
Debuting on February 12,JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAHtells the story of Bill O’Neal (LaKeith Stanfield), who infiltrates the Black Panthers per FBI Agent Mitchell (Jesse Plemons) and J. Edgar Hoover (Martin Sheen). As Black Panther Chairman Fred Hampton (Daniel Kaluuya) ascends, falling for a fellow revolutionary (Dominique Fishback) en route, a battle wages for O’Neal’s soul. TOM & JERRY, which premieres on February 26, reignites one of the most beloved rivalries in history when Jerry moves into New York City’s finest hotel on the eve of “the wedding of the century,” forcing the event’s desperate planner to hire Tom to get rid of him. Both films will be available on HBO Max for 31 days from their respective theatrical releases in the U.S. included at no additional cost to subscribers.
Acclaimed international mystery thriller THE HEAD will premiere exclusively on HBO Max in the U.S. on FEBRUARY 04. Originally produced in Spain and directed by Jorge Dorado (The Pier, Mindscape), it is a six-episode survival thriller set in an isolated and inaccessible Antarctic research station in which winter has fallen on the South Pole, and the sun will soon disappear for the next six months. A small team, known as the Winterers, will remain at the Polaris VI Antarctic Research Station to continue their innovative research, a crucial part in the fight against climate change, under the command of renowned biologist Arthur Wilde (John Lynch). But when spring comes, summer commander Johan Berg (Alexander Willaume) returns to the station only to find the entire team is either dead or missing.
Set in 1981,IT’S A SIN has Ritchie (Olly Alexander), Roscoe (Omari Douglas) and Colin (Callum Scott Howells) as young lads, strangers at first, leaving home at 18 and heading off to London with hope and ambition and joy… and walking straight into a virus that most of the world ignores. Year by year, episode by episode, crossing the whole decade, their lives change as the mystery of that illness starts as a rumor, then a threat, then a terror, and then something that binds them together in the fight. It’s the story of their friends, lovers and families too, especially Jill (Lydia West), the girl who loves them and helps them, and galvanizes them in the battles to come. Together they will endure the horror of the epidemic, the pain of rejection and the prejudices that gay men faced throughout the decade. Find it beginning on February 18. Additional titles arriving on the platform include Studio Ghibli’s EARWIG AND THE WITCH, CHEWING GUM from Michaela Coel (I MAY DESTROY YOU) and the documentary THERE IS NO ‘I’ IN THREESOME. In animation, there is the new JUSTICE LEAGUE series, the return of CLOSE ENOUGH and ESME & ROY. Also, the dog grooming contest known as HAUTE DOGbegins its sophomore season. The Ghibli work is the first computer-animated film for the studio about an orphan girl who learns she is a witch’s daughter. The Michaela Coel piece was her first series on British TV and the documentary takes a look at polyamorous relationships.
Cinemax:Head over tohttps://www.cinemax.com/scheduleto find out what is playing on all eight channels of Cinemax. What is sad is that Cinemax Go looks the exact way it did when I checked it last month.
Next Month’s Tease: For its fans, this work is highly anticipated and it comes to HBO Max next month. But to figure out what it is you need to know what these movies have in common – (come on, don’t Google it!) – Dawn of the Dead, Legend of the Guardians and Sucker Punch.
Last month’s answer – Jon Stewart of The Daily Show fame wrote/directed the only theatrical debut on HBO this month, IRRESISTIBLE.
Final Clip: We bumped out a few trailers, mostly dramatic ones, so let’s give some classic comedy a nod here.