Say what you will about January’s schedule, but we are so ready for HBO in 2016. The network has some Specials for us and clearly wants to invigorate its Family content starting on 01.16.16. Let us look at it as easing into a new year full of excitement, drama, surprises and laughs that we know will be of top-notch quality. We will all be talking about it in the months ahead so stick with it and say that you were a part of the stellar year ahead from the beginning. Let’s kick it off with What’s On for January!
Originals: Okay, we know not everyone thinks that the big premiere in 2016 is any big deal, but it is. Maybe, we’ll get you a post all about why it is important before the big premiere date, but for now just take in the following: SESAME STREET has arrived! On SATURDAY, JANUARY 16, 2016, the iconic fixture will launch season 46 of the award-winning show on HBO with the boldest changes to the STREET to date, including 30-minute episodes, new preschool-relevant themes, new show opening and closing songs, an updated set, a new segment called “Smart Cookies” and a new cast member, Nina. On that date two new episodes of SESAME STREET will debut starting at 9:00am. Every Saturday thereafter, a new episode will debut at 9:00am followed by a repeat episode at 9:30amNew episodes will also debut simultaneously on HBO Latino and will be dubbed in Spanish. Families will also be able to watch new and past seasons of SESAME STREET daily on HBO Family at 8:00am, as well as five years of library episodes available for streaming on HBO NOW and HBO GO.
For the mature adults the best educator comes to us via REAL TIME WITH BILL MAHER. Oh boy, that is scary, but funny. You know the drill as outspoken comedian/social commentator Bill Maher returns for the 14th season of his show on FRIDAY, JANUARY 15 at 10:00pm, followed by other new editions debuting subsequent Fridays at the same time. Devoted primarily to news and comedy, the show’s format includes an opening monologue, roundtable discussions with special guests, and interviews with guests. If you have missed him as of late catch the clip below. There is still plenty to say about the political scene and Maher gets his guests to do just that.
Theatrical Movies: There are five Saturdays in the first month of the year and five theatrical premieres making their way to the pay-cable circuit. We hope you will curl up with a hot chocolate and a blanket on a cold night and enjoy one. The choices this coming month are THE SECOND BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL, MAD MAX: FURY ROAD, ENTOURAGE, UNFRIENDED and TRUE STORY.
Our first movie is a sequel to a popular 2011 film. In this one a young proprietor of a beloved Indian hotel for British retirees looks to expand to another property in THE SECOND BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL. It debuts SATURDAY, JANUARY 02 at 8:00pm. Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy, Dev Patel, Celia Imrie, Penelope Wilton and Ronald Pickup star with David Strathairn and Richard Gere. Another sequel appears for another franchise thirty years after its last installment. The fourth chapter of the post-apocalyptic action films, MAD MAX: FURY ROAD debuts SATURDAY, JANUARY 09 at 8:00pm. Following the collapse of civilization, a warrior (Charlize Theron) and her army team up with a loner (Tom Hardy) to defeat an evil tyrant who has enslaved the survivors. Directed by George Miller and written by George Miller, Brendan McCarthy and Nick Lathouris, it was named the best film of the year by the National Board of Review.
Friends are haunted by the ghost of a high school classmate in the horror yarn UNFRIENDED, debuting SATURDAY, JAN. 16 at 8:00pm. Heather Sossaman, Matthew Bohrer and Courtney Halverson star. Hollywood superstar Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier) and the boys (Kevin Connolly, Kevin Dillon, Jerry Ferrera) return with a risky new project, as Vince makes his directorial debut for agent-turned-studio head Ari (Jeremy Piven) in the comedy ENTOURAGE, debuting SATURDAY, JANUARY 23 starting at 8:15pm.
As for this last movie I never even heard of it. Have you? So I’ll slip in a trailer for it as well. A discredited journalist (Jonah Hill) is tasked with writing the autobiography of an accused murderer (James Franco), who once posed as the writer, in the cat-and-mouse thriller TRUE STORY, debuting SATURDAY, JANUARY 30 at 8:00pm. Felicity Jones also stars.
Specials: One of music’s biggest stars returns home to Fayetteville, NC, delivering a riveting performance in the exclusive HBO presentation J. COLE FOREST HILLS DRIVE: HOMECOMING, debuting SATURDAY, JANUARY 09 at 10:00pm. Part concert film, part backstage pass, the special tells his compelling life story through Cole’s own words and music, and through the observations of those who know him best. Featuring guest appearances by Jay Z and Drake, the special showcases live versions of all 13 songs from his third album, “2014 Forest Hills Drive.” Cole delivers a powerful performance that leaves his fans elated or in tears, connecting with audiences in a way few others can. WHITNEY CUMMINGS: “I’M YOUR GIRLFRIEND” debuts SATURDAY, JANUARY 23 at 10:00pm. Taped before a live audience at The Broad Stage in Santa Monica, Cal., the exclusive presentation features the comedienne in her first HBO stand-up special.
Sports: 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, JANUARY 26 at 10:00pm. The series has just celebrated its 20th anniversary with a roundtable discussion with all the correspondents. Here are the topics from the latest installment.
There is also an HBO CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING bout scheduled for SATURDAY, JANUARY 30 at 9:45pm. It will be SERGEY KOVALEV vs. JEAN PASCAL II. The Russian pugilist will take on the Haitian hitter in this 12-round Light Heavyweight fight.
Other Movies and Shows: I’ve scanned the schedule and this is what I found out. A number of movies are spreading out over the channels. That just means that a movie that was in heavy rotation on HBO Signature is now showing up on HBO. The content is now getting wider viewing options instead of being aired on just one platform. At any rate, here are some of the titles surfacing on HBO: THE SECRET OF THE MAGIC GOURD, WES CRAVEN PRESENTS WISHMASTER, LUCKY NUMBERS, DOWN TO EARTH and CALVARY. That last movie has already appeared on Signature, but now debuts on the main channel. In it Brendan Gleeson delivers a towering performance in this “immensely powerful” (Hollywood Reporter) film about a priest in a small Irish village who hears a particularly disturbing confession–one in which an unseen parishioner vows to murder the priest in a week. Writer/director John Michael makes a potent statement about faith and spirituality in an atheistic world as the priest comes to terms with the seriousness of the threat–and how he plans to deal with it. Also crossing over from other platforms are BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS Part 1 & 2; BORN KILLERS and WONDER BOYS.
In lieu of original series airing Sunday nights in January HBO has the following movie nights: on 01.03 at 9:00pm is the debut of FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD (find its trailer below), an adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s classic novel about a willful Victorian beauty who attracts three very different suitors; on 01.10 at 9:00pm is an encore of MAD MAX: FURY ROAD; on 01.17 from 5:00pm to 12:00am is THE GODFATHER EPIC. Francis Ford Coppola’s legendary gangster epic “The Godfather” and its Oscar-winning sequel “The Godfather II” are edited into this single film–told chronologically and with added footage that was cut from the original films; on 01.24 at 9:00pm the catacombs of Paris are the setting for the claustrophobic exercise in “found footage” terror AS ABOVE/SO BELOW and on 01.31 at 9:00pm is an encore of the ENTOURAGE movie.
HBO’s Other Platforms: The other outlets seem to exchange some content as well. Plus, there is still original content. HBO Latino: The exclusive movie premiere on this channel is VOLEY (Volley) in which six twentysomethings head to a vacation home for New Year’s Eve. Written, directed and starring Martin Piroyansky. Also with Violeta Urtizberea, Ines Efron, Chino Darin, Vera Spinetta and Justina Bustos. Also debuting is a short film entitled BIKINI: UNA HISTORIA REAL. In it the mayor of a small town in Spain tries to convince the authorities to allow women to wear bikinis on beaches in the 1950s. This short comedy stars Sergio Caballero. But now you can also see HBO Family films on Latino like TRON in Spanish! HBO Family: Besides episodes of SESAME STREET it will also air reruns of THE ELECTRIC COMPANY and PINKY DINKY DOO; both also from Sesame Workshop. And though it is a little late in the season Muppet content like THE MUPPET CHRISTMAS CAROL also airs. HBO Signature: Singling out some R-rated fare there is FEAST OF LOVE which is uses interlocking vignettes of people searching for love starring Morgan Freeman. There is also 11:14 which are more interlocking moments about various characters and what happens to them at that time of day. One of its stars is Hilary Swank. We can also include the debut of THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT 2 starring Eric Lively. HBO Comedy We know you can always catch it at your own pace on HBONow/Go but on 01.21 this channel offers up a marathon of ENTOURAGE. That is all 936 episodes building up to the premiere of the movie on 01.23 on HBO. Also find SPACEBALLS and TROOP BEVERLY HILLS and DAVID SPADE: TAKE THE HIT. HBO Zone: We add this channel to our search. It is billed as a channel for watchers in the key demographic ages of 18 – 34. Shit, that means I can’t watch it! Anyway, it is debuted such movies as UNHITCHED with Stuart Townsend; THROW MAMA FROM THE TRAIN with Billy Crystal; GRIDLOCK’D with Tupac Shakur, plus, CARNAL WISHES and SUPERSTITION. To single out a clip from the aforementioned I say I feel a little silly…so here is some Anne Ramsay.
HBONow/Go: On to the streaming sites and a mixed bag of entertainment. First off, and I’ve said this before, this is a great opportunity to catch up with a show you never watched before. Maybe it is HUNG or IN TREATMENT or something from Chris Lilley. Make plans to watch something you’ve missed. Also as of 01.01 you can watch such movies as THE CORRUPTER, TROPIC THUNDER, MILK, PRETTY IN PINK, TORQUE, SENSELESS and all six movies in the POLICE ACADEMY franchise. In comedy routines you got classic specials BILL MAHER: VICTORY BEGINS AT HOME and ELLEN DEGENERES: THE BEGINNING and don’t forget the late-night movie WEEKEND SEXCAPADES. Cinemax: In January, CINEMAX continues to be the only premium channel presented in 100% True HD. The channel, like HBO, does not have a big series this coming month. THE KNICK ‘s season just concluded and BANSHEE’s final one doesn’t come until April and the new series just aren’t ready yet. So that leaves us witch big movie premieres. They are CHILD 44 with Tom Hardy debuting 01.02; X-Men: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST, THE ROUGE CUT, (whatever that means) on 01.09 and DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES with those ‘damn, dirty apes’ on 01.23.
All this goes to show that just because there are no original series airing does not mean it is not a full month of entertainment. I can find something to watch, can you? Let’s wrap it up.
Next Month’s Tease: In keeping with character names, for February 2016, your clue is – Brett & Michelle and Tina & Alex.
The clue for this month was “Nux” making January’s answer MAD MAX: FURY ROAD because Nux was the War Boy warrior played by Nicolas Hoult in that movie. Hey, there are plenty of awesome characters to be discovered all month long.
Final Clip: “Sunny day, sweepin’ the clouds away, on my way to where the air is sweet, can you tell me how to get, how to get to…”
About The Author
Editor at Large of HBOWatch.com and the internet's foremost HBO expert.