Posts Tagged: HBO

HBO's Historical Revisionism

Congratulations to Game of Thrones and its infinitely frustrating creator: The show is now the "most popular series in HBO’s history." That's an average audience 18.4 million compared to 18.2 for The Sopranos.

Speaking of history! HBO has a strange sense of its own. The network has, for the last ten years, minimized its pre-Sopranos existence as much as possible, full as it was with late night softcore porn and of-the-moment comedy specials. Now, with HBO Go, the company has been given a chance to fully rewrite its story, and it has taken it: The "All Series" section of HBO Go presents what looks and feels like an [...]


Why We Need "Enlightened"

Michelle Dean: We have gathered here today because, and I think this is not an exaggerated term, we are devoted to "Enlightened," the struggling HBO show from Mike White that stars Laura Dern as Amy Jellicoe, a woman who… is struggling to figure out life. That sounds kind of patronizing, but it's the only way to put it.

Recently I found myself actively worrying about the show's potential cancellation as I went about my day. And I keep tossing around different reasons of articulating why. One is of course that like David Haglund at Slate, I think it's the most interesting show on television right now, as well as [...]


Network Identity Now

Showtime's programming hinges "on dramedies about women with secrets; AMC does meditative and highly watchable dramas about men in difficult situations." —Ha, that is true! For a counterpoint on talking about HBO, there are about 400 tweets today from TV expert Kate Aurthur.


Indicators That the Book Party Scene on HBO’s Forthcoming Lena Dunham Show "Girls" is an Unconvincing Approximation of the Real Thing, as Conveyed to Me by a Former Book Editor Working On-Set as an Extra (“Publishing Executive”)

11. The pervasiveness of eye shadow.

10. A The Situation/Vanilla Ice look-alike in shiny jacket, aviator sunglasses and jauntily tilted hat.

9. General lack of pastiness.

8. None of the following were present: Colson Whitehead, Sloane Crosley, Sylvia Miles.

7. And yet: a racially proportioned crowd.


"Boardwalk Empire": The Halfway Report

This is the way history works on cable—the period setting is condensed, amplified and sped up so that we can focus on the interpersonal relationships and dramas of our heroes and villains. You add enough historical ephemera to keep people who watch for that reason interested, anyone tuning for a character drama gets a venue more exciting than a hospital or an LA apartment complex and everyone finds a person/place/thing to plug into Google at the end of the night.

The problem with the first quarter of "Boardwalk Empire"—the first three episodes of its first season of twelve—as a cable television show with a historical bent is that [...]


Christine Vachon Interview for 'Mildred Pierce'

"TV is far less risk-averse these days than cinema." Christine Vachon, discussing her HBO project, with director Todd Haynes (!), of Mildred Pierce (!).


Floyd Mayweather As The Great Black Villain

"Shane Mosley says ‘Floyd Mayweather fights for money.' You fuckin' dummy; I'm a prizefighter. That's what I'm supposed to fight for: a prize. Duh!"Floyd ‘Money' Mayweather.

People say that Floyd Mayweather is arrogant, that he doesn't care about "boxing" in the abstract, only himself. This is the opposite of the truth.


Motive Questioned

"Is HBO Submitting 'True Detective' as a Drama Series at the Emmys to Teach Netflix a Lesson?"


"Carnivàle" Broke My Heart

In my opinion, this is the most beautiful sequence ever aired on television:

This essay is part of a series about our favorite TV shows past.

Previously: You, Me And "Star Trek: The Next Generation"

It's the opening scene for episode two of "Carnivàle." I've probably watched it 100 times. I know every motion, piece of furniture, item of clothing, dialogue snippet, and character backstory. I know the song playing is Ruth Etting's 1929 hit "Love Me or Leave Me."

And yet still, I have absolutely no idea what's going on.

That was kind of the experience of watching the show. Trying to [...]


What's Wrong with the HBO Movie?

This is totally a thing! Richard Rushfield went to see a forthcoming HBO movie and came away thinking… hey, that is sure an HBO movie! It's "an intriguing concept, great art design, some fine actors that somehow doesn’t come together as anything special or present any compelling reason why it should be up on a big screen." Hey, yeah, that! First, there's a certain kind of sweeping literalism to the high-end TV movie and miniseries: what's Temple Grandin about? Oh, Temple Grandin. What's Too Big to Fail about? What's Hemingway and Gellhorn about? Ohhhh. I think part of this is: HBO straddles the budgetary line between movie-movies and [...]


'Mildred Pierce': Set Your DVRs on 'OMG What?'

The five-part, Todd Haynes-directed miniseries of "Mildred Pierce" starts on Sunday, at 9 p.m., on HBO. Let me just tell you the most important part right now: The first episode may not particularly make you want to carry on! You might hate it immediately. But you likely should press on: what follows is definitely more exciting and pleasurable, as the show goes on. And sometimes when you try a weird new flavor, it's disgusting at first. This flavor is decidedly off-putting or maybe just like it popped out of a time machine from when flavors were different: it's the starchy tale of a snooty lady, and from the hilariously [...]


The Return of Michael Pitt!

I had not realized that HBO's "Boardwalk Empire" had retained the services of Michael Pitt in the role of Steve Buscemi's protege. Pitt's work can most often, these past few years, be viewed solely under the JMZ elevated, as he struts along in a t-shirt that displays his scars and tattoos and his tight filthy jeans with the rocker belts. How reclusive is he? His band's website only plays music; it has no words or, you know, gig announcements. He has not made a movie since Funny Games. But here he is on the HBO: "Mr. Pitt was simply made for the fashions of the 1920s, with [...]


Snoop Dogg, "Oh Sookie"

"Excuse, Mr. Snoop Dogg?" "Yes?" "Sorry to bother you, sir. But HBO called. They want to know if you'll do a promotional rap for the True Blood show." "Oh, True Blood? Yeah, sure. I like that show." "When should I tell them you'll have it done?" "About fifteen minutes." "Very good, sir."


'Treme' Trailer Unrevealing, Yet Tantalizing

I will now say a few sacrilicious things about the new trailer for David Simon's "Treme." First, this doesn't tell me anything, and it's loaded with (admittedly amazing-looking) New Orleans cliches. (Jazz funerals! Trombones!) Second, it makes me both miss "True Blood" and wish "True Blood" was better. That aside? If this puts Katrina and New Orleans-the real story of America-back into the "national conversation" again finally, then David Simon deserves a Nobel and an Oscar and an Emmy and maybe a Peabody. Also some award that I will make up and decoupage and mail to him.


On "Dawson," on "Dexter," on "Damages": The Artists and Art of TV Shows

A couple months ago I was watching an episode of the second season of "Dawson’s Creek" when I saw an intriguing painting, "Winter’s Mist," by an artist called "Jarvis." "Winter’s Mist" looked vaguely familiar and the artist’s name was something I might’ve heard in college. Here is what the on-TV college lecturer had to say about it:

I’d like to close with this piece, "Winter Mist." It’s Jarvis’ most famous work. No one can deny after looking at this exquisitely tuned surface, the juxtaposition of color and shape, the intensity of his lines, that Jarvis was in complete control of his new technique. Sadly, three weeks after Jarvis completed [...]


219,999 White Men Over 50 and Mike Bloomberg Love "Girls"

We're big fans of @girlsHBO and hope it will inspire future Hannahs everywhere to move to NYC

— NYC Mayor's Office (@NYCMayorsOffice) June 25, 2012

"About 22 percent of viewers who DVR the show are white men over age 50." Only one of them is the mayor of New York City. One other is Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson.


The "Entourage" Epilogue: Ten Years Later

E and Vince climbed up over the rim of the hill, and there they stopped to gaze down upon the ruins of the city below. Thirteen years since the SAG/AFTRA split-up and the city was still burning. Vast sections of the canvas below were nothing but charred smoldering dirt. And higher up, by the shell of the old Hollywood sign, they could make out the screams of anguish, the clatter of swords, the unholy battle cries of the Test Audiences as they stampeded down toward the deserted boulevards in search of fresh hot blood. A decade after they had fled, the marauders looked more zombie than human; more creatures infected [...]


Lady Pilots: Chelsea Handler, Molly Shannon

Chelsea Handler's Are You There Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea is getting a pilot at NBC. That book is a memoir of her time before she began dating the CEO of Comcast. One blog commenter responded: "Chelsea is the funniest woman alive! Her talk show makes all the others seem irrelevant. Perhaps she can now save the world of network sitcoms!!!! Great move by NBC!!!!" In other news, HBO is doing a pilot for Molly Shannon in which she plays a nun leaving the convent.


Bruce Springsteen, "The Promise"

Man, I'm psyched to see The Promise, a documentary about the making of Bruce Springsteen's 1978 album Darkness on the Edge of Town, my favorite Springsteen album (which is a little bit like saying, "the favorite part of my heart.") Directed by longtime Springsteen cinematographer Thom Zimmy, it's set to premiere at the Toronto Film Festival next month, along with interesting-sounding documentaries by Errol Morris, Alex Gibney, and Werner Herzog (whose Cave of Forgotten Dreams is about prehistoric cave paintings and is for some reason shot in 3D.) HBO will be airing The Promise for me in October-and for you, if you want to see it too.


'Treme': A Shouting Match

Natasha Vargas-Cooper: Dan Kois! I consider you a top critic. A man of refined taste and considerable insight. How do you defend your love for such a subpar project as "Treme"?

Dan Kois: Natasha! I consider you a canny TV viewer, and a recognizer of quality in all its forms. How do you defend your dismissal of such a quality project as Treme?

Natasha: A Battle of Wits!

Dan: Let us first define the terms of our debate.

Natasha: Personal attacks: allowed!