House of the Dragon: HBO releases first images from Game of Thrones prequel
May 5, 2021 by: Gaius Bolling
HBO has released the first official photos from the highly anticipated Game of Thrones prequel series, House of the Dragon. The images give us the first look at the leads that will headline the upcoming series.
The images include a look at Matt Smith as Prince Daemon Targaryen and Emma D'Arcy as Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen, Steve Toussaint as Lord Corlys Velaryon (also known as the Sea Snake), and Olivia Cooke as Alicent Hightower and Rhys Ifans as Otto Hightower. The images, which were released on the official Twitter page for the series, can be viewed below!
— House of the Dragon (@HouseofDragon) May 5, 2021
— House of the Dragon (@HouseofDragon) May 5, 2021
— House of the Dragon (@HouseofDragon) May 5, 2021
House of Dragon, created by George R.R. Martin and Ryan Condal, is a prequel to Game of Thrones and is based on Martin's novel, "Fire & Blood." The show is set 300 years before the events of Game of Thrones and chronicles the beginning of the end of House Targaryen. The series is one of six Game of Thrones-related prequel projects that is in the works at HBO so it's obvious they know that this universe is a hit they're not really to let go of just yet.
What are YOUR thoughts on the images from House of the Dragon? The first season of the series is scheduled to air in 2022 and will consist of ten episodes.
Entourage creator thinks HBO is hiding the show due to post #MeToo criticism
April 28, 2021 by: Gaius Bolling
I was just having a discussion with my friend about shows that may be perceived as problematic today and one of the series that came to mind first was HBO’s ENTOURAGE. I would like to lead this off by saying I don’t personally think it’s problematic and that it just captures personality types that definitely exist in the world it was creating. That doesn’t mean that others haven’t found that the show hits a bit different in the post #MeToo era and now its creator, Doug Ellin, is coming to its defense.
Entourage ran from 2004-2011 and followed a Hollywood boys club of sorts that chronicled the acting career of Vinnie Chase (Adrian Grenier), a young A-list movie star, and his childhood friends from Queens, New York City, as they attempt to further their careers in Los Angeles. The show has been looked at differently in recent years for being what some call a “vulgar boyfest” and for its sometimes masochistic depiction of male and female relationships but Ellin, while speaking with Yahoo Entertainment, says this is coming from a “wave of righteous PC culture.”
“I’m proud of everything we did on Entourage, and I certainly don’t think it’s something that should be a lightning rod. It should be looked at for what it was.”
Ellin accuses HBO of minimizing Entourage’s presence online by saying “For a while, we were hiding in, like, Wish-Fulfillment Shows.’ We were nominated for the Emmys or the Golden Globes almost every single year, so to not put us on the ‘Must-See Comedy’ list was pretty bizarre.” To be fair, while this may have been the case in the past, HBO Max does currently have Entourage under the ‘Must-Watch Comedies’ tab between Sex and the City and Curb Your Enthusiasm. That’s not to say that the tide has not turned on Entourage a bit in the public domain. I do believe it’s looked at much differently today than it was during its original run.
When asked about he feels about HBO giving the series the perceived cold shoulder, Ellin says “I resent it tremendously. Nobody says that about The Sopranos, where they murder people, that maybe we should readdress whether murdering people on TV is OK. I don’t want to sound obnoxious or that I’m looking at Entourage as high art, but it was a pretty accurate portrayal of how people behaved at that time in Hollywood.” Ellin eventually goes as far as to say that the retroactive backlash to Entourage made them pass on his 2012 follow-up, 40, starring Michael Imperioli, Michael Rappaport, and Ed Burns. The show never made it beyond the pilot stage and it’s something that Ellin still hasn’t forgiven HBO for.
According to Ellin, Entourage was a “show…about friendship and loyalty and family” and it’s something that he thought was “extremely realistic” in its depiction of Hollywood dynamics at the time they were doing the show. Ellin goes on to say that “I don’t think Entourage was this vulgar boyfest that people like to paint it as now. When we came out, the New York Times said we were the smartest show on television!”
Ellin isn’t necessarily wrong. While there might have been a vocal minority that criticized the show for some of its narrative and characterizations, the show was a critical darling during most of its run and earned numerous awards, including six Emmys and a Golden Globe. The show was also hugely popular with viewers and some gave it the distinction of being the male Sex and the City on HBO’s lineup. HBO once embraced the show fully but in the post #MeToo world we live in, so many things are being reexamined with a fine-toothed comb and this has led to, how Ellin sees it, HBO distancing itself from the series in recent years.
Ellin does want to stress that while he calls the backlash against Entourage to be an “overcorrection”, he does acknowledge the importance of #MeToo and other social justice movements. Ellin believes “There needs to be a reckoning and social injustices need to be addressed in certain ways. Hopefully, we’ll get to a place where there’s equality for everybody, but there’s also room for people to create their art and not be judged so harshly.”
Even digging through some of the personal hostility Ellin might have with HBO for professional reasons, I think he does have a point. So much art is being compromised because it’s being reevaluated in this wave of cancel culture. Entourage premiered, lived, and breathed during a very different time and I don’t think it’s fair to really look at it through today’s lens and suddenly make the show a problem. Instead of trying to make the series problematic, maybe look at some of the narrative plot points that didn’t age well and try to have a civilized conversation about how things have changed for better or worse.
Do YOU think Entourage is problematic today?
House of the Dragon: Game of Thrones prequel series enters production
April 26, 2021 by: Steve Seigh
Sound the horns and light the pyres because production for the House of the Dragon is officially underway.
Whether you're psyched about it or not, HBO's straight-to-series Game of Thrones prequel is under construction. The series hails from George R.R. Martin, Ryan Condal, and Miguel Sapochnik and is eyeing a 2022 launch on HBO.
The network tweeted about the show's production start alongside a photo of the cast attending a socially distanced table read.
— ???? Game of Thrones ???? (@GameOfThrones) April 26, 2021
House of the Dragon will be set 300 years before the events of Game of Thrones and will track the beginning of the end for House Targaryen. The ten-episode series is based upon George R.R. Martin's "Fire & Blood," a Targaryen history book which chronicles the history of House Targaryen, starting with Aegon the Conqueror, creator of the Iron Throne, and [going on] to recount the generations of Targaryens who fought to hold the throne, all the way up to the civil war, known as the Dance of the Dragons, that nearly tore their dynasty apart.
House of the Dragon stars Paddy Considine, Olivia Cooke, Matt Smith, Emma D’Arcy, and Fabien Frankel. Rhys Ifans, Steve Toussaint, Eve Best, and Sonoya Mizuno, among several others. Considine stars as King Viserys Targaryen, Cooke plays Alicent Hightower, D’Arcy as Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen, Smith as Prince Daemon Targaryen and Toussaint as Lord Corlys Velaryon, known as the Sea Snake, who becomes Hand to Queen Rhaenyra Targaryen during the Dance of the Dragons.
The prequel series was co-created by George "Character Killer" Martin and Ryan Condal. Condal wrote the pilot that got HBO to greenlight the show. He also serves as co-showrunner with Game of Thrones alum Miguel Sapochnik.
As you're likely to know, Game of Thrones was a critical hit for HBO, right up until its final season underdelivered for scores of fans. Will House of the Dragon be able to bring those who've strayed from the franchise back to the fold? Will the powers that be more mindful of rushing resolutions this time out? Only time will tell, and I must admit that I'm excited to find out. Did I think the final season of Game of Thrones was a bummer? Absolutely. However, the best part about making mistakes is learning from them, and I'd love to see this amazing franchise in different hands. Here's hoping for great things.
Curb Your Enthusiasm: Richard Lewis will return for season 11 after all
April 22, 2021 by: Kevin Fraser
Richard Lewis has played a fictionalized version of himself on Curb Your Enthusiasm since the very first season over twenty years ago, but it was revealed earlier this year that he would have to step away from the HBO series due to several surgeries and health problems. "What a ride, LD! I love you, buddy," Lewis wrote on Twitter. "Tragically, these past 18 months I’ve endured a back and two shoulder surgeries and not able to be in #curbyourenthusiasm for season 11. I’ll be watching…"
Thankfully, we no longer have to deal with the crushing sadness of the thought of a season of Curb Your Enthusiasm without Richard Lewis' involvement as the comedian has revealed that he's been able to return to the set for one episode!
Great news for me! Although I’m still recovering from three surgeries and missing Season 11 of Curb, LD called me and asked if there was any chance if I felt strong enough to do one episode!
I am and here I’m on the set to shoot it. I’m so grateful.????@HBO? #curb
— Richard Lewis (@TheRichardLewis) April 22, 2021
"Great news for me!" Lewis wrote. "Although I’m still recovering from three surgeries and missing Season 11 of Curb, LD called me and asked if there was any chance if I felt strong enough to do one episode! I am and here I’m on the set to shoot it. I’m so grateful." Richard Lewis was originally expected to appear in six episodes of the new season, and although his surgeries meant that couldn't happen, Larry David and producer Jeff Schaffer made sure to keep tabs on him throughout his recovery. While speaking with Variety, Richard Lewis said he told David that he wanted to return to the set three weeks ago and David made it happen. "When I walked in and they applauded, I felt like a million bucks," Lewis said. "Larry doesn’t like to hug, and he hugged me and told me how happy he was after we shot our scene." Lewis added that it didn't take long to get back into the swing of things. "My adrenaline was pumping so much, I just went crazy," Lewis said. "We went to places that I don’t think we’ve ever been before… It was maybe the best I’ve ever been in the 11 seasons. And I know this because I made Larry crack up at least 15 or 20 times during this one scene."
Oz: HBO prison series reunion set for ATX Festival
April 22, 2021 by: Steve Seigh
Break out your fanciest toilet wine recipes and watch your back for incoming shivs because an Oz reunion is planned for the 2021 ATX Television Festival.
This year's Oz reunion was supposed to happen last year, but the Covid-19 pandemic threw that idea into solitary until now. The event will look back on the HBO prison drama with creator/executive producer Tom Fontana, director/actor Terry Kinney and cast members Lee Tergesen, Dean Winters, Harold Perrineau, and Kirk Acevedo. More guests are expected to be added to the list at a later date.
Oz ran on HBO for 56 episodes across six seasons from 1997 to 2003. "Oz" was a nickname for the Oswald State Correctional Facility, formerly Oswald State Penitentiary, a level 4 maximum security state prison where scores of criminal inhabitants were kept. The series chronicled their daily activities, as well as the lives of those sworn to keep the prisoners in line. The series starred Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters, The Crow) as Warden Leo Glynn, with J.K. Simmons, Lee Tergesen, Dean Winters, Terry Kinney, Rita Moreno, Harold Perrineau, Eamonn Walker, Craig Mums Grant, Luna Lauren Velez, and several others rounding out the cast. The show was a major hit with HBO subscribers, and I suspect that it will be the highlight of this year's ATX Festival.
Other panels set for the 2021 ATX Festival include one for Amazon Prime Video's Small Axe, and Showtime's variety sketch show Ziwe. Other panels include a Faking It reunion, a look at Fox's new animated comedy Housebroken, the independent short-form comedy Speech & Debate, as well as several themed panels.
RELATED: Together Together Review
You can see how this year's event is shaping up so far below:
—The Fox animated comedy from co-creators and “Veep” collaborators Clea DuVall, Gabrielle Allan, and Jennifer Crittenden follows a group of neighborhood pets and stray animals as they work through their issues inside and outside their therapy group. The cast includes Sharon Horgan (who also executive produces), Nat Faxon, and Sam Richardson, all of whom will be on hand for a Q&A following the screening.
Speech and Debate
—The independent short-form comedy series written by Kamen Edwards and directed by Cassandra Jean Amell will debut the third episode at ATX, followed by a conversation with stars Stephen Amell (“Arrow”), Aisha Tyler (“Archer”), and John Barrowman (“Doctor Who”) to discuss the episode and what it’s like creating independent TV during a pandemic.
—Previously set for 2020, the 1997 HBO drama will host a retrospective during this year’s ATX Festival, including a conversation with series creator and executive producer Tom Fontana, director, and actor Terry Kinney, as well as cast members Lee Tergesen, Dean Winters, Harold Perrineau, and Kirk Acevedo. Additional participants will be announced at a later date.
—The three-season MTV comedy will reunite at ATX TV Festival this year, five years after the series finale, to celebrate the show’s impactful LGBTQIA+ representation, including a groundbreaking storyline featuring television’s first intersex main character. Joining the reunion panel will be creator and showrunner Carter Covington, as well as cast members Rita Volk, Katie Stevens, Michael Willett, Yvette Monreal, and Sophia Ali. Additional panelists will be announced soon.
—Taking place ahead of the official festival, “Housecall: A ‘Royal Pains’ Reunion” will debut Sunday, June 6 and be made available on-demand through June 13 to benefit the national hunger-relief organization Feeding America. Fans of the former USA “Blue Skies” drama will enjoy a full table read of the series finale, “Uninterrupted,” with creator and executive producer Andrew Lenchewski, writer and director Michael Rauch, as well as cast members Mark Feuerstein, Paulo Costanzo, Reshma Shetty, Brooke D’Orsay, Ben Shenkman, Campbell Scott, Jill Flint, Meredith Hagner, Sarah Mezzanotte, Zachary Hernandez, Anthony Pierini, John Hans Tester, Laura Lanza, Ivan Quintanilla, and special guest moderator Henry Winkler.
- “Beyond the Scares: Emotional Catharsis & Healing in Horror”
- “Growing Up Is Hard: A New Generation of YA Protagonists”
- “Mad as Hell: TV’s Dangerous Women”
- “The Queer Gaze”
- “Pandemic Proof: Adult Animation”
- “Showrunner State of the Union”
- “Buying & Selling with 20/20 Hindsight”
Ziwe in Conversation
—The titular writer, comedian, actor, singer, activist, and host of Showtime’s upcoming variety show will sit down for a one-of-a-kind look at her rise from social media breakout to star of her own premium cable series. Per the provided synopsis, Ziwe will also break down “her ability to harness the chaotic but essential art of making white people uncomfortable,” which is something everyone should want to see.
Steve McQueen on Small Axe
—The writer-director behind Amazon’s film anthology series “Small Axe” will take part in an in-depth examination of his groundbreaking work with fellow writer-director Channing Godfrey Peoples (“Miss Juneteenth”).
Michael J. Fox – Honoree
—The five-time Emmy winner will be given the festival’s Award in Television eXcellence, bestowed on artists whose career reflects the very best that television has to offer. Fox will take part in an intimate, retrospective conversation spanning his iconic performances on “Family Ties” and “Spin City,” guest turns on “The Good Wife” and “Rescue Me,” his recent memoir, “No Time Like the Future,” and more. Previous honorees include Henry Winkler, James L. Brooks, Norman Lear, Marcy Carsey, and Phylicia Rashad.
The Last of Us: Gabriel Luna joins Pedro Pascal in HBO series
April 15, 2021 by: Kevin Fraser
HBO's upcoming adaptation of Naughty Dog's critically acclaimed video-game The Last of Us continues to assemble its cast, and it was announced today that Gabriel Luna (Terminator: Dark Fate) will be joining Pedro Pascal (The Mandalorian) and Bella Ramsey (Game of Thrones) in the series.
The Last of Us takes place twenty years after modern civilization has been destroyed and finds Joel hired to smuggle Ellie, a 14-year old girl, out of an oppressive quarantine zone. What starts as a small job soon becomes a brutal, heartbreaking journey, as they both must traverse across the U.S. and depend on each other for survival. Gabriel Luna is set to play Tommy, a former soldier who hasn't lost his sense of idealism and hope for a better world, and just so happens to be the younger brother of Joel. Pedro Pascal will star in The Last of Us as Joel, "a character tormented by past trauma and failure that must trek across a pandemic-ravaged America, all while protecting a girl who represents the last hope on humanity," while Bella Ramsey will be playing Ellie, "a 14-year-old orphan who has never known anything but a ravaged planet who struggles to balance her instinct for anger and defiance with her need for connection and belonging … as well as the newfound reality that she may be the key to saving the world."
The Last of Us TV series has been penned by Chernobyl creator Craig Mazin, who will also executive produce alongside Naughty Dog's Neil Druckmann. The series was slated to reunite Craig Mazin with his Chernobyl director Johan Renck, but it was reported earlier this year that Renck had been forced to drop out of the project due to a scheduling conflict and that he would be replaced by Kantemir Balagov as the director of the pilot.
Warrior season 3 on the way as it moves to HBO Max
April 14, 2021 by: Kevin Fraser
Once upon a time, Bruce Lee developed a potential TV series about a martial artist in the American Old West. Networks weren't interested, but Warner Bros. allegedly took that concept and transformed it into Kung Fu, the '70s series starring David Carradine, and gave Lee no credit. Decades later, the original concept was brought back to life as Warrior, an action-packed series that stars Andrew Koji as Ah Sahm, a martial arts prodigy who emigrates from China to San Francisco under mysterious circumstances and becomes a hatchet man for one of Chinatown’s most powerful crime families.
Warrior has aired for two seasons on Cinemax and it was announced today that it has been renewed for a third season, but that renewal comes with a change of address as the series will now call HBO Max home. "Warrior introduced viewers to a distinct world from the past, executed with dynamic action and relevant storytelling, with a brilliant cast led by Andrew Koji," said Casey Bloys, Chief Content Officer at HBO and HBO Max. "We can’t wait to see what Jonathan, Justin and Shannon will bring to the next chapter of this series on HBO Max." Executive producer Shannon Lee added, "Justin, Jonathan, and I were thrilled when Warrior was put on HBO platforms to be discovered by a whole new legion of fans. Now we are excited and grateful for the opportunity to do another season, and we applaud HBO Max for understanding the importance of telling this story and for continuing to support this level of representation in our industry. I just know that my father is grinning right now to see this show he dreamed of so long ago continuing to beat the odds. We have every intention of delivering the same high level of meaningful storytelling and Gung Fu action in Season 3."
Andrew Koji will next be seen starring alongside Henry Golding in Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins as Storm Shadow, a fellow ninja is is both blood brother and archenemy to Snake Eyes. The film is slated for a July 23, 2021 release.
The Nevers ratings mark the best original series debut on HBO Max
April 13, 2021 by: Gaius Bolling
The Nevers is already off to a solid start for HBO. While we're not talking Game of Thrones numbers, the series debut is definitely promising for the new show moving forward.
Sunday night’s premiere of the science fiction drama series drew just over 1.4 million viewers across linear telecasts and digital, including the best start for a new HBO Original on HBO Max, according to the premium cable network. To put things in perspective, the premiere surpassed viewership for the premieres of recent HBO dramas including Lovecraft Country and The Undoing, and viewership is expected to grow via additional telecasts and viewing across platforms according to HBO.
The Nevers is described as "an epic science fiction drama about a gang of Victorian women who find themselves with unusual abilities, relentless enemies, and a mission that might change the world." The series features an ensemble cast that includes Laura Donnelly, Ann Skelly, Olivia Williams, James Norton, Tom Riley, Rochelle Neil, Eleanor Tomlinson, Amy Manson, Pip Torrens, Denis O’Hare, Zackary Momoh, Elizabeth Berrington, Kiran Sawar, Anna Devlin, Viola Prettejohn, Ella Smith, Nick Frost, and Ben Chaplin.
The Nevers is created and executive produced by Joss Whedon and the show made some news last November when Whedon decided to step down as showrunner. At the time, Whedon released a statement saying "This year of unprecedented challenges has impacted my life and perspective in ways I could never have imagined, and while developing and producing The Nevers has been a joyful experience, I realize that the level of commitment required moving forward, combined with the physical challenges of making such a huge show during a global pandemic, is more than I can handle without the work beginning to suffer. I am genuinely exhausted and am stepping back to martial my energy towards my own life, which is also at the brink of exciting change. I am deeply proud of the work we have done; I’m grateful to all my extraordinary cast and collaborators, and to HBO for the opportunity to shape yet another strange world. The Nevers is a true labor of love, but after two-plus years of labor, love is about all I have to offer. It will never fade." The timing of Whedon's departure coincided with an internal investigation by WarnerMedia in regards to claims made by Ray Fisher in regards to Whedon's conduct during the Justice League reshoots. Many believe that Whedon was asked to leave The Nevers as a result of this investigation but this was never 100% confirmed.
Did YOU check out the series premiere of The Nevers?
In Treatment season 4 trailer finds therapy in session with Uzo Aduba
April 12, 2021 by: Kevin Fraser
It's been over a decade since the last season of In Treatment graced our screens, but HBO has brought the drama back for a revival starring Uzo Aduba as Dr. Brooke Taylor. HBO has dropped the first trailer for the new season, which features the observant, empathetic Dr. Taylor treating several patients all while wrestling with her own issues.
The original series starred Gabriel Byrne as Dr. Paul Weston, a psychotherapist who had weekly sessions with patients, but also began to question his own abilities and motives, leading him to seek help from his former mentor and therapist Dr. Gina Toll (Dianne Wiest). The structure of the series was also rather interesting, as it aired episodes five nights a week, with each day focusing on a different client. In addition to Uzo Aduba, the new season of In Treatment also stars Joel Kinnaman as Adam, Brooke’s long-time on-again, off-again boyfriend, John Benjamin Hickey as Colin, a charming millionaire patient recently released from prison, Quintessa Swindell as Laila, Brooke’s distrustful, teenage patient, Anthony Ramos as Eladio, a patient who works as a home health aide for a wealthy family, and Liza Colón-Zayas as Rita, Brooke's longtime friend.
The fourth season of In Treatment will debut on HBO on May 23, 2021, with episodes airing Sunday and Monday.
Game of Thrones: New Season 8 trailer released for series’ 10th anniversary
April 7, 2021 by: Steve Seigh
Determined to keep Game of Thrones a part of the pop culture zeitgeist while working on several spin-off series based on the fantasy sensation, HBO has released a new trailer for Season 8. You read that correctly. There's a new trailer for what is arguably the show's most divisive season. Why? Well, to celebrate the show's 10th anniversary, of course! Be aware, my friends, this trailer is dark and full of spoilers, so watch at your own peril.
Naturally, the new trailer features highlights from the final six episodes of the Emmy-winning series – some of which are loathed by fans who were disappointed with how George R.R. Martin's epic tale concluded. If you're looking to score a V.I.P. ticket to this year's Snarkapalooza, you should check out the comments on this trailer:
"Season 8 was like if Frodo realized he could snap the One Ring in half like a twig as soon as he reached Mordor."
"I can’t even bring myself to re-watch the entire show because of how badly it ended. This is a shame because the first four seasons are absolutely ace."
Alright, I think you get the idea. I don't want to create too much of a dogpile.
During a time when fans are ready and willing to launch campaigns in the spirit of getting what they want out of studios, networks, and filmmakers, scores of GOT fans have called for HBO to remake the final season. However, unlike the Snyder Cut, HBO doesn't have files worth of spare GOT footage to create an alternate ending, let alone an entire season. Plus, whether people liked it or not, the final season was still a major hit for HBO. Add the fact that many of the show's stars have moved on to other projects, and you're looking at a sticky situation for reshoots.
Of course, there is a chance that HBO could film a new ending and release it as a standalone presentation sometime down the road. Maybe once Martin finishes the final two books, The Winds of Winter and A Dream of Spring, HBO can double-back and film a new ending with a new cast. While this scenario is unlikely, stranger things have happened.
Are you excited to see what else HBO has in store to expand the Game of Thrones Universe, or did the final seasons sour you on the franchise?
The Nevers TV Review
April 7, 2021 by: Alex Maidy
Plot: August 1896. Victorian London is rocked to its foundations by a supernatural event which gives certain people – mostly women – abnormal abilities, from the wondrous to the disturbing. But no matter their particular “turns,” all who belong to this new underclass are in grave danger. It falls to mysterious, quick-fisted widow Amalia True (Laura Donnelly) and brilliant young inventor Penance Adair (Ann Skelly) to protect and shelter these gifted “orphans.” To do so, they will have to face the brutal forces determined to annihilate their kind.
Review: It is difficult to review The Nevers, the new HBO genre series debuting on Sunday, without discussing Joss Whedon. Just a few years ago, Whedon's name was synonymous with series centered on female empowerment as well as his blockbuster work on the first two films in The Avengers franchise for Marvel Studios. In the last twelve months, Whedon has plummeted thanks to the MeToo movement and the vocal outcry from the stars of his various television series. Even though Whedon departed The Nevers, his trademark writing and characters are all over the blueprint for this new series. Unfortunately, even objectively distancing this series from Whedon doesn't help elevate what amounts to a big-budget production that feels underwhelmingly generic.
By the time the credits roll, Whedon has the first four that appear on-screen. As the director, writer, creator, and executive producer, his stake in The Nevers is substantial. Despite leaving the project, many of his former Buffy and Dollhouse colleagues, led by Jane Espenson, are shepherding this series to the inevitable finale. Whether the series returns for a sophomore run remains to be seen, but based on the five episodes made available for this review, the fan reaction to the series could swing either way. From superhero landings to strong female characters, bizarre monsters, and anachronistic plot devices, The Nevers is a steampunk wonderland achieved on a Games of Thrones level budget but fails to feel like more than a slightly more expensive variation of Doctor Who. As someone who enjoys Doctor Who, I don't find much here to differentiate this production from many of the Victorian-era standalone episodes from the iconic BBC franchise.
What works in The Nevers is the cast. Every single actress in the ensemble makes the best of their superpowered roles. Led by Laura Donnelly as leader Amalia True and Ann Skelly as the inventive Penance Adair, the heroic characters are known as The Touched, primarily women who all gained abilities of varied kinds during a mysterious event three years before the series begins. Financed by Lavinia Bidlow (Olivia Williams), a surrogate for Charles Xavier, the Touched that inhabit The Orphanage have varied powers ranging from premonitions and strength to wielding fire and energy to gigantism and more. The explanation as to where these powers come from is teased through the series but from the outset, there is a clear parallel with The Touched and Marvel's X-Men. Like Marvel's Mutants, the Touched are looked at as abominations and second-class citizens on top of already being women in an era dominated by men. The subtext is not subtle in the least which is par for the course with any Joss Whedon productions.
Like FOX's recently cancelled Marvel series The Gifted, The Nevers uses the more mediocre characters to populate a show we are supposed to deeply care about. Where Netflix gave some spunk and energy to The Umbrella Academy, HBO let Joss Whedon maintain the air of classiness that the network used in Game of Thrones to offset the violence, bloodshed, and nudity that is meant to draw people into the narrative. There are a lot of intriguing characters like the villainous Maladie (Amy Manson) and Nick Frost as The Beggar King who I want to learn more about while there are others that seem like two-dimensional creations like James Norton's pansexual Hugo Swan and Denis O'Hare's creepy Dr. Edmund Hague that seem like generic placeholders from any comic book adaptation.
There is a lot to take in during the first couple of episodes of the series and without really anchoring the viewer, it takes the length of the series premiere and halfway through the second episode before I felt comfortable with who everyone is and what exactly is going on. So many plot threads and elements are introduced at the start of the series that you may find yourself trying to orient yourself to who has what powers, who are the heroes and villains, and just exactly why you should care. The Nevers feels like an adaptation of a comic book or novel that viewers should already be familiar with. Because the cast is all excellently matched to their roles, this series has the feel of a show that has already been on the air for a while but the feeling that I was needing to catch up with the story from the first episode was not exactly the best feeling to get from a brand new series.
Aside from the bigger budget that imbues the series with some excellent production values, so much of The Nevers feels like it has been done before, and better, in previous Whedon projects. From superhero landings to witty one-liners, this is a rehash of later seasons of Buffy. If you enjoyed the last few years of vampire hunting in Sunnydale, you may not have an issue with The Nevers, but I was expecting so much more out of this show. While it looks good, lurking under the pretty young cast and solid special effects is a story that doesn't really do anything new. A lack of focus and too much going on in the first episodes may endear some to stick with this series while others may tune out quickly. The only thing that is for certain is that The Nevers rarely feels like a cohesive tale but one trying to cram too much into a shorter, marquee cable series run of ten episodes. While never a bad series, The Nevers is mostly a forgettable one.
The Nevers premieres on April 11th on HBO.
Mare of Easttown TV Review
April 5, 2021 by: Alex Maidy
Plot: Winslet stars as Mare Sheehan, a small-town Pennsylvania detective who investigates a local murder as life crumbles around her. Mare of Easstown is an exploration into the dark side of a close community and an authentic examination of how family and past tragedies can define our present.
Review: There are few combinations that instill instant confidence in a critic like HBO and Kate Winslet. Both are known for top-tier productions and acting and have previously collaborated on 2011's award-winning mini-series Mildred Pierce. A decade later, Winslet reunites for HBO's new marquee series Mare of Easttown in which she plays a much different character but with equally praise-worthy results. A combination murder mystery and character drama, Mare of Easttown is equal parts True Detective and Manchester By The Sea. It is a look at a small town through the lens of a horrific crime but anchored by a cast of realistic characters. Led by the always amazing Kate Winslet, this is a series that will have you less focused on solving the whodunit and more on experiencing the lives of these characters.
Mare of Easttown is the latest limited series to come from a single writer and director. In this case, it is scripted by Brad Ingelsby who wrote the excellent films Our Friend and The Way Back. Ingelsby has shown he has a knack for developing psychologically broken characters and giving them stories that are not purely about redemption. Director Craig Zobel, whose work ranges from the films Z for Zachariah and last year's pulpy satire The Hunt to small-screen work on Westworld and The Leftovers, doesn't try to do anything flashy with Mare of Easttown but instead delivers a portrait of a fully fleshed out small Pennsylvania town and the citizens who populate it. This series quickly shows how you bring a blue-collar community to life in a way that is not patronizing or cliche.
At the forefront is Kate Winslet who plays Mare Sheehan, a police detective and local celebrity after winning a high school basketball championship twenty-five years earlier. Jaded and exhausted after a life stuck in Easttown, Mare cares for her daughter, her mother, her grandson, and struggles with the specter of her deceased son. All of this coupled with custody issues and a cold case regarding the disappearance of a local teen a year earlier. When a new murder happens, Mare begins investigating alongside a hotshot detective from outside of town (Evan Peters). As she deals with all of the suspects, many of whom she has known her entire life, and a burgeoning romance with a literature professor (Guy Pearce), Mare's life unravels as quickly as her investigation.
With a supporting cast including Jean Smart, David Denham, Angourie Rice, Cailee Spaeny, Julianne Nicholson, and more, Mare of Easttown is full of characters who are likable but many who are not. This is not a sexy, glossy production but one where even the most famous faces look like average neighbors you may see on the street. There are many moments of uncomfortable drama and realism throughout without ignoring the funny moments in daily life. Mare of Easttown features many lines that had me laughing, mostly from the always excellent Jean Smart as well as Evan Peters who delivers one of the best performances of his career. Peters plays a character here unlike his usual roles and I am thankful he gets to play against type, especially so closely behind his role on the Disney+ series WandaVision.
The real standout is Winslet who, as always, transforms into her character. Mare is not always a likeable person but she is absolutely a relatable one. Through the five episodes made available for this review (the series consists of a total of seven), I went from rooting for Mare to sympathizing with her to outright disliking her. But, like a real person, Mare makes mistakes and deals with the consequences. All of this comes wrapped up in a murder mystery that runs parallel to the daily lives of these characters. Brad Ingelsby and Craig Zobel do an excellent job of telling a story that feels like it was adapted from a substantial novel. I kept looking to see if this was based on a book I had somehow missed reading as Mare of Easttown would easily have been a bestseller. The fact this is an original tale in an era when virtually everything is a remake or adaptation is a testament to the quality original stories that HBO still endeavors to bring to screens.
Mare of Easttown is a series that starts out as a mystery about a deal girl before developing into something much more. Each episode delivers clues and red herrings while we try to solve the same case that Mare is working on, but it then equally devotes time and narrative to exploring who Mare is and how she became this way. It is a devastating story and one that will most assuredly garner Kate Winslet awards consideration as much as I hope it does for Evan Peters. I hope the final two episodes live up to the first five as this is a story that took me one episode to appreciate before I was absolutely invested in the rest. Mare of Easttown may not be as buzzworthy of series as other recent HBO productions but it may be the best original creation they have delivered in a long time.
Mare of Easttown premieres on April 18th on HBO.
Game of Thrones: Broadway adaptation in the works from George R.R. Martin
March 30, 2021 by: Steve Seigh
Saddle up your dragons, grab your shaming bell, and cross your fingers for an alternate ending because Game of Thrones is headed to Broadway.
According to THR, a dramatic stage show spectacular based on George R.R. Martin’s fantasy world is now in development, from producers Simon Painter and Tim Lawson, in partnership with Kilburn Live. And because he'll do just about anything to avoid finishing the next book in the series, George R.R. Martin will pen the story with award-winning playwright Duncan MacMillan (1984) and acclaimed director Dominic Cooke (The Courier). The creative team hopes to launch productions in New York City, London's West End, and Australia by 2023.
Unlike the many prequel projects that are currently in the works, the stage version of Game of Thrones will feature several fan-favorite characters from the original HBO series. The as-yet-untitled play is set during a pivotal moment in Westeros history, The Great Tourney at Harrenhal, a contest that took place just 16 years before the events in Game of Thrones.
“The play will for the first time take audiences deeper behind the scenes of a landmark event that previously was shrouded in mystery,” reads the play’s official description. “Featuring many of the most iconic and well-known characters from the series, the production will boast a story centered around love, vengeance, madness, and the dangers of dealing in prophecy, in the process revealing secrets and lies that have only been hinted at until now.”
In Westeros lore, the Great Tourney was held over 10 days and was considered the biggest competition event in Westeros history, with tournaments of jousting, archery, and more. It's kind of like Disney's Robin Hood, only with a lot more violence and fewer talking animals. No characters have been confirmed at this time, though Martin's previously published books state attendees of the celebration included a young, shy Ned Stark, his sister Lyanna, a teenage Jaime Lannister, an intimidating Lord Robert Baratheon, lovestruck Prince Rhaegar Targaryen, dashing Prince Oberyn Martell, and noble knight Ser Barristan Selmy, among many others. It's worth noting that Martin's Westeros timeline differs from that of the HBO series, so fans should expect some changes. Other characters that could be a part of the mix include Cersei Lannister, Tywin Lannister, Tyrion Lannister, Littlefinger, and Varys. Unfortunately, characters like Daenerys Targaryen, Jon Snow, and Arya Stark were not yet born and are unlikely to be a part of the play. Finally, in the finale of the event, Prince Rhaegar publicly declared his love for Robert's betrothed, Lyanna Stark – a move that led to Robert's Rebellion and the Targaryens being overthrown.
“The seeds of war are often planted in times of peace,” Martin said in a statement. “Few in Westeros knew the carnage to come when highborn and smallfolk alike gathered at Harrenhal to watch the finest knights of the realm compete in a great tourney, during the Year of the False Spring. It is a tourney oft referred during HBO's Game of Thrones, and in my novels, A Song of Ice & Fire … and now, at last, we can tell the whole story… on the stage.”
While talking more about the production, Martin said: “An amazing team has been assembled to tell the tale, starting with producers Simon Painter, Tim Lawson, and Jonathan Sanford. Their knowledge and love of my world and characters have impressed me from the very first, and their plans for this production blew me away since the first time we met. Dominic Cooke, our director, is a former artistic director of London's Royal Court Theatre, who brought Shakespeare's dramas of the War of the Roses to television, and our playwright, Duncan Macmillan, has previously adapted George Orwell and Henrik Ibsen, among others. Working with them (back before the pandemic, when we could actually get together) has been a treat, and I am eager for our collaboration to resume. Our dream is to bring Westeros to Broadway, to the West End, to Australia… and eventually, to a stage near you … It ought to be spectacular.”
Obviously, everybody is very excited about bringing Game of Thrones to the grand stage, but what about you? Can Martin's lengthy tale be told during an evening or two at the theater? Are you excited to see the elaborate sets, costumes, effects, and dragons? How many adult diapers will this thing require, and can you wear them comfortably underneath your outfit? Inquiring minds want to know.
“I have such admiration for George’s world and his characters,” MacMillan said, whose theatrical work includes Lungs; People, Places and Things; Every Brilliant Thing; and, of course, an adaptation of 1984. “His generosity and trust during this process has been incredible. Working on this play during lockdown has felt like a real privilege. I can’t wait until we can be back in a theatre to experience this together.”
“I am over the moon at being given the opportunity, by the dynamic producing team of Tim Lawson, Simon Painter, and Kilburn Live, to bring a new installment of George RR Martin’s epic story to a life on stage,” said Cooke, who was the Artistic Director of London’s Royal Court Theatre from 2007 to 2013. “One of George’s inspirations for the original books was Shakespeare’s history plays so the material lends itself naturally to the theatre. Duncan MacMillan and I are having a great time digging into the dynastic power struggles at the heart of George’s extraordinary imaginative world and he has been hugely generous and supportive towards both of us.”
HBO is not involved in the stage production of Game of Thrones but does have the option of investing in the project as it continues to come together.
The Hollywood Reporter
Danny McBride developing animated film Trouble
March 29, 2021 by: Kevin Fraser
According to Deadline, Danny McBride is turning his sights to the realm of animation as his Rough House Pictures banner will be partnering with Spire Animation Studios to develop Trouble.
The animated feature will center on a 13-year-old named Jax who gets in trouble with his family and is whisked away to a parallel reality known as the World of Trouble. "Embarking on a whimsical adventure, within this bizarre and fantastic world of chaotic adolescence, he makes new friends, reflects on his character and learns the value of self-forgiveness, all while trying to figure out how to get out of trouble, and get back home," reads Deadline's description. Danny McBride and Spire Animation Studios CCO Brad Lewis came up with the original story, which will be scripted by Kevin Barnett and Chris Pappas. In a statement, Danny McBride said:
The idea of being in trouble is a universal fear we’ve all experienced growing up. Being able to build out what that world could look like and exploring how we can make this an animated adventure with Brad and the team at Spire has been awesome.
Brad Lewis added, "Danny has such a unique sensibility and grasp of wonderfully irreverent characters, creating a story together is a dream come true. I’m definitely looking forward to getting into Trouble together, and bringing to life the three words kids all over the world fear… you’re in trouble." Danny McBride will soon be shooting the second season of HBO's The Righteous Gemstones, and will next be heard lending his voice to The Mitchells vs. The Machines, which is slated to debut on Netflix on April 30, 2021.
The Nevers Trailer: HBO series takes super heroics to the Victorian era
March 23, 2021 by: Steve Seigh
Tighten your corset, brush up on your most devastating spells, and watch out for those chamber pots because the full trailer for HBO's The Nevers is here! Today's trailer is for Part One of The Nevers, which consists of six episodes. HBO's Victorian adventure begins on Sunday, April 11, 2021 (9:00-10:00 p.m. ET/PT), with Part Two (also six episodes) to follow at a later date. The series will air on HBO, with HBO Max subscribers also having access to the show.
Plenty of familiar faces have assembled to make up the ensemble cast of The Nevers, including Olivia Williams (The Ghost Writer) as Lavinia Bidlow, the wealthy benefactress funding the orphanage for Amalia’s outcasts, who are also known as the Touched. Additionally, James Norton (Little Women) plays Hugo Swann, the rich and irreverent proprietor of a den of iniquity, Tom Riley (Da Vinci’s Demons) stars as Augustus “Augie” Bidlow, Lavinia’s sweet, awkward, younger brother with a secret of his own, Pip Torrens (The Crown) as Lord Gilbert Massen, a high-ranking government official leading the crusade against our heroines, Ben Chaplin (The Thin Red Line) as Inspector Frank Mundi, who’s torn between his police duties and moral compass.
Oh, did you think we were done? Not on your life. Settle in, folks, because we've got lots of other actors to name.
Denis O’Hare (American Horror Story) plays Edmund Hague, a deranged doctor searching for the source of the powers, Amy Manson (Once Upon a Time) as the tortured, murderous Maladie, who derives power from pain, Rochelle Neil (Terminator: Dark Fate) as the fire-wielding Annie “Bonfire” Carby, one of Maladie’s motley gang, Zackary Momoh (Seven Seconds) as orphanage doctor Horatio Cousens, whose turn equips him with healing powers, Eleanor Tomlinson (The Illusionist) as Mary Brighton, a broken and resilient performer pursuing her dream of singing on stage, Elizabeth Berrington (In Bruges) as Lucy Best, adaptive and streetwise, her quick-wit and high spirits mask the pain of a tragic past, and Anna Devlin (All the Money in the World) as Primrose Chattoway who, at ten feet tall and a dreamy demeanor, wishes to be an ordinary girl not taking up too much space.
Hey, where are you going? I'm not done naming people yet.
Kiran Sonia Sawar (HBO Max’s Pure) also stars as Harriet Kaur, a young Scottish Sikh and aspiring lawyer, determined to live her life as she planned, Viola Prettejohn (The Witcher) as Myrtle Haplisch, a middle-class girl rescued from a family who cannot understand her – literally, as she can no longer speak any form of language they understand, Ella Smith (Ray & Liz) as Désireé Blodgett, a prostitute with a power that gets her in trouble and a six-year-old son who never speaks, Vinnie Heaven as Nimble Jack, a rakish and charming young thief and an expert at breaking and entering, and finally, the great Nick Frost (Shaun of the Dead) stars as feared criminal overlord Declan “Beggar King” Orrun.
Per HBO, here's the official synopsis for The Nevers:
August, 1896. Victorian London is rocked to its foundations by a supernatural event which gives certain people — mostly women — abnormal abilities, from the wondrous to the disturbing. But no matter their particular “turns,” all who belong to this new underclass are in grave danger. It falls to mysterious, quick-fisted widow Amalia True (Laura Donnelly) and brilliant young inventor Penance Adair (Ann Skelly) to protect and shelter these gifted “orphans.” To do so, they will have to face the brutal forces determined to annihilate their kind.
Although Joss Whedon served as the creative force behind The Nevers and was set to serve as writer, director, executive producer, and showrunner, HBO has removed him from the project. Whedon's unceremonious exit was the result of the filmmaker being at the center of an investigation by WarnerMedia (HBO’s parent company) over allegations of misconduct on the set of Justice League made by star Ray Fisher. Not long after that, a number of men and women who've worked with Whedon on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and other projects have accused the once fan-favorite creative of further misconduct. Essentially, Whedon has been outed as a dumpster fire of a human being and Hollywood is no longer interested in entertaining his creative endeavors.
“We have parted ways with Joss Whedon. We remain excited about the future of ‘The Nevers’ and look forward to its premiere,” HBO said in a statement.
“This year of unprecedented challenges has impacted my life and perspective in ways I could never have imagined, and while developing and producing ‘The Nevers’ has been a joyful experience, I realize that the level of commitment required moving forward, combined with the physical challenges of making such a huge show during a global pandemic, is more than I can handle without the work beginning to suffer. I am genuinely exhausted and am stepping back to martial my energy towards my own life, which is also at the brink of exciting change,” Whedon said. “I am deeply proud of the work we have done; I’m grateful to all my extraordinary cast and collaborators, and to HBO for the opportunity to shape yet another strange world. ‘The Nevers’ is a true labor of love, but after two-plus years of labor, love is about all I have to offer. It will never fade.”
Michael Chiklis joins HBO series about the Los Angeles Lakers
March 19, 2021 by: Steve Seigh
HBO continues to assemble their team of talent to play the talented troupe that was the 1980s Los Angeles Lakers basketball squad. Michael Chiklis (The Shield, Fantastic Four) will portray Red Auerbach, legendary coach of the Boston Celtics whose legacy was threatened by the Lakers. He will go toe to toe with the recently cast Adrien Brody who portrays Lakers coach pat Riley.
Also in the all-star cast are Sally Field as Jessie Buss as well as John C. Reilly as Jerry Buss, Jason Clarke as Jerry West, Quincy Isaiah as Magic Johnson, Solomon Hughes as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Gaby Hoffmann as Claire Rothman, Hadley Robinson as Jeanie Buss, DeVaughn Nixon as Norm Nixon, Molly Gordon as Linda Zafrani, Rob Morgan as Earvin Johnson Sr., Spencer Garrett as Chick Hearn, Kirk Bovill as Donald Sterling, Delante Desouza as Michael Cooper, Stephen Adly Guirgis as Frank Mariani, Tamera Tomakili as Earletha ‘Cookie’ Kelly, and Joey Brooks as Lon Rosen.
As the coach of the Celtics, Auerbach netted 9 NBA championships. As general manager, he scored 7 more. In the series, when the Lakers’ rise threatens his Boston dynasty, Auerbach proves himself to be the basketball genius and cut-throat competitor of every Laker fan’s nightmares.
Chiklis recently starred as Border Patrol agent Ben Clemens for the CBS All Access drama series Coyote. In the six-episode thriller, Clemens finds himself helping people he has always tried to keep out of the United States. He’s also set to star in Don’t Look Up from director-writer Adam McKay. Now in post-production, the film also stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Chris Evans, Jennifer Lawrence, Cate Blanchett, Timothée Chalamet, Tyler Perry, Meryl Streep, Jonah Hill, Gina Gershon, Ron Perlman, Melanie Lynskey, Mark Rylance, Matthew Perry, and Ariana Grande.
HBO Max crashes for some users after debut of Zack Snyder’s Justice League
March 19, 2021 by: Gaius Bolling
Zack Snyder’s Justice League is finally here and its debut on HBO Max was so highly anticipated by fans that the streamer crashed for some users who carved out 4 hours of their life to finally watch it.
The site Downdetector, which has been pretty busy between the launch of this film and the series finale of WandaVision, saw a huge spike in reported issues with HBO Max around the time that Zack Snyder’s Justice League debuted at midnight PDT and 3:00 AM ET. The spike lines up with the release time which fans in the U.S. decided to stay up into the wee hours of the morning to watch the 4-hour film.
Most of the reports had to do with the stream itself so it appears that the app was largely unaffected which adds more credence to the fact that it was Snyder’s film that caused the crash. HBO subscribers in Asia were also said to be having issues as the HBO Go Asia account revealed that users were having issues streaming the film. A message on their official Twitter page addressed the issue:
“HBO GO is experiencing an unprecedented surge in traffic. We are working on a solution. To the legion of fans who are trying to watch, we are truly sorry to have let you down at this exciting time. We appreciate your patience.”
Considering the built-up fan anticipation for the film, it comes as no surprise that the surge of users trying to watch the film at the same time caused issues with the stream. I have a handful of friends here in Los Angeles that started watching it as soon as it dropped at midnight and had no issues staying up for the 4-hour runtime. This is really the closest thing we’ve had to an “event film” in quite a bit and it can be enjoyed from the comfort of your own home. There’s a level of excitement that’s actually pretty cool to see and judging from the responses so far, fans seem to be thrilled with the outcome. This is a proud moment for Zack Snyder and HBO Max who is bound to see some kind of boost in subscribers as more people try to experience the film.
Did YOU have any issues streaming Zack Snyder’s Justice League on HBO Max?
Game of Thrones: HBO is considering even more prequel shows
March 18, 2021 by: Kevin Fraser
Despite the disappointment which followed the series finale of Game of Thrones, HBO is intent on revisiting George R.R. Martin's sprawling franchise and Deadline has reported that the network is considering even more Game of Thrones prequel shows.
Take this with a grain of salt for now, but Deadline has heard that HBO is developing three possible new Game of Thrones projects, but the one that's the furthest along revolves around the great sea voyages made by Corlys Velaryon aboard the Sea Snake. Velaryon "journeyed to places including Pentos, Dragonstone and around the bottom of Westeros as well as to Lys, Tyrosh and Myr. He reached the fabled lands of Yi Ti and Leng, whose wealth doubled that of the House Velaryon, and him and the Ice Wolf headed north searching for passage around the top of Westeros, only to find frozen seas and icebergs as big as mountains." Corlys Velaryon is actually slated to appear in House of the Dragon where he'll be played by Steve Toussaint, so this project could be a spin-off of that series. A creative team that includes Bruno Heller is apparently already on board, but the other potential shows don't have any writers attached at the moment.
As for those other projects, there's also one set in Flea Bottom, the poorest slum district of King's Landing that was featured in Game of Thrones, as well as a show based on the 10,000 Ships, which refers to the "journey made by warrior queen Princess Nymeria and the surviving members of the Rhoynars, who traveled from Essos to Dorne following their defeat by the Valyrian Freehold in the Second Spice War." Again, there's no guarantee that HBO will move forward with any of those projects, as they also had multiple Game of Thrones prequels in development before they decided to move forward with House of the Dragon.
Speaking of House of the Dragon, the new series is slated to start shooting very soon and is based upon George R.R. Martin's Fire & Blood, a Targaryen history book which chronicles the history of House Targaryen, starting off with "Aegon the Conqueror, creator of the Iron Throne, and [going on] to recount the generations of Targaryens who fought to hold the throne, all the way up to the civil war, known as the Dance of the Dragons, that nearly tore their dynasty apart."
A Time For Mercy: Matthew McConaughey reprising role for HBO series
March 18, 2021 by: Steve Seigh
Alright, alright, alright! Decades after his breakout role in Joel Schumacher’s A TIME TO KILL, Matthew McConaughey is returning to the courtroom for the sequel series A Time For Mercy. McConaughey, who received critical acclaim for his turn in HBO’s True Detective, is in final negotiations to reprise the role of defense attorney, Jake Brigance. Sources indicate the series is expected to run for 8-10 episodes with Lorenzo di Bonaventura on board to produce.
Per Goodreads, here’s a synopsis for John Grisham’s A Time For Mercy:
Jake Brigance, the protagonist of A Time to Kill, John Grisham’s classic legal thriller is back. This time he’s at the epicenter of a sensational murder trial that bitterly divides the citizens of Clanton, Mississippi. A Time to Kill is one of the most popular novels of our time. It established Jake as a classic American hero—a lawyer who seeks truth and justice at all costs, even when his life and reputation are on the line. Brigance returned in 2013’s Sycamore Row, in which he once again found himself embroiled in a deeply divisive trial. Now, in A Time for Mercy, Jake is the court-appointed lawyer for Drew Gamble, a young man accused of murdering a local deputy. Many in Clanton want a swift trial and the death penalty, but Brigance sees it another way. Once he learns the details of the case, he realizes he has to do everything he can to save Drew—who is sixteen. Jake’s commitment to the truth puts his career and the safety of his family at risk. Filled with all the courtroom machinations, small-town intrigues, and plot twists that have become the hallmarks of the master of the legal thriller, A Time for Mercy emphatically confirms John Grisham’s reputation as America’s favorite storyteller. There is a time to kill, a time for justice, and A TIME FOR MERCY.
A Time for Mercy is the third book of Grishams to revolve around his iconic Brigance character with the second being titled Sycamore Row, released in 2013. Last year McConaughey took time away from promoting Covid safety to hype A Time For Mercy on his official Instagram account. At the time of his posting about the book, fans suspected that McConaughey may return to playing the character. As it turns out, he was already in talks to reprise the role at that time, and now that deal is nearly signed, sealed, and delivered.
Early in the project’s development, the decision was made to adapt the book as a limited series as opposed to a feature film. For obvious reasons, the limited series format will allow more time for the story to unfold and investigate key characters without the restraint of a two-hour runtime. No director has been attached to the project at this time and HBO is in the midst of meeting with writers to help script the series. Production is still a way out, but we’ll be sure to let you know when cameras start rolling.
We Own This City: The Wire creators reunite for HBO limited series
March 5, 2021 by: Steve Seigh
Ask any TV fan what the best shows are, The Wire inevitably ranks near the top of the list. Whether you ask about dramas, thrillers, cop shows, or just all-around solid acting, The Wire has it all. While it was announced that two of the creative powerhouses behind that HBO series, George Pelacanos and David Simon, would be reuniting for a new series set in Baltimore, it has taken some time before the official word was released about the new project.
According to Deadline, Simon and Pelecanos will be adapting the non-fiction book We Own This City: A True Story of Crime, Cops and Corruption by investigative journalist Justin Fenton as a limited series for HBO. While the drama is set in Baltimore, it will not be connected to The Wire. Still, we can anticipate that there may be some connective tissue between that series and the pair's recent HBO project, The Deuce, in the form of writing and directing talent with the potential for stars from the ensembles of both shows to join the cast of this new series.
Per Deadline, We Own the City is set in Baltimore 2015. Riots are erupting across the city as citizens demand justice for Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old Black man who has died under suspicious circumstances while in police custody. Drug and violent crime are surging, and the city is reaching its highest murder count in more than two decades: 342 homicides in a single year, in a city of just 600,000 people. Facing pressure from the mayor’s office—as well as a federal investigation of the department over Gray’s death—Baltimore police commanders turn to a rank-and-file hero, Sergeant Wayne Jenkins, and his elite plainclothes unit, the Gun Trace Task Force, to help get guns and drugs off the street.
However, behind these new efforts, a criminal conspiracy of an unprecedented scale was unfolding within the police department. Entrusted with fixing the city’s drug and gun crisis, Jenkins chose to exploit it instead. With other members of the empowered Gun Trace Task Force, Jenkins stole from Baltimore’s citizens—skimming from drug busts, pocketing thousands in cash found in private homes, and planting fake evidence to throw Internal Affairs off their scent. Their brazen crime spree would go unchecked for years. The result was countless wrongful convictions, the death of an innocent civilian, and the mysterious death of one cop who was shot in the head, killed just a day before he was scheduled to testify against the unit.
Considering how The Wire is often hailed as one of the best television series of all time, We Own This City is bound to have people flocking to HBO to see what it's all about. If I could take this moment to make a confession… I've never seen The Wire. I know. I'm disappointed in myself as well. To make matters worse, I've owned the complete Blu-ray box set for years and have yet to crack it open. As I said, I know. I'm the worst. It's not my fault that there's so much great stuff on TV nowadays. How's this? I promise to watch it before the end of 2021. Cool?
Now that we have an accord. Let us know if you're interested to see what We Own This City is all about.
Joel Kinnaman joins Uzo Aduba in HBO’s In Treatment revival
January 29, 2021 by: Kevin Fraser
HBO is currently in production on In Treatment, a revival of the 2008 drama series which starred Gabriel Byrne as Dr. Paul Weston, a psychotherapist who had weekly sessions with patients, but also began to question his own abilities and motives, leading him to seek help from his former mentor and therapist Dr. Gina Toll (Dianne Wiest). The new series will star Uzo Aduba (Orange is the New Black) as Dr. Brooke Taylor and Variety has now reported that Joel Kinnaman (The Suicide Squad) will be joining the series as well.
Joel Kinnaman will be playing Adam, Dr. Taylor's "long-time on-again, off-again boyfriend who has resurfaced, bringing further complications to Brooke's personal life." The In Treatment revival will bring a diverse trio of patients under the treatment of the observant, empathetic Dr. Taylor, who is also wrestling with her own issues. The structure of the original series was rather interesting, as episodes aired five nights a week, with each day focusing on a different client. In addition to Uzo Aduba and Joel Kinnaman, the series also stars Anthony Ramos, Liza Colón-Zayas, John Benjamin Hickey, and Quintessa Swindell, but HBO hasn't given the series a premiere date just yet.
Joel Kinnaman will next be seen reprising his role of Rick Flag in James Gunn's The Suicide Squad, and he recently teased that the sequel will be pure unadulterated Gunn. "I don’t think [Gunn] had to compromise one iota of his vision," Kinnaman said. "He really got to do exactly what he wanted. And it’s definitely going to be the biggest budget R-rated movie that’s ever been made. And it’s heavily R-rated and super silly. It’s really like childish, childish humor and it also finds these profound moments where you get really emotionally moved. And then it’s super violent and then it’s really silly again…Every character is just so ridiculous." The Suicide Squad will hit theaters and stream on HBO Max on August 6, 2021.
Game of Thrones animated series in early development for HBO Max
January 27, 2021 by: Kevin Fraser
Although Game of Thrones may not have had the most graceful of landings and many fans are still feeling particularly salty about how it concluded, HBO still remains eager to return to the world of Westeros. Live-action prequel series House of the Dragon is slated to kick off production this spring and it was also recently revealed that a Dunk and Egg prequel series is also in the works, but now THR has reported that the next Game of Thrones series might just be animated.
Nothing is official at this time, but the outlet has reported that an animated Game of Thrones drama series is in the early stages of development, but instead of HBO, this series would be headed for HBO Max. Again, it's still early days, but THR says that HBO's head of drama Francesca Oris and her group are working directly with franchise creator George R.R. Martin on "building out the sprawling Game of Thrones world." There's no deals in place yet (and THR mentions that there are no deals in place for the Dunk and Egg series either) but there's certainly plenty of room in Martin's Game of Thrones mythology for another series, and an animated take on Westeros might be an interesting hook should it come to fruition.
No matter what happens, our next journey to Westeros will come with House of the Dragon, which will be set 300 years before Game of Thrones based upon George R.R. Martin's Fire & Blood, a Targaryen history book which chronicles the history of House Targaryen, starting off with "Aegon the Conqueror, creator of the Iron Throne, and [going on] to recount the generations of Targaryens who fought to hold the throne, all the way up to the civil war, known as the Dance of the Dragons, that nearly tore their dynasty apart." The series is slated to star Paddy Considine (The Outsider) as King Viserys Targaryen, Matt Smith (The Crown) as Prince Daemon Targaryen, Emma D'Arcy (Wanderlust) as Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen, and Olivia Cooke (Sound of Metal) as Alicent Hightower.
In With the Devil: Taron Egerton to star in serial killer series for Apple
January 25, 2021 by: Kevin Fraser
Taron Egerton will soon be trading in his secret agent adventures in favour of intimate discussions with a potential serial killer. The Kingsman actor is slated to star in Apple's adaption of the 2010 novel In With The Devil: A Fallen Hero, A Serial Killer, and A Dangerous Bargain for Redemption by James Keene and Hillel Levin.
It's been reported that Apple is nearing a series order for In With the Devil, which will be a six-episode adaption of the novel. The true story follows James Keene, a young Chicago man who was destined for greatness on the football field but instead took a few wrong turns that led to a ten-year prison sentence. While incarcerated, Keene is offered the chance to redeem himself if he's able to befriend and coax a confession out of a fellow inmate, a man who is suspected of being a prolific serial killer. Paul Walter Hauser (Richard Jewell) is in talks to play the serial killer. The project was once in development for HBO and was intended to follow in the footsteps of True Detective and The Night Of, but it was picked up by Apple following the departure of HBO's former CEO Richard Plepler. Michael R. Roskam (The Drop) will direct the series from a script by Dennis Lehane (Shutter Island) and it will shoot in New Orleans.
While the next installment of the Kingsman franchise will be lacking Taron Egerton, the actor is set to return for the next film, which he has previously teased will serve as a "befitting way to finish the trilogy." Egerton continued, saying "I'm really not allowed to say anything, but there is a script. It's a really neat idea. That plan, at the moment, is that we'd like to do another one, one more time. It was the role that kind of started my film career, so I'm always going to feel, you know, a great fondness for the part. I would like to do one more because frankly, I'd like to say goodbye to him [Eggsy] in a befitting way and to finish the trilogy. All good things come to an end. It was always imagined as a trilogy, and I think it'd be great to finish the story off because I've loved playing the character." Even if this proves to be the last Kingsman film for Egerton, producer Zygi Kamasa has teased that Matthew Vaughn has close to seven more Kingsman films in the works. The King's Man, which serves as a prequel for the franchise, is currently slated to hit theaters on August 20, 2021.
Games of Thrones: Tales of Dunk and Egg prequel series a go at HBO
January 21, 2021 by: Steve Seigh
A three-eyed messenger raven named Variety has landed atop my window sill, bringing news that a series adaptation of “Tales of Dunk and Egg,” a prequel to the events of Game of Thrones, is in early development at HBO.
Presented using a one-hour format, the show will be based on the series of fantasy novellas by the "favorite character killer" himself, George R.R. Martin. The series revolves around the adventures of Ser Duncan the Tall (Dunk) and a young Aegon V Targaryen (Egg), and takes place 90 years prior to the events of “A Song of Ice and Fire.”
Martin has published three novels in the “Tales of Dunk and Egg” series so far: “The Hedge Knight” (1998), “The Sworn Sword” (2003), and “The Mystery Knight” (2010). In 2015, all three installments were combined and published under the title "A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms."
For the moment, HBO has yet to assign a writer or other talents to the project, though it's to be understood that this is a high-priority project for the network, which for years enjoyed bathing in the spoils of its original Game of Thrones series.
Apparently, fans have been asking for a “Tales of Dunk and Egg” TV series adaptation for quite some time. Should the show be picked up to series, it would be the second Game of Thrones prequel headed to the small screen. The other project, of course, is House of the Dragon, which is scheduled for a 2022 debut.
House of the Dragon will be set 300 years before the events of Game of Thrones and will track the beginning of the end for House Targaryen. The ten-episode series is based upon George R.R. Martin's "Fire & Blood," a Targaryen history book which chronicles the history of House Targaryen, starting off with Aegon the Conqueror, creator of the Iron Throne, and [going on] to recount the generations of Targaryens who fought to hold the throne, all the way up to the civil war, known as the Dance of the Dragons, that nearly tore their dynasty apart.
It's worth noting that just because an adaptation of "Tales of Dunk and Egg" is in development it doesn't mean that concept will definitely go to series. Previously, Martin said that he has no interest in adapting the material, though his attitude appears to have changed.
Are you down for yet another Game of Thrones prequel series? Let us know if this franchise still excites you or if the final season of Game of Thrones took the bloom off your rose in the comments section below.
The Last of Us HBO series taps new director after Johan Renck drops out
January 15, 2021 by: Kevin Fraser
A big-screen adaptation of Naughty Dog's The Last of Us had been in development for a number of years, but the project transformed into an HBO series last year that will be written by Craig Mazin (Chernobyl) and Naughty Dog's Neil Druckmann. The hit video-game takes place decades after a pandemic has radically changed civilization with infected humans running wild and survivors killing each other for food and supplies. The player takes control of Joel, a survivor who is hired to smuggle a 14 year-old girl, Ellie, across the United States.
The HBO series was slated to reunite Craig Mazin with his Chernobyl director Johan Renck, but THR has reported that Renck has been forced to drop out of the project due to a scheduling conflict and that he will be replaced by Kantemir Balagov as the director of the pilot. Balagov's most recent film was Beanpole, a drama that took place in Leningrad after World War II devestated the city and followed two young women searching for meaning and hope in the struggle to rebuild their lives amongst the ruins.
Craig Mazin provided a small update on the state of the series last summer, which he says will enhance the original game rather than undo it.
I think fans of something worry that, when the property gets licensed to someone else, those people don't really understand it, or are going to change it. In this case, I'm doing it with the guy who did it, and so the changes that we're making are designed to fill things out and expand, not to undo, but rather to enhance.
Mazin added that he's huge fan of The Last of Us and that getting to tackle the project is a "dream come true," but he admits that it's somewhat intimidating when you factor in the rather intense emotions which the video-game franchise has generated. "We're creating anew and we're also reimagining what is already there to present a different format," Mazin said. "It's kind of a dream come true for me. I'm a little bit scared because a lot of emotions connected to this game are rather intense. I think I'm probably going to go hide in a bunker for a while because you can't make everyone happy!" While it's somewhat disappointing to see Renck depart the project, I'm still excited to see what Mazin, Druckmann, and Balagov will do with the series.
Insecure: Issa Rae series to end with upcoming fifth season
January 14, 2021 by: Gaius Bolling
HBO is bringing one of its critical darling series to an end. It has been announced that Insecure will end after its upcoming fifth season.
The critically-acclaimed comedy was renewed for a fifth season in May 2020 as Season 4 was just beginning to air on HBO. The fifth and final season is scheduled to begin production later this month and is set to debut later this year. Amy Gravitt, executive vice president of HBO Programming, had this to say about the show ending:
"Issa has turned insecurity into an iconic form of comedy. The show is as incisive as it is heartfelt, and it has resonated strongly with its audience because of the deeply personal work that Issa, Prentice, Melina, the cast and the writers have put into it. This talented team has conceived a brilliant final season for ‘Insecure’ and we look forward to having many more stories to tell with this singular group of collaborators."
Co-creator and star, Issa Rae also took a moment to thank HBO but most importantly the audience for going on this five-season journey with Insecure. Apparently, the series always had a five-season plan, and Rae, along with fellow executive producer Prentice Penny, is grateful that they'll get to finish the story as they see fit:
"Prentice (Penny) and I are so grateful that HBO believed in our show from the beginning and kept faith in us to see our vision through the end. We always planned to tell this story through five seasons, but we couldn’t have made it this far without the tremendous support of our audience. I feel blessed beyond measure to bring our characters’ stories to an end, on-screen at least."
Insecure was created by Issa Rae and Larry Wilmore and is partially based on Rae’s web series, Awkward Black Girl. The show follows the awkward experiences and racy tribulations of a modern-day African-American woman (Rae) in Los Angeles. The series also stars Yvonne Orji, Jay Ellis, Natasha Rothwell, Amanda Seales, and Alexander Hodge. The show has been a significant critical hit since its debut in 2016. The series averages a 96% critical approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes and it has also received a plethora of award wins and nominations throughout its run. Rae herself has received an Emmy nomination and two Golden Globe nominations in the lead actress in a comedy category over the show's run.
Are YOU sad to see Insecure go?
Sex and the City revival officially happening at HBO Max
January 11, 2021 by: Gaius Bolling
SEX AND THE CITY is making a comeback. It has been announced that the popular HBO series has officially been revived at HBO Max. The news was first announced via the social media accounts of the stars who will be participating in the revival.
The new, 10-episode chapter from Michael Patrick King, will be called And Just Like That…, a nod to the original series. The show will follow Carrie, Miranda, and Charlotte as they navigate friendship in their 50s. Production on the series will begin in late spring in New York. Sarah Jessica Parker, Kristin Davis, and Cynthia Nixon are all reprising their roles but you might notice that one part of the signature foursome from the series is missing. Kim Cattrall, who played the scene-stealing Samantha on the original series, is not involved in the HBO Max incarnation. The actress has openly feuded with Parker and, more in October 2017, was vocal about seeing her part being recast in a bid to improve the original comedy’s inclusivity.
Sex and the City, based on the essays from Candice Bushnell, ran for six seasons from 1998-2008 on HBO. Set and filmed in New York City, the show followed the lives of a group of four women, three in their mid-thirties and one in her forties who, despite their different natures and ever-changing sex lives, remain inseparable and confide in each other. The series was groundbreaking during its time because it was one of the first shows to feature women talking about their relationship and sex lives in an explicitly open fashion. The show is also given the credit, along with The Sopranos, for helping to increase HBO’s popularity as a network. The series took home the Emmy for best comedy series in 2001, with stars Parker and Nixon also winning statuettes for their respective roles in 2004. The series also spawned feature films in 2008 and 2010 as well as a two-season prequel series on The CW, The Carrie Diaries, from former writer Amy B. Harris. A third film was in the works but it was ultimately scrapped in 2017 with Cattrall being very vocal at the time that she did not want to participate in any extensions of the franchise.
Will YOU be watching the Sex and the City revival?
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HBO lost half of its viewers when Game of Thrones ended
January 8, 2021 by: Gaius Bolling
A new report regarding HBO reveals that they're still likely missing the global success of Game of Thrones. According to the report coming to us via "Variety", HBO lost more than half of its viewers in the key demographic when the hit series came to an end.
Game of Thrones was responsible for propelling HBO to new ratings heights as it became one of the most-watched networks in North America. When Game of Thrones ended, the network saw a 51% loss of its adult audiences (ages 18-49) after the series finale aired. The series finale was watched by 12 million viewers and the report suggests that a lot of viewers bailed on HBO after the finale came and went.
The same report also states that HBO lost 38% of its overall viewers when compared to 2019. The dwindling numbers for the network are likely why HBO has been promoting HBO Max more aggressively. The future seems to be in streaming and they are becoming more and more aware of that as they haven't generated a Game of Thrones type of hit since the show ended. Critically acclaimed efforts like Westworld and Watchmen do have solid fanbases but their numbers are nowhere near the heights of Game of Thrones.
HBO is hoping that the Game of Thrones spin-offs they have on the way may get them back to their glory days. Their hope is that fans of Game of Thrones will take a similar interest in the spin-offs butt considering how fans reacted to the series finale, there may be a bit of bitterness in the air when it comes to supporting another Game of Thrones effort. The series finale immediately sparked a backlash from fans who called on HBO to hire a new set of showrunners and writers to go back and completely redo all of season 8. Millions of people also signed petitions to get the network to go make and "make things right."
Do YOU think the Game of Thrones spin-offs will get HBO the high numbers they used to get?
Well Schmoes, as 2020 fnally draws to a close we reflect on a year unlike any other in our lifetimes. Thanks to COVID-19, a limited number of movies made it to the big screen. With films debuting everywhere from drive-ins to streaming services, cinema still found a way to entertain us from the comfort of our homes. It remains to be seen what 2021 will bring but, if there is one thing for certain, there are always movies that are highly overrated and underrated by critics and fans alike. As the UnPopular Opinion Guy, I felt it was only fitting to issue my list of the movies I felt that the masses got wrong. Some of these may shock you and some may just piss you off, but these are my honest to goodness perspective of the movies of 2019. If you disagree with any of the choices, please voice your own opinion in the talkback below (Ed note: be nice!). After all, the only opinion that really matters is yours, I am just here to share mine.
5: The New Mutants
Film delays became the norm in 2020, but Josh Boone's Marvel movie was delayed numerous times before COVID-19 was even a thing. After finally hitting theaters, many proclaimed the last film in 20th Century Fox's X-Men universe to be a debacle of massive proportions. While there is certainly something lacking from this horror take on mutant comic book characters, it is far from the disaster it was made out to be. A teen-centric movie that brings an all-new cast of characters to screen for the first time in years, Boone's film manages to be the most distinct X-Men film since Deadpool. It is definitely not great but it is also not that bad either.
4: The Hunt
Americans love guns and in the wake of a far too frequent mass shooting, this Blumhouse flick was delayed. One of the last films released theatrically before the pandemic shut everything down, The Hunt is a fun action flick with a satirical voice that simultaneously mocks modern American sensibilities towards firearms while celebrating them. Writer Damon Lindelof skewers liberals and conservatives in equal measure with this movie that gives Betty Gilpin a showcase she deserves while allowing Hilary Swank to play a scene-chewing villain. A throwaway movie but an enjoyably pulpy one.
3: The Personal History of David Copperfield
Armando Iannucci's biting satirical voice helped make films like In The Loop and The Death of Stalin as well as HBO's Veep into some of the funniest and raunchiest comedies in recent years. For his latest, he takes a much different approach with a modernized and condensed retelling of Charles Dickens' semi-autobiographical novel. Led by a cast of familiar faces like Tilda Swinton, Hugh Laurie, and the excellent Dev Patel in the title role, this new version of David Copperfield glosses over a lot of the 900-page book while retaining the heart and soul that makes it a masterpiece. Critically acclaimed, not very many of you likely saw this movie and you really should. This is a smile-inducing masterpiece.
2: Birds of Prey, or The Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn
Margot Robbie's Harley Quinn was the breakout star of David Ayer's Suicide Squad and thus was the logical choice to get her own spin-off. While I would have loved to see Gotham City Sirens, we got this unique girl power blend of Deadpool-esque shenanigans. Many didn't like the movie despite featuring great turns by Jurnee Smollett and Mary Elizabeth Winstead along with the always great Rosie Perez. But, while Robbie steals every scene she is in, the winner of this movie is Ewan McGregor who is one of the best comic book villains in recent memory. Birds of Prey may be a trifle but it is an enjoyable one that also cements that the DC Extended Universe does not have to emulate Marvel. They are better off delivering unique takes on these characters and Birds of Prey is definitely unique.
This is certainly the year of H.P. Lovecraft. With The Color Out of Space and HBO's Lovecraft Country revitalizing an interest in the horror writer's unearthly monsters, this under the radar flick came out of nowhere to elevate itself from Alien clone to nail-biting horror entertainment. Led by Kristen Stewart, this movie from William Eubank (The Signal) takes what starts out as a generic claustrophobic science fiction thriller and turns it into so much more. Atmospheric and legitimately scary, Underwater earns the top spot on this ranking thanks to the final half-hour. Gory, pulse-pounding and well-acted, Underwater could have used some stronger character development but still remains an absolutely fun flick.