"It's TV. What do they think people are watching?"
I still love HBO. Flight of the Conchords, Curb Your Enthusiasm, The Wire, Big Love, and Real Time with Bill Maher are still holding the threads of the network. Even the heterosexual depression party that is Tell Me You Love Me seems such an admirable cable venture. But those interviews with "real couples" (i.e. couples you avoid dinners with for a reason) that air afterwards? Reason enough to finally remember you got Cinemax in the package deal too.
I'm convinced that putting Valerie Cherish in a premature deathbed was the first dooming mistake for the golden network. Their reputation may have suffered since The Sopranos went to black, but things are definitely looking up again...
Alexander Payne, the savvy mind behind the likes of Election and Sideways, is taking directorial reins on the new series, Hung. It promises to be a dark comedy about a very gifted father and sports coach who finally gets to use his best assets. (here) Payne's sensitivity and satire, HBO's consistent quality, and weekly full frontal?! HBO has me for life.
Not to mention this Fall also sees the return of Alan Ball to HBO, after the consummate brilliance of Six Feet Under. And this time he's brought vampires! True Blood promises that, Southerners, and a girl named Sookie Stackhouse. Alan Ball's first venture was stellar from start to finish, and if his characters and mythology remain anywhere near as textured, dark and funny, this could be the next best thing to happen since Buffy. I like to set my standards almost impossibly high for when I inevitably write more articles about HBO as a dwindling network on the turnaround.
9 Completely Random HBO Moments I Love:
Curb Your Enthusiasm: Larry's chef with Touretts lets out an inspirational tirade of swears on the restaurant's opening night, to everyones eventual delight. Except for Susie Greene that is. Honestly, I'd eat at Larry's restaurant every single night.
Sex and the City: Carrie dates Justin Theroux AND Justin Theroux, playing two completely different characters in two completely different episodes. It's almost like they exist in that movie Multiplicity. Vaughn Wysel and Jared are both writers, they both love Ms. Bradshaw, and can only be distinguished by one's almost unibrow and the other's tendency to prematurely ejaculate.
Six Feet Under: The amazing Catherine O'Hara guest stars as a neurotic producer named Carol. She loves to swim naked ("It made me feel like Artemis...") and has her very own cake towel. God forbid you ever park in her driveway, when there's plenty of street parking.
"You would not believe the day I've had. Who is my most bitter enemy? The one person I hate most in the world? Melissa Gilbert. And who opens the door at Mark and Pam's house? That's right... Melissa Gilbert. It was like staring at evil itself... Bring my toast up to my bath and I'll tell you how I made Melissa cry."
Tales from the Crypt: I can recall specifically staying up late just so I could watch a psycho Santa stalk a murderous mom in the series pilot, titled "And All Through the House..." I remember as a kid thinking that HBO was a luxury only afforded to dingy motels looking to lure weary travelers. It worked in my case. Forget the pool, I wanted television that was clearly inappropriate for my age.
Extras: Kate Winslet as a foul-mouthed, Oscar-hungry nun... with sex tips!
OZ: Such an underrated show. Smart, addictive, confrontational television like none other. But more important than all that? Chris Meloni as Chris Keller. Chris Keller walking, bending, bathing and shanking. The Special Victims Unit or The Oswald State Maximum Security Penitentiary? The choice is obvious.
The Sopranos: Carmella falls for Furio. Kidding of course... But what about those sad days when the hilarious Nancy Merchand passed and little Tony was left motherless? Well Livia was brought awkwardly back for a single episode after Merchand's death via the magic of computer generated imagery... not unlike a less depressing Forrest Gump. I had watched this only scene prior to becoming a fan of the show, and I was secretly hoping this holographic person was a series regular. It is about as tasteful as tastelessness goes.
Autopsy with Dr. Baden: Anyone else remember that story about the wife who gave her husband the birthday gift of... raping her sister? What a request! That's when you start putting money in a card.
The Comeback: Valerie records her theme song.