LOS ANGELES – Imagine a baseball team shedding superstars. Ruth, Gehrig and Mantle all retire … just as the manager is told to play more games with more people.
That’s HBO now. Gone are “Game of Thrones” (shown here) — with 32 Emmy nominations, a dozen more than any other show – plus “Veep” and “Big Little Lies.” The pilot has been shot for a “Thrones” prequel, progamming chief Casey Bloys told the Television Critics Association, but there have been no plans for a third “Lies” season.
This comes just after HBO got corporate instructions to have more shows on more nights. “The big challenge … was to make sure we weren’t just filling hours to fill hours,” Bloys said.
So far, that seems to be working. After averaging just over 100 hours of original shows in most seasons, HBO will finish this year with 150; next year, it may have 160. That means:
— More nights, for a network that used to be happy with just super Sundays. “’Chernobyl’ and ‘Gentleman Jack’ were the first two shows we had on Monday nights,” Bloys said. Both scored – especially “Chernobyl” with 19 Emmy nominations.
— And more from alternative genres, beyond the usual dramas.
Documentary series – especially true-crime ones – are increasing. And now the network is returning to sketch comedy.
“A Black Lady Sketch Show” debuts Aug. 2, with lots of quick, filmed bits and one recurring one – about the world’s only four survivors. “Black women are very resilient,” said Robin Thede, who created the show and stars with Issa Rae and ohers. “Who better to survive an apocalypse than four black women in a gorgeous house?”
That was one of five shows HBO introduced to the TCA. Others are:
— “Our Boys,” a mini-series starting Aug. 12. The story of a 2014 crisis that led to war in Gaza is told from three perspectives – a Jewish family, an Arab family and investigators.
— “The Righteous Gemstones,” a comedy that starts Aug. 18, created by and co-starring Danny McBride. His previous HBO comedies were raw tales of an angry minor-league pitcher and bitter high school principals; now he’s going big – with John Goodman as the head of a mega-church.
— And two shows this fall that adapt complex literature.
“Watchmen” starts with the alternate-history told in graphic novels, but jumps ahead a generation. “His Dark Materials” has Dafne Keen, 14, as Lyra, searching for a friend in another world. It also stars James McAvoy and Lin-Manuel Miranda – both of whom say the three Philip Pullman novels are among their favorite books.