HBO has just released its Yearender video, wrapping up all the critically acclaimed content that the network released in 2014 and looking forward to what it has on its slate for the upcoming year. This year the network showed huge success with the fourth season of the wildly popular Game of Thrones, the surprise hit anthology series True Detective, and the TV movie The Normal Heart.
Beloved series Boardwalk Empire, The Newsroom, and True Blood had their finales, while shows like Veep and Girls continued successful runs. HBO has some big plans for 2015 that could make the coming year an even bigger success for the network and provide more top-notch content for its subscribers. Here’s a look at the things that will make 2015 an even better year for HBO than 2014.
1. Star-studded remake of Westworld
This is certainly one of HBO’s most anticipated new shows of the year, particularly for science fiction fans. Westworld is a cult classic 1973 film from Michael Crichton about a futuristic amusement park where the customers can use very lifelike robots for their own amusement.
The main events in the plot take place in a part of the park called Westworld, where customers are entertained by pretending they’re actually in the Old West, complete with cowboy gunslinger robots they can have mock battles with and even prostitute robots. Of course there enters a moral gray area when the robots become sentient of what they’re being used for. The material has been intriguing enough to draw Anthony Hopkins, Evan Rachel Wood, and James Marsden to star, as well as sci-fi master J.J. Abrams to produce the TV reimagining of the movie.
2. True Detective Season 2
True Detective was probably the most talked-about new show of the year, with standout performances from stars Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson and writing from creator Nic Pizzolatto unlike anything else on television. Given the anthology format, rumors about which stars would be in the second season of the edgy crime drama overwhelmed Hollywood until it was finally announced that Colin Farrell, Vince Vaughn, and Rachel McAdams would be leading the cast of Season 2.
The first season of the show is credited with helping revive McConaughey’s career in a big way, so many are wondering if the second season is going to be able to work the same magic for its stars, or even just be the same level of sublimely good as Season 1. While the first season was set in Louisiana, the second is to take place in California and will be about three police officers and a mobster who get in over their heads with a web of conspiracy in the wake of a murder. Taylor Kitsch and Kelly Reilly round out the lead cast. This stands to be the most anticipated show of next year, and Pizzolatto has a lot to live up to, given the critical raves the first season received.
3. Sarah Jessica Parker is coming back with Divorce
Though it’s not completely official yet (and so it wasn’t featured in the Yearender video), Sex and the City star Sarah Jessica Parker is in talks to return to TV 10 years after the end of that iconic HBO series with a new comedy project titled Divorce. There have been reports that the actress is approaching an agreement for her first full TV commitment since the show that gave her the iconic role of Carrie Bradshaw, which would be a big coup for HBO, given how hard various networks have fought to get SJP on TV since Sex and the City ended.
The show is planned to be a half-hour comedy about a middle-aged woman who toys with the idea of getting a divorce after several of her girlfriends do around the same time. She brings up the idea to her husband but isn’t sure if she wants to go through with it. However, when he finds out about an affair she’s been having, he decides to end the marriage.
4. Martin Scorsese makes his rock and roll obsession fictional
While the mobster historical drama Boardwalk Empire wrapped up this year, much of the team behind that show is coming back for Martin Scorsese’s new show about the rock and roll scene in New York City in the 1970s. The legendary filmmaker is known for his many documentaries about influential rock and roll musicians, from Bob Dylan to the Rolling Stones to the Band, but now he’s turning his love of music fictional and using the burgeoning punk and disco scenes in New York during the ’70s as a setting for invented characters.
The show will be about a record company executive, played by Bobby Cannavale, trying to resurrect his label. Sopranos and Boardwalk Empire writer Terence Winter is co-writing the script, while Olivia Wilde, Ray Romano, and Juno Temple will also star; Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger is a co-producer. Given the team behind this one and the subject matter, rock music and TV fans have a lot to look forward to.
5. Sarah Silverman is getting a new show
The raunchy comedienne won an Emmy this year for her HBO special Sarah Silverman: We Are Miracles, and now the pair are continuing their partnership, with the actress set to star in a new as-yet-untitled comedy series about a “pathologically honest woman” who is having a “modern midlife crisis.” For now the show only has a pilot order, but if it does get picked up, it will be Silverman’s first regular TV commitment since The Sarah Silverman Program ended on Comedy Central in 2010. Given the success of her comedy special, plus Silverman’s warmly received return to Saturday Night Live, it seems likely her talent and star power will be enough to push this show into a series order.
6. Bessie Smith biopic
On the movie side, HBO is releasing a biopic about blues legend Bessie Smith, with Queen Latifah playing the singer. The movie will focus on how Smith overcame her tempestuous personal life as a bisexual African-American woman with a habit of maintaining many lovers at once to become one of the greatest blues singers of all time. Of course Latifah is an accomplished singer herself, with a music career and an Oscar nomination for her performance in the musical film Chicago, so she’ll have as good of pipes as any actor to bring Smith to the screen. The HBO movie The Normal Heart received huge acclaim last year for Mark Ruffalo’s performance as a writer in New York in the 1980s seeking to expose the truth about the AIDS crisis to the government and the gay community.
7. Last Week Tonight with John Oliver
John Oliver’s political satire will be on HBO in 2015 to help us get over the sadness of not having The Colbert Report or the Stephen Colbert character we know and love anymore, as Colbert transitions into being a boring late-night talk show host instead of a hilarious satirical comedian. The English comedian rose through the ranks of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart as the show’s senior British correspondent and was eventually given his own political comedy news show on HBO after his success hosting The Daily Show himself during the summer of 2013, while Stewart was away directing Rosewater. The show has gotten good reviews from the start, and watching Oliver develop his own niche in the late-night political satire game might be just what we need to get us through the stages of grief over Colbert’s departure.
8. And more!
In addition to all that, there are new seasons of Game of Thrones, Veep, Girls, The Leftovers, Real Time with Bill Maher, Silicon Valley, Looking, Togetherness, Project Greenlight, and Vice. HBO is already promoting that Hugh Laurie is set to guest star on Veep next season. Some other new series coming to the network include a dark comedy with Jack Black and Tim Robbins called The Brink, the murder mystery The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst, and a comedy about professional football players, starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, called Ballers.
Follow Jacqueline on Twitter @Jacqui_WSCS