HBO enters 2018 without its signature series, “Game of Thrones,” which isn’t expected to return for its last hurrah until 2019. But that’s fine — the premium cable network has plenty of other new and returning shows to look forward to. Here’s a roundup of the 18 most anticipated series that HBO subscribers have to look forward to in the coming months.
“Divorce” Season 2
Release Date: January 14, 2018
Creator: Sharon Horgan
Showrunner: Jenny Bicks
Cast: Sarah Jessica Parker, Thomas Haden Church, Molly Shannon, Tracy Letts
After a mixed reception for Season 1, “Divorce” is getting a creative shake-up in Season 2. Jenny Bicks, who wrote on “Sex and the City” and “The Big C,” has stepped in as the new showrunner, and — if you can believe it — Thomas Haden Church shaved his mustache. It’s unclear which will have a bigger impact on series’ eight new episodes, but Sarah Jessica Parker’s return to HBO has a bit sunnier and less technical approach this time around. Fans of the first go should be happy with the progress, and anyone on the fence could be won over by its assured, romantic charms.
Release Date: January 22, 2018
Directed by: Steven Soderbergh
Written by: Ed Solomon
Cast: Sharon Stone, Garrett Hedlund, Beau Bridges
Technically, Steven Soderbergh’s grand experiment can be seen right now. The limited series airing in 2018 is a consolidated version of the app-based, choose-your-own adventure app first released in November 2017. The interactive option now available via PodOps’ mobile app lets viewers pick which perspective they want to watch: You’re prompted to pick between two options every 15-20 minutes, bouncing around a mountain resort town where a con man (Frederick Weller) falls for a children’s book author and illustrator (Sharon Stone), who may or may not have other interests in mind. The big cast and sprawling story certainly fit the exploratory nature of the app, but how they play out as a traditional miniseries will be another story. Can Soderbergh capture the same magic he found in “Behind the Candelabra”? See for yourself now and then check back in January for the new cut.
“Here and Now”
Release Date: February 11, 2018
Creator: Alan Ball
Cast: Tim Robbins, Holly Hunter
Alan Ball has found nothing but success at HBO, so fans of the “Six Feet Under” and “True Blood” creator have been chomping at the bit to lay eyes on his third venture with the network. And even without considering Ball’s involvement, there’s plenty of enticing aspects to “Here and Now.” Led by Tim Robbins and Holly Hunter, the hour-long drama series will track two families: One centers on a philosophy professor (Robbins), his wife (Hunter), their only biological child, and their adopted children from Vietnam, Liberia, and Colombia, while the other focuses on a Muslim family who’s treating one of those children. The official plot synopsis describes the show as “a provocative and darkly comic meditation on the disparate forces polarizing present-day American culture,” making the potential for telling and topical drama quite high. Fans hoped to see this one a bit sooner than February, but all will be forgiven if the final product proves worth the wait.
“Notes From the Field”
Release Date: February 24, 2018
Directed by: Kristi Zea
Written by: Anna Deavere Smith
Cast: Anna Deavere Smith
Anna Deavere Smith’s heralded one-woman show debuted in 2015 to much acclaim. After spending years interviewing more than 200 people to effectively and honestly play 19 real-life individuals on stage, her examination of America’s school-to-prison pipeline left a big mark on everyone who saw it. And even though Deavere Smith staged the production across the country, it will never have a wider audience than when the movie is made available across all of HBO’s platforms. Directed by Kristi Zea (a producer on “As Good As It Gets” and “Philadelphia”), the production travels from Maryland to South Carolina to California to Pennsylvania with Deavere Smith playing historical figures like John Lewis and James Baldwin. In today’s charged political climate, the movie is certainly arriving at a critical juncture.
Release Date: Spring 2018
Creators: Alec Berg and Bill Hader
Cast: Bill Hader, Henry Winkler, Sarah Goldberg, Stephen Root
The story of a disillusioned assassin isn’t exactly untrodden territory — may we recommend Pierce Brosnan’s “Matador” if you haven’t seen it yet — but such a character also has yet to be explored as thoroughly as “Barry” prepares to do. Following Bill Hader’s “world-class” hitman, the new half-hour comedy series picks up when the titular killer gets bit by the acting bug during a work trip to Los Angeles. Is a change of career in order? Can he leave his old life behind? Heck, can Barry even make it as an actor? There’s no doubt Hader, an “SNL” veteran and popular solo comedian, can bring the funny, but the dark edge evident in the trailer should provide the actor an opportunity to show off new sides of himself, as well as allow “Barry” to stand out from any conceptually similar stories.
Release Date: Spring 2018
Creator: Jesse Armstrong
Cast: Brian Cox, Jeremy Strong, Kieran Culkin, Sarah Snook
From the producing team of Will Ferrell and Adam McKay comes a new HBO drama more in line with “The Big Short” than the duo’s comedic work. “Succession” circles around the Roy family and their media conglomerate. The latter is a global force with considerable power. The former controls that power, but the family’s internal dysfunction could get the better of them. Brian Cox plays Logan Roy, the head of both family and company; his eldest son, Kendell (Jeremy Strong) is the heir apparent; his daughter, Shiv (Sarah Snook), is aiming to get into politics, and the black sheep Roman (Kieran Culkin) is just looking for a good time. Other than the excellent on- and off-camera pedigree (Armstrong is the co-creator of “Peep Show”), not much else is known about the 10-episode first season. But just this is more than enough to have our interest piqued.
Release Date: TBA 2018
Directed by: Ramin Bahrani
Written by: Ramin Bahrani, Amir Nadeeri
Cast: Michael B. Jordan, Michael Shannon, Sofia Boutella
Adapting Ray Bradbury’s classic novel is no easy task, but this modern dream team is hard to top. Coming off “Creed” and the upcoming “Black Panther,” Michael B. Jordan plays Montag, a young fireman in a country where books are banned and firemen burn any they see on sight. But Montag isn’t having it. He abandons his command in order to regain his humanity, memorizing texts in order to help preserve knowledge and spread important information. His mentor, played by none other than Michael Shannon, now stands in his way and the ensuing showdown has greater consequences not only for their world, but clearly for our own world of alternate facts, as well. “Fahrenheit 451” is the type of high-profile project you’d expect to see on the big screen, but the only aspect missing from HBO’s take is a costly trip to the theater.
“Silicon Valley” Season 5
Release Date: TBA 2018
Creator: Mike Judge
Cast: Thomas Middleditch, Kumail Nanjiani, Martin Starr, Amanda Crew, Zach Woods
T.J. Miller is gone, but the first season sans Erlich Bachman is still cast under an ever-growing shadow given the recent allegations levied against the comedian. How the Emmy-winning series will move forward without its resident wild card character is the biggest question facing the show, but its creators, cast, and more may be dealing with questions and concerns regarding Miller’s private life, as well. “Silicon Valley” has thrived on throwing curveballs at the audience, adding new faces to each season, and generally upending expectations. Mike Judge is nothing if not inventive, and one could even argue the series needs a jolt of fresh energy after what some considered its least surprising season yet.
“Veep” – The Final Season
Release Date: TBA 2018
Creator: Armando Iannucci
Showrunner: David Mandel
Cast: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Tony Hale, Anna Chlumsky, Timothy Simons, Matt Walsh, Reid Scott, Kevin Dunn, Gary Cole, Sarah Sutherland, Sam Richardson
No one wants to see “Veep” end — especially when politicians are in need of satirical shish-ka-bobbing more than ever — but David Mandel & Co. have a chance to go out on top. “Veep” is riding a three-year hot streak at the Emmys, winning Outstanding Comedy Series despite heavy competition from old favorites and newcomers alike. And it’s shown no sign of slowing down. Selina Meyer is getting back in the race (or trying to), emotions are running higher than ever, and the cast is clicking on all cylinders. Reigning over it all is Julia Louis-Dreyfus, still the queen of primetime TV. She’s not about to relinquish her crown, undoubtedly making this last season a loquacious doozy. (Here’s hoping for a fast and speedy recovery for Louis-Dreyfus as she undergoes treatment for breast cancer.)
“Westworld” Season 2
Release Date: Spring 2018
Creators: Jonathan Nolan, Lisa Joy
Cast: Evan Rachel Wood, Jeffrey Wright, Thandie Newton, James Marsden
Can anyone say Samuraiworld? Lips are sealed about what’s to come in the new season of “Westworld,” the most important drama series HBO’s got that doesn’t have any dragons — yet. Who knows what other worlds will be explored in the coming seasons. Season 1 was a sci-fi/western hybrid that earned boatloads of Emmy nominations and a handful of wins. Season 2 features a few new faces, including Katja Herbers (as a guest named Grace), Jonathan Tucker (a military officer named Major Craddock), and Neil Jackson (a man — or maybe a host — named Nicholas). Whether they’re all dressed in cowboy hats, samurai armor, or space suits, we don’t know — but it seems clear from the first trailer that the people are trying to keep the park running and the hosts are just looking to run.