With True Detective finally wrapping up its mystery and the McConaissance officially complete, it's time to turn our attention to some new cable offerings, ones that will keep us just as enthralled and confused as we were every time Rust Cohle opened his mouth to speak. Since right now everyone's more interested in what's on cable than what's playing in theaters, HBO and Cinemax have capitalized on that by releasing trailers for all of the original and returning programs that will keep people glued to their televisions through the summer. But with so many trailers dropping at once, it can be hard to tell your mini series from your TV movies and your realistic political comedies from your fantasy political dramas, and so we've rounded up all of the big trailers in one handy post, along with everything you need to know in order to get excited about them. Although, not even we can keep straight how everyone on Game of Thrones is related, so you're on your own with that one.
Doll and Em
What to Expect: Created and written by Emily Mortimer and Dolly Wells, the show follows fictional versions of themselves as they attempt to balance work and friendship after Em hires Doll to be her personal assistant. Based on the trailer, it seems like the show will have the strong female characters and emphasis on friendship that Girls does, but with some of the "glamour" and showbusiness antics of Extras. Most Exciting Parts of the Trailer: Well-tailored jumpsuits. Condescending assistants. Driving mishaps. Awkward hot tub confessions. Friendship. Matching blazers. The Big Question: Now that The Newsroom is ending, will Jeff Daniels make an appearance? How about Dev Patel? He's British, it could work!When It Premieres: March 19 at 10 PM on HBO.
Game of Thrones
What We'll See This Season: Now that we've all finally recovered from the Red Wedding, we can celebrate with the Purple Wedding, between everyone's favorite tiny monarch King Joffrey and Margaery Tyrell, which we're sure will have no complications whatsoever. Meanwhile, Sansa is still attempting to escape from King's Landing and the Lannisters' abuse, Stannis Baratheon is still desperately attempting to seize the Iron Throne, Jamie Lannister finds his loyalty torn between Brienne and Cersei, the Wall is still under attack from the Wildlings, placing Jon Snow in the the middle of the chaos, and Daenerys now has three dragons and a massive army. Basically, everyone is going to die. Most Exciting Parts of This Trailer: Dragons. Sword fights. Revenge. Dragons. Catapults. Battle. Murder. Dragons. Dramatic sword-grasping. Ambition. Samwell Tarly. Dragons. The Big Question: Are the White Walkers still a part of this show, or have we just abandoned that plot completely? When It Premieres: April 6 at 9 PM on HBO.
What to Expect: Created by the writer and director of Office Space, Mike Judge, the show follows six computer programmers who are determined to make their mark in Silicon Valley by launching their own start up, even though they have no business acumen, charisma or social skills. The cast is made up of a group of experienced comedians and actors including Thomas Middleditch, T.J. Miller, Kumail Nanjiani, Martin Starr, Josh Brener and Zach Woods, which means that Judge's weird, irreverent brand of humor should be translated magnificently onscreen. Most Exciting Parts of This Trailer: Computer programming. Anecdotes about meeting the pesident. Bike-throwing. Black turtlenecks. The Big Question: Which is the more appropriate analogy: punk rock or free-form jazz? When It Premieres: April 6 at 10 PM on HBO.
What We'll See This Season: The president has announced that he's not planning to run for re-election, leaving the door to the Oval Office wide open for Selina Meyers, so she launches a PR campaign that includes a ghostwritten memoir and some new staff members. But since everything in her office tends to fall apart, we're sure that the road to the White House will be paved with mis-steps and disasters. Luckily, Jonah's still hanging around, waiting to be abused, so at least Selina has someone to take her aggression out on. Most Exciting Parts of This Trailer: "I would rather be shot in the face than serve as Vice President again." Oh, Selina. How we've missed you. The Big Question: Who's getting fired (and then rehired and then fired again and then probably re-rehired) this season?When It Premieres: April 6 at 10:30PM on HBO.
The Normal Heart
What to Expect: Based on the Tony Award-winning play by Larry Kramer, and directed by Ryan Murphy, The Normal Heart tells the story of the struggle that gay activists went through at the onset of the HIV/AIDS epidemic of the early 1980s, and their attempts to raise awareness and assistance from a community that wanted to ignore them. Mark Ruffalo will star as Ned Weeks, the activist spearheading the campaign for HIV/AIDS awareness, with Matt Bomer, Taylor Kitsch, Julia Roberts, and Jim Parsons in supporting roles. Needless to say, this one's going to be a tearjerker. The Most Exciting Parts of This Trailer: Mark Ruffalo's dramatic gravitas. Denis O'Hare as the dismissive, vaguely-Southern mayor. Blonde Taylor Kitsch. Background music that sounds like someone made Enya into a choir. The Big Question: How many Golden Globes will this inevitably win?When It Premieres: May 25 at 9 PM on HBO.
What to Expect: Set in New York in the 1900s and directed by Stephen Soderbergh, the show follows the work and lives of the staff of the Knickerbocker hospital, including Clive Owen's Dr. John Thackeray. Think Grey's Anatomy, but with less anesthesia and proper hygiene requirements and more gore. Probably the same amount of illicit affairs, though - this is Soderbergh we're talking about. Most Exciting Parts of This Trailer: Blood. Long shots of old-fashioned hospital beds. Blood. Clive Owen's tiny moustache. Blood. Soderbergh FINALLY comes out of retirement! The Big Question: How many vivid nightmares are the scenes of turn-of-the-century surgical procedures going to inspire? When It Premieres: This summer on Cinemax.
In This Means War – a stylish action/rom-com hybrid from director McG – Tom Hardy (The Dark Knight Rises) and Chris Pine (Star Trek) star as CIA operatives whose close friendship is strained by the fires of romantic rivalry. Best pals FDR (Pine) and Tuck (Hardy) are equally accomplished at the spy game but their fortunes diverge dramatically in the dating realm: FDR (so nicknamed for his obvious resemblance to our 32nd president) is a smooth-talking player with an endless string of conquests while Tuck is a straight-laced introvert whose love life has stalled since his divorce. Enter Lauren (Reese Witherspoon) a pretty plucky consumer-products evaluator who piques both their interests in separate unrelated encounters. Tuck meets her via an online-dating site FDR at a video-rental store. (That Lauren is tech-savvy enough to date online but still rents movies in video stores is either a testament to her fascinating mix of contradictions or more likely an example of lazy screenwriting.)
When Tuck and FDR realize they’re pursuing the same girl it sparks their respective competitive natures and they decide to make a friendly game of it. But what begins as a good-natured rivalry swiftly devolves into romantic bloodsport with both men using the vast array of espionage tools at their disposal – from digital surveillance to poison darts – to gain an edge in the battle for Lauren’s affections. If her constitutional rights happen to be violated repeatedly in the process then so be it.
Lauren for her part remains oblivious to the clandestine machinations of her dueling suitors and happily basks in the sudden attention from two gorgeous men. Herein we find the Reese Witherspoon Dilemma: While certainly desirable Lauren is far from the irresistible Helen of Troy type that would inspire the likes of Tuck and FDR to risk their friendship their careers and potential incarceration for. At several points in This Means War I found myself wondering if there were no other peppy blondes in Los Angeles (where the film is primarily set) for these men to pursue. Then again this is a film that wishes us to believe that Tom Hardy would have trouble finding a date so perhaps plausibility is not its strong point.
When Lauren needs advice she looks to her boozy foul-mouthed best friend Trish (Chelsea Handler). Essentially an extension of Handler’s talk-show persona – an acquired taste if there ever was one – Trish’s dialogue consists almost exclusively of filthy one-liners delivered in rapid-fire succession. Handler does have some choice lines – indeed they’re practically the centerpiece of This Means War’s ad campaign – but the film derives the bulk of its humor from the outrageous lengths Tuck and FDR go to sabotage each others’ efforts a raucous game of spy-versus-spy that carries the film long after Handler’s shtick has grown stale.
Business occasionally intrudes upon matters in the guise of Heinrich (Til Schweiger) a Teutonic arms dealer bent on revenge for the death of his brother. The subplot is largely an afterthought existing primarily as a means to provide third-act fireworks – and to allow McGenius an outlet for his ADD-inspired aesthetic proclivities. The film’s action scenes are edited in such a manic quick-cut fashion that they become almost laughably incoherent. In fairness to McG he does stage a rather marvelous sequence in the middle of the film in which Tuck and FDR surreptitiously skulk about Lauren's apartment unaware of each other's presence carefully avoiding detection by Lauren who grooves absentmindedly to Montel Jordan's "This Is How We Do It." The whole scene unfolds in one continuous take – or is at least craftily constructed to appear as such – captured by one very agile steadicam operator.
Whatever his flaws as a director McG is at least smart enough to know how much a witty script and appealing leads can compensate for a film’s structural and logical deficiencies. He proved as much with Charlie’s Angels a film that enjoys a permanent spot on many a critic’s Guilty Pleasures list and does so again with This Means War. The film coasts on the chemistry of its three co-stars and only runs into trouble when the time comes to resolve its romantic competition which by the end has driven its male protagonists to engage in all manner of underhanded and duplicitous activities. This Means War being a commercial film – and likely an expensive one at that – Witherspoon's heroine is mandated to make a choice and McG all but sidesteps the whole thorny matter of Tuck and FDR’s unwavering dishonesty not to mention their craven disregard for her privacy. (They regularly eavesdrop on her activities.) For all their obvious charms the truth is that neither deserves Lauren – or anything other than a lengthy jail sentence for that matter.
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