Yesterday, Singapore telco Starhub announced a deal to bring in HBO GO to Singaporean subscribers through its proprietary package Starhub Go. This means that Singaporean users can finally watch HBO titles legally, before which they had to either wait for the DVDs or do, well, illegal things.
What are the 5 must-see HBO shows on Starhub Go, then?
1. Game of Thrones
Frankly, you should already know this show. Game of Thrones is not just a television show, it is a cultural phenomenon. The fantasy epic has dazzled the world since its launch and is the first show since Lost to enter the cultural zeitgeist. It has launched memes, careers and incited reactions like no other.
Five seasons have aired, each spanning 10 episodes, which means that there are 50 hours for you to savour again. I say “again”, because you should already have watched the show. If you haven’t, what’s wrong with you?
2. The Knick
For a dose of real-world medical drama, try The Knick. It is set in 1900s New York in the Knickerblocker hospital, where a maverick surgeon and his medical staff have to handle patients, handle racial tensions in the city, and advance medical science amid the constraints of their time.
The Knick has tremendous star power – it is directed, shot and edited by Steven Soderbergh and stars Clive Owen and Andre Holland. Everything about this show screams “prestige”, from the gorgeous cinematography, to the electronic-inspired soundtrack, to Owen’s convincing portrayal of Doctor Thackery, to the unflinching depiction of period-specific medical procedures. The Knick is not for the faint-of-heart, but it will reward those who take the plunge.
There’s only one season of 10 episodes so far, so you’ll only need 10 hours to get caught up before the second season starts in October. A worthy investment, if you ask me.
Veep is the American adaptation of The Thick of It, a British politcal comedy created by Armando Innaucci. Whereas The Thick of It focused on a hapless minister and his staff, Veep focuses instead on Vice-President Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) and her office staff.
The show is a cynical portrayal of American politics, skewering the inane goings-on of Vice-President Meyer’s daily work. Her staff are inept, the job more frustrating than it is glamourous, and she is a horrible person herself. Rapid-fire dialogue is common in the show, but don’t let your attention drift – more often than not, this dialogue contains hilarious insults and vulgarities utterly unbecoming of a public figure like Selina. Other than the dialogue, the acting is top-class, the writing sharp, and the setting ripe for ridicule. Veep is a guaranteed source of laughter for any TV viewer.
There have been 4 seasons of Veep so far, each spanning 10 episodes, so you’ll only need about 15-20 hours to blow through the entire series. Can you do it? Yes, you can!
4. Strike Back
I’ve already covered Strike Back in detail in an earlier article, so I’ll just summarise what I’ve said: Strike Back is old-fashioned action goodness. There are explosions in every episode, more bullets are fired than words spoken, and the protagonists are invincible action heroes that are a throwback to 1980s’ cinema. It’s shot well, the stunts are impressive, and stuff gets blown up. Get that popcorn ready.
Strike Back wrapped up its fifth and final season recently, and the entire series runs for 50 hour-long episodes. It’s a hefty time investment, but this show is addictive like a bag of crisps, so fire when ready.
5. True Detective
The second season of True Detective may have been a turd, but the first season still remains as one of the best seasons of television in recent years. Creator/writer Nic Pizzolatto, director Cary Fukunaga, and actors Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson combined their talents to create a season that dazzled and intrigued viewers to no end.
The first season had it all: the directing was superb (that six-minute shot in “Who Goes There”!), the acting was magnetic (McConaughey was a giant, but Harrelson did a great job too), and the writing was addictive, mixing horror with philosophy and the occult.
Both seasons of True Detective add up to 16 one-hour episodes, but a word of caution: you’ll find the second season vastly inferior to the first.