By Jason Guyer
The streaming wars are off running this week and HBO is the latest to head into battle.
The cable/satellite channel has started its own streaming service called HBO Max, which is not to be confused with HBO Now or HBO Go.
HBO Go is a streaming service offered by HBO that is included free with an HBO subscription through a TV provider.
HBO Now is a standalone streaming service offered by HBO that does not require cable or satellite TV.
HBO Max, however, is a platform offered by WarnerMedia that features 10,000 hours of premium content bundling all of HBO together with even more movies, shows and Max Originals. If that is not confusing enough, HBO Max is just another company trying to beat — or be — Netflix.
HBO is considered one of the big four in the major streaming wars that also include Disney+, Hulu and Netflix.
What does HBO Max offer that the others do not?
Well, that should be obvious: HBO content. This should decide whether or not an individual wants to pay the $14.99 a month price tag of HBO Max.
As of right now, the service without HBO content is not worth it. So the question is: how much do you like HBO original content? HBO Max has all the HBO content you can’t get anywhere else, such as “The Wire”, “Game of Thrones” and “Big Little Lies.”
HBO Max also offers more than just HBO, though the HBO content is why one would want this service. Well that and the TV show “Friends,” which starts off my list of the Top 20 items to watch on HBO Max:
1. Friends — Three young men and three young women live in the same apartment complex and face life and love in New York. They’re not above sticking their noses into one another’s business and swapping romantic partners, which always leads to the kind of hilarity average people will never experience. “Friends” to me is the best sitcom ever made and there was no way it was not going to be number 1 on this list. It is why I got HBO Max.
2. From the Earth to the Moon — A millionaire finances a trip to the moon in a rocket ship of his own invention. “From the Earth to the Moon” is a dramatised portrayal of the Apollo manned space programme. “From the Earth to the Moon” is an underrated HBO original and my personal favorite in HBO’s arsenal of tv programming. “Apollo 13” is still one of my favorite films and the first film I ever saw in theaters. “From the Earth to the Moon” produced by Tom Hanks is just as good.
3. Euphoria — An American adaptation of the Israeli show of the same name. “Euphoria” follows the troubled life of 17-year-old Rue, a drug addict fresh from rehab with no plans to stay clean. Circling in Rue’s orbit are Jules, a transgender girl searching for where she belongs; Nate, a jock whose anger issues mask sexual insecurities; Chris, a football star who finds the adjustment from high school to college harder than expected; Cassie, whose sexual history continues to dog her; and Kat, a body-conscious teen exploring her sexuality. “Euphoria” has probably the best one hour on depression I have ever seen or experienced on television and the episode titled “The Trials and Tribulations of Trying to Pee While Depressed.” No one or things has ever explained my or depression in general better than this hour of television.
4. Doctor Who — An eccentric yet compassionate extraterrestrial Time Lord zips through time and space to solve problems and battle injustice across the universe, traveling via the TARDIS (Time and Relative Dimensions in Space), which is his old and occasionally unreliable spaceship that resembles a blue police phone box. One of my favorites and watching David Tennat and Matt Smith is still one of my favorite things to do. Although I am jst as fond of Jodie Whittaker.
5. Apocalypse Now — In Vietnam in 1970, Captain Willard takes a perilous and increasingly hallucinatory journey upriver to find and terminate Colonel Kurtz , a once-promising officer who has reportedly gone completely mad. In the company of a Navy patrol boat filled with street-smart kids, a surfing-obsessed Air Cavalry officer, and a crazed freelance photographer, Willard travels further and further into the heart of darkness. This Brando performance is one of my favorites and one to watch.
6. Game of Thrones — Two powerful families playing a deadly game for control of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros, and fighting to sit atop the Iron Throne. This show is based on George R.R. Martin’s book series “A Song of Ice and Fire”. Personally this show is wonderful and few are better and it would have been higher if it were not for the ending.
7. The Fresh Prince of Bel Air — Will Smith more or less plays himself in this good-natured NBC sitcom. As the show’s popular theme song explains, fictional Will’s mom sends him away from his rough Philadelphia neighborhood to live with wealthy Uncle Phil and Aunt Vivian in Bel-Air. Will often has fun at the expense of stuck-up cousins Carlton and Hilary. One of the underrated sitcoms of all time and a childhood favorite that I am glad has finally made it to a streaming service.
8. Girls — A writer and her friends all try together to make sense of what life has in store for them after living in New York for two years. Hannah thinks she has what it takes to be a successful writer, if only she would write something. Marnie is Hannah’s best friend, a Type A personality who has a serious boyfriend and an actual job. Jessa is a devil-may-care bohemian whose apparent lack of fear hides her own kind of insecurity. Watching Lena Dunham and Adam Driver’s acting career starting was fantastic and the show never shies away from being real.
9. Room 104 — Creators Mark and Jay Duplass anthology series is set at an average American motel and tells stories ranging from comedies to dramas to horrors, with the tone, the characters and the era changing every time. Each episode plays like a mini-movie, offering a new discovery from one week to the next. The episodes range from great to mediocre but there are more than a few that will stick with you. The best episode is probably “Artificial.”
10. The Wire — This series looks at the narcotics scene in Baltimore through the eyes of law enforcers as well as the drug dealers and users. Other facets of the city that are explored in the series are the government and bureaucracy, schools and the news media. The show was created by former police reporter David Simon, who also wrote many of the episodes and is one of the greatest television shows created. This is a can’t miss series.
11. Westworld — Westworld isn’t your typical amusement park. Intended for rich vacationers, the futuristic park allows its visitors to live out their fantasies through artificial consciousness. No matter how illicit the fantasy may be, there are no consequences for the park’s guests, allowing for any wish to be indulged. A heady sci-fi drama that is one of HBO’s best shows.
12. The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley — Elizabeth Holmes became the world’s youngest self-made billionaire and was going to invent and promised to revolutionize blood testing. She was heralded as the next Steve Jobs. Then, just two years later, her multibillion-dollar company was dissolved. One of the greatest rise and fall stories in human history.
13. Elvis Presley: The Searcher — Elvis Presley grew up to become the biggest star in music, thanks to a staggering range of influences that created a revolutionary sound in his lifelong search for self-expression. This two-part documentary reveals his creative journey from childhood in Tupelo, Miss., through his final recording sessions in 1976. Elvis is and has always been a family favorite musical artist and that made this documentary all that much sweeter.
14. The Big Bang Theory — Mensa-fied best friends and roommates Leonard and Sheldon, physicists who work at the California Institute of Technology, may be able to tell everybody more than they want to know about quantum physics, but getting through most basic social situations, especially ones involving women, totally baffles them. Then waitress and aspiring actress Penny moves in next door and hijinks ensue. “The Big Bang Theory” is not the greatest sitcom every created but it does the trick and is good for laughs.
15. Hoop Dreams — African-American teenagers William Gates and Arthur Agee travel 90 minutes each way from inner-city Chicago to St. Joseph High School in Westchester, Illinois, a predominately white suburban school well-known for the excellence of its basketball program. This acclaimed documentary was shot over the course of five years and is one documentary that should not be missed.
16. Glengarry GlenRoss — When an office full of New York City real estate salesmen is given the news that all but the top two will be fired at the end of the week, the atmosphere begins to heat up. Shelley Levene, who has a sick daughter, does everything in his power to get better leads from his boss, John Williamson, but to no avail. When his coworker Dave Moss comes up with a plan to steal the leads, things get complicated for the tough-talking salesmen.
17. Blindspotting — Collin must make it through his final three days of probation for a chance at a new beginning in his Oakland, Calif., neighborhood. His bond with his volatile best friend soon gets tested when Collin sees a police officer shoot a suspect in the back during a chase through the streets. One of the best films on racism and race relations and cultural appropriation and a must see.
18. Sharp Objects — “Sharp Objects” stars Amy Adams and is based on a book of the same name by writer Gillian Flynn. Adams in her first major role on the small screen, as reporter Camille Preaker, who returns to her small hometown to investigate mysterious, unsolved crimes. When two girls are missing, one of whom was found dead and presumed murdered, she searches for clues. Camille also reunites with her estranged family and that rekindles traumatic childhood memories, including the death of her younger sister. Amy Adams is wonderful to watch in this HBO series.
19. Drop Dead Fred — An unhappy housewife gets a lift from the return of her imaginary childhood friend, Drop Dead Fred. This one was just a childhood film that I remember very fondly and is quite funny.
20. The Kid — Chaplin’s first full-length feature is a silent masterpiece about a little tramp who discovers a little orphan and brings him up but is left desolate when the orphanage reclaims him. Chaplin did everything himself. He directed, produced and starred in the film, as well as composed the score.him. This one may not be for everyone but if you are a film fan and love film history this is a must see.
Jason Guyer is an avid moviegoer and works in the graphics department at the Eagle Times. For questions or comments he can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.