TV Critic’s Corner

HBO expansion makes Mondays matter

Helen Mirren stars in HBO’s “Catherine the Great.”
Helen Mirren stars in HBO’s “Catherine the Great.”Hal Shinnie/HBO/HBO

HBO has owned Sunday nights, quality-wise, for a couple of decades now, beginning with “The Sopranos” and continuing through “Game of Thrones.” But a number of big HBO shows are getting scheduled for Monday nights. To wit, Helen Mirren’s four-part costume drama “Catherine the Great,” which premiered this Monday night.

Why the step into Mondays? The pay cabler is expanding, with more and more series on the way, as it competes with the likes of Netflix, which seems to deliver about 10 new shows (many of them produced in other countries) every single week. HBO needs to have shows running year-round to hold on to subscribers in an aggressive market, and, possibly, to feed the WarnerMedia streaming service due next year called HBO Max. Sundays have gotten crowded, and so HBO is now running new series on Monday nights as well.


Monday certainly isn’t HBO’s stagnant backwater. Other recent Monday night goodies include “Chernobyl,” “Gentleman Jack,” “The Deuce,” and the forthcoming (on Nov. 4) adaptation of Philip Pullman’s “His Dark Materials.”

Of course it doesn’t really matter which night most HBO shows air, now that “Game of Thrones” and its appointment-TV fan base are gone. Most HBO subscribers watch their shows on demand, whenever they want to. When it comes to scripted TV these days, timing isn’t everything.

I do hope the channel doesn’t grow too fast, though. Right now, HBO may be the most carefully curated TV outlet available to viewers.