WHAT TO WATCH
10 Hidden Gems on HBO Max
Starring Batman, Scooby-Doo, the Doctor, Dick Tracy, and many more.
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HBO Max is home to hit movies, comedy specials, new exclusive series, and some of TV’s biggest shows, including Friends, The Big Bang Theory, and HBO classics like Sex and the City, The Sopranos, Girls, and The Wire.
But it’s also packed with gems from years past—some of which you might not have seen in a while. Here are just a few of our favorites in the HBO Max archive.
1. The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (1990-1996)
‣ Nostalgia test: Next time you’re chatting with friends, say, “Now this is a story all about how...” and see how many of them automatically finish the line. This ’90s sitcom made Will Smith a superstar, and there’s a comfortable timeliness to the show’s easygoing vibe that holds up to this day. (So do its meme-able dance moves.) Exciting news for fans: HBO Max is planning a Fresh Prince reunion special that’ll premiere around Thanksgiving.
2. Singin’ in the Rain (1952)
‣ This iconic film—now nearing its 70th birthday—remains on countless short lists for best movie musical ever made. Stream it in all its Technicolor glory.
3. Notting Hill (1999)
‣ Peak Julia Roberts and peak Hugh Grant star in a London romance between a famous actress and an independent bookstore owner. An on-again-off-again romance that’s as cozy as afternoon tea.
4. Scooby-Doo Where Are You! (1969-1970)
‣ Scooby-Doo has been rebooted countless times over the past five decades, and that’s all thanks to the pure fun-house glee of this original series, which introduced the boppy theme song as well as legendary voice actor Frank Welker, who starred as Fred Jones and continues to voice Scooby-Doo to this day.
5. Batman (1989)
‣ Tim Burton’s wild, Prince-powered film remains a wild marvel—and one that keeps Michael Keaton in the running for best Batman of all time. As Jokers go, Jack Nicholson’s memorable take edges far closer to the camp of the ’60s TV show than the sheer madness of Heath Ledger and Joaquin Phoenix, but loses none of the creepiness. And it goes without saying that Prince’s soundtrack holds up just fine.
6. The Boondocks (2005-2014)
‣ The animated version of Aaron McGruder’s syndicated comic strip about two young African American brothers from inner-city Chicago who move to their grandfather’s house in the suburbs is as pointed and progressive as the newspaper version. The original four seasons aired on Adult Swim, and you can check them all out here. (More good news: Two new seasons are in the works.)
7. Doctor Who (2005-present)
‣ The longest-running show in the history of time. HBO Max has everything from the Ninth Doctor’s 2005 debut to the most recent seasons starring Jodie Whittaker as the first female Doctor (that we’ve gotten to see, anyway). If you’re just jumping into this immense pool, start with the brilliant episode “Blink” from David Tennant’s run as the Tenth Doctor; it’s a wonderfully creepy masterpiece that features actor Carey Mulligan, a secret message on DVDs, terrifying killer statues, and loads of fun timey-wimey stuff.
8. The Powerpuff Girls (1998-2005)
‣ The adventures of three crime-fighting sugar-coated superheroes, who are frequently called upon to save the day (before going back to kindergarten).
9. Dick Tracy (1990)
‣ Back in 1990, this was as big as casts got: Warren Beatty’s take on the comic strip handed plum roles to Madonna, Al Pacino, Dustin Hoffman, Dick Van Dyke (!), Mandy Patinkin, Catherine O’Hara, and James Caan. Deliberately designed to resemble a comic strip’s moody visuals and color-splattered palette, it was a comic book movie before the genre became quite so common.
10. All the Studio Ghibli films
‣ HBO Max is the exclusive streaming home to Studio Ghibli in the United States. The Japanese studio has released more than 20 anime art-house wonders, including acclaimed director Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle, and My Neighbor Totoro.