‘Jonah From Tonga’ New Comedy Series Debuts Aug. 8 On HBO, Plus August Synopses Released By The Network, Highlight Hollywood News
After being expelled from Summer Heights High, Jonah Takalua’s father, Rocky, banished him to the island of Tongapatu to spend time with his extended family and get his life back together. But four months later, fed up with Jonah’s antics, his uncle sends him back to Sydney to enroll in yet another school, the Holy Cross School. Once again, the always impressionable Jonah finds himself adapting to a new school and fending off new foes and other delinquents, all while trying to be a “good boy.”
Australia’s Chris Lilley, creator of “Summer Heights High” and “Ja’mie: Private School Girl,” brings back one of his groundbreaking characters, the rebellious 14-year-old Jonah, in thesix-episode comedy series JONAH FROM TONGA, debuting with two episodes back-to-back FRIDAY, AUG. 8 (10:00-11:00 p.m. ET/PT), exclusively on HBO, followed by single episodes on subsequent Fridays at the same. Lilley created, wrote and stars in the title role of the new show.
JONAH FROM TONGA is produced by Lilley and his producing partner, Laura Waters, who previously produced “Summer Heights High” (where the character of Jonah was introduced to HBO viewers) and “Angry Boys,” and co-produced by HBO and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in association with the BBC.
Debut: FRIDAY, AUG. 8 (10:00-10:30 p.m. ET/PT)
Other HBO playdates: Aug. 8 (2:00 a.m.), 9 (1:25 a.m.), 12 (midnight) and 13 (1:30 a.m.)
Expelled from Summer Heights High, Jonah (Chris Lilley) moves to Tonga to live with relatives. But when his uncle (Tevita Manu) gets fed up with his antics, Jonah is shipped back to Sydney to attend a Catholic school, Holy Cross, where he’s placed in Lazarus House (“Spaz House”), run by the frustrated Mr. Joseph (Doug Bowles). Jonah and his Fobba-liscious crew must deal with their nemeses, the Rangas, led by Year 12 school captain Graydon (Bryce Padovan). Though Jonah tries be a “good boy,” his run-ins with the Soldierz, a group of older delinquents, may complicate matters.
Debut: FRIDAY, AUG. 8 (10:30-11:00 p.m.)
Other HBO playdates: Aug. 8 (2:30 a.m.), 9 (1:55 a.m.), 12 (12:30 a.m.) and 13 (2:00 a.m.)
When their bullying videos are discovered, the Fobba-liscious crew is forced to meet with the new youth counselor, Kool Kris (Uli Latukefu), who takes a special interest in Jonah. Later, after Graydon makes fun of Jonah’s dance moves, Fobba-liscious retaliates.
Debut: FRIDAY, AUG. 15 (10:00-10:30 p.m.)
Other HBO playdates: Aug. 15 (1:00 a.m.), 16 (2:55 a.m.), 19 (midnight) and 20 (1:30 a.m.)
A grounded Jonah sneaks out and puts the moves on his cousin Melody (Jane Reupena-Niko). With Kool Kris’ help, Fobba-liscious works on an original song and video about bullying for the Feel Da Beat music contest. Meanwhile, Jonah and Moses (Tama Taualii) try to prove themselves to the Soldierz.
Debut: FRIDAY, AUG. 22 (10:00-10:30 p.m.)
Other HBO playdates: Aug. 22 (1:00 a.m.), 23 (2:25 a.m.), 26 (midnight) and 27 (1:30 a.m.)
Tensions run high when Catholic Education inspectors come to observe Lazarus House. The crew ends up in Juvenile Detention after they take things too far. Jonah gets some good news about Feel Da Beat, but finds himself isolated due to his criminal past.
Debut: FRIDAY, AUG. 29 (10:00-10:30 p.m.)
Other HBO playdates: Aug. 29 (1:00 a.m.) and 30 (3:30 a.m.)
Jonah settles into his new home with his Juveliscious crew and prison guard Therese (Belinda Sharp), while Holy Cross adjusts to his absence. Father and son butt heads when Rocky (Isaia Noa) visits for Father’s Day. Jonah puts his parole hearing in jeopardy when he reacts badly to Therese’s news.
Episode #6 (season finale)
Debut: FRIDAY, SEPT. 5 (10:00-10:30 p.m.)
Jonah returns to Holy Cross, where he tries to stay out of trouble and joins his Fobba-liscious crew in competing at the qualifying heat for Feel Da Beat. Later, Lazarus House undergoes a big change and Jonah returns to Tonga for unfinished business.
JONAH FROM TONGA has already garnered praise in Australia, with the Guardian calling it “skillfully done,” while the Sydney Morning Herald hailed Lilley’s portrayal of Jonah as “one of the most accurate portrayals of impotent teen rage you’ll see this year.”
“Summer Heights High”debuted on HBO in Nov. 2008 and took a humorous and brutally honest look at life in an average Australian public school, with Lilley playing all three lead roles. The show became the best-selling TV series on DVD in Australian history. Entertainment Weekly called it “brilliant,” while the Wall Street Journal said that “the talent of Mr. Lilley, a brilliant mimic, is a divine salve,” and TV Guide declared that the show “reaches new peaks of comedic ecstasy.”
“Ja’mie: Private School Girl,” which debuted on HBO in Nov. 2013, chronicled the final months of high school for Ja’mie (also introduced in “Summer Heights High”), who returned to the lush manicured lawns of Hillford Girls Grammar after enduring the trials of Summer Heights High public school. Elle magazine called the show “outrageous, yes, but also fascinating – and funny,” and the Washington Post termed it an “enjoyably sick wallow in the evil that lurks in adolescence.”
JONAH FROM TONGA was created and written by Chris Lilley; executive produced by Chris Lilley and Laura Waters; producers, Chris Lilley and Laura Waters; directed by Chris Lilley and Stuart McDonald.
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