Category Archives: TV

The Breathtaking Brilliance of David Bowie is at the Brooklyn Museum

David Bowie is at the Brooklyn Museum is the most exciting, dynamic, and fascinating show you’ll see this year.

Here are some of the things you can see or hear at the exhibition:

“Highlights of the exhibition include more than 60 custom-made performance costumes…85 handwritten lyric sheets, including those from “Fame” and “Fashion”… drawings, including a sketch for the Young Americans album cover; and oil paintings, including two of musician Iggy Pop, all by Bowie…more than 40 pioneering music videos, television clips, and filmed roles as well as a multimedia presentation of international tour footage…custom audio mix made up of snippets of Bowie’s songs…”

—from the exhibition’s web page


The show originated at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, in 2013. Since then, it has been on a tour that took it to 10 cities on five continents. David Bowie is has been seen by more people than any other show in the V&A’s 166-year history.

These reviews, from Vogue (“Go. Just go.”) and Rolling Stone (“Stunning”), describe parts of the show, and explain why it’s the Must See exhibition of 2018.

It runs through 15 July 2018. This is the last stop of the tour, so once it’s gone, it’s gone.


Even if you can’t get to the exhibition itself, you can buy the David Bowie cotton tote bag ($10) or the lavishly illustrated David Bowie is exhibition catalogue ($45 softcover, $55 hardcover). All available at the Brooklyn Museum’s shop.

(Photography wasn’t allowed, so all these pictures are from the museum’s website.)


Brideshead Downton Abbey ReVisited

After years of relentlessly mocking the looniness of Downton Abbey while never missing an episode of the series, there was no way that I could pass up a chance to spend an afternoon at “Downton Abbey: The Touring Exhibition” while I was in New York.

It was a treat.

Throughout the New York show, you’re greeted by some of the principal Downton actors, in costume and in character, via HD video. The exhibition covers three floors and contains hundreds—or, more likely, thousands—of props, costumes, and furnishings from the TV series. Snippets of dialog from the series play at related parts of the exhibition.  The use of technology to enrich the experience is flawless.

The first floor of the exhibition focuses on the servants and the “Downstairs” portion of the house, starting with the kitchen.

The informative signage that explained the roles and duties of the various members of the household was particularly good.

The servants’ dining table.

Mr. Carson and Mrs Hughes in Mr. Carson’s Office.

Mr. Carson’s Desk shows an attention to detail that’s typical of the exhibition.

If you looked closely at the pictures, you might have noticed something peculiar about the representation of the servants. I think that it must allude to a particularly dark episode in the Crowley family history. During the 1926 General Strike, Lady Violet was left in charge of the Abbey while the Crowley men went off to shoot some random strikers. As the hours wore on and her consumption of sherry grew apace, she became increasingly unhinged, until, fearing a violent revolution was about to bring down the Abbey and all it symbolized, she had the entire Downton underclass decapitated and stuffed.

The next morning, in the cold light of day—cold, because she’d offed the servant responsible for seeing that the rooms were warmed before the family awoke—she expressed extreme regret for her impetuous actions, once she realized there was no one left to prepare her morning tea.

Churchill helped the family cover up the incident, and the TV series tactfully ignored it.

Leaving behind the Morlocks who labour below the earth, we ascend to the golden, carefree world of the Eloi….

Oh, wait.  Wrong story,

The second floor is all about The Family and everything here—the clothes, the furniture, the people—is brighter, richer, and more colourful.

The Dining Room was a show-stopper.

Lady Violet has a little display area entirely to herself, where the audio features some of her better-known witticisms, including the one that has always seemed to me to be an excellent example of the series getting things hopelessly, unforgivably wrong.

Viewing a well-set dining table like the one in the picture above, she says, “Nothing succeeds like excess”, at which point I’ve been known to shout “No. No. No!” at the TV screen. A tacky sentiment like that would never come from Old Money. It’s something a Trump would say.

The third floor has a small display of miscellaneous costumes. After the richness of the rest of the show, it’s a bit anticlimactic.

Wedding Gowns.

So that was my afternoon at Downton. The show is beautifully put together, and I had a delightful time.

Two Brilliant Covers: Sarah Blasko Sings Bowie and Aurora Sings Massive Attack

While prowling around the Net in search of a quick David Bowie fix, in preparation for next week’s trip to the “David Bowie is” exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum, I found a YouTube channel for Triple J, an alternative radio station sponsored by the Australian government. One of its features is a Friday morning segment called “Like A Version”, during which a visiting artist plays one of their own songs, and a cover of a song they love.

Sarah Blasko is an award-winning Australian singer-songwriter, with a string of highly-praised albums over the past 15 years. She performs a crystalline version of “Life on Mars”.

While on the site, I also found this beautiful cover of Massive Attack’s “Teardrop”* by Norwegian singer-songwriter Aurora.

Despite the current foul political atmosphere in the US and the UK, isn’t the 21st century wonderful? Pre-internet, it’s unlikely that I’d ever have heard of either of these two amazingly talented musicians.

*A passing thought: By now, there must be millions of people who have never heard of Massive Attack, but would recognize “Teardrop” within a minute or so.

“Oh! That’s the song from House!”

“Downton Abbey: The Touring Exhibition” — Now at a New Low Price

Wanna visit Downton Abbey: The Touring Exhibition in New York, but can’t afford the $35 admission? The Crawley family has a deal for you!

As you probably know, Downton Abbey is perpetually in danger of being sold to satisfy the creditors of the gullible and financially incompetent Earl of Grantham, who falls for the machinations of card sharks and Ponzi schemers with clock-like regularity. (On a recent trip to New York, he stumbled across a three-card Monte set-up in Times Square. The dealer now owns Downton’s East Wing.)

But Downton’s loss can be your gain! Even though the Crawleys are loath to admit commoners ne’er-do-wells poor white trash those awful people the general public to Downton’s hallowed halls, money is money, and needs must.

Travelzoo to the rescue! The site is offering tickets to the exhibition for $20, and the offer is good for the rest of the show, which is now scheduled to close on 2 April 2018. (No word yet on where it will turn up next.)

The Earl of Grantham—his given name is “Robert”, but grifters around the world call him “Mark”—will appreciate your patronage, particularly now, since he’s lent his daughters’ dowries to a former Nigerian Treasury official, and the rascal seems to have dropped out of sight.

Meanwhile, enjoy these pictures from the exhibition.

Hereditary — Official Trailer

Here’s the creepy official trailer for Hereditary, one of the most talked-about movies to come out of this year’s Sundance Festival.

With a trailer that intense and unsettling, Hereditary is yet another movie that I won’t see until I can watch it at home, with all the lights on and the remote firmly grasped in my right hand, ready to pause or mute anything that seems too scary. You may laugh at my precautions, but they got me through Krampus without lasting trauma. And in under three hours, too!

Spoilers for Hereditary are very hard to come by, not that I’d post them anyway. The early reviews are across-the-board raves—the Tomatometer is at 100%. with a “Want to See” of 99%. The Rotten Tomato score and the reaction to the Sundance screening are almost identical to that of another little horror movie, from 2017: Get Out.

The film stars the great Toni Collette, in what some are calling a career-best performance, and Gabriel Byrne, who’s always good.

The US release date is 8 June 2018.

The Magicians — Off to a Good Start

On this season’s first episode of The Magicians, Elliot suddenly realizes that the Fairy Queen is magically using Margo’s missing right eye to spy on the Good Guys, and anticipate their moves. (Long story. Don’t worry about it, just watch the first two series, currently playing on Netflix.) To avoid revealing that he now knows he’s being constantly observed, he shares this insight through coded pop cultural allusions, which are helpfully subtitled for those of us playing along at home.

Warning: Possibly NSFW. The language is presidential.

It’s scenes like this one that make me love the show.

Altered Carbon — Two Teasers and a Trailer

Netflix has adapted Altered Carbon, Richard K. Morgan’s award-winning 2002 cyberpunk novel, into an initial 10-episode series. The company released a couple of teasers late last year, and a full trailer this week. Here are the teasers:

[No, I haven’t accidentally slipped a porn video into the blog. That initial image is just Netflix being Netflix. They call these things “teasers” for a reason.]

And here’s the new trailer:

Ah, the “old brains in new bodies” trope!

I don’t know about this one. On the one hand, Joel Kinnaman and James Purefoy are both solid performers. On the other hand, the CGI is less than dazzling. It looks on the cheap side.*

All 10 episodes of Altered Carbon will become available on 2 February 2018.

*On the third hand, some of the most impressive CGI-heavy trailers I saw last year were for Ghost in the Shell, and that didn’t turn out so well, did it? I’m still a little embarrassed about getting so overheated about that one.