Category Archives: TV

Apparat (with Soap&Skin) — “Goodbye”

I’ve been watching Dark, the eerie, difficult-to-describe German TV series running on Netflix. The show delves into a number of seemingly unrelated but interlocking mysteries.

For me, the first mystery arose even before the plot kicked in:  Why did the theme song seem so familiar?

A little research revealed that the name of the song is “Goodbye”. It’s the creation of German synth musician Sascha Ring, who uses the stage name Apparat. On this song, he collaborates with Austrian musician Anja Plaschg. She uses the stage name Soap&Skin.

No help there.

And then I got it.

“Goodbye” is playing in the background of “Face Off”, the stunning final episode of the fourth season of Breaking Bad, as Gus Fring heads toward Casa Tranquila to kill Hector Salamanca. I must have watched that episode a dozen times.

Mystery solved, and a certain anxiety relieved.

But now I’ve fallen down a rabbit hole. I got so into “Goodbye”, Apparat, and Soap&Skin that I’ve just spent a couple of hours exploring dark wave and contemporary Middle European ambient music, when I should have been doing important stuff like emptying the dishwasher and reorganizing my socks by colour.

2018 New Year’s Resolution Number 3

Don’t worry about falling down rabbit holes. That’s where the good stuff is hidden and the joy can be found.


The Magicians — Series Three Trailer

I’ve become charmed—enchanted, actually—by the SyFy channel’s adaptation of Lev Grossman’s The Magicians books, a series that has been described as “Harry Potter for grown-ups”.  You might even say that I’m under its spell. [Enough with the “magic” allusions already!]

The writing’s quite good, mixing subtle relationship drama with genuinely shocking moments and occasional outbursts of absolute hilarity, usually involving Hale Appleman’s character “Eliot”, who steals the show. The rest of the cast play flawed but charismatic, multiple-layered characters, except for Arjun Gupta in the thankless role as the always angry “Penny”. He’s just irritating.

Some of the effects are quite beautiful.

By the end of the show’s second season, the world’s magic had been powered down. Literally.* In the new series, our flawed heroes will try to reboot it.

Here’s the trailer for Season Three:

And, since it’s been a year since Season Two ended, here’s a refresher on what brought us to our current sorry state:

The Magicians returns to TV on 10 January 2018.

*Long story.

David Bowie: The Last Five Years Coming to HBO

The BBC documentary, David Bowie: The Last Five Years, is coming to HBO early next year.

According to the BBC’s program notes:

“This is an intimate portrait of one of the defining artists of the 20th and early 21st centuries, told by the people who knew him best – his friends and artistic collaborators.

“This film takes a detailed look at Bowie’s last albums, The Next Day and Blackstar, and his play Lazarus. In his final five years, Bowie not only began producing music again, but returned to the core and defining themes of his career. This film explores how Bowie was a far more consistent artist than many interpretations of his career would have us believe. It traces the core themes from his final works and relates them to his incredible back catalogue. His urge to communicate feelings of spirituality, alienation and fame underpin his greatest works from the 1960s to 2016. This is what lies at the heart of his success and appeal – music that deals with what it means to be human in a way that goes far beyond the normal palette of a rock star.”

David Bowie: The Last Five Years premieres on HBO on 8 January 2018, commemorating what would have been Bowie’s 71st birthday.

The Assassination of Gianni Versace — Full Trailer

A couple of weeks ago, I posted five stylish teasers for American Crime Story’s second season, which will deal with The Assassination of Gianni Versace. The first full trailer was released yesterday.

Edgar Ramirez plays the brilliant designer Gianni Versace, who rose from modest beginnings in post-WWII Italy to the heights of creative international high society in the 1980s and 1990s. His circle of friends included Princess Diana, Elton John, and Madonna.

Darren Criss plays Andrew Cunanan, the hustler-turned-spree-killer who longed to be part of everything that Versace represented, and left a trail of corpses across four states when he failed.

The casting is strong here. Ramirez and Criss look like the men they’re portraying.

Rounding out the cast are Ricky Martin as Antonio D’Amico, Versace’s long-time romantic and business partner, and Penelope Cruz as Donatella Versace.

The first episode of American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace is scheduled to be shown on FX on Wednesdays, 17 January 2018.

“Game of Thrones: The Touring Exhibition” — Coming Soon to a Stronghold Near You

If “Downton Abbey: The Touring Exhibition” isn’t your cup of Afternoon Tea, perhaps this will be more to your liking—“Game of Thrones: The Touring Exhibition” has just gotten underway in Barcelona.

Where it will show up next is anybody’s guess, because the tour’s stops after Barcelona have not yet been announced. But with the final episodes of Game of Thrones not expected to air until mid-2019 at the earliest, and with the final book of the series not expected to see print until George R. R. Martin’s heirs hire someone to use GRRM’s notes to complete the last four or five volumes, the tour should run for a long, long time.

According to the tour website, here’s what to expect:

In Barcelona, standard adult tickets for the exhibition range from €10.00 to €18.50, depending on the time and day, which is really reasonable. Expect higher prices when it hits the US.

If you want to see it in Barcelona, you can order tickets here. Barcelona is a beautiful city, and the food there is fantastic. Also, it’s warm in winter, and we all know that Winter Is Coming, don’t we?

“Game of Thrones: The Touring Exhibition” will be in Barcelona until 7 January 2018.

Four Questions about Downton Abbey, and Four Tentative Answers

In my earlier posting about the upcoming Downton Abbey touring exhibition, I mentioned my mixed feelings about the show, and promised to elaborate on some of my reservations. I’ve dealt with anachronisms, false notes, and “borrowed” plots in earlier write-ups, so in this entry, I’m just going to tackle some loose ends.

Here are four mysteries I wondered about at the beginning of each series of Downton Abbey, and their probable solutions:

Will Lord Grantham’s financial incompetence put the family at risk of losing Downton Abbey yet again?

Yes, but some distant relative will conveniently die and leave them another massive inheritance, just in time. That seems to happen to them a lot, which is fortunate, since the gullible Lord Grantham is a sucker for every grifter and swindler within 100 miles of the Abbey.

Will the most scandal-plagued family in England somehow remain socially acceptable?

Yes, but god knows how, what with all the dead diplomats, resident card sharks, illegitimate babies, felonious servants, wayward daughters, Irish terrorists, and other riff-raff that make Downton Abbey home. And don’t forget resident visitors like that trashy Lady Rose, who should have been sent off to India to cavort with the natives and drink herself to death, but wound up at Downton instead.

The Usual Suspects

Are Mr and Mrs Bates competing with Lady Mary to see which of them can kill the most people without getting caught?

I think so. I’ve always believed that Mr and Mrs Bates, both suspected murderers, were guilty as sin, and that after fleeing the country one step ahead of the police, they settled in California, and opened…the Bates Motel.

As for Lady Mary, aka “The Black Widow”, isn’t it suspicious that every male who gets involved with her winds up dead? There was that aforementioned diplomat, and then her husband, who died immediately after she gave birth to a son and heir, thereby giving her control of Downton for the following 21 years, just in time for WWII to finish the job and give her another 20 years. And remember that dead potential spouse and heir from the first season? I would not be at all surprised if Lady Mary was complicit in the sinking of the Titanic.

And what will happen to the pigs?

The pigs will get very, very fat. Remember, when the series ended, Mr and Mrs Bates and The Black Widow were still in residence. They’ll probably use the pigs the same way that Al Swearengen used them in the magnificent Deadwood: As a very opportune way to dispose of superfluous corpses.

“Downton Abbey: The Touring Exhibition” — Coming Soon to a Stately Home Near You

I’m as much of an Anglophile as Her Majesty herself, and considerably more so than that Greek bloke she married. (You want proof? I used the word “bloke” in the last sentence, and who but a true son of Albion would do a thing like that?)

My Anglophilia is the reason I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with Downton Abbey.

Yes, the plots were absurd, the characterizations were paper-thin, and the anachronisms were beyond counting. But…it was British! And not just British, but Stately Home British, which is the best kind of British to be.

I never missed an episode.

So I’ll almost certainly make my way to Downton Abbey: The Exhibition, which opens in New York next week. It looks like standard admission for adults is $30, and a typical visit lasts about an hour. Tickets are on sale for dates through January, at which point the New York show will either be extended or travel to another as yet unannounced location.

I’ll elaborate on some of my issues with Downton in my next posting. I tend to get a bit too snarky when I talk about it, and this tour announcement isn’t the place for snark.