Darrel Manson

Mad Men

325 posts in this topic

Huh. The first four seasons have been available on Netflix.ca ever since we started subscribing back in October (or was it September)? I've been meaning to watch them but just haven't gotten around to it yet.

So for once, the Canadians got something before the Americans did! Hooray!

Correction: The first THREE seasons were available when Netflix came to Canada back in September. I guess the fourth season was added later.

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

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Awesome. Netflix Instant just acquired "Mad Men." Now I'll finally get to watch it.

Well, you will in 4 months.

And those 4 months have passed; Mad Men is now streaming on Netflix in the U.S.

Looking forward to checking it out.

Edited by NBooth

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Reading the comments at that First Things article looks like a discussion we might have had around here, oh, I don't know-- eight or nine years ago.

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We're two seasons into Mad Men. Today someone asked me to name my favorite character. My surprising answer: Jimmy Barrett.

The link seems to indicate that I've seen the last of Jimmy, although a co-worker insists he shows up again in later seasons. I hope so.

Of course, I like and loathe any number of characters on this show. There are episodes that are passable, and then, just when you find yourself wondering what the big deal about the show is, an episode just crackles with dialogue, character development, and all-around style. Two seasons in, and several characters remain enigmas to me.

That's a good thing.

Edited by Christian

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Has AMC had too much success too soon?

This article about Frank Darabont's dismissal from "The Walking Dead" considers some of the odd decisions made by AMC, including contract disputes with "Mad Men," which is the show that put them on the map.

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AMC's decisions have me scratching my head.

Regarding MAD MEN, my thoughts are that it's a show of great moments that come in between entertaining filling. It leans a bit too heavily on the he's-sleeping-with-her plotting to stir up some easy drama. But there's plenty of good stuff throughout, even if we do have to suffer misjudged elements like Don's excursion to California and its absurd hedonistic crew, or Betty's drug-induced "fog" as she gives birth to Eugene. But despite the general strength of the show, I can see it losing steam if it goes on for too many seasons. I would have called it a day at five, actually; I'm skeptical they can make it all the way to seven without wearing out its welcome.

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We're in the home stretch of season 3, a bit past the episode where

the guy's foot get run over by a John Deere mower

. That was ... unexpected. Completely out of character for the show. But I think I liked it!

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Oh, I loved that moment.

Edited by Ryan H.

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We finished Season 3 last night. Wow, what a finale! Reflecting on the season as a whole, I wasn't fond of Don's

involvement with the school teacher

, but his wife's

fed-up pursuit of a divorce

had me rooting for her, and I say that someone who

tends to want married couples to find a way to stay together, whatever their past hurts

.

I'm looking forward to Season 4.

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An excellent oral history of "The Suitcase"-- a.k.a., the best episode of season 4. Possibly the best Mad Men ever. Heck, one of the best hours of TV ever.

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We finished Season 3 last night. Wow, what a finale! Reflecting on the season as a whole, I wasn't fond of Don's

involvement with the school teacher

, but his wife's

fed-up pursuit of a divorce

had me rooting for her, and I say that someone who

tends to want married couples to find a way to stay together, whatever their past hurts

.

I'm looking forward to Season 4.

And the last shot of Season 3. Gotta love it!

As for your comments about Betty are interesting. I think most people tend to get wrapped up in the mythology of Don Draper and the notion of Betty "the ice queen bitch" that they find themselves on Don's side against Betty. I think Betty and Don are both terribly flawed. Betty has failed to offer the love and maturity one would expect of a mother (her treatment of Carla is unforgivable in my mind), but we also have to realize that she's a victim of a society that gives women in her position no options and that she had a very damaging relationship with her parents. Also, I'm curious to see what you think of her relationship with Henry in Season 4, since I think it does a lot to clarify and interrogate how much of the divorce is Don's treatment of her and how much is Betty herself.

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My sympathies in regard to Betty definitely underwent a major shift in season 4.

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We just recently finished season 4. I've never really been sure about Betty--was she as naive, selfish, cold as she seemed or was Jones just a bad actress? But the scene near the end with Betty and the

child psychologist

really worked for me. I wonder if others felt it was too obvious. I am a little surprised by the thirteenth episode--it left me looking for a fourteenth.

Edited by Buckeye Jones

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The one Betty-centric episode I very much disliked was her "dream sequence" episode when she was giving birth. Horrible stuff.

I didn't mind the way they developed her character in season 4, but I am hoping they push her character more out-of-frame in the future seasons. I'm tired of her.

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So, with two episodes left in Season 4, I talked with the co-worker who lent me the DVDs about what I'd seen, what I was anticipating for the final two installments. She's been careful not to spoil anything, not to tip her hand when I speculate about what might happen next.

Then a second co-worker strolls up. She's now up to Season 3 and is loving the show. "Oh," she mentions, "I just read

that Don Draper has a new wife on the show."

::bang::

I wasn't too torn up about the revelation, because, with two episodes left, I didn't see that as a realistic possibility. But then it happened, and it was stupid, but ... I kind of like the secretary and wouldn't mind learning more about her. I just don't know what this means for Betty, whose character has become shrill and cruel -- something else I hadn't expected.

I don't know what we'll do for Season 5. Wait for the DVD and try to avoid the water-cooler discussion at the office, every Internet story about the show, etc.? Should be no problem, right?

Edited by Christian

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Christian, I'm not sure I think Weiner has ever really ever envisioned Betty as a full character. In the show's pilot, her existence, as revealed in the last scene, is just a plot twist, and I don't know that things ever progressed from there. It's an interesting question as to whether Weiner's conception of Betty as shrill housewife is even more constrained than her own prospects presumably were at that time; in his defense, in constucting more interesting female characters in Joan and Peggy and the secretaries that some guys marry, the fact that they're "in" the workplace makes them more readily part of the character dynamics than the characters who are literally in separate spheres, like Betty. Although, on the other hand, Trudy Campbell's an interesting and not one-note character, even in a progressively screentime-reduced capacity.

As far as the new seasons of the show, there's a great way to keep up without paying for cable. The show has a distribution deal through iTunes that allows you to stream the show at the same time new episodes hit AMC with a season pass that is probably around $30 or $40.

Edited by Russ

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As far as the new seasons of the show, there's a great way to keep up without paying for cable. The show has a distribution deal through iTunes that allows you to stream the show at the same time new episodes hit AMC with a season pass that is probably around $30 or $40.

Oh, man, that sounds like a plan I could live with. Thanks!

BTW, that bit in your post about

marriages

-- I'd spoiler-tag it.

Also, just to be clear: Do you not see a trajectory in Betty's character at all during her four seasons on the show?

Edited by Christian

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Also, just to be clear: Do you not see a trajectory in Betty's character at all during her four seasons on the show?

You know, maybe there's been something over the course of four years that would qualify as a dramatic arc. I don't know. It seems clear to me that what these serialized dramas do so well by way of character development is allow us to watch people for so long and in varied and unhurried circumstances where they aren't merely pegged to perform rote plot points. This permits us to feel a sort of intimacy you'd reserve for actual acquaintances and encourages a manner of empathy wherein even normally-unsympathetic characters have a well-written complexity that gives us some unique insight into the human condition. I don't get any of that from Betty, and on a show so justly praised for its writing, I'm never surprised by the limited range of responses or actions we hear or see from her. There probably wasn't a moment where Weiner considered putting forth an Eisenhower/Kennedy-era housewife who was, y'know, actually reasonably happy or satisfied with her domesticity. But weirdly, as transparently cliche as a June Cleaver type might be to modern audiences, the Betty Draper type-- the rich-but-unhappy woman smoking and gossiping in a housecoat, bred for nothing more than what she has-- is similarly cliched.

Another interesting feature of the Era of Quality Television is its ability to anoint as dramatic stars actors with previously modest success in bit parts. Part of that, I think, is the quantity thing; you see someone in a role for so long that the mere repetition becomes its own unique verisimilitude. That being said, I think that January Jones's physical beauty vastly outstrips her skills as an actor. As I understand it, she was originally cast in the pilot with some possibility of the role being recast. I'm not sure, though, whether a different person would have been able to bring the character into greater focus.

Edited by Russ

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Russ, I don't mean to ignore what you wrote, but I'm curious to whether we're all reading Betty and her character's evolution in the same way.

My sympathies in regard to Betty definitely underwent a major shift in season 4.

But in which direction?

As for your comments about Betty are interesting. I think most people tend to get wrapped up in the mythology of Don Draper and the notion of Betty "the ice queen bitch" that they find themselves on Don's side against Betty. I think Betty and Don are both terribly flawed. Betty has failed to offer the love and maturity one would expect of a mother (her treatment of Carla is unforgivable in my mind), but we also have to realize that she's a victim of a society that gives women in her position no options and that she had a very damaging relationship with her parents. Also, I'm curious to see what you think of her relationship with Henry in Season 4, since I think it does a lot to clarify and interrogate how much of the divorce is Don's treatment of her and how much is Betty herself.

Andrew, I think I agree with everything you wrote.

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My sympathies in regard to Betty definitely underwent a major shift in season 4.

But in which direction?

I now find her character tiresome and irritating and would be happy if she disappeared from the show almost entirely.

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Matthew Weiner talked to Grantland recently about the end of Mad Men:

What I'm looking for, and how I hope to end the show, is like … It's 2011. Don Draper would be 84 right now. I want to leave the show in a place where you have an idea of what it meant and how it's related to you.

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