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Darrel Manson

Mad Men

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Further proof that AMC needs to spin off a show about Roger, Ken, Stan, and Ginsberg opening a detective agency.

I'd certainly watch!


"What is inside is also outside." -Goethe via Merleau-Ponty, in conclusion to the latter's one extended rumination on film
Filmwell, Twitter, & Letterboxd

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Checking in to say that, if anyone's interested, I've been recapping the current season of MAD MEN. Here's my latest which is a combo recap of the latest two episodes ("The Crash" and "The Better Half"). For all of the talk that The Crash inspired, I really enjoyed The Better Half--mostly because for all of the "Don's Back!" type of comments that the series has ironically inspired, the latest episode had me asking the more important, pressing question as it relates to his marriage to Betty and the family they made: "what if Don had never left?"

Anyway, the combo recap is titled "What Holds Poeple Together, A Wellspring of Confidence"--the first part is in reference to "The Crash" and the latter is in reference to "The Better Half." And all of my recaps to this point are linked at the bottom of the piece.


"What is inside is also outside." -Goethe via Merleau-Ponty, in conclusion to the latter's one extended rumination on film
Filmwell, Twitter, & Letterboxd

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I've been reading and enjoying your write-ups, Nick. Keep it up. I like how you focus on the advice that was given to Pete last episode. But is he even capable of taking it to heart? In the meantime, the ending of the last episode seemed to offer yet another chance of redemption for Don. I've learned not to hope much when these moments arrive. Megan tells Don that something needs to change. Don agrees with her.

But it's not that easy, and we only have four episodes left. The potential still seems great. Real redemptive change has a cost to it and I have a bad feeling that "change" could still lead to worse instead of better. But maybe ...

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So, Bob Benson is gay.

I'll be pretty disappointed if that turns out to be the only secret he's been hiding; the show has played out that storyline before, with Sal.

Edited by Tyler

It's the side effects that save us.
--The National, "Graceless"
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What I was thinking through practically the whole episode:

Seriously, though, I haven't been very impressed with this season, but this episode made up for it, particularly Don's storyline (I really though I was past caring about Don because his choices had become so predictable).

What was going on in Pete's final scene? It sounded like he was going to California, but Ted still was, too.

Edited by Tyler

It's the side effects that save us.
--The National, "Graceless"
Twitter Blog

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Robert Towne is joining the writing staff.

 

Also, because this is AMC and it's what they do now, the final season will be split into two half-seasons, one coming in Spring 2014, the next a whole year later.

Robert Towne? Wowzers.

 

As far as the season divide goes, it's stupid stuff like this that makes me increasingly prone to wait for an entire show run to complete before jumping on board. I hate having to put up with ratings-grabbing strategies like that.

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The co-worker who loaned me all previous seasons of Mad Men just told me Friday, without me asking, that she'd give me the most recent season to watch. I'm not even sure what season I'm up to, but it's the most recent one that aired (season 6?; the one during which "nothing happened, or so I've read).

 

My co-worker didn't originally have the season on DVD as she did earlier seasons; she bought each episode on iTunes as they became available. But she said she later picked up the DVD set at Target on Black Friday for something like $10.

Edited by Christian

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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Mad Black Men

 

Matt Weiner, the creator of Mad Men, has been criticized for not having more black people on the show. In defense, he's said repeatedly, that's because there were no black people in the advertising business in that era. Last year, he took it further, saying there were still no black people in advertising. Ruffin disagrees.
 
"There are black people in advertising," he says. "There have been black people in advertising. There isn't a great amount of representation, but we do exist and we are here."
 
Indeed, some of Ruffin's idols are African-American designers from the 1960s. Like art director Georg Olden, for example. "He actually designed the Clio award [statuette] that Don wins," Ruffin says. "And he won way more than Don ever won."

 

 

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Revisiting the previous Mad Men seasons has filled me with renewed excitement for the seventh season. It's an undeniably uneven show. The first season lays a strong foundation, but the show loses its way pretty quickly (seasons two and three are mired in what I might call "the Betty problem" and a string of terribly uninteresting affairs for Don).
 
But something clicks into place around season four, which is the most lively, brisk, and entertaining season of them all, and if the season doesn't cut too deeply, it serves as a nice starting point for the arc that begins to take shape in season five and continues into season six. Which isn't to say these seasons don't get into trouble. Some experiments don't pan out. Whenever they try to include notable current events, the show seems like it's trying a bit too hard. There are subplots that fall terribly flat or drag on too long (Mad Men often strains to give every character in the ensemble something to do). But there's a boldness to the storytelling, matched with an impressively developed formal sensibility, that makes the Mad Men of the past three seasons altogether preferable to the Mad Men of the first three.

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Ryan, or anyone else who knows: Whatever became of the sales guy in Season 1 who was gay? He was written out of the show, but I don't know why. Is there a well known story about the actor and disagreements he had with the creative team? I kept thinking he'd return, but he never has. I don't think his character was killed off. None of the Mad Men friends I talk with ever brings up that actor or his character.


"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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Ryan, or anyone else who knows: Whatever became of the sales guy in Season 1 who was gay? He was written out of the show, but I don't know why. Is there a well known story about the actor and disagreements he had with the creative team? I kept thinking he'd return, but he never has. I don't think his character was killed off. None of the Mad Men friends I talk with ever brings up that actor or his character.

You mean Sal, who makes it to season three. He's one of my favorite Mad Men characters.

He wasn't brought back after season three because Matthew Weiner thought Sal's departure from Sterling Cooper (after a client makes advances toward Sal and is rebuffed, he makes sure Sal is fired) was a meaningful goodbye to the character.

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Yes, Sal. Wow, he made it to season three? I didn't remember him getting past season one, but it's been a while since I watched those seasons.

 

Thanks.


"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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Just wanted to chime in and say we're really been enjoying season 6, which is now on Netflix. (Is enjoy the right word?) If there was a show of just Rizzo and Ginsberg being maniacs, I'd watch it. 

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Alissa Wilkinson, Christ & Pop Culture:
... Near the end of the episode, Freddy comes to visit Don at home to do more work on pitches. Just before he arrives, Don is shining his shoes and watching Nixon’s first inaugural address with some interest—enough to stop his activity briefly and listen more closely. This is what we hear and, in classic Weiner fashion, every bit of it is meant to tell us something about what’s going on in Don’s mind:

"We find ourselves rich in goods, but ragged in spirit. Reaching with magnificent precision for the moon; falling into raucous discord on earth. We are caught in war, wanting peace; we’re torn by division, wanting unity. We see around us empty lives wanting fulfillment. We see tasks that need doing, waiting for hands to do them. To a crisis of the spirit, we need an answer of the spirit.
To find that answer, we need only look within ourselves. When we listen to “the better angels of our nature,” we find that they celebrate the simple things, the basic things — such as goodness, decency, love, kindness.
"Greatness comes in simple trappings. The simple things are the ones most needed today if we are to surmount what divides us, and cement what unites us. To lower our voices would be a simple thing . . ."

The better angels of our nature? The simple things? I’m not sure Don even has those anymore ...

 

Julia Yost, First Things:

... Joan does what Joan does, but with ominous hints. As usual, she is competent beyond the scope of her position, here finding a way to retain (for now) the Butler Footwear account. Along the way she engages in a strange little plot involving a business-school professor who happens to be a Lane Pryce dress-alike. There is a head-fake: Joan thinks she is being propositioned (as Lane once propositioned her), only to find that the professor has in mind a more businesslike quid pro quo. He is conducting an advertising research study, and he wants information concerning “what percentage of your clients work on fees, versus commission.” Sigh of relief. (But note that “Commissions and Fees” is the title of the Season Five episode in which Lane committed suicide. And down the rabbit hole we go.)

 

Don, of course, is still Don—but the ground is shifting beneath him. Hence the moving walkway on which he glides through the Los Angeles airport. As he goes, we note in profile his very 1950s fedora, which he has not given up, though other characters’ wardrobes have evolved. The gliding elides; Don is moving without taking steps. When the walkway ends, he finds himself in Los Angeles, still dressed for New York. Soon he will find himself in the 1970s, still dressed for the Eisenhower administration ...

 

Tim Cavanaugh, National Review:

Fans of AMC’s Mad Men have either abandoned the show or never existed in the first place, according to disappointing reports on the debut episode of the period soap opera’s penultimate half-season.  “A show whose most sociologically interesting fact is its overratedness,” huffs Marc Tracy of The New Republic. “I felt disengaged when the episode ended,” sighs the Daily Beast’s Andrew Romano, “like I’d just watched a bunch of people treading water.” Other fans dismissed the critical and awards favorite as "out of ideas" and compared watching Mad Men to “refusing to break up with a girl because you don’t want to admit the last couple of years were a mistake.” More worrying than the fans’ unkind words is the possibility that the fans, in a profound statistical sense, never existed. Mad Men has never scored even big-for-AMC ratings, and Sunday’s premier bowed to a mere 2.3 million viewers. Astoundingly, that is fewer than half the number of people who turned out for a show viewers have to pay a premium to see: HBO’s Game of Thrones. Mad Men also stands accused of having lost its social status ...

 

I don’t know what the bellyaching is all about, unless it be the very Mad Men--worthy predicament that people who haven’t got a damn thing to complain about are still dissatisfied. This is the kind of unhappiness that rules when you charge a television show charge a television show with the duty “to probe the mythology of what we think of as the American dream.”  Who says stuff like that? Maybe it’s another compliment to Mad Men’s artful period design that people actually expect it to shed artistic light on the actual world of upper-class media professionals in the 1960s. This is a recommendation I never thought I’d make, but maybe people should be reading more of the writings of John Cheever and Richard Yates. Or actually, make it easy on yourselves and just watch the first season of Bewitched in reruns.

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I loved that last episode.

 

It also occurred to me that I really have no idea what is going to happen to all these characters.  I can still see either damnation or redemption, hope or despair, success or utter failure for each of them.  At first I was persuaded it was just going to be a show of watching downward spirals.  Then I thought a few characters were learning some important moral lessons.  Now it seems like they are teetering on the brink.

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