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#41 Buckeye Jones

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Posted 08 September 2011 - 08:08 AM

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
Spoiler
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, 08 September 2011 - 08:09 AM.


#42 Ryan H.

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Posted 08 September 2011 - 06:07 PM

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.

#43 Christian

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Posted 16 October 2011 - 07:21 PM

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
Spoiler


::bang::

Spoiler


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, 16 October 2011 - 07:22 PM.


#44 Russ

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Posted 19 October 2011 - 11:42 AM

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, 19 October 2011 - 03:54 PM.


#45 Christian

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Posted 19 October 2011 - 02:56 PM

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
Spoiler
-- 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, 19 October 2011 - 02:57 PM.


#46 Russ

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Posted 19 October 2011 - 04:50 PM

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, 19 October 2011 - 04:51 PM.


#47 Christian

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Posted 19 October 2011 - 05:08 PM

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.

#48 Ryan H.

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Posted 19 October 2011 - 10:05 PM


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.

#49 Tyler

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Posted 15 November 2011 - 05:08 PM

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.



#50 Overstreet

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Posted 04 March 2012 - 12:14 PM

Don Draper spotted in the London Underground.

#51 Ryan H.

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Posted 12 March 2012 - 06:30 PM

Possible spoilers: the photos released for season 5 have raised an interesting question about the timeframe of the new season. That said, I'm not sure there's too much to the speculation.

#52 Tyler

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Posted 12 March 2012 - 10:31 PM

I just finished the first season last night. It's a well-done show and it gets the look and feel time period right (at least, I think so; wasn't around back then), but I don't think Weiner really cares about these characters. Definitely not the way Vince Gilligan or David Simon care about theirs, at least.

#53 Jason Panella

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Posted 13 March 2012 - 09:02 AM

I just finished the first season last night. It's a well-done show and it gets the look and feel time period right (at least, I think so; wasn't around back then), but I don't think Weiner really cares about these characters. Definitely not the way Vince Gilligan or David Simon care about theirs, at least.


We just started watching season one over the weekend, and are two episodes in. Based on those two episode, I'm definitely getting this vibe.

#54 J.A.A. Purves

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Posted 13 March 2012 - 01:45 PM

... but I don't think Weiner really cares about these characters. Definitely not the way Vince Gilligan or David Simon care about theirs, at least.

Having seen all the seasons, I can say that Mad Men never quite makes you as emotionally invested in its characters as the best HBO shows do. But that said, there's this undefinable addictive quality in Mad Men that makes it hard to look away. I always get the feeling while watching the show that something is terribly wrong, that something bad is about to happen, that there are a whole number of just under the surface hidden details to the story that exist but are never really put into words by any of the characters. I can't say I've gotten the same feeling from any other show.

#55 Ryan H.

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Posted 25 March 2012 - 03:42 PM

And the day has arrived. Welcome back, Don.

#56 Ryan H.

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Posted 25 March 2012 - 11:14 PM

I don't know about you guys, but I thought the two-hour premiere episode was great.

Edited by Ryan H., 25 March 2012 - 11:14 PM.


#57 Anna J

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Posted 26 March 2012 - 02:34 PM

Hosted a premiere party at my place last night. Not sure how I felt about the two-hour format. Some scenes seemed longer than they needed to be, but I also really just hate the secondhand embarrassment of scenes like "Zooby Zoo" "Zou Bisou Bisou."

The characters were in fine form though, especially Peggy, Joan, and Pete.

Harry Crane! What happened to you!?

#58 andrew_b_welch

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Posted 28 March 2012 - 02:27 PM

Looking forward to where season five goes. Also looking forward to watching the show in a new way. Since we don't have cable right now, we're going to be driving out to Plano (about 40 minutes away from Denton) to watch it at an art house theater that shows AMC shows for free on the big screen. It certainly gave the premier a more cinematic feel than it might have had if we'd just watched it on TV, and if you know of a place near you that's doing this same thing, I'd recommend it.

As far as my reaction to the premier itself, I don't have much to say yet. I enjoyed it, I liked seeing everyone back in action, and I have high hopes.

One thing I'll be keeping an eye on is how the theme of "power" plays itself out over the course of the season, as that seemed to be the recurring theme of the premier: the advantages of power, how those in power are perceived by those with less power, etc.

Also, this is an interesting listen, if you haven't heard it already: http://www.npr.org/2...-for-don-draper

#59 Jason Panella

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Posted 28 March 2012 - 02:35 PM

One thing I'll be keeping an eye on is how the theme of "power" plays itself out over the course of the season, as that seemed to be the recurring theme of the premier: the advantages of power, how those in power are perceived by those with less power, etc.


I wonder if this means Mad Men season 5 will be a lot like Buffy season 7? (Probably not.)

After managing to get my wife to watch a few more episodes, I'm happy to report that we're liking the show a lot now. We're almost done with the first season. I still can't look at Pete Campbell without seeing Connor from Angel, though.

#60 Tyler

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Posted 28 March 2012 - 03:41 PM

I still can't look at Pete Campbell without seeing Connor from Angel, though.


I can't look at Campbell without wanting to pound his face in.