Mad Men

Discussion in 'Et Cetera, Et Cetera' started by jason_els, Nov 16, 2009.

  1. jason_els

    jason_els <img border="0" src="/images/badges/gold_member.gi

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    The show just finished its third season and I have to say, I'm just blown away. The last few episodes have just been stunning reminders of how good TV can get and what immense value a capable cast are.

    The season finale is one of the best-written episodes of TV I've yet seen. It's tight, well-crafted, surprising, superbly acted, perfectly edited, and a true cliff-hanger in a way that's not overblown or silly (eg. Who Shot Don Draper?!). I was wondering how they were going to work two particular characters back into the storyline and now I know. I'm impressed and very excited for the next season.

    This is just a great show. If you can't get it where you are, download it (iTunes or other places have it), because so far it hasn't lagged a bit. I particularly hope those outside the US take a look at it because I think it's some of the best TV the US has done since Six Feet Under or The Sopranos.
     
  2. B_Nick8

    B_Nick8 New Member

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    The finale was stunning, wasn't it?

    I have to say, though, that after seeing January Jones on SNL last night I have far less respect for her "acting". She's so wooden in real life that playing the part of Betts is less acting than second nature. I was really disappointed in her.
     
  3. jason_els

    jason_els <img border="0" src="/images/badges/gold_member.gi

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    Sort of like when people discovered Keanu wasn't acting in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure?

    I'll agree with you. She's no Vanessa Redgrave, but like Keanu, she is perfect for her role in Mad Men.

    "Peggy, can you get me some coffee?"
    "No."

    "Accounts gets the bed."

    "... and the way that they saw themselves is gone. And nobody understands that but you do. And that's very valuable."
    "What if I say no? You'll never speak to me again."

    "Told you I'd be discreet."

    "I don't think you get conditions."
    Roger smiles at Pete.

    I just had to smile myself. There is so much in what is inferred in this show that its subtleties are a joy to discover like acing a crossword in ink.
     
    #3 jason_els, Nov 16, 2009
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2009
  4. B_Nick8

    B_Nick8 New Member

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    Oh, agreed. I just find it disappointing that she was so truly cast for type.
     
  5. JustAsking

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    I agree that this is the best television since The Sopranos, or Deadwood. I love everything about the show that was stated here, but also the fanatical attention to mise en scene. Every detail to what is on each set in regard to the time period is so accurate it is scary. Every cereal box, every feature of the Draper kitchen, for example, is a bullseye, from the knotty pine custom cabinets to the light switches. Same goes for the office. Nothing says success like a room full of clicking IBM Selectrics amidst the haze of Pall Malls, and office meetings taken with whisky and gin.

    The other amazing thing that is pure genius is the exact time setting. This is not just a show that is set in "the 60s" but exactly 1962-63, which are years that major cultural/political/social changes are moving like shifting techtonic plates. What I like about the show is that these things are also part of the mise en scene and they are alway obvious to the viewer (especially those who lived in that time). However, the characters are naturally encountering these shifts for the first time. Its like a murder mystery where the reader is informed about whodunit, but the characters in the story have to figure it out.

    So the politics of Nixon gives way to Kennedy, as tv advertising starts to win over print media, as photography starts to win over art work content in ads, as 60s youth culture starts to become an important advertising demographic, etc. The characters more or less reliably start to become aware of the changing forces in their markets, their business practices, and their interpersonal relationships both on the job and in their personal lives.

    It is interesting to see Betty Draper going from the perfect Jackie-Kennedy-woman-behind-the-man wife and starting on the trajectory as Hillary-Clinton-major-force-in-her-own-right woman. And it is interesting to see how it is developing in her and how Don is beginning to react.

    I could go on, but this is stuff you fans of Madmen already know. This show has layers and layers and opportunity after opportunity to not only tell a great story, but to really be a kind of accurate historical novel of a very important time in our recent history.

    As for January Jones, I am still reserving judgement. Either I am just captivated by her flawless Grace Kelly beauty, or I am detecting a kind of very understated style of performance both on Madmen and in the sketches on SNL. She gives a kind of Grace Kelly playing Betty White performance where what you see is "flat affect", but underneath is a strong intelligence communicating through the limited range that such a characterization allows. I can see why you might think I am simply besotted, but I am still reserving judgement on January Jones.

    Either way, the casting of her as Betty was pure genius.

    Oh, one more thing. Don Draper has somehow become multidimensional out of a part that could easily be two dimensional. There is a kind of triple threat going on here where his character is slighly "gothic" due to his hidden past, on top of a post war confidence and masculinity that acts as kind of a force-field that protects him and clears the way before him in any situation. But what is developing now is his surprising lack of self-knowledge for someone who is so good at understanding and manipulating the buying public, and our growing awareness of his personal insecurities which stand in contrast to such a confident man. Don Draper is a perfect post-war but pre-60s American icon of a man. This is the last moments of a time when only intellectuals had much self-knowledge, and moving into a time when self-reflection went from a distraction and started heading on its way to narcissim for almost everyone.

    You can be dead sure that the marginalized and suppressed wife Betty will eagerly embrace the new empowerment of the role of women in the coming years, while the Don Drapers will be slow to adapt and be mostly stunned and paralyzed by how quickly the rules will be rewritten in front of his very eyes.

    For Don, what seems to be a stable and predictable world with nothing but opportunity, you get the idea that not a minute goes by that in the back of his mind he is asking himself if he really is just lucky. Then on top of that is his growing awareness that the bedrock he stands on is part of a continental plate that is starting to shift faster and faster.

    Yeah, I love this show.
     
    #5 JustAsking, Nov 16, 2009
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2009
  6. vince

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    Living where I do, I've never heard of the show. But as it's coming so highly recommended (seriously), I'll look for a download of it.
     
  7. jason_els

    jason_els <img border="0" src="/images/badges/gold_member.gi

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    JA:I like your interpretation of Don. I was very struck by the last episode because it showed what was presaged by Betsy's discovery: Don doesn't value relationships and now he has to place himself and his future in the hands of others with whom he has various sorts of relationships, quite a few of them alienating. It's odd, but so far I think the only person he truly respects and hasn't had any problems with yet, is Joan. I find the similarities between them to almost be stronger than between he and Peggy.

    I'm really intrigued by Trudy Campbell. She hasn't had a lot of screen time yet but she's already starting to take on an air of Lady Macbeth. I very much loved the scene in the last episode where Pete mentions he got the Clearasil account because it means Trudy put in a call to her father to make it happen. It was such a subtle inference about her power in their marriage and her designs for her husband that I was impressed, and pleased, beyond measure.

    Grab the show Vince and watch it from the start. It's a load of fun from the very beginning but do pay attention. The details in the dialogue and performances are just as nuanced as the art direction.
     
  8. HellsKitchenmanNYC

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    I don't have cable but someone gave me the first season on dvd. I should crack it open!
     
  9. D_Kissimmee Coldsore

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    The British critic Charlie Brooker, whose views on everything I almost always agree with, raves about Deadwood, The Wire and Mad Men as must-see US shows. I've never been one for getting involved in big TV dramas but they are still definitely on my to-do list.
     
  10. JustAsking

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    Oh yes, The Wire. That show is so full of drama one loses at least three pounds watching one episode. Your Charlie Brooker is dead on with those three recommendations.
     
  11. jason_els

    jason_els <img border="0" src="/images/badges/gold_member.gi

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    I've now watched the third season finale about a dozen times and I've noticed even more things. Again with the Clearasil that as soon as Don mentions that Pete got it, it's Peggy who says, "Really?" with complete detachment as if it was a throwaway. The fabulous part is we know that it's not at all. It's just lovely. I'm just fascinated by all the layers here.

    I am wondering though, does Bert say, "John let it go?" I'm thinking Morse screwed-up and called Don by his actor's name.
     
  12. B_Nick8

    B_Nick8 New Member

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    Bumping your own thread with be-musement, are you, darling?
     
  13. Bbucko

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    I know I'm being lazy, but does anybody know of an on-line resource to watch Mad Men? I don't own a television.
     
  14. jason_els

    jason_els <img border="0" src="/images/badges/gold_member.gi

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    Yeah but only because I really want to impress upon people just how good this is and why. I'm also really curious about the possible Morse slip. It makes me wonder why they didn't retake the scene if what I'm hearing matches what others are.
     
  15. jason_els

    jason_els <img border="0" src="/images/badges/gold_member.gi

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    How are you with torrents?
     
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