Mad Men: Season 6, Episode 5–The Flood

“This is an opportunity. The heavens are telling us to change.”

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Usually, in Mad Men, history just rumbles along in the background, its social mores informing our characters’ motivations, its events occasionally prompting semi-important plotlines. Every so often, though, history leaps up and slaps the narrative across the face. Seasons 1-3 were like that; 1 building to Kennedy’s Presidential victory, 2 climaxing with the Cuban Missile Crisis, and 3 ending with the shock of JFK’s assassination. Last week, I wondered whether this season might be building up to climax with the assassination of his brother Bobby. Instead, it took me by surprise with a Big Historical Event right in the middle of the run – the assassination of Dr Martin Luther King.

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Game of Thrones: Season 3, Episode 5–Kissed by Fire

“By what right does the Wolf judge the Lion? By what right?”

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As a friend of mine recently commented, for most shows, last week’s Game of Thrones would have been a season finale. For Game of Thrones, it was episode 4.

With that ep’s spectacle and thrill count having virtually maxed out, it was back to a more contemplative, introspective ep this week, as the intrigue continued to ramp up throughout Westeros and beyond. Also, having skimped on it last week amidst the excitement, it was time to get back to the nudity and titillation that the show (despite having so much else going for it) seems to have become known for.

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Doctor Who: Series 7, Episode 11–Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS

“Don’t get into a spaceship with a madman. Didn’t anyone ever tell you that?”

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This week’s hotly anticipated episode of Doctor Who was always going to divide its ever-fractious fandom. Any episode that explores the mythos of the show always does, and especially when it’s one dealing with the show’s one constant (other than the Doctor himself) – the TARDIS. Neil Gaiman managed the virtually impossible last year, pleasing virtually all of fandom with his ‘character dissection’ of the Ship, The Doctor’s Wife.

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Mad Men: Season 6, Episode 4–To Have and To Hold

“If you don’t like what they’re saying – change the conversation.”

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This was the first episode of Mad Men this season in which Matt Weiner had no writing credit – and it showed, in a definite change of tone from his usual portent-laden melancholia. Instead, it came off more like the soap opera it basically is, beneath the existential trappings. Appropriate, given that one of the major subplots involved Megan’s work on the fictional soap opera which gave the episode its title.

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Game of Thrones: Season 3, Episode 4–And Now His Watch Is Ended

“I have no doubt the revenge you want will be yours in time. If you have the stomach for it.”

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It’s a hard life in Westeros, and this week’s Game of Thrones was a dramatic one, full of revenge and betrayal. Well, more full than usual, that is. This was a spectacular episode both on a visual and a plot level, as some questions were answered, some schemes revealed and various characters showed unsuspected true colours. Unsuspected, anyway, if – like Sansa Stark – you’re naive enough to believe anyone in this show can be trusted.

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Doctor Who: Series 7, Episode 10–Hide

“I’m talking to the lost soul that abides in this place. Come to me. Speak to me. Let me show you the way home.”

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I like haunted house thrillers. So much so, in fact, that my final piece for the TV production module of my drama degree was one (one day I’ll get round to posting that on YouTube to embarrass myself). My DVD collection is crammed with the likes of The Haunting, Legend of Hell House (music by Delia Derbyshire), Poltergeist, The Shining, Stephen King’s Rose Red and so on and so on. Naturally, then, I was pleased to see Doctor Who delving into this most traditional of genres, and keen to see if they’d pull it off.

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Mad Men: Season 6, Episode 3 – Collaborators

“Now I understand. You want to feel shitty – right up to the point where I take your dress off.”

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Never a show with a straightforward approach to dialogue or characterisation, Mad Men this week took its usual obfuscation of motive and events to new heights, in an episode directed by Don Draper himself, Jon Hamm. The ep was ostensibly another of those juxtapositions between Don and Don-wannabe Pete Campbell, showing their failings both professionally and socially. But, even more than usual, grasping what was truly going on relied on interpreting the Unsaid as much as the said.

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