Mad Men: Season 6, Episode 9–The Better Half

“We’re both two halves of the same person. We want the same things.”

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“The Better Half” – a self-deprecating phrase often used by husbands in the 60s to describe their wives. Ironic, really, considering the second place wives always took to the ‘Master of the House’. Here, it meant that and more in a thoughtful, incisive episode of Mad Men that examined the characters’ relationships with their families and their partners, and asked, just who is the ‘better half’?

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Mad Men: Season 6, Episode 8–The Crash

“When you start something like this, it takes a lot of convincing. It’s all about whether or not the other person has as much to lose as you do, because you want to be able to trust them when it’s over.”

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This week was one of those rather surreal episodes that Mad Men does so well, with a disjointed, hallucinatory feel that mirrored the perspective of the protagonists in its main plotline. Having found prestigious new clients Chevrolet to be demanding and impossible to satisfy, the staff of… whatever the newly merged agency is called pulled an all-weekend brainstorming session. OK, we’ve seen them do that before, usually with the aid of prodigious quantities of alcohol. This time, though, at the urging of new partner Jim Cutler, they were doing it with the aid of some pretty hardcore stimulants. The results were as messy – and as entertaining – as you’d expect.

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Game of Thrones: Season 3, Episode 8–Second Sons

“We do not choose our destiny. But we must do our duty now. Great or small, we must do our duty.”

GoTTyrionSansa

With dozens of intermingling plotlines and enough major characters to fill a small army, Game of Thrones rarely gets to linger on any one setting or group of characters in much detail. When it does, as with this week’s episode, it’s always a treat, allowing the treacherous characters and their Machiavellian schemes greater depth. And despite the fact that not a one of them can be trusted (except perhaps poor, naive Sansa Stark, who somehow still doesn’t get it) I can happily watch this lot showing us more of themselves.

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Doctor Who: Series 7, Episode 14–The Name of the Doctor

“I’m Clara Oswald. I’m the Impossible Girl. I was born to save the Doctor.”

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Steven Moffat loves to engage with the fans of Doctor Who. And he particularly loves to bait some of the more humourless fans whose presumed ownership of the show makes their gorges rise in anger at the thought of anyone doing something with it that they personally don’t like. He’s got form, provoking them with titles like Let’s Kill Hitler and The Doctor’s Wife (which turned out not to be literal), then having the Doctor seemingly actually get married – or did he?

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Mad Men – Season 6, Episode 7 – Man With a Plan

“I need you. And nothing else will do.”

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Not surprisingly, this week’s Mad Men concerned itself with the aftermath of last week’s surprise merger between Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce and Cutler, Gleason and Chaough. Like any merger, it meant that suddenly there was much duplication of work, and fear of redundancy stalked the offices of… what should we call it now? Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce Cutler Gleason Chaough? That’s a mouthful even as an acronym – SCDPCGC. I think Lane Pryce’s memorial namecheck may be first for the chop.

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Game of Thrones: Season 3, Episode 7 – The Bear and the Maiden Fair

“People work together when it suits ‘em. They’re loyal when it suits ‘em. Love each other when it suits ‘em. And kill each other when it suits ‘em.”

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Love was in the air this week in Game of Thrones, though in keeping with the show’s usual style, it didn’t make Westeros seem any more appealing a place to live. Love, both emotional and carnal, was very much in the forefront of many of the characters’ minds (though the ‘carnal’ part is usually a given anyway). It fed into the many subplots which increasingly involve people being forced into marriage against their wills for reasons of political subterfuge, in this year’s script by original author George RR Martin.

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Doctor Who: Series 7, Episode 13–Nightmare in Silver

“Hail to you, the Doctor – the saviour of the Cybermen!”

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Having penned the instant classic The Doctor’s Wife, renowned author Neil Gaiman was back this week for a second stab at a very different kind of Doctor Who episode. Nightmare in Silver was an attempt at something more like a horror story, something which Neil can do very well – read Sandman issue 6 for a good example. And the Cybermen are good fodder for horror, as their 1967 story Tomb of the Cybermen shows.

There were more than a few deliberate echoes of that classic here; but even as a fan, I’m not sure Neil Gaiman really pulled off making this an effective horror tale. The mechanical horror of the Cybermen sat rather uneasily with his trademark quirky and whimsical imagination. Both aspects of the story were great, in isolation; together, I’m not sure they entirely gelled.

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