“This business doesn’t have feelings. You get bought, you get sold, you get fired. Even if your name’s on the damn door, you should know better than to get attached to some walls.”
With just two more episodes to go after this one, this week’s Mad Men felt properly like the party was winding down. The surprise absorption of Sterling Cooper & Partners by McCann Erickson threw all our characters into a traumatic transition, and despite the feeling that things are nearly over for these guys, Semi Chellas and Matthew Weiner’s script still managed to fit in that trademark mixture of portentous drama, black comedy and social commentary that’s been Mad Men’s stock-in-trade for so many years. Continue reading “Mad Men: Season 7, Episode 12: Lost Horizon”
“For the first time I feel that whatever happens is supposed to happen.”
With only three more episodes to go after this one, this week’s Mad Men felt for the first time like it was entering the end game of the series. Although the show’s initial focus was on Don Draper, its roster of characters has grown since then into a well-drawn ensemble – the question I kept asking myself was, how will concluding Don’s narrative serve as a sense of closure for all these people? I’m amazed I missed the obvious answer. The end of the show can only be about the end of the agency – the final destiny of Sterling Cooper & Partners, which has been the centre of all these people’s lives since the show began. Continue reading “Mad Men: Season 7, Episode 11 – Time & Life”
“When someone dies, you just want to make sense of it. But you can’t.”
Rejoice, for Mad Men is back after its year-long ‘mid-season break’! Then weep, for this is the beginning of the last seven episodes we’ll get to spend with existentially-troubled cad Don Draper and his dysfunctional colleagues at Sterling Cooper & Partners. Continue reading “Mad Men: Season 7, Episode 8 – Severance”
“No man has ever come back from leave – even Napoleon.”
Mad Men is usually the most understated drama possible, much of its plots conveyed by subtext, implication, Don Draper staring enigmatically at nothing in particular. Every so often though, an episode startles you by bringing that subtext to the fore, making it… text, I suppose, with events that carry a real dramatic charge. A rape, a pregnancy, a suicide (or two) – all these are like a shock of ice-cold water to the face after a lengthy bathe in the nice warm water of the show’s usual near-ambience.
Continue reading “Mad Men: Season 7, Episode 7–Waterloo”
“You really want to help me? Show me how you think.”
I always know I’m in for a treat when Mad Men’s opening credits include the words “written by Semi Chellas”. Chellas, for my money is one of the best writers working on the show. She it was who (along with Weiner) wrote the storming season 5 ep The Other Woman, which showed us Joan’s heartbreaking decision to compromise her integrity for career advancement; I still rate that as one of the best single eps the show has ever done.
Continue reading “Mad Men: Season 7, Episode 6–The Strategy”
“This is the best place to be right now, Don.”
Another tightly focused episode of Mad Men this week, as David Iserson and Matthew Weiner’s script dealt with three plots. Unusually for the show, they didn’t particularly intersect or inform each other; less unusually, the one which, at first glance, seemed light and comedic took a very dark turn by the end.
Continue reading “Mad Men: Season 7, Episode 5–Runaways”
“You have a fundamental misunderstanding of what went wrong here.”
This week saw an episode of Mad Men that took the often fruitful approach of focusing on just a few of the characters, and juxtaposing plotlines both professional and personal. On the personal level, we had Roger Sterling’s family crisis with his disappearing daughter. And while last week delved more successfully into the pit of Betty’s soul than Don’s, this week had more insight into Sterling Cooper & Partners’ former alpha male. As is often the case, it wasn’t pretty.
Continue reading “Mad Men: Season 7, Episode 4–The Monolith”
“Sometimes I think maybe I died, and I’m in, I don’t know if it’s Heaven or Hell or Limbo, but I don’t seem to exist. No one feels my existence.”
This week, Mad Men took one of its occasional turns towards ironic humour, in an episode full of people telling each other transparently unconvincing lies which crumbled to the touch. Jonathan Igla and Matthew Weiner’s script was so full of comical misunderstandings that, had it been made in Britain in the 70s, it would have made a pretty good Whitehall farce. But this is Mad Men, and the humour on display was black in tone and undercut by the show’s usual bleak nihilism.
Continue reading “Mad Men: Season 7, Episode 2–A Day’s Work”
“There’s someone above you, and someone below you, and everyone’s buying everyone dinner.”
It’s a long overdue welcome back for the ladies and gentlemen (mostly gentlemen) of Sterling Cooper & Partners, in the first half of the final season of Mad Men. Yes, while Matthew Weiner’s acclaimed drama may have one more episode than usual for this seventh, conclusive outing, the fourteen episodes are going to be split into two ‘half-seasons’, the first broadcast this April, the last next April. If you thought the ‘mid-season break’ was annoying in shows like Doctor Who or The Walking Dead, at least you don’t usually have to wait an entire year…
Continue reading “Mad Men: Season 7, Episode 1–Time Zones”
“I don’t know what I brought out in you, but I know there’s a good man in there.”
And so, another season of Mad Men draws to a close that is at once understated and powerful. Since the show is very much an ensemble piece, this season closer spent a little time on many of the characters whose plotlines have been in play this year. But once again, as ever, looming large over all of them was the dapper, tormented shadow of Don Draper.
Continue reading “Mad Men: Season 6, Episode 13 – In Care Of”