“I’m jealous of your ability to be sentimental about the past. I’m not able to do that. I remember things as they were.”
Mad Men is not a show that does sentimentality. Emphatically not. However much you the audience may come to like these well-rounded but flawed characters, in the words of Game of Thrones, “if you’re hoping for a happy ending, you haven’t been paying attention”. You might want things to turn out all right for the gang of misfits you’ve unwillingly come to love, but it ain’t gonna happen. First sign of a happy ending, and reality is going to jump up like a schoolyard bully and brutally beat them around the face until it all collapses into despair. Continue reading “Mad Men: Season 7, episode 13 – The Milk and Honey Route”
“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”
“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”
“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”
“Not all surprises are bad.”
Oh really, Roger Sterling? Not all surprises are bad? In the real world maybe, but this is Mad Men, where everything that happens to everyone is bad. If you really think some surprises here are good, just ask Don Draper. Or Sally Draper. Or, for that matter, Pete Campbell.
Continue reading “Mad Men: Season 6, Episode 11–Favors”
“I’m in charge of thinking of things before people know they need them.”
Rarely has an episode of Mad Men been so light and fluffy, and (almost) devoid of the usual gloom and portents that characterise the show. And rarely has an ep had a title so literal, as this week saw Don, Roger and Harry jet off to LA on business, while back in New York, Joan tried to get more involved in the business herself – as opposed to just office admin.
Continue reading “Mad Men: Season 6, Episode 10–A Tale of Two Cities”
“We’re both two halves of the same person. We want the same things.”
“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’?
Continue reading “Mad Men: Season 6, Episode 9–The Better Half”
“Just once, I’d like to hear you use the word ‘we’. Because we’re all rooting from the sidelines, hoping that you’ll decide whatever you think is right for our lives.”
After last week’s thoughtful tussle with history, it was back to business with a vengeance for this week’s Mad Men. With Matthew Weiner scripting solo for the first time since the season premiere, this week saw the fortunes of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce on some kind of insane rollercoaster, as Big Decisions were made by sub-cliques among the partners who surely should have checked with the others before making them. As ever, it turned out to be (by a very lucky combination of circumstances), Don and Roger who came up smelling of roses, while the ever-unlucky Pete Campbell saw his stock both at work and at home go plunging.
Continue reading “Mad Men: Season 6, Episode 6–For Immediate Release”