Mad Men: Season 7, Episode 14 – Person To Person

“You spend your whole life thinking you’re not getting it, people aren’t giving it to you. And you realise you don’t even know what ‘it’ is.”

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Tricky things, series finales. You never quite know what you’re going to get. They range from the satisfying (Sons of Anarchy, Star Trek the Next Generation) to the absolutely perfect (MASH, Babylon 5) to the maddeningly obtuse and disappointing (The Sopranos, Lost, Quantum Leap). So what could we expect from the conclusion to one of the most critically acclaimed, understated dramas of recent times? Well, in keeping with the show’s consistent tone of understated subtlety, what we got was… an episode of Mad Men. Not showy, not spectacular, but as excellent as ever and a perfectly consistent and logical ending to a story that could never really end in a conclusive way. Continue reading “Mad Men: Season 7, Episode 14 – Person To Person”

Mad Men: Season 7, Episode 12: Lost Horizon

“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.”

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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”

Mad Men: Season 7, Episode 11 – Time & Life

“For the first time I feel that whatever happens is supposed to happen.”

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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”

Mad Men: Season 7, Episode 9 – New Business

“You think you’re going to start your life over and get it right. But what if you never get past the beginning again?”

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After last week’s understated study in gloom, this week Mad Men felt decidedly lighter, in one of its periodic sidetrips into farce and comedy. That’s not to say there weren’t some pretty serious themes in here; divorce, family breakups and dead children do not usually a recipe for comedy make. But Mad Men has shown before that, even in the midst of its ever-present darkness, it can make episodes through which you can’t help chuckling. Continue reading “Mad Men: Season 7, Episode 9 – New Business”

Mad Men: Season 7, Episode 4–The Monolith

“You have a fundamental misunderstanding of what went wrong here.”

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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”

Mad Men: Season 7, Episode 3–The Field Trip

“All I can say is that Don is a very talented man – but how does he fit into things right now?”

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For all that it’s a subtle, nuanced drama dissecting a time and a society long vanished, Mad Men is still, at its heart, also a soap opera. Some episodes feel that way more than others, and this week’s was definitely one of them, with twin plots following the developing travails of Don and Betty. For Don, there was the challenge of rescuing his marriage and his career; for Betty, salving her remaining family life, now she’s averted the challenge of bringing up Sally by packing her off to boarding school. This being Mad Men, the results for both were not entirely happy.

Continue reading “Mad Men: Season 7, Episode 3–The Field Trip”

Mad Men: Season 7, Episode 1–Time Zones

“There’s someone above you, and someone below you, and everyone’s buying everyone dinner.”

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(SPOILER WARNING!)

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”