Unlike the prior season, this season’s opener had me glued to the TV set from beginning to end. The episode is titled Time Zones, and Joel Murray as Freddy Rumsen opened it with an entrancing monologue (an ad for Accutron watches) that also serves both as a metaphor on time, and on the value of objects for those of us who are fond of our material possessions – especially our watches.
The pitch of Rumsen’s voice, the flat delivery, and the use of this monologue as the opener for the final season brings us into a Twilight Zone* of sorts, in keeping with the T-Zone title.
The women’s clothes have gone, as they did then, from Dior-inspired to Mod, but not that well. For instance, adding upholstery beads and red sleeves to Megan’s gown made it ugly, not “of the upmost high style couture.”
Pairing it with your grandma’s 1950s mink stole doesn’t go with Megan’s character. Bill Blass and a mink jacket would have been a better choice. Better yet,
Megan’s coloring and build would look best in clothes inspired by Anouk Aimée (seen in 1965 in this photo, or in 1963), but then we’re talking real couture.
Let’s hope Megan finds Halston before the next formal event.
Back to the Mad Men, I’ve gone from underwhelmed to bored, and now have the show on if I remember, mostly while doing other things (such as making to-do lists). The WSJ still has their Speakeasy, and even their panelists are not posting right away.
Here is what is wrong with this personal attack (besides being a personal attack on a nice guy) Don Draper is a TV character. A popular TV character who, despite all his flaws, is liked by viewers. If they did not like him, people would watch something else. There are 500 channels today.
Those who know who Don Draper is like him, but most Americans don’t know who he is because most Americans don’t watch the show. Hollywood gives the show a bunch of awards so the people in the White House assume everyone is watching it. But that is not happening.
So Barack Obama’s strategy is to portray his opponent as someone whom most people don’t know and those who do know like.
And people do not watch “Mad Men” because the 1960s were not an interesting time to them. To try to portray Romney as a throwback to the 1950s (which for the mathematically challenged pre-date the setting for the show by a decade) is doomed to even worse failure. Most younger voters don’t know what the heck is meant by the 1950s and baby boomers liked the 1950s. Sure. What is not to like? We were kids. The 1950s were a time of Buffalo Bob and Howdy Doody, of Davey Crockett and coonskin caps, and of rock ‘n’ roll and Dick Clark. Give me the 1950s any day of the week. Cars had fins. Cereal had more sugar than cereal. You could smoke and not get cancer. It’s true. I saw it on TV.
So yes, turn back the clock to the 1950s and remind today’s core audiences of when they were kids and anything was possible.
My old enthusiasm for Mad Men is fading considerably. After waiting for a year and a half, the series is back, and is now on its third episode.
Here’s what going wrong:
1. The old suspense over Don’s real identity and what would happen if he got found out – one of the big arching threads of the first couple of seasons – has been resolved. Now everybody knows, including Don’s bimboesque second wife Megan. Don’s first near-wife is dead and forgotten. No replacement for her interesting character or the story line yet.
2. Men stopped wearing hats in the mid-1960s.
3. Piling cliche upon cliche, Don’s second wife is catty, immature, a poor housekeeper, and sings bad songs while forcing Don to endure a most-unwanted birthday party. How more obvious can you get? A Roy Lichtenstein canvas over the fireplace spelling out “THIS MARRIAGE IS DOOMED”?
4. The one new character who got some camera time this week, Michael Ginsberg, is even more annoying than Pete, while Pete continues to annoy as always. Sal is gone forever, and Bertram Cooper (Robert Morse) is not on camera long enough to make one hope he’ll break into A Secretary Is Not a Toy.
Joan showed up unexpectedly at the office last week in a cocktail dress and hasn’t been heard of since.
Weird Glenn stayed at the old neighborhood.
Trudy’s wearing house dresses, depressed and nagging…in the ‘burbs. Yet another cliche.
5. Betty got fat. For a show that cashes in on the stylishness of its characters, having the Grace Kelly look-alike in a fat suit is probably not a good thing, since it brings to mind endless (cliched) Oprah lamentations about hating one’s body, yadda, yadda. However, the writers probably came up with this plot device since January Jones is pregnant.
It would have been more interesting, however, to have a blissfully pregnant Betty happily married to a Republican while living in full Victorian splendor in a Castle on the Hudson. It may have even caused Megan to exclaim, Zoot alors! from the middle of her Danish Modern apartment.
Which brings me to the last issue,
6. Politics appears to be rearing up its ugly head:
Two, count ’em, two digs at Republicans: George Romney, then governor of Michigan, enduring a put-down “Romney’s a clown!” (by a John Lindsay Republican, fer cryin’ out loud, which makes one wonder who’s beclowning who), which of course is a dig at Mitt Romney because who’s the Romney in the news? how many Mad Men viewers know that George even existed?
and an anecdote on Charlton Heston, then a Democrat who at the height of his fame marched with Martin Luther King, Jr, in Washington. Of course this was not mentioned.
Heston supposedly “had great weed” and met Harry Crane naked at the door. Wish I had been there, but still,
Republican fans of the show (and I am one) will now have to worry about more of this straight through to the end of the season
The Journa’s conversation poses the question that (maybe) tonight’s episode will answer:
Creative work doesn’t always pay off. To be an artist, which is exactly what Don in his way is, is to live with the risk of failure. Where is Don headed? For Midge’s garret or the serious glamor of anti-tobacco campaigns?
Three episodes left in the season and last Sunday there were panic attacks in every form. Don had a panic attack, Lane gets kicked in the face by his own father, and Lucky Strike left Roger after Roger found out Joan is pregnant (is she still pregnant by episode’s end?). All the panics involved secrets in one form or another, and how secrets take a toll. Soap, 99.44% pure.
Last week’s episode had confrontation after confrontation,
But my absolute favorite fact about the show is that the abusive Robert Pryce informs his son Lane that he will be staying at the Warwick Hotel until Friday. Warwick Hotel? That rang a bell. As readers are no doubt weary of hearing, I was a clerk in New York City in the summer of 1965. Although I couldn’t score a ticket to the legendary Beatles concert in Shea Stadium on Sunday night, August 15th of that year, I followed the daily saga of that week’s British Invasion of NYC. Especially memorable was the riot that occurred as a mob of (mostly) young girls surrounded the Warwick Hotel where the Beatles – and Robert Pryce! – were staying.
The mob scene at the Warwick occurred on the morning of Friday the thirteenth. It would have been well nigh impossible to exit the hotel that morning. Did the Pryces miss their flight to London? Or did Robert Pryce use his horrible skill with his walking-stick-as-weapon to beat their way through the chorus of teenyboppers-in-heat. (Their whole father/son thing seems to confirm the worst stereotypes of what British boarding school abuse leads to).
The preview for tonight’s episode doesn’t seem all that exciting, with Peggy being stuck in a car with the Communist guy, a most uninteresting character,