Mad Men

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Postby kaytodd » Sun Aug 17, 2008 10:48 am

I will probably get flamed big time for this, and richly deserve it. But I cannot resist since the idea makes me laugh.

My wife was watching the rerun of last Sunday's episode that aired earlier this morning and, like everyone else, was startled by the encounter between Don and Bobbie in the restaurant. Right after that scene, she said that maybe Bobbie is a tranny, and Don was letting her know he was aware of this and would spill the beans.

I do not think that is the case (talk about needlessly jumping the shark when your show is just catching on), but it did make for an interesting discussion. We do not know what sex acts Don and Bobbie (how about that name "Bobbie")performed in the car. If she just gave Don head, he would have no way of knowing the truth (sort of like The Crying Game). Bobbie orders a Dubonnet with a twist, like Dustin Hoffman did when we are first introduced to Dorothy Michaels in Tootsie. That probably means nothing. Dustin probably orders that drink because it would have been considered a real ladies' drink for a woman of Dorothy's generation. But still...

If the only thing that happened in the car was Bobbie giving Don head, perhaps something happened to make him wonder about her gender. He puts her hand up her dress to let her know he knows the truth. That would end any show business career in 1962. So she gives in to Don's demand. Is this as reasonable an explanation for Don's putting his hand up her dress as his merely going "caveman" on her.

But this must be wrong. There is no need for the show to go to such a silly place. And I'll bet there is something I am missing from the show that would prove that Bobbie is female. But my wife did make an interesting observation and it made for a fun review of details of the show, sort of like we all did after we saw The Sixth Sense the first time.

Hey, I know this is dumb, but the board is always a little slow this time of year.
The great thing in the world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving. It's faith in something and enthusiasm for something that makes a life worth living. Oliver Wendell Holmes

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Postby Franz Ferdinand » Wed Aug 13, 2008 7:30 pm

I've been watching the first season on DVD, so naturally I cannot read much of this thread, but I love it, it might be the first TV show that I could esteem as highly as the West Wing. So far.

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Postby Damien » Tue Aug 12, 2008 6:07 pm

I didn't recognize the film Don was watching either -- the excerpt wasn't long enough for me to determine. I googled, and film critic Matt Zoller Zeitz said that he thought it was Chris Marker's Le Jetee. But on the AMC site, someone shot that down by noting that the narration in the Marker was that of a male voice.

Someone else on the AMC site observed that at the time in which the episode is set, these two French films had opened in NY:

L'Anée dernier à Mariènbad -- March 7
Testament d'Orphée -- April 9

And another AMC poster: "Transcribed the subtitles and caught everything but one bit that was white text over the snow:

Bertha Bigfoot, Beatrice, Alice Arembourg, heiress to Maine and Joan the good maid of Lorraine whom the English burrned at Rouen where are they, where [isn't clear enough to read] Virgin?

Queen Blanche, light as a fly, who sang with a mermaid's voice (repeats) Bertha Bigfoot, Beatrice, Alice Arembourg, heiress to Maine

One should never strain one's eyes on a twelve inch screen to read such tiny text!"

And another: "The text that was written was from a poem by François Villon, a 15th century french poet. The poem is Ballade des Dames du Temps Jadis, Ballad of the Ladies of Times Past (or Ballad of Dead Ladies). Here is the wikipedia page on the poem, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ballade_des_Dames_du_Temps_Jadis . Reading the entire poem makes it clear why it was chosen for DOn Draper's character to watch. I can't, however, determine what movie used this poem in it. My only guess is the 1945 Francois VIllon by filmmaker Zwoboda. I haven't seen that film but it might contain the poem, as the film looked arty and Zwoboda worked with Renoir. There were more films about his life but none I thinks would be as avante garde. Anyone have any better suggestion."



Googling also learned me that the name of The Defenders episode referenced on the show and the title of this Mad Men episode were the same: "The Benefactor."

And this from the NY Post:

THE GRAB MAN
By ADAM BUCKMAN

August 12, 2008 --
"MAD Men," a show about the early '60s that never could have aired then, featured a storyline about a show that did air then, but almost didn't because of its subject matter.

The show within the show was "The Defenders," a legal drama about father-son lawyers starring E.G. Marshall and Robert Reed (later to play dad Mike Brady on "The Brady Bunch") that aired from 1961 to 1965 on CBS.

On "Mad Men" this past Sunday, the fictional Madison Avenue ad agency of Sterling Cooper became involved in a controversy over an episode of "The Defenders" having to do with abortion, a very risky topic in that era.

Sterling Cooper's role in the story is fictitious. The uproar over the episode, titled "The Benefactor" (which was also the title given to the "Mad Men" episode), was true.

In 1962, just weeks before the episode aired, according to various histories, three sponsors withdrew from the show, creating a headache for CBS.

On "Mad Men," two of the three sponsors are identified by a CBS ad salesman (played by Nat Faxon) as Lever Brothers (marketer of detergents and soaps) and Kimberly-Clark (marketer of Kleenex and other brands), but the factual accuracy of his statement could not be confirmed.

Not mentioned on the show: Another sponsor - Speidel, maker of watches - came on board, picking up the available spots at bargain-basement prices.

Despite the controversy, "The Defenders" aired as scheduled on April 28, 1962.

"Mad Men," of course, is very much a contemporary TV show that never could have aired in '62, especially this past Sunday's episode in which clean-cut Ken-doll adman Don Draper (Jon Hamm) sexually assaulted a woman with his hand.

Draper was trying - successfully, as it turned out - to force the woman (Melinda McGraw), with whom Draper is having an affair, to get her husband, a brash comedian, to apologize to the wife of Draper's client after the comedian savagely insulted her during a commercial shoot.

Draper's sudden assault, which took place under the cover of the woman's dress, was the most extreme behavior he has exhibited so far. It signaled that AMC, like HBO, intends to explore the outer edges of human behavior in its signature shows. (Of course, if you saw Bryan Cranston's character in "Breaking Bad," a meek schoolteacher, strangle a thug with a bike lock last winter, then you already know how far AMC appears willing to go.)

Brash comedians and abortions in prime-time had some of the "Mad Men" characters longing for days gone by.

"Oh, God, I miss the '50s," lamented ad agency chieftain Roger Sterling (John Slattery) when faced with cleaning up the comedian's mess.

Clearly, for the admen of Sterling Cooper in '62, the times they were a-changin'.




Edited By Damien on 1218582531
"Y'know, that's one of the things I like about Mitt Romney. He's been consistent since he changed his mind." -- Christine O'Donnell

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Postby kaytodd » Tue Aug 12, 2008 4:39 pm

Mister Tee wrote:And what was the film Don was watching? The steady voice-over made me think Jules and Jim (timing's right), but that was all Truffaut, where this was a woman speaking.

I was thinking Jules And Jim while watching the show. I'll bet several posters here know what film that was. I thought it was interesting that Don was playing hooky from work to watch a foreign film. I remember that scene in the diner from the first episode of this season. A man sitting near him was reading what appeared to be a book of poetry and told Don he did not think he would enjoy it. He saw how Don was dressed and thought "unhip." Maybe that bothered Don and he is trying to broaden his horizons. This is the early Sixties. I wonder what other experiments Don will indulge in this season.
The great thing in the world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving. It's faith in something and enthusiasm for something that makes a life worth living. Oliver Wendell Holmes

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Postby Mister Tee » Tue Aug 12, 2008 1:44 pm

flipp525 wrote:
Mister Tee wrote:Anyone recognize any of the actors in the Defenders clips?

When Harry is watching the show by himself, I recognized Collin Wilcox Paxton who most famously played Mayella Violet Ewall, the girl who accuses Brock Peters' Tom Robinson of rape in To Kill A Mockingbird. In "The Defenders" scene she was again on the stand undergoing a series of questions about her abortion.

IMDB lists her as having played Elinor Stafford in "The Benefactor", a 1962 episode of "The Defenders". Here are more details on that particular episode.

Thank you, flipp. It was one of those "I recognize the face, why can't I remember from where?" moments.

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Postby flipp525 » Tue Aug 12, 2008 1:29 pm

Mister Tee wrote:Anyone recognize any of the actors in the Defenders clips?

When Harry is watching the show by himself, I recognized Collin Wilcox Paxton who most famously played Mayella Violet Ewall, the girl who accuses Brock Peters' Tom Robinson of rape in To Kill A Mockingbird. In "The Defenders" scene she was again on the stand undergoing a series of questions about her abortion.

IMDB lists her as having played Elinor Stafford in "The Benefactor", a 1962 episode of "The Defenders". Here are more details on that particular episode.




Edited By flipp525 on 1218566075
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Postby Mister Tee » Tue Aug 12, 2008 1:19 pm

I had some of the same problenms with the Jimmy Barrett character as Damien did. First, I wondered who it was meant to reference -- it was a couple of years too early for Rickles, (who I first saw on a Dick van Dyke show a year or two later), though it's clearly Rickles' style. The comic most associated with potato chip commercials in that era was Bert Lahr/Lay's, but his style was utterly different. Second, I didn't find Barrett remotely funny in that early scene (honestly, I didn't even get the point of the Hindenburg reference, till he went on with further fat allusions). I did, however, find him funny in the Lutece scene ("Loved you in Gentreman's Agreement" really cracked me up).

Don's aggression/borderline assault on Barrett's wife was shocking -- I don't think we've seen Don push it that far before. I was a little surprised she succumbed so easily to a threat I wasn't sure had teeth; perhaps she was just as shocked as we (and maybe a little afraid, thinking the threat was addressed more to her than him).

Anyone recognize any of the actors in the Defenders clips? And what was the film Don was watching? The steady voice-over made me think Jules and Jim (timing's right), but that was all Truffaut, where this was a woman speaking.

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Postby Damien » Tue Aug 12, 2008 9:41 am

flipp525 wrote:My heart absolutely broke for Peggy when they were watching "The Defenders" (was that an actual show?)

The Defenders ran for several years in the early 60s and was a darling of TV critics and the Emmy people. It made a point of dealing with controversial subjects. Onr thing that didn't ring true is when Harry's friend from CBS explains to him that The Defenders stars E.G. Marshall and Robert Reed. Anyone in 1962 would have known that.
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Postby flipp525 » Tue Aug 12, 2008 8:14 am

kaytodd wrote:
FilmFan720 wrote:I don't know, I liked the episode a lot. And he told her he would ruin Jimmy.

Not only did Don tell Bobbie he would ruin Jimmy, he did so while his right hand was up her dress and between her legs and his left hand had a big chunk of her hair, which he was using to bend her head back as far as it would go. She returned to the table and followed Don's instructions to the letter.

That was incredibly shocking to me. You just don't fuck with Don Draper, dear. You might fuck him, but you don't fuck with him. That Bobbie woman was a simply odious human being.

The Harry subplot was a great way to introduce the whole television angle into Sterling Cooper as well as give us some insight into his character. And why exactly is Ken making $300/week? Could have something to do with being a published writer.

My heart absolutely broke for Peggy when they were watching "The Defenders" (was that an actual show?) and the woman was frightened by the prospect of having her illegimitate baby taken away by a doctor. I don't think Peggy has properly dealt with that situation in the slightest as evidenced by her still barely acknowledging the existence her own child last week.

I found Jimmy Barrett's whole Utz shtick terribly unfunny.

The Draper marriage is so dysfunctionally complex and only seems to work (and I use that term in only the loosest sense of the word) because neither of them are honest with each other in the slightest. Betty was just a huge mess this episode. I couldn't follow her motivations from one scene to the next. She and the male rider -- Arthur, I think -- (Betty's girlfriend's "somewhere there's a pregnant woman floating in a lake" line was hilarious) don't seem particularly well-suited, nevertheless I can see her entering some dangerous territory. They're clearly setting up the stable as a playing ground for Betty's arc this season. January Jones is the MVP for me so far this season. I think she's doing some amazing work.

Not the strongest episode, but a good set-up for things to come. Several small things happened that could become important later.




Edited By flipp525 on 1218553756
"The mantle of spinsterhood was definitely in her shoulders. She was twenty five and looked it."



-Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

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Postby kaytodd » Mon Aug 11, 2008 5:08 pm

FilmFan720 wrote:I don't know, I liked the episode a lot. And he told her he would ruin Jimmy.

Not only did Don tell Bobbie he would ruin Jimmy, he did so while his right hand was up her dress and between her legs and his left hand had a big chunk of her hair, which he was using to bend her head back as far as it would go. She returned to the table and followed Don's instructions to the letter.
The great thing in the world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving. It's faith in something and enthusiasm for something that makes a life worth living. Oliver Wendell Holmes

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Postby kaytodd » Mon Aug 11, 2008 5:02 pm

I also liked the episode a lot. I saw the subplot involving The Defenders episode as the beginning of a story arc involving Harry asserting himself at the firm for the first time. He appeared to be nothing but a useless nebbish but he saw an opportunity to set himself apart in the firm with a pretty risky move and it paid off for him. If he does well with his promotion and his new responsibilities, this will affect his relationships with the other guys at his level at the firm. If Harry gets his hopes up but Don and the other partners do not take the television department seriously, it could have very bad consequences for him.

This firm is filled with interesting people played by good actors. I am looking forward to seeing how Harry comes out. It seems to be very important that he makes his wife happy. I believe his wife kicked him out of the house briefly when he had the drunken one night stand with his secretary on Election Night 1960. But they obviously reconciled and the wife is pregnant. This new project is very important to him.
The great thing in the world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving. It's faith in something and enthusiasm for something that makes a life worth living. Oliver Wendell Holmes

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Postby FilmFan720 » Mon Aug 11, 2008 12:46 pm

I don't know, I liked the episode a lot. And he told her he would ruin Jimmy.
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Postby Damien » Mon Aug 11, 2008 1:12 am

Semi-Spoiler

Does anyone know what Don said to Bobbie Barrett in the lady's room to get her to straighten things out? (The air conditioning unit at the church next door went on at that monent and drowned out the dislogue.)

Thought this was the weakest of the episodes this season. A lot of it didn't quite ring true, especially Jimmy Barrett. (I wonder who he's supposed to be -- Don Rickles hadn't hit yet in '62, and Fat Jack E. Leonard, unlike Barrett, was Old School -- despite his insults routine.)

I also didn't find the goings on at the riding stable particularly interesting. And the "Defenders" segment went nowhere.

One thing I will say though, Jack Jones records are the perfect soundtrack to this series.
"Y'know, that's one of the things I like about Mitt Romney. He's been consistent since he changed his mind." -- Christine O'Donnell

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Postby Mister Tee » Mon Aug 04, 2008 2:07 pm

flipp525 wrote:Were they playing hearts at card night?

I thought it was bridge -- the archetypal suburban card game (no offense meant; I used to play it alot myself). Both games look about the same on the surface, but the mention of bidding made me think bridge.

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Postby Mister Tee » Mon Aug 04, 2008 12:51 pm

I felt far more in touch with this episode; it struck me as much more focused than the first. (I liked the first episode better when I watched it a second time, but it still seemed a bit scattershot -- like they were trying to start up too many story lines at once)

Damien, you're completely right about "Sukiyaki" being a 1963 hit -- a rare anachronism for the show (unless it was a hit in Japanese circles earlier).

All kinds of great stuff on the show. Joan's conversation with the black woman was scary-perfect -- her pinpoint use of the word "open-minded" brought back just how subtly bigotry was used in those days (as opposed to the overt way its usually portrayed in "liberal" films). Of course, it wasn't as simple as bigotry, since Joan also seemed to be nursing a grudge at seeing her ex in any kind of happy relationship.

Everyone's emotions seemed complicated, actually; the whole episode seemed to be about people tying to find appropriate responses to emotional circumstances and, often as not, failing. Pete was clueless about how to feel re: his father's death, and Don was, first, utterly inadequate at responding to Pete's grief (no doubt influenced by his past interactions with him) and then downright cold at a moment when Pete clearly needed just a touch of human kindness.

Of course Don, there, had his own emotional turmoil going on: being forced to bear the brunt of the Mohawk betrayal despite his own dissent from the action. What's extraordinary is how personally he seems to take it (even while not jumping to his own defense). (And was that "You fooled me" line devastating or what?) Earlier in the show, he'd seemed to be dealing with life's difficulties by shutting down -- with Pete, with his "I won't fight with you" response to Betty. It's as if he's done the reverse of most: staying aloof from personal relationships, but taking the business ones to heart.

At the same time, he's trying to be better. His rejection of the waitress' barely-veiled offer wouldn't have happened in season one.

And then there's Peggy, about whom we now know a good deal more. It had appeared she was something of a ruthless careerist beneath a deceptively sweet/innocent demeanor. But here we saw the innocence is still some part of her. Like many of us lapsed Catholics, she may have tossed off the sillier doctrine, but she's unable to shake the guilt at the root -- the feelings of unworthiness, the need for self-abasement. The last image of her holding the baby (one I'd thought was surely put up for adoption) tells us she's carrying far more weight than we'd assumed.

All this in just episode two. The series is fully living up to the outsized expectations.




Edited By Mister Tee on 1217872447


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