Mad Men's Final Season

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Re: Mad Men's Final Season

Postby FilmFan720 » Mon Apr 20, 2015 9:45 am

Count me underwhelmed, although not as much as last week.

Remember when Lost, with only a few episodes to go, spent an entire episode in flashback mode, with characters we didn't really know, sussing out the mythology of the island. People got up in arms over that episode, asking why we were wasting precious time, this late, with new characters or characters we don't have an emotional investment in. I liked that episode, and thought it was important to spend time with; however, I now understand that complaint.

So far this season, I feel like we have spent a lot of time on characters who didn't really need a final story or whose stories could have been finished (Megan's family, Johnny Mathis [did we even know his name before this season?], Glenn) and with new characters who fall pretty flat or repetitive (Don has another broken girlfriend, Joan found another scuzzbucket). With all of the stories Weiner could be exploring in this final bit of Mad Men, why are we wasting time on these. The humor has been gone from the show (or has fallen flat) and either nothing seems to happen or things happen way to fast (how many dates was that before Bruce Greenwood decided to move across the country to be with Joan?).

I still have every expectation that Weiner is going to find someway to land this appropriately (this series has always kept its best stuff for the last few episodes of a season), but so far it has been ho-hum for me. Mad Men seasons usually start off slow, but this has been more dreadful than usual for me.
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Re: Mad Men's Final Season

Postby flipp525 » Mon Apr 20, 2015 8:36 am

After one of the worst episodes of the series, I thought that "The Forecast" was a great return to form. I also thought that Mathis' line about Don being handsome and having no character spoke to a larger theme of the episode. It really seemed like an "Emperor Has No Clothes" moment and the comment really struck Don where he lives. Don is worried that all he is is a nice image, not a whole person. Hence his words to Sally at the bus stop at the end. How does Don take the firm and himself into the future when he's constantly stuck in the past? It seems like he's made small strides to move on but I thought it was very telling that he had to enlist Ted and Peggy to tell him their dreams because he couldn't think of any of his own. I'm still kind of working through that and will probably want to see this one again to see what else jumps out at me. The unknowability of what the future holds (even down to characters like Sally who was also unable to come up with her dream) is very much hanging over these final episodes.

In a continuing farewell tour of "Characters We Never Cared About But Matthew Weiner Still Does," we get treated to a Glenn Bishop update after being hit over the head with the Calvet clan last week. (Glenn. Reads. Lines. Like. This.) The show usually does such a good job of matching the "Previously on Mad Men" scenes with what will unfold in the episode that I was surprised that we didn't get that infamous Glenn/Betty scene in the parking lot from S1. The kitchen confessional in last night's episode seemed to wrap a neat bow on that relationship. I think the old Betty might've let him kiss her, too. The fact that she didn't showed a modicum of growth for a character that often makes one stride here and then regresses childishly. Sally is the voice of reason; her parents are attention whores.

It was nice to get such a Joan-centric hour and I thought she looked ravishing in every frame. They really know how to dress her (I loved Joan's green dress - form-fitting in front, cape in back. The perfect outfit for the business woman on the go). I was instantly put off by Bruce Greenwood's character and I don't feel the strong desire to see him again (although it seems like we might). He seems stalkerish and I also think there are things he himself is not sharing with Joan. Something is way off about him. Great casting of the hippie babysitter. Watching that small snippet with little Kevin watching the opening of "Sesame Street" was a total blast from the past for me and my childhood. Although it was much later in the decade, the babysitter actually reminded me of my circa 1978-80 babysitters who were usually college students and very pretty. (As a sidenote: I was shocked that Lou Avery is still part of the agency. I thought he had been shipped off before the merger. Joan definitely seemed to take note that he's been using office time for his own personal advancement. It seems like "Scout's Honor," Lou's comic strip about a monkey in the Army who cannot follow orders, could take him to the big time. Interestingly, he seemed to be the one character in the episode with a very clear dream and a plan to realize it that's already been put in motion. Although, I'm thinking that a military-themed cartoon at that time would be a hard sell.)

When those first chords of Roberta Flack's "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" came on, I was completely slayed. My parents first (blind) date occurred the same year as this episode. They went to see Play Misty for Me in which the Flack song is prominently featured. It's always sort of been "their song" and my sister and I were planning on incorporating it into their 40th wedding anniversary next month. I also just had dinner last week at Mr. Henry's in Capitol Hill where Flack used to perform upstairs when she was a D.C. schoolteacher. The album cover of her first album was taken in the bar area upstairs. I thought it was a perfect closing song for this episode, Don standing outside of his old life and ready to move on. To where, though, he doesn’t know. And neither do we.
Last edited by flipp525 on Mon Apr 20, 2015 10:33 am, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: Mad Men's Final Season

Postby Mike Kelly » Fri Apr 17, 2015 8:25 am

For those enamored with the music of Mad Men, here's a nice article on Matthew Weiner's dedication to selecting the 6os (and 50s) music he wanted to accompany his story:

http://www.npr.org/blogs/therecord/2015 ... of-mad-men

When he mentioned using the definitive cover of Bob Dylan's "Don't Think Twice" by Peter, Paul and Mary, it brought me back to 1965 and the odd cover of the song by The Wonder Who, a not so difficult to figure out pseudonym of The Four Seasons. It sold over a million copies.

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Re: Mad Men's Final Season

Postby flipp525 » Tue Apr 14, 2015 1:47 pm

FilmFan720 wrote:
flipp525 wrote:I'm guessing that this episode took place somewhere around May 24-27, 1970. The first scene was most likely Sunday night with Don dropping the boys back at the Francis residence after having them for the weekend and, if I recall correctly, Megan even mentioned that it was the 24th. That would also mean, of course, that no one mentioned Peggy's birthday on Monday, May 25. She turned 31.


flipp, how the Hell do you know Peggy's birthday?!?!?!

I'm a big Peggy fan, let's just say ;-)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peggy_Olson
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Re: Mad Men's Final Season

Postby FilmFan720 » Tue Apr 14, 2015 1:22 pm

flipp525 wrote:I'm guessing that this episode took place somewhere around May 24-27, 1970. The first scene was most likely Sunday night with Don dropping the boys back at the Francis residence after having them for the weekend and, if I recall correctly, Megan even mentioned that it was the 24th. That would also mean, of course, that no one mentioned Peggy's birthday on Monday, May 25. She turned 31.


flipp, how the Hell do you know Peggy's birthday?!?!?!
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Re: Mad Men's Final Season

Postby flipp525 » Tue Apr 14, 2015 12:07 pm

Tee, Nixon's televised speech on Laos and the situation in Southeast Asia has already been identified as having occurred on April 30th, 1970. You can even find the exact speech on YouTube, so there's really no confusion about when "Severance" takes place in history. Again, given the fact that Diana has been gone for some weeks and it was seen as May 1970 on the check that Don writes Megan, I would think May 4th (and Kent State) has come and gone.

I'm guessing that this episode took place somewhere around May 24-27, 1970. The first scene was most likely Sunday night with Don dropping the boys back at the Francis residence after having them for the weekend and, if I recall correctly, Megan even mentioned that it was the 24th. That would also mean, of course, that no one mentioned Peggy's birthday on Monday, May 25. She turned 31.

[Sidenote: Interesting that the beginning of the Megan relationship began with milkshakes in "Tomorrowland" (when she told Don not to get upset over spilt milkshakes at Disneyland) and ended with chocolate milkshakes at the Francis house.]

Diana seems to most closely resemble Don's biological mother (and Dick Whitman himself): she's poor, Midwestern, lives in an unkempt boarding house-ish flat, sees and refers to herself somewhat as a prostitute, fond of a good book, like Don—all with an aura of overwhelming sadness. She is the closest he's gotten to fucking his own mother, a repeating theme throughout the show. At times she seems like a distillation of many of Don's lost lovers, and at times she seems like a random next installment of his "type." Something is also telling me that we haven't seen the last of her.

And if we're revisiting characters from old seasons each episode (Rachel Menken last week and the Rosen's this week), I wouldn't mind finding out whatever happened to Faye Miller. Something tells me that Don's life would've been a whole lot better had he chosen her over Megan. I've never forgotten Faye's utterly on-point charge that Don "only likes the beginnings of things."
Last edited by flipp525 on Tue Apr 14, 2015 2:21 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Mad Men's Final Season

Postby Mister Tee » Mon Apr 13, 2015 7:44 pm

I thought it would be a mistake to break Mad Men's final season into two bite-size portions, and I'm afraid what's happened so far confirms my worst fears. This isn't Matthew Weiner's fault: he resisted the idea, but AMC -- which has never seemed to grasp why this show is different from Breaking Bad -- forced it on him. Last year, it took well into the season for the show to catch its rhythm -- which it finally did magnificently, with the moon-walk show -- but starting over again has put the show in a hole, and five episodes doesn't seem much time to get fully into a groove.

I was puzzled why so many people were so sure the kick-off episode was set in April 1970. My initial thought was we might be still back in 1969, given that's when Is That All There Is? hit the charts (it was on the radio the month I started college in 1969). I eventually pieced together that Roger & Ted couldn't have grown those hideous mustaches so completely without months of work, and the Nixon mention of "Laos" in his speech made it sound more like a 1970 than a 1969 speech. But I still wonder if the certainty around the Internet arose from a tip-off -- like, maybe AMC's publicity material?

Given where we seemed to start in 1970, I was surprised Kent State didn't make a quick appearance Sunday night. Though of course this episode was unusually free of historical markers; for all I know, May 4th is still a week in the future. But having no historical context is one of the reasons the show's been disappointing so far: remaking our way through the era's events has always been just as much part of the show as the relationships. So, while there have been other letdowns in the season-to-date, as people have recounted (not enough Joan, no Sally at all!, and a dreary new mopey conquest for Don), I guess I'm most sad that, so far, the show doesn't seem like itself, and there's not much time for it to return to that form before it says goodbye for good.

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Re: Mad Men's Final Season

Postby CalWilliam » Mon Apr 13, 2015 6:21 pm

I totally agree with all of you. And a Mad Men episode without Christina Hendricks is a waste of a Mad Men episode in my book. She's the show's soul. I really like the series, specially the three first seasons, and I only wish two things for this five last episodes to come.

First, I hope Don's character won't be THIS predictable till the end. We have already seen him doing these things indeed, and second, I also hope Elisabeth Moss and Christina Hendricks will get the proper material that will eventually earn them each the Emmy both deserve.
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Re: Mad Men's Final Season

Postby flipp525 » Mon Apr 13, 2015 2:30 pm

Totally agree with you on that, Tripp. Well-worn territory indeed.

Something else that bothered me about this episode was the timeline. When Don tracked down Diana, he seemed to indicate that it had been quite some time since he'd last seen her. She subsequently explained that she had been in Racine. However, the date on Don's check to Megan was May 1970 which is only about a month after the events of the previous episode. Didn't seem long enough to me.

Maybe Weiner knew this would air the same night as the "Game of Thrones" premiere and didn't want to waste a good episode?
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Re: Mad Men's Final Season

Postby FilmFan720 » Mon Apr 13, 2015 2:11 pm

flipp525 wrote:
FilmFan720 wrote:That whole subplot with the waitress was D.O.A. last week, I felt, and this week just dragged on and on. What were we supposed to take from that? That some people are just as screwed up, or fearful of their lives, as Don? That Don likes broken women? That some women will turn him down? We knew all that. Each of those scenes dragged on very slowly (except for the great cameo from the neighbors on the elevator).

Don usually goes for those broken brunettes in between the more stable relationships in his life. Even Suzanne (Sally's teacher from a few seasons back) while kind of Earth Mother-ish, had a troubled brother who Don tried to help for her. He likes to try and save the damaged women he was unable to save as the ineffectual Dick Whitman of his youth (his mother, Abigail, the Hershey Bar prostitute, etc.)


flipp, I get all that. The fact that you had all those examples only goes to prove that the sub-plot wasn't really necessary. This close to the finish line, it seemed to be mining an old trope that we didn't need to see again, and in an uncompelling way.
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Re: Mad Men's Final Season

Postby Kellens101 » Mon Apr 13, 2015 1:53 pm

Yeah, I was heavily disappointed by last night's episode. There was too much time spent on unnecessary characters and plot lines, such as Megan and her obnoxious family, as well as Mimi Roger's character. And there's been only one scene of Betty and no Joan of Sally! That's clearly the sign of a weaker episode. I hope it gets better as the series inches closer to that last episode.

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Re: Mad Men's Final Season

Postby The Original BJ » Mon Apr 13, 2015 1:40 pm

I'm glad I wasn't the only person who thought this was an unusually sub-par episode for the series. There are a lot of people in my real life who aren't crazy about Mad Men, and I find myself constantly defending the show, but last night I definitely felt like a lot of the criticisms they hurl at the show were hard to deny.

FilmFan, your theory that each of the remaining episodes will slowly say goodbye to certain characters is a compelling one -- if anything, it would at least promise more focus around the core cast as the series reaches its conclusion. Because, frankly, I found myself wondering why, with only five episodes left, we were focusing on people like Megan's sister, the photographer, and Don's new waitress love interest, when so many of the major players had so little to do. (One scene for Betty, nothing for Joan or Ted, and we haven't seen Sally yet in either of these two eps.)

And I agree with flipp about the matchy-matchy nature of some of the storylines -- Megan turning down Harry's advances seemed to parallel way too obviously the aggressive behavior of the photographer toward Peggy and Stan, showing two sides of the same coin in a manner that felt far more literal than this show tends to be.

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Re: Mad Men's Final Season

Postby flipp525 » Mon Apr 13, 2015 1:01 pm

FilmFan720 wrote:That whole subplot with the waitress was D.O.A. last week, I felt, and this week just dragged on and on. What were we supposed to take from that? That some people are just as screwed up, or fearful of their lives, as Don? That Don likes broken women? That some women will turn him down? We knew all that. Each of those scenes dragged on very slowly (except for the great cameo from the neighbors on the elevator).

Don usually goes for those broken brunettes in between the more stable relationships in his life. Even Suzanne (Sally's teacher from a few seasons back) while kind of Earth Mother-ish, had a troubled brother who Don tried to help for her. He likes to try and save the damaged women he was unable to save as the ineffectual Dick Whitman of his youth (his mother, Abigail, the Hershey Bar prostitute, etc.)

Greg, thanks for the calculation. I really just find that a completely over-the-top divorce settlement for the time. The fact that he has that much liquid cash available kind of strains credulity, too. Wasn't Pete complaining just last episode that he didn't have access to all the funds he got in the McCann deal?
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Re: Mad Men's Final Season

Postby Greg » Mon Apr 13, 2015 12:16 pm

flipp525 wrote:I'm pretty shocked at the $1M payout to Megan at the end which would translate to what in today's dollars?


$6M according to usinflationcalculator.com.

I have a problem with one big logistical issue that the episode failed to deal with. Where did all that furniture end up?
Last edited by Greg on Mon Apr 13, 2015 3:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Mad Men's Final Season

Postby FilmFan720 » Mon Apr 13, 2015 9:52 am

I agree. If nothing else, this just seemed like one of the duller Mad Men episodes ever. The jokes landed very flatly, the narratives seemed like dead-ends and in the end were we really anywhere further along the path than we were at the end of last week?

That whole subplot with the waitress was D.O.A. last week, I felt, and this week just dragged on and on. What were we supposed to take from that? That some people are just as screwed up, or fearful of their lives, as Don? That Don likes broken women? That some women will turn him down? We knew all that. Each of those scenes dragged on very slowly (except for the great cameo from the neighbors on the elevator).

I have always liked Megan as a character more than a lot of other people, but tonight's episode was completely unnecessary. I thought last half-season they left her in a place where we could end her story and move on, and this only reinforced that. Bringing in her whole family only felt like we were wasting precious time on characters we didn't really care too much about, especially in an episode devoid of Joan, Ted, Sally or a whole slew of other smaller characters we care much more about.

I feel like the way this is going, each episode is going to slowly close the chapter on characters, from the periphery on in, until we are left with a finale of just our core. Last week may have been our goodbye to Ken (although I could see him coming back, revengeful, at some point near the end), this week our goodbye to Megan, and who knows who next week. I only hope that if this is the way it goes, that will only tighten the final episodes and make them a little more compelling!
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