american movie classics
(S01E12) "Fire him if you want. But I'd keep an eye on him. You never know how loyalty is born." Cooper, to Don, about Pete.
I don't think I'm giving anything away when I tell you that at the end of this episode, Kennedy wins. But it's not really about that anyway, despite the title. The first half of the ep is all about the election and the different pairings we see at the Sterling Cooper all night party - Harry and Hildy, Ken and a secretary, even Sal and Joan, though not in the way you might think - but the second half finally explains what the deep, dark secret is in the past of Don Draper.
And the secret is...
I'm so happy to see Mad Men getting the recognition it deserves. It doesn't get Grey's Anatomy numbers (it's on cable) and it hasn't spawned devoted web sites like Lost, but it's critically-acclaimed, loved by those in the know, and has been given a second season by American Movie Classics. And AMC has some treats in store for fans when the season finale airs on October 18.
I've been trying to get friends of mine to watch Mad Men, but not a lot of them take me up on it. Their responses run from "Oh, I don't need yet another TV show to watch" to "Huh? Mad Men? What's that?" It probably doesn't help that it's on American Movie Classics, a niche network that a lot of people don't even watch (if they even have it on their cable system), but I want to advise anyone who loves good period drama - and by period I don't mean the 1700s, with elaborate costumes, I'm talking 1960 New York City - or anyone who loves good drama, period, to watch this show. Overall, it's the most consistently well written and well-acted (and well cast) show on television right now, and the production design is intoxicating.
After the jump is a preview of tonight's episode, "Indian Summer." It summarizes many of the plots, including Rachel thinking of having an affair with Don, Pete (Vincent Kartheiser from Angel) being a jerk, Peggy's place in the office, and the Sterling Cooper team brainstorming an idea.
(UPDATE: The video is now the correct episode.)
"Remember Don...when God closes a door, he opens a dress." - Roger Sterling
I'm having a real hard time trying to figure out if Roger Sterling is just misguided or an out and out sleazeball. He's married and has a daughter he desperately wants to understand, but at the same time he's having an affair with Joan and also tries to boff any cute girl that might come into the office. Or, in the case of tonight's episode, two girls that come into the office. Twins, to be exact, that he chose for a new ad campaign. He even asks them to kiss at each other at one point. Joan's going through that too, with her best friend Carol coming on to her as well, telling her she's been in love with her since college. All of the Mad Men episodes seem to have a theme, and tonight's seems to be "girl on girl action!"
Variety is reporting that American Movie Classics is going to renew the critically-acclaimed 1960 advertising drama Mad Men for a second season. The show is currently nine episodes into its first season.
"I didn't think you had it in you. And I mean that." - Roger, trying to "compliment" Pete on an ad campaign
Last week I told you that I thought that one of the themes of this show is freedom, and I think in the opening scene of this week's episode solidifies that a little bit more. It's a shot of the neighbors prized birds flying off from the coop, though they return when he has food in his hand. I get that feeling that all the characters are looking for that freedom, or at least a change. Betty wants to go back to modeling, Don might want a new job, and Pete wants Peggy. Maybe. Kinda.
This week's episode was also directed by Freak and Greeks creator/producer/writer Paul Feig, and that makes me perk up a bit. I'm curious to see what he does with a show like Mad Men.
"It was interesting...like watching a dog trying to play the piano." - ad guy Fred, about Peggy's great lipstick ideas.
Someone sent me an e-mail after last week's episode, and the person said that they didn't like Mad Men because "nothing ever happens." I disagree with this statement strongly, but I know what they mean. Nothing ever happens in the sense that there aren't any cliffhangers before each commercial, there aren't any explosions or murders, and there isn't some incredible event that pushes the show in another direction for the next episode. But to say that "nothing every happens" as a general statement about each episode is proof, I think, that we've been conditioned to expect all shows to be the same, and if they have a different pace then it's "boring" or "nothing ever happens."
If Mad Men is boring, then all shows should be this boring.
(S01E02) "I can't tell you about my childhood. It will ruin the first part of my novel." - Don Draper
Is it possible to fall in love with a TV show? I don't mean a show that you really like and respect and put on your TiVo season pass, I mean a show you actually want to date and kiss and walk hand in hand with on the beach? Mad Men is that show for me. I'm even in love with the credits, a montage of black and white graphical images of buildings and people and subtle, sly music.
I also like how this show is set in 1960. It's firmly set in the attitudes of the 1950s but there are more than enough hints that the "60s" that we all know is coming fast. And these people are trying to prepare for it (some a lot more than others, of course).
(S01E01) I think it's really appropriate that the Emmy Award nominations were announced on the same day this show premiered, because if there's any justice in this TV land, we'll be hearing a lot about Mad Men at this time next year.
The television landscape is filled with a lot of shows that are just the same as other shows on other networks. Even when we say "there's nothing else like this on TV right now," it's usually not true. There's usually something a bit (or a lot) like the show we're talking about. Mad Men is one show we can truly say is rather original. Of course, it's original by being retro. It's New York City, 1960. The world of Madison Avenue advertising men. And it is men, as most of the women are in the secretarial pool or gum chewing telephone operators.
But the women have power too, in ways the men don't see.
John Milius, who wrote the screenplay for Apocalypse Now and also served as a writer and producer on the HBO series Rome, will be writing a miniseries about photojournalists in Vietnam, set to air on AMC. The miniseries will be called Saigon Bureau, and unfortunately that's all we know at this point.
I'm hoping for a miniseries in which all the photojournalists are similar to Dennis Hopper in Apocalypse Now: crazy, hopped up on drugs and ending every sentence with "maaaaaaaaan." Of course, that describes pretty much every movie Hopper made in the '70s, but what the hell, you go with what suits you.
As we've mentioned a couple of times, AMC is moving ahead with its plans to start focusing more on original series. One of those new series, Mad Men, will debut sometime this July. The series focuses on a group of ad execs in New York City in the '60s. You can see a trailer here.
Another series, Breaking Bad, is close to being picked up, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The drama will center on a chemistry teacher, played by Malcolm in the Middle's Bryan Cranston, who builds a meth lab to help support his family after he's diagnosed with cancer. Oh yeah, and his son is handicapped. Good gravy, that sounds depressing.
Remember when AMC used to show movies that actually fit into their name, American Movie Classics? And then for some reason they started to show Predator five times a month. Turner Classic Movies has been the network to watch lately.
But starting in October, the cable network will get back to its roots a little bit more with AMC Gold, which, despite sounding like some CD of 70s songs you might buy from an infomercial, is actually a new regular feature showcasing movies that AMC says are "essential viewing." So far the list includes On The Waterfront, Sergeant York, The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, and Apollo 13.
Apollo 13 is a good movie, but let's hope the network doesn't pull from the list of more recent films too often. There are plenty of older classic gold movies to keep the feature going for a few years.
AMC hasn't produced a miniseries since Broken Trail back in June of 2006, but now the network hopes to develop several new ones from producers and screenwriters most known for their work in film.
The first miniseries, Against the Guns of Quantrill, tells the story of Confederate prisoners who defend a Union town. It's being written by Michael Blake (Dances with Wolves). Other miniseries include Berlin Mesa from Spy Game writer Michael Frost Beckner and producer John Baldecchi (Simon Birch, The Mexican), about FBI and Nazi prisoners in the southwest United States; Skylark, about a Jewish woman helping American soldiers in France during World War II from writer and producer Michael Nankin, whose television credits include helming episodes of Battlestar Galactica; writer and producer John Leekley's White Rose, about an investigation into a Nazi youth movement in Germany; and L-19, about German pilots stranded at sea in a crashed blimp.
AMC hopes to draw viewers in with original material that still maintains a theatrical quality. Also, it apparently has a proclivity for anything with Nazis. Most likely, only one miniseries will be aired each year.
My question to AMC is: how many times can a person watch The Fly in one week? Looking at your schedule, I see it's on at least three times. And it's not even the classic original, it's the 1986 remake (and it's sequel, The Fly II).
It's time for AMC's annual Monsterfest. This year (October 22-31) is the 10th Anniversary of the horror and monster marathon. There are certainly some great movies here, such as the Universal Dracula, Wolf Man, Mummy, and Frankenstein flicks, but even those can get a little boring when you're showing them 9000 times during the week. Do you not have enough great horror/monster movies in your library? Am I really going to have to sit through Gothika, Rodan, Island Of The Burning Doomed(!), and Pinata: Survival Island?
You're showing Them!, one of the great monster flicks of the 50s, but why are you showing it only once (October 24 at 7:30am) when you're showing Children of the Corn four times? Gah.
It's only 6 episodes, but there are going to be two DVDs for some reason. I guess the "Assembling The Team" featurette is a little longer than I thought it would be.