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Entries in Mad Men (64)

Saturday
Mar282015

Attending the Mad Men "Black and Red Ball"

Margaret reporting from Los Angeles. On Wednesday night, television phenomenon Mad Men screened its final premiere, and I had the pleasure of attending to represent The Film Experience. This premiere leads off the second half of Mad Men's seventh and final season. While introducing the episode, AMC President Charlie Collier spoke to the legacy of the show, claiming that:

in the history of television, there will be a permanent line of demarcation: Before Mad Men, and After Mad Men.''

It's a strong claim, but it's true. 

 

Compare the television landscape of today to the television landscape of a decade ago, and the influence of Mad Men's success is evident. Certainly without that show AMC would not have taken off and there would be no Breaking Bad, nor The Walking Dead. The Americans, Downton Abbey, and Netflix's entire original programming arm also owe Mad Men a sizable debt.

The Event
In celebration of their achievement, the cast and crew gathered in the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in downtown Los Angeles which housed the Oscars for many year. The Pavilion isn't new to Mad Men either, the foyer having played the lobby of a Rome hotel in season three. 

Margaret and Jordan attending for The Film Experience

 

Nearly the entire cast was present except for Elisabeth Moss (currently on Broadway) and Jessica Pare. When Robert Morse was called on stage he practically held court, and all but did a soft-shoe. Jon Hamm was, understandably, like the class president, high-fiving everyone and adorably rough-housing with little Bobby Draper when he seemed to get restless. And finally, Kiernan Shipka who we watched grow up on the show, is now unnervingly tall and very poised. 

The mutual respect and love among the team was evident, and the program reserved special (and richly deserved) praise for the visual artists who gave Mad Men so much of its richness: cinematographer Chris Manley, production designer Dan Bishop, art director Christopher Brown, set decorator Claudette Didul, props master Ellen Freund, and the genius costume designer Janie Bryant whose work on the show is so long overdue for an Emmy. Christina Hendricks clearly adores them giving enormous hugs to everyone.

Coming up on seven full seasons, Mad Men has pulled down four Emmys for Best Drama Series, traced the decade of shifting cultural history between 1960 and 1970, and has inspired more spiraling fan theories than its cast has smoked cigarettes.

 

Keirnan Shipka, Jon Hamm, and January Jones at the event on Wednesday

So how does it end? The first of the final episodes, true to the series spirit, plays it close to the vest. It riffs on the show's established intertwining themes (sex, business, identity) but it's a little looser, a little more relaxed. (As if they knew that the TFE readership would be on the look out for a "Mad Men at the Movies" reference, they toss off an aces Mildred Pierce joke midway through.) The pace is unhurried, as ever, and where the slow burn will flame out is still anyone's guess. TV has changed so much since Mad Men arrived. How will it change once it's gone?

Mad Men returns to AMC for its final episodes on Sunday April 5th, 10/9c

Thursday
Feb192015

Long Day's Journey Into Link

All Oscars All The Time
Big Group they've taken that 'Oscar Dresses infographic' that was so successful a year ago and updated and expanded it with interactivity
AV Club wants the Oscars to add these 11 categories. I say Nay! to most of these. The Academy nixed two of these very recently (Best Casting and Title Design) when they were proposed again
David Poland thinks "preferential balloting" makes virtually anything possible in this tight Best Picture race and seems to expect a true spread the wealth night (as do I)
Gurus of Gold the full charts in all categories
The Atlantic Joe Reid on the lack of connection between Best Picture & Best Actress
Vox tries to explain all the confusing Oscar categories - not who will win but the category definitions themselves
THR Mo'Nique believes she was blackballed after her Oscar win for Precious for not playing the game and being "difficult". Hollywood is so frustrating. Who cares if she's difficult. That's one of the best performances of all time. Doesn't anyone wanna try bottling lightning again?
The Wrap, truly jumping the gun, proposed 20 actors of color and 5 directors for all 25 of the major Oscar nominations for next year's race from films like Creed, Silence, Nina, Lila & Eve, and Crimson Peak

More Movies
Keith Gow reviews The Last Five Years and he's much more satisfied with it than I am. One of my friends who is much more critical of modern movie musicals than I also loved it. I am definitely ready for a second look.
GMA Jeremy Jordan and Jason Robert Brown perform a Last Five Years number on morning TV
Empire 8 secrets from the set of Nightcrawler
Dissolve on Neil Blomkamp's plans to direct another Aliens sequel. Sigourney Weaver is planning to return as Ripley. So exciting if we really do get a sixtysomething action heroine but I'm not holding my breath since Ridley Scott is working on a Prometheus sequel, too
Interview amazing new photoshoot of Kristen Stewart who really turned it out as an actress this past year. More please
First Showing yes it's true Pirates of the Caribbean 5 has started production (Noooooooo) with Javier Bardem wasting more of his time and YA stars Kaya Scoledario and Brenton Thwaites joining the cast
The Film Stage Xavier Dolan in the new trailer for Elephant Song - he's just acting this time
Details Calum Marsh looks at The Breakfast Club 30 years on 
In Contention looks at some of the tougher to call races
THR Brutally Honest Ballot of an Oscar voter from the PR branch - these things are always a mix of cringeworthy and/or interesting revealing quotes
THR Brutally Honest Ballot #2 - this one loves Theory of Everything and admires Boyhood 

New Mad Men Trailer! "The Final Episodes"

Because of this people are speculating that the final episodes take place in 1976. People are silly. It's not like that show to jump 7 years. And Matthew Weiner said he always wanted to make a show about the decade of the 1960s and he's always been willing to be anachronistic about music. The movies on the other hand, they're usually right on schedule so I wish I knew what year the final episodes took place in so as to study that year's movies. I want to see Don Draper in a movie theater one last time. Pretty please! 

Monty waiting for more cakeOff Cinema
Wisdom Nation screw motivation, seek discipline
Billboard Madonna speaks, makes journo drink shots
BuzzFeed Trans model recreates Adam Levine's famous never-nude shot 
Towleroad Lady Gaga is engaged to her actor boyfriend Taylor Kinney (The Other Women / Chicago Fire) 
Playbill the great Victoria Clark (The Light in the Piazza)  is doing a diary of her out of town tryouts of Gigi, a reworking of the Oscar winning musical
AutoStraddle "50 Shades of Grey Cats". Monty made me include that one. He's breathing very loudly right behind my chair as I type this, surely plotting my murder for the recent vet visit. FTR he is also upset that Jennifer Aniston didn't get nominated for Cake because he was hoping for more edible swag.

Thursday
Jul102014

Emmy Nods 2014: Full List, First Impressions

The Emmy nominations have been announced for your viewing pleasure... unless your favorites were snubbed in which case here's the list to enrage you. Cable continues to ruthlessly dominate making things very hard for network shows - even hits like Scandal and The Good Wife. And Emmy proved again, as they often do, that they are very slow to change, largely embracing the same performers / shows they've always embraced as if they're only ever voting on the entirety of a show and not its current season.

I know people are very upset about Tatiana Maslany's ongoing snub for Orphan Black. She basically embarrasses every critic that's ever over-used the word "chameleon" to describe an actor; we should've saved the word for her. But this is not remotely surprising in any sense and I'm confused as to why so many people thought it might happen. The show is...  

a) ...not on a prestigious network like HBO
b) ...a genre show and awards bodies from Oscar to Emmy only deign to honor those when they're insanely popular and never just because they're great or an actor is great on them.
c) ...filled with actors (including Tatiana) who are not well known in Hollywood.
d) ...not as good as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Battlestar Galactica and those genre shows were egregiously snubbed for YEARS despite endless enraged fanbases and critical pleas

BUT ON TO THE NOMINEES...

COMEDY

Click to read more ...

Thursday
May292014

We've Hit The Emmy Eligibility Wall. Who Are You Rooting For?

Saturday May 31st marks the final day of Emmy eligibility for the 2014 ceremony. Given the wildly varying schedules of television series in our modern 1,000+ channel world, episodes airing after this date will still apply if the season has enough episodes out to qualify. Eligibility periods can get confusing. Take Penny Dreadful on cable and Black Box (with Kelly Reilly and Vanessa Redgrave) on ABC for perfect examples. Both debuted before the cutoff date but neither of them have aired more than half their first season episodes yet so do they qualify or do they have to wait until next year? (Any Emmy trivia experts out there know?) 

Simpler examples that can still be a bit headscratching to the flow of the calendar happen over at Netflix. [Lots more after the jump...]

Click to read more ...

Monday
May262014

Mad Men @ the Movies: That Wild Bunch and Their Waterloo?

Last night we said our final goodbyes to Mad Men. Oh wait, no. Our penultimate goodbye to Mad Men but boy did it feel like a series closer. There are seven episodes to go, ruthlessly delayed until 2015 which will serve no one but AMC executives, but I wouldn't blame anyone for saying their goodbyes now. You'd be going out on such a well earned high, a breath-taking, teary-eyed, conflicted-emotion farewell in two episodes.

I want to go to the movies!"

Peggy whines in "The Strategy" as she struggles through her doubts about a campaign pitch for potential new lucrative client Burger Chef. Mad Men almost always hits its peak whenever it zeroes back in on the long form pas de deux between Don and Peggy. In this episode they refind each other as Don (Jon Hamm) helps Peggy (Elisabeth Moss) trust in her own creativity and Peggy learns to forgive her hard-to-love mentor. It even ends with a weary actual dance. 

Don's other girl, Megan, also wants to go to the movies in the mid-season finale "Waterloo".  I adore that the movie referenced by name here is The Wild Bunch (1969) which she plans to see with a girlfriend even though Don pathetically implies that she wait 'but I want to see it, too'. Megan is done waiting as that curtain closing wordless airplane scene in "The Strategy" implied and she breaks up with Don in what seems like an amicable surrender, both parties too tired to keep fighting off the inevitable death of their marriage.

Nine men who came too late and stayed too long."

That tagline!

Let's try not to read too much into it even though the episode is also called "Waterloo" which didn't end so well for Napoleon; in Mad Men's timeline ᗅᗺᗷᗅ has yet to be invented to make final defeats sound adorable and fun again. Let's try not to read too much into it even though Mad Men has lasted 8 seasons (or 7 whatever. I hate this bifurcated bullshit). That tagline could describe just about any ensemble series then dared venture past season 5. (Season 6 is typically when even the greatest of tv series start to stumble. That's my story and I'm sticking to it)

Aside from Roger Sterling's business maneuver to keep the company and team he knows and loves together - the title implies this might not be the big save everyone thinks -- the big events are all piggybacked into one night and morning, the simultaneous moon landing (which everyone watches on TV) and the death of Bert Cooper (Robert Morse) and Peggy's next day Burger Chef pitch which she improvises to include the Moon landing awe. A hearty "Bravo" to the Mad Men creative team that figured out a way to braid all of this together with a bravura but atypical fantasy sequence in which the ghost of Bert Cooper sings "The Best Things in Life are Free." It's a wink to the long shadow impishness and prickly warts-and-all personality of the Cooper character over the tone of the whole series and a tip of the hat to Morse's own history as a song & dance man and the original Tony winning star of the 1961 musical "How To Succeed in Business Withour Really Trying". A tearful Don watches in stunned silence. 

I would like to file a class action lawsuit against AMC for intentional infliction of emotional distress for making us wait another entire year to see the last seven episodes of swansong to television's greatest series, even though they're already in the can gathering dust until 2015. But if the world suddenly ends between now and then, this would be a lovely send-off for the entire brilliant series.

Mad Men belongs to everyone,
The best thing in life on TV... ♫ 

The StrategyA-
Waterloo

Thursday
May152014

Mad Men @ the Movies: Mutilations, Model Shop, and Mojo

Don't open the box, Peggy, don't open the box! DON'T OPE

Too late. With so much time, cameras and distance between us Peggy didn't hear the shouting from my apartment. Yeah, I was actually shouting. I am generally as quiet with the TV as I am in movie theaters... unless the show calls for raucous participation like, oh, Election Night or Drag Race. And though Mad Men invites gasping and laughter and speculation and veritably lives to provoke responses those responses are generally of the sort that take time to unpack. 

Which is, perhaps, why I never write about the show. Or at least not weekly as intended. I'm always still unpacking; the show seems denser than ever what with its ever expanding universe (now bicoastal and double-floored in NYC) and ever growing cast of characters to populate the agency which has tripled (at least) in size since Season 1. That's a lot of baggage to unpack. And not just of the personal damage variety... though there's always been plenty of that in Matthew Weiner's masterwork.

A trip to the movies, intruding showbiz, and a couple of stray observations after the jump...

Click to read more ...