MAD MEN Recap: “The Quality of Mercy”

by     Posted 307 days ago


This season of Mad Men has, week to week, been a question of “what will this episode bring?”  After last week’s infuriating offering, there wasn’t a lot of excitement for the fallout this time around.  Yet, the show surprised us with one of the best episodes this season.  It was tight, it was surprising, it was self-reflexive and was deeply referential to past seasons of the show and past relationships.  Mad Men has been exceptionally uneven this year from week to week, but “The Quality of Mercy” was a reminder of how good it can be.  Hit the jump to find out if there’s a hooker who will accept travelers checks.

MAD MEN Recap: “Favors”

by     Posted 315 days ago


There have been a few historical milestones that viewers have been anticipating Mad Men dealing with since the show’s inception.  While some things are alluded to cryptically (as is Mad Men‘s wont), that hasn’t always been good enough for fans who wanted to see more of an impact or reaction or anything from the characters regarding issues of race, political assassinations, and of course the Vietnam War.  Vietnam has been brought up in whispers and side-comments for two seasons now, but it wasn’t until “Favors” that things became overt.  They did so, naturally, because it affected Don selfishly.  That’s the only way things are dealt with or considered, because that’s what Mad Men has always been about.  “Favors” did also hint though at the possibility of change, though.  Or at the very least, the idea that Don is starting to realize there are consequences to his actions.  Hit the jump for more.

MAD MEN Recap: “A Tale of Two Cities”

by     Posted 322 days ago


Another triumphant Mad Men this week wherein the women, just like last week, reigned supreme.  “A Tale of Two Cities” though was just as its title expressed, about Us versus Them (after that trippy episode two weeks ago, the last two episodes have been pretty clear in tone and intention).  It’s a theme that is pervasive not only at SCDPCGC, or SD&P as it is now known, but is woven within the time period as well, something that spills over from the news to business and personal life.  “A Tale of Two Cities” had a nice, clean arc, too — things happened, people triumphed, others were put in their place, and we roll ever more clearly into the height of the Swinging 60s.  Hit the jump for more on why “I’m Vasco de Gama, and you’re some other Mexican. Our main objective is to not get syphilis.”

MAD MEN Recap: “The Better Half”

by     Posted 329 days ago


After last week’s cryptic offering, Mad Men returned this week with a very straightforward episode and a straightforward title.  “The Better Half” was all about relationships, with a side note about choice, moving on, and recapturing the past.  Not all of the relationships were romantic, though — Pete considers cheating on SCDPCGC (what a garbled mess) at Harry’s suggestion and at Duck’s (Duck!) prompting, while Peggy got caught in the middle of Don and Ted’s power struggle.  Like Megan says to Don to close the episode, something has to change.  But for most of the characters this week, the change has already come.  Hit the jump for more, and why “margarine is indestructible!”

GAME OF THRONES, THE AMERICANS, and NEW GIRL Score Critics Choice TV Awards Nominations; MAD MEN and MODERN FAMILY Shunned

by     Posted 333 days ago


Nominations for the 2013 Critics’ Choice Television Awards have been announced, and along with plenty of welcome surprises there are a couple of snubs that are likely to have people talking.  Here’s a brief rundown of some of the highlights:

  • Best Drama Series nominees include Game of Thrones, Homeland, Breaking Bad, and FX’s excellent new series The Americans.  Conspicuously absent is Mad Men, which only scored one nomination overall for Elisabeth Moss as Lead Actress.
  • Best Comedy Series nominees include Louie, New Girl, Parks and Recreation, and Veep, with Emmy favorite Modern Family failing to land a nomination along with last year’s winner Community.  Instead, ABC sitcom The Middle made the cut.
  • Netflix’s House of Cards scored two nominations for Best Actor (Kevin Spacey) and a very deserved Best Supporting Actor nod for Corey Stoll.
  • David Lynch landed a Best Guest Performer in a Comedy Series nom for his excellent work in Louie, and Happy Endings alums Casey Wilson and Adam Pally were recognized in the supporting categories.
  • The love it/loathe it HBO comedy Girls didn’t get a Best Comedy Series nod, but received acting nominations for Lena Dunham, Alex Karpovsky, and Patrick Wilson.
  • FX’s American Horror Story and CBS’ The Big Bang Theory scored the most nominations with six each, topping all other programs.

Hit the jump to check out the full list of nominees, and sound off in the comments with your thoughts on the lineup.  The awards will be handed out on June 10th.

MAD MEN Recap: “The Crash”

by     Posted 336 days ago


Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner doesn’t like TV critics, and while most show runners probably have the same perspective, I don’t know why Weiner in particular has such a bee in his bonnet.  Mad Men does get criticized and unravelled, and has for the last seven years, but it’s with genuine love and a desire to understand a complicated show.  TV criticism is often, to me at least (and I’m biased, of course), a great form of flattery: if your show is worth talking about and dissecting, it’s because it’s a great show.  That doesn’t mean it’s infallible, though.  But back to my original point, I’m pretty sure that “The Crash” was created just to get TV critics weeping softly at having to review this episode so quickly, because it was so deep and layered.  On the other hand, maybe it was created just to mess with all of us.  Hit the jump to see which.

MAD MEN Recap: “Man with a Plan”

by     Posted 343 days ago


Oh, Don.  What the heck?  After a shaky start, Mad Men really received rave reviews last week for an episode that felt like old times, even though I just can’t really trust Matthew Weiner at this point to really give us what we want.  There must be a catch about this merger.  Before that shoe drops though, we got a thoroughly Don-centric episode that was, even outside of Don’s plot, all about power plays.  Don’s question of likability and watchability is still an issue for me, but the way things ended up tonight did leave me wondering what is coming next for him.  Hit the jump for why you are not to pick up the phone.

MAD MEN Recap: “For Immediate Release”

by     Posted 350 days ago


This season of Mad Men has been a little divided, much like last season (which people keep forgetting — “Zou Bisou Bisou” almost shut down Twitter).  Though many of you have mentioned how harsh I’ve been on Don this year, I felt vindicated when the cast visited Katie Couric this past week.  Jon Hamm said of Don, “I wouldn’t say he’s likable … he’s watchable.”  He also said “if you don’t like Pete, you should really not like Don.”  Vincent Kartheiser piped up later that the reason we all give Don a pass is because he’s suave and handsome and charming, and Pete is not.  But at their core, they are the same.  But “For Immediate Release” showed that, while both are complete cads, Don does have moments of redemption that don’t absolve his sins, but do make them more palatable overall.  Hit the jump for more on why you should consider putting “brain in a jar” on your tombstone.

MAD MEN Recap: “The Flood”

by     Posted 357 days ago


I was a little more than fed up with Mad Men last week, and as a few others have pointed out, what makes this season so difficult is not only Don’s refusal to grow (more on that later) but also the fact that the party is winding down (smoking and drinking is now bad for you!), and let’s not even get into some of those godawful fashions.  But “The Flood” was a very interesting episode, and actually a really great one, that spent another hour focusing on the reactions of the characters to a huge historical tragedy.  Though Don stays in stasis, the rest of the characters seem to have really gone somewhere, for good or ill.  Hit the jump for why “it’s a shameful, shameful day!”

Vincent Kartheiser Talks MAD MEN, Why People Prefer Don Over Pete, Gender Roles in the 60s, Jon Hamm’s Directing Skills, and More

by     Posted 358 days ago


With AMC’s award-winning series Mad Men airing new episodes Sunday nights, I recently had the chance to participate in a roundtable interview with Vincent Kartheiser.  Since the cast is always guarded when talking about upcoming episodes, most of the interview covered the twists and turns of last season, why people prefer Don (Jon Hamm) over Pete, gender roles in the 60′s, Hamm’s directing skills, the way he prepares for filming, and a lot more.  Hit the jump to either read or listen to what Kartheiser had to say.

MAD MEN Recap: “To Have and to Hold”

by     Posted 364 days ago


As many have pointed out, a great deal of Mad Men revolves around assholes doing mean things.  That does create drama, so who can fault in that formula?  The problem is that we’re six seasons in to this series now, and there are ways in which character development has paid off tremendously, even if it’s sad (i.e. almost everything) and some extraordinarily frustrating ways it hasn’t (um, Don).  I know it’s Matthew Weiner‘s “thing” to not have people grow or change because people really don’t grow and change significantly in the real world, but what value is this to us viewers, six years into things?  Look, “To Have And To Hold” was pretty great, possibly even the best episode this season so far … save for Don.  It revolved around a pretty centrally important theme of “what’s missing?” (besides my interest any more in Don).  Love, career, peace … maybe the answer to all things is at the bottom of a ketchup bottle.  Hit the jump to find out.

Jessica Pare Talks MAD MEN, Working with Jon Hamm, Research, Why Megan Won Over Don, Going from Guest Star to Series Regular, and More

by     Posted 364 days ago


With AMC’s award-winning series Mad Men airing new episodes Sunday nights, I recently had the chance to participate in a roundtable interview with Jessica Pare.  Since the cast is always guarded when talking about upcoming episodes, most of the interview covered the twists and turns of last season, how much she finds out about upcoming storylines, Megan and Don’s (Jon Hamm) relationship, going from guest star to series regular, the wardrobe, and more.  Hit the jump to either read or listen to what Pare had to say.

Sunday Cable Ratings: GAME OF THRONES Breaks Records, VEEP Up in Premiere, and MAD MEN Dips in Week Two

by     Posted 1 year, 4 days ago


Though Monday evening’s TV ratings are heavily skewed downward due to preemptive coverage of the tragedy in Boston, Sunday evening’s cable ratings have arrived.  Here’s a look at how things stacked up:

  • The fantastic third episode of HBO’s Game of Thrones netted an all-time high audience of 4.7 million viewers, which is up from the season premiere’s 4.4 million total.  A fourth season of the fantasy series has already been ordered, and it’s safe to say Game of Thrones won’t be going away for a very, very long time.
  • The season two premiere of the swell HBO comedy series Veep scored 1.2 million viewers in the post-Game of Thrones slot.  That’s up 11% from the season one finale and marks the second most-watched episode in the show’s history.
  • Finally, Sunday’s Jon Hamm-directed episode of Mad Men dipped from last week’s two-hour season six opener with 2.7 million viewers.  That’s down quite a bit from the premiere’s 3.4 million total.

MAD MEN Recap: “Collaborators”

by     Posted 1 year, 6 days ago


Has everyone recovered from the Mad Men premiere?  So many mixed emotions this week about that double-dose first episode this season — some great moments, but a dark way to open the new season.  This week though, “Collaborators” settled back down into the show we maybe expect it to be.  We actually spent some time in the Sterling Cooper Draper (Pryce?) offices, and were treated therein to a Reverse Don effect.  There was still plenty of Don staring off into the past and into keyholes (Jon Hamm directed this episode and did an admirable job) and lots of questions about the future, but we also got a healthy dose of office politics and another comparison of Pete’s life versus Don’s.  Hit the jump for why “if you come within 50 feet of this house and so much as open your fly to urinate, I will destroy you.”

THE COLLISION: Episode 43 – Television, Race, Diversity, and Auteur Showrunners

by     Posted 1 year, 6 days ago


This week on The Collision, we are joined by Allison Keene and Charles Judson.  Our conversation is sparked by a Mad Men spec script from actress Erika Anderson, which brings African-American characters into Matthew Weiner‘s critically acclaimed show.  From there, our conversation expands to explore diversity in popular TV series, if showrunners should feel obligated to diversify their casts, the difficulty in writing minority characters, and much more.  As always, we finish up with our recommendations.

Click here to listen to the new episode of The Collision, click here for the previous episode (“Violence and Evil Dead), click here to add the podcast to your RSS, and click here to find us on iTunes. To keep up to date with The Collision, you can follow us on Twitter at @MattGoldberg, @AdamChitwood, and @DrClawMD (Dave Trumbore). Hit the jump to check out the trailers for this week’s recommendations.

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