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January 28th, 2010


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03:58 pm - Mad Men blogging
BBC have started broadcasting Season 3 of Mad Men (BBC4, 10pm Weds), starting with a two-episode premiere. UK folks can view online here.

These two episodes were I thought more 'enabling of future brilliance' than 'awesome in their own right'. Don't get me wrong - the script was exemplary, and the characterisation superb - but I felt that these were episodes doing a lot of groundwork to enable the rest of the season. For example we saw a brief glimpse of a wedding invitation (Roger Sterling's daughter) and the date was the Kennedy Assassination. Draper and Pete Campbell, in their respectively very clever and very stupid ways, compete themselves into predicaments they will regret later. Peggy and Salvatore struggle with expressing their sexual selves.

What was missing was the extra almost mystical under-current which the very best episodes have. This is when you realise that people then, like people now, can tap into a hidden creative power, a bit like electricity or groundwater. There was however excellent character development, irony and subtle use of language. These are great features to find in a TV show. In contrast, I watched Midsomer Murders earlier, with a lovely cast including Jenny Agutter - but the script! Oh dear. 'As you know Bob, I am a recovering alcoholic and ghost-writer.' 'Ah yes, I did realise that old chap, as I have known you for twenty years.'

Example of how Mad Men does it. Don has seen Sal in a hotel room with a half dressed guy. They are on the plane going home. Don: 'Sal I am going to ask you something, and I want you to answer me honestly.' Sal looks at Don, and you see him frightened, ready to spin a story, then deciding to be open about himself for the first time in his entire life. 'OK'. Then Don, seemingly-oblivious, outlines an ad campaign idea he has about a woman exposing herself on the underground (employing the same pose as the air hostess he fucked the night before). And you think - shit, Don is so selfish, and sexist, and he can't see beyond his own creativity to Sal's needs. But then he adds that the slogan of the advert is 'Limit your exposure'. And you think - is that Don's secret message to Sal? (ETA - and is it a supportive or dismissive message?) Or is Don selfishly using Sal's emotional pain to generate ideas? Or is he cannibalising his own life for ad copy? Or what? Now - that's script writing. (NB the answer is 'all of these' I think)

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Comments:


[User Picture]
From:kalypso_v
Date:January 28th, 2010 04:38 pm (UTC)
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Every season seems to build up to a climax involving Jack Kennedy - his election, the Cuban missile crisis, his assassination. What are they going to do when he's dead?
[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:January 28th, 2010 04:58 pm (UTC)
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Aye - I don't know what the prognosis for further seasons is. I assume there will be a fourth.
[User Picture]
From:kalypso_v
Date:January 28th, 2010 05:03 pm (UTC)
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A fourth has apparently been confirmed. Perhaps they'll fall back on Bobby, and work up to his assassination in season five...
[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:January 28th, 2010 05:05 pm (UTC)
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Or the whole Lee Harvey Oswald/Jack Ruby fiasco
[User Picture]
From:executrix
Date:January 28th, 2010 05:32 pm (UTC)
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I think Don was saying "Hey, you saw me with someone who wasn't *my* wife either, so I figure men have needs--I'm not freaked because yours are different from mine."
[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:January 28th, 2010 05:39 pm (UTC)
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He was genuinely shaken when he saw Sal. I thought he was going to pass out. But in the end I think that was his feeling, he managed to rise above his conditioning. It's Don's best side, which he shows with Peggy too.

Here's a post and thread I just read: was Don being homophobic or sympathetic?
[User Picture]
From:kalypso_v
Date:January 28th, 2010 07:43 pm (UTC)
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Yes, and he went on staring at him when they were waiting outside on the pavement. Or sidewalk. It was clearly more than "Well, I wasn't expecting that from Sal..."

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