Mad Men: “Tea Leaves”

This episode begins with Bobby and Sally trying to zip up Betty’s dress. It seems that she’s gained a lot of weight recently. Henry calls for Betty from the staircase, as they’re late for a political function. But when he comes upstairs he finds her in bed, refusing to go. Henry gives her a kiss and leaves.

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Meanwhile, Don and Megan get ready to meet Heinz for a dinner, and Megan has no problem fitting into her dress. She’s talking to her mother on the phone, and then hands the phone to Don, who doesn’t understand her because he doesn’t speak French. Don hands the phone back, and Megan hangs up. Don says that they have to beat Heinz to the restaurant.

At dinner, Megan begins somewhat awkwardly. When asked how Don and Megan met, she accidentally blurts out that Don was divorced. She rebounds by asking Raymond and his wife, Alice, about their teenage daughter, Emily. Alice says that she’s too old for camp but too young for a job, and complains that Emily plays her music too loudly. Raymond asks Don if he’s heard of the Rolling Stones. Don says that he is, and Raymond mentions the song “Time is on My Side”. He says that he’s imagined them singing “Heinz is on my side” instead. He mentions that the Stones are going to be in New York, and asks Don if he can get them to record it for them. Don, clearly not excited about the idea, says that it doesn’t quite work that way, be he’ll see what he can do.

The next morning Pete and Lane wait for Roger to show up for a meeting, only to be told that Roger has scheduled it for his office. They go to Roger’s office and inform him that Mohawk called, and it’s now just a matter of time before they come back to SCDP. Pete says that he thinks Roger should handle the account, dismissively adding “since you were here when they were here, they think you know their business”. Lane then mentions some of Mohawk’s business troubles, and Pete mentions that Mohawk will need a dedicated copywriter. Roger says that they won’t accept a woman in the role and asks if they’re still paying Don. Pete says that Don won’t do such a middling task. Pete tells them to hire a local guy with experience and be done with it.

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Mad Men: “A Little Kiss”

Season 5 of Mad Men kicks off with African Americans protesting for equal employment opportunities outside the offices of ad firm Young & Rubicam. Y&R execs, fed up with the protesters, drop water-bombs on them. Several protesters go up to the Y&R offices to complain, but the receptionist assures them that no one on the executive floor would do such a thing… and, just at that moment, the Y&R execs walk in to the reception area with several additional water bombs.

We then see Sally waking up at Don’s new apartment. She walks down the hall, allegedly looking for a bathroom, but instead she knocks on Don’s bedroom door. She’s greeted by her father, but can’t help seeing a half-naked Megan in the bed:

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Don then cooks breakfast for Sally, Bobby and Gene. Sally gives Don his birthday present from the kids – a new shaving brush – as Megan walks in. Megan asks what the kids are doing today, and Don says they’re going to the Statue of Liberty, to which Bobby says that they’ve made many plans to go there, but never have. We then see Don dropping the kids off at Henry and Betty’s large, but soulless, home.

The next morning, we see Pete on the train, heading in to Manhattan from Connecticut. A fellow commuter strikes up a conversation, in which Pete laments how his sexy wife has become a boring mom. The commuter says that Pete now takes the 17:25 train home, but will one day take the 19:05 train home, and that if he got his driver’s license he could push it back even later.

At the office, Roger goes to Don’s secretary and laments his diminished role at the agency.

We then see Joan at home, changing the baby. Joan also skirmishes with her somewhat overbearing mother, who has come to help with the baby. Mom offers to take the baby for a walk, and Joan, who really wants a nap, readily agrees.

Pete asks Ken, Peggy and Stan if they are ready for the Heinz presentation. They say that they are, but they’re waiting on approval from Don and Megan’s designs for the coupons. Pete, irritated that he can’t get his secretary Clara on the intercom, storms out of his office to see Roger flirting with her. Pete rudely dismisses Roger and yells at his secretary. Finding out that Don has arrived, Pete goes to talk to him. The other partners appear, and Roger says that they should run an ad poking fun at Y&R for the water bomb incident. The men finish their impromptu meeting, and Don calls Megan into his office. He flirts with her, but she’s somewhat reluctant, because she doesn’t want people in the office talking about them. Caroline buzzes that Pete wants to see Don, so Megan leaves, but not before Don talks her in to opening her blouse for him.

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Mad Men: It (Almost) Exists

Well lookee here:

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It’s nowhere near ready for publication yet. But I hope to really hunker down on it tonight, so maybe – just maybe – the first recap will be posted in the next day or two! :)

Mad Men Update

In case you missed it, back in January I posted this update about Mad Men where I mentioned that “personal issues” in my life might keep me from posting my famous Mad Men recaps in a timely fashion.

I just wanted to let you know that yes, I have been very busy with “personal issues” in the past couple of weeks, and will continue to be busy for the next couple of weeks. Please don’t expect the recap for the first episode until the week of April 9th at the earliest. I will try like hell to catch up from there.

By the way, the “personal issues” are nothing bad… on the contrary, I expect to have a lot of fun in the next couple of weeks. I’ll explain it all later, OK? :)

Some Mad Men News

The season premiere of Mad Men is almost upon us, and I wanted to link to a couple of cool online things I’ve found recently.

The first is this interview with Matthew Weiner, in which he discusses how season 5 (and beyond) almost didn’t happen.

The second thing is this neat article from The Atlantic which discusses the language used in the show. If you’re a fan of the series, you probably know the amazing lengths the show goes to to ensure authenticity. The costumers require actresses to wear reproductions of period (no pun intended) underwear. The Foley artists track down actual newscasts from the day in question to play on radios in the background, and sounds of period office equipment as background noise. The prop designers painstakingly recreate concert tickets, newspapers, matchbooks, restaurant menus and other ephemera of the era. But when it comes to language, the show falls a bit short.

Benjamin Schmidt, author of the Atlantic piece and a “visiting graduate fellow at the Cultural Observatory at Harvard and a graduate student in history at Princeton University”, wrote a computer program that analyzes online Mad Men scripts and subtitle files ripped from DVDs, and then uses Google’s Ngram Viewer to compare the scripts to written works of the period. And while it’s true that there aren’t that many obvious mistakes (at no point does Peggy say “OhMyGod! Gag me with a spoon!”), there are a million subtle ones.

Much of the language in the show did exist as a concept at the time of the series, but wouldn’t enter popular usage for some time later. For example, in season 1, Salvatore talks about “espresso beans”; while the concept existed (and might have been common in Manhattan’s Italian community in the 60s), the specific phrase didn’t enter mainstream use until the 1980s. And speaking of the 80s, in season 4, Pete Campbell said that Philip Morris used SCDP as “leverage” to get a better deal with a competing agency. “Leverage” (in that sense) didn’t appear in “American Business English” until the 1980s. Sure, it existed as a banking term, but was almost unknown outside that. All in all, it’s a fascinating read, and worth checking out.

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Soon.

Mad Men returns!

Woo-Hoo! Mad Men, the greatest show in the history of television ever, returns on March 25, 2012 with a two-hour season premiere!

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The downside is that I will be very busy with something else around that time. I had been on the fence about doing recaps for season 5. It takes 8-10 hours to do each recap… and that’s just for the recap; that’s not including time wasted on Facebook or Twitter! It’s a lot of work, but something I love. But don’t kid yourself – it’s work. And while I still envision myself doing them, I’d hate to fall behind due to “real life” and then just kind of give up after an episode or two.

I’m sure I’ll still do them, but I’ll keep you posted about the recaps as the season approaches.

Heads Up, “Mad Men” fans!

I know several folks have found my site thanks to my Mad Men reviews, and I thought I’d give you guys a heads-up about a new show debuting this week that you might like.

It’s a six-part BBC series called The Hour. It’s set in a fictional 1950s British current affairs TV show. According to everything I’ve read, production values (costumes, set design) are supposed to rival Mad Men in authenticity. And, like our favorite show, The Hour is supposed to be a pastiche of actual people and events. For example, one of the characters, Bel Rowley (played by Romola Garai) is based on Grace Wyndham Goldie, the first female executive at the BBC, and a giant name in the history of British TV (although, as it so often happens on TV, Bel will look much more like Joan Holloway or Betty Draper than the real Goldie). And at least one actual event, the Suez Canal Crisis, will be featured on the show. Fans of The Wire will also be pleased that Dominic West will play one of the three main characters of The Hour.

Here’s the trailer for the series:

The series is produced by Kudos, the production company that gave us Life on Mars, Ashes to Ashes, Spooks, The Fixer and Law and Order UK, so I have high hopes for the show. The Daily Mail has a good piece about the series (and about how the character of Bel is based on Goldie) here. Check out Wikipedia’s page on the show here. Check out the official BBC page for the show here.

The show airs on Tuesdays at 21:00 BST (16:00 EDT) on BBC 2. There’s a 99% chance the show will appear on torrent and cyberlocker sites in both XviD and 720p formats shortly after the show airs. If you prefer, you can use this guide to setting up your computer to use a British proxy server and watch the streaming version on iPlayer.

The show will also debut on BBC America on Wednesday, August 17, at 10:00 PM as part of their new Dramaville series. Even better, each episode will be introduced by Luther‘s Idris Elba! I could swear I read somewhere that shows aired under the Dramaville banner will not be edited for time; there will still be commercial breaks, but instead of cutting content to make a 58 minute BBC show fit into a 43 minute US timeslot, the show will run for 75 minutes with breaks added. I can’t verify this at the moment, so perhaps a reader can help.