Monday, May 26, 2014

Previously On Mad Men...

There seemed to be a general consensus that Mad Men took a step back in its sixth season, or perhaps it was merely just overshadowed by more explosive shows like Game Of Thrones, Breaking Bad, The Americans, etc.  I dunno, I loved S6 and thus loved S7a* even more since we're starting to get some of these payoff moments that have been build up over 6.5 seasons of television.  "The Strategy" and "A Day's Work" were two of the very best episodes in the show's history for this very reason.

* = though the split-season thing is incredibly stupid.  I want to see those final seven episodes right this damn minute, not in 2015.  The zombie apocalypse could've happened by then!  If it does hit, I swear, I make it my mission to track down Matt Weiner, Jon Hamm, Elisabeth Moss or whomever to find out what happens in the end.  Hopefully they're still human by this point, though I dunno, zombie Vincent Kartheiser could be fun.  "How do those brains taste, Vincent?"  "NOT GREAT, BOB."

This program has been so heavily praised in so many ways that I'm struggling to find a new way to do it, so here goes.  Hidden within the shell of a thought-provoking drama, Mad Men may be the last great workplace sitcom.  It gets great mileage out of creating not only characters who confound our expectations when we first meet them at SC&P, but also characters who are perfectly defined within their boxes.  Look at how instantly we knew everything about Lou Avery's character, for instance, as the ultimate place-filler middle manager.  Or last season, when Bob Benson dominated the entire year as the ultimate office brown-noser (though obviously there was more to him than that).  Even longtime characters as Harry Crane and Ken Cosgrove fit perfect types as the Incompetent Guy Who Keeps Failing Upward or Good Dude To Have Around The Office.  For as rich as Mad Men's characters are, they're ultimately variations on characters we've seen before in a hundred other office shows.  Most of the SC&P gang are ultimately about 75% cliches, yet it's what's done with that extra 25% what makes this such a great show.

And on that note, here's a goofy look at the past's, er, less-nuanced roles.  I really, really hope Elisabeth Moss rolls her eyes at her castmastes' failed takes and mumbles "That's not how Hogan would've done it" under her breath.  And, apparently I'm a complete idiot since I've seen Mr. Deeds probably a half-dozen times in my life (the only tolerable Adam Sandler movie!) and yet only now am I realizing that was Jared Harris.  I need glasses.

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