How might Blumhouse and Universal’s new iteration of The Invisible Man fare in the aftermath of the failed Dark Universe?
Searchlight Pictures has unveiled the first official trailer for Wes Anderson’s latest film, titled The French Dispatch. The comedic drama follows a group of journalists at an American newspaper bureau set in a fictional 20th-century French city.
AMC does a good job of spreading out its popular shows throughout the TV viewing seasons. That means that right now is a great time for those Breaking Bad lovers out there as the fifth season rolls along, but it’s the summer blues for Mad Men viewers and Dish subscribers. Recently though, there was some good news from the notoriously tight-lipped helmsman of the Mad Men experience, as Matthew Weiner admitted that Elisabeth Moss’s ‘Peggy Olson’ will still be a regular character on the show.
“When people leave Sterling Cooper, sometimes it is the end for [the character],” Weiner allows. “But I will spoil that one tiny piece of anticipation and tell people that Elisabeth will be showing up to work.”
This is certainly great news for fans of the show, as Peggy has consistently been one of the most interesting characters on Mad Men from the word go. It really comes as no big surprise however, probably why Weiner was OK spilling the news, and having Peggy work for one of SCDP’s biggest rivals should only add to the intrigue of the storylines.
Speaking of storylines and Mad Men‘s love of the nostalgic reference, I went onto Wikipedia 1967 to see what interesting historical tidbits might make it into season six’s episodes. The Civil Rights Movement has already been embedded into season 5, but in 1967 there were numerous race riots across the country so we should expect a lot more of this topic along with a nod to Thurgood Marshall; the first African-American elected to the Supreme Court. The Vietnam War and protests at home were still a big news item so it will be interesting to see whether or nor we see a reappearance of Dr. Greg, or hopefully Dr. Greg’s corpse. The worst of the Vietnam years is still to come so I don’t think it will be a major presence, but if there is any major nod this season I would guess it to be Muhammad Ali’s refusal to serve in the Military after being drafted.
Richard Speck, who was the guy who killed the nurses and was featured in the “Mystery Date” episode, was sentenced to the electric chair in 1967 so that would be a nice opportunity to put a bow on that storyline, and possibly comment on the moral dilemmas of corporal punishment. The very first Superbowl was in 1967 between the Green Bay Packers and Kansas City Chiefs, but Mad Men doesn’t make a lot of sports references so it would be a long shot for show material. The space race is still somewhat prevalent in the 1960’s so you might see the mention of the ‘Apollo 1’ disaster that killed three American astronauts. There are some other long-shots for episode material including the capture of Che Guevera, jokes about Allen Ginsberg and character Michael Ginsberg, but my favorite if I could put money on it is when John McCain was shot down and captured by the Viet Cong.
Mad Men as a cultural reference machine has always done a great job of incorporating and referencing relevant music and 1967 provides a lot of great candidates. The Beatles of course start to explode and diversify their sound, and the other side of the rock and roll coin – The Rolling Stones make their first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show to be the next big thing. Dark Horse candidates include the debuts of Velvet Underground and Pink Floyd, but you would probably be safer betting on references to The Doors and Ed Sullivan as well as Monterey Pop, the first famous major outdoor music festival.
Any way you shake it out there is plenty of material out there for the Mad Men writing staff to flesh out some more interesting plot lines, and after stepping up the actual drama last season I expect nothing but a more exciting season 6. For those of you who still haven’t gotten into Mad Men, or who are still catching up, there’s nothing like 7-8 straight hours of the show to get you hooked and take a break from snarky American swimmers. Any chance Ryan Lochte can make an appearance next season so he can get punched in the face like Pete Campbell?
Considering that in the past two weeks the notoriously slow-paced Mad Men had one of its oldest and most popular characters leave the firm followed by one of the partners killing themselves I was expecting, as probably was the fan base at large, some sort of momentous season finale cliff hanger. That clearly was not in the cards. While the season finale, by regular episode standards, did have a couple of surprises, as a season-ender it fell a bit short as far as drama goes.
The episode was titled “The Phantom” and we are treated with phantoms both literally and figuratively. Don, feeling the stress and guilt of Lane’s suicide, is habitually visited throughout the episode by his brother, whom was also a suicide victim and receiver of Don’s tough love. We also get a Peggy Olson appearance this week, and hopefully this will quell the rumors that Elisabeth Moss is done with Mad Men, and she is more than a Phantom. Peggy has her own storyline in fact as she is handed a new account for women’s cigarettes that will, as we know, eventually become Virginia Slims and a major marketing success in its own time. We are witness to a nice conciliatory meeting between Don and Peggy at the movie theater, sans handy I would assume, and the puzzling image of dogs humping outside of Peggy’s Virginia hotel room. It looks like Peggy is here to stay and thank goodness for that.
The other major phantom of the episode comes in the form of Pete’s on-again off-again affair partner whom we learn is the frequent victim/consumer of electroshock therapy. After an uncomfortable encounter on the train, Pete gets a booty call from Beth Dawes and skips out on the Partners meeting for the liaison. Here he learns about her treatment and her desire to have one last fling before her memory is erased and all memories of Pete Campbell are gone. I’m sure there are some people out there who would jump at the chance to have all memories of Pete Campbell erased from their mind, but he does such a good job of being a dick you just shouldn’t do that to yourself. As an added bonus we also get to see Pete punched in the face two more times this episode! He really is a despicable character when as soon as you start to feel for the guy after he opens his heart to the post trauma Beth and confronts her scumbag husband, he acts like a total prick to the good-natured train cop and you are once again cheering as Pete takes another shot to the kisser. Whomever came up with this gem will have to update it with the new footage.
The cliff-hanger for the season finale hinges upon Don and Megan’s relationship. Megan’s acting career has continued to flounder and in this episode she gets desperate and stabs her friend in the back by asking Don to consider her for a commercial that SCDP will be producing instead of her considering her friend who had asked the favor. Megan’s mother is in town, rekindling her romance with Roger Sterling, and Megan’s depressive ways lead to a confrontation between her and Don which may have been the key to changing Don and Megan’s relationship as a whole. Megan’s mom describes her as someone with an artist’s sensibility without the artists talent. Don, after watching Megan’s test reel, acquiesces to her desires and gets her the commercial gig. The big question though, the one we are left with as the woman down the bar hits on Don asking “if he is alone”, is whether or not Don has lost respect for Megan. Did he give in and get her the gig because he really thinks she deserves it and just hasn’t gotten her break, or is he secretly disgusted at her lack of gumption and willingness to work hard at her art and gave her the job because it’s proof to her callous need to be spoiled. Fortunately the wait for season 6 will be significantly shorter than the wait for season 5 was, but still is too long if you ask me.
It’s 1967, a whole new year for the Mad Men crew, and nothing seems to be more important to the SCDP staff than landing their first big automotive contract in the form of that elusive beast; Jaguar. There are so many people working on the Jaguar pitch that characters we’ve never seen are coming out of the woodwork. Seriously, there are two extra guys in the room with Ginsberg, Stan, Cosgrove and Draper working on the pitch that I can’t ever remember seeing before. The elusive perfect pitch line is not coming easy for anybody but as we soon learn their sale may depend on an altogether different type of pitch. It’s not mentioned lightly that the “car people” are a bunch of sleazeballs, and it quickly comes to the forefront that the lynchpin of the Jaguar deal has a proposition that he says will seal the deal; Joan. If it had been anyone but Pete Campbell taking the meeting you might imagine that the deal would end right there. In fact if it was Don taking the meeting he might have hit the guy right in the face even in the middle of the restaurant. Pete however not only has the nerve to bring it up with Joan, but also to follow-up with a partners meeting to see how much they can raise to bribe her. Thus begins one of the elements of this weeks major theme: upward mobility of the 1960’s woman.
For Joan, who has an absentee husband who is divorcing her, a young child and nagging mother at home, and 13 years invested in the firm as a secretary, the opportunity of hitting a huge payday for a night of her services provides too much of a temptation. Lane, who is still freaking out about bonuses and the money he embezzled, has convinced Joan that her best bargaining chip is a 5% stake in the company, becoming a minor partner as opposed to a lump payoff. While certainly good advice for her long-term security, it is ultimately underhanded of Lane as he is also highly concerned that if he uses the $50,000 extension to bribe her, he won’t get his bonus and will be found out. It turns out that there “Will be no bonuses this year!” as Cooper booms so it seems like Lane’s fraudulence will be somehow linked to the season finale. Joan’s whole encounter with the sleazy salesman is handled with typical Mad Men brilliance, as we are treated to a bookended scene of Don’s efforts to keep Joan from prostituting herself. In the middle of the bookends we see Don making the sales pitch of the unattainable, which has become attainable (the Jaguar) crosscut with the unattainable (Joan) who has become attainable for a price and the metaphor is complete.
Two of the other women in Don’s life are also making their way forward as best they can. Don and Megan continue their domestic power struggle as Megan’s successful casting call gives her an opportunity to be in a play which is being staged in Boston. The thought of Megan being away for three months ignites the internal conflict of Don’s wish for his wife’s success coupled against his desire for her to be at home in the traditional sense. Megan, in her fiery way, recognizes this and accuses Don of not having thought of her leaving because he never believed she would succeed. Don, as he also proved with Joan, is at heart a good person who wants whats best for the people he cares about comes around to make peace with Megan and her dreams. Megan ultimately doesn’t get the part, and similarly to Joan is herself judged as a sexual pawn as she is ogled and asked simply “to step forward and turn around” in her second casting call.
Lastly we get to this week’s developments with Peggy Olson. It has been a long time coming that Peggy has been feeling more and more neglected, jaded and under appreciated at SCDP. Similarly to Pete Campbell copying Don’s lecherous past, Peggy is also following in the footsteps of her idol and doing what she thinks he would have done. The pact between Peggy and Ken Cosgrove to move on together has been mentioned frequently in the past weeks episodes, and Peggy has flirted with other advertising companies in the past, but the day that no one ever thought was really going to happen has come. After lunching with former Sterling Cooper salesman Freddy Rumsen, Peggy gets herself a meeting with Don’s arch-rival in ‘Cutler, Gleason, and Shaw’ who butters her bread and makes her an exceptionally attractive offer.
As we learn from Peggy’s heart-wrenching dialogue with Don as she gives her notice, it’s not about the money. Don initially thinks she’s making a power play to get her much deserved raise, but quickly realizes that what Peggy really wants is to make a name for herself out from under the shadow of Don Draper and to further become the model of a self-made woman. Hopefully for Mad Men viewers Peggy doesn’t make herself a stranger as she promises to Don as she is one of the more enjoyable Mad Men characters.
Notably absent from this weeks stories of the burgeoning Women’s Lib movement is Betty Draper. This is because like her counterpart Trudy Campbell, an increasingly rare Alison Brie appearance, Betty is still a throwback to the 1950’s housewife who has built her life around being a debutant and keeping her efforts on the home front. Unlike Trudy however Betty doesn’t seem to relish in it, and will likely experience more conflict between being a housewife or a professional in the Mad Men future.
Overall this was another example of Mad Men at it’s best, interweaving multiple story lines with social commentary in a seamless and cinematically beautiful way. It’s sad to say that there are only two episode of Mad Men left this season so enjoy it while it lasts. Hopefully these last two weeks will be as amazing as this one.