Tag Archives: Jared Harris

AMC’s Mad Men: Episode 512 “Commisions and Fees”

The other shoe finally dropped. That is the inevitable matter of Lane Pryce’s embezzlement came to the attention of one Donald Draper this week, and though the initial confrontation played out as one might expect, the conclusion was shocking. Bert Cooper, thinking Don was trying to assuage Lane’s constant griping about the bonus, brings the canceled check to his attention which leads Don to bring Lane in for proper questioning. The true tragedy of Lane’s transgression is that if pride didn’t get the better of him, and he simply went to Don to borrow the money that he didn’t even wind up stealing everything would have been fine. Through embezzlement and forgery however he has lost the trust of SCDP’s lead man and Don will have nothing other than his resignation and in fact thinks he is doing Lane a favor by giving him a clean new start, and the opportunity to resign without any black marks on his resume. Unfortunately, as is often the case when you get embedded in a nest  of deceit, Lane can’t come clean with his wife who has made matter even worse by purchasing a new Jaguar as a reward to her husband “who never treats himself”. Here is where the brilliance of Mad Men‘s writing comes in. The Jaguar is the perfect symbol for all of Lane’s problems. It is not only a literal symbol of the firm’s success with the client he failed with despite his best efforts, but is also symbolic of the nouveau riche who can afford an impractical luxury car like Jaguar, and the lie he is representing to his wife. If it wasn’t abundantly clear that AMC would never get Jaguar as one of their advertising clients, last night’s episode sealed the deal. In a moment of true black comedy we find Lane trying to kill himself by using the Jaguar to asphyxiate himself, but the car is such a lemon that he can’t even get it to start up and do the job.

It’s too early in the Mad Men era for a Nixon reference, but if Lane Pryce had an exit speech I think it might be somewhat similar to tricky Dick’s exit; “You won’t have {Lane Pryce} to kick around anymore gentlemen, because this is my last {episode}”. Lane’s suicide is the second Mad Men death when characters face off against Don’s tough love and you’ve got to imagine this is going to weigh heavily on Don’s conscience, and it will be interesting to see what happens when word eventually slips out about the true circumstances of Lane’s “resignation”. I’m not sure if this was the case of Jared Harris getting to big for the show or not, but either way it was an expertly crafted character arc, and despite it all you didn’t want to believe that Lane had killed himself until you literally saw the bloated corpse that Don and company cut down from the ceiling.

The other big developments of the week revolved around Don lighting a fire under his own ass and Sally Draper becoming a woman. Don isn’t happy with the direction that SCDP has taken on and wants bigger fish to fry. As he says, “I don’t want Jaguar I want Chevy!” which leads Roger to set up a meeting with Ken Cosgrove’s father-in-law, the Devil incarnate, aka Ray Wise aka the chairman of Dow Chemical. Ken has long been against SCDP getting involved in his family business, but he concedes on two main factors. That he has been “dragged” on board, and that in no way can Pete Campbell be involved in their business, chalking up Cosgrove as yet another of Pete’s inter-office enemies. We won’t find out until next week whether or not his tactics were sound but Don’s approach to winning Dow Chemical was to literally yell at them and berate them for being happy with 50% market success, and it’s as much of a speech for himself and SCDP as it is for the client.

Roger, for his part, is happy to see the feisty old Don Draper as his LSD induced free thinking has begun to fade. We also get to experience another typical Don and Megan squabble when Don forgets to inform her that Betty is dropping Sally off at the apartment:

  • Don: (Demeaning comment)
  • Megan: (Bitchy response)
  • Don: (Some serious shit happened)
  • Megan: (Let’s kiss and make up)

That’s pretty much how Don and Megan interaction go these days as she feels defensive and marginalized, and he feels defensive and overly stressed. It’s always hard to tell what’s going to happen in the Mad Men teasers, but it seems like there might be some new wedge between Don and Megan coming and you wonder if the loss of Lane might push Don back into his self-destructive ways.

Meanwhile we get a fun little aside with Sally and her weirdzo boyfriend Glen this week as when she realizes she will have the apartment to herself Sally convinces Glen to come to the big city for a visit on the sly. These two characters both have been subject to creepy sexual undertones over seasons past so it was a relief that when Glen arrives at Sally’s apartment his greatest desire is to go to the Museum of Natural History.

There we are treated to the awkwardly sweet interactions of Glen’s dry jokes about the exhibits, and the exploration of what their relationship actually is. All of this is interrupted when Sally, feeling ill, makes a startling discovery in the bathroom and then freaks out and takes a cab back to the suburbs and her mom, leaving Glen in the lurch. This whole sequence is yet another fine example of the quality of writing in this show as the awkwardness of youth is naturally captured. Having Glen be as concerned over completing his book report as he is about finding Sally just feels so natural to their ages. Sally freaking out and providing her mother with another bitch chip to play against Megan also feels very natural as despite young Sally’s mistrust of Betty when important things happen it’s still her mother’s arms in which she seeks comfort.

Next week, regrettably is the season finale of Mad Men, and it should be a good one. In the past two weeks of what is normally a pretty even keeled show as far as dramatic changes are concerned they have had Peggy Olson leave SCDP and Lane Pryce kill himself. What kind of bombshell did they leave for the last week?


AMC’s Mad Men: Episode 511 “The Other Woman”

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.


Review AMC’s Mad Men: Episode 509 “Dark Shadows”

Before we get to this weeks episode, that despite it’s name has no goofy vampires played by Johnny Depp, we must quickly go over the happenings in Episode 508 “Lady Lazarus” which missed it’s review last week. (sorry)

We start the week with Peggy playing her increasingly frequent new role of being a jealous bitch. She is upset that Megan has had such an easy time being a copywriter and doesn’t seem to be enjoying her success. After taking a verbal scalding Megan decides it’s not only that her father doesn’t believe in her capitalistic ventures, but also that Peggy is right that her heart isn’t in it which leads her to quit SCDP to return to what she believes she is destined for; acting. Don is not pleased but he hides it well, from Megan anyways. At this point if Megan curled up to him and said “Don, I think I’m going to drive across country in the nude murdering and pillaging as I roam because that’s the best thing for me!” you almost feel he would grudgingly agree with her.

The other big development of the week comes in the form of Pete Campbell’s continued emulation of the Don Draper of old. When he finally meets the wife of his train companion, a sexy turn by Gilmore Girls’ Alexis Bledel, Pete eventually caves to her advances and has a one-night fling. We quickly learn the difference between Don behaving badly and Pete behaving badly however. Campbell becomes a puppy and quickly becomes absolutely obsessed with Beth Dawes, following her around and even entering her home on the pretenses of buying life insurance from her husband. She insists it was a one time thing, but ends the episode by giving Pete a glimmer of hope in his schoolboy heart by drawing a heart in the fog of her windshield as he sheepishly looks on.

As the episode closed, we are given a brief moment where, in an attempt to get Don up to speed, Megan buys him the newest Beatles album – Revolver. This scene is present to help display just how out of touch Don is, and it wasn’t a cheap example either. According to the New York Time, the show’s producers had to drop $250,000 to play the track. Which is probably why it picks back up during the credits. Waste not…

In “Dark Shadows” we see a little bit more of what is becoming an increasingly disturbing fact; Don is getting old and losing his touch. As we’ve come to learn, Don has lost touch with modern music and “what kid’s like these days” and has been so head over heels with Megan that he hasn’t been putting in the office time either. At the beginning of the episode he look over the copy work and realizes for the first time what everyone else knows. His hand isn’t in any of it. Thus when it’s time for Don to make the pitch to the Sno Cone execs and the choice is between Ginsberg’s series, which people seemed to prefer over Don’s Sno Cone eating devil. Guess which ad piece got left in the cab. Don’s ad piece isn’t bad, in fact it’s good enough to make the sale but that’s not the point. It’s the first time we see Don’s cracks when it comes to advertising. He sounds lame as he tries to sell the devil’s creepy voice and has clearly become out of touch with not just the youth of the day, but the youth of his own office. This also opens up a new Mad Men rivalry between the young and the old where we find an ignoble and emboldened Michael Ginsberg flying in the face of the man he once so admired. It will be interesting to see how Don handles this new metamorphosis into the figurehead role that has already claimed Sterling and Cooper. As Don regresses it will also be interesting to see if the absence of Megan from his everyday office life will sully the sheen of new love and open the door for the Don of old’s philandering ways.

Speaking of old dogs learning new tricks, Roger has become a little fed up with being strictly a schmoozer and wants to take his rivalry with Campbell to a new level by actually bringing in client of his own, namely Manishewitz wine. As Roger is technically still married to a honest to goodness Jew he enlists Jane’s help to impress his client at his upcoming dinner meeting. He also enlists the other reigning Jew on the SCDP staff, wonderboy Ginsberg, to make him look smart with a winning advertising proposal. The meeting goes well but Roger still manages to make a mess of things when he rekindles the romance with Jane ruining her attempt to start a new life in the blackmail induced new apartment that she was hoping to keep free of memories of their marriage. Roger also manages to piss off an increasingly perturbed Peggy Olsen by using Ginsberg instead of returning to her for his back alley advertising needs.

We also see a little bit from Megan and one of her acting class friends reading scenes for an audition for the show…Dark Shadows. Which they railed. Kind of funny. This whole scene was simply to show Megan finally realizing how people see her, fair or not.

The other major storyline of the week ,or “Dark Shadow” if you will, involves the nest of jealously between Don, Megan, chubby Betty and Sally. Betty has joined the relatively new Weight Watchers in an attempt to regain her control over her appetite, and while the lessons from her meetings seem to help her attitude at home, she can’t help but be blinded by jealously when she sees Don’s immaculate New York apartment inhabited by his svelte and sexy new wife.

Her weapon of choice, as always, is the young Sally Draper who is more than willing to become catty and petulant when she feels shes been lied to by Megan. Betty’s scheming ultimately backfires however when Megan recognizes her meddling and keeps Don from flying off the hook which allows a more aware Sally to turn the whole ordeal into a hurtful jab towards her mother. If Mad Men lasts long enough for Sally Draper to televise her teen years then watch out! She’s only 10 or 11 on the show, but already has all the attitude and maliciousness of a teenager with the “bad boy” boyfriend to boot.

Mad Men seems to really be hitting it’s stride season and it seems there will be no end to frustrations and controversy in the SCDP office. Jared Harris will finally make his return next week as he has been noticeably absent from the series since his dust-up with Campbell. We should also expect a lot more of Pete and Beth in more that the fantastical version that aired this week as it seems that Pete’s obsession is coming to a head. With only four episodes left in the season you can feel the tension ramping up in the Mad Men world and we should be in for a great last few weeks.

Quote of the Week – Betty Draper:

“I’m thankful I have everything I want, and that no one else has anything better.”


The Return of ‘Mad Men’: Season 5

For those of you who have been pining for the most boringly interesting show on television to return, and I say that as a fan, your wait is almost over.

Don, Peggy, Roger and especially Joan will be back when Mad Men finally debuts its first episode of season five March 25th on AMC.

The poster announcing the return has been creating some online controversy because of its likeness to some chilling images from 9/11, but anyone who’s upset about this is late to the party because Mad Men has been using the falling man graphic since it’s debut in 2007. This is simply a bit of Don Draper magic, capturing the viewer as simply and as powerfully as possible. It will be a relief to see the Mad Men characters back in their familiar swarthy Manhattanite atmospheres instead of popping up in various television shows and movies.

Continue reading The Return of ‘Mad Men’: Season 5


Daniel Day-Lewis is Abraham Lincoln

Lincoln is an upcoming biographical drama directed by Steven Spielberg, based on the book Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin.

When I had first heard about this Liam Neeson was attached to play the lead, but that was years ago and I hadn’t heard anything else about the film until now. Apparently Neeson left the project after years of waiting for it to get the green light. According to Neeson, he felt he was too old to play the part. Personally, I felt Neeson was an excellent choice to play Lincoln. However, once I heard Daniel Day-Lewis got the role I just about creamed myself.

This will be the first time Spielberg and Day-Lewis have worked on a film together and I’m very excited because DDL has a habit of disappearing into his characters.

For his role as ‘Bill the Butcher’ in Gangs of New York he took lessons as an apprentice butcher, never left character between takes (including keeping the New York accent), and even caught pneumonia because he wouldn’t wear a warmer coat stating that it wasn’t in character to do so. This along with the picture below leads me to believe that Lincoln will be a movie worth paying ticket price to see.

Continue reading Daniel Day-Lewis is Abraham Lincoln


Trailer and Posters for “Sherlock Holmes 2: A Game of Shadows”

On December 16 of this year, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows will release in theaters everywhere. In this, the second of the new series of Holmes movies, Sherlock Holmes (Downey) meets his match. Sherlock crosses paths with a criminal mastermind by the name of Professor Moriarty (Jared Harris). The Professor is not only smart… he is Sherlock Holmes smart! To pair with his extreme intelligence, Professor Moriarty also lacks a conscience, so he can be pure evil with a complete lack of sympathy.

In the movie, the Crown Prince of Austria is found dead. Inspector Lestrade (Eddie Marsan) deems his death a suicide. However, Holmes does not agree, and is of the opinion that the death was a murder facilitated by Professor Moriarty. During Sherlock Holmes’ investigation, he meets a gypsy at a  gentlemen’s club. She sees that he is very involved in the situation regarding the Prince’s death, and agrees to help him.

This movie looks like an action-packed good time! It seems like every post from fans in online forums is about what a great pick Jared Harris is for the evil Professor. I would absolutely agree. His popularity from Mad Men will help to promote the movie, and I loved him in Mr. Deeds. I will be seeing this movie! There are a ton of new movie posters for this one, so here are some very lovely ones and a video!

Mmmm… those eyes!