Posts Tagged ‘Mad Men’

Ken Cosgrove isn’t merely one of the most decent and likable high-level employees at SCDP/CGC- apparently he can also tap-dance on an injured foot (if you pump him with enough of that mystery drug that’s probably amphetamines).

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A low-level corporate accountant’s car makes his colleagues think he’s higher up the ladder than he really is. It’s a minor variation on one of the most basic car commercial messages out there: “This car will make you appear more important.” (Other basic messages include “This fuel-efficient car will make you appear more conscious and compassionate,” and “This pick-up truck will make you appear more bad-ass as you plow through mud in the middle of nowhere.”) Still, as a 30-second story, this Nissan Sentra ad seemed tight and somewhat clever– at least it did the first time I saw it. Now after seeing it multiple times, all I can think about is how confusing its premise becomes the more I think about it.

So let’s recap: We open on a VIP-looking guy (CEO of a company, I presume) waiting outside an office building (presumably his company’s) while a young woman (presumably his secretary) says in a timid, apologetic tone, “I called the car myself” (presumably a taxi or livery cab). The boss looks at her to express his irritation- presumably he’s got a very important meeting and he’ll be embarrassingly late if this car doesn’t get here soon. Overhearing the situation, a friendly but obviously less-important dude offers the boss a ride. Once inside the car, the boss asks, “Who are you again?” And in a much humbler manner than Ken Cosgrove would, the employee replies, “Daniels, sir… Accounts.”

Then they make another stop to pick up another important-looking suit at another office building, and when she asks, “Who’s this?” the boss introduces Daniels as a “key player” in accounts. They make a third stop for a third suit at a third office building, who also wants to know who the driver is, and the woman, apparently judging by Daniels’ luxurious-looking Nissan Sentra, further promotes Daniels to “director” of accounts. Finally, the car arrives at a fourth office building, and as the three suits walk toward their important meeting, Daniels stays in the car and wishes them good luck. “Come on, Daniels,” the boss says. “You’re VP of accounts, aren’t you?” So Daniels plays along and hustles after them.

But wait a second– why was Daniels picking up two other suits at two other office buildings? Don’t these people all work for the same company? Were they being picked up from other meetings on their way to this meeting? Do they work for separate companies who are working together for this particular meeting? Is that a thing corporate people do? And where was Daniels headed to begin with? Maybe he was just going to lunch, but it seems more likely that he was going to his own meeting. And if that’s the case, won’t he be blowing that meeting off to sit in on this meeting where he doesn’t belong? Does he think the benefits of pretending to be VP of accounts– a ruse which will surely be discovered soon enough–  outweigh the consequences of skipping the meeting he was actually supposed to attend? I mean I don’t have much experience in the corporate arena, so maybe I’m out of my element here, but I’m pretty sure this particular scenario doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

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The closing montage of last night’s Mad Men had me marking out big time.  Sure, putting “Tomorrow Never Knows” as the score would automatically make most montages 800% better, and yes, it was a bit on-the-nose for a sequence of characters on the brink of uncertain futures.  But this was one of those rare cases where “on-the-nose” is right on target.

While Peggy’s getting high burning the midnight oil at the SCDP office, and Pete’s yearning for an affair that he should probably let slip through his fingers, the reason we’re hearing “Tomorrow Never Knows” is because Megan Draper’s trying to turn Don onto The Beatles.  Unfortunately, she seems to have gone about it the wrong way.

Going back to the beginning, I always sensed that Don Draper, deep down, wanted to be a free-wheeling beatnik, even if he might never ditch his corporate lifestyle.  The affair with Midge the artist, the escapes to California, his overall not-giving-a-fuck.  I figured that by the end of the series, Don and Peggy would adapt to the 1960s revolution, even if they wouldn’t turn into full-blown hippies.  But lately, it’s clearer that the ’60s will probably wash right over Don, if not swallow him up entirely.  (And now in the wake of Roger Sterling’s life-altering LSD trip, it seems like the once-obsolete SCDP partner might adapt to the rising tide far better than his peers.)

Naturally, it’s a client’s wish for a Hard Day’s Night-style ad that most piques Don’s interest in The Beatles, and leads Megan to give him Revolver.  But Megan’s mistake was telling Don to start with the album’s last track, “Tomorrow Never Knows.”  When she said “start here,” I assumed she was referring to “Eleanor Rigby,” since “Taxman” might have offended Don’s more conservative sensibilities.  Just a couple episodes back, we saw Don whistling “I Want To Hold Your Hand,” so it’s not unreasonable to expect he’d also get into Revolver‘s poppier tracks.

But when Don dropped the needle on his turntable and the proto-trance of “Tomorrow Never Knows” started pulsating, I was shocked.  I love the song, and as I said, I love how it was used, but it’s a terrible choice as a gateway drug if you’re trying to hook your 40 year-old ad man husband in 1966.  It took music decades to catch up with “Tomorrow Never Knows-” how did Megan expect Don to dig it?  Of course he picked the needle up before the song was over.

Then again, if Megan was using “Tomorrow Never Knows” as some sort of litmus test to see just how compatible she and Don were, then maybe she succeeded after all.

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Was this week’s Mad Men a turning point in Pete Campbell’s life?  Will the loosely-based-on-Pete story being written by Ken Cosgrove/Ben Hargrove/Dave Algonquin end in redemption or misery?  Don Draper seems to think Pete’s redeemable, but who knows at this point?  What I do know is that Vincent Kartheiser killed it in this episode.  He brought Pete’s worminess to a whole new level, especially in that scene up there with the hooker.  And yet he still makes me feel a tinge of sympathy for that worm.  His eyes have this profound, pathetic sadness that tell me Pete Campbell wishes he wasn’t such a worm, and wishes he could be happy with a wife as hot as Alison Brie back at his safe suburban home in Cos Cob, Connecticut.  I mean, if an actor can me make me feel sympathy for his wormy character as he enviously watches a high school girl get fingered during Driver’s Ed, then he’s doing something seriously right.

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The Sopranos is Francis Ford Coppola, duh.  Martin Scorsese‘s a little too flashy for The Sopranos so he gets to be Breaking Bad, with all the shovel-POV shots and such.

Steven Spielberg has to be LOST: heaps of gee-whiz! with a dollop of schmaltz.

I’ve never seen Battlestar Galactica, but I want to say that one’s George Lucas.  Of the shows I have seen, the closest George Lucas might be Heroes– though in fairness to Lucas, Heroes started sucking in way less time.

Friday Night Lights is Robert Altman, particularly Nashville, where country music is high school football and the acting is unbelievably natural.

Louie is obviously Woody Allen, only I think I could actually hang out with Louie’s alter ego without wanting to slap the neuroses out of him.

Mad Men is Stanley Kubrick, I think.  Clinically sterile on the surface, but still very human at its core.  Also because they both feel like Americans who love America but wish they were British so they could see America from a British perspective.

If all those Discovery & History Channel reality shows about dangerous, nature-battling jobs (Deadliest Catch, Ice Road Truckers) procreated with all those A&E and TLC reality shows about mentally-disturbed weirdos (Hoarders, My Strange Addiction), the offspring would be Werner Herzog.

If all those tacky, tasteless MTV & VH1 reality shows (Jersey Shore, Flavor Of Love) fucked each other, the offspring would be John Waters.  (This is meant as a compliment to John Waters, and as an insult to the reality shows.  I’m not sure how that works, but that’s how it is.)

If Wes Craven and John Carpenter and Tobe Hooper and Brian DePalma and Dario Argento had an orgy and the offspring got mostly recessive genes, that offspring would be American Horror Story

Carnivale is David Lynch, because of the genuinely eerie Americana and all the unanswered questions.

The Walking Dead is George Romero if he took his sweet, sweet time a la Terrence Malick.  Though of course Terrence Malick is more Planet Earth. 

30 Rock might have to be Mike Nichols, though of course it has plenty of Mel Brooks too.  But with all the genre-spoofing, Mel Brooks should probably be Community.  And I guess that would mean Arrested Development is John LandisThe Office (US Version) is Hal Ashby (unless Parks And Recreation is Hal Ashby).  The Office (UK Version) is more realistic and uncomfortable to watch, so that’s John CassavetesHow I Met Your Mother is meta-Arthur Hiller (the guy who directed Love Story as well as a couple of Neil Simon scripts).  I can’t think of who It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia would be.  Who’s the most mean-spirited and irredeemably obnoxious 1970s filmmaker?

I have yet to see Homeland or Rubicon, but they’re Alan Pakula, right?  Because conspiracies and shit?

The Wire would have to be Sidney Lumet, with the criminals and the scathing social commentary of modern urban…OK, I’m just guessing on this one too, since I’ve only seen like 4 episodes of The Wire, and I’m ashamed to admit this.

Deadwood is either Walter Hill or Sam Peckinpah, since it takes the brutality inherent in early-20th Century Westerns and reconfigures it through modern…

…all right, I’ve seen zero episodes of Deadwood.

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