Sickness = spending quality time bathing in the nurturing glow my nursemaid computer emits while I binge watch content as the showrunner intended. I’m nothing if not obedient. And anyway, what else am I going to do? Cough all night?

So, that’s a post title, huh? SEO, suck it. I’m not here for you. Which I think has been well established long before now. Aside to SEO peeps who keep emailing me: I’m not interested. Really. This is a blog. It’s not ever going to make money. You’ve clearly not read a single post if you don’t understand this fundamental truth. Off with the lot of you.

So, where was I? I believe I was talking about the time-honored tradition of binge watching. Which is as old as time itself. Cavemen and cavewomen binge watched. Their content wasn’t nearly as captivating as mine. I don’t believe the woolly mammoth and woolly rhinoceros did much except lack imagination when it came to dreaming up unique, descriptive adjectives for themselves. If the cavemen and cavewomen were especially fortunate, they lucked into a fight between CaveMan-Bald-Spot and CaveWoman-Orange-Tuft-Over-Left-Ear as they fought over who got the last bite of wild cat. As the fight escalated from name-calling to fists to clubs, all that would be missing would be popcorn and beer. Sorry, cavemen and women. That’s a long slog into the future for those snacks.

And look, I’m done with the analogy. I had this whole thing where I was going to illustrate binge watching through history. In the same vein as the cavepeople example, of course. But, I’d rather get to the “meat” of the blog. And so, let me tell you about my latest binge watch. I was sick. With the coughs. Which is the absolute worst for sleeping. So, I was logging about three hours of sleep a night which means I was lurching about the office seeing cartoon characters brought to me by my friend sleep deprivation (good times). And thankfully, it occurred to me early in the sickness that I should be hitting the computer hard to consume some media. I started with Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, which was a romp that barely got me through the first two nights. One season of a show is just not enough. But it was a delightful show, and I am hopeful that Unbreakable-Kimmy-Schmidt-Titus exists somewhere. Unbreakable-Kimmy-Schmidt-Titus, call me. I need you in my life. Anyway, inspiration hit after I blew through Unbreakable in record time. Orange. And black. Three seasons? That should get the job done. I’m not a math person, but that seems like it could fill some sleepless nights. Verdict? Sleepless nights filled admirably. And when S3 dropped, I had just a couple of S2 eps. left, and spent the weekend knocking that baby out. Well, if I’m honest, I had S3 knocked out by Saturday night. What can I say. I’m helpless when the credits roll. That means cue up the next ep. Breaking Bad required enormous levels of willpower to watch only two eps. at a time, since I was continuing to sleep like a regular person and work. I’m glad I was only one season behind for that show. So, back to Orange is the New Black. Piper is a complete shit. It took me until midway through S1 to figure that out. OK, I might have made it through two-thirds of S1 before I was shooting fire out of my eyes at her. And Larry was dead to me sooner than that. Tool. I liked S2 the best. And though I thought the S3 finale could use some editing, I loved the juxtaposition at the end to set up S4.

Favorite characters:
Poussey (She’s been consistently one of my favorites.)
Morello (Sure. She’s nuts. And dangerously nuts at that. But she breaks my heart.)
Boo (She’s definitely grown to be one of my most favorite characters.)
Pennsatuckey (How is this even POSSIBLE!!! So much hate for her earlier….)
Nicky (I can’t even talk about it.)
Red (MINUS Healy! No ship here.)
Gloria….wait, should I just list all of them? I’m looking at my list, and it would be easier to just say I hate Piper and Larry, and I’m extremely grateful for the respite from him. I’m mixed on Alex, since I don’t like weak Alex. And I’m mixed on Stella, although she’s very easy on the eyes and ears.

Next up? House of Cards! Bring the pain, Spacey.

Thoughts on Mad Men: Season 7, Lost Horizon (SPOILERS)

IMAGE CREDIT: Photo by AMC

SPOILERS BELOW!

OK, Weiner’s turning up the heat. Don’s staring out the windows of his new office, and then playing with the window. It’s a credits punk, right? I get it. But the D B Cooper theory is looking more and more likely. Or at least, a variation of that.

For such a packed episode, I don’t have a lot to say. The women are clearly screwed. Boutiques are better for the Peggy and Joan types. Joan, especially. As we discussed last week, Joan has a whole other set of baggage to deal with when it comes to men taking her seriously. Bottom line is that two of my favorite characters are facing a very bad ending because working for a big company filled with a bunch of dudebros means they’ll be starting at the very bottom of the heap regardless of their prior experience. And don’t kid yourself that it’s not gender related. They are rolling out the red carpet for Don. Now, of course, Don susses out that the red carpet at a place as big as McCann amounts to nothing he wants any part of, but that’s beside the point. He’s still being treated as royalty. Meanwhile, Joan’s being forced to watch an idiot ruin what should have been a very standard and easy to approach client call. Peggy has been forgotten/overlooked and/or lumped in with the secretaries in the transition to the new office space and is forced to work in the old SC&P space until they find her an office. This series has always been very transparent about the gender issues of that period, and it’s painful to see that realism continue because it means the realistic ending for Peggy and Joan won’t be pleasant.

I loved watching Roger’s and Peggy’s drinkfest that ended up in a rollerskating display to the accompanient of Roger’s tunes. Seriously fun. It provided some much needed levity to a very depressing episode. I thought it was a nice counterpoint to see how Roger, the epitome of the good ol’ boy network, champions both Peggy and Joan in this episode. Of course, it really just highlighted how much of a dead end McCann is going to be for them. We already see it with Joan in this very episode, but the signs are all there for Peggy as well.

Peggy actually trumped that incredible scene with Roger in the old (and sad) SC&P space when she walked into McCann carting her newly-acquired horny octopus while sporting her cig and sunglasses. The swagger! I love Peggy swagger. We get very little of it, but she’s going to need it if she’s going to make this ending of hers work for me. If Joan’s tragic ending isn’t going to spiral up in some unforeseen way, then I’m going to need Peggy to “burn the place down” for Joan.

Team Peggy!

I’m really looking forward to Sunday.

Thoughts on Mad Men: Season 7, Time & Life (SPOILERS)

IMAGE CREDIT: Photo by AMC

SPOILERS BELOW!

I wanted to get this done yesterday. Really, I did. But that episode needed two views because it was a beautiful thing. I saw one reviewer who noted that he felt handled throughout the episode, and I felt similarly. And like that reviewer –I can’t remember who it was or I’d link– I found it perfectly fine, too. The episode was vintage Mad Men, and just because I could see behind the curtain a little bit didn’t diminish my enjoyment in the slightest. Everyone was killing it, and there probably has to be some viewer-steering here in the last few hours if we are to make it through to the end with so many pieces left in the puzzle to place. Even Weiner can’t trust us quite that much, and he’s been pretty trusting up until now. It’s one of my favorite things about him. He’s placed a lot of critical character development in the “hands” of Jon Hamm’s facial expressions sparing the dialog that could diminish the effect (or affect, for that matter). Hamm’s face has delivered, and here we are with a really good understanding of a very flawed, very nuanced character who isn’t easily categorized as either good or bad — just human, and real, and deeply damaged. Also, toxic to any woman with whom he becomes romantically involved.


 

So, there’s no mistaking the obvious. This is the alternate ending version of “Shut the Door. Have a Seat.” As it should be, since it’s impossible to believe they could deliver yet another magical maneuver to free themselves from the clutches of the devil. I saw it coming, although I never stopped rooting for the happy ending. Right up until Don’s fur salesman desperation showed up instead of his usual ad-man swagger, and Jim told him to sit down before he even managed to make the full play. That shot of their faces as Jim Hobart listed the big names, and told them they are dying and going to advertising heaven was like a kick in the gut.

Only Ted smiles during the portion of the meeting when it becomes clear that Sterling Cooper West is not to be. It was ominous that Hobart used the word dying, and certainly devastating and telling that he didn’t even bother to list Avon for Joan despite the fact that it’s her client, which leaves her completely empty-handed. They sold their soul to the devil, and after trying to outrun him, he finally caught up to collect. (This whole meeting made me very suspicious that Cutler’s stealing that fifth spot from Joan which will not be ok.)


 

I’ve loved the idea of Stan and Peggy for a long time. They genuinely like and respect each other. There’s a chemistry there, and they balance each other out really well. I loved that Peggy talked about her son with Stan. That scene was such a well-acted scene in an episode loaded with them. I thought Stan’s dawning realization of what Peggy was revealing was particularly well-done. It was just such a quiet and effective exchange.

They may not give the relationship a try before the series ends, but make no mistake. Stan and Peggy will become a couple. I’m perfectly satisfied with it even if we don’t get a peek into what that might look like in these final episodes because I think this scene did the remaining bit of pre-work so well that I can fill in the blanks.


 

Roger’s going to be ok. At least for a while. Because he hasn’t really figured out how not ok he is yet. And I love that character so much, that I’m rooting for continued unenlightenment for him. But Don’s figured it out. He’s always known really. He’s just always thought there was something or someone that or who would ease his pain if only he keeps searching. That he would find the answer someday. But I think Don’s figured out that he’ll never be ok. So for me, the key moment in this entire episode was when Roger’s kissed Don on the cheek and said reassuringly, “You are ok.” Because there are so many ways to read that moment. On the second watch, Don’s face as he watches Roger leave makes me think that he realizes that having a man like Roger, equally against the prospect of working for McCann and in a romantic relationship with its obvious negatives, reassure you that you’re ok is not a good turn of events. It means that you are on “suicide watch” so to speak. So, of course, I’m keeping Don on suicide watch because I’ve already had him on the watch since the past couple of episodes have had a troubling comment or facial expression to make me concerned.

I really did enjoy that hint of the old Roger and Don magic at the bar, despite the underlying current of impending disaster, because I’ve always loved watching those two banter and play off each other. I know there were a lot of ways that people read the comment from Don, “What’s in a name?” but I think Don means that in an all-encompassing way, not in a way to exclude any other meaning. For him, it’s just a fundamental point. Names mean exactly nothing. He may not know about Kevin, but he probably suspects. I’d actually be surprised if he doesn’t. But the comment isn’t just about Kevin not getting the legitimacy of the Sterling name. It’s not just that they lost the agency name to McCann. It’s not just about Don not being Don Draper, although it’s certainly that at the foundation. But it’s about so much more than that. Because to Don, it’s not about the name. It’s about the meaning. The substance. It’s why he’s breaking down. His entire life has been built on a lie. But even as he wants to erase the lies, he’s still working in advertising. And he’s still Don Draper. He’s existentially bereft. And he’s no longer in denial about it, which makes me worry very much about his surviving the series finale, although I can’t deny it would make perfect sense for the character’s arc.


 

I absolutely hate that Lou left feeling that he had the upper hand over Don. It’s a disgustingly unearned “victory” for Lou and entirely unsatisfactory for me. I realize that the viewers and Don are in on the joke that his comic is unlikely to be successful, but it still feels pretty great to Lou especially since he got an advance. It’s clearly not an unwarranted smugness that he’s feeling as he snots to Don about his “miserable life,” and it’s certainly not the exit I had planned for Lou. I wanted to see Don dance on his funeral pyre. Metaphorically speaking, of course.

It’s almost over. And I’m still in denial.

Thoughts on Mad Men: Season 7, The Forecast (SPOILERS)

IMAGE CREDIT: Photo by AMC

SPOILERS BELOW!

Finally, one I could really sink my teeth into. I have to start at the end with that look of panic on Don’s face when the realtor looks at him after she confirms that she’s sold his place and says something about finding him a new one. Sheer panic. At a new start. How many times have we seen Don jump at the chance at a new start? Usually it’s been with a woman, though there have been some business ones as well. They’ve all been met with enthusiasm. Eagerness. I can’t recall EVER seeing panic on Don’s face at the idea of starting over. Even during his Hershey pitch performance of self-destruction that he orchestrated. He knew what he was doing during that meeting, but you didn’t see any panic. You saw severe and soul-crushing depression later, yes. As he understood that he had well and truly lost everything and realized that he actually missed it after all. But, Don’s always run towards a clean slate. Probably because he’s always been running away from something else.

But not this time. And that’s why I have yet another confirmation that the boy (man) who’s been crying wolf for so many years has actually seen the wolf. Don really wants to make himself over completely. Sure, he’s not going to take any shit from the little brat that came to him for advice and then didn’t have the sense to suss out the message because the kid’s an idiot. But Don was perfectly willing to take Megan’s blows last week because they were warranted. But Mathis is a junior wannabe with energy and no real talent to boast about. And on top of that, he’s not even savvy enough to know how to fix his own mistakes. I mean think about it. Don’s almost roasted himself by talking about a gentle suicidal stroll into the Hawaiian surf (which was lovely image-wise and artistic as hell, although completely misguided for the client), and finally did the trick by talking to the Hershey folks who stared aghast as he regaled them with tales of growing up in a whorehouse and how that made him think of how much he loves Hershey’s. Hell, Rumsfeld had to finally piss himself to get the final boot and that was almost a noble exit. This kid can’t talk his way out of an f-bomb? Seriously? Yeah, kid, you don’t so much belong in the big leagues. So, no, Don’s not going to take shit from someone so ridiculous as that. But the words that kid uttered from someone Don respected? They would have packed quite a punch because Don’s trying, and I think he’s starting to recognize that nobody has his back. He’s a losing bet. His tenuous relationship with Sally is back on the rocks. He’d probably recognize that a good piece of that is the personal navigation a teen is trying to survive and take some of it with a grain of salt. Betty certainly understands that. Her interaction with Sally was surprisingly normal and, dare I say it, charming? Roger went to Ted before he went to “carousel Don” for the golden speech. Peggy sees right through Don’s agenda and cuts him down to size. She’s sick of being everyone’s pawn. The alliance they had forged is again on shaky ground. Everyone sees Don as a ticking time bomb. Don is just finally seeing that this is how he is viewed by even the “lowliest” members of the staff. It’s a wake-up call. It’s a bit hard to believe he’s missed how badly damaged and, in fact, possibly beyond repair his reputation has become while he’s been busy working on remaking himself.

I think that final shot of Don’s face is meant to show that he’s going to really do it this time. For himself and nobody else. Whether that means he’s going to get on that bus Sally mentioned and go far away from “Don and Betty” as Sally intends and try things Sally’s way with a brand new start free of any trace of the old remnants of before; or whether he’s going to start over by taking the speedy descent from his balcony before the new owners take possession in 30 days; or whether, best of all, he tries something a little less “burn the house down” and really does figure out how to start over, miraculously leaving all traces of destructive Don behind…..well your guess is as good as mine.

Notes

  • Ted’s going to die. I’ve got nothing more to say about it except this. I’m very sad to see this character reduced to what we are seeing now. Particularly with that ridiculous lip-rider. As GOB would say, “Oh, come ON!” Listen, Ted’s better than this, and I’m not going to be happy if this is all we are given for his exit. Plus, I’m going to hate Don for dragging him into this deal and killing him slowly day by day. Ted was never meant to be Roger, and his morphing into Rog is incredibly depressing because we know Ted’s character. And this is why I circle back to my first statement. Ted can’t exist in this state. He’s going to die and it will be an incredibly emotional situation like Lane Pryce. You heard it here first. I hope I’m wrong.
  • The fact that Robert has that initial and very intense reaction to the fact that Joan has a very young son doesn’t bode well as far as I can see. I’d very much like to see things work out for Joan, but such an intense reaction is hard to overcome. I’d have a lot of trouble believing he’d soften and accept a young family after that.
  • I was charmed by Sally and Glenn’s relationship. I’d prefer not to delve into Glenn and Betty’s only because they have something that bonds them and I have yet to determine what that is. Maybe it’s as simple as parents that never really saw them for who they are? But it seems deeper than that. But Sally and Glenn clearly care about each other very much, and that response that Sally had to Glenn’s announcement was so genuine. I continue to think Sally may be one of the most mature characters on the show despite the ups and downs emotionally that she is experiencing in the teen years. She is clearly very perceptive and is able to read most people almost as well as she is able to read her parents. That is a lot of information for someone of her age to process. Thankfully, she is reasonably mature, so she handles herself pretty well in a world too adult for her to be navigating at her age.

I’m done for now, but I think I’ll have more to add to this later. This episode was my favorite so far. So much to chew on. So many avenues to explore. So many trails to potentially follow to the finale.

Thoughts on Mad Men: Season 7, New Business (SPOILERS)

IMAGE CREDIT: Photo by Justina Mintz/AMC

SPOILERS BELOW!

I’m late again with this post. Can you blame me? Weren’t there a fair amount of new people running around there that we needed to decide whether to invest time into getting to know or not? I mean there are FIVE episodes left, right? FIVE?????? Maybe I’m miscounting? I’m not great at math. But this is pretty easy math, and I’m feeling confident that I can do it. I’ve got plenty of digits to get this one accomplished. So, what in the hell, Weiner? Also, I couldn’t give two shits about Sylvia and Arnold and their smug dismissal of Don. Sure, Don’s been un(?)intentionally campaigning to change the term shit spiral to Don spiral. But if I remember correctly, our friend Sylvia was a willing participant in their little let’s-introduce-Sally-into-how-truly-awful-the-real-world-actually-is. So let’s quit it with the judgment there, pot. The kettle looks horrendous, but you’re black, too.

I have to take a minute and plead with Rog to stop with the pornstache. It fits him, and this episode just made the pornstache even more on point, but I just can’t take it anymore. Marie, you DID see the pornstache, right? And you do feel Roger’s utter lack of investment, right? You’re trading one man for his exact replica. At least from the very small bit of info we were provided in this episode. At the very least, you’re unhappy with your current husband? Roger will make you equally unhappy as he is not a long-term strategy.

I’m not going to tackle the Megan and Don bit. I’m disappointed in the information we were given here. I think Megan was intentionally demonized. Perhaps justifiably, perhaps not. I have no idea. Without the backstory, there’s no way to know. I refuse to weigh in on it.

The most interesting part for me with the arrival of our most interesting new character (Hi Mimi!!) was Peggy’s and Stan’s BS meters and the effectiveness of them. Stan’s doesn’t work at all. Maybe just when it comes to women, but I think flattery will get you almost anywhere with Stan. Peggy is a far more suspicious type. And while I think a fair amount of this can be attributed to Peggy’s personality, I think this is a continuation of last week’s commentary on what women were dealing with back then. Even when dealing with other women. They were always on the alert and sussing out the adversary’s agenda. Because in those days, just about everyone was an adversary, and everyone needed to be viewed as such until proven otherwise. There was an initial flicker of surprise that Stan fell for it, followed immediately by a look of disgust at his weakness, and then there was that small and not quite satisfactory bit of smugness that she spotted what was occurring immediately. I thought that was the most interesting piece of the entire episode though it made me lose any hope for a Peggy and Stan relationship because she lost so much respect for him.

Don’s and Diana’s approaches to dealing with their tragic circumstances are very telling. Diana’s would seem to be much more cynical and Don’s more optimistic. Don’s would seem to be the try and try again approach. But Don is an ostrich. Continually sticking his head in the sand and never really learning from his mistakes. I think he’s turning the corner, but that’s not the point that I’m trying to make. Diana is hurting. And Diana knows that the only path to salvation, though she may only know this deep down, is through the wallowing in the grief and letting it fester and finally heal. It’s a great and interesting juxtaposition that appears to show her as the one whose approach is least healthy, yet, I think, is the one that will lead, in the end, to the lasting salvation. Let’s hope I’m wrong because I’m actually really hoping for a Don salvation with the end of the series. Do I think it’s realistic? Not really. But I’m hoping for it anyway.

I’ll do better next week. I promise. These last two episodes were both disjointed for me. I don’t want to say that I’m disappointed, but I’m looking for some forward movement next episode. And Sally. Please, let’s have Don and Sally together again.

Better Call Saul: Season Wrap-Up

I watched the pilot of Better Call Saul and had nearly the exact same experience as I did with Breaking Bad in that I had very low expectations and was blown away and instantly sold by the time the episode was over. I think that’s far less remarkable when you look back at the Breaking Bad pilot since that episode was so chock full of crazy and new and awesome. But Better Call Saul had a nearly zero chance of living up to its pedigree. I didn’t even tune in until I’d heard some good feedback on the pilot. So, I gave it a try and I’m so glad I did. Odenkirk was my biggest concern and turned out to be the greatest gift. That man has far more range than you’d ever know from the Saul character. And herein lies my problem. The finale left me with little doubt that Jimmy is on the highway to Saul now. I fully expect that next season’s opener will lead with the disappearance of that beater car of his and much of the charm of this season with it.

Look. I love Saul. But I love Saul in small doses. I found that I love Jimmy in large doses. As a leading character. So, I have concerns for the next season. I’ll be there of course. Everybody associated with the show so far has been killing it. I have to trust that they know what they’re doing and that spending more time with Jimmy isn’t in the best interest of the show. But I can’t lie. I really wanted to see Jimmy take on Chuck the legit way. Get on that partner track, even briefly, just long enough to make Chuck regret the way he’d killed Jimmy’s chances. Dare I say even make Chuck watch the eventual morph to Saul and feel that the fault for that might actually be as much Chuck’s as Jimmy’s? But, it doesn’t look like that’s a possibility. Whatever happens, I have such a newfound respect for Odenkirk that I’m going to be there to see it all play out.

See you next season!