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on June 30, 2012
While this wasn't my favorite season, it's still an easy five stars since it's in the top 3 of best shows currently on television. I know there have been a lot negative reactions towards this season, and I think maybe it's for a few reasons. Lots of people despise Megan. And others say that "nothing really happened". I don't really like Megan either, but I've come to accept her character. She is SUPPOSED to be annoying (or at least can easily be interpreted as so). We don't have to like her. As far as nothing happening, plenty of things happened, although I admit it was a little slow-paced, but I think it's building up for better seasons to come.

This season takes place between Memorial Day 1966 and Spring 1967. The season focuses on Don Draper and Megan's relationship and how distracting it is from his job, and most of the main characters are facing painful new beginnings and realize it's a "dog-eat-dog" world. The season starts out light (probably because of how dark season 4 was), but by the end of the season things are gloomier than ever. So never fear, Mad Men isn't going soft.

Don - one reason I enjoyed season 4 so much is that we had a break from Don being in a dramatic, serious relationship. He was just casually dating and we were able to see more of SCDP. Now he's married to Megan, and that opens up a lot more storylines. You'll either love or hate Megan. She shows signs of being very independent and mature, but then will surprise you by suddenly doing something very stupid and childish. The big question is: how long is it until Don cheats on her? I don't believe that Don will be in a monogamous relationship for the rest of his life. It's also interesting how it's reminiscent of the beginning of his relationship with Betty. Betty was a beautiful young model and Don swept her up. When Betty got older and he got bored, he lost interest. Megan is also a very young girl, an actress, and pretty (in Don's eyes). What's going to happen to his fidelity to Megan in a couple years? Or 10? Or even by the end of the season? When Don loses respect for someone, a lot of feelings for them deteriorate quickly.

Don also has to deal with Megan's Canadian parents, who have a very bizarre marriage and her father is not a total believer in Don. He thinks Megan took the easy way out by marrying a rich guy. Megan's mother is also incredibly insecure, which is a recurring theme throughout the season.

Betty - since January Jones is pregnant, they decided to put her in a fat suit to hide it, and turn that into a storyline. Perfect Betty has to deal with being overweight, which makes for some interesting television. Her appearances are very sparse, however, and you can go episodes without seeing her at all. There is a lot of pressure on Betty to compete with Megan, especially when her children are involved. As far as Sally goes, she goes through a lot of childhood development this season. Glen the creepy kid also makes a couple appearances, and their relationship is really open for interpretation. Kiernan Shipka is also a great young actress. We also get to see Henry Francis' mother a little bit, especially when she babysits Sally.

Pete - Pete is...well, Pete. But cockier than ever. He feels that all is owed to him, even as only a junior partner. He gets incredibly demanding this season and enters into some interesting affairs. Pete is honestly one of the most difficult characters for me to empathize with, especially this season. Almost every thing he does is just obnoxious, not to mention he is a total hypocrite. Vincent Kartheiser is great, however.

Peggy - as my favorite character, I liked what they did with her this season. She has to balance romance and work in a very sexist society, and makes some life changing decisions several times throughout the season. I love how strong Peggy is, and in these days she would easily be a partner already. Peggy also is Megan's boss...which is really quite inappropriate and causes a lot of awkwardness in the office.

Joan - remember that jerk she's married to? Yeah. They're still married when the season starts, unfortunately. Joan is strong though, and without spoiling anything, she makes some very questionable and life altering decisions this season regarding her romantic and work life. I think her and Peggy learn the most this season about how when it boils down to it, it's every wo/man for themselves.

Lane - bitter about not getting the greatest deal out of this partnership, Lane makes some...questionable business decisions this season. He becomes much more prevalent later in the season, and without spoiling much, he gets into a very....entertaining "discussion" with Pete. I think Jared Harris is amazing for this role.

Roger - talked into taking LSD with Jane, Roger has a very memorable and insightful trip. Although the acid trip was a little stereotypical, there's nothing funnier than watching Roger doing acid. The trip also has longer implications for him in the season. Additionally, Roger enters into a very odd romantic relationship with an unexpected character.

And it's not just the characters that will suck you in and keep you watching. The context of show is amazingly interesting. We get to see references to the Richard Speck murders, Charles Witman's shooting rampage, toxic clouds of smog over NYC, the Hare Krishnas, and the Rolling Stones. Also some interesting clients this season: Heinz, Jaguar, Mohawk Airlines, American Cancer Society, Manischewitz, Dow Chemical, and Virginia Slims.

You could watch this show for the amazingly intricate characters, the interesting portrayal of life in the 60s, or both. This show is highly entertaining, addictive, and one of the best on television today.
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on April 29, 2012
I looked at a couple of the negative reviews and found them to be bizarre. This is very thoughtful and well-written show that stands head and shoulders above the vast majority of what is currently out there. A couple of people seem to be fixated on the Betty episode which I would agree was the weakest of the first six that I have seen but that is only relative. The other episodes have been among the best of the series with the the further fleshing out and development of the older characters going hand in hand with surprisingly strong and complex new(er) characters such as Megan and Ginsberg, not to mention Mrs. Francis (Henry's mother). I just think that this show continues to be a wonderful window into upheaval of the 1960s that still affects to this day. The early comments do not reflect the high quality of the fifth season at all and are misleading. Update: I just completed watching Episodes 7-11 and found two of the very best episodes ever produced including The Other Woman which really exposes the seamy underbelly of the "getting ahead at all costs" nature of the world of advertising and of the corporate mindset in general.
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on May 28, 2012
A lot is happening in this episode of Mad Men, all of it heartbreaking and it all makes for one of the best episodes of the season. The race to get the Jaguar account is still on and difficulties abound. The Jaguar continues to be an expensive and unreliable car and the agency hopes to compare it to a mistress, but needs the slogan - a slogan that Don is having trouble creating. One of the Jaguar executives wants Joan's company for an evening, and not as Pete puts it for dinner and dancing. It is right that Pete should define the terms as he is the weasel who pimps and pitches the propisition to Joan. The rest of the men are aghast and don't want Joan to do it but Pete is convinced that this is the only way they will get the account - even if Don comes through with his ususal brilliance. In his stress, Don is lashing out at both Peggy and Megan and Peggy is considering pursuing another opportunity. Megan is hoping she gets a part with an out of town try out.

The episode highlights the differences for women and working women in particular without preaching or being heavy-handed. All of the female characters are asked to prostitute themselves in some way, either literal or metaphoric and their femininity is still their defining characteristic to the men in their world, despite what they do and how they function. Don is surprisingly moral and Pete unsurprisingly adds pander to his many slimey accomplishments. Lane is pragmatic and fond of Joan and advises that if forced to sell oneself to get the best possible price and to get it up front. Roger and Cooper are as ineffectual as ever. The editing of Don's pitch and Joan's decision about what to do is a brilliant bit of filming. The depth of Don's feelings for Peggy are finally revealed and end by being as sad as the rest of tonight's show.

These characters were never paragons but tonight they all participated in the corruption that would emblematize America as it went forward into the seventies and eighties; they did it for understandable reasons and they remain good but flawed people but the worm is in the apple. A brilliant, brilliant episode that shows us why Mad Men is not only one of the best shows on television but is destined to be remembered as a classic. Watch this episode at your earliest possible convenience.
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There are certain lines delivered in this episode which are absolutely true and absolutely deadly. I think creator Matthew Weiner had been saving these zingers all season for us.

says Mrs. Lane Pryce to Don: "You should have never encouraged a man like that to be ambitious."

says Meagan's mother to Don: "She has the full artistic temperament with none of the artistic talent." (we get to watch her screen test along with Don so there is no room for doubt).

I don't want to ruin anything for anyone so I'll stop with those two but it is obviously truth telling time after another season of being with the Mad Men, who make their livings by creatively lying about everything.

We also get a reminder of the radical effects of electroshock therapy in the 1960s. It is used in serious depression cases. It is still used today but without the radical side effects it had back then. Today's patient may be a little fuzzy about the edges afterwards but that is about it. Not so in the fifties and sixties.

All in all it is a satisfying conclusion to this season's Mad Men. I am under the impression that all of the Mad Men will be increasingly unhappy with their domestic and family lives even though they will be wildly prosperous. All of them will continue to experience divorce and huge rebellion from their children as was seen throughout the late sixties and early seventies. Fittingly enough, as we move closer to women's lib, some of the women in the series are doing better all the way around, especially those who are working. Peggy's and Joan's lives are coming together rather well.

This is a much more reflective episode than last week's. We couldn't have closed with last week's episode though. It would have been too jarring. As usual, my only regret is that it is over.

Visit my blog with link given on my profile page here or use this phonetically given URL (livingasseniors dot blogspot dot com). Friday's entry will always be weekend entertainment recs from my 5 star Amazon reviews in film, tv, books and music. These are very heavy on buried treasures and hidden gems. My blogspot is published on Monday, Wednesday & Friday.
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i've read the other reviews here and i have a bit of a different take on this episode. what really stands out for me is the sense of entitlement which wholly engulfs some characters and the way it has thoroughly rotted their characters. the most obvious two are roger and pete. they hate one another yet are cut from the same cloth.

roger inherited his job and money from his father. he feels owed anything he desires. the proposition made to joan is going to affect his wealth so there is no other thought but that she should do it, even if she is the mother of his child.

pete came from old money and family. they lost the money but he married for money to climb back up. every "sacrifice" he's had to make climbing back up annoys him greatly. he shouldn't have to put up with this, he feels. any sacrifices others have to make don't matter as long as they don't inconvenience him.

meagan is a much more charming and beautiful version of the same. she knew what the deal was, that she marry don and reap the considerable benefits of being married to a wealthy and powerful man in exchange for being a stepmother on weekends and primarily his wife the rest of the time. first. she feels entitled to be an ad agency pitch person and now she feels entitled to become an actress even if it means three months out of town and neglecting her other duties. some reviewers feel don is being sexist for being against this but i feel she is violating their basic contract with one another. she is not entitled to these dreams. she could have made sacrifices to achieve them instead, like the legions of waiters/actors who surround her. instead, she expects don to sacrifice so she can achieve her newest dream (he already made it possible for her to achieve her ad account dream with no struggle up the ladder). there is also no indication that she has any talent at acting. so she is expecting sacrifice by others for what may well be a mediocre talent.

around these three are the people who have sweated for one reason or another to get where they are. often, sheer talent and/or perseverance alone has kept them afloat. just a few of these are: peggy, ginsberg, don, and joan.

there are obviously other things going on in this episode but this is what really stood out for me. i think it is a marvelous parable on the dangers of a sense of entitlement. all three of these characters also manage to burn through their relationships because they are never satisfied with what they have, they always feel they are due more in a spouse or significant other.

as an added note, i don't think it is a coincidence that the jaguar car is most likely to appeal to one of these entitled characters instead of the ones who've had to claw their way up the ladder. they would feel entitled to own such beauty and could care less about its impracticality (mechanically faulty). it is don from the hard scrabble background who sneers at it and its humongous toolkit. remember, don could fix a faucet with his bare hands, not the entitled pete with his huge toolbox of wrenches.

Visit my blog with link given on my profile page here or use this phonetically given URL (livingasseniors dot blogspot dot com). Friday's entry will always be weekend entertainment recs from my 5 star Amazon reviews in film, tv, books and music. These are very heavy on buried treasures and hidden gems. My blogspot is published on Monday, Wednesday & Friday.
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on May 21, 2012
Mad Men is one of the best shows in the medium for conveying unspoken emotion, in the acting, the writing, the tone, the music and the setting. Things that people are feeling and thinking but not actually saying are conveyed just as strongly as those that are spoken.

A lot happens in this episode. Lane is in trouble with the In Land Revenue in England and is fiddling the company books (no doubt momentarily) and robbing Peter to pay Paul to take care of it. This is an obvious set-up for a longer arc, but of all the things that happened in this episode, this was my least favorite. I like Lane and I believe he would act more honorably from what we have seen thus far. Pete continues to chase the Jaguar account, but as everyone knows, Jaguars were temperamental cars until Ford took them over, decades later. Late sixties flavor is mixed in with a throw-away sub-plot involving the Hari Krishnas.

Don's resentment of Megan's decision to leave advertising continues to simmer and burn, though Megan largely ignores it, and Joan's estranged husband moves to make the estrangement permanent, which leads to the most powerful scene of the episode and possibly one of the most powerful of the series. Joan throws a temper tantrum in the outer office after being served and Don rescues her and takes her out. Viewers have always wanted to see Don and Joan interact more - not only are they the two most beautiful people on the show, they seem to be eerie mirror images of each other, a fact that is beautifully conveyed in the scene that follows. Joan and Don sit drinking in a mid-town bar, cynically surveying the talent. They are both scarred veterans of the battle between the sexes. They have both sought love and they have both manipulated to take the best on offer when love wasn't available. They are both weary and neither is sure they can pick up their guns and soldier on again. They stoically acknowledge each other in the old, old dance but know they are too much alike to be together and Don still has something to lose, though I suspect his fidelity is going to take a hit soon, rationalized by Megan's departure into the world of acting. The scene between Don and Joan is achingly beautiful, all the more so because viewers have been unconsciously waiting for it the entire run of the show. And it is pitch perfect. I cannot say enough about the acting and the writing in this scene or the perfection of it for these two characters.

A five star episode.
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on June 14, 2012
The last two episodes, watched them back-to-back . . . just a world spinning out of control. A feeling of chaos and disappointment in these people. But it's a door, right? A door into, oh my God, almost the '70s. Those poor people! I'm old enough to remember the tone of the late '60s, though I was under 7 years. It doesn't really matter what the plot does, or if it's even realistic -- Pete and Beth in the hospital scene is about as far-out as it's gotten -- just as long as it gets the tone right, and it sure did get the tone right.

Nobody seems to mention this, but the character who still has a "long way to go, baby" is Sally. I'm very relieved that there is another season to come, because Sally is about to take center stage, and it's about time she did. I thought I saw shades of "American Pastoral," with the kid who blows up the local post office, but she's softening a bit. This little actress, Kiernan Shipka, is going places if she masters the complexities of Sally. I sort of envision a series finale where she buries her dad in about 1985 and tries to make sense of her life as an independent and insightful woman while finding out just who this man was. (And as for that simple kid Glenn, he provided the one bright moment when he merely asked for what he wanted and, against all odds, got it. I felt as if I were in that car with him, smiling inside.)

If anyone misses the Don Draper Depression-era flashbacks, we have the return of Adam here. . . . We can only hope the flashbacks intensify, to tie up that loose end somehow.

I confess to have fallen a little in love with Lane, poor guy. He was so honestly in pain amid all the fakery, and even sexy in that moment where he kissed Joan. He felt he had failed somehow to "be a man," I suppose, but in truth he was a knight. I'm going to miss him. That picture of "Dolores" still in his wallet! In his wife's ironic fantasy, he gets to be with Dolores. At least there's that.

Is Megan's cynical, so-very-French mother really played by Julia Ormond? Did anyone else catch that? Or Embeth Davidtz as such an excellent and lonely and completely subtext-less/literal Rebecca? Give her an umbrella and call her Mary Poppins. She hates advertising but is an empty shell with a brand name of "propriety" on it. A brilliant performance.

"Are you alone?" The point here isn't whether Don will cheat again but that he is always alone anyway. Aren't we all? The whole point of this artful series is Alienation. They're all going to end this thing ridiculously rich and successful . . . yet still alone. Just another "broken hallelujah," I suppose.
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on June 7, 2012
I assume that most people reading these reviews know about the episode. Of all the male characters on the show, Lane has been the most endearing for me. Basically a decent guy, it was heartbreaking to see him make such an irredeemable mistake. Of all the names to forge--how different it might have been had he forged Cooper's name. It was so sad to see Joan give him such a brusque brush-off. She seems to be smarting and nervous about last week's "sellout" and perhaps that explains her failure to ask Lane about something that had to have been bothering him deeply--why else would he be drunk at 9am? I though the dialogue between him and Don was masterful, some of the series' best writing. Don's assurance that "this is the worst part" shows a certain understanding on his part; however, Don's failure to understand how Lane (with an impossible wife and an abusive, nightmare father) will react to his dismissal shows up his very real blind spots with regard to the vulnerability of others. I thought Betty's reaction to her daughter's news was spot on, and the character of Glen is evolving in an interesting direction. Season 5 seemed quite boring in the early episodes, but the last three have been exceptional.
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on March 27, 2012
Love the show, but the first episode of Season 5 is free on the AMC sites Mad Men page. I am sure I will be buying the rest here just as I did for Season 2 of The Walking Dead. I love both shows, but I wish AMC would stream all episodes via their site or Hulu. As a Prime member, I feel I should get at least a discount on them. Oh well. At least I'm not missing it all together.
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on November 26, 2012
Seriously, I loved Season 5. After reading a lot of negative reviews, I wasn't sure I would like it at all; but I can now say it's my favorite season since the very first.

This is a good DVD set, with the usual (for Mad Men) complement of interesting features and commentary tracks, along with decent packaging, video quality, and sound. (I used to take such things for granted, but I've been disappointed often enough with other disks that I now feel that I should point these things out when they're done right.)

I do have two small nitpicks about the DVDs:

1. Some of the Special Features on the disks contain spoilers for episodes that are on later disks. That is, if you watch the Special Features on Disk 2 (for example) before watching the episodes on Disks 3 and 4, you will see things that you might not want to know about yet. I recommend that you watch the entire season's episodes first, and then go back and watch the Special Features.

2. I'm not completely dependent on closed captions, but I do keep them on and I sometimes find them very helpful. However, I found a lot of errors in the captions on these disks. Most are minor, and only mildly confusing (example: "AMP" instead of "A&P"); but if you can't hear at all, you may find the errors annoying and frustrating.
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