Category Archives: Mad Men

Mad Men Season 7 Part 1 Review.

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This review will contain spoilers to the first half of Season 7 of Mad Men, so don’t read on unless you really want to waste the show for yourself.

Only seven episodes in and Mad Men’s final season has sung itself into a year’s worth of hibernation.  Not only did the final scene of the first half of season 7 have viewers asking ‘what the fuck?’ but the decision to split what is a slow burner of a TV series into two sections and spread them over two years without giving a greater number of episodes to compensate should have viewers asking ‘what the fuck?’

Season 6 of Mad Men left us in a situation where our beloved Don’s life had fallen to bits.  No longer the man at SC&P after being forced out by his own partners and a social life which was the envy of no man, shit had hit the fan for Don and surely it couldn’t get much worse.  So how would the agency do without the indispensable man?  Apparently just fine, business was going well in New York and things were going well in LA, so all pretty good.  The major difference was that things in Don’s life still weren’t going so well.  He was still together with Megan, albeit in a cross country relationship, and he was working in secret through good ol’ Teddy, but Don was still empty.  Don had taken advertisement for granted assuming that the agency would never be able to move on without him, that months after being put on paid leave (sounds great to me) they were doing just fine must have been soul destroying.  Things picked up for Don though, being allowed to come back to work as long as he didn’t talk to clients, drink alcoholic beverages or pull Ginsberg’s moustache (all the fun things to do in the office).  After being left outside in the cold he was once again embraced into the bosom of SC&P, and by the last episode Don had made shit loads of cash by selling a controlling stake of the agency to a competitor, so it all worked out pretty well in the end.

Yes Don fell, then got back up, then fell again and got back up and then fell again…you get the picture, as this half season finished Don was back on his feet; his career was back on track, he had got himself out of a loveless marriage and he had found happiness in his work.  At times Mad Men has lost Don’s focus, making him go round in circles doing the exact same thing again and again, but this season it felt like they had a path for him, which you would expect seeing as there is only 7 episodes left to show.

Beyond Don Draper Mad Men is a mish mash of different characters, all of whom are scrapping to try and get some screen time.  Naturally this causes problems as each season introduces a couple of new people yet doesn’t get rid of anyone in turn.  It’s seen great characters like Harry Crane (show the man some love, he just wants to be a partner), Ginsberg (what a great moustache) and Ken Cosgrove (argh!) relegated to such minor roles that poor Ginsberg had to cut off his nipple just to get some screen time!

This half season wasn’t totally cruel to all our favourite characters; we saw the rebirth of Peggy’s career as she took a bigger role in the agency, Roger made a comeback after going missing in season 6 and Sally showed that all teenage girls in the 60’s were smoking and kissing nerds.  It’s tough when you have to juggle about fifty nine different characters but when the writers get it right, they definitely get it right.

Season 7 of Mad Men threw in some new antagonists to the mix to spice things up with Lou and Jim Cutler (who I know isn’t new but was actually given personality in this season instead of just being boring Roger with glasses).  It is hard to not root against these two, because after all who likes middle aged men who wear cardigans?  Plus they were mean to Don too, which is quite upsetting at times because he’s fragile.

Sad to see Bert Cooper go out because he has been a part of the show since the start, hell he’s the C in the SC&P.  To be fair he hasn’t really been a big part of the show for a number of seasons and he would have got lost in the shuffle if they had killed him off at the end of the series or had let him see the end, so in a way it’s the nicest thing you could do.  Heck he even got to do a song and dance number in a weird moment that had me asking if Don had been tripping acid or even if that nice man at the bar had slipped something in my drink (I’m too trusting).  Quite honestly I don’t really know what the ending to the mid-season finale was about, it wasn’t in line with what Mad Men generally does but sometimes crazy shit happens in life so you just have to get on with it.

Mad Men is a character driven show, it uses the characters personalities and arcs to develop the story, however one thing that Mad Men has always struggled to deal with is outside story arcs, no I don’t mean things that actually happened in the 60’s (like the moon landing) because they do that very well, but rather things which never actually happened and are fabricated for the TV series.  Every single season it seems that there is some sort of new merger, takeover or starting up of a new agency, it’s all a bit too much at times.  Only last season SC&P came into existence yet they are all set to sell up a controlling share and be happy doing so?  Don’t get me wrong if someone waved millions of dollars in my face (especially back then) to sell my soul I’d have it packed with a bow on top and delivered it straight to them, but this is the same group of people who risked it all to avoid losing control to the exact same buyers, it all feels like a stretch.

The first half of season 7 was pretty damn good, my main complaint would be that it was not enough, just as you were getting into this season they’ve pulled the rug from under you and told you to come back in a year, it’s a slap in the face to the fans.  The decision has clearly been made to try and squeeze as many awards and as much money as they possibly can out of Mad Men before it ends, which is quite sad really.

Looking forward we only have seven episodes to go until Mad Men finally comes to an end, it is going to be hard to tell where the season will go in these last seven episodes because the first seven saw the resurrection of Don Draper, will the second seven be the downfall of Dick Whitman?  It will be interesting to see where the writers take the show in the final seven episodes, here’s hoping that Mad Men gets the ending the series deserves.

Leave a comment about what you thought about the first half of season seven and what you hope to see in the second half.  As always you can find all the latest bm23tvreviews updates on Facebook and Twitter all followers are welcome.

What I Loved and Hated about Mad Men Season 6.

This Review naturally does contain spoilers so read at your own caution.

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What I loved.

  • Don’s Hershey’s speech.
    • This was just a great piece of television, it had everything.  Jon Hamm was excellent in this scene.  He showed great emotion and delivered in the situation perfectly.
  • The dark humour.
    • One of the things that Mad Men did really well this season was have a large amount of silly funny things happen.  Some of them were stupid and usually ways to write characters out of the show but when these things aren’t major plot lines to the show it makes it less of a big deal.
      • I’m referring to the death of Pete’s mum and how it was handled.  From her being thrown overboard on a ship to Pete and his brother dropping their criminal concerns when they find out that it would be costly to investigate.
      • Another great example of this is when Peggy stabs Abe.
  • Grandma Ida.
    • I thought this was an excellent scene, I could’ve put this in with the dark humour section but I felt that it more deserved to stand on its own because of the significance it had for the season as a whole.
    • This scene also led to the downfall of the relationship between Sally and Don as she came to the realisation that she actually knows nothing about him.
    • It was also a very funny scene.  I don’t know the woman that played Grandma Ida but she did a really good job.
    • Kiernan Shipka also did a very good job and is a really good actress for her age.
  • The final scene of the season.
    • It will be interesting to see where they go from this.  Will Don become more open with his kids?  Is he hoping it is still a whore house?  Who knows (the writers I guess although you never know), it isn’t so much a cliff hanger in the traditional sense, but it is in a way.  When the credits role you are sitting asking the question ‘what is going to happen next’ and it is hard to judge.  Is this the redemption of Don Draper?  I guess we’ll find out next year.

 

What I liked.

  • The fall of Ted.
    • I thought it was well done and made general sense.  He was introduced in the series as an antagonist to Don in season 4 but moved into a more sympathetic role as season 6 progressed especially after the merger.
      • His treatment of Peggy (pumped and dumped).
      • His backstabbing of Don.
      • Just his general selfishness and showing that there is a darker side behind the smile.
  • The betrayal of Don.
    • I felt that this was a weird scene; it could easily have been a dislike.  Only about 6 episodes ago Don was everything to the agency, he was the agency.  I don’t understand how he has gone from that to being surplus to requirements.
    • I liked how he looked to Joan to see what was happening and she couldn’t look him in the eye.  It says to me that either she wasn’t on board with the decision or that she was embarrassed that she had betrayed Don, a man who had previously supported her when she was put in an unjust position (I’m thinking Jaguar man).
    • It was interesting to see that Roger had turned his back on Don for being unprofessional when Roger himself is totally unprofessional.
    • In many ways this was made a like for me because I am uncertain as to where they are going with this.  Did Don basically get sacked as creative director but couldn’t be removed because he is a partner?  It sort of seemed that way.  It just sort of felt forced (Hershey’s apart has Don done anything overly negative recently to the agency?).  The one positive that I can take from this is that there is a bigger picture, and I am hoping in the bigger picture that it makes sense.  The fact that we don’t really know what is going to happen is a positive thing because who wants to watch (or become enjoyed by) something where you know what is coming before it happens.
  • The speed episode.
  • The California episode.
    • Especially the clock back to the soldier he met in Hawaii who is now (assumed) dead.
  • Pete Campbell in general.
  • Re-occurring characters.
    • Seeing characters like Duck (past cast members) every so often is a well written TV show, because in real life someone doesn’t just leave a job and then nobody ever talks to them again.

 

What I disliked.

  • What was the point of Don’s relationship with Sylvia?
    • Well there wasn’t really one.  They could easily have gotten their point across with Don sleeping with a bunch of nameless women but instead they decided to put him in an actual affair and it never really came to a meaningful conclusion.
    • Apart from Sally seeing them together (which again could’ve been done with anyone) it was pointless.
  • The merger.
    • I didn’t understand why this needed to happen so quickly in the season.  These two groups of people go from hating each other to being partners, it seemed like a stretch.
    • Also is it me or did CGC get the short end of the stick with the merger?  So they retained two of their partners, Peggy (who was ex-SCDP), a couple of barely seen creative and had to move office, doesn’t sound like a good merger to me.
    • This leads me to……
  • Peggy.
    • So she left SCDP and was back within 6 episodes.  I don’t understand why she left in the first place (I assume it was to film Top of the Lake) but they wrote her out of SCDP to apparently get away from Don then she comes back and is ok working with Don again, it all seemed rushed.
    • It seems Peggy has a thing for men in power.  Watch out Roger!
    • I have never been particularly fond of Peggy but she has turned into a total bitch, she betrayed Don and (southern accent) ‘took his job’ and then actively pursued Ted even though she knew he was married.  What a bitch!
    • Peggy isn’t qualified to be head of creative so why would an apparent top 30 advertising agency risk putting someone who their clients probably do not feel they can trust and who has no experience at that level in the job?  They wouldn’t.
  •  Don’s direction.
    • Mad Men this year didn’t seem to know what to do with Don, which is worrying because he is the show.
    • It felt like Don was once again back on the out of control drinking (as in season 4), I’ve seen it before give me something new.
    • Megan said it best in the finale when she asked why they are still together because they don’t have kids and she is right.  They clearly hate each other and to be honest that is her fault.
  • Bob.
    • Why was this guy added?  Where did he come from?
      • Who knows the answer to either of these questions?  Probably nobody.
      • So is he gay or……?
      • Who is Manolo?
      • Haven’t Mad Men done this story before?
      • Oh wait it is Don’s story…….hm.
  • The first half of season 6.
    • The first half of season 6 did not feel like I was watching Mad Men.
    • I don’t know what I was watching but until episode 8 Mad Men was very poor overall (maybe my expectations were too high but this show has made my expectations high).

 

What I hated. (could be a long list)

  • Megan.
    • Why is she on this show?  The character is not needed, she adds nothing.  All the hate that she receives is justified because she is a horrible person.  Don gave her everything in season 5 and they were happy until she became a selfish bitch and decided that she wanted to be an actress.  She then moans at him to get her a job (cause she can’t actually act) and it ruins their relationship but she then blames Don for it.  Don is by no means a saint, but he had improved drastically before she quite simply ruined their relationship and made him miserable.
    • She wasn’t killed off.
      • The whole season they seemed to be dropping hints that she was going to get knocked off but it never happened, I was disappointed.
    • She is too ugly to be married to Don.
    • She looks like she is in her mid-30s not her mid-20s.
    • Her mouth.
    • At least she wasn’t in season 6 as much as she was in season 5
    • God this list could go on and on.
  • Ginsberg
    • Where was he?  Ginsberg is one of my favourite characters, yet he must’ve been on screen for about 5 minutes.  In those 5 minutes he had no purpose or substance to his role.  What a waste.
    • When Ginsberg was introduced they teased that he had an interesting past (something to do with the Holocaust) yet they never progressed the storyline.  They once again teased it in season 6 and yet again did nothing with it.
    • Again when Ginsberg was introduced he was teased as a threat to Don.  What ever happened to that?  It just disappeared.
    • He has so much potential as a character and yet the writers refuse to fulfil it.
  • Roger.
    • Another one of the best characters in Mad Men, however you wouldn’t know that if you watched season 6.
    • Did Roger do anything in season 6?  I can’t remember because just like Ginsberg he got barely any screen time.
    • Roger (in season 6) became a bit character and I don’t understand why.
  • Betty.
    • Since Don and Betty got divorced Betty has basically became a nothing character.
    • Why waste my screen time with Betty going to New York to find some girl I had never seen before?
    • I think she should really be written out of the show as a main character and relegated to a once in a while one because she adds nothing to the show.
    • Again the writers teased that something may happen between Don and Betty after the camp episode, however once again they were just teasing.
  • Harry.
    • I like Harry, yeah he is a sleaze bag and you aren’t supposed to like him, but god damn it he has nice sideburns.
    • Another character that teased development in the first few episodes and then nothing happened.
    • Why do they waste a great character like Harry?  He is great as the greasy loser that no one really likes in the office.  He is like Pete but Pete knows people hate him, Harry doesn’t and that’s what makes Harry great.
  • Dawn
    • What is the point of adding a token black character just for the sake of it?
    • Again the writers tease that they have a storyline for Dawn that may actually develop her as a character but quite simply didn’t do it.
  • Too many characters and not enough writing.
    • The writers of Mad Men should watch a season of Game of Thrones so that they can learn how to balance a large cast and make each of their stories seem as important as the others, because they clearly don’t know how to do it.
    • What makes it worse is that because of the merger we ended up receiving 2 new characters that they had to develop storylines for to introduce them.  This is fine if the writers can balance their characters, however if you have been reading this you can tell that they failed miserably in this.
      • What was up with the CGC guy that was basically a shit version of Roger?  Why did we need him?  Could he not have said I don’t want a part of this buy me out?  I would have preferred it that way.
  • What is the point of Bert Cooper?
    • Remember when he had lines?
  • The first episode was awful.
    • Way to make your audience want to tune in for the next episode and the rest of the season.
  • Sometimes I forget that Mad Men is meant to be about people working in advertising.
    • It seems the writers also forget that.

 

I think that will wrap it up for me.  It may not be clear but I did like this season of Mad Men fine.  I thought the second half of the season was very good, however I thought that the first half was very poor and I also felt that they wasted a lot of good characters and potential storylines and instead just went round in a big circle and then ended it in an unusual fashion.

Thankfully Mad Men will finish next year, because it feels that the writers are running out of ideas and for a show that knew that this was the second last season (so they should know pretty much how the show will end) the writers were lacking direction and that is very worrying for the future.  We can only for the best.

 

 

Well, let me know what you think about Mad Men season 6.  Was I spot on? Or way off the mark?  Let me know and feel free to leave a comment, all opinions are welcome.