Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Mad Men Moments

To get me back into writing on this blog again, I thought I would briefly talk about my current favourite show on television called Mad Men. If you are not aware, it is currently in its second season on AMC. That's right, AMC. A channel you probably only watch for old movies.

Mad Men takes places during the early 60s inside an advertising agency called Sterling Cooper. It provides interesting insight into what was going on in the advertising world at that time with the smoking, drinking and blatant sexism that prevailed at the time. It also provides an interesting comparison to what is going on in the world today.

Mad Men was created by Matthew Weiner who used to be one of the writers and producer of the hugely successful show The Sopranos. He had actually written it prior to working on the Sopranos. Soprano creator David Chase actually hired him based on the script he wrote for what would end up being the pilot for the Mad Men.

After the Sopranos ended its run, Weiner offered the show to HBO. Despite needing a new hit how with no Sopranos and no more episodes of The Wire, they turned it down. Possibly due to the excessive smoking and alcohol. Showtime also turned it down so he offered it to AMC who made it their first original series. If you are a fan of the show, you probably already know this. Here is a list of the top 10 great moments from the series in the first season.

10. What kind of man are you? Don Draper sees there is a chance that the secret of who he really is could come out. In a cold sweat he runs to the arms of the woman he has been seeing on the side Rachel Menken. He asks her to drop everything in their lives and run away with him. As Rachel realizes Don is not suggesting a vacation but leaving their families to go start a life on their own, she comes to now what kind of person Don Draper really is. With tears in her eyes, she says the words "what kind of man are you" and those words cut like daggers through the heart of both Don and the audience.

9. Beatniks and the Man After spending the evening debating the importance of advertising, flashing back to his days growing up on a farm and smoking up with his girlfriend Midge Daniels and her beatnik friends, Don decides to leave their apartment. One of the beatniks, referring to the police outside, says "Man, you can't go out there!" Don looks at him, straightens his tie and says, "No YOU can't go out there". Walks out of the apartment, past a police officer arresting a neighbour, puts on his hat and calmly walks out.

8. Choo Choo Cha Cha Joan at her best. Offering advice to other women at Sterling Cooper and then seductively dancing with her old fling Paul Kinsey. Watch the look on her face as she sees her co-workers watch her dance.

7. Salvatore's big scene. One of my favourite charactors on the show is Salvatore Romano. He is clearly hiding or at pretending to ignore his homosexuality to be one of the boys at Sterling Cooper. He almost works as the show's comic relief as everything he says has a double meaning. But there was no comic relief when he met up with an executive from a cosmetic company. Over dinner and drinks, it becomes clear that the cosmetics exec is interested in more than good food and good company. To which Salvatore heartbreakingly replies "Are you joking?"

6. Shopping smackdown Betty Draper's neighbour Helen Bishop confronts Betty about her relationship with her yound son Glen. Like what Rachel said to Don later, "what kind of person are you?"

5. Helen Bishop tells it like it is During a birthday party, single mom Helen Bishop is talking to Carlton Hanson. Carlton offers to be of service to her and her child. He suggests if she ever needs him to play catch with her son or take him to the beach, he would be willing. Helen sees through Carlton's suggestion and hints at the fact that he is looking for a little something on the side. The look on Carlton's face as he says "I don't want you suggesting something I didn't say is priceless.

4. For Openers The very first scene of the show. It does a great job of simultaneously showing the period and explaining the main charactor Don Draper.

3. I Wish I Was Older In the first season's final episode, Betty finally opens up about all the things that she is upset about. The problem is that the person is her neighbours' 8 year old son. Drama had already occured earlier in the season when Betty gave the kid a lock of her hair. This led to the son's mother Helen to confront Betty while shopping. After verbally accosting Betty about her relationship with her son, Betty slapped her and walked out. How heartbreaking is it when Glen says at the end of this scene, "I don't know how long 20 minutes is."

2. Betty's Got A Gun After losing her chance at getting back into modeling. Don's wife Betty is just trying to forget it while doing some laundrey. Hearing the neighbours' pigeon's flying around outside, she grabs a BB gun, steps out the door and calmly with almost no emotion, just starts shooting at them.

1. And The Emmy Goes To... Maybe one of the greatest single scenes in the history of television. Listen to the speech Don Draper gives to the people from Kodak as an idea for the slide carousel. He isn't just talking to them, he is talking to himself about the importance of family. How John Hamm lost the Emmy for Best Actor to Bryan Cranston is one of the greatest award show mysteries ever.



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