Monday, October 6, 2008

Sunday Night TV Overload: "Mad Men"

Since July 28th, the second season of "Mad Men" has been knocking my socks off. The plight of the mysterious Don Draper as he struggles to survive at Sterling Cooper, an ad agency whose glory days are behind them as the cultural revolution of the 60's awaits. The lives of those around Draper continue to be enriching, as we find Peggy Olsen, Joan Holloway and Betty Draper beginning to come into their own, whether it's climbing a corporate ladder, trying to define one's self, or standing on her own two feet. Meanwhile, the men are adjusting to changes in the workplace and the cultural pull of the civil rights movement and keeping afloat in the rat race world of Madison Avenue as it gets younger, artsy and cutting edge.

Last night's "Mad Men" was another nod to women of that time. Betty, standing firm on keeping Don out of the house, learning to deal with the dementia of her father while coming to terms with her own strength was moving. Peggy's own strength in dealing with the aftermath of her affair with Pete flourishes with delicate touches. She's evasive, non-judgemental and stoic. She resembles Don in resolve and determination to live out his advice: "It never happened. It will amaze you how it never happened". But you cannot deny, the chemistry between her and Pete is so strong that it might end up being her one weakness.

The male role on "Mad Men" is often intriguing to me. The having-it-all syndrome clashes with their profound unhappiness. It results in men such as Don having affairs - but never with his secretary. And it involves someone like Roger Sterling, stuck in the mud at mid-life, looking at younger women, trying to find a reason to leave his wife Mona. As for Don, it took emotional turmoil of Betty to finally bring herself to confronting him about his dalliances, thanks to the smarmy Jimmy Barrow who spilled the beans to her. Don, in his obstinance that resembles someone who has carefully brainwashed himself to believe his own version of his life and his truth, remains baffled at Betty's need to be alone. He never apologies, he never admits to anything. Betty's sticking to her guns, and as each week goes by, we find her evolving from a broken sparrow unable to get out of bed, into a woman who will hear a bump in the night, and not flinch. Even when she and Don had a physical connection - she was on top.

Last we saw of Don Draper, he was flying out to Los Angeles, a last minute decision, swapping places with Paul Kinsey, who had been given the word of his cancelled trip by Joan, his ex-girlfriend, who relished having to tell him to give her his ticket. Paul ended up going to a protest march down south with his girlfriend, proving he's the free thinking radical he tries so hard to be. Don ends up in a plane, with the sun in his eyes. I wonder if he will come back?

"Man Men" is on AMC on Sunday nights at 10pm, with a repeat at 11pm. We're down to the last few episodes before they break until next year, when we find Don and his friends in 1964.

Special Sunday Night Shout Out

"Entourage" - HBO Sundays at 10:00pm. This show has been on hiatus from being a comedy for a few years now. Too many improbable situations where Vin Chase gets in trouble, only to come up smelling like a rose somewhere on Boobs Island with a bunch of gorgeous babes was beginning to wear thin. This season, we find Vin's reputation destroyed by the stink bomb that was "Medellin", his passion project. Now all the roosters come to roost as Hollywood won't give him the time of day. The usual antics of Drama and Turtle continue, as their money train dries up. Last night they needed to take a break injesting 'Shrooms" at Joshua Tree to clear up their heads. Of course, Ari comes along. All hilarity ensues, and I'm sure Piven getting lost in the desert without a cell phone signal will earn him another Emmy award. Jury's still out on this one. And I used to love this show.

"The Life and Times of Tim" - HBO Sundays at 10:30pm. Animated comedy. The first episode viewed was entitled "Angry Unpaid Hooker", which in itself is funny. For those who love animated comedy, this looks funny and weird. It's like Ray Ramano and Lewis C.K. combined forces with Family Guy and had a threesome. That's the best I can do. I'm not much of a animation fan.

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