Tag: Christina Hendricks (Page 2 of 4)

Mad Men 4.9 – Here’s to you, Mrs. Blankenship…

Another week, another great episode of “Mad Men.” The show has really settled into a solid groove of awesomeness over the course of the past several weeks. Not that it isn’t always pretty darned awesome, but ever since Episode 4.6, it’s been mindbogglingly good.

Given the title of this blog, I feel obliged to start things off by discussing the late, great Mrs. Ida Blankenship. I’ve spent much of this season under the presumption that Bert Cooper would be the one to die in the saddle at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. Not that I’m rooting for Robert Morse to leave the show, but it just seemed like we hadn’t been seeing a whole lot of him this year, so I thought that perhaps that Bert’s days were numbered…and maybe they still are, but I certainly never expected that Mrs. Blankenship would beat him to the punch.

Of Mrs. Blankenship’s death, Roger quipped, “She died as she lived: surrounded by the people she answered phones for.” Similarly, the character departed in much the same way that she existed: as a punchline. There was some straight-up “Weekend at Bernie’s” schtick going on in the background as Don desperately tried to maintain his meeting with the gentlemen from Fillmore Auto Parts, and even though that isn’t necessarily the sort of thing that I expect when I tune in to “Mad Men,” it doesn’t mean that I didn’t enjoy it. If I laugh harder at a Don Draper line this season than “I’d have my secretary do it, but she’s dead,” I’ll be very surprised. Still, Mrs. Blankenship’s demise did also lead to a sad, sweet moment from Bert, when he poetically described her as “an astronaut,” and it served to remind Roger of his mortality, which ultimately found him living life to the fullest…but we’ll get to that.

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Mad Men 4.8 – Power of the Poontang

Oh, come on: that line was screaming to be the title.

When we first see Don this week, he’s going for a swim…and, by the sound of it, he’s also going to be coughing up a lung in the near future. Surely someone in the firm is going to be developing lung cancer from their constant smoking, but I always thought Don’s liver would fail him first. Maybe I’m wrong…? Time will tell. We also hear him in voiceover as he bears his soul into a journal. I don’t know if he’s been inspired by Roger’s excruciatingly awful ramblings for his memoirs or if the loss of Anna has caused him to realize that someone someday should be able to know the real Don Draper, but whatever the case, these are some seriously deep thoughts that we hear over the course of the episode. Nice use of the Rolling Stones’ “Satisfaction,” by the way, especially having the line about “the same cigarettes as me” roll off Mick’s lips just as Don’s preparing to put a cigarette to his.

Elsewhere around the office, Mrs. Blankenship has had eye surgery (I’m looking at her in a different light since the revelation that she used to be quite the hellcat back in her day, and I’m wondering if that might’ve been Matthew Weiner’s way of sidestepping critical accusations that she’d been less a character than a punchline), and the office neanderthals are beating the living hell out of the new vending machine. Clearly, it deserved it, what with first not doling out a tasty treat, then for swallowing Joey’s watch when he tried to go after said treat. I laughed out loud when Peggy said, “I feel like Margaret Mead.”

Yes, it’s definitely still a man’s man’s man’s world at Sterling Cooper Draper & Pryce, as evidenced by the treatment Joan has to put up with from the jackasses in the office…emphasis on “asses,” if you were watching closely during the discussion she was having with Peggy. Speaking of which, I thought that was a particularly nasty jab about how she could do with taking a few extra steps, but we soon realize that it isn’t (entirely) the goings-on at the office that have gotten her riled up but, rather, the fact that her husband is preparing to head to basic training. Given Don’s subsequent viewing of Vietnam footage on the telly and Joan pointedly referencing it in her later verbal attack on the guys (“Remember, you’re not dying for me, because I never liked you”), it’s hard to conceive of a scenario where she doesn’t end up as a widow in short order.

When Don began to space out during his meeting with the team, I thought for one moment that he was looking at Peggy in a different light after last week’s episode…but, no, it was much more likely the effects of the alcohol. That, or the simple fact that his mind just isn’t on his work the way it once was. Either there’s too much going on in his personal life or there’s not enough of what he wants there to be in it, but either way, this is not a happy camper that we see before us. An attempt to drown his sorrows in an evening with Bethany might possibly have worked, but however he might’ve anticipating things going, things changed at the precise moment that Betty and Henry stopped by their table.

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Mad Men 4.6 – Life? Don’t talk to me about Life…

I’ll bet you thought I was going to entitle this week’s blog “The Cure for the Common…” or something relating to the gag that kicked off tonight’s episode. Believe me, I was tempted: I thought it was pretty hilarious that this young punk – 36-year-old Danny (Strong) claiming to be a 24-year-old – strolled into Sterling Cooper Draper & Pryce with half a dozen ads based around the same general theme, with his only real defense being, “Uh, did you see me shaking hands with Roger Sterling out there?”

Looks like the candidates are pretty slim pickings, which would certainly be enough to bum Don out even if he didn’t have all of this other stuff going on in his life, but, man, he really tried to drag Peggy down to his mood, despite her unabashedly optimistic attitude about how well things are going for her. You’d think he’d be in better spirits, what with his CLIO nomination and all. (By the way, is this the first time we’ve heard mention of the CLIO Awards? It seems like it might be.) Then again, you’d also think he would’ve noticed after all of this time that Peggy isn’t the same shy girl who used to cower every time he raised his voice…although, in fairness to Don, she does tend to fall back into that old pattern when she’s around him.

Huh. I wasn’t expecting a flashback to the first time Don and Roger met. Don was selling furs…? I don’t remember hearing that tidbit of information before, either. Funny how Roger’s first reaction to one of Don’s ad slogans was to disparage it. And, holy cow, look at Joan, would you? She’s a red-headed Marilyn Monroe, especially with her hair done up like that. Man, when she dropped that fur coat, I found myself wishing “Mad Men” was on HBO…and then I laughed out loud when they cut back to Roger reminiscing about what I’m pretty sure I was imagining myself.

I couldn’t begin to guess how many bowls of Life I ate as a child, so I had a smile on my face as soon as I saw the familiar multi-colored letters of the cereal’s name…which is the exact opposite of the expression on Pete Campbell’s face when we first see him. He’s so serious these days, not unlike a li’l Don Draper circa Season 1. (Probably not a coincidence.) I liked Lane’s dismissal of Harry’s attempt at namedropping as well as Joan’s reminder to New Boy that he can get up and get his own damned drink. Peggy’s not going to waste her time drinking, though. Instead, she has to do battle with Stan, the firm’s new art director. What a jerk. Clearly, she’s going to end up sleeping with him…or kill him. One or the other.

And speaking of jerks, here’s Ted Shaw, coming up to Don and Roger in order to be his usual dickish self. As a Marx Brothers fan, I had to laugh at Roger’s description of the purported general as “Rufus T. Bullshit,” which was almost as funny as the expression on Pete’s face when he realized that he might have to work with Ken again. Great guest spot from Mark Moses, getting a chance to play a drunken Duck Phillips. The menage a trois of handholding between Don, Joan, and Roger was too cute, but…wow, they’re really going to go for broke and head straight from the CLIO Awards back to the office to meet with the people from Life? Ballsy, Don, real ballsy…especially when it’s Harry who’s stuck having to entertain the troops until he gets there. Good thing most everyone was a “Peyton Place” fan back then, I guess. That, and it’s a good thing that the SCD&P bar is always well stocked.

Or is that a good thing?

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Mad Men 4.5 – “How does she not fall over?”

I don’t want to say that Don’s gotten himself the secretary he deserves, but…I don’t know how else to finish that sentence. Although you could easily argue that she’s almost more of a comedic device than an actual character, at least she serves a definitive statement: this is definitely a woman who Don is not going to be sleeping with. Mind you, given her performance in the first few minutes of the episode, there’s really no reason to believe that she’s going to be around for the long haul, anyway. Still, you don’t really hear Don complaining very much when she interrupts the scintillating meeting about the stats behind America’s typical cough-drop users to tell him that he’s got a phone call from Walter Hoffman from The New York Times, though it’s possible that his feelings on the matter changed after he discovered the reason for the call.

Hoffman’s found out that Clearasil’s been signed to another firm, and he’s nosing around about a possible trend with companies jumping ship from Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. Don claims to not be thinking about it, but Ted Shaw has claimed, “Every time Don Draper looks in his rear view mirror, he sees me.” Don’s only on-the-record comment on the matter is to claims that he’s never heard of Ted Shaw.

It’s time for a meeting of the partners, one prefaced by a brief conversation about the state of civil rights in America. (I’ve noticed that real-world goings-on seem to only be referenced offhandedly this season. I don’t know that it’s a better-or-worse situation. I’m just saying that I’ve noticed it.) When Don arrives, however, things get down to business, with Pete announcing that he’s convinced the folks at Secor Laxatives to produce a TV commercial and test market it. Cue Roger making a few inevitable jokes on the matter, which are quickly poo-pooed by Bertram Cooper.

Yes, that’s right: I went there.

Better still, Pete’s looking toward a possible relationship between the firm and Honda, which was still very much an up-and-coming company as far as American audiences were concerned. Look at Pryce, making with the funny. He’s really loosened up since his night on the town with Don, eh? Too bad Roger’s being such a hard-ass about the situation, still battling some demons which have apparently been haunting him since World War II. I was somewhat surprised with the way everyone immediately decided to bypass Roger and move forward with the Honda meeting, but I guess it’s hard to argue with the possibility of that kind of money.

Be honest, though: how many of you had ever heard of “The Sword and the Chrysanthemum“? I mean, I’m sure plenty of you have probably read it, but I’m not going to pretend that I’m one of them.

And, seriously, who the hell is Dr. Lyle Evans?

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Mad Men 4.2 – A Glass of Gin, A Box of Velveeta

I’d like to start this week’s “Mad Men” blog out with an apology: I’m out at the TCA Press Tour in Los Angeles (as you probably already know if you’ve been reading Premium Hollywood this week), and I’ve been at the mercy of my schedule, which has been decidedly hectic. I was sent an advance screener of the episode…more about that in just a moment…but since it was mailed to my home, I wasn’t able to watch it until my wife, God bless her, brought it to me when she flew in from Norfolk, VA, late Friday night. I was finally able to watch it on Saturday afternoon, taking notes as I did so, but then I had to find time to actually compose the blog entry…and, well, here it is 11:57 PM PST, and I’m only just now getting the opportunity to do so.

Yeah, it’s been that kind of week…and I think it’s probably going to show in the blog, so let me go ahead and apologize for that up front.

Of course, I guess I should just be happy that I had an advance screener, since lord knows I won’t be getting any more this season…and nor, for that matter, will anyone else. When my wife handed me Episode 4.2 upon her arrival, it was folded inside a piece of paper which read as follows:

July 26, 2010

Dear friend:

With a new season of “Mad Men” underway, I wanted to take a moment to thank you for your incredible and unprecedented support of the series since its debut four seasons ago. I’ve enjoyed our relationship over the years and your insightful reviews and features.

It has been a privilege to be associated with such an extraordinary group of actors, crew, craftsmen and executives – all of whom are committed to the care of our show.

As we provide you a with a copy of our second episode (airing August 1), we wanted to make you aware of a new development in terms of our DVD distribution moving forward.

In an effort to avoid inevitable spoilers and preserve the experience of watching live for our fans, we have chosen to make this the last review copy we send out.

We ask that in the weeks ahead you continue to write on the progression of our show, and I look forward to your thoughts and commentary along the way.

Here’s to an amazing season.

With sincere thanks,

Matthew Weiner

This is, one can reasonably presume, the direct result of Weiner’s annoyance with The New York Times over their piece which was written in advance of the premiere and offered up ostensible spoilers, and I can feel the man’s pain, but, man, I am just not a happy camper about this situation. I mean, God love you, Matthew, but you try having to stay up late on a Sunday night to blog a show…or, worse, two shows, since Alan Ball fucked me over by declaring a moratorium on “True Blood” screeners, too.

I never spoiled nothing for nobody, and this is the thanks I get…?

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