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Mad Men’s somber final season opener

by Fausta Rodriguez Wertz | April 16th, 2014


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Mad Men's somber final season opener

by Fausta Rodriguez Wertz

CON­TAINS SPOILERS

Unlike the prior sea­son, this season’s opener had me glued to the TV set from begin­ning to end. The episode is titled Time Zones, and Joel Mur­ray as Freddy Rum­sen opened it with an entranc­ing mono­logue (an ad for Accutron watches) that also serves both as a metaphor on time, and on the value of objects for those of us who are fond of our mate­r­ial pos­ses­sions — espe­cially our watches.

The pitch of Rumsen’s voice, the flat deliv­ery, and the use of this mono­logue as the opener for the final sea­son brings us into a Twi­light Zone* of sorts, in keep­ing with the T–Zone title.

Rumsen’s appear­ance brack­eted the episode. Keep in mind that he was forced to take a leave of absence from the ad agency after drunk­enly uri­nat­ing in his pants and then pass­ing out right before an impor­tant meet­ing. At the end of the episode he pleads with Don, “Why don’t you stop this Cyrano bit, and march your ass in there and get us both a job”. Mur­ray is mag­nif­i­cent as Freddy.

Roger’s descend­ing into deprav­ity, and yet his daugh­ter for­gives him — which he can not understand.

Don Draper con­tin­ues his down­ward spi­ral and there’s enough fore­shad­ow­ing com­pressed in this season’s first episode to make us cer­tain of his destiny.

Or is there?

Wal­ter Dellinger, Supreme Court Advo­cate, writes at the WSJ,

I liked this episode a lot. In part, that is because I am an incur­able opti­mist. This episode is so grim that there is only one way to go for its cen­tral char­ac­ters and that is some ver­sion of up.

There seems to be a minor anachro­nism: Don glides through LA air­port on a back­ground of col­or­ful mosaics. In 1967, for The Grad­u­ate’s open­ing sequence, Dustin Hoffman’s char­ac­ter did the same, but the tile were white. By 1997, the tiles were small and col­or­ful for the Jackie Brown cred­its.

As for the clothes, the women’s clothes sig­nal the direc­tion of their lives:

  • Joan in respectable suits,
  • Peggy in Mary Tyler Moore’s tam,
  • Meghan in ever-​more-​short miniskirts sig­nal­ing des­per­a­tion.

Among the men, Pete’s preppy early-​metrosexual style shows him for the _​_​_​[fill the blank!] he is. Don’s still wear­ing a trilby, which makes him slightly out of step with the times.

The year is 1969, and, unlike the ear­lier sea­sons, by 1969 I was in the con­ti­nen­tal US, and old enough to remem­ber the news events that took place. Mer­ci­fully, I was not sur­rounded by adults sink­ing into alcoholism.

You can watch the full episode for a lim­ited time online at the Mad Men web­site.

And,
Of course AMC prac­tices the 4 P’s of mar­ket­ing, and, for pro­mo­tion, you, too, can have a Mad Men avatar! Mine’s a pretty good likeness:

madmen_standard

*The Twi­light Zone aired from 1959 to 1964.

Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on US and Latin Amer­i­can pol­i­tics and cul­ture at Fausta’s blog.

by Fausta Rodriguez Wertz

CONTAINS SPOILERS

Unlike the prior season, this season’s opener had me glued to the TV set from beginning to end. The episode is titled Time Zones, and Joel Murray as Freddy Rumsen opened it with an entrancing monologue (an ad for Accutron watches) that also serves both as a metaphor on time, and on the value of objects for those of us who are fond of our material possessions – especially our watches.

The pitch of Rumsen’s voice, the flat delivery, and the use of this monologue as the opener for the final season brings us into a Twilight Zone* of sorts, in keeping with the T-Zone title.

Rumsen’s appearance bracketed the episode. Keep in mind that he was forced to take a leave of absence from the ad agency after drunkenly urinating in his pants and then passing out right before an important meeting. At the end of the episode he pleads with Don, “Why don’t you stop this Cyrano bit, and march your ass in there and get us both a job”. Murray is magnificent as Freddy.

Roger’s descending into depravity, and yet his daughter forgives him – which he can not understand.

Don Draper continues his downward spiral and there’s enough foreshadowing compressed in this season’s first episode to make us certain of his destiny.

Or is there?

Walter Dellinger, Supreme Court Advocate, writes at the WSJ,

I liked this episode a lot. In part, that is because I am an incurable optimist. This episode is so grim that there is only one way to go for its central characters and that is some version of up.

There seems to be a minor anachronism: Don glides through LA airport on a background of colorful mosaics. In 1967, for The Graduate‘s opening sequence, Dustin Hoffman’s character did the same, but the tile were white. By 1997, the tiles were small and colorful for the Jackie Brown credits.

As for the clothes, the women’s clothes signal the direction of their lives:

  • Joan in respectable suits,
  • Peggy in Mary Tyler Moore’s tam,
  • Meghan in ever-more-short miniskirts signaling desperation.

Among the men, Pete’s preppy early-metrosexual style shows him for the ___ [fill the blank!] he is. Don’s still wearing a trilby, which makes him slightly out of step with the times.

The year is 1969, and, unlike the earlier seasons, by 1969 I was in the continental US, and old enough to remember the news events that took place. Mercifully, I was not surrounded by adults sinking into alcoholism.

You can watch the full episode for a limited time online at the Mad Men website.

And,
Of course AMC practices the 4 P’s of marketing, and, for promotion, you, too, can have a Mad Men avatar! Mine’s a pretty good likeness:

madmen_standard

*The Twilight Zone aired from 1959 to 1964.

Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on US and Latin American politics and culture at Fausta’s blog.

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