Live-Blogging Mad Men: Here Is New York?

by Tom Watson
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Earlier today on another blog far, far away Blue Girl suggested that the last episode of Man Men (the best in my opinion) reminded her of far away New York and made her wish she was here. I didn’t see it – even the famed “New Amsterdam” episode (the only other one I actively enjoyed, outside of this blogging crowd) didn’t quite get there in terms of its Gothamicity. The whole thing seems confined to studio sets, and a bit too clean for an active represenation.

Then too, the accents don’t work because they’re basically not there. Not is the stance, the attitude, the posture. Any episode of, say, Sesame Street seems much more New Yawkish than Mad Men. Bugs Bunny too. And then there are all the TV shows gone before that were set in New York and its environs: The Odd Couple, the Dick Van Dyke Show, All in the Family (and Maude and The Jeffersons), Car 54, Seinfeld, The Cosby Show, I Love Lucy and the Honeymooners. Some filmed in studios here, most filmed in studios there – meaning California. And yet evocative.

Mad Men is too laconic for New York, too Steve McQueen and not enough Archie Bunker – who, after all, sat first in his chair in Queens just a decade later. Ironic, of course, that the rabid anti-Semitism portrayed in 1960 New York shuts its place-in-time cultural consciousness off from the dominant Jewish-inflected humor of the city. It’s a loss.

Does Mad Men get New York? What do you think? And how does New York influence the pace and development of the show – if at all? Back shortly. Oh and by the by, we’ve received a nod of official recognition from the people at AMC.

General Petraeus tells me it’s time to blog Mad Men…so here we go.

Donald Draper, such a star. But we haven’t seen the work, have we? Major leagues – seems a stretch for the unhappy Drapester.

Note: if we’re not at Sterling Cooper, this show drags and drags and ok we’re there.

They’re trying with the New York thing – “Fiorello!” and the Algonquin.

Job recruitment, former models, salary discussions. The stuff of drama.

Best performance in the series to date: Jackie Kennedy’s campaign pitch in Spanish. No contest.

Anti-smoking ads running on Mad Men breaks – well, that pretty much says it.

And we end the evening in David Lynchland – where’d he come from? Sorry folks – a very slow episode.

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  • Jim Tourtelott
    September 14, 2007

    Does Mad Men get New York?

    Lord, no. The show is a production designer’s dream of certain images of New York, swiped from any number of sources–The Apartment, the early scenes of North by Northwest, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and (for the beatnik sequences) those Lower East Side tenements you’d see in select episodes of The Twilight Zone.

    In fact, as I thought about this question, I suddenly realized that the Manhattan of Mad Men was only matched in fakeness by one other version I know–the completely false New York of Kubrick’s final catastrophe Eyes Wide Shut. Kubrick, however, at least had the excuse that he had spent the last twenty years of his life in England.

  • September 14, 2007

    Don’t give my opinion too much weight. An apple sitting on my kitchen counter can get me missing NYC. So, when the one character was talking about riding the train into the city everyday, I got a little melancholy.

    The accents on the show drive me nuts. Don Draper doesn’t do it, but most of the others do. They’re talking like teenagers who are trying to be sophisticated. It’s like a bad, fake Engish accent or something.

    Back to MSNBC’s post-speech analysis till 10. Did you know we are only one of 37 countries fighting in Iraq?

  • September 14, 2007

    Yeah Jim, they’re borrowing from those old design settings. But hell, in NxNW, Hitchcock shot in New York – outside the UN (which he had to sneak in, lacking permission), inside the Plaza, inside Grand Central and even the background shots on the train up the Hudson were accurate.

    But I do think it’s the accents and the emphasis. It’s off kilter. Which is strange, because the Sopranos has such a strong regional sense. I mean, why not Johnny Sack as an older ad man?

  • Jim Tourtelott
    September 14, 2007

    37, huh? Is one of the others the ALQadeans?

  • September 14, 2007

    Well, for instance – there are Americans and Democrats, so that’s two of the 37 right there.

  • September 14, 2007

    God! Why does this show have to be so heavy handed right off the bat! The little girl holding her heart as the doves were released… geez.

  • September 14, 2007

    The Birds and Grace Kelly–so looking for greatness by association.

    Are they in Radio City? Does anyone recognize that foyer/lounge?

  • September 14, 2007

    Grace Kelly from Philly a “European face” – ha!

  • steverino
    September 14, 2007

    Not RC, MA

  • September 14, 2007

    “The Birds” – an obvious reference the the, aha, 1960 Hitchcock film.

  • tristan
    September 14, 2007

    Grace Kelly lite. Petting? By 1960 it was “making out”.

  • steverino
    September 14, 2007

    30-something, anyone?…Miles Drentell…Michael?

  • Jim Tourtelott
    September 14, 2007

    “I was a model, you know” is this episode’s “Chip ‘n’ Dip.”

  • steverino
    September 14, 2007

    Prostitute…whore-child, it all comes together!

  • September 14, 2007

    Now we’re in the “Make Room for Betty Show”

  • September 14, 2007

    Steve – good one. He was a whore-child, then he married one!

  • September 14, 2007

    Oh Pete, we have news for you . . . .

  • September 14, 2007

    Peggy’s pregnant. With a whore-child.

  • tristan
    September 14, 2007

    Betty is not Betty Friedan material.
    She wants bright lights not a career
    Jackie went to Vassar, not a finishing school but academically rigorous by that time.

  • September 14, 2007

    Oh god. Peggy probably is pregnant. ACK! This show KILLS me.

  • September 14, 2007

    Wow. I really had a Barbie with a dresss like that.

  • September 14, 2007

    At least Barbie could act…

  • steverino
    September 14, 2007

    That was the longest set-up (mamie’s funeral) for the smallest pay off yet.

  • Jim Tourtelott
    September 14, 2007

    I am completely baffled by Pete’s brilliant strategy.

  • September 14, 2007

    In the ad business that sort of strategy is known as the “chip n dip”

  • September 14, 2007

    Prostitute…whore-child, it all comes together!

    lol.

  • September 14, 2007

    Michael Beirut–are you in the house? Can you explain the lighting bolt from Pete?

  • Jim Tourtelott
    September 14, 2007

    Thank you, Tom, that explains everything.

  • steverino
    September 14, 2007

    Gosh, if Peggy had only had a spare bottle of that cola around the apartment that night with Pete, maybe she wouldn’t be splittin’ her seams…

  • September 14, 2007

    Now the bird thing is looking waay too Sopranos

  • tristan
    September 14, 2007

    You wanna shoot the golden?

  • September 14, 2007

    Nixon – the fallen dove – the rifle – Pete as Lee Harvey – it’s all leading to the Kennedy assassination.

  • September 14, 2007

    Peggy looks bigger in every scene–rapidly advancing pregnancy. Hey, that’s what happened to Darla when she was pregnant with Pete, I mean Connor. (Angel fans, where are you>)

  • September 14, 2007

    Very nice, MA. 🙂

  • September 14, 2007

    Maybe I’m just tired, but this is a very slow episode.

  • September 14, 2007

    Tom, it does feel like we are in the second hour of a double episode

  • September 14, 2007

    It *is* extremely slow.

  • Jim Tourtelott
    September 14, 2007

    MA, vampire spawn is different than whore-child.

  • steverino
    September 14, 2007

    Indeed, Tom. Glacially incremental movement in the lives of people we have not come to love.

  • September 14, 2007

    Exactly Steve – less interesting than my own office life.

  • steverino
    September 14, 2007

    Hey – easy on the fine folks in your office, Tommy!

  • tristan
    September 14, 2007

    Didn’t Peggy get birth control in the first episode?

  • steverino
    September 14, 2007

    Drop you at the station – finally – a glimmer of wit!

  • September 14, 2007

    Poor Betty.

  • steverino
    September 14, 2007

    “Fill the pool”?!?

  • steverino
    September 14, 2007

    Lee Harvey Draper

  • tristan
    September 14, 2007

    Best ending yet. You are my special angel, great song.

  • Jim Tourtelott
    September 14, 2007

    Is it wrong of me that I genuinely enjoyed that sudden lurch into David Lynch territory?

  • September 14, 2007

    The show needs to pick a genre and go with it.

  • September 14, 2007

    I thought of David Lynch too. Is it wrong? Who knows. The show’s so slow that when *anything* happens, we’re all so grateful.

  • September 14, 2007

    Nice last shot. She was a little Bonnie Faye Dunaway there. But the texture feels like it’s from a different show

  • September 14, 2007

    Was it supposed to be funny or something that when the guys were knock down drag out fighting, the two shmoes didn’t even care at all and then just walked out?

    What was that?

  • September 14, 2007

    What was that?

    BG, I wish you could answer that for so much of this show.

  • September 14, 2007

    So there’s no *deep* meaning?

    How did they possibly shoot that scene and think that’s the way the should’ve shot it?

    Well, that goes for much of the show too.

  • Jim Tourtelott
    September 14, 2007

    Actually, I thought Draper and Sterling ignoring the fight and going off to the station was a clever, funny touch.

  • tristan
    September 14, 2007

    Blue girl-anger management was not invented yet. For white men with anger issues allowances were made. But this was just absurd.

  • cgeye
    September 14, 2007

    The closed captioning is so freaky that the first character of each line is dropped.

    And, “Theorello”? If it’s mentioning Tammany Hall, it’s “Fiorello”, people.

  • September 14, 2007

    In light of last week’s show, this one was such a disappointing clunker.

    It hit all the usual “Mad Men” notes and ended right where it began.

  • September 14, 2007

    Jim,

    I thought Draper and Sterling ignoring the fight and going off to the station was a clever, funny touch.

    You optimist, you.

  • cgeye
    September 14, 2007

    Oh, yeah — ANGEL fans reprazent!!

  • cgeye
    September 14, 2007

    “One day I’ve got to take a picture of her crying.” Every left turn, this sadism/sociopathy peeking out.

    “I didn’t think you had it in you, and I mean that.” What they did was block Kennedy from buying TV time in the crucial state of Illinois.

    And am I wrong, or did Don and Betty have a couple of civilized, sexually-compatible days, due to Betty actually waking up out of her suburban stupor? The psychiatrist only perks up when she perks up, and it’s implied that her outburst is the first one she’s had in his office.

    As for the end, I expected her to drop a plate or a cup, due to shakiness, not accurately sight and fire a pellet gun at the neighbor’s pigeons (an act I consider proportionate to his death threat, toward the family dog).

  • cgeye
    September 14, 2007

    And, as for Peggy? YAY.
    She sees clearly what she wants, while the supposedly clueful Joan, isn’t.

    “I just realized something… you think you’re being helpful.” About time, missy.

    (Oh, yeah, you’re getting that I’m watching the second showing?)

  • Karen
    September 14, 2007

    Tristan–yes, Peggy got birth control in the first episode, and then had sex THAT NIGHT. It takes at least one cycle for the Pill to become effective. So, odds are she got knocked up by Pete.

    I didn’t think Peggy was really shooting pigeons–that was part of her reverie, yes? The shrink oughtta love that one.

    I’m still confused as to how Pete actually turns out to be the smart one in the office. Cause, you know…not bright. I didn’t get the ad buy strategy when he said it–and, frankly, I didn’t find the Mamie’s funeral story half as funny as his buddy did, but then I was never in a frat–but when Roger and Bertram came in it all became clear. And you know what? It WAS a good strategy.

    Given Don’s own dimness about it, I have yet to understand why McCann-Erickson (or anyone else) wuold court him so aggressively.

    I still feel like this show isn’t really taking us anywhere, though–that it’s a lot of stylistic flourishes and grandstanding, without any there there.

    But I did like Don and Roger walking off while the boys were tussling.

    cgeye–I also use the CC option, and was confounded by “Theorello” until they mentioned both the exclamation point and Tammany Hall. You might also have caught the captions referring to “BBDO and YNR” instead of BBDO and Y&R.