Cynthia Littleton writes: Next to Matt Weiner, nobody knows the look and feel of “Mad Men” better than Phil Abraham. He was the cinematographer on the pilot, and he made an auspicious debut as a director for the series with 2007’s “The Hobo Code.” Abraham took a break from helming an episode of AMC’s “Halt and Catch Fire” in Atlanta on Monday evening to talk about directing his final “Mad Men” episode, the May 3 installment “Lost Horizon,” from a razor-sharp script by Semi Chellas and Weiner.
This episode had so many pause-worthy moments for Joan, Don, Peggy and Roger. Did you know that going in or did it evolve as you were shooting?
“Mad Men” is different than any other show because the objective is to create those moments on camera and define them in a precise way. They are so special and so carefully crafted by the writers. As a director you’ve got to make sure they play visually and performance-wise and that everyone who is watching is aware of them….That’s what makes “Mad Men” such a different show than any other I’ve worked on. There is a precision to everything.
Does that precision make it harder or easier for you as the director?
The rigor with which these episodes are crafted is something special. The only way you can have moments like the one where Don is sitting in the conference room hearing the research thrown out and seeing the disembodied hands open up their portfolios and all take their pens out at the same time — that’s all scripted. But it has to be visualized to resonate. When you have Jon Hamm it’s not hard to make those things resonate. … It’s this amazing dance of performance and staging and everything that makes “Mad Men” the unique series that it is.
Christina Hendricks steals the episode with Joan’s showdown with McCann’s Jim Hobart.
She’s so strong-willed and I thought such a worthy adversary to (Hobart). I remember going through those scenes with her. Those are long scenes, there’s a lot of words. We talked about the emotion and the lack of emotion she would need to go toe to toe with the big boss. It was great. (Actor H. Richard Greene) was fantastic as well. The two of them played off each other so well. That scene stole the show for me. The dance they dance. It’s been a year since we shot it so it was great to watch it.
Roger and Peggy had a long and entertaining ‘moment’ together. How is Elisabeth Moss’ roller skating?
Peggy says to Roger ‘I don’t think you’ve ever paid this much attention to me.’ I don’t think they’ve ever had such a big scene. Read the rest of this entry »
For Daily Finance, Annalisa Kraft-Linder writes: Millions of Americans are addicted to “Mad Men,” the AMC drama chronicling the lives of the people at ad agency Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. Enthralling us over seven seasons are their mostly sordid sex lives, boozy business lunches, snazzy apartments, period clothes and finned Cadillacs.
“They say money can’t buy happiness, but it sure as hell buys everything else.”
— Bob Benson
Although money is rarely addressed, suck-up Bob Benson of season six (James Wolk) sums up their attitudes neatly: “They say money can’t buy happiness, but it sure as hell buys everything else.” Here’s what else you can learn about money from the hit show, which wraps up this year.
‘Happiness Is the … Freedom from Fear’
Agency creative director Don Draper (Jon Hamm) leads a complicated life. He had been on unscheduled leave after a major meltdown in front of the Hershey (HSY) clients. He conspires with his former secretary to keep his family in the dark about his out-of-work status. His relationship with his work and money is so tied in to the ’60s concept of the masculine breadwinner that on the April 27 episode he finally admits his fear to wife, Megan (Jessica Pare),”If you found out what happened, you wouldn’t look at me in the same way.”
“I’m just acknowledging that life, unlike this analysis, will eventually end, and someone else will get the bill.”
— Roger Sterling
Draper could have taken a job at another agency for less money but submits sheepishly to be part of the SCDP fold under humiliating conditions to keep up his lifestyle and win back Megan. Read the rest of this entry »
One of the more involved and insightful deep-dish Mad Men pieces I’ve seen this season, from an unlikely source, it’s a pleasure to read TV show analysis this dedicated. If you’re a Don Draper fan like me, read the whole thing.
Are Don and Megan Draper finally over? In the major arc before the first commercial break, Don speaks long-distance to Megan’s agent and learns that Megan has been exhibiting desperate (stalker-like) behavior toward industry types in L.A. Don flies out unannounced in the middle of the week. Megan’s libidinal delight upon his arrival turns to melancholy as she reflects on her rejections (“It’s sunny here for everyone but me”) and then to outrage when she learns the reason for Don’s visit (“You came out here to, what, pull me out of a bathtub where I slit my wrists?”) and then to suspicion and accusation (“You’re never [in the office] when I call. … Who’s your new girl, Don?”—by which she means mistress, not secretary). Don confesses, not to having an affair, but to having been on leave from SC&P since Thanksgiving (it is now early spring). Megan is furious over the secrecy, and furious that all this time he could have been with her in L.A. but chose not to. She throws him out, with “This is the way it ends.”
I indulge in bald plot-summary here because I have waited so long in patience for these two to split up. As Megan ca. 1968-69, Jessica Paré is a tedious screen presence in hideous clothes. Their crackup has always seemed a foregone conclusion, given how impulsively Don proposed (at Disneyland!) in Season Four and how incapable he is of husband-like qualities (sustained honesty, loyalty, sobriety). The writers have been flirting with it since the midpoint of Season Five. Get on with it! A long-distance phone call later in the episode may or may not herald a rapprochement; let us hope not. Read the rest of this entry »
Joan entertains Greg’s colleagues with her hidden talents. Ooh la la!