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 »
In honor of Morse’s magical musical final moments as Bert Cooper on Sunday night’s mid-season finale of Mad Men, Here’s Robert Morse the Broadway star, from half a century ago, singing the song he’ll always be identified with in the 1967 film version of “How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying”
SPOILER ALERT: Stop reading if you haven’t seen the finale of “Mad Men.”
I can’t remember a “Mad Men” finale that laid quite so much track for the storylines of the subsequent season. For the show’s penultimate season, that’s appropriate as the saga of Don Draper heads into its final 13 installments.
I have to hand to to Matthew Weiner and Co. I didn’t see Don Draper’s confessional moves coming, even though of course in hindsight there were plenty of hints. Indeed one of the most powerful moments of season six was the fearless Sally Draper looking her father in the eye and telling him “I don’t know anything about you” in the wake of the experience with creepy “Aunt Ida.”
Don is obviously on a mission to change that in the season six finale, “In Care Of,” written by Carly Wray (a writers assistant this season who’s having her “42nd Street” moment with the opportunity to co-write the finale ) and Weiner and also helmed by Weiner.