Matthew Weiner


Betty’s lone motherly moment with Sally (above).

Mad Men’s brilliant writer/creator/EP Matthew Weiner is not fucking about at all in what has been a banner 5th season for Mad Men, as Sunday’s season finale approaches.  Weiner was able to basically wrap up the Lane Price check fraud plot line in a scant few episodes, which we must applaud, as Weiner apparently has no taste for meandering plot riddles never solved, one of the only black marks on his former show, the epic Sopranos.  And we applaud this bit of denouement, juxtaposed with perhaps the plot line we most enjoy, that of Sally (isn’t young Kiernan Shipka excellent in this role?) and Betty, and of course Glen, played by Weiner’s son Marten, who has been a show stealer throughout the years on what has to be the best show on television right now.

After Bert Cooper brings the cancelled check to Don’s attention, which he knows is forged, we felt Don had no choice but to fire Lane.  That was completely justifiable.  Yet Don has not been privy to Lane’s financial woes, which have been a recurring theme.  When Lane returns to his office and surveys the falling snow, we were immediately stirred by the thought of Lane’s impending suicide in that very way foreshadowed each week by the opening credits.  By taking the plunge.

When Lane’s new Jaguar failed to cooperate with his carbon monoxide poisoning method, we were convinced that Lane was to be the mad man from the credits.  How cruelly ironic for Lane that the car he was so proud of, but that the others had been grossly slamming and slandering, was indeed a lemon, as Bert Cooper had suggested at the first mention of the car.

But Lane in the end preferred to swing from the gallows.  When Don got back from his meeting with Dow and they informed him, he looked like he had seen a ghost.  When told he was still hanging, Don insisted they cut him down.  He’s a doer, that Don Draper.  It had to register with him, as it does with faithful viewers, that this is the 2nd suicide to happen on Don’s watch.  Recall that Don had spurned his brother and tried to buy himself out of a future relationship with him by using a bag full of cash.  Mission kind of accomplished.

Don had told his long lost brother that he only lived his life in one direction: forward.  Yet, the drawer full of mementos he kept in his desk in Ossining, when discovered by Betty, finally prompted a long coming divorce. Speaking of Ossining, how about old neighbor Glen’s biggest role on the show since Betty unwisely granted him a lock of her hair?

Sally and Betty, again at each other’s throats early on, and a jealous Betty, obvious in her disdain for Megan, tells Sally that she only likes her because Megan let’s her “do whatever she wants.” To which Sally replies, “she lets me eat whatever I want.”  Then Betty calls Don and insists she pushes Sally off on him and his “child bride.”

Bad form indeed, but isn’t that the ugly Betty we’ve come to hate/love/hate?  Sally’s convo with Megan (Jessica Pare) and her acting buddy leave her “longing” for Glen, whom she calls and invites to visit her at Don’s.  At the front door and then in the museum they have their amusing kid conversations, as Glen tells her he’s seen better penthouses, that Teddy Roosevelt killed all the caribou, and then about how the seniors on the lacrosse team are bullying him.

Sally:  “Henry got bullied when he was younger and now he runs the city.”

Fantastic, really.  And almost as good was when she tells Glen she isn’t big on his mustache.  But this would be a watershed episode for Sally for a more serious reason, as she gets her period for the 1st time, we feel foreshadowed by the waitress bringing her coffee when out with Megan.  Sally runs out of the museum after the event and takes a cab back home to Betty, who, ever the ice queen, hardly knows how to comfort the girl at first, apprehensively patting her head with her cold, waxy hand.

Then Betty, after calling Megan to explain Sally’s disappearance, says that she “became a woman today” and “I think she just needed her mother.” A triumphant Betty returns to comfort Sally, actually a nice moment, and perhaps the nicest between the two that’s aired in the show’s full run (top).

Glen returns to Don’s for his bag and ends up being taken in by Megan.  After the phone rings, Glen asks “was that Betty?”

Priceless considering the history there.  Then Megan asks Glen if he would like something to eat.

Glen:  “If you don’t mind.”

Who wasn’t having flashbacks to the Betty/Glen dynamic of the early Mad Men days?  And the complexity of all the Betty/Glen and now Megan/Glen possible Oedipal issues to be considered.

When Don returns home from learning of Lane’s suicide, he and Glen have a poignant conversation on the elevator.

Glen:  “Why does everything always turn to crap?”

Asked by Don to elaborate, he says that all hopes and dreams never seem to pan out.  Don asks him what he wants to do.

Don:  “If you could do anything at all, what would you do?”

Cut to the final scene in which Don is allowing Glen to drive the car back up to his boarding school.  Apparently Don is now into preventive suicide measures, giving Glen something to smile about.

………

The other best show on TV and another AMC production, Breaking Bad, returns on Sunday, July 15th at 10 PM.  We have learned that the final 16 episodes of the epic have been broken into two 8 episode mini-seasons.  So far, the final 8 episodes, or the last 8 episodes of season 5 are slated to air in July, 2013.  Between now and then, AMC will run Sunday late night BrBa marathons, starting with the pilot and episode 2 back to back, beginning at 3:12 AM Monday morning.  A good time for gib heads, it would seem.

Crack (https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com)

Mad Men star Jon Hamm is very fond of discussing what a bad guy his character Don Draper is.  Don has pulled some numbers over the years, for sure.  Some of our personal favorites?  Well, let’s see.  We really loved when Don was banging that old hag Bobbi Barrett, crashed the car while driving drunk, and had to call Peggy to come bail him out of jail.  We guess that may be a mark of a bad guy–no one close to call when things go wrong–but we still don’t agree with Jon Hamm that Don is all that bad.  Mad Men would have us believe that DWI was a birthright back then.  If you’ve watched lately you may have noticed Campbell’s driving skills.  If so, you’d probably rather take your chances with Don, bombed.

Now Pete Campbell is a bad guy as far as we’re concerned, but that’s another story.  Certainly was gratifying watching Lane best him in a bout of the gentleman’s sport though.  In fact, the entire season has been gratifying.  Most notably, Roger’s LSD trip, the aforementioned fisticuffs, Roger’s blowjob from Megan’s moms (Julia Ormond), and the whole Don’s new life/Megan (Jessica Pare) dynamic.  And who could neglect the return of Glen, an absolute favorite of ours?

When Sally called him (who is now being fed pills by Henry’s mother), after she witnessed Roger’s blowjob, he said “how’s the city?” Sally’s response framed the episode perfectly.

“Dirty.”

But Henry’s mother is far from the worst bitch on the block.  That honor still belongs to Betty Francis, who, in limited scenes has taken on an expanded capacity.  To state it plainly, she is enormous.  But to us, she’s even meaner than she is fat.

While Betty’s actions are apparently somewhat predictable in Matthew Weiner’s version of the American tale, every man a cad, every woman a rag, at least every divorcee that is, they are no less startling or reprehensible.  Sure, Don took Sally to see the eclipse that time and then started having sex with her teacher, but at least he takes an interest in his kids not named Gene, and refrains from partaking in another ancient birthright: child abuse.

Then there’s Betty.  January Jones makes such a mean bitch in this role that now Queen Cersei (Lena Headey) from Game of Thrones looks like a human being to us, and there is still some question as to whether she is human at all.  This week Betty overdosed on jealousy when in picking up the children, she pressed her way into Don’s penthouse and spied upon the life of the new Don Draper.

Then, when “helping” Sally with her family tree project, she casually mentioned to her that daddy had another previous wife, and suggested that Megan had lied to her about it.  Whomever coined “time heals all wounds” apparently never met Betty Francis.

Thankfully, Sally, with a little help, figured out her Mother’s game.  And when she had revealed to Betty her revenge plot was foiled, Betty became enraged.  Dragging the kids into the fray?  We jest about Weiner’s tale of Americana, but that doesn’t mean we necessarily doubt it.

With Mad Men being a show that tends to follow up on most major storylines, we are expecting, well, big things from Betty’s character the rest of the way, whether she has limited scenes or not. Matthew Weiner fought to keep Betty’s character alive when AMC tried to pinch their margins because he felt the jilted ex was a compelling plot line.  We are sure AMC is happy now that he did.  They probably didn’t even gripe too much about springing for her fat suit.

Try Googling “Fat Betty Francis”.  And then run the image search.  The fans are in love, if not with Betty, then with the fact that she is a beefed up version of the old bitch we knew and hated.  Here’s one of our favorite pics:

For us though, it’s the ugly factor that we are bent on.  Can you imagine what her reaction will be at the inevitability to come, when she finds out her daughter is fucking Glen?

Hell’s bells, Trudy!

Crack (https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com)

Bryan Cranston (above) of Breaking Bad.

Bad news.  While Breaking Bad has renewed for what no doubt will be an epic 16 episode 5th season, various outlets are reporting that it will be show’s the last.

After heated negotiations with AMC, Breaking Bad has been renewed… for a 16-episode final season. The decision comes as the award-winning drama is hitting a creative and ratings high-point. But some critics are expressing gratitude that the esteemed drama — about a chemistry teacher who, after being diagnosed with cancer, begins dealing meth to provide for his family — is receiving a firm end date, because they see it as an opportunity for Breaking Bad’s writers end the series on a high note. Should we be celebrating the impending end of what’s often called “the best drama on television?”

http://theweek.com/article/index/218337/breaking-bads-final-season-a-good-thing

We’ve heard the show’s creator Vince Gilligan discuss his long range plans for the show several times.  He always mentions that he is telling a story with a definite end that would need several seasons to be fully told.  For us, that number we were hoping against all hope would be six, considering that season 1 had only 6 episodes.  At least Gilligan and AMC have agreed to do three episodes extra in season 5, off of a standard 13 episode full slate.

We guess the hand writing was on the wall with regard to a 6th season after watching Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner take public his rancorous negotiations with AMC to bring back Mad Men without cutting central characters from the cast.   Breaking Bad, in an even better position to negotiate, would probably have commanded beyond what AMC was willing to pay for a 6th year, especially when compared to dirt cheap original programming like The Killing and The Walking Dead.

At least there are 24 episodes left.

https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com/2011/07/21/breaking-bad-breaks-back-getting-back-to-work-aaron-pauls-howard101-interview-great-stuff/

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https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com/2010/03/22/tara-jackie-and-joannie-holloway/

https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com/2010/04/16/my-old-kentucky-home/

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https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com/2010/08/02/mad-men-problems-for-don-loom-glen-returns/

Crack (https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com, www.crackbillionair.com)

10 PM EST, AMC NETWORK…

https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com/2010/10/13/mad-men-dapper-draper-needs-deals-now/

Early this season on AMC’s smash hit Mad Men, Peggy Olsen (Elisabeth Moss), who pulls no punches, told Don (above)  “we’re all here because of you.”  Peggy, eager to please her mentor, but also put off by his excessive drinking and snappy temper, was quite emphatic.  The new agency, SCDP, was populated by people for the most part hand picked by Don.  After Don gave a poorly received interview to a trade publication, the new venture, along with people’s confidence in the magical Don Draper was imperiled.  Don would right his gaffe by giving a lights out interview to the Wall Street Journal.  Later in the season, he’d win a prestigious award in his field–a monument to the new agency.  Don even began exercising restraint with the bottle.  It was a good sign for DD fans who saw his life careening out of control.  It took a drunken tussle with Duck Phillips of all people for him to recognize the need for a more sober Don.  How embarrassing it was when a much younger Don said “uncle” with Duck on top of him.  But Don had fought to protect Peggy’s honor, and their relationship, which fractured some time after Don had come to visit Peggy in the hospital after she gave birth to Campbell’s love child, mostly because Don had been extra hard on Peggy and because Peggy perceived that Don would always get the credit for her work, was back on track.  Unfortunately for Don it took a death to someone important to him–the real Ms. Draper–for Peggy to see Don in a different light.  The rift between creative’s 2 most creative, especially after Don had brought Peggy back to the agency from oblivion, and after Peggy had bailed Don out of a Long Island jail on a DUI rap, had us very disturbed.  We were happy to see things set right, and learning that Cooper (Robert Morse) had lost his testicles in the Great War and that Sterling (John Slattery) had been sexually ravaged by that cougar Ms. Blankenship was the cherry on top.

In many regards, it’s been a watershed year for Don.  Don started swimming, pardon the earlier pun, and we noticed that the dullness that had set in after his divorce was departing.  Perhaps it wasn’t quite the year we were expecting from him though.  I for one, assumed that Don, newly single and unleashed upon the city, would display that “legendary prowess” with the ladies, to steal a phrase from Nazi party, um, I mean Tea Party candidate Carl Paladino.  But Don has been leading a mostly quiet existence.  For Don.  He’s still in the same little apartment on Waverly which is well below his means.  He consented to a few dates with Bethany (Anna Camp) at the urging of Roger and Jane (Peyton List), had sex with his secretary Allison (Alexa Alemanni), which led to her throwing a paper weight at him and leaving in tears–a drunken tryst which gave Don more reason to cut back on the booze–and to scale back the office romances.  Slightly.  Don would still hook up with Dr. Miller (Cara Buono), banged a prostitute on the regular who he liked to beat him about the face during sex, quite the commentary on Don’s self esteem, but the dapper Draper seemed downright uncomfortable at the Kit Kat Club with Lane (Jared Harris), whose dalliance with a hooker on his impromptu New Year’s Eve with Don seemed to create a monster.

Don has also resolved some familial issues this season.  Despite Betty’s new husband Henry’s (Christopher Francis) obvious disdain for him, Don presented himself at his son Gene’s birthday party, intent on not becoming the forgotten man in Gene’s life.  Don’s new life may not be ideal, but he has progressed as a man, shown feelings, and learned from mistakes.  None of that helped him any when Lee Garner Jr. (Darren Pettie) gave Roger the jarring news that Lucky Strike, the account that “kept the lights on”, had moved on.  If that wasn’t bad enough, the aeronautics company that Campbell landed when Don left Pete stranded poolside in Hollywood to go off with a young hottie, was conducting background checks which left Don’s background exposed.  Don ordered Pete, who knows Don’s secret, to drop the account.  The firm went from profitable to the Titanic in one day, and Campbell, with a baby on the way, was furious at Don.  With nobody in the business willing to give SCDP the time of the day due to the prevailing notion in the industry that they’d be out of business in 6 months, Lane arranged for a credit extension to keep the firm afloat.  But the extension required an outlay of $100,000 from the senior partners and $50,000 each from Lane and Pete.  With the company just about flatlining, Don did something.  He wrote a letter to the New York Times criticizing the tobacco industry and the ad companies that stumped for it.  The letter was met with outrage by the partners, especially from Bert Cooper, who made a most valid point: by not signing all their names to it, the letter submarined and undermined the other partners.  Cooper was so incensed that he took his shoes and quit on the spot.  Only Peggy saw the letter for what it was: a publicity stunt meant to gain SCDP much needed attention. 

Where the episode left off on Sunday night, the letter had yet to produce tangible effects economically.  But anti-tobacco organizations are dialing them up, and as Ken Cosgrove (Aaron Staton) pointed out, those organizations have infuential members who sit on the boards of major companies.  Don is enthused that they will have an opportunity to work, and that their work will surely lead to more work.  With regard to Campbell, Don did the right thing by putting up Campbell’s $50,000–a source of strife between Campbell and pregnant wife Trudy (Alison Brie).

The fact remains going into Sunday’s finale that the firm is in dire need of new accounts.  Layoffs have begun, the industry buzz is that they are dead men walking, and they need more than a letter to The Times to turn the tide.  Don must make it rain.  After all, he is the brightest star in Mad Men’s midst, and what Peggy said about them all being there because of him can be applied to us, the audience, as well.  If Don didn’t feel that burden, he’d never have felt obligated to pay Pete’s share, or to assure Peggy her job.  Are we really going to have to sit through an anti-climactic finale in which the agency goes down in flames?

We think not.  Season 3’s ending was one of the great season finale’s we’ve ever seen, and one of the strongest Mad Men episodes ever.  Last year, Don, with his family life crumbling, rose above his personal circumstance, found a way to circumvent his contract, and formed the new agency in dramatic fashion.  We look for something similarly spectacular from Don this week, and we trust that ace show creator, writer, and executive producer Mathew Weiner will give to us.

We would speculate, gun to our head, that Chelcie Ross will reprise his role as Conrad Hilton–a man who “comes and goes” as he pleases, someone Don has a history with, and who has the clout and financial might to take the agency off life support.

As for last week, Weiner is to be credited for having his son reprise the role of Glen, and for having United States of Tara star Rosemarie Dewitt reprise the role of Don’s former lover Midge.

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Crack (https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com, www.crackbillionair.com)

The return of a few pivotal guest characters and some very funny moments, in some situations that those characters–Lee Garner Jr. (Darren Pettie), and Glen Bishop (Marten Weiner) created.  Garner, may not appear much, but I’m sure many Mad Men fans are displeased with the character who is the reason that closeted homosexual art director Sal Romano (Bryan Batt) was fired.  Remember when Garner made a pass at Sal who nervously rebuffed him?  That’s all it took for Lee to tell Roger to cut Sal loose, which don didn’t hesitate at doing, once Roger told him it was for Lucky Strike, their number one client.

https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com/2010/03/17/sal-romano-we-hardly-knew-ye/

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I certainly hope everyone remembers the divorced neighbor’s (Darby Stanchfield) son, Glen Bishop, who Betty (January Jones) babysat for and who developed a crush on Betty.  One day the mother confronted Betty at the market after finding out that Betty had given Glen a locke of her hair, calling her juvenile and questioning her judgment.  Glen is played by Martin Weiner’s son, who does a creepy good job with the role.  Last night, Sally (Kiernan Shipka) and Bobby (Jared Gilmore) ran into Glen while Christmas tree shopping, and Glen seems to take a liking to Sally, whom he tells, “I saw your new dad.  My mom said that would happen.”

https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com/2010/07/27/mad-men-don-and-betty-up-to-old-and-new-tricks/

Then Glen calls Sally (top pic), tells Carla that his name is Stanley, and then tells Sally that her parents will not get back together because, of Betty he says, “she’s doing it with somebody else.”  Little Sally didn’t even get what that meant, but she did tell Glen she’s miserable, and Glen told her she would be miserable until she moved.  Later, Glen and a friend, who Glen calls a “shithead”, trash Betty’s house, because Glen feels he is helping Sally by getting Betty to think about moving.  Glen continues the onslaught by making crank calls to the old Draper resident in the middle of the night.

Another old character, the affable Freddy Rumsen (Joel Murray), walked in to the new agency clean and sober, with a major account in toe, and was hired back on the spot by Roger.  Freddy had a great line when he said of Roger’s (John Slattery) office, “it looks like an Italian hospital” and a very interesting one when he told Roger he didn’t want Pete Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser) anywhere near his account, and that he was surprised when he heard they brought Campbell along.  Remember that Campbell made fun of Freddy when he was on the way out due to his alcoholism, and when he pissed himself.  Freddy seems very sharp, and out for revenge on Campbell, who he also made a dig at in a meeting in Don’s (Jon Hamm) office with Peggy (Elisabeth Moss, looking large) and Roger.

https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com/2010/07/29/mad-men-jon-hamm-tells-parade-he-doesnt-want-wife-and-kids/

Speaking of alcoholism, let’s do our Don Draper update.  Early in the episode, Don drops his keys at his door, and is observed by his neighbor, as he wobbles to get down to pick the keys up.  Phoebe (Nora Zehetner), lets Don in and puts him to bed while resisting his advances.  Don tells her she’s good at this and she zings him with “my father was a drunk.”  The presence of a female around don usually means one thing: Don’s gonna tag her.  But with “Christmas Comes but Once a Year”, s4, e2, we see Don drinking too much–a fact pointed out even by Sterling Cooper all-star drunk Freddy Rumsen, when he asks Don f it isn’t too early in the morning to be drinking.  Also, the new artist calls Don pathetic, and it wasn’t the first time that he has made a remark about Don, to Peggy or some of the younger SCDP employees.  Last night, when he calls Don pathetic, nobody disputed him–an interesting tell on the state of Don Draper right now.  That’s why I’m not sure if Phoebe is there as Don’s neighbor this year as a romantic possibility, or as someone who is going to be coming to his rescue.

Then you have the Christmas party, where Don spoke with another potential hookup, Cara Buono, who played Phaye Miller, a consultant that the firm has brought in.  You might remember Cara Buono as Kelly Moltisanti, Chris’s wife, from The Sopranos, and also as Artie Lange’s love interest in Beer League.  But the party was made by the spoiled SCDP top client, Lee Garner Jr., who strong armed Roger for an invitation to the party, causing the party to be changed from a small, quiet affair to a fete worthy of the man who “keeps the lights on.”

Lee asked Roger to play Santa Claus, then insisted, waving off Campbell who tries to take the bullet for him, and staring Roger down and saying of the costume, “Seriously.  Put it on.”  Sterling trudged off and then trudged back as Santa, making for one of the funnier Mad men moments we’ve had.  Lee Garner Jr.’s Christmas present was a Polaroid camera, and, ballbuster he is, made everyone get on Roger’s knee for a picture.

When Alison (Alexa Alemanni), Don’s secretary, brings Don his keys after the party, Don makes a crude, drunken pass at her, and she resists at first before kicking her shoes off and laying back.  Joey, played by Matt Baird–the new character with a lot of venom for Don–seems to be dating Alison, a nice potential plot complication for the future.  And while Alison tells Don, or attempts to tell him she has a boyfriend after they have sex, she was clearly preoccupied with Don all episode, from her reading Don the letter to Santa from his kids, and she seeemed on the verge of tears after Don acted coolly towards her the morning after at the office.

And Sterling had us laughing until the end, when he greets Don that morning with, “Did you enjoy the fuhrer’s birthday?” in a German accent–a comment all the more valid when comparing the proclivities of Adolf Hitler and Lee Garner Jr.  But if Don is firmly walking in the land of the dangerous alcoholic this season, where he has tiptoed for years, and he has a tense office romance going with Alison, which could turn very badly, then Don might not be the hero this season that we have come to associate with his dapper character during the life of the show to date, and we probably won’t be laughing too much at all.

Here’s to Don getting it together.  Getting dissed and called a type by Cara Buono can’t be a proud moment, and it was only one of many inglories that Don suffered last night.

–Crack (https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com, www.crackbillionair.com)

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