Sunday, April 28, 2013

Mad Men 6.5: MLK

One of the best things about Mad Men is how it shows our characters reacting to publicly catastrophic events, such as the assassination of JFK.   Tonight  in Mad Men 6.5 we get the same for the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968.

We get some surprises.  Pete turns out to be more ethical than Harry, shouting at Harry when he complains about the continuing preemption of regular television programming in the aftermath of the assassination, and the impact that's having on advertising.  Of course, part of Pete's moral outrage might be fueled by the pain and guilt he feels from fracturing his own family, but even so it was powerful and satisfying to see.

Dawn, chastised by Joan a few weeks ago for the stupid petty business of checking out Harry's secretary's time card - that is, it was stupid and petty for Joan to chastise Dawn for this - rebuffs Joan's offer of sympathy tonight about MLK.  I like Joan, but she got just what she deserved.

Most significant, as always, is the response of Don and his family.

First, we get an outstanding scene of Don and son Bobby in the movie theater seeing Planet of the Apes.   This is Don's way of honoring Betty's punishment of no television for Bobby because he was peeling a bit of the wallpaper off in his room.  Good for Don - Betty continues to be the worst mother in the world.   And it's good to see Don looking at theater as a good place to take his son on a day like this, even if, maybe especially if, the movie is the indictment of humanity in Planet of the Apes.

Later, at home with Megan, Don confesses that he didn't love his children at first, a reflection of the lack of love he felt from and for his own poor excuse of a father.  But he clearly loves them now, as the scene in the movie theater with Bobby shows.   Megan is moved by this, and is about as loving to Don as we've seen in a while.

But my favorite scene and line comes in the scene after, as Don goes into Bobby's room to see why he's still awake.   Bobby is worried that Henry, who has had a career in politics, could be shot.   That's exactly what a boy his age might think.  But Don reassures him, explaining that Henry is not important enough for anyone to take a shot at.

It's at once a funny and sobering truth.  Years ago, I recall a piece in the Village Voice or another New York newspaper or magazine by Ron Rosenbaum, lamenting the fact that he had been assigned New York Mayor Abe Beame as a beat.  (Beame succeeded John Lindsay - Henry's current boss - as mayor.)  Beame was the most boring candidate and mayor ever in office, Rosenbaum wrote.  He doesn't make news.  Nothing he says is exciting or even interesting.  You can't even rely on anyone wanting to take a shot at him.

Like what Don said about Henry - a truth, at once sobering and horrifying, because of what it says about our living in such a world, but also very funny.  In its own way, a microcosm of Mad Men.

See also Mad Men 6.1-2: The Lighter and the Twist ... Mad Men 6.3: Good Company ... Mad Men 6.4: McLuhan, Heinz, and Don's Imagination

See also Why "You Only Live Twice" for Mad Men Season 5 Finale ... Mad Men Season Five Finale

See also Mad Men Season 5 Debut: It's Don's Party  ... Mad Men 5.3: Heinz Is On My Side ... Mad Men 5.4: Volunteer, Dream, Trust ... Mad Men 5.5: Ben Hargrove ... Mad Men 5.6: LSD Orange ... Mad Men 5.7: People of High Degree ... Mad Men 5.8: Mad Man and Gilmore Girl ...Mad Men 5.9: Don's Creativity  ... Mad Men 5.10: "The Negron Complex" ... Mad Men 5.11: Prostitution and Power ... Mad Men 5.12: Exit Lane

And from Season 4: Mad Men 4.1: Chicken Kiev, Lethal Interview, Ham Fight ... 4.2: "Good Time, Bad Time?" "Yes." ... 4.3: Both Coasts ... 4.4: "The following program contains brief nudity ..." 4.5: Fake Out and Neurosis ... 4.6: Emmys, Clio, Blackout, Flashback  ... 4.7: 'No Credits on Commercials' ... 4.8: A Tale of Two Women ... 4.9: "Business of Sadists and Masochists" ...4.10: Grim Tidings ... 4.11: "Look at that Punim" ... 4.12: No Smoking!  ... Mad Men Season 4 Finale: Don and -

And from Season 3Mad Men Back for 3 and 3.2: Carvel, Penn Station, and Diet Soda and 3.3: Gibbon, Blackface, and Eliot and 3.4: Caned Seats and a Multiple Choice about Sal's Patio Furniture and 3.5: Admiral TV, MLK, and a Baby Boy and 3.6: A Saving John Deere and 3.7: Brutal Edges ... August Flights in 3.8 ... Unlucky Strikes and To the Moon Don in 3.9 ... 3.10: The Faintest Ink, The Strongest Television ... Don's Day of Reckoning in Mad Men 3.11 ... Mad Men 3.12: The End of the World in Mad Men ... Mad Men Season 3 Finale: The End of the World

And from Season Two: Mad Men Returns with a Xerox and a Call Girl ... 2.2: The Advertising Devil and the Deep Blue Sea ... 2.3 Double-Barreled Power ... 2.4: Betty and Don's Son ... 2.5: Best Montage Since Hitchcock ... 2.6: Jackie, Marilyn, and Liberty Valance ... 2.7: Double Dons... 2.8: Did Don Get What He Deserved? ... 2.9: Don and Roger ... 2.10: Between Ray Bradbury and Telstar ... 2.11: Welcome to the Hotel California ... 2.12 The Day the Earth Stood Still on Mad Men ... 2.13 Saving the Best for Last on Mad Men

And from Season One: Mad Men Debuts on AMC: Cigarette Companies and Nixon ... Mad Men 2: Smoke and Television ... Mad Men 3: Hot 1960 Kiss ... Mad Men 4 and 5: Double Mad Men ...Mad Men 6: The Medium is the Message! ... Mad Men 7: Revenge of the Mollusk ... Mad Men 8: Weed, Twist, Hobo ... Mad Man 9: Betty Grace Kelly ... Mad men 10: Life, Death, and Politics ...Mad Men 11: Heat! ... Mad Men 12: Admirable Don ... Mad 13: Double-Endings, Lascaux, and Holes


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