250 reviews of time travel TV, movies, books right here

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Mad Men 4.4: "The following program contains brief nudity"

That was the best line in Mad Men 4.4 - "The following program contains brief nudity" - in a fine episode that had many a good line, and this line wasn't even uttered during the show.  It appeared before the show began, as an advisory to viewers, which is very instructive, if you think about it.

AMC is of course cable, and thus beyond the FCC's unconstitutional power to fine (at least, at present), so the warning about the nudity was not for the FCC's sake.   Indeed, the FCC could and no doubt would have fined a broadcast over the public airways network if it showed any nudity these days, up front warning or not.

So the advisory was for the benefit of the viewers.   But why would anyone watching Mad Men need such a heads-up?  It is, after all, an adult-themed show.  I think the warning was put there because it was far more appropriate to 1964 audiences, which is the time Mad Men is now portraying and inhabiting.  But, of course, in 1964, there was no cable, no way any nudity at all could have found its way on to any television.   So the warning is another example of the subtle blend of the present and the past, which typifies the entire series.  Not just a show about the 1960s, Mad Men is a show about the 1960s subversively portrayed by creators in the 21st century - subversive because our current values are ever on the edge of what we see in the past.  All of which gives Mad Men a special phantom-like power to provoke and engage us.

As to what the nudity was, therein hangs at least one nice tale.   We see classy nude photos someone has taken for Life Magazine, shown to Peggy and us in elevator,  by Joyce, who's attracted to Peggy.   Before the episode is over, Peggy's with Joyce in a village haunt, smoking a joint, but meeting Abe, whom she passionately kisses not Joyce.

Peggy also figures in Pete's story tonight.   Trudy's pregnant, which of course makes Peggy think of the result of the one night she spent with Pete at the end of the very first episode of the series.   Pete has other problems on his mind, including cutting loose his father-in-law's account.  Pete turns this "chicken shit into chicken liver," as he says (quoting the President - Johnson - as Pete says), getting his father-in-law to commit his whole portfolio to Draper et al, not just Clearasil.

And Pete also has a significant lunch with Ken (good to see him again) and "textbook" Harry Crane - "textbook," because, as Pete indicates, Harry always says bad things (we would today say talking trash) about people.  Pete can say this about Harry because he's called off to talk to those "gonifs" at CBS.   Pete doesn't know what gonif is, and I'm not going to tell ya ...

If all this wasn't enough, Don has a powerful episode, too.  The female researcher has a little study group with some of the secretaries, and this sets Allison crying.  She soon tells Don that it's best that she leaves the firm, and asks only that Don write her a letter of recommendation.  Don helpfully offers that she write the letter, which he'll be happy to sign.   Logically, this could result in just the letter of recommendation that Allison wants, but that's not all she wants from Don at this point.   She wants some indication from Don that he valued her - so Don's offer only makes her angrier.

So now Allison's gone from the company, and can join the cadre of women angry at Don, with Betty at the top of the list.    Good to his children, but not to his women - makes for a maddening character and a brilliant show.

See also Mad Men 4.1: Chicken Kiev, Lethal Interview, Ham Fight ... 4.2: "Good Time, Bad Time?" "Yes." ... 4.3: Both Coasts

And from Season 3: Mad 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

20-minute interview with Rich Sommer (Harry Crane) at Light On Light Through

                 Special Discount Coupons for Angie's List, Avis, Budget Car, eHarmony, eMusic, Mozy, Zazzle

The Plot to Save Socrates

"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book

And  check out Natasha Vargas-Cooper's new book ....


Marcheline said...


I just entered a contest to try and win a walk-on part in an episode of the show “Mad Men”. Please come to my blog at http://mrssplapthing.blogspot.com and vote!

I need loads of votes to catch up to people who already posted their picture, so get your friends to come and vote too!


Paul Levinson said...

Best of luck!