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Monday, June 3, 2013

Mad Men 6.10: Medium Cool

Haskell Wexler's Medium Cool from 1969 is a gem of a cinema verite movie, with real footage of Mayor Daly's out-of-control cop riot at the 1968 Democratic national convention in Chicago.   I was recently interviewed by Paul Cronin for the extended version of his superb "Look out Haskell, It's Real": The Making of Medium Cool - see the transcript here - and as fate would have it, that same outrageous police trampling on the First Amendment was the opening theme of last night's Mad Men 6.10.   It provides a great tableau for the responses of Don, Megan, and Joan who see real footage of the police attacking the demonstrators on television.   Megan has the best line.  When Don typically comments that it's no big deal, the cops didn't kill anyone in Chicago, Megan sagely says that a cop cracking open your skull can nonetheless change your life.

We also get a good depiction of McLuhan's global village circa 1968 when Don later in Los Angeles watches the same television coverage of the convention as Megan in  New York.   The two talk about what they see on the phone.   Although they were just two, and the telephone connection was national not global, this is the closest we could get to a real global village in 1968, before the Internet literally allowed anyone watching television anywhere to instantly talk to anyone anywhere else in the world on a moment's notice, just as people can do with neighbors in an in-person village.   Mad Men continues to have the resonance with McLuhan it displayed in the first season - explicitly in episode 1.6 -  as befits a show about advertising.

Meanwhile, Don in California - with Roger and Harry - gives us yet another alternative dimension bizarro California Mad Men story.   In Mad Men, California plays the role of an alternate universe, with Don its primary denizen.   Drugs result in Don floating face down in a pool - like the beginning or ending of a California noir movie - but he's not dead, and Roger fishes him out.   While he's unconscious in the pool, we get another one of Don's fractured dreams - or nightmares.

Don also coughs on the plane back from California, and this is a worrisome reminder that lung cancer may be in Don's future, not in a dream but in reality.  I hope this doesn't happen - a more surprising resolution would be to have Don coughing for other reasons.

Back in New York, it's a pleasure to see Joan exert her will and get face-to-face to reel in a client, Avon, by cutting Pete out of a decisive meeting.  This violates company protocol, but as I realized as it was happening, the company cares more about money and clients than it does about protocol.  So, if Avon signs up with our gang, Joan will be fine.  If not - well, I still can't see Roger and Don allowing any punitive action to be taken against her.

The power battles between the two former companies now united continue to simmer, but the big step forward is nice to see: the company will now be known as Sterling, Cooper, and Partners.   This actually helps Pete and Joan, where were partners but not in the company name, and - somewhat surprisingly but maybe not - Don has no problem with the loss of his name in the title.   Actually, definitely not surprisingly, because, apropos California, Draper isn't even Don's name.  "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet."  But no one in Mad Men comes out smelling like a rose, certainly not Don, and that's part of the dark, quirky charm of this series.

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 ... Mad Men 6.5: MLK ... Mad Men 6.6: Good News Comes in a Chevy ...  Mad Men 6.7: Merger and Margarine ... Mad Men 6.8: Dr. Feelgood and Grandma Ida ... Mad Men 6.9: Don and Betty

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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