Category Archives: Arts & Culture

Mad Men: Season 6 Finale

SONIA BRAND-FISHER: Season Six of “Mad Men” has gained the notorious reputation for starting and stopping story lines without developing them in ways that reveal and decode its enigmatic characters. The finale, therefore, had to somehow tie up all of the loose ends of the season so we could be satisfied going into what will be the final season of “Mad Men.” The audience wants a climax, some resolution, or potentially a revelation. Instead, we had a fast-paced, at times absurdist finale that awkwardly stitched up some of the dangling plot points, while simultaneously seeing Don Draper fall apart at the seams. I had to let go of wanting that elusive climax and resolution, because in fact that’s not always how life works. And when that happened, I saw the best season finale of “Mad Men” to date.

NAVA BRAHE: Although I agree with everything Sonia said, I still need to indulge my inner cynic and say that everything Don did in the conference room during the last two episodes was a direct result of his not being able to let go of his irretrievably screwed up youth. Tugging at the heartstrings of the St. Joseph’s Aspirin and Hershey’s people was the most spectacular manipulation, and really dirty pool.

HOWARD MEGDAL: Seeing Don Draper stop lying was a fascinating way to end Season Six. And I would be remiss not to point out the shot of Peggy, her back to the camera, finally in charge at SC&P in a visual tableau obviously meant as an homage to the Mad Men logo itself. Continue reading

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James Gandolfini Remembered

NAVA BRAHE: When The Sopranos premiered on HBO in January 1999, it was a very interesting time in my life.

HOWARD MEGDAL: Well said, Nava, and I don’t disagree with any of it. I just wanted to add my thoughts on just how much range I believe Gandolfini had as an actor, above and beyond the extraordinary set of emotions he deployed as Tony Soprano. Continue reading

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Mad Men: Week 10 in Review

SONIA BRAND-FISHER: Ok… so that last episode of “Mad Men” was kind of a lot. With the many moving parts of discovering (kinda?) the mystery behind Bob Benson (who I’m still in love with), to Sally’s terrible track record with walking in on people during sex, to the whole enormous mess of Vietnam, this episode stands apart from the blur of this season as potentially cataclysmic.

NAVA BRAHE: Is it possible that Don fought so hard to keep Mitchell Rosen from being drafted because he feels incredibly guilty about screwing around with his mother? There is something about Don’s relationship with Arnold that is endearing, because Arnold is the only person Don seems capable of offering any empathy to. Continue reading

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Mad Men: Week 9 in Review

SONIA BRAND-FISHER: At the end of this week’s episode of “Mad Men,” Janis Joplin roars to “Take it, take another piece of my heart now, baby. You know you’ve got it if it makes you feel good.” A perfect choice of song to end this episode concerning desire and not really knowing if you’ve got “it,” “A Tale of Two Cities” shows us, baby, “that a woman can be tough.”

NAVA BRAHE: Like Sonia, I too, am rooting for Joan, because she embodies the ongoing struggle of women in the workforce, and the reams of unpleasant innuendos many must put up with in order to co-exist with men. Yes, Joan has made her mistakes, the biggest of which she is constantly reminded of by Pete. Yet, she soldiers on knowing that it could have been much worse had she continued to languish in a bad marriage.
HOWARD MEGDAL: Leaving aside whether the Sunset Boulevard Don Draper tableau was foreshadowing or present state of mind, there are no shortage of dynamics at play here this week. Continue reading

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Mad Men: Week 8 in Review

NAVA BRAHE: Poor Peggy. If I had a nickel for every time I stabbed my boyfriend with a homemade bayonet because I didn’t feel safe in my own house… What a way to end a relationship; I have to say, though, Abe was a real mensch about their break-up despite having a knife sticking out of his stomach. As my mother would have said, he’s a real “catch.”

HOWARD MEGDAL: Regarding Bob Benson first, I’ve increasingly come to the conclusion that he is the result of comedy introduced by putting a legitimately selfless person into the world of Mad Men. Continue reading

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Mad Men: Week 7 in Review

NAVA BRAHE: Alrighty; “The Crash” has to be the single weirdest episode of “Mad Men” I can recall. The entire force behind the show decided to take every shocking element they could think of, and bombard the audience with them in one fell swoop. Sex, drugs, flashbacks, bad parenting, self-involvement, guilt, death; We saw it all, and then some.
SONIA BRAND-FISHER: At this time I want to say a big ol’ “What she said” following Nava’s comments. I completely agree with the absolute chaos of this episode being a total overload of allegory, symbolism, and over-saturated themes. It was just too much. Too weird. With four episodes to go, I see nothing less than a total explosion erupting from this compacted, angry volcano that is SCDP/CGC. Continue reading

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Modern Family: Season 4, Episode 24 – “Goodnight Gracie”

KIP MOONEY: It’s been a little more than two months since my grandfather passed away. I miss him every day, some days more than others. What usually makes me sad are the fragments of things he said that come to…

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Mad Men: Week 6 in Review

SONIA BRAND-FISHER: Don Draper seems to be on the brink of losing it entirely. The scummy way he basically peer-pressured Ted into drinking at the level and speed of his immensely high-functioning alcoholism was sickening and slimy. The absolutely bizarre verbal manifestation of Don’s subconscious view of the purpose of “his” women would make Sacher-Masoch blush. His absolute self-absorption and disorientation during his sex games with Sylvia and after she tells him its over put Don in an immensely compromising position. His return home to Megan and her announcing that they should take another trip brings us back to the suicidal undertones of Don’s tagline for Sheraton in episode one of this season, after he returns from Hawaii. What does this all mean?

NAVA BRAHE: I am so glad Sonia chose to reference Venus in Furs when comparing Don’s halfhearted attempt at dominating Sylvia, instead of the vastly more pedestrian Fifty Shades of Grey. That being said, I, too, was completely horrified by how he treated Sylvia during their tryst gone awry at the Sherry Netherland hotel. That entire storyline illustrated just how twisted Don Draper is.

HOWARD MEGDAL: Generally, I like to cover different aspects of the show than the two of you. But this week, I’d like to expand on a pair of observations you made. Continue reading

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Mad Men: Week 5 in Review

SONIA BRAND-FISHER: In what certainly reads as the strongest episode of the season so far, “For Immediate Release” leaves us in this strange limbo of excitement, catharsis, and confusion. Did Don seriously just merge SCDP and CGC without telling anyone, except for a bewildered Peggy? What is this going to do for Peggy, who felt very triumphant and happy moving on from being under Don’s supervision? And can we talk about that kiss between Peggy and Ted (that we could totally see coming)? And Pete falling down the stairs, then seeing his father-in-law at the whore house? Where to begin?

NAVA BRAHE: I have to agree with Sonia about this being the strongest episode of the season. The rapid-fire upheaval that included Don jettisoning Jaguar and it’s slimy representative, and the spur-of-the-moment merger, made it the most compelling to date. Continue reading

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Modern Family: Season 4, Episode 22 – “My Hero”

KIP MOONEY: By confining the families to one location, Modern Family exponentially increases its success of having multiple stories gel. My most frequent complaint is that Modern Family always feels like every character has to be involved in some way,…

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