Category Archives: Arts & Culture

Mad Men: Week 4 in Review

SONIA BRAND-FISHER: A much anticipated episode of “Mad Men” begins and ends with balconies, one of our characters looking at them from inside a potential apartment, and one out on one looking over New York. The assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. is tackled in this episode with that same disorientation and strength as was the JFK assassination in Season Three. The reactions from Pete, Don, Dawn, Megan, Peggy, Betty, and Henry show a range of emotions teetering on the edge of a very real understanding of the world they live in, but not quite able to process the very real implications of a society that would destroy such an influential and inspirational leader.

NAVA BRAHE: After watching “The Flood,” I am convinced there will never be another television show that will accurately depict human emotional responses better than Mad Men. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination, as experienced by a bunch of self-absorbed white people, could not have been more timely, as Sonia pointed out, so soon after this latest period of national turmoil. Continue reading

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Mad Men: Week 3 in Review

SONIA BRAND-FISHER: As a long-time viewer of “Mad Men,” witnessing this show’s hypocrisy and cheating, (professionally or sexually) should not phase me as much as this episode did. “To Have and to Hold” is a very fitting title for this examination of possession, success, and pursuit. Aside from having the strongest urge to yank off Harry Crane’s pretentious little sideburns, this episode really made me feel extremely angry and tired. To use one of my favorite Joan quotes: Mad Men, “you have gone from lubricated to morose.”

NAVA BRAHE: Thank you, Sonia, for reminding me about Rachel Menken. It is maddening to witness Don’s sexual attraction to women who challenge him, juxtaposed with his hypocritical treatment of the women he has chosen to marry. I’ve always hated the concept of the “trophy” wife for that very reason: the women on the arms of successful men are merely decoration, while they have to find solace in the arms of women who are already spoken for.
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Mad Men: Week 2 in Review

NAVA BRAHE: Oh dear, Don Draper is having an affair with the heart surgeon’s wife. Does the fact that he spent his teenage years in a “house of ill repute” finally excuse his philandering? Are we supposed to feel sorry for him now that this nugget of his past has been revealed?

SONIA BRAND-FISHER: I am going to have to agree with Nava on this one and say that I see Megan taking the initiative to leave Don as their relationship spirals out of control. Though the miscarriage, I concur, was contrived, I think it might be an essential plot point that brings Megan dangerously close to Sylvia, and Sylvia and Don’s affair dangerously close to being revealed. The sadistic side of me very much wants there to be a very grand, very dramatic confrontation involving some sort of discovery on Megan’s part. Or Don’s part. Continue reading

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Modern Family: Season 4, Episode 20 — “Flip Flop”

KIP MOONEY: That wasn’t so hard, was it? Only two stories, given an equal amount of time? No rushing, no one getting short shrift. See, it can be done!

That’s right. This week’s Modern Family did what I thought would…

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Mad Men: Week 1 in Review

SONIA BRAND-FISHER: What an odd taste that first episode left in our mouths. In typical Matthew Weiner fashion, the premiere episode of this penultimate season of “Mad Men” teased us with fragmented tidbits of the lives of our heroes. The confusion that left us in a wide-eyed scowl derived from many sources, some of which were the constant references to mortality, death, suicide (Don still feeling guilty after the death of Lane Pryce?), loss, hunger, and change. A bit forced, yes, but these themes gave us goosebumps as we crept into a new season that has already given us so much to process.

NAVA BRAHE: I must disclaim this, my first “Mad Men” review, by saying that I did a marathon catch-up on the series by watching all five seasons in the span of about three weeks. That’s a lot of Don Draper to contend with in a relatively short period of time, but it was worth it. Sonia once told me that she thought the series was the best on television, and I have to agree. I also have to acknowledge that Matthew Weiner borrowed heavily from David Chase’s Sopranos playbook, and I will explain how.

HOWARD MEGDAL: I am largely in sync with both of you; my primary irritation in the first episode stems from missing a trio of great characters, perhaps my favorites on the show: Joan, along with Mr. and Mrs. Pete Campbell. Continue reading

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Modern Family: Season 4, Episode 19 – “The Future Dunphys”

KIP MOONEY: This week’s Modern Family strikes me as among the best, if not the best, of a strong season. Even with multiple stories, the writers have woven them together beautifully, delivering an episode with laughs upon laughs and just…

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Modern Family: Season 4, Episode 18 – “The Wow Factor”

KIP MOONEY: Much like family, sometimes it’s good to take a break from Modern Family. When you see them again, you’re hopefully happy for the reunion, but a little wary of their habits that drive you nuts. So it was…

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Modern Family: Season 4, Episode 16 — “Best Men”

KIP MOONEY: Modern Family never met a sitcom trope it didn’t like. That’s usually OK because the writers typically find a to tweak them so it doesn’t quite seem like we’ve seen it before. Unfortunately, this week’s episode failed to…

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Downton Abbey: Season Finale in Review

SONIA BRAND-FISHER: You know, for a finale to such an amazing season, this definitely fell short for me. The highlights of the final episode of “Downton Abbey” this season were none of the gigantic and lame plot twists, but were the small moments. Bates and Anna’s picnic. Rose grabbing Anna when it was time to dance the reel. Thomas and James at the beginning of what hopefully will be “a beautiful friendship.” Carson carrying baby Sybil. Cora getting choked up talking about revolutionary, modern daughters. Mrs. Pattmore and Mrs. Hughes sharing a spot of tea and laughing over presumptuous grocers. But throughout the entire episode, it felt like little tiny mounds of conflict were being made over sticks of dynamite that just kept being added to and added to as the episode went on, and one by one they exploded, awkwardly, with some piles still in tact for next season.

NAVA BRAHE: Well, there we have it: Matthew has been conveniently killed off in the spirit of high drama that occurs on the most commonplace of soap operas. I must admit that it was a huge disappointment for me as well, and I agree with Howard that “Downton Abbey” has likely “jumped the shark” with Dan Stevens’ departure.

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Modern Family: Season 4, Episode 15 — “Heart Broken”

KIP MOONEY: In relationships, sometimes you have to try new things. You’ve got to break up the routine, do a little role-playing or be totally spontaneous.

And so it was with this week’s episode of Modern Family. Not just with…

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