Mad Men – “The Strategy”

I must have miscounted, because I was expecting this week’s episode of Mad Men to be the last of 2014. I was wrong – that’s Sunday, May 25.

I wrote last week that I found “The Runaways” to be a strange episode. This week, I thought things were back on track with “The Strategy”. The highlights were the fantastic scenes Don and Peggy had together, and Joan’s storyline with Bob Benson. Click through for more, if you’ve seen the episode.

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‘The Amazing Race’ Season Finale – YAWN!

I just watched the season finale of The Amazing Race and wanted to write a short blog post on it.

I used to find this show exciting and suspenseful, and that has completely petered out in the past few seasons. I’d hoped that this season’s All-Stars theme would help reinvigorate the show, but no such luck. In fact, by the final episode I couldn’t have cared less who won. Brendan and Rachel grate my nerves and make dumb mistakes. Jennifer and Caroline had too much help from other teams leading up to the final leg. I found David and Connor annoyingly self-righteous.

Father and son team David and Connor run to the finish line.

Father and son team David and Connor run to the finish line.

The challenges the teams faced in the last leg were some of the weakest I remember. What, exactly, did they do that was difficult? The David Copperfield challenge was dull – find the right key? That’s something janitors do every day. Replace lightbuulbs? Again, calling the maintenance department! And skydiving? Well, that looked like fun, but there wasn’t exactly a lot of room for error. David and Connor began that challenge a few minutes early, and they won the race by seemingly that exact margin. The whole million bucks came down to the fact that they were faster at screwing in lightbulbs? Lame.

What did you guys think? Am I the only person who found it pretty lackluster?

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New shows! “Marry Me” and “A to Z”

Upfronts is happening right now, which means my Twitter stream is filled with content from every TV writer I follow updating us on what the networks’ fall schedules will look like. Normally I follow this stuff like a hawk, but I’ve been pretty busy lately.

But not so busy that I didn’t have two and a half minutes for a Happy Endings alum. You guys! Casey Wilson (Penny on Happy Endings) and Ken Marino (Vinnie Van Lowe on Veronica Mars) will star in Marry Me. Trailer is below.

This show comes from the creator of my beloved Happy Endings, so I have high hopes. Plus I spotted at least one alum from The Office, Stanley.

I just watched the trailer for another new NBC show, A to Z. Here it is:

It looks a little cheesy, but it’s hard to tell what a comedy will be like from a trailer, or even a pilot. I like the actors – Ben Feldman is great on Mad Men and has done other stuff I like, and Cristin Milioti was the lone bright spot in the final, dreadful season of How I Met Your Mother. But that’s the problem – this trailer is VERY HIMYM-esque, what with the dating and the fate and whatnot. I don’t think I can handle that.

That’s it for me, for now anyway. Have you guys seen any trailers for new shows that you think I should check out?

Side note: I am VERY pleased that Parenthood and Parks and Recreation will be back for final seasons.

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About this week’s ‘Mad Men’…

I didn’t have a chance to write about Game of Thrones and Mad Men on Monday, but I wanted to touch on Mad Men before the last episode of 2014 airs since this week’s was so strange.

Every season, it seems, there’s one episode of Mad Men that really doesn’t work for me. This year it was “The Runaways”. There were parts of the episode that could have really worked, but I felt we hadn’t spent enough time with the characters for it to really pack a punch. The plots all felt very disconnected in this episode, and the overall effect was very scattered storytelling.

In California, Megan dealt with her jealousy and paranoia by a) sending away Don’s “niece” (Anna’s niece) who was pregnant and in need with a hefty cheque, before she had a chance to see Don and, b) convincing a drunk Don to have a threesome with her friend.

Watching Don and Megan at the acting class party did a great job of showing how far apart they’ve drifted – culturally, emotionally, geographically. But I had a hard time understanding exactly why Megan was acting like this. Why was she so threatened by a beautiful, pregnant and (literally) dirty hippie, and not by Don actually sleeping with another woman during the threesome? I understand, of course, the element of control. But I wish Megan were a more fully-formed character so these moments meant more.

I did enjoy Harry showing up at the party with his California girlfriend. There’s so much history between him and Don, their conversations were filled with it.

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In New York, Ginsberg finally went over the edge. His mental illness has been hinted at before, in some ways. (Vulture has an interesting piece up, where a psychiatrist analyzes his behavior.) The new computer caused a nervous breakdown – he was hallucinating, it seemed, and began acting completely irrationally. It ended with him presenting a gift box containing his own nipple, which he had cut off, to Peggy. I audibly reacted. Peggy had to call 911, and poor Stan accompanied Ginsberg in the ambulance. It was a memorable moment, but I wished we’d seen more leading up to this. This shortened season – half of a “full” season that’s been broken up between two years – has, I think, messed with the flow of the show.

In Betty’s world, she embarrassed herself at a party and threatened to break her own daughter’s arm. I was interested in her conflict with Henry over stating incorrect political views (he hadn’t updated her on what to think about the war), and how Bobby’s statement that he has a stomachache all the time indicated that these conflicts aren’t uncommon. The moment between Sally, home from school thanks to a nose injury, and her poor little brother was very sweet. Betty is so cut off from the rest of the show now, that I think her only relevance is how her parenting effects her and Don’s children. If Don had more contact with his kids, this would make everything gel better. I loved that early episode where he and Sally spent time together. But when was the last time he saw Bobby? Or that baby he hates?

The episode ended with Don getting some of his swagger back, it seemed. He broke a bunch of the rules that were laid out for him by interrupting a meeting with a tobacco brand. Again, there are so few episodes this season that the shift from the Don Draper who accepted those rules to the Don Draper who’s breaking them feels too fast. I’m not ready for Don to be back on top just yet.

What do you guys think?

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Survivor – “With a lot of mud”

Muddy. That’s how I’d describe this season of Survivor. Click through for a recap of the penultimate episode.

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Survivor – Khaos

kassChaos! Starts with a C and that rhymes with D and that stands for dimwit! OK, maybe not. This time, we’re spelling it “khaos” and that starts with a K and that stands for Kass. This week’s episode of Survivor was all over the place, thanks to one of the two players who are playing their most manic, unpredictable game possible. Tony has shaken up the game before, but this week it was Kass moving a mile a minute, making and breaking promises like there’s no tomorrow.

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Mad Men – “The Monolith”

Computers and communes: the late 1960s were a crazy time. Mad Men‘s most recent episode got its title from the computer that SC&P got for the office, but it was Roger and Mona’s road trip to rescue their daughter from a commune that I think I’ll be chucking about for a while. (As my sister wrote to me today, “Who wears fur to a commune?”)

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