Mad Men – “Time Zones”

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Don Draper in Season 7 of Mad Men

Diving into a new season of Mad Men is always exciting and a little confusing. I’m filled with questions immediately – “What year is it?” “What’s going on with Roger?” “Are they still together?” “Who’s that?” “Why did she say that?” It can be hard to just sit back and enjoy the show, rather than trying to solve every tiny mystery. But as the season unfolds, what’s important becomes clear.

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Megan and Don

This season (the second last, or “first half of the last season” if you’re a lawyer) picks up only two months after the last one left off – not much of a time jump compared to some past seasons. At first, it felt like so much had happened since we’d last seen the characters. But by the end of the episode, I realized they hadn’t progressed as much as I’d thought.

So where is everyone? Don is trying to get his life back together – he’s sober, for now, and pitching ads via Teddy Rumsen. Ironic, given Teddy’s own issues with alcoholism. Megan is pursuing acting in L.A. They’re still married, but it’s obviously not working. Don’s children aren’t seen in this episode – are they even mentioned?

Pete in LA, Bob is in Detroit, and Ken is crumbling under the pressure back in New York. And we see that Peggy did not step into Don’s shoes in his absence – he was replaced by a man named Lou Avery, who doesn’t seem to have the same aggressive, arrogant brilliance that both Don and Peggy possess. He seems easy to get along with. Even before Peggy broke down, alone in her apartment, we could tell she was having a rough go.

One of my favorite storylines this week was Joan’s. Her interactions with Ken were fun to watch. She’s a partner and he’s not, but he’s head of accounts and she wants to be an accounts person. So she let him boss her around a little, and she knew when she was in over her head. A meeting with the new marketing guy from Butler Footwear, who wanted to take their advertising in-house, rattled her. But with a little coaching, she was easily able to turn the tables – because she’s Joan Freaking Harris.

Stray thoughts:

  • Fun guest appearances! Cougar Town‘s Dan Byrd as the confident, MBA-educated marketing guy and Neve Campbell as Don’s charming company on the red-eye back from California. And I don’t know about you, but I recognized Pete’s pretty realtor as Logan Echolls’ cute, short-lived girlfriend Hannah on Veronica Mars.
  • While Don struggles to stay sober, Roger has totally spiraled into a messy, hedonistic lifestyle that he doesn’t even seem to be enjoying.
  • Ken couldn’t toss Joan her misplaced earring because his eye patch messes with his depth perception. Poor guy just can’t win.
  • What’s up with Roger’s daughter? Scientology?  Born-again Christian? Some other weird late 1960s cult?
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Game of Thrones – “Two Swords” and “The Lion and The Rose”

game-of-thrones-season-4-poster-emilia-clarke-daenerys-405x600I couldn’t watch the Game of Thrones season premiere last week, thanks to a 3:45AM wake up call the next morning. (One of the few downsides to a business trip that took me to The Bahamas. The only other downside? Returning with a cold. But hey, at least I had lots of TV to catch up on while I spent the weekend on the couch.)

I’ll write about the first two episodes – which I thought were both very good – after the break to avoid “spoilers”. So, click through if you’ve seen them!

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Survivor – Law & Disorder

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Merge time! The game heats up.

Can you believe it’s already time for the merge on Survivor? It felt like the first part of the season flew by, switching from three tribes to two, and now down to one.

The episode kicked off with Kass being very upfront about not trusting Sarah. Too honest. And it set the tone for a power struggle that dominated the episode. Click through for more…

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How I Met Your Mother – Well, It’s Over

himym the gangThe series finale of HIMYM was on tonight. After nine seasons, the longest story ever told finally concluded. I haven’t really enjoyed the show for a few years, and stuck in until the bitter end out of… curiosity? Stubbornness? Masochism? My blogs about the show became increasingly frustrated, until I finally gave up writing about it at all.

So, obvious spoiler alert here. If you have not watched the series finale of HIMYM, don’t click through. If you have, well let’s go.

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The Amazing Race – “Down and Dirty”

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Fight Time and Big Easy in Sri Lanka.

This week on The Amazing Race, the teams competed in Sri Lanka. It looked hot and crowded – not ideal conditions for running a race, but certainly fun to watch from the comfort of my couch.

Road Block – Who Wants To Fill ‘Er Up?

For the Road Block, one teammate had to

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Rachel gets confused.

find four small taxis called tuk-tuks marked with a particular color, lead them to the gas station and fill up the tanks. On the hectic Sri Lankan streets, it was probably much harder than it sounded.

Rachel got there early, but thought her green card meant she had to fill up green cars – wrong. She needed to cars marked with a green card in the windshield.

Everyone was there at the same time and it was very competitive, but Big Easy completed the challenge first. Other teams quickly followed, and they headed off to their next stop – an elephant orphanage! I’ve never been more jealous.

Trunk vs. Sheets

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John and Jessica size up their new teammate.

The first Detour, “Trunk”, required teams to move logs with elephants. I was uncomfortable with that one – like, these elephants just work 9-5 jobs moving logs with chains? That’s not cool. I’m mad. In “Sheets”, teams had to make paper using elephant dung. Ew. I would want to hang with the ellies, so I would have picked “Trunk”. Even though I don’t believe in elephant labor.

A few teams tried each Detour, and they both looked difficult. “Trunk” was physically demanding and it looked like the weather was really hot, but “Sheets” was very tedious because none of the wet paper sheets could have bubbles. The teams who chose “Trunk” finished quickest though – the Cowboys, the Afghanimals, John and Jess and David and Connor took off first. Over at “Sheets”, the Globetrotters finished ahead of the other teams.

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Jet and Cord. Don’t ask me who is who.

All the teams had to make one more stop for a clue before getting to the Pit Stop, and traffic was crazy. It came down to a foot race for first place between the Cowboys and the Afghanimals. Leo and Jamal managed to pull off a first place finish, with Jet and Cord placing second.

There was another footrace for third and fourth, with John and Jessica outrunning Dave and Connor.

Flight Time and Big Easy’s cab got lost on the way to the Pit Stop, which meant that Brenchel came fifth. UGH. Boooo. When it came down to the Globetrotters and the useless country blonds, I knew I’d be pissed if the Globetrotters went home. They’re way more fun! Luckily they managed to get there first, despite cab trouble, and got sixth place.

So Jennifer and Caroline were last – Phil said it was a close finish – but it was ANOTHER non-elimination leg. Haven’t we had enough of those? The blonds have gotten a lot of help from other teams over the course of the race, and now they’ve benefitted from good luck as well. But they can’t stick around forever.

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Survivor – Brawn or baby?

On last week’s episode of Survivor, the new Brawn-Beauty combo tribe blindsided Cliff by voting him out of the game – and thus also blindsiding and alienating his allies, Woo and Lindsey. There are two ways to handle that: 1) Hope you don’t go to Tribal Council again soon so you have time to figure out a new plan. 2) Cry and quit.

More after the break…

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“Girls” Season Three

girls-season-3-finaleThe season three finale of Girls aired last night, concluding what I thought was a very good twelve-episode run for the show. While it had its flaws, I think this was the best season Girls has done so far. Lena Dunham is really coming into her own as a storyteller and showrunner, and in particular the Hannah/Adam arc was really well done.

Each season of this show has portrayed a different stage of Hannah and Adam’s relationship. This season we saw them mostly happy, in love and stable. I liked seeing their relationship face new, outside challenges – family (like Adam’s sister or Hannah’s dying grandmother) and professional. Hannah found a job that she was good at, and it paid well. But she hated it, and it was leading her off the path she wanted to be on. It’s a conundrum many twenty-somethings face, and it was happening to Hannah just as Adam was finding himself creatively.

Hannah and Adam’s story overshadowed what was going on with the other girls this season, to varying degrees. Marnie got the most material, most of it cringe-inducing. This season Marnie floundered in all aspects of life – her friendships, her career, her romances. She hooked up with a friend’s ex, Ray, and pursued an attached guy to the extreme. But I think what makes Marnie so difficult to watch is that, like it or not, we can all relate to some aspects of her situation. I’ve never been Marnie, but I’ve pursued the wrong guy for a self-esteem boost, I’ve worked jobs that I was overqualified for, and I’ve generally felt like my life sucks more than everyone else I know.

HBO-Girls-Season-3-Episode-12-2Most of Shoshanna’s antics took place off screen, but we knew she was experiencing a year of liberation following her breakup with Ray. She had some great moments this season – her immature self-involvement really shone through in the road trip episode earlier in the season, but she’s a funny character even when she’s skewing toward the unlikable. In the stellar beach house episode, she was an absolutely truth-bombing dream. And in the finale, she was pure gold – both comedically and dramatically. “At intermission, you are going to buy me some peanut M&Ms and we are going to have a fucking chat.” Her final plea to Ray to take her back was sad and desperate and probably more familiar than any of us would care to admit.

Jessa’s storyline was the most lacking this season, by far. She left rehab, relapsed, and then sobered up in time to almost assist-suicide for a brand new character in the season finale. It was haphazard and underdeveloped, and too disconnected from everyone else in the show.

girls-600-1395671603That said, I still felt that it was a fantastic season overall. I really like where things left off. Marnie and Hannah both chose the wrong time to break news to someone. Marnie stupidly cleared her conscience regarding her hookup with Ray when Shosh was obviously still reeling from finding out that her year of partying had cost her graduation. She was pretty smug all season about what big failures her friends are, and then her life came quickly crashing down around her. Marnie was behaving selfishly even in her apology – it was not the right time to break that news.

Hannah found out that she was admitted into a prestigious graduate program, and chose to tell Adam that she might move to Iowa for two years right before his Broadway debut. It was classic, selfish Hannah behavior, and hard to tell whether it was well-intentioned or not. On the one hand, I can see Hannah genuinely thinking that Adam would be nothing but excited for her. On the other hand, I could see her subconsciously using this information to make Adam chase her after he spent most of the season pulling away.

The season ended with Hannah and Adam on shaky ground, but as an individual she was still thrilled to once again have direction in her career. The show sometimes jumps ahead in time, but two years is a lot – I doubt Hannah will move to Iowa. Still, I’m looking forward to finding out what she will do. I’m going to miss Girls until next year.

One last thought: when it was revealed that Elijah was wearing a SHORTS suit, I lost it. Best. EVER.

What did you guys think of this season? How about the finale?

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