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Mad Men "Wee Small Hours" OAD 10/11/09


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#1 OFFLINE   Stuart Sweet

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Posted 12 October 2009 - 07:54 AM

I don't know how soon before air these programs are shot. I don't know how much current events news is known ahead of time. So, the significance of last night's episode was either a lucky coincidence, or a brilliant social comment. Let me tell you what I mean:

August 28, 1963: The March on Washington is, at the time, the largest civil rights demonstration ever. Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech is its biggest pull quote, but its greatest legacy is the Civil Rights Act of 1994.

In the fictional September of 1963, that speech is all you hear on the radio. Everyone's talking about it. Miss Farrell feels it's a universal truth; something children know and adults forget. Betty thinks the time hasn't come for civil rights, because she's got a bad taste in her mouth from her recent political gamble.

Meanwhile, Kurt Smith, Sterling Cooper's publicly "out" homosexual, sits between a woman and a straight man and is berated by his peers and his boss. Sal, the company's closeted gay man, is literally propositioned while in a closet. His handling of the situation gets him unfairly fired. He's ashamed to tell his wife, and ends the episode in a rather dodgy-looking public park looking disheveled.

October 11, 2009: Mad Men airs "Wee Small Hours", with the above events taking place.

October 11, 2009: The National Equality March descends on Washington, DC, an echo of the 1963 March, and demands civil rights for homosexuals.

It's possible I'm giving too much credit to the writers and it's all coincidence.

------

Before I realized all of the above, I was prepared to write that "Encapsulated in the beginning of every thing is its eventual ending." I saw commonalities in Betty's failure at having an affair, Don's descent into yet another affair, Sal's eventual firing due to his indiscretion years earlier and I was even prepared to tie in Pete's (probable) first cigarette as a sign that he was willing to sacrifice himself to the customer. I felt that the seeds sown that day would become obvious in later episodes. I thought it inevitable that Conrad Hilton's high expectations would catch Don off guard sooner or later and that Roger and Don would have to spar one more time.

We all hoped both Don and Betty wouldn't go down "that road" but they both did. Betty came to her senses in a brilliantly shot scene. Just as I thought to myself, "Betty wouldn't do that, she'd consider it cheap" the character herself voiced the same thought. Sadly though, Don's affairs have now come home and it seems even an educated, independent woman isn't immune to his charms.

So what do you all think? Was last night's episode perfectly timed or was it one big coincidence? Is anything in Mad Men a coincidence?

Edited by Stuart Sweet, 12 October 2009 - 08:34 AM.

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#2 OFFLINE   Ken S

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Posted 12 October 2009 - 10:53 AM

I don't know how soon before air these programs are shot. I don't know how much current events news is known ahead of time. So, the significance of last night's episode was either a lucky coincidence, or a brilliant social comment. Let me tell you what I mean:

August 28, 1963: The March on Washington is, at the time, the largest civil rights demonstration ever. Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech is its biggest pull quote, but its greatest legacy is the Civil Rights Act of 1994.

In the fictional September of 1963, that speech is all you hear on the radio. Everyone's talking about it. Miss Farrell feels it's a universal truth; something children know and adults forget. Betty thinks the time hasn't come for civil rights, because she's got a bad taste in her mouth from her recent political gamble.

Meanwhile, Kurt Smith, Sterling Cooper's publicly "out" homosexual, sits between a woman and a straight man and is berated by his peers and his boss. Sal, the company's closeted gay man, is literally propositioned while in a closet. His handling of the situation gets him unfairly fired. He's ashamed to tell his wife, and ends the episode in a rather dodgy-looking public park looking disheveled.

October 11, 2009: Mad Men airs "Wee Small Hours", with the above events taking place.

October 11, 2009: The National Equality March descends on Washington, DC, an echo of the 1963 March, and demands civil rights for homosexuals.

It's possible I'm giving too much credit to the writers and it's all coincidence.

------

Before I realized all of the above, I was prepared to write that "Encapsulated in the beginning of every thing is its eventual ending." I saw commonalities in Betty's failure at having an affair, Don's descent into yet another affair, Sal's eventual firing due to his indiscretion years earlier and I was even prepared to tie in Pete's (probable) first cigarette as a sign that he was willing to sacrifice himself to the customer. I felt that the seeds sown that day would become obvious in later episodes. I thought it inevitable that Conrad Hilton's high expectations would catch Don off guard sooner or later and that Roger and Don would have to spar one more time.

We all hoped both Don and Betty wouldn't go down "that road" but they both did. Betty came to her senses in a brilliantly shot scene. Just as I thought to myself, "Betty wouldn't do that, she'd consider it cheap" the character herself voiced the same thought. Sadly though, Don's affairs have now come home and it seems even an educated, independent woman isn't immune to his charms.

So what do you all think? Was last night's episode perfectly timed or was it one big coincidence? Is anything in Mad Men a coincidence?


Stuart,

A friend of mine works in NY near one of the Mad Men locations she told me they were shooting the show over the summer.

One thing...having lived in the D.C. area...there's almost always a protest/march going on at the Capitol. Certainly some are much bigger than others, but I can't think of a single weekend when there wasn't at least one group there.

#3 OFFLINE   Stuart Sweet

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Posted 12 October 2009 - 10:57 AM

It probably is simply coincidence that this week's episode dovetails in with yesterday's events. On the other hand, I've read that Desperate Housewives sometimes edits the show all the way up to hours before broadcast, with reshoots in the last week if necessary. It's possible that the arc with Sal was originally going to go a different way, and that the scene with Kurt Smith may have had different actors.
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#4 OFFLINE   Ken S

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Posted 12 October 2009 - 06:16 PM

It probably is simply coincidence that this week's episode dovetails in with yesterday's events. On the other hand, I've read that Desperate Housewives sometimes edits the show all the way up to hours before broadcast, with reshoots in the last week if necessary. It's possible that the arc with Sal was originally going to go a different way, and that the scene with Kurt Smith may have had different actors.


I wouldn't doubt that. It's a well written show and from what my friend says they work very quickly...no reason they couldn't change something on the fly.

#5 OFFLINE   phrelin

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Posted 13 October 2009 - 01:12 AM

It probably is simply coincidence that this week's episode dovetails in with yesterday's events.

I was wondering about the odd starting date for the season....

It's interesting to see them focus us on the parallels between the civil rights movement of the 1950's and 1960's and the gay rights movement of today. Even Betty's comment basically saying white's maybe just aren't ready creates the obvious - just substitute one word, straights maybe juest aren't ready.

People forget just how deeply held the beliefs that segregation was right, and righteous.

Anyway, this episode to me continues what appears to be a pattern this season of Don barely treading water and looking truly anxious (cudos to Jon Hamm). Connie doesn't want much, he just asks for the Moon.

Now we have Sal and Joan gone? Poor Sal. Wasn't the best time to appeal to Don who feels like he has allowed Connie into his marriage bed, for the good of Sterling Cooper, of course. Everyone needs to whore himself/herself out for the company.

And we all wait for November.

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#6 OFFLINE   Ken S

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Posted 13 October 2009 - 10:55 AM

Saw this episode and thought it was one of the weaker shows of the series. The show seems to be focusing a bit too much on Don's relationship with the eccentric Conrad Hilton and the two main characters "affairs" with others.

The relationship between their view on civil rights and gay rights was well done.

#7 OFFLINE   Stuart Sweet

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Posted 13 October 2009 - 10:59 AM

You have to wonder how much of the Conrad Hilton subplot is pure product placement. Still, I find it interesting to contrast Mr. Hilton's plain-dealing and drive with the way his granddaughter is portrayed in the media.
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#8 OFFLINE   Ken S

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Posted 13 October 2009 - 04:13 PM

You have to wonder how much of the Conrad Hilton subplot is pure product placement. Still, I find it interesting to contrast Mr. Hilton's plain-dealing and drive with the way his granddaughter is portrayed in the media.


Don't get me wrong, I like the Conrad Hilton storyline...I just think we're getting too much of him and his eccentricities. I thought the ad campaign the presented was great product placement that didn't interrupt the flow of the show.

I wonder how far into the 60s they intend to go with the show. After Kennedy's death there are events like The Beatles, Viet Nam's growth, and all that was 1968. Perhaps the office staff will be sneaking off to drop acid rather than hits of marijuana? :)




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