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Mad Men: "Christmas Waltz" OAD 5/20/12 **SPOILERS**


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#1 OFFLINE   phrelin

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Posted 21 May 2012 - 01:19 PM

I'm not sure which would be more bizarre, Paul Kinsey's terrible 1966 "Star Trek" script about a fictional world where the black and white races are reversed...

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...as 1966 was the first season of "Star Trek"...

OR


...the "Mad Men" script about a real world in which we could have seen this...

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...scene involving the Hare Krishna movement or the International Society for Krishna Consciousness founded in 1966 in New York City by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.

Last week I noted:

...To a certain degree this seemed to be the formation time for groups experimentally merging a wide range of philosophies, religious disciplines and psychological techniques. Don't ever underestimate the impact of this time on American philosophy, still evident in the current political and social divide. Read the entire Wikipedia article on the Esalen Institute.....

Along with his episode that included LSD experimentation, Weiner seems to really be emphasizing the alternative consciousness and anti-consumerist movements of the '60's which in pop TV culture may have been seen in the scripts of the original "Star Trek" which allowed for the later versions, all of which did address social, religious, and psychological issues.

Harry, of course, learns from the one attractive element (Lakshmi, who pushes him into experiencing the effects of the chanting) that such movements, while perhaps sincere are ripe for opportunists.

Obviously Don, the ultimate opportunist who has created his identity in advertising consumer products, is not comfortable with with these new developments as Weiner shows us...

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I could see Megan having a part in a "Star Trek" episode and I doubt Don will ever watch an episode of the original "Star Trek". But in the scene depicted above, they are attending a showing of American Hurrah. From Wikipedia:

America Hurrah is a satirical play by Jean-Claude van Itallie, which premiered at the Pocket Theatre in New York City on November 6, 1966. The play was an early expression of the burgeoning 1960s counterculture, expressing discontent with American consumerism....

As if to emphasize the point of their subsequent disagreement over her rejection of advertising as a fraudulent representation of the road to happiness, Weiner offers us this...

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...ironic image of a signature which we know is not the name of the man whose signature is being forged - a forgery of a fraud - being perpetrated by a man...

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...who in his own way has created a fictional image while attempting to escape into the American Dream, though apparently followed by his past in the form of British tax collectors.

Perhaps Don and Joan both now realize just how much they love the American acceptance of images over reality...

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...as they discuss their lives, attitudes and futures while fully embracing this...

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...symbol of conspicuous consumption.

And so, at the end of the episode, what appears to be "The Old Don" steps up to give a rousing speech to the team to work hard to sell Jaguar on their ability to market Jaguars.

"May your New Years dreams come true" is the line we hear sung from "The Christmas Waltz."

But how much have things changed?

Lane has misled everyone at the office telling them they have a $50,000 surplus which is money he misled their banker into loaning them immediately. Subsequently Pete tells them Mohawk Airlines is suspending advertising because of a strike. Jaguar may be an auto company which Don sees as the key to financial success, but it isn't General Motors.

Joan gets served with divorce papers. Don gets an angry Joan out of the office, using her to complete the couple on the Jaguar errand. The whole story arc is full of flirty innuendo, but we know they know each other. They end up in a bar where we have one of the better dialog scenes in "Mad Men." Joan muses "My mother raised me to be admired," then asks Don why he never pursued her. Don's response was a classic "You scared me. My first week here, I thought you were dating Ali Khan."

By the way, was the guy watching her at the bar a PI Greg hired? This is 1966 New York where winners and losers, or losers and losers, result from divorce.

Harry struggles to help Paul, but with the two choices being Paul remains with "the worst girlfriend in the world" or Paul pursues his writing delusion. Harry ends up encouraging Paul, even giving him $500, to go to LA and pursue his screenplay writing. Ironically, Paul was of real help to the Krishna movement - a real closer, we're told. And then we have Paul telling Harry: "You know, all these people said they'd do something for me. And you're the first one who did."

Then we had Roger, drunk celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. After Joan catches him making a move on one more secretary, they discuss the baby. "We made a baby!" he tells her emphatically. "Yes, and now it's some other lucky girl's turn," Joan replies.

Finally, the old Don was back with the sending of the flowers to brighten Joan's day with the card "Your mother did a good job. Ali Khan." Of course, the old Don never did that well for his wife.

Edited by phrelin, 21 May 2012 - 01:32 PM.

"In a hundred years there'll be a whole new set of people."
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#2 OFFLINE   Stuart Sweet

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Posted 21 May 2012 - 02:24 PM

December 7, 1941 was the day a sleeping country awoke to a threat from afar. Is December 7, 1966 meant to be the day we awoke to the threat from within?


I must say, I enjoyed this episode. I felt it was just well-written drama, and while the setting was clearly 1966, the problems were contemporary. A man owes money he doesn't have, a woman doesn't feel loved, a man feels lost. Mad Men spends so much time showing us the "alien" world of the 1960s it's nice to see that there were still universal problems.

I will give Mr. Weiner and his staff credit for knowing their characters. I felt that each person was acting exactly as I thought they would have, even Lane, who has proven over and over that he's not the Milquetoast that others expect him to be.

That said, I'll take off points for two overly heavy bits of work: yes, I get it -- no one can predict what will happen in 1967. Except us in 2012, of course. A bit too much time was spent on that little non-revelation. And as far as Lane's pretending to be Don, while Don is actually Dick pretending to be Don... a bit too obvious and slowly presented.

I continue, however, to be fascinated with the dynamic between Don and Megan. Don's already carping about Megan's perceived attack against the advertising industry (which, of course, he takes personally) and we're seeing him reach out to "work wives" first in the form of Peggy and now Joan, who understand him in a way he hoped Megan would. Megan, for her part, understands Don pretty well though... she clearly presumed he was cheating when he came home late. He was, just not physically. Confiding intimately in someone else can be just as much of a betrayal.

I did think the subplot with Paul and the Krishnas was a bit hokey, but perhaps because the Krishnas themselves have become such a caricature in the years since 1966. It was great to see Paul Kinsey again, to see what happened to him. He had been such a righteous, progressive soul and seems to be one still; I hope he did leave that very day and go to California.

Oh, by the way, does anyone else think that the Star Trek script might have actually been written by a young Matthew Weiner?

Well done, and let's see what the last few episodes of the season bring. And... let's hope it's not another 18 months before the next season starts.
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#3 OFFLINE   phrelin

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Posted 21 May 2012 - 03:41 PM

Oh, by the way, does anyone else think that the Star Trek script might have actually been written by a young Matthew Weiner?

Maybe, but most likely not in 1966 as he was born June 29, 1965. He probably was a precocious kid, but....:D

"In a hundred years there'll be a whole new set of people."
"Always poke the bears. They sleep too much for their own good."

"If you're good enough, they'll talk about you." - Tom Harmon
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#4 OFFLINE   Stuart Sweet

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Posted 21 May 2012 - 04:11 PM

Absolutely so. I didn't mean to imply he wrote it in '66, perhaps in '76 though ... Star Trek fan fever didn't stop after the show left the air.
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#5 OFFLINE   Maruuk

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 02:16 AM

Nice to see Don embrace his work at the end with passion, and prove inspirational to the whole staff. Don and Megan are soooo doomed.

Where will Don turn next? Where is Joan headed? Who's going to get killed off first? Roger? Pete? Megan?

Note Joan's immediate response line to how many children do you have? "Four between us!" Like she's already been thinking about it. Hmmm.

#6 OFFLINE   Maruuk

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 12:55 PM

Interesting to jump from Don's sincerity and joy in telling Anna about Betty--a real soul-merge love (or so he thought)--to his early times with Megan (about the same, he was saved)--to his talk with Joan where his response to "You've found the perfect woman" was a hesitant and insincere..."I have." Unfortunately, she's perfect for someone else and he knows it.

The moment Don starts confiding in others and not his wife, it's over. He has an intense desire to be "saved" by women. He believes in romance, as ironic as that sounds about Don Draper. But he can't make it work any more than he can get inside his own life in general, he always feels the outsider, looking at himself, the shiny, dreamy, new 1966 self-made product from outside the showroom window.

"This car does nothing for me."

But what an interesting dialog dance between Joan and Don. Both admitting that they got something valuable out of their affairs, something they were seeking to fill a void. That void and the aching need to fill it is something they have very much in common, and they know it. That's their real bond, both lost souls. Don had a temporary reprieve with Megan, but you can see he's getting back on the lost soul bus. And that means more adventures in the skin trade for us!

BTW, I believe Don was quoting Bobbi about his needs or something, anybody remember the quote? "It ended disastrously!" But at least he can laugh about it.

Edited by Maruuk, 22 May 2012 - 01:06 PM.


#7 OFFLINE   phrelin

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 05:11 PM

I feel like I left a meaningful historical reference out. It was a point of import when Weiner has Don telling Joan: "You scared me. My first week here, I thought you were dating Ali Khan."

Posted Image


The cover story of March 28, 1958, Sports Illustrated was "Aly Khan, Sporting Prince: His Fast Horses, Dazzling Women, New Career".

Kahn's playboy life was legendary. But Prince Ali Salman Aga Khan (June 13, 1911 - May 12, 1960), son of Aga Khan III, the head of the Ismaili Muslims, in 1958 was named Pakistan's representative to the United Nations. From Wikipedia:

On 19 August 1958, Aly Khan gave his first speech before the United Nations. The Washington Post noted, "Prince Ali Khan, more commonly known as Aly, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, Representative to the United Nations from Pakistan, stood up in the General Assembly and made his first speech. It was a momentous occasion, since the ambassador's previous public utterances had been largely limited to shouts of, "Wine for everyone!" and "Where are the girls?"

In a tragedy that may remind younger generations of someone else, on May 12th, 1960, Aly Khan sustained massive head injuries in an automobile accident in Suresnes, France, a suburb of Paris, when the car he was driving collided with another vehicle at the intersection of boulevard Henri Senier and rue du Mont Valerien, while he and his pregnant fiancée, Bettina, were heading to a party.

Even Wikipedia calls him an icon of popular culture. But he was married and engaged a number of times, unable to maintain a relationship, and was scandalously associated with a myriad of prominent women.

"In a hundred years there'll be a whole new set of people."
"Always poke the bears. They sleep too much for their own good."

"If you're good enough, they'll talk about you." - Tom Harmon
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My AV Setup
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My Blog: The Redwood Guardian


#8 OFFLINE   Maruuk

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Posted 23 May 2012 - 01:29 AM

Ah, so once again Weiner is drawing chilling analogies in the guise of cute banter.

#9 OFFLINE   Laxguy

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Posted 25 May 2012 - 10:26 AM

Just got to the recent ep. last night and have a question: Was there any interplay or even a mention by anyone that Roger knew the baby was his prior to this ep? I was taken aback by that scene!

From Wiki:

Due to his well-publicized romances, Prince Aly Khan was mentioned in a verse of Noël Coward's new 1950s lyrics for Cole Porter's 1928 song "Let's Do It, Let's Fall in Love": "Monkeys whenever you look do it / Aly Khan and King Farouk do it/Let's do it, let's fall in love."


I wonder how MW missed getting that one in? Or are there copyright problems ($$) with that song?

Another interesting take is that Joan bears some obvious resemblances (at least two) to one of Khan's wives, Rita Hayworth.

There was also a Khan dynasty going on in squash; no less than ten Khans were notable squash players, many were world champions. Did not see that Ali was related, nor that he wasn't.
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