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Mad Men: "Quality of Mercy" OAD 6/16/13 ***SPOILERS***


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#1 OFFLINE   phrelin

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Posted 18 June 2013 - 09:37 AM

If you haven't seen this yet, here's the new SCP letterhead and logo:

 

mm612-01.jpg

 

Now on to images from this week's episode....

 

mm612-02.jpg

A Dick Cheney moment...

 

 

mm612-03a.jpg

mm612-03b.jpg

Funny how those handshake deals turn out, Pete.

 

 

mm612-04.jpg

What is there to say about life, Don? It sucks.

 

A lot of time was spent with Sally this week, and I'll get to that. But holy crap, the corporate bigwigs from GM shot Ken Cosgrove in the face! And it's believable because ... well, it happened a few years ago in a very publicized incident.

 

The title of this episode is "Quality of Mercy" which is taken from Portia's speech in Act Four of Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice

 

The quality of mercy is not strain'd,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest:
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.
'T is mightiest in the mightiest: it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown;
His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty,
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;
But mercy is above this sceptred sway,
It is enthroned in the hearts of kings,
It is an attribute to God himself;
And earthly power doth then show likest God's,
When mercy seasons justice. Therefore, Jew,
Though justice be thy plea, consider this,
That in the course of justice none of us
Should see salvation: we do pray for mercy;
And that same prayer doth teach us all to render
The deeds of mercy.

 

Where in this episode does "mercy" lie? Pete "relieving" Ken of his burden of going to Detroit? Or Pete allowing Bob to continue on the job despite knowing of his fraud? Or in Don "saving" Ted and Peggy from their own foolishness? Is any of this "mercy" such that "it blesseth him that gives and him that takes" or is it self-serving, manipulative, and dishonest, as were the two handshakes Pete gave depicted above? Really, the quality of this mercy is very strained indeed.

 

Well, at least we found out who Bob Benson is, or at least who he isn't. The question is will it be Pete or Bob who turns out to be the Shylock of this play? Bob is starting with a handicap because Pete has something he can use if Bob doesn't do what Pete wants. Except at some point Pete's awareness of Bob becomes a secret that will backfire if he uses it - Pete's a partner who is allowing a fraud to be perpetrated on the firm. Getting your "pound of flesh" has a way of coming back around as Shakespeare warns.

 

And Don's act of mercy is put into perspective by an angry Peggy: “You killed him. You killed the ad. You killed everything. You’re a monster.”

 

About monsters....

 

Rosemary’s Baby as the basis of an ad to sell St. Joseph’s aspirin for children? As a spoof. Well, maybe. But the weirdness here runs very deep in this season of Mad Men. Sally was reading a copy of Rosemary's Baby in the episode "The Crash" and the book was adapted for the movie by Sharon Tate’s husband Roman Polanski and Sharon Tate's red star T-shirt was worn by Megan in the episode "The Better Half."

 

Which get's us back to this episode. One has to note that it was aired on Father's Day because when it comes to Matt Weiner there are no coincidences involving this show.

 

"My father hasn’t given me anything,” Sally, offering no mercy, pronounced to Betty on the way to boarding school.

 

Well, Sally, he seems to have passed on the tendency to escape from a dysfunctional life to a place where you can reinvent yourself - running all the way to the type of environment that created Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis (and the type of girls in "Gossip Girl"). But boarding school is better than a war, except the name of this school is Rosemary Hall. But could it be that Don and Betty have created a spawn of Satan? She's pretty good at getting Glen and his buddy to bring the booze and drugs. Or was Don's mother really named Rosemary???

 

And so we end with Don in the fetal position having been reamed out by Peggy and life generally. And so we are entertained by The Monkees - an assembled-for-TV musical group with a created indentity - singing their 1968 nit "Porpoise Song (Theme from Head)" written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King:

 

My, my the clock in the sky is pounding away
There's so much to say
A face, a voice, an overdub has no choice
And it cannot rejoice

Wanting to be, to hear and to see
Crying to the sky

But the porpoise is laughing good-bye, good-bye
Good-bye, good-bye, good-bye

Clicks, clacks
Riding the backs of giraffes for laughs is alright for a while
The ego sings of castles and kings and things
That go with a life of style

Wanting to feel, to know what is real
Living is a lie

But the porpoise is waiting good-bye, good-bye
Good-bye, good-bye, good-bye
Good-bye, good-bye, good-bye
Good-bye, good-bye, good-bye

 

 

Of course, all of this leads up to next week's season finale....


Edited by phrelin, 18 June 2013 - 09:46 AM.

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#2 OFFLINE   Stuart Sweet

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Posted 18 June 2013 - 10:53 AM

First of all I meant to get this up before this week and didn't, it's what I thought the new SC&P logo would look like.

 

scp.png

 

I admit that what they chose was a little more elegant but I think in a "real" agency all the letters would have to be the same size to appease the partners. The relatively short Bert Cooper would not have appreciated having his initial "standing on a box" as it were. 

 

I'm also not convinced that a professional typographer would have mixed Eurostile Extended and Akzidenz Grotesk in the same logotype, I know that would have been a no-no for my professors.

 

But enough. 

 

It was a well-crafted episode that showed us how much these characters are crumbling. The famously handsome Cosgrove is literally blindsided by the customer, and Pete shows that he's learned the wrong lessons in life. Of course the worst is Don, who can't seem to get out of the fetal position. So I ask, 

 

Is Don Draper the son of the devil? Is he Rosemary's Baby? 

 

That was my big takeaway from the episode at least. At every turn Don is portrayed as a baby, in the fetal position or actually crying. Peggy calls him a monster. He seems utterly inept at some points, and let's just say that 1968 Don has fallen far far from where 1960 Don was in terms of handling customers. 

 

And another thing, I fail to believe that a company whose products are named for a saint (St. Joseph) would ok a campaign that includes the son of the devil. 

 

It's clear to me that the pinnacle of this show was "Shut the Door, Have a Seat" in which Sterling, Cooper, Draper, Pryce, Campbell and Harris all come together to form a new agency. It's all been a downhill slide from there. Even as the new firm gets bigger, the partners get smaller. It's hard for me to tell if the quality of the show is going down or it's just harder and harder to watch our former protagonists spiral down to where we knew they would end up. 

 

A couple of other notes. It's sad to watch Sally turn into her mother, and perhaps it's the whole reason we still see Betty; Don's failure to help his daughter turn into him is now complete. I once thought Sally would be a hellion at 17; it now seems clearer that she'll be a member of the Junior League, a Clairol girl, and probably end up a crumpled mess by the end of the 1970s. 

 

Surprisingly Glen is sooooo much less creepy now although we know why he prefers blondes. 

 

Bob. Benson. This had better not be all we see of him. I still think there's a lot more to him, he could endanger the entire agency by flirting with the people at Chevy, or in a not-quite-twist could fall out of a building or down an elevator shaft. Or he could be murdered by an enraged ex-lover (Sal Romano?) in a bloodbath that takes down half the staff.

 

One more season. It's getting hard to watch because we're getting close enough to the bottom of the elevator to smell the grime.

 

 


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#3 OFFLINE   Maruuk

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Posted 18 June 2013 - 12:38 PM

Brutal song, terrible even by the Monkees' standards.

 

Yeah, nobody is buying the absurd premise of the ad. Bad writing--really reaching. It's obviously awkwardly serving this whole Satanic undertone they're pushing, but Don? He spent the whole ep being super pleasant at work and saving folks from themselves. Hardly Satanic. And I just don't feel much motivation for Don to be so mean and cold to Megan. It just comes out of nowhere, not established.

 

Why did Peggy say the ad was killed? The ad got approved, just at a lower budget and SC should be more than willing to make up the difference if they need the extra characters.

 

Bottom line: Don's just no fun anymore. If Weiner's gonna turn him into this depressive asexual fetus, next season sounds like a major bust.


Edited by Maruuk, 18 June 2013 - 04:06 PM.


#4 OFFLINE   phrelin

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Posted 18 June 2013 - 10:47 PM

And another thing, I fail to believe that a company whose products are named for a saint (St. Joseph) would ok a campaign that includes the son of the devil. 

 

I must admit, Peggy didn't sell me on the ad idea. I just can't imagine the people who paid for this ad...

 

St-Joseph-Asprin-Blog.jpg

 

...would approve this...

 

2hcf7e1.gif

 

...even as a parody.


"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."

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#5 OFFLINE   Maruuk

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Posted 19 June 2013 - 01:32 AM

The classic movie coven was always adoring of Little Satan in the crib. The group in the ad were completely different, caustically offering up remedies for something, no connection at all to the premise in the film. Thus the TV audience wouldn't even get what was being parodied.

 

And Don sees his beautiful wife, the love of his life, the woman he shares his life with, on TV and immediately shuts her off. Ridiculous. Sorry, this Megan-disconnect development is not motivated, it's a writer deus ex machina, They need Don to hate his wife so suddenly he hates his wife. Amateur Hour.

 

MM isn't even bothering to make sense anymore.


Edited by Maruuk, 19 June 2013 - 02:54 AM.


#6 OFFLINE   djlong

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Posted 19 June 2013 - 04:32 AM

Peggy's "you killed the ad" comment was so far out of left-field, I actually recognized it.

 

My ex-wife used to make ridiculous accusations in direct contrast with reality when she was caught lying or in a situation that made her look bad - an attempt at deflection.

 

Put bluntly, Peggy was caught in the headlights and lashed out at Don because he's demonstrated those same characteristics and she knows it.


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#7 OFFLINE   Maruuk

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Posted 20 June 2013 - 03:32 AM

Yeah, she was just uncharacteristically spewing nonsense since she felt Don was denying her what he had always taken for granted: true romance.



#8 OFFLINE   Laxguy

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Posted 20 June 2013 - 09:15 AM

Read only the announcement release phrelin posted at the beginning, as I've not seen this ep yet. 

The "join with" phrase seems out of place; it's an artifact of the last decade or so. The "with" is redundant, but the phrase now seems widely accepted. As are phrases I keep hearing such as "more cold" for colder, even "more big" for bigger, etc. 


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#9 OFFLINE   Stuart Sweet

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Posted 20 June 2013 - 09:57 AM

Yes, there is a lot about that release that doesn't quite work for me, but I'm sure it was just a toss-off. ZIP codes were introduced in 1963, so it's likely that the letterhead would use them (rather than the older "New York 20" usage) Area codes were fully implemented in 1966, but with SC&P mostly having clients in New York, I'm not sure that the area code would be on their letterhead. Certainly the use of "Klondike 5" with an area code would be unlikely -- either the usage (212) 555 or just KL5 would have just prevailed. 

 

A press release would have been carefully proofed and even a quote would probably not have had a dangling participle ("something we can all believe in") and finally, it was common practice to end press releases with -30- in those days. 

 

But hey, for something that a production assistant probably did in 10 minutes, it was cute.


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#10 OFFLINE   Stuart Sweet

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Posted 20 June 2013 - 10:59 AM

Hey, I think this might (or might not) explain something about Bob Benson and what happens to him after the show: 

 

http://muppet.wikia....ki/Bobby_Benson


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#11 OFFLINE   Laxguy

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Posted 20 June 2013 - 01:14 PM

I was in NYC in the late 60's and people with "desirable" prefixes sure as heck used them rather than the numbered prefix. Mine was PL(aza) 2, but don't know if it was hoity-toity or not. 

 

An aside: while the address using "Avenue of the Americas" is the official name and probably what S&C would have on letterheads and releases, no good New Yorker ever calls it anything but Sixth Avenue....  :bink: 


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#12 OFFLINE   Stuart Sweet

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Posted 20 June 2013 - 01:23 PM

Sorry to keep hijacking this thread over and over. Last night in one of my sleepless patches I pondered the lynch-pin of Rosemary's Baby, that moment when Rosemary is rearranging Scrabble tiles and realizes that Roman Castevet is actually Steven Marcato. So I began to wonder if any of the names in Mad Men were telling anagrams. 

 

Bob Benson has "noose" in his name and not surprisingly Donald Draper's name quickly becomes "Odd Land Raper." 

 

Theodore Chaough, whose name is the oddest of all, seems to translate to the strange admonition, "O Hug, O Death Chore." 

 

it then also hit me that Sylvia is Rosen (Married) and that Don is acting like a baby. And then it made me wonder... Jim Cutler's "Dr. Feelgood" (from several episodes ago) is one of the few characters not to have a name -- is it Abe Saperstein? That would be creepy. 


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#13 OFFLINE   Stuart Sweet

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Posted 20 June 2013 - 01:25 PM

I was in NYC in the late 60's and people with "desirable" prefixes sure as heck used them rather than the numbered prefix. Mine was PL(aza) 2, but don't know if it was hoity-toity or not. 

 

An aside: while the address using "Avenue of the Americas" is the official name and probably what S&C would have on letterheads and releases, no good New Yorker ever calls it anything but Sixth Avenue....  :bink: 

 

In your opinion, would a New Yorker have used an area code, though? Nitpicky but just asking. And it wasn't just people with desirable prefixes. Until she left the state, my grandmother said her number was "BAyside 4..."


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#14 OFFLINE   Laxguy

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Posted 20 June 2013 - 01:26 PM

Stuart-

 

Cut down on the caffeine at night, y'hear??   :contract: 

 

Love the musings, though.....


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#15 OFFLINE   Laxguy

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Posted 20 June 2013 - 01:31 PM

In your opinion, would a New Yorker have used an area code, though? Nitpicky but just asking. And it wasn't just people with desirable prefixes. Until she left the state, my grandmother said her number was "BAyside 4..."

 

Dang, I still love those names. And I am pretty sure businesses that weren't strictly local (such as a pizza parlor or plumber) would have featured their area code in their standard releases and letters. They had lots of contacts in DC,and even NJ and CT they had clients! 


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#16 OFFLINE   djlong

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Posted 21 June 2013 - 04:23 AM

Up here in NH, Nashua's numbers all started with '88' - the exchanges were 880, 882, 883 and the crappy exchange in South Nashua was 888.  "Back in the day", some stores tried to advertise their number as "TUxedo 3-nnnn" but it never really caught on.  In the next town to the north, Merrimack, you could just dial the last 5 digits for a local call.  (This would be circa 1974-76)



#17 OFFLINE   Laxguy

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Posted 21 June 2013 - 09:15 AM

Well, "Tuxedo" has aspirations, whereas "Tupperware" does not....


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#18 OFFLINE   trainman

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Posted 21 June 2013 - 05:24 PM

Official list of exchange names -- TUxedo was legitimate, TUpperware was not.
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#19 OFFLINE   djlong

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Posted 21 June 2013 - 05:37 PM

I had NO idea....  An official list?  Makes sense when you think about it...



#20 OFFLINE   Nick

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Posted 21 June 2013 - 11:29 PM

Why an "ATlantic" and not a "PAcific"?


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