Monday, September 06, 2010

MM@M: No Bad Seats

Mad Men @ The Movies discusses the cinematic references in television's best series.

Peggy (Elisabeth Moss) and Don (Jon Hamm) succumb to exhaustion.
Four seasons of great acting will knock the wind right out of you.

Episode 4.7 "The Suitcase"

This week's episode was a well timed Peggy & Don duet. The historic backdrop was the infamous boxing match between Sonny Liston and Cassius Clay (Clay had already changed his name to Muhammad Ali but not everyone had acclimated to the switch. Interesting that Don in particular shows resistance to it given his own name change/reinvention). Given that context and the episode's actual content it might be more appropriate to call "The Suitcase" a well timed Peggy & Don brawl. By the end of the episode they'd put each other through ten rounds, with an actual brawl (albeit with Peggy watching rather than throwing punches). We'll call it a draw. Shockingly, they both had a good cry before the hour was out, and seemed both more vulnerable to the viewing audience and to each other; it was a brutal episode but it wound down with surprising tenderness. The two characters have so often been used as imperfect parallels and generational / gender distorted reflections of each other that moments where they come head to head like this are nearly always memorable. And a whole episode of it? I can't help but say it: "The Suitcase" was a knockout.

But, for our purposes at MM@M, it was a rare episode without any movie star / movie name dropping. The closest we came was a James Bond reference and the opening shot/scene when Harry Crane (Rich Sommer) passes out tickets to see the big match... on the big screen.
Ken: Where are these exactly?
Harry: It's a movie theater -- no bad seats.
Those seats costs $15 which is quite a hefty price tag in 1965 (the hookers a few episodes ago cost $25). The SCDP team is seeing the match broadcast live at Loew's Capitol Theater in Times Square. The legendary theater once housed world premieres like Doctor Zhivago in 1965. After the last engagement in 1968, 2001: A Space Odyssey, the theater was demolished. Sadly movie theaters like that don't exist anywhere these days, really. It had over 5000 seats and a 25' by 60' screen.

As for Harry's assertion that movie theaters have no bad seats... do you agree? I'd beg to differ as I hate the front row. I'm a middle/middle man, though lately I've taken a liking to aisle/middle/right. But anything's fine really so long as it's not the front row!


David Coley said...

That probably ranked among the top five Mad Men episodes.

As for movie theatre seating, I used to hate the front, but now it's the only way I don't have tiny little squares of light peppering my field of vision. Damn text messaging.

Ellen said...

Perfect episode, truly. I love watching Don and Peggy together so this whole ep was a feast for me!

I'm hoping and praying that we've seen the last of Mark. What a boring, weaselly guy to saddle my beloved Peggy with! Good riddance, I say.

And I always sit dead center in the very back row, if it's open. :)

Jason H. said...

Catching up on the episode soon.

As for seats, I too am not a front row person. I like to sit in that awkward area between the middle and the back, and as close to center as possible, though in some theaters I frequent that's just not possible.

Henry said...

I've found that I can't actually watch movies at an angle. I'd actually take front row and arch up my neck rather than see things at an angle. But yeah, middle/middle is optimum.

Well, I can't take front row at an IMAX screening. Did that 'cause we were late at a 300 showing for a date and I had a headache/neck ache/earache by the end.

Oh, Mad Men episode was awesome.

Hilary_Swank said...

All pictures of people on the telephone and not one from Scream or Black Christmas? tisk tisk. :(

Alex Constantin said...

it was a fantastic episode. Definitely next year's Emmy submission for both Jon Hamm and Elizabeth Moss. Talking about her, I could easily imagine the actress moving again to Leading; Peggy has had a great half a season, with lots of screentime

Paul Outlaw said...

Nat, there were two* James Bond references, and the second one was possibly a rare anachronism on the part of the writers (in this case, Matt Weiner): One of the characters mentions James Bond meeting a girl underwater, which is s scene from Thunderball, released in December 1965, months after the Ali-Liston fight in May. (Unless it's a clumsy reference to Honey Ryder emerging from the water in 1962's Dr. No.)

*The first one was the funny comment about stabbing someone in the neck with "one of those James Bond pens."

John T said...

I think this was the best showcase for Elisabeth Moss since she told Pete about the baby-a stunner. This is my favorite episode of the season, and considering the places last season went when they started to pick things up, I'm already on pins and needles for what the upcoming weeks will bring. I'm still trying to guess what "world" event will end this season.

As for the seats, I need to sit middle-front on the right. Usually if there's an upper deck seating, it's four rows in and three seats in from the right.

I'M NOT HERE said...



Unknown said...

When I watch episodes like this, I get very annoyed at the fact that the cast is consistently overlooked at the Emmys. The Peggy-Don smackdown reminded me that the show is always best (in my opinion) when those two are the focus.


Paul -- oops. right you are. I adjusted the post slightly but don't have time to go back right now.

everyone -- it's curious to read the 'no bad seats' responses. Some people are even fussier than me and i thought my middle/middle or aisle/right was picky.

par3182 said...

slightly closer than middle/on the aisle
(and only on a weekday)

this season has been sensational - every episode has been a winner and this was the jewel in the crown. how odd that we've had to wait so long for an episode featuring the two leads of the show. i hope the emmys will remember hamm and moss in eleven and a half months...

? - peggy said her father died in front of the tv, but her mother didn't have one until peggy gave her one before she moved to manhattan (to become "one of those girls")
?? - how did stephanie know to call don draper at SCDP when she knows him as dick whitman?

jazz said...

Aside from the "I'm going to cut your fingers off" moment, last night's episode clases as one of the finest episodes of MAD MEN ever.


i think i went from wanting to slap Draper for making Peggy work like that, then just wanted to hug my TV screen.

If i were watching this in the movies..i'd be front centre.

Deborah said...

You can't argue that James Bond references are anachronistic unless they are specific to the films. The novel Thunderball was published in 1961.

What I can't figure out is the James Bond pen reference. James Bond doesn't have a gadget pen until Moonraker (1979).

Deborah said...

Oh, forgot to add.

I am deeply committed to center/center seating. That I often go to the movies alone makes this very possible.

Anonymous said...

Sorry guys I like Breaking Bad, but Mad Men is better.

Seats, I like the Middle or Back.

Pfangirl said...

I'm definitely a front row hater, especially the front row corner seats. I was only ever forced to sit there once and I came out of the cinema with such a stiff neck and eye strain that since then I'd rather skip a movie than endure those seats.

Middle-middle, or thereabouts, is my optimum position.

Paul Outlaw said...

@ Deborah:

But there is no underwater meeting with a girl in the novel Thunderball. It's an invention of the film adaptation. In the book he meets the girl on a street in the Bahamas.

Ian said...

Elisabeth Moss was amazing! Get her that Emmy win pronto! This was Jon Hamm at his best too, and that's saying something considering how great he is on this show in general.

And I'm a back-row guy myself. Poor eyes to blame mostly for that. I'll leave a theater before having to sit in the front section or front row (heaven forbid).



I hope the Golden Globes reward LOST. It's so deserving. We can live without a Mad Men win for one year.

LaX said...

Lost will be lucky to be nominated at the Globes. Out of sight and clearly out of mind.

Sales on Film said...

There's another movie reference in the episode, though not a specific one. When Don "apologizes" to Peggy about breaking up with her boyfriend, he tells her to run after him "like in the movies." We know Don's affinity for movie-going which he's shared with Peggy before, saying she reminded him of Irene Dunne. Here, however, he sounds more cynical about cinema that we've heard him before. Not surprising considering where his life is.

This also connects to his outing to "Gamera" with Lane in 4x03 instead of seeing "Umbrellas of Cherbourg," a film I have no doubt Don would have seen had he been alone. Although who knows how emotional post-Betty, alcoholic Don would have been watching Catherine Deneuve's Technicolor heartbreak.

Owen said...

Mad Men really is the best show on TV. Or at least, the best show I'm currently watching. I feel so excited to watch it and always feels satisfied once it's over and craving for more. Even when I loathe some of the characters, I can't wait to find out where their lives will take them next.

This was one of my favourite episodes and hopefully one that will give Hamm and Moss their overdue Emmys next year.


@sales on film -- good call. ugh. i was hurrying too much should have covered that one too. don't you think Don saw UMBRELLAS before Lane even mentioned the movie ;) ? I do.

@Owen -- i feel sure that it'll be in the running for "submission episode" This and "The Rejected" were just stellar "A" grade episodes.