Posted on June 3rd, 2014 3 comments
With MAD MEN coming to a series finale sometime in 2015, we’ve got plenty of time to speculate on how it might end. Will it end at 11:59 pm on December 31, 1969? Will there be another “watershed” moment like the passing of Burt Cooper? Or will the characters just go on with their lives, with the ending not really being an ending at all, but just another day that ends with a black frame in the middle of a senten…?
Just for fun I came up with five possible (but not very likely) endings to the final episode of MAD MEN. I say not very likely because I’m going to give the MAD MEN writers more credit than this article anticipates. These are just kind of silly, fun, just-for-the-hell of it ideas. I have a feeling the real finale is going to be incredible. Until then…
Let’s assume that Season 7-B kicks off not long after the final scene of the mid-season finale: SC&P has been purchased by McCann, Cutler is gone, Chaough is back, Buick is the newest big boy in town and things are running smoothly with Don at the creative helm while Roger learns what it’s like to actually lead a group of crazies.
Let’s also assume that although they are now millionaires, Pete and Joan stay on at the agency (seems practical).
1. Life Can Turn on a Dime
The episode starts out with the characters doing their usual bickering, lying, cheating, whining…and collaborating. There’s a huge pitch that will define the future of the agency…maybe IBM, or even NASA. Roger puts the whole thing together and gambles the entire company on this pitch…if they get it, they’re guaranteed 10 years of high-profile, high-income work. If they fail, for some reason or another they will lose Buick, and the company will not only destroy itself, it will cut McCann off at the knees.
Don, along with Peggy, is confident they have nothing to fear. The ideas are great, and they’ve got that cool new computer to help things along. Then, similar to the mid-season finale, death strikes at the last minute. This time it’s Roger, finally succumbing to too much booze and oysters. He has a heart attack on his way to the jet, and without him the deal is off. SC&P, embroiled in whatever scandal has been created, folds like a cheap suit, McCann loses its shirt, and everyone loses their jobs and respect in the industry. The partners are ok, because they’ve raked in all that cash from the sale, but people like Peggy and Harry are stuck with their bills, unable to get work anywhere in NYC because of the “scandal”. Don is also affected by this…he knows he’ll never work in advertising again, so, as he’s done in the past, he packs up, says screw you to every one around him, and reinvents himself.
Fast forward to 1975: Don sitting behind a desk, wearing a leisure suit and sporting long sideburns and a bushy mustache. Behind him is a blown-up cover of a men’s magazine (like, but not quite, Playboy; we can’t see the name). A voice sizzles across an intercom: “Mr. Whitman, there’s a Ms. Olson here to see you about the journalist position.”
He smiles. “Send her in,” he says in typical Don fashion, as the camera pans out to show his office is actually huge, with wall-to-ceiling windows overlooking The Valley, back in CAL.
2. Don Causes Yet Another Suicide – and the meaning of the introduction is revealed
Everyone knows Ted Chaough is not a happy man. Whether it was his involvement with Peggy, a mid-life crisis, or just plain boredom, Ted is ready to check out of advertising for good when he’s manhandled back into it by good ole’ Don Draper.
Wealthy but unhappy, and forced to work with Peggy once again, Ted begins to spiral way down while Don becomes more and more successful, more popular than ever, and the obvious choice as best creative director in the business. He forces Ted to do some dirty work on Buick, and even forces him to go on the pitch…but Ted has had enough. He misses the pitch, causing fires that Don has a hard time putting out. He tries to resume his affair with Peggy and gets caught by his wife; possibly the millions he made on the sale of the agency is squandered in bad investments. Penniless and alone, he goes to Don for help…to release him from the agency with a company loan, maybe the exact same amount Lane needed? But Don refuses…Don needs him to retain Buick, and tells Ted if doesn’t get in gear, he won’t see another penny. This is the “Don doesn’t learn” part of the episode.
Later, Don needs to go to his (Lane’s) old office to get something…sees the METS pennant and is reminded of what he’s done…but it’s too late. He rushes to Chaough’s office, only to find the window open with Ted perched on the edge…before Don can stop him he jumps, with briefcase in hand…down 30 stories. We follow him down, and as he falls the intro music swells and the background turns into the graphics from the introduction. It’s Ted that’s been falling all along, now finally for one last time. Cut to Don sitting in his office, smoking, arm draped over back of sofa, screams and sobs in the background. Cut to black.
3. The Late 1960s-Style Everything Sucks Ending
The final show is filmed very much in the style of “The Midnight Cowboy”. Very gritty, dark, realistic. Lots of outdoor shots of NYC at the time. Trash everywhere. Dirty cabs. Hookers. Grime. Something during the last half of the season has brought Don to a bad part of life and a bad part of town. He’s alone, as he has lost all contact with Megan, his kids, pretty much anyone who ever meant anything to him. He’s walkin’ here…it’s winter, hands stuffed in overcoat pockets, shoulders shrugged up to warm his face. He enters an abandoned building. Ginsburg is there, huddled over a can of Sterno, heating up some soup. He’s dirty, shaking, obviously insane. “I know you. How did you find me?” Ginsburg asks. “A friend of Peggy,” is Don’s only answer. Don tells him he wants to help him. If he wants work, he’ll give him work. If he needs to go to a hospital, Don will pay. He convinces Ginsburg to come with him. He wants to help him…to save him, because there’s no one else in his life that wants his charity.
They go out on the street together; Ginsburg sees an ad for an IBM computer on a bus stop, and hallucinates Don is a robot about to laser him. He screams, pulls a knife, stabs Don in the chest. Don looks surprised and confused, but not angry. As he falls to the ground with the knife (ironically a Korean war-era military knife), he sees a billboard that he designed: Puffy white clouds, a man with a harp, the slogan: “Florsheim Shoes: One Step Closer To Heaven”. Fade to white.
4. The Disappearing Act, Take One
It’s New Year’s Eve, 1970. There are a lot of clocks in the episode, for, you know, symbolism. There is a feeling of some kind of “count down” other than just the obvious. Things are going great for Don, for the agency. Peggy has actually surpassed him in terms of gaining new business and coming up with award-winning ideas. He is proud of her.
At some point he is reminded of Burt’s farewell song, “The Best Things in Life are Free”. Now a multi-millionaire, and knowing he is becoming outdated in this modern world, he decides a major change is needed. He talks with Roger only, tells him to promote Peggy to Creative Director and partner, and says goodbye. Roger is the only one who knows what he is doing.
As the countdown to midnight begins, we see Don meet up with a stranger.
“We got the fifty thousand,” the stranger says. “It’s good to know my wife and kids will be set for life, thanks again.”
“Just two people helping each other,” Don says, and they drive off together in the Cadillac. “Are you sure you want to do this?”
“The cancer will take me in a few months anyway. It’s better for my family this way.”
In a rural area of upstate New York, the stranger swallows a bottle of sleeping pills and downs them with whiskey. After he passes out, Don puts him in the driver’s seat, puts his own wallet in his pocket, soaks him down with the rest of the liquor and pushes the car off the side of a mountain. Flames…and Don Draper is, for all purposes, dead, burned beyond recognition. Don walks along the deserted road until he comes to a roadside diner. He orders a coffee. The waitress asks his name. “Dick,” he says then looks straight at the camera, “Dick Whitman.”
5. The Disappearing Act, Take Two
It’s New Year’s Eve, 1970. There are a lot of clocks in the episode, for, you know, symbolism. There is a feeling of some kind of “count down” other than just the obvious. Things have fallen apart very quickly for Don. Megan decides she wants everything he has, and he is about to lose almost everything in the divorce. He has run out of creative ideas and is being trampled by people who McCann has inserted into the company. Roger has lost all interest, and all control of the company, deciding to live out his days as a playboy. Ted is threatening to sue, because he was harassed into staying on for five years; Don starts drinking again, disgusting Peggy, his only real friend left. On top of that, the agency has become the laughing stock of the industry for attempting to push Don’s 10-year-old, outdated and lackluster ad campaigns, as opposed to using the more modern and interesting campaigns that Peggy and Ted wanted to use.
Don knows it’s over. The agency is about to crash and burn. His talents are outdated, no matter how hard he tries. He is farther than ever from his kids, and he’s about to hand over millions to Megan, who has become vindictive and mean.
Then Megan (you’re going to love this) is murdered while at a party in an actress’ house in LA (Had to throw that in), by what appears to be a hippy cult that includes Roger’s daughter Margaret, and Dick Whitman’s niece, Stephanie. When caught, Margaret (AKA Marigold) starts rambling in a heroin-induced rant that Don and her father told them to carry out the murders. Don is momentarily implicated, and it looks like he may be arrested at any moment.
He’s had enough. On his lunch hour he goes to the bank and withdrawals his entire fortune…let’s say, ten million? In cash…puts it in a briefcase, gets in his 1969 Cadillac Eldorado, and just takes off. No good byes, no explanations. From the back, we watch the Cadillac driving out of New York, through fields of corn and wheat, over mountains, through California. Then we see the back of an airplane over the Pacific in the same way.
Cut to Don, sitting on the lanai of a beach house in Hawaii, a little older, a little wiser. He is alone, sipping a cocktail and looking out over the ocean. A large carved Tiki stands next to him. Bee Gees music plays faintly in the background. A beautiful young blonde with a deep tan and a very skimpy bikini comes up behind him, hugs him. “I’m going for a swim baby, want to come?” “Maybe later,” he replies, “I’ve got an idea for something.” She laughs. “For a retired millionaire, you sure do spend a lot of time “working” (yes, she uses air quotes). The camera follows her as she runs down to the beach, loses the top and jumps in the ocean, then pans down to Don’s lap, where he has a sketch pad and pencil. On it is a quick sketch of the beach, and a pair of sandals. “Your Jumping Off Point” is scrawled across the top. Suddenly Don jumps up, runs to the water, tosses off his shirt and shoes and jumps in with the beautiful girl. A disco version of “The Best Things In Life Are Free” comes up, and we see Don and his new “Betty” frolicking in the waves as the credits run.
Well, those are a few ways it might end. It might also end with the entire cast doing “I Believe in You” from “How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying”. Who knows. We do know this: However it ends, Mathew Weiner will make sure it’s great.
Posted on June 4th, 2013 9 comments
Fans of MAD MEN know that music plays a fairly important role in the series, but when it comes to individual characters, music generally takes a backseat.
So, I was wondering what kind of albums the character of Don Draper might have on hand. We’ve heard him play classical music at a dinner party; we know he doesn’t dig the Beatles. But that’s about it.
So what kind of music does Don Draper dig?
I think, in order to answer that question, first we need to answer, “What kind of music does Don NOT like?”
Well, lets take a look at his past: He grew up in the 30s & 40s, when big bands played the most popular music in the country. There were swing bands and sweet bands, and they dominated the music scene. It’s safe to say that big band swing and jazz were probably what Don heard most as he was growing up, along with more “localized” music that probably included country/western and folk. Since he considers his childhood a complete bust, I’m going to lay my chips on big band, jazz vocals, folk and country/western as being the kind of music that Don Draper (well, Dick Whitman, actually) hates with a passion. Hell, he might even go into a cationic fit whenever he hears “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love, Baby” for all we know.
It’s also a safe bet that Don wouldn’t be into Rock ‘n’ Roll. Let’s face it – Rock ‘n’ Roll was considered “kids music” back in the 1950s, and had a very small adult following. Don was already an adult (in his 20s) when he was in Korea (somewhere between 1951 and 1953), so like most men of the era, he probably dismissed RnR as kiddie pop.
Don has never showed us a side of him where he sits and listens to sophisticated music, whether it be jazz or classical, for the pleasure of it. He sits in front of the tube a lot, but we never see him play an album (except for the Beatles song, which he completely dismissed). So it’s probably safe to say that he has never really bought a record for the enjoyment of the music. Unlike Meghan, who’s life revolves around music and acting, for his character, it’s just not that big of a deal.
Posted on May 17th, 2013 2 comments
The Old Fashioned
Truly old fashioned, this drink has roots that go back to the early 1800s when, according to some historians, the “cock tail” was a drink made with liquor, water, sugar and a few drops of bitters. It’s been said that the addition of citrus came during prohibition, to hide the taste of cheap booze.
The version that Don drinks was the cocktail that dominated swanky lounges and corner bars alike, a cool combination of rye whiskey, bitters and soda with citrus. This is the Old Fashioned that we’ve come to expect, and love. If you want an older version of the Old Fashioned, leave out the citrus and the soda.
1 sugar cube
3 dashes of bitters
2 teaspoons water
1 strip lemon zest
1 small wedge orange
2 maraschino cherries
Ice, as needed
2 ounces rye (or Bourbon. Bourbon is a little sweeter. Canadian Club has a lot of rye, and works very well)
Cherry for garnish
Add the sugar cube to the bottom of an old fashioned glass, then add the water and bitters to it. Place the lemon zest, orange wedge and one cherry in the glass. Use a bar spoon to gently muddle the cube into the liquids so the sugar will begin to dissolve. (Note: Some people prefer to leave out the cherry). Use the back of the spoon to coat the bottom sides of the glass with the mixture. Throw a couple of cubes in the glass and top with bourbon and club soda and stir well. Top with a cherry and an orange slide on the rim.
There are tons of variations on the Old Fashioned. In fact, you can use any booze you want, with varying degrees of success. Of course, there even more modern Old Fashioneds…Recently on a trip to Sonoma, I had one made with “local Bourbon” (which isn’t really Bourbon if it’s made in California), and no cherry. It was very good, and the bartender took pride in making it.
So if you want to impress your vintage-diggin’ pals, or show a skirt that you know how to order a cocktail with plenty of pizzaz, memorize this recipe and make yourself an expert at throwing one together. You’ll have the chicks (or kats, whatever’s your thing) eating out of your hand.
-Tiki Chris P, Reporting from the Tiki Bar at Tiki Lounge Talk, the interwebs’ favorite B-lounge for retro fun stuff and Tiki Talk.
Posted on April 7th, 2013 No comments
Are you ready for MAD MEN?
Wow…we’ve been waiting and waiting, and finally it’s here: MAD MEN Season six, where we (may or may not) find out whether Don has been faithful to Megan, where Peggy ends up, and how the agency goes on in the wake of Lane’s departure.
But what we’re really looking at is this poster.
Man, does this thing WREAK of late 60s-into=the=70s style or what? I feel this is an omen…actually a blatant sign that the MAD MEN that we’ve loved for the last several years is done. We’re in a new era, moving away from thin ties and bachelor pad music and easy chicks who waited on men as pretty servants, to the era of social unrest, acid rock, outrageous fashion and liberated women.
Assuming this season kicks off in 1967 (or possible 68), we’ll probably see longer hair on the men, shorter hair on the women and the widening of ties and lapels that will eventually look like men are wearing paisley bibs. This is a different part of American pop history and culture…innocence gone, tailfins on cars gone, jazz and big bands gone. It’s the era where “good” music is defined as music that sounds good when you’re high, when putting curse words in movies makes them “hip”, and when teenagers lived like there was no tomorrow because, it was factual, with the draft and the Vietnam war, there very well might not have been.
Boo hoo. It’s a drag, but the show has to progress. It’s how it’s always been, jumping a year or two each season. Hell, it started in 1959…the figurative “beginning of the end” of the mid-century pop era. But we’ll watch, and we’ll love it, even if Don sports a mustache, sideburns and a green velour sport jacket. Remember, this is the era where “Midnight Cowboy” one best picture, even with an X rating. The era when Martin Luther King Jr. and Bobby Kennedy where gunned down. The era when Nixon became president, and Jimmy Hendrix played the Star Spangled Banner on his electric guitar. Frank Sinatra and Elvis both made “comebacks”. Crime in New York was at an all time high, poverty was crushing our cities, Fort Lauderdale was known for Spring Break arrests and Miami was mainly a retirement community. The “Hollywood” sign was in grave decay, and no one cared. And we were only a few years away from Disco.
Ah, what a time.
Oh, and about that poster: Doesn’t it remind you of some of the old TV Guide covers from 40+ years ago? It should, it’s been created by 75-year-old illustrator Brian Sanders, who created a lot of advertising artwork from the era.
MAD MEN season six premiers tonight, April 7, 9pm/8 c. on AMC.
-Tiki Chris reporting from the Television viewing room at Tiki Lounge Talk
Posted on June 10th, 2012 No comments
For the cocktail recipe only, skip to after the video.
It seems like just yesterday the 5th season opener of our favorite Noir drama “MAD MEN” finally opened, after going dark for (what seemed like) 10 years. Now just 13 weekends later, the final episode of the season hits the airwaves Sunday night.
It’s been a wicked season, kats & kittens. From Campbell pimping out Joan to Lane’s suicide, this season (set in 1967) has surely been the most violent. This is no coincidence; dig it:
Season one was set in 1959. By today’s standards, that was considered a more “innocent” time. The characters’ major source of drama was drinking, cheating on spouses and trying to get ahead in life. Accidents happened in the early seasons…Don’s car accident, Kinney running over another account man’s foot with the lawn tractor…and there was even Don’s brother’s suicide. But Don hardly got scratched in the accident, the AE from England was a minor footnote (pun intended) and Don’s brother, although unexpected, was not nearly as sad as the Lane Pryce story arc. I’ll go even further to say that the diminishing relationship between Don and Betty may have been messy, but never came to violence.
Fast forward to season five, and we have Pete Campbell getting his lights knocked out in a fist fight with Lane, Joan being manipulated into what was essentially a paid rape, Don and Meghan getting very physical (and mildly violent) during arguments that end with rough sex, and of course Lane’s self-destructive path of embezzlement leading to his (very unnecessary and very sad) hanging in the office.
I said this is no coincidence. Matthew Weiner and his group of writers know exactly what they’re doing…you all know that. Every line of this show is carefully crafted to set up the next action or chain of events. And there are many parallels in this show, one of which is how the lives of the characters parallel the times in which they exist. Where 1959-1963 may have been considered an “innocent” time for America, the assignation of President Kennedy was the turning point, the catalyst that set the country into the social downward (or upward, depending how you look at it) spiral of the mid to late 1960s. As the decade became more violent, so does the show; if next season begins in 1968 we’re sure to see even more violence and character selfishness as the events of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination, Bobby Kennedy’s murder, Kent State and the escalation of the Vietnam War come to pass. Hopefully, and probably, the writers will add in some of the era-specific spice that we love the show for. I can certainly see Meghan going full-out British Mod, and I don’t think Don will have a problem with her wearing white knee-high go-go boots.
You would think that a full partner in the firm would have less money problems. You would think that Pryce, being the money man, would have worked out a better deal for himself at the outset of the company. You would think that after operating at a loss for three years, Lane would have gone to the other partners and re-negotiated his terms before taking out a $50,000 loan for the company, then telling them they had a $50,000 surplus, then writing himself a check with Don’s signature. But, like many people do, he tried to find a way to get the money he needed without “the embarrassment” of actually asking what was rightfully his.
I watched the episode several times, as I usually do. On the second time around I caught something small, but what I believe was the straw that broke Lane’s camel’s back: When he asked his wife where she got the money to buy the Jaguar, she said she wrote a check. Remember, it took several days for checks to clear back then…so, I thinking, the money she spent on the Jaguar was the money Lane “borrowed” from the company. She spent it before he could pay off his taxes, meaning he embezzled the money, lost his job and his self respect for nothing.
And those Jaguars…as beautiful as they were, they truly were known to spend more time in the shop than on the road. I knew a few people in my life who dropped 350 Chevy engines into those old Jags and never had another problem.
Oh, one more thing: In the episode where Don and Joan go to the Jaguar dealership, I wonder how many of you noticed that the burgundy XKE, the flesh-tone sedan and the light beige Salon were all 1960’s Matchbox toy car colors? I did 😉
Here’s the finale trailer, “The Phantom”…not the Mad Men trailers give anything away, but here it is anyway…
And Now, Your Weekend Vintage-Tiki Cocktails
Since many of you will have friends over for the Season Finale, I’m giving you three easy, original vintage recipes that you can concoct in a hurry!
The Barbary Coast Cocktail
• 1/2 ounce gin
• 1/2 ounce light rum
• 1/2 ounce light creme de cacao
• 1/2 ounce Scotch whisky
• 1/2 ounce cream
• 2 oz gin
• 1/2 oz triple sec
• 1 tbsp pineapple juice
For each of these, throw everything together in a shaker with ice and shake it up until the outside of the shaker is nice and frosty. Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with cherry (and a fresh pineapple slice for the Hawaiian Cocktail).
Royal Gin Fizz
• 2 oz gin
• juice of 1/2 lime
• 1 teaspoon powdered sugar
• 1 whole egg
Shake ingredients together in a shaker with ice and strain into a highball glass with two ice cubes, then fill with club soda or seltzer, or better yet if you have it with carbonated water from a vintage seltzer bottle. Garnish with a lime wheel.
Have fun with MAD MEN tonight!
-Tiki Chris, reporting from the bar at Tiki Lounge Talk
PS: Last week I got to watch MAD MEN along side Will Viharo, Neo-Noir author and vintage connoisseur. Will was in town working on turning one of his novels, “Love Stories Are Too Violent For Me” into a movie with none other than Christian Slater. Just wanted to say “Gook Luck Will!”