tue 11/08/2020

Mad Men: Series 4 Finale, BBC Four | reviews, news & interviews

Mad Men: Series 4 Finale, BBC Four

Mad Men: Series 4 Finale, BBC Four

Don Draper rides priapically into the sunset as MM turns to soap

Don 4 Peggy? Episode 7 had a rare intimacy in a wildly over-active series 4

And so Mad Men 4 rode into the sunset, Don perched on yet another horse (sorry, love interest), a fifth series in production, and it’s all become a soap opera rather than a drama series. It should be called Madly Men. Fast diminishing returns, one of them me, diminishing possibly to zero next time. I’d held hopes that series 4 would see Don come to the picturesque fall promised in the credit sequence, probably off a cliff far away in the wilderness where his body would lie unnoticed like an empty Lucky Strike packet. His hidden identity would tear through his careful carapace and his conscience overwhelm him. The End.

By the end of this madly eventful series, it’s no longer Don who holds the emotional centrestage

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Firstly there are several points here that are just wrong/inaccurate-a key one being that Betty, Pete and Burt all knew about Don being Dick in prior seasons not this and you make references to several things happening last night that were last week. Although the engagement seems preposterous on one level it has also been signposted for sometime. And Joan and Peggy's discussion shows us the ridiculous ways in which one man's Roger Sterling style midlife crisis can affect many. I also don't think Don and Pete are friends nevermind best friends but they have come to be allies, for both their sakes. This season's finale was not a patch on Season 3 but this is still by miles the best written, performed and produced TV series. I hate to admit it but I am missing it already.

Yes, eagle-eyed K, sorry it was because I had to catch up with three episodes at once having been in Siberia. I have amended two time points. A story is a story, though, and accuracy is in its dramatic truth, not in the series/episode/hour/minute number checks.

The engagement of Don and Megan was semaphored quite clearly when a hysterical Sally fell in the agency and Megan was the cool, kindly pair of hands that rescued the situation. Obvious from that moment what was coming. Pete Campbell is still an oily conceited little prick who is in a relationship of convenience with Don, but he has matured somewhat through loss and new fatherhood. That is the show's genius; no Hollywood "growth" but subtle ebbs and flows of character. But this has been Peggy's series. I am puzzled by this nitpicking and often ignorant review of what continues to be one of the greatest ever pieces of television. Soap opera indeed! Matthew Weiner is smarter than all of us.

"Betty, Pete and Burt all knew about Don being Dick'. Where were Janet and John? Guess I need to watch it, but ye fans speak in riddles...

Of course - I had assumed that most of the inaccuarcies were due to you having to endure/enjoy several episodes back to back! But re the dramatic truth I think Mad Men does indeed stand head and shoulders above the rest and as Allison notes you do seem to be nitpicking at the expense of missing some key themes. My comments weren't having a go-I'm sorry if that was how they came across. It's always good to debate the good and bad but you just seemed rather annoyed with the series without fully explaining why. Could you explain more here? Totally understand if you've had enough of MM and don't want to-I guess I'm just trying to prolong the discussion so that I don't have to say goodbye to Madison Avenue until next year!

Ah, K, I probably won't quite kick the habit just yet. It's like those Lucky Strikes. Don Draper is an addictive device, only his purpose is to sell advertising to us, the TV viewers. This is Matthew Weiner's smart, satirical idea, but I thought he would use it to create a jolting, bitter conclusion instead of drifting on into increasingly sterile soap. Office life works well but can't now believe in his sex life or family life. (Eg, Sally's rebellion & hatred of mum flared, then vanished. And are all the admen getting as much sex as Don is?) This was so good until it got lost somewhere in series 4. Maybe will recover.

Excellent review. I know exactly what you mean about soap opera. Somehow the drama is thinning out. You're starting to feel that the really critical dramatic crises are never going to occur. The characters' destinies - by which I mean Don Draper's - are starting to feel transparently moulded to the needs of the larger pageant. If the whole shebang was careering towards the abyss in the previous episode (with Bert Cooper's shoes finally leaving the building), it was clawed back from the brink in this one in ways that felt painfully mechanistic. If a lot of the tension of the series has come from the fact that Draper is often not a particularly nice person, to see him in simpering syrup meltdown was kinda nauseating. Yes, his falling for Megan was flagged up from several episodes back, but in the most clunky ways: the episode in which she comforted Sally ended with Don gazing enigmatically at her from his office. Could this unprecendented, if unfocussed interest be there simply to plant the seeds of a future bigger story? Could this brilliant series be so blatantly mechanical? Yes, it could. I still LURVE Mad Men, but not particularly on the strength of this episode.

I'm not sure it's fair to say that Pete "callously impregnated Peggy", given that he had no idea whatsoever that she had his baby until she told him a good year later. Mad Men's characters are written in shades of grey - it's part of what makes the show so enduringly compelling for me. To dismiss any of them as simply nasty and mediocre is to miss out on an awful lot.

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