Don: It shouldn’t have been that close.

Cooper: But it is; it always is.

Whedonesque has been talking a lot lately about the HBO film Recount (it is written by Danny Strong, who played Jonathan, a recurring character on my beloved Buffy, the Vampire Slayer). I don’t have HBO, so I was missing the buzz. It looks amazing. It premiered this weekend. If you saw it, do tell.

Television Without Pity has a wonderful interview with Danny. His approach to this topic (the 2000 presidential election and its ridiculous results) is well worth reading about. EW also has a great article about the film.

During my initial viewing of Nixon vs. Kennedy, way back when, I couldn’t help but think of the 2000 election debacle.

Now I’m not sure how much the writers, Lisa Albert, Andre & Maria Jacquemetton, (and of course, always Weiner at the helm), intended the modern day metaphor. I can’t imagine it escaped their collective gaze, but at the same time, it seemed like they didn’t much play it up. I think that what was more important in terms of serving the show was the comparison of Nixon v Kennedy and Draper v Campbell. (more…)


Sunday, May 18th, was Robert Morse’s 77th birthday.

I’d written a little piece in which Matthew Weiner talks about casting him (and other tales) here.

Quoting uh, me:

He had to audition, like everyone. He wasn’t at all insulted by that, but he “had nooo idea what was going on”. He kept saying, So much yarn, so little time, which Weiner put into the show.

From IMDb about his tony awards:

Has won two Tony Awards: in 1962, as Best Actor (Musical) for “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying,” a role he recreated in the film version, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (1967); and in 1990 as Best Actor (Play) for “Tru,” a one-man show in which he played Truman Capote and a performance he recreated on television as “American Playhouse: Tru” (1992). He was also nominated for Tony Awards three other times: once as Best Supporting or Featured Actor (Dramatic), in 1959 for “Say, Darling;” and twice as Best Actor (Musical), in 1960 for “Take Me Along” (an Award won by co-star Jackie Gleason) and in 1973 for “Sugar.”

I watched Tru when it was on PBS over and over (I had taped it). It was exquisite, and he was brilliance.

Happy birthday week, Mr. Morse! We are so glad you are on Mad Men.

Birthday kisses from BoK!

So, Eme (sometimes Eme Kay), Basket of Kisses reader and frequent discussion chime-in-er, purchased herself the production script of the Wheel (how did we survive before eBay?), and was terrifically kind enough to share it with us truly. I was expecting to enjoy it for the cool factor, but what I didn’t expect was to come across lines that were cut. And I’m not talking about lines that were chopped out by AMC after the original broadcast; the version of the Wheel that I have recorded is in fact the uncut one (with the ‘deleted scene‘). No, I’m talking about lines that never made it to air. Possibly never made it to shoot.

There’s plenty in this treasure chest, but let me start with this:

(I omitted stage direction– Cooper flips through book— but left in character direction; emphasis mine for lines that were not included in the episode as it aired.)

DON
Are those the legendary secret files of Bert Cooper?

COOPER
No. I have to write a report to the board. My sister Alice is quite a business woman. It’s hard to be scrutinized by your sister.

DON
Those reports are always the same. This year, big, next year, bigger.

Okay so can I just say, Alice? Let’s hope we get to meet her in Season Two! Fascinating premise, and this goes back to the discussions we’ve had regarding acceptable (by BoK standards) celebrity cameos.

COOPER
(laughs)
I got a call from Abraham Menken. I’m sure you know that his daughter will be unavailable for the next three months– taking some sort of ocean voyage to Paris and whatnot.

Don tries to hide his surprise.

DON
I hadn’t heard that.
(then)
But otherwise?

COOPER

(irritated)
There is no otherwise. Why is this man calling me?

And I take a moment right here to appreciate the acting. And acting in general. You read the words on the page, and then you hear how much the actor breathes into it. A primitive insight, perhaps, but there you go.

DON
(firmly)
I don’t know. Was he unhappy?

COOPER
Roger told me you had difficulty working with this woman. As a partner, I do not expect your personal preferences to interfere with our business.

DON
Who says they have?

COOPER
It was the tone of his voice. He’s her father.

That’s it, cowboy. If I don’t see you, have a nice holiday.

Holy! So it seems that, as it was originally scripted, Cooper did not see all when it came to Rachel and Don’s affair. Which, for the record, I had never been convinced about; the words ‘personal preferences’ hearkened directly back to everyone’s take on Don’s relationship with Rachel based on their first horrible meeting in the pilot. It was Cooper’s “cowboy” that cast doubt, for me.

But I’m wondering… am I better informed now, or was the line cut for the purpose of giving the impression that Cooper knows?

This is one of those times I wish I could speak to Matthew Weiner. I am generally quite content with the nebulous nature of this show; all the gray areas and answers that Mr. Weiner may not specifically have. But this one is specific and I think there’s an answer.

(Wait. ALICE COOPER??? HA HA HA HA HAAAHH!!!!)

There’s a discussion going on at the IMDb Mad Men board about the name Sterling Cooper. Shouldn’t it be Cooper Sterling, Asks one person, since Cooper is the senior partner? Yes, says another, except that Roger Sterling’s father is the original Sterling and founded the company with Bert Cooper. And yes, says a third person, that’s right, it was founded by Sterling’s father.

Gzung?

I’d never noticed this on the show (although apparently Roberta had). The AMC site has nothing official about this. Their character sketches don’t give any back story that isn’t culled directly from aired episodes, and doesn’t say anything about this. The AMC Mad Men blog (not as good as ours) refers to this idea as a “conspiracy theory.” (Which, excuse me? Is obnoxious and stupid. There’s nothing conspiratorial about wondering about the founding of Sterling Cooper.)

Anyway, the “conspiracy theorist” remarks that Cooper has a framed picture of a young Roger with a man who is presumably Roger’s father. Roberta pointed out to me that Cooper calls Roger “Peanut,” and looks at that picture and says something like “You were so cute back then.”

It’s a whole new area of character exploration and back story that Season 2 might get into; the founding of Sterling Cooper and the influence of Roger’s father. I wonder if they plan on getting more explicit in that direction. It explains a lot about Roger (which I’ll get into in the near future).

Thoughts?

(I don’t usually issue spoiler warnings, because we started this blog after the first season had aired, but this little entry does reveal something from the finale, so if you’re about to see it for the first time this weekend, just hang out and read this next week.)

In the Wheel, Don finds out, through a disgruntled Bertram Cooper, that Rachel has gone on a three month ocean voyage.

Rachel’s objection to Don’s let’s-run-away panic was, among other things, that she couldn’t just up and leave her life.

(Though I’m not gonna lie. A three month ocean voyage seems a perfect plan to get away from and potentially over a romance gone bad. Especially one that mixes with your professional life.)

But also of course, it is ironic because Don’s let’s-run-away panic was, as it turned out, premature and unnecessary. Everything turned out fine. Oh, it’s hindsight week here at BoK.

“I like redheads. Their mouths are like a drop of strawberry jam in a glass of milk.”

Forgive me, MM writers. I love you all.

But this episode, about which I have so much more to say, seems to have a big fat continuity issue.

Thursday #1
It is the end of the workday. Roger speaks to his wife about the weekend plans. He is then told by Bertram Cooper that the Nixon boys are coming in at the end of the week. Joan has a bag packed and is taking a train with her roommate Carol for a weekend away. No mention that she is taking a Friday off, but okay so far.

How do I know it’s Thursday? Don says to Peggy, trying to make sure she’s not working too late, “Just because tomorrow’s Friday, doesn’t mean I expect to be pulling your head off the keys in the morning”. (God, that line is a mouthful!)

That night, it’s drinks for Don and Roger, and then the disastrous dinner at the Draper’s.

Thursday #2
The next morning, Roger offers Don a bottle and an apology. At lunch Pete exchanges a chip-and-dip for a 22-caliber rifle. (more…)

Matthew Weiner spoke to the casting of Robert Morse.

He can’t take credit for it; he knew they wanted some “old luminary”. It was Tom Palmer who suggested him, and Weiner was thrilled at the idea.

(There’s no one who reads this who doesn’t know that Robert Morse originated the role of J. Pierrepont Finch in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, and who doesn’t get what a brilliant and hilarious nod that is to the fourth wall, right?)

He had to audition, like everyone. He wasn’t at all insulted by that, but he “had nooo idea what was going on”. He kept saying, So much yarn, so little time, which Weiner put into the show. (Was it New Amsterdam? In Ladies Room, in reaction to all the boys running around in t-shirts playing with Right Guard.)

He still doesn’t know the name of his character. He calls himself Sterling Cooper.

Awesome.

Weiner then spoke a bit about the Asian-influenced behavior of the character. He said he’d wanted that from the beginning; that it fit the period. He said that while the shoelessness is Asian, he could also wear house shoes, but he took that from someone specific he had known.

And then he revealed…

Really, like most of the things that he does, they come off as eccentricities, but they’re really a way of controlling other people.

See why we could talk to him for like… EVER?