I have a startling admission to make: Mad Men is no longer my favorite show on Sunday nights. Now, when I sit around in the sunshine on Sunday afternoon, I'm wondering what the hell is going to happen that night on Game of Thrones not with Don Draper and his clan of merry misfits. It's because Season 6 of Mad Men has been wildly disappointing. There are no surprises, no excitement, and no overaching structure to connect one episode to the next.
Look at last night, most of the really memorable things were nothing but distractions from the main theme. Peggy's Realtor served no real purpose but to get Peggy to realize she doesn't want to move to the Upper East Side. Ginsberg's date really doesn't go anywhere interesting. Don calls looking for Dr. Rosen instead of Sylvia, who he's having an affair with, hammering home the point that he'd rather be with Arnie than his wife (something we established three episodes ago). Harry Hamlin is there for no good reason.
Speaking of which, William Mapother, who played Ethan on Lost was there for no reason either. Well, he was playing an insurance guy and Roger's old drug buddy, Randall, (Roger says, "He talked me off a ledge once" and I can only assume from Randy's behavior that the two shared some LSD together) who had a crazy idea for an ad campaign with a Molotov cocktail. He was quirky in a way that a Boston Legal character is, just for the sake of being odd. Back in the day we had people like Miss Blankenship, whose quirks commented on the existential crises of those around her. This guy is just a pastiche of tics and jargon with a silly idea no one takes seriously. He's also an excuse for a silly joke when Roger says, "Make sure this guy doesn't get lost," an obvious reference to his past show. Between that, the joke about the Second Avenue subway being finished (New Yorkers know that it still isn't), and last week's gratuitous 30 Rock reference, the show seems content being amused at itself rather than working toward some sort of revelation or universal truth. Sure, that still makes it a decent show, but it's not the layers deep drama that I used to enjoy.
There were actually two themes last night, that of fathers and sons and the political turning personal, both brought out by the death of Martin Luther King, Jr. The assassination was reported at an advertising awards dinner (Megan won!). This shadowed both the award ceremony at the beginning of Season 4 and Roger's daughter's wedding in Season 3 that went on even in the aftermath of the Kennedy assassination. It felt like well-worn territory, that we had seen the pettiness of daily events in the light of historical tragedy before, so this was nothing new. Also the firm's bad seats and the fact that their only nominations were for work Megan and Peggy did and both are no longer at the firm only points to Don Draper and his decline, something that we have seen repeatedly since last season.
But enough bitching. In the wake of MLK's death, Don has his children for the weekend and he has a chance to be a spectacularly bad father once again. First he forgets to pick the kids up and then drives them through a riot to get to his house. Finally, when Megan is going to take the kids to a vigil in Central Park, Bobby feigns a stomach ache. He's not supposed to watch TV because he's being punished so Don gets around his sentence and takes him to the movies. After a matinee of Planet of the Apes, where Bobby is bowled over by the cruelty that men are able to inflict on each other and their world, he has a touching moment with a black usher, letting him know, in his own little 10-year-old way (he's supposed to be 10, right?) that "everyone goes to the movies when they're sad" and that he is sad about King's death.
Don can't do anything. He seems to have an inability to connect with his children and he wants to help Bobby, but all he can do is help him get his Milk Duds open. Don can't deal with Bobby's feelings and what appears to be like some sort of anxiety disorder, obsessive compulsion, or borderline personality behavior (as evidenced by his ripping down the imperfect wallpaper). When Megan comes home, Don is once again the sad drunk (because we haven't seen enough of that) and he tells her that he never really loved his kids, he was just acting, but when they did something good like that, his heart wants to explode that he's so happy. And still, because of his own loveless childhood, he can't find a way to express it. Boo-freaking-hoo.
When Don sees Bobby awake in the middle of the night (probably picking at scabs or something) he gets into bed with him and tries to make it better. Don is literally on his level and asks Bobby what is wrong, the first step to making some sort of emotional connection. When Bobby says he's worried that Henry is going to get shot like MLK, Don responds glibly (and hilariously) that Henry is not important enough. A kid doesn't understand that, and Don takes an opportunity and totally blows it, offering no greater solace. Instead he goes outside and listens to the sirens and the disorder raging below. The night is dark and full of terrors. (Sorry, had to get my favorite GoT in there somewhere.) But Don is in the same position Bobby is and is in at the end of the episode.
Just like MLK had a dream that his son would live in a better world, so does Don, but the world he is giving over to his son is awful and scary. He's handing him a future where the apes take over and the Statue of Liberty lies in ruins on the beach. He can't really do anything to change that, but he can try to make Bobby feel better about it and give him some insight no adult ever gave him. But he can't. Instead he just stands there, anxious and inactive, pondering all the darkness that lurks around the twinkling of the city lights.
While it seemed like Ginsberg's date was going to be about him meeting a nice Jewish girl and maybe, finally, losing his virginity, it was not. It was about him and his father. His immigrant father set up him on a date and Ginsberg even admits that it feels very old world. That seems to be the dynamic between them, which was hinted at before, but it seemed initially like Ginsberg's father was somehow mentally deficient or senile. He's not, he's just embarrassing to Ginsberg because he has not been able to assimiliate into American culture. The disconnect between the old and new society that this show is steeped in is especially powerful here, because there is an even larger gap between Ginsberg the older's culture and Ginsberg the younger's.
There is no progress or movement in their relationship though. It's just stagnant. Ginsberg says that he doesn't want his father meddling and he can meet his own girls, but that is obviously not the case or else, well, a handsome young man such as himself wouldn't still be a virgin. His father wants Ginsberg to have a better life than him and he seems to be working for it, but the two of them have different definitions of what is important. Ginsbert the son wants to focus on his work and Ginsberg the father wants him to focus on the family. But maybe the old way is the right way? All of this is "tale as old as time" stuff and we didn't get an interesting spin on it in the episode. Sure there was some excellent banter between Ginsberg and his date but, like so much else in this episode, it was just a distraction from a plot that didn't have much of a point.
Pete Campbell was also dealing with his own father issues and took the death of MLK very hard. This had more to do with Pete's situation than his love of civil rights however. We learn this when he has the hilarious fight with Harry Crane, who is more upset about work than the death, and Pete has an irrationally outrageous reaction. He ends the fight by telling Harry, "Let me put this in terms you can understand, the man had a wife and four kids."
Pete is really missing the loss of his wife and daughter and, in this time of uncertainty, he wants the love and comfort they bring him. When everything was normal and boring in the suburbs he wanted out, but now that the novelty of the single life has worn off and the only person he has to talk to is the silent Chinese delivery man, he wants back into the fold. Again, this is a story we've seen again and again on this show. Pete is just Don Draper from two seasons ago. This isn't interesting or revelatory. What was interesting was Pete's fight with Harry and Pete actually not being a jerk about the news. When King was shot, I figured Pete would be the one who would care more about work than his feelings, but he wasn't. Of course he only cares so much because of his personal situation, but whatever it takes for Pete to do the right thing. And thanks for being the only surprise.
The women got short shrift this week, especially our lovely Peggy. She starts out wanting to buy a house on the Upper East Side just blocks away from Don Draper, continuing her transformation into the man himself. There is all this drama with her Realtor who is trying to take advantage of the unrest to get Peggy a good deal on her apartment and she ends up losing it. Aw, sad Peggy.
But sad Peggy quickly turns into happy Peggy. Her boyfriend Abe, who is working hard on a story about the riots in Harlem, tells her that he doesn't want to live there, he wants to raise their children somewhere where there is more diversity. Peggy doesn't say anything, but she seems to agree and sits on the couch smiling, happy that her man is envisioning their future and excited about the possibility of going out and doing her own thing. That's the thing about Peggy, she always seems to need a little push. I'm glad that she and Abe are still together. When her boss Ted was giving him dirty looks at the ad dinner I thought for sure she was going to leave him behind in some West Village flat while she moved on up to the east side with the Jeffersons.
Like Pete Campbell, Betty Draper had a bit of redemption last night. She called up and harassed Don in classic Betty harpy mode, but he deserved it. He forgot his kids and didn't even call, no wonder she's laying on the guilt extra thick. I like my Betty like I like a hamburger, fat and juicy, but I felt bad for her after Henry's big announcement that he was going to run for State Senate. "I can't wait for everyone to meet the real you," he tells her, but she doesn't want anyone to meet her. This is what she always wanted, a powerful, rich husband who will raise her profile, but now that it's happening, her beauty is gone. It's too late. "This is what I always wanted for you, what I always wanted for us," she says, but it's what she's always wanted for her.
Later she stands in the mirror and holds up a dress she can't fit into anymore. She plays with her hair that is frizzy from dying it so dark. She's tried so hard to be her real self and she just can't. It's going to be back to "reducing" and pouring herself into those tiny chic outfits once again, polishing the glossy shell of her exterior so her man will have something nice to show off.
It's the little details like Betty pulling at her hair in the mirror that make this show, and there were some great details. We had Peggy showing genuine compassion when hugging her secretary and Joan showing icy concern about Dawn, which came off as nothing but tokenism. We had Dawn saying to Don, "Getting here, well, took some time," with a perfect line reading that gave us so much insight into her life and the character. There was Megan, freaking out slightly at Don and Sylvia giving Don the once over with her eyes that said just about everything. That is what keeps me watching Mad Men and will continue to keep it good. Now let's just work on getting everything else back in order to make it great.
Follow Brian Moylan on Twitter @BrianJMoylan
More: 'Mad Men' Recap: Finally Some Alone Time with Joan'Mad Men' Recap: Don Draper Is a Whore'Mad Men' Recap; Don Draper Has No Idea Who He Is
From Our Partners:Miley Goes Braless for Magazine Cover (Celebuzz)33 Child Stars: Where Are They Now? (Celebuzz)
It’s interesting how appropriate a movie title can be, even beyond encapsulating the central conceit or touching upon some important plot point. Take for example Jee-woon Kim’s The Last Stand. On the surface, the title may only appear to reference that the story revolves around a sheriff whose small border town is the last line of defense against a marauding escaped convict. But there is another connotation: this actioner stars sixty-five-year-old Arnold Schwarzenegger. Arnie has enjoyed a long, celebrated career of cinematic action heroism, but has reached the point where each new film feels like a last stand, a potential final note of glory for his expansive catalog.
Despite the harsh physical demands imposed by the genre in which he has become a staple, Arnold has managed the remarkable feat of continuing making action films well past his peak. Hollywood has long had a reputation of being a world suited for the young; where age is an insidious enemy. And yet a few special performers have managed to jump into the acting game well into their 30s and beyond with profound success. Others simply didn’t get their big break until they were more mature. We thought we’d take a look at some of our favorites and discuss why it took so long for them to achieve success.
Thanks to the Harry Potter films, Alan Rickman is more popular now than ever, but it was a certain skyscraping action classic that put him on the map back in 1988. Rickman was forty-two when Die Hard, his first film, was released. Like many British actors, he got his start on the stage, but he didn’t even enroll in the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts until he was twenty-six. So what delayed him from tackling acting sooner? Believe it or not, it was a successful graphic design business, which Rickman ran with his friends. Is it too much to hope for that those friends were the other dastardly thieves on the Nakatomi heist? Regardless of his previous occupation, his maturity upon entering acting school, coupled with the stage roles prior to Die Hard, is precisely what allowed for Rickman’s dazzling film debut.
Harrison Ford has become one of the most recognizable figures in cinema. His resume reads like a who’s who of superlatively iconic film characters. He’s Indiana Jones, he’s Deckard from Blade Runner, and, possibly most renowned, Han Solo from the original Star Wars trilogy. When Ford beat out the likes of Nick Nolte, Kurt Russell, Jack Nicholson, and Christopher Walken, among many others, for the role of Solo, he was thirty-five-years-old. With such raw talent and magnetism, why did Ford wait so long to give performing a whirl? It turns out he had tried acting once before, even got signed to a contract with Universal after he dropped out of college. But after becoming frustrated with his stagnating career, he decided to go into carpentry. It wasn’t until he met George Lucas and worked on American Graffiti that he got back into the movie star game. Thankfully, his rugged good looks only improved with age.
There have been a great many film stars who began their careers on TV before making the leap to film. However, in the case of Steve Carell, he has jumped back and forth between the mediums with great success. But even if we go back to his seminal gig on The Daily Show, where he was a favorite correspondent, he was already thirty-seven. The first film role that would bring him notice was as the slimy anchorman Evan Baxter in 2003’s Bruce Almighty. A couple more film victories later, he landed the role of Michael Scott in the American version of The Office; Carell now forty-three. Once again, when it comes to burgeoning talent, comedy proves to be a genre without age restrictions.
Dame Judi Dench
When scanning back through all the actors who either began their career or got their big break later in life, one thing that becomes exceedingly clear is that there are far more men in that category than women. It seems the proverbial system is not as accepting of aged female performers as it is their male counterparts. We could postulate in-depth about the superficiality and sexual double standards of showbiz all day, but one thing is for certain, Dame Judi Dench is a force of nature on the screen whose age has not at all slowed her down. Like Rickman, she too got her start on the stage, but won her first major acclaim on British TV, just as she entered her late 40s. Of course, it was her casting as the James Bond franchise’s first female M in 1995’s GoldenEye that broadened her appeal stateside. She was sixty-one. Talent, real talent, has no expiration date, and Dench serves as a fantastic testament to that.
Transitioning from one entertainment arena into cinematic fame becomes a common theme the more we examine these late-in-life movie stars. In the case of Rodney Dangerfield, he developed a name for himself as a standup comedian long before his first foray into film came in 1980, when he was just shy of sixty-years-old. His role as the outlandish millionaire Al Czervik in Caddyshack launched him into the filmic comedy stratosphere and made him a fixture of the 1980s. There is something to be said for comedy being more accommodating for this sort of post-mature transition. Comedy does not tend to present the same physical demands as do action films, nor are the standards of beauty as lofty. No disrespect intended, Rodney.
[Photo Credit: Lionsgate; Columbia; Warner Bros Pictures(2)]
Why Schwarzenegger Took on ‘The Last Stand’: 'This Is What the Fans Want to See'
Arnold Schwarzenegger Assembles His 'The Last Stand' Team — EXCLUSIVE PIC
Matt Damon Is Ready to Replace Ben Affleck with John Krasinski
From Our Partners:
Megan Fox’s 12 Hottest Moments (Moviefone)
Golden Globes: Tina and Amy’s Best Zinger’s (Moviefone)
The action hero was in London to sign copies of his new memoir Total Recall at Waterstones bookstore in London's Piccadilly.
Lewis was one of the hundreds of fans who turned out to meet the actor-turned-politician, but huge crowds meant the retailer's bosses had to close the queue, leaving the Brit out in the cold.
Taking to his Twitter.com account, Lewis writes, "Gutted. They've closed the queue at Waterstone's for Schwarzenegger. One day, Arnie, our paths will cross, but not today."
A representative for the store tweets, "Our Schwarzenegger event... is now at full capacity. No more spaces available for the signing. Apologies."
Top Story: Mike Newell Directing Fourth Harry Potter Pic
British director Mike Newell is officially set to helm the fourth Harry Potter movie, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Warner Bros. Pictures announced Sunday. Newell, best known for his 1994 romantic comedy Four Weddings and a Funeral starring Hugh Grant, will begin work on Goblet of Fire in April, The Associated Press reports. According to the studio, production on Goblet of Fire will overlap with the third Harry Potter pic, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, which is currently being filmed under the direction of Alfonso Cuaron (Y Tu Mama Tambien). The crossover made it impossible for Cuaron to direct both versions of J.K. Rowling's hit series on the boy wizard, but producer David Heyman said Newell, who also directed Donnie Brasco with Al Pacino, and recently completed Mona Lisa Smile with Julia Roberts, was the "perfect choice" for the new film. Chris Columbus directed the first two movies, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
Terminator 4 Without Arnie?
The CEO of the Munich-based Internationalmedia, the German producers who backed Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, told Berlin's Welt am Sonntag newspaper in an interview released ahead of publication on Sunday there could be a fourth movie in the series even if star Arnold Schwarzenegger becomes the next governor of California. According to Reuters, executive producer Moritz Bormann had discussed Schwarzenegger's political ambitions with him during the filming of T3 and contemplated alternatives should Schwarzenegger win the election. "If we come up with a good story," he told the paper, "there will be a fourth Terminator--with or without Arnold."
Schwarzenegger Voted Against Illegal Immigrant Measure
Speaking of the Terminator, the AP reports Schwarzenegger, who has promoted himself as the Republican candidate in California's gubernatorial recall who can best appeal to the state's politically and ethnically diverse electorate, voted for a 1994 ballot measure to deny social services to illegal immigrants. The GOP-backed Proposition 187 to deny health care and public education to illegal immigrants was passed by a wide margin, but was eventually ruled unconstitutional. But Schwarzenegger campaign manager George Gorton said Schwarzenegger's vote for the measure would not prevent him from reaching out to all voters.
Accident Cancels Timberlake, Aguilera Show
A sold-out concert at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J., on Sunday by pop stars Christina Aguilera and Justin Timberlake was canceled when a large aluminum lighting grid collapsed. According to the AP, three stagehands were injured when the it fell down around 12:45 p.m. Saturday. Close to 30 people were working below the grid when it buckled and tilted downward before completely collapsing. The cause of the accident, the second in three years to happen at the 75-year-old landmark hall, has not been determined. Neither Aguilera nor Timberlake were in the building when the grid collapsed. There is no word on whether the show will be rescheduled.
Showtime Launches Rap Talent Show
Showtime has ordered six one-hour episodes of Interscope Presents 'The Next', described as an 8 Mile-inspired, American Idol-style contest for amateur rappers. According to Reuters, the show will mix performances from aspiring artists with documentary footage of such established stars as 50 Cent, Nate Dogg and Clipse. But unlike American Idol, The Next will not have judges or audience voting for one-on-one freestyle rhyme "battles." The victor will instead be determined by crowd reaction. The 10 semifinalists, who have already been selected from New York, Los Angeles, Detroit, Philadelphia and Atlanta, will compete for a yet-to-be-decided top prize.
Role Call: Lawrence Set for Momma 2, LaBeouf Eyed for Truth
Martin Lawrence is set to reprise his role as the DDD-cupped undercover matriarch in the sequel to Big Momma's House for Fox and Regency. Scribe Don Rhymer, who co-wrote the original pic, will pen the Momma 2 script … Director Christian Charles, who helmed the Jerry Seinfeld documentary Comedian, is in negotiations to helm Nothing but the Truth for New Line Cinema. The comedy revolves around a chronic liar who is forced to live out all his outrageous lies, including running a major corporation and being a homosexual. According to Variety, teen thesp Shia LaBeouf has been mentioned as possible topliner for the pic.