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Mad Men Recap Season 7, Episode 4, "The Monolith"

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Mad Men Recap: Season 7, Episode 4, “The Monolith”

AMC

Mad Men Recap: Season 7, Episode 4, “The Monolith”

Though Don Draper’s (Jon Hamm) return to SC&P in “The Monolith” certainly stirs the pot, his presence (purposefully) feels challenged by the introduction of the company’s new computer system, installed right where the copywriters work in the lounge. In fact, the key exchange of the episode involves Don, Harry Crane (Richard Sommer), and Lloyd (Robert Baker), the man who comes to install the gargantuan IBM unit. At one point, Harry assures that the taking over of the creative lounge for the computer isn’t symbolic of them jettisoning the creative department, to which Don retorts that they haven’t symbolically evicted them, but rather literally kicked them out.

Mad Men Recap Season 3, Episode 12, “The Grown-Ups”

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Mad Men Recap: Season 3, Episode 12, “The Grown-Ups”

AMC

Mad Men Recap: Season 3, Episode 12, “The Grown-Ups”

AMC’s Mad Men is nothing if not thematically well organized, and typically, writing about an episode consists of picking out the throughline and explicating how it brings together all the disparate plot elements. Typically, though, that throughline exists in the subtext, which makes “The Grown-Ups”, written by Brett Johnson and Matthew Weiner and directed by Barbet Schroeder, both a deliberate change of pace and a difficult episode to write about. Well, that, or an exceedingly easy one: hey everyone, this episode’s about the Kennedy assassination!

Mad Men Recap Season 3, Episode 2, “Love Among the Ruins”

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Mad Men Recap: Season 3, Episode 2, “Love Among the Ruins”

AMC

Mad Men Recap: Season 3, Episode 2, “Love Among the Ruins”

In its own way, Bye, Bye Birdie, both the Charles Strouse and Lee Adams stage musical and the George Sidney film of the material, is an uneasy attempt to bridge a divide that was already becoming apparent in the late ’50s and early ’60s. It’s simultaneously an attempt to understand a coming eruption. Also, it’s a goofy comedy musical that seems like it’s trying to understand what the matter is with kids today but ultimately ends up siding with their parents. It’s like someone made a musical of the comic strip Zits. There’s nothing as mean-spirited about the work as I’m making it sound, since it’s basically just a lighthearted, gentle look at the sorts of teen frenzies over rock stars that were becoming well-known in the late ’50s, but there is at least an undercurrent of uncertainty to it. When Paul Lynde sings “What’s the Matter with Kids Today?” in the movie version, it’s a joke, yes, but there’s also a vague sense of unease, a sense that things may never again be the same. Kennedy’s in the White House, rock ’n’ roll is here to stay, and there’s a growing sense that youth is driving the conversation now instead of following it. Plus, you’ve got Ann Margaret, sensual and seductive but also somehow innocent (at least in this film). Maybe to our modern eyes, it’s possible to see how corny it all is, but at the time of its release, she must have seemed intoxicating.