Up from the 36 Chambers, it's your favorite Jamie Lannister fan-pod! Better late than never, am I right? Just as well that the Hollywood Prospectus podcast comes a couple days late this week. It allowed Andy and I to fully form some opinions about television shows that barely exist and that we haven't seen. That's right, it's upfronts season. Greenwald and I kicked the tires on all the prospective shows and imagine some that might have been.
We move on to regularly scheduled programming, tackling the rather bawdy television from Sunday night. We discussed the rising stock of Bob Benson, and the growing neurosis of Pete Campbell on Mad Men, and then chatted about how one might structure Game of Thrones differently, if one had 15 or 20 episodes to play with, rather than 10.
[Previously on Mad Men Power Rankings: Don takes an interest in puppies Teddy shows Peggy his gratitude Peggy writes some copy Roger flies Northwest Bert orders a drink Pete and his father-in-law have a heart-to-heart.]
Don Draper (last week: 1)
"It's morning. We know because we see the rooster crow. A farmer's wife sits pancakes on the kitchen table, she puts a pat of margarine on top, and sets the dish down next to the yellowest fried eggs, a loaf of homemade bread, and a beading pitcher of heavy cream. Syrup pours. A smile comes over their Dorothea Lange faces."
Now, we ask you: Is this the margarine pitch that wins the day, steamrolling over warm-up nonsense about the various Gilligan's Island equivalencies of the butter-substitute oligarchy, or is this utter horseshit served with a side of perfectly crisp toast and artisanal marmalade? We honestly don't know the answer; maybe it's both. But there is, as there always is, the unflinching confidence in the delivery, because if Don Draper is good at one thing, it's mesmerizing with his monotone while he paints the room around him sepia and then convinces you it's never been a different color. The worst part, of course, is that now we desperately want some breakfast. And to drench it in margarine, it really brings out the flavor. Just like grandma used to make.
Demi Moore Moves On: Demi is "loving it up with a hot new boytoy: Will Hanigan, 30, a commercial pearl diver and adventurer from Perth, Australia." Will tells Star, "She's an amazing woman. We know each other through yoga, and we've become close." Through naked yoga. "Demi and Will made an arresting pair when spotted at Nine Treasures Yoga in West Hollywood on May 1. While Demi was dressed in all black and carried a traditional rolled yoga mat on her back, towering Will looked more like a Viking, with his long blond hair and beard and a mat made out of a shearling robe slung over his shoulder." He looks like a Game of Thrones character, to be honest. Three days later they returned, and were "making naughty use of the facility's sauna. They get massages before going in — and they can actually be heard making wild sexual noises inside." Receipts? Field recordings?
The past few weeks Chris and I have been constrained by time and topic, rushing through our recording as if Tywin Lannister were watching us from behind a desk, shaking his head and pointing to an hourglass. Well, no longer! Taking inspiration from Reese Witherspoon, Great(est) American Hero, we've decided that nothing is going to obstruct our justice anymore. This week's episode stretched out and stayed awhile, allowing us to give the Ballad of Reese and Jim the attention it so richly deserves (1:45), not to mention a whole host of other topics, including (but not limited to): Shane Black, Iron Man 3 (9:35), summer movies, Fast and the Furious, cars, muscle cars, that time Chris almost bought a muscle car, the time Chris tricked me into reading X-Men comics again, magic, Melanie Laurent, and the Season 1 finale of The Americans (30:00). And even with all of that in our rearview (car reference!), we still had time to shimmy up this week's draggy episode of Game of Thrones (36:30) like wildlings over the Wall and chase after an excellent installment of Mad Men (50:40) like Roger Sterling on a last-second flight to Detroit. Littlefinger may be right that chaos is a ladder. But if so, I know an Academy Award–winning actress who's currently climbing two rungs at a time, in high heels and a killer hat. #freereese
[Previously on Mad Men Power Rankings: Don takes Bobby to the movies … Peggy and Abe look at real estate … Betty considers an old dress … Harry and Pete have a frank discussion on current events … Joan hugs a secretary.]
Don Draper (last week: 1)
"If you don't like what they're saying, change the conversation."
No, that's not right. It's a little too trite at this point to start with a catchphrase so good even Peggy's using it in pitches.
First off, a brief announcement: As you may have heard, the Grantland Network has been cloven in twain to better serve our listeners. You can now find the Girls in Hoodies podcast on the fresh and fabulous Grantland Pop Culture channel (SUBSCRIBE NOW!), while your athletics-oriented favorites such as the Jalen Rose Show and the Triangle Podcast will remain at the OG Grantland Network, heretofore known as Grantland Sports. If you're worried or confused, don't be — just because we don't live together anymore doesn't mean we don't still love you very much.
Astrology in fiction has a colorful history: Queen Elizabeth’s relationship with astronomer, occultist, and crystal-ball guy John Dee led to repeated hot debates among Shakespeare’s characters (Prospero; Romeo and Juliet; King Lear) about self-determination versus the fate dictated by natal charts; Sailor Moon hits the horoscope tip on the double, covering both Eastern and Western astrological calendars; Marvel Comics has its own Zodiac cartel; and there’s a sizable amount of bandwidth devoted to considering the sun signs of the wizards and friends of Harry Potter. Guessing character’s signs is a sort of Internet parlor game, a way of squeezing more juice out of a fake person than the author provides. When a character’s birth date is mentioned explicitly, it seems like a good opportunity to get all Room 237 on that tip and add an extra dimension of character traits to imaginary biographies. But even when birthday parties are featured on a show that appears to take place in the present, the armchair astrologists eagerly hop onto the topic to riddle out the Virgos from the Scorpios (though South Park’s Eric Cartman is believed, for some reason, to have been born on July 1, his birthday episode aired on February 4 but took place on a Saturday, which would have been February 7).
On this week's episode, boys become men, men go to the movies, fathers yell at their children, and children hang out and pump it up with Michael Shannon. First off, as a matter of housecleaning, our very own podcast, and all the other great pop culture shows on the Grantland Network, are getting their own feed. You can now subscribe to the Grantland Pop Culture and Grantland Sports family of podcasts separately. This is big for us. We've been in Jalen Rose's shadow for too long. Everybody knows that.
Ah, but back to this week's show. We started out with a little chat about the new film Mud (2:00). It's a coming-of-age story set in Arkansas from director Jeff Nichols (Shotgun Stories, Take Shelter), and it's one of the best movies of 2013. This led us to talk about some of our favorite coming-of-age movies (Stand by Me, Fresh) and segued nicely into a discussion of Mad Men (8:45). While all the talk was about the big historical event covered in last Sunday's episode, we found ourselves more taken with the heart-exploding interaction between Don and Bobby Draper. Like a matinee of Planet of the Apes, we wished we could just run it back.
[Previously on Mad Men Power Rankings: Don and Sylvia talk about faith Peggy changes the conversation Harry Crane files his performance review Ted McGinley swings by Heinz Ketchup goes great on hot dogs.]
1. Don Draper (last week: 1)
You learn a lot about a man in a time of crisis, and this week we learned that Don's the kind of guy who responds to tragedy by worrying about the whereabouts of his mistress, crawling into the bottle of Canadian Club on his nightstand, and, upon waking the next day, bathrobe-swaddled and stinking of last night's impromptu date with the forgetting-juice, taking the boy to the movies while the wife takes the other kids to a vigil. "What else are we gonna do?" he shrugs, ready to sit back down to the half-finished, rubbery awards-show chicken that is his life and pretend the world's not going up in flames around him. You can't really say any of this is particularly new information, but it's always riveting to watch how these scenarios play out, to pluck at the jet-black What Will Don Draper Do? rubber band on your wrist and feel the blunt sting of the results.
Look, here's this alternate ending from Silver Linings Playbook. Ideally, this scene would go on for another 15 minutes with De Niro straight-up murdering Ricky for wearing a Vikings shirt, then wiping the blood off his hands and digging into some braciole while Cooper and Lawrence suck on each other's tongues in the La-Z-Boy.
Do you know who I am? Do you know who Chris is? These are the questions that America's sweetheart, Reese Witherspoon (:50), would ask were she in the podcast studio with us instead of locked up in an Atlanta drunk tank. And though we had much to say about the Academy Award winner's transgressions down south, we actually had a great deal more to say about television. First, some light weekend reading got Chris thinking about Howard Hawkes and the means of Hollywood production, which (a) was actually much lighter than it sounds, and (b) dovetailed quite nicely with a piece I wrote last week about how cable's niche targeting and fan service may be limiting future greatness (7:10). But luckily we still have plenty of present greatness to debate, so we spent plenty of time raving over a truly phenomenal episode of Game of Thrones (23:25) and puzzling our way through a knotty, occasionally ugly episode of Mad Men (35:45). Now if you'll excuse us we're going to lock ourselves in an office with Stan Rizzo and 100 takeout menus, and we're not coming out until this pitch for our separatist moon colony series is in tip-top shape and ready to go. (It'll make more sense if you listen. Honest.)
[Previously on Mad Men Power Rankings: Don and Sylvia eat Italian food Don listens to Bing Crosby Trudy and Pete have a heart-to-heart Kenny passes the ketchup.]
1. Don Draper (last week: 1)
This was a week in which Don Draper hid in dark offices while working on top-secret projects, eavesdropped at a hotel suite, and lurked in the shadows of a television set. But Don Draper is not a spy; Don Draper is an adman. Don Draper smoked joints in a clandestine hot box, drooling over the exquisite squiggles of ketchup on an illustrated hot dog begging to be smothered in the delicious suicide sauce that would hasten its own demise. Don Draper pressed an ear to a closed door, trying to hear how a professional ambush resolved itself. Don Draper sat across from a pair of swingers and barely concealed his disgust at how comfortable they were with a lifestyle that made public what he likes to do in private. Don Draper showed up unannounced at his wife's place of work, desperate to observe his on-camera cuckolding at the hands of a pretty-boy actor, and to ensure that the verisimilitude of their pantomime lovemaking met his stringent husbandly tolerance standards. Don Draper made damn well sure his wife felt shitty about it. Don Draper shattered his own adultery land-speed record, going from crying-wife-in-her-dressing-room to penny-under-the-mistress's-doormat in under 10 seconds. Don Draper avoided the crucified Jesus's gaze as he got down to business, because even though there's no God in Don Draper's life besides Don Draper, he still didn't want his partner's lord and savior tsk-tsking along with every sinful thrust, because that is a real mood-killer.
Don Draper has had prouder weeks. Maybe not busier, but prouder.
With Emily still recovering from Coachella, and Molly still recovering from Anthony Mackie in a Dan Marino jersey, the Girls decided to ditch the map this week and free-form jazz their way through their discussion of an eventful pop cultural week. (So eventful, in fact, that we didn't even get around to talking about Amanda Bynes's face! Apologies for going off-brand.) The highlights were of course Emily's weekend in Tatooine Indio, and the Grantland staff's (controversial!) Pain & Gain screening, but other topics discussed include: