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He even looks less attractive this season. All those awful suits.

*May 6 update* read about Pete’s latest problems in my Episode 8 recap.

I love the irony of “Ode to Joy” playing through the credits of “Mad Men” Season 5 Episode 5, “Signal 30.” Pete Campbell was feeling the opposite of joy, despite playing Beethoven’s 9th symphony at his dinner party.

Pete is sad. Pathetic. But I feel sorry for him. I’ve always had complicated feelings about Pete, but after he took advantage of that German au pair (should we call it rape?) I thought he crossed the line so far that I couldn’t do anything but hate him. I also hated the writers for doing that to Pete since I was enjoying the back-and-forth of disliking him one week and empathizing with him the next. I never wanted him to become a “villain.” He’s too complicated for that.

Nice job beating the crap out of Pete, Lane!

This season, Pete is living in the suburbs and dealing with the usual suburban ennui. His wife Trudy is in her element — showing power and strength where Pete has none — but Pete is just frustrated. He slept with a prostitute as part of “work” for a Jaguar client but it barely feels like cheating because it was all about placating his sad little ego, which was bruised after he was rejected by a teenage girl who thought she had gotten drunk on vanilla extract. (Talk about sad!)

There were so many great quotes on Episode 5, most having to do with Pete and Lane, two uncool guys dealing with their lack of manly virility in different ways.

Here’s one of my favorites:

Lane [to Pete]: “I can’t believe the hours I have put into helping you become the monster you’ve become.”

And here’s a great exchange between Don and Pete:

Don: “Roger is miserable. I didn’t think you were.”
Pete:
“I have it all. Wait till your honeymoon’s over.”
Don:
“Look, I’m just tying to tell you — because I am who I am and I’ve been who I’ve been — that you don’t get another chance at what you have.”
Pete:
“Brave words for a man on his second time ’round.”
Don:
“Yeah, and if I met her first I would’ve known not to throw it away.”
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The only great things Pete has accomplished — marrying Trudy and having a cute baby — are things he wants nothing to do with. He even refused to take credit for his daughter at the dinner party, when he wants credit for so many other things no one cares about. Poor Pete.
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Check out my longer recap and 28 quotes from the episode here:  ‘Mad Men’ Season 5 Episode 5, ‘Signal 30′ Recap & Quotes: Lane Kicks Pete’s Ass!
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That Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce ad should’ve mentioned that secretaries either marry executives, get pregnant by them, run over their feet, or die.

April 1 update: Check out my Week 2 mini recap and quotes: Quotes from ‘Mad Men’ Season 5 Episode 3, ‘Tea Leaves’: ‘Who Smells Like Pee?’

April 8 update: Week 3 recap and quotes: Recap and 15 Quotes from ‘Mad Men’ Season 5 Episode 4, ‘Mystery Date’

April 15 update‘Mad Men’ Season 5 Episode 5, ‘Signal 30′ Recap & Quotes: Lane Fights Pete!

April 22 update: ‘Mad Men’ Season 5 Episode 6 ‘Far Away Places’ recap & quotes: ‘Love Leave’ ends

April 29 update: ‘Mad Men’ Season 5 Episode 7 ‘At the Codfish Ball’ Recap & Quotes: Daddy’s Girls

May 6 update: ‘Mad Men’ Season 5 Episode 8 ‘Lady Lazarus’ Recap & Quotes: Megan Quits! Yay?

May 13 update: ‘Mad Men’ Season 5 Episode 9 ‘Dark Shadows’ Recap & Quotes: Happy Envy Day?

May 20 update: ‘Mad Men’ Season 5 Episode 10, ‘Christmas Waltz’ recap & quotes: Hare Krishna?!

May 27 update: ‘Mad Men’ Season 5 Episode 11, ‘The Other Woman’ Recap & Quotes: Sex Sells (Out)

June 3 update: ‘Mad Men’ Season 5 Episode 12 ‘Commissions and Fees’ Recap & Quotes: Lane Closed

June 10 update: Mad Men Season 5 finale recap & quotes: ‘Are you alone?’ Don chases The Phantom

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“Mad Men” (finally!) just aired the two-hour premiere of Season 5, “A Little Kiss.” Basically, everyone is bitter and cynical this season. And it upsets Megan. One mustn’t upset Megan Draper! She has taken over Don Draper’s life, Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce’s copywriting desk and the “Mad Men” 5 premiere. Don married her but we shouldn’t all have to put up with her, “Zou Bisou Bisou” or not.

Here are my 21 favorite quotes from the premiere, in order of their appearance:

1. Black woman protester [on the white water bomb throwing executives]: “And they call us savages.”

2. Don Draper [to Sally, on Betty and Henry]: “Give Morticia and Lurch my love.”

3. Peggy Olson [to Megan]: “Men hate surprises. Didn’t you have ‘Lucy’ in Canada?”

4. Megan [on Don's surprise birthday party]: “Everyone’s going to go home from this and they’re going to have sex.”

5. Peggy [on Don]: “Clients are right all of a sudden? I don’t recognize that man. He’s kind and patient.”
Stan: “And it galls you.”
Peggy: “No, it concerns me.”

6. Trudy Campbell [to Pete]: “Dissatisfaction is a symptom of ambition. It’s the coal that fuels the fire.”

7. Roger Sterling [after Don receives a Steinway walking stick for his birthday]: “You could stick it up your ass and have a concert.”

8. Pete [at Don's birthday party]: “Roger, I didn’t know you were invited. Or did you just hear I was invited and show up?”

9. Jane Sterling [on Pete]: “Is he going bald?”

10. Abe [on Don and Megan's white rug]: “I just want to take my pants off and slide my ass on the carpet.”

11. Roger [on Megan]: “Why don’t you sing like that?”
Jane [on Don]: “Why don’t you look like him?”

12. Roger: “The only thing worse than not getting what you want is someone else getting it.”

13. Don [after his surprise party]: “Don’t waste money on things like that.”
Megan: “It’s my money and you don’t get to decide what I do with it.”
Don: “Well, could you please not use it to embarrass me again?”

14. Don [to Megan]: “I don’t need to be a center of attention.”

15. Joan [to her mom]: “You love stirring the sh*t.”

16. Roger [shows newspaper]: “You wanna smile?”
Don: “Is it your obituary?”

17. Roger [in his and Don's wives]: “They’re all great girls. At least until they want something.”

18. Pete: “Where am I supposed to conduct business?”
Roger: “In the crapper for all I care.”

19. Roger [on Joan showing up with their secret love child]: “Well, well, well, there’s my baby. Now move that brat out of the way so I can see her.”

20. Megan [to Peggy]: “What is wrong with you people? You’re all so cynical. You don’t smile, you smirk.”

21. Roger: Is it just me or is the lobby full of negroes?”

**

Read my latest lament at the loss of Sal and Lois the foot crushing secretary here at “We Miss Sal! Mad Men Characters We Want Back For Season 5.”

Catch up on my “Mad Men” premiere recap and other stories here.

Welcome to the tacky half of the '60s! Pete and Trudy now literally and figuratively clash.

April 1 update: Check out my Week 2 mini recap and quotes: Quotes from ‘Mad Men’ Season 5 Episode 3, ‘Tea Leaves’: ‘Who Smells Like Pee?’

April 8 update: Check out my Week 3 recap and quotes: Recap and 15 Quotes from ‘Mad Men’ Season 5 Episode 4, ‘Mystery Date’

**

Pete Campbell got chubby in the time between “Mad Men” Season 4′s 1965 and Season 5′s 1967 1966. Not quite fat, but there’s a second chin there. Apparently when he’s unhappy, he eats right out of the box. On top of that, he’s balding, as Jane Sterling pointed out on the Season 5 premiere, “A Little Kiss.” And he’s definitely more put-upon than ever. He’s turning into Willy Loman.

Meanwhile, Harry Crane lost weight and all dignity and became a total sleaze. Vulnerable new mom Joan Harris was looking disheveled at home with her baby, but she showed up as her usual glam self toward the end of the premiere and seemed just as lost and confused about the new events as the rest of us. Don Draper got happy (although not as happy as everyone thinks), which does indeed “gall” Peggy Olson, although she denied it. She hasn’t changed one bit. She and Pete — remember their baby fling? — are like sad sack siblings so far this season, although Pete takes the cake. Not only does he look and dress bad, he’s living out in the sticks with one acre and a wife (Trudy!) who doesn’t dress to the nines like she used to, when all he wants is the glam life in the city. Don’s life. But even Don doesn’t always want Don’s life.

Poor Pete. They need to move that column before someone else walks into it.

On the two-hour Season 5 premiere, Don turned 40 and his WIFE (he married her after all!) / COPYWRITER (she works with Peggy now!) Megan threw him a surprise party. Men aren’t into surprises, Peggy warned Megan smugly and even though the party was a success — complete with Megan’s French “Zoo Be Zoo Be Zoo” (technically it’s “Zou Bisou Bisou”) “burlesque” sex dance that got all the other men crazy — Don just wanted to sleep after, and asked Megan never to embarrass him like that again. So even though he can’t keep his hands off her, their age difference and lack of actually knowing each other is a real issue.  (Although she does know that he used to be Dick Whitman.) But there’s nothing like hot, angry makeup sex to solve that problem. We know Don likes to be dominated and it turns out Mary Poppins Megan has a dominatrix tough side.

(Side note: What is it with women and French performances on this show? Remember Joan’s awesome “C’est magnifique” performance on the accordion?)

Roger Sterling is still funny, but even more useless than ever, much to the irritation of Pete and now, Harry, whose job in media actually makes him 10 times more relevant than anyone else in the office. Pete vs. Roger is already officially on. Megan vs. Harry is also on. Apparently Don didn’t like Harry even before Harry dropped a sleaze bomb all over Megan, behind her back. Will anything come of that? Harry is more valuable to the company than Megan, even if he’s much more of an ass than he was during the early seasons. (Why can’t there just be one purely good character? Too much to ask?)

Oh and Peggy vs. Megan is just starting. Glad for this. I love that Peggy and Joan are friends but she’s now battling Megan. Megan feels put-upon by the “cynical” SCDP people who don’t smile, they smirk. Wonder why. Maybe ’cause of the blatant nepotism of Don marrying his secretary then promoting her? She’s much too much of a Pollyanna child for the ad world. Unless she’s just acting, as her friend suggested during the party?

I missed Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce and I love how the Season 5 premiere dropped us right into the middle of the action with no hand-holding exposition. There was enough going on to keep the two-hour running time feel action-packed although they really could and should drop the Lane Pryce storyline completely. I don’t need to hear more about his dirty old man ways. His taxi wallet discussion slowed everything down.

I’m definitely interested in seeing the new Joan back in the office, although it sounds like she let Roger completely off the hook when it comes to the baby. He knows it’s his but, although he was happy to see “my baby” in the office (meaning Joan), he also said he was happy that Joan didn’t attend Don’s surprise party. Then he snuck out on his wife Jane (the bloom is way off that rose) to go to Staten Island.

Question: Does anyone actually like their children? Joan seems ready to be away from her child. Pete can’t seem to stand his kid. Peggy still doesn’t seem comfy holding a baby. Weirdly enough, only Don seems to have a good relationship with his children at this point. We didn’t see Betty (aka “Morticia”) but I can only imagine she still can’t stand her children. (Sally Draper’s voice has changed! And she’s getting close to as bossy as Betty.)

At the end of the episode, Megan said she’s not sure the people at the office like her or that she likes them. I’m not sure I like her either and I don’t like that she’s a copywriter now. I also don’t like how much of the two-hour premiere was about Megan. She’s taking over! Thankfully Megan is starting to question whether it’s a good idea that she’s at work. Don wants her at work because he wants her, but — like Roger — he doesn’t care about work. Only Pete and Peggy actually care about work. And that white rug was hideous. It didn’t tie the room together at all.

Read my latest lament at the loss of Sal and Lois the foot crushing secretary here at “We Miss Sal! Mad Men Characters We Want Back For Season 5.”

Catch up on my “Mad Men” archive here.

Does this mean Don can hire back Lois The Foot Whacker as his secretary? That post is as cursed as the Defense Against the Dark Arts position at Hogwarts.

Who do I have to kill? Point me. I’ll do it. Or I’ll at least make a convincing crazy-person face at whoever I need to motivate.

*UPDATE*Mad Men” Season 5 starts Sunday, March 25, 2012, with a two-hour premiere on AMC. About bloody time!

Is it Matthew Weiner? Is he still trying to get more money negotiating with Lionsgate TV? That seems to be the word on the street.

More Joan/Peggy bonding, please.

Even The Goddess (but not Charlie Sheen goddess) Christina Hendricks isn’t sure when “Mad Men” Season 5 will be coming our way.

As she said in a recent interview: “I know that there’s a Season 5 and we generally go back [to work] around May, June…. We’re just waiting for the word on when. I’ve heard just as many rumors as anybody else about the scheduling. It’s already a long wait in between seasons for the fans, so I hope they don’t have to wait any longer.”

This is just like “Project Runway.” We have to wait until summer for everyone to even start filming. Then it’s another couple of months before episodes start airing.

It’s unfair. I need to know how the Don Draper/Megan thing turns out.

The silver lining, according to this Screen Rant, story is “Mad Men” Season 4 will be released on DVD and Blu-Ray on March 29. As they write, “In addition to last year’s 13 episodes, you can expect three special features: a documentary on the inequality of divorce in the 1960s, archival footage of the campaign between President Lyndon Johnson and Senator Barry Goldwater, and a guide to business success ‘Draper-style’” Amazon has the 4-disc DVD collection listed at $29.99 and the 3-disc Blu-Ray at $34.99.”

Will you buy it for me? Please?

Catch up on my other “Mad Men” stories here.

I still have my "Last frontier: Cicely Alaska" sign hanging by my door.

“Mad Men” is my favorite show in current rotation. It just ended its best season so far. So I figure now is as good a time as any to list my favorite shows of all time.

Most have come and gone. One I’m actually not done catching up on (I’m only up to season 4 on “The Shield” but it’s so freaking good.) And I’m including “Mad Men” even though it could take a nose dive next season, for all I know. “True Blood” lost its place on the list thanks to season 3. But it has time to recover. “House” is so bad this season I’m almost embarrassed to admit it might’ve ever made my list. “In Treatment” has only had two season and this new one, starting on Monday, will be the key to its future list potential.

I’m not including reality TV shows, but if I were, “Project Runway” and “The Bachelor” would have to be on the list.

Here’s the lineup:

1. Northern Exposure

2. Father Ted

3. Six Feet Under

4. Arrested Development

"Don't mention the war! I mentioned it once but I think I got away with it all right."

5. Fawlty Towers

6. Monty Python’s Flying Circus

7. The Office (original British version)

8. Mad Men

9. South Park

10. The Kids in the Hall

11. Twin Peaks

12. The X-Files (that last season almost killed it for me)

13. The Prisoner (the original, although I still don’t think I could tell you what happened)

14. Lost

15. Firefly

16. The Shield

17.  Seinfeld

18. The Golden Girls

19. The Wonder Years

20. Soap

 

That phone deserves an Emmy this season. It was great in the Anna Draper death call and Bobby Kennedy prank scenes, but its work during the Dr. Miller dumping was especially strong.

 

Draper, Draper and Draper. I think Midge said it all last week.

That’s what the company has turned into and that’s Don Draper’s life. From the letter against smoking to proposing to Megan — because she’s the opposite of Betty — it’s all about whatever Don feels at any given moment.

But Dr. Faye Miller is right — Don only likes the beginnings of things.

Betty is the same. She wants a fresh start to get back that spark of excitement. She needs to be liked. She needs to be flattered and wooed, no matter who is doing the wooing. And when Creepy Glenn starts hitting on Sally, Betty has to freak out and … fire poor Carla. (“I don’t want her poisoning the well.”) Good for Carla for standing up to her, although it’s sad that she had to go the way of Sal.

Funny how we start the Season 4 finale, “Tomorrowland,” with Don in bed with Faye saying “I have a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach” and we end with Don in bed with fiance Megan and her imperfect teeth.

(Her full name is Megan Calvet. We know her mom is French. Actress Jessica Paré grew up in Montreal, so that helps.)

 

Megan, run! Or at least get a full history from the guy before just leaping into The Classic Midlife Crisis Cliche marriage.

 

Am I still supposed to believe this season was about Don hitting rock bottom? Between the dating, the professional ass-kissing and now getting engaged to a woman about a dozen years younger than him, I’d say he’s doing just fine.

LOVED the scene between Joan and Peggy, smoking off their frustrations at being under-appreciated. (“A pretty face comes along and everything goes out the window.”)

Joan got an in-name-only promotion and Peggy single-handedly “saved” Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce by signing the first new account since Lucky Strike left. And it was all while Don was on vacation in California.

Then when Don comes back from vacation what does he do, work-wise? Calls up Dr. Miller to dump her, then makes out with his secretary/fiancee.

LOVED pregnant Joan’s phone call to hubby Greg in Vietnam, making fun of Don for the foolish grin on his face, like he’s the first guy to marry his secretary.

(So Greg knows Joan is pregnant, but he doesn’t seem to know how to do math and realize the baby isn’t his. Unless he’s delusional or going along with the fiction because it serves him too. Best line — Joan to Greg: “Yes, honey, they’re bigger.” I knew she wasn’t going to get that abortion. I predict Greg doesn’t make it back from Vietnam and Joan gets closer to Roger, via Baby Harris.)

Megan is 25. She has dark hair. She’s patient. She’s supportive. She’s deferential. She loves Don for who he is (although she doesn’t know anything about him, as he noted). She’s Mary Poppins. She is the non-Betty, just like Bethany was just a Betty clone.

Dr. Miller is too much like Peggy — a tough career woman who questions and challenges him. Don doesn’t want that. Don wants The Ideal Submissive Wife. His lovestruck babble sounded exactly like Roger drooling over Jane last season.

(And now Don is going to need still another secretary. I was joking that the job was cursed like the Defense Against the Dark Arts post at Hogwarts, but maybe it’s true. Just hire Voldemort already.)

 

More Joan and Peggy bitching, please!

 

But how long will it last? I had to laugh when Don had a romantic moment, telling Megan do you know how many things had to happen to get to this point?

Yeah.

You had to bang Allison, then freeze her out. She had to quit. Then Blankenship had to die. (RIP, Queen of Perversions!) Then Megan had to move from the front desk to the Draper desk. She had to hit on you — while mentioning that she’d like a career like Miss Olson’s — even though you were already seeing at least one other person. (Poor Faye.) Then Betty had to fire poor Carla and you had to hire Megan for the weekend (which sort of turned her into a call girl) because actually caring for your kids is not part of man code. (Besides, “Bobby likes a pretty face.” He’s a Mad Man in training.)

I don’t think this is really what Anna Draper had in mind when she left Don that ring. She wanted him to be happy and marry again, but not within 48 hours of getting the ring.

But Joan is right — they’re all just between marriages.

And how about Harry Crane? There’s another one who only likes the beginnings of things. Does Jennifer know how blatantly he was hitting on the latest pretty face to walk through the door? At least Ken Cosgrove isn’t willing to completely sell out his family. His wife (okay fiancee) is his actual life. That’s sweet.

So this season finale is the flip side to last season’s finale. The Season 3 finale — “Shut the Door, Have a Seat” — was a fast-paced look at the death of Sterling Cooper and the birth of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce.

The Season 4 finale was all about the homefront, from Don’s trip to Disneyland with Sally, Bobby and baby Gene to Betty acting like the obnoxious child she is in front of a fed-up Henry Francis.

After this it’s official: “Mad Men” just finished its best season yet. The action and character development were perfectly paced. I can’t wait for Season 5 to start, and I didn’t feel that way after the season finale of “True Blood.” (I’m also rapidly losing interest in “Dexter.“)

Bonus: I effing love zombies. Every time I meet someone handy with tools or other stuff I have no knowledge about I wonder if they’ll make it through the zombie war. I won’t. I’m a goner. I can’t wait for “The Walking Dead.” October 31 on AMC, baby!

Catch up on my “Mad Men” archive here.

How did Pete turn out to be the hero of "Mad Men" season 4? He doesn't even have his name on the door. But he does wear the cutest pajamas.

By Gina Carbone
opus619@gmail.com

As the light fades, so does my energy. And my patience.

I still watch all of the shows I usually watch — plus a few more, now that I’m writing about “Castle” and “The Vampire Diaries” for Wetpaint, on top of “The Bachelor,” “Bachelorette” and “Dancing with the Stars” — but some of these things sap my strength.

So here are capsule recaps/performance reviews for most of the current shows I watch, with notes on whether I will actually keep watching them once it gets dark around 4 p.m. and I start to think I’d be better off sleeping for 16 out of 24 hours.

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MAD MEN (Click title links to be directed to my archive of recaps/other stories)

Season 4 status: Awesome. Epic. Best season ever. But see below…

Recent episode, “Chinese Wall” status: Frustrating. It’s hard for me to accept season 4 as Don Draper hitting rock bottom and finding himself when EVERY SINGLE WOMAN HE MEETS HITS ON HIM. Even Megan. Megan who said she wants to do what Don and Miss Olson do. Megan who has ambitions. I loved hearing that about Megan but, of course, it had to be followed with her speaking to Don like a scene from a cheesy Harlequin romance novel. He’s in her head all day, at work and at home… Then he kisses her in the office? So that’s Allison, Faye and now Megan, on top of the women outside the office, like Bethany the Betty clone and the prostitute who slapped him because that’s what he wants (and deserves). Look, Don is an attractive, powerful man and maybe he smells like the Old Spice Guy, but this is a bit much. We’re supposed to sympathize with this guy going through a crisis and his “crisis” involves hot young things hitting on him constantly. Stop it.

By the way, tonight’s episode, “Blowing Smoke,” was directed by John Slattery, aka Roger Sterling. We finally found something for Roger to do!

DEXTER

Season 5 status: Boring

We’re only two episodes into the new season. I accepted that the first episode was slow. But the second one was slow too. Glacial. There’s a happy medium between the slow pace of “Dexter” season 5 and the frenetic pace of “True Blood” season 3. (It’s called “Mad Men” season 4.) Pick up the pace before I fall asleep by 9:30 p.m. every Sunday night.

Update: Oct. 10 episode picked up the pace big-time. We’re back on track with an actual stalking/murder. For once this is a good thing!

Kelly Macdonald seems to have accent issues on "Boardwalk Empire." I know she's Scottish, but she sounded one way in the pilot and then had a heavy Irish accent after that. Now it goes in and out. Still love her, though.

BOARDWALK EMPIRE

Season 1 status: On notice

I want to like “Boardwalk Empire” but I’m having trouble getting into it. Part of this is due to the too-perfect set. That does not look like a boardwalk anyone actually walks on. Those shops look like they’re freshly painted every week. The windows are pristine. Was it really like that? Maybe it was. Then there’s the dialogue. Even before the first episode aired there was a preview where Michael Shannon’s (WORSHIP) agent Van Alden says of Nucky Thompson (Steve Buscemi) “he’s corrupt as the day is long.” The second I heard that, I deflated. Really? With all the millions they are spending on the set they can’t do better than a trite line like that? I was hoping they would never actually air that line, but they did last week. Nothing about the rest of the dialogue has shown they are planning to do anything but navigate through more cliches. I’ll give it a few more chances, but I don’t owe it anything. If it can’t show me something new I’m going to leave Atlantic City for good.

Update: Oct. 10 episode was my favorite so far. Plenty of action and interesting character development. Give Chalky more good speeches.

Why is Sash already this thin after four episodes? He's going to disappear before the end.

SURVIVOR: NICARAGUA

Season 21 status: Meh

Everything old is new again with “Nicaragua.” Maybe I’ve been spoiled from The Russell Show, but I’m not feeling too strongly about any of this season’s contestants. Even NaOnka Mixon is such an obvious villain I’m not upset with her as much as CBS for so gleefully casting someone they had to know was just going to self-destruct and ruin her own reputation. She’s just plain unstable. It’s old vs. young and I do like Jane of the old tribe, but not so much that I’m compelled to root hard for her. I’m just sort of biding time to see which boot list is correct. On the way I’ll stare at Chase and Jud/Fabio, but I’m really just waiting for Russell vs. Rob.

AMERICA’S NEXT TOP MODEL

Cycle 15 status: Too obvious

Just give the Vogue Italia cover to Ann Ward already. She just won her fourth challenge in a row — the first time in “Top Model” history for that particular feat, Tyra says — and if she somehow DOESN’T win, whoever does win is going to have to feel like a usurper. Ann was the star of the cycle before the first episode aired. She was thrust into the controversy spotlight for being 6’2″ and having the world’s tiniest waistline. (Or something. Has anyone really gone around measuring all the grown women in the world?) My girl Kayla is still in play, but we lost my previous favorite Rhianna and the challenges just keep getting more and more ridiculous. A conveyor belt in heels? Do you hate the contestants that much? This show has no connection to reality anymore. It’s a parody of itself. So why do I keep watching?

DANCING WITH THE STARS

Season 11 status update: Borderline rigged

People need to stop trying to convince me that this isn’t already an open-and-shut case. Even if Jennifer Grey weren’t the best of the crop so far, she has a RABID fan base dying to give her the mirror-ball trophy. Seriously, if you go to Wetpaint’s Dancing with the Stars Facebook page, people adore her. She is going to get the votes no matter what she does. Which means Derek Hough will be the first pro to win three mirror-balls. He also won last season with Nicole Scherzinger and won season 7 with co-host Brooke Burke, who favors Derek too. Derek runs the place. Meanwhile, Maks is mouthy. He needs to stop making everyone adjust to his attitude/the way he was taught and actually adjust himself a drop for the people around him. Just a drop.

SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE

Season 36 status: Disappointing

The premiere was all about the old school and since then each episode has given little glimpses of the new cast members. Meanwhile, the guest stars are not being served well by the material. To put it mildly. I thought Bryan Cranston was pretty much wasted last week but that was before I saw them completely waste Jane Lynch. She deserved the Betty White treatment and instead she didn’t even get a bottle of sparkling apple juice moment. What gives? She’s definitely funny and game to do whatever — same as Bryan Cranston — but they give her such weak sketches. Last season SNL had some good stuff for Jon Hamm, Taylor Swift and even Blake Lively. This season they seem more focused on the cast members, especially Kristen Wiig injecting herself into everything. Why?

Seth Caro does kind of have a Michael C. Hall/"Dexter" thing going on.

TOP CHEF: JUST DESSERTS

Season 1 status: Sweet and sassy — love it!

Am I going straight to hell if I miss Seth Caro? I thought he was hot from day one and his inherent bitchiness just made him more intriguing. Until it didn’t. As in, I think he may have a serious but treatable mental illness. I want him to seek treatment and then return. Because, man, is he interesting.

I had the crazy idea that a show about sugar and spice and everything nice would be, you know, sweet. Nothing could be further from the truth. Meltdowns like crazy, and not just from Seth. Malika just quit and her face when she announced she was leaving showed such joy and relief. Maybe it makes sense. Baking is harder than cooking. If you’re a chef you can experiment more than a baker. The slightest thing can ruin a pastry. Love watching it all play out.

Sidenote: Stop teasing me with the idea of Hubert Keller as a permanent judge when he’s not even there every week. I need more face time with my beloved French Gandalf!

PROJECT RUNWAY

Season 8 status: Love the drama, not the clothes

Mondo Guerra is going to win, despite me not really getting most of his clothes. To me, he is the naked emperor. But as a person, he is fascinating. Quirky, funny, cute, and alternately vulnerable and arrogant. He laid his soul on a slab last week by announcing his HIV positive status. But this week he showed himself to be above-it-all with his rudeness to Heidi Klum, aka a judge and producer on the show and this week’s client. The editing of the previews has been very “Bachelor” manipulation, which is a shame since the natural drama speaks for itself. Ivy Higa needs to go on “Survivor” with NaOnka Mixon. Gretchen Jones should spar with Seth Caro on “Top Chef.” So many crazy reality TV personalities to deal with. But on “Runway” they are more bitchy than mentally unstable. I prefer that. I’m fine with disliking people’s behavior on TV. I’m not fine with potentially unstable people being exploited for ratings.

Pete always has the best pajamas. And is that chest hair?

Roger: “We’re dead, you know that?”

The “Hands and Knees” title of “Mad Men” Season 4 Episode 10 may have to do with Don Draper rubbing his hands on his knees during his panic attack.

It’s more panicked than we’ve ever seen Don — even after Betty found out the truth about him and asked for a divorce. He thought he was having a heart attack.

I didn’t know this because I don’t have kids, but some women give birth on their hands and knees. It doesn’t look like Joan Holloway wants that option. She’s pregnant with Roger Sterling’s baby. (Surprise!)  It’s been 7 weeks and her hubby Greg has been away. So did she have an abortion, as it seemed from her visit to the doctor, or did she change her mind?

What does he do at SCDP anyway? Joan could (and usually does) do his job.

“Hands and Knees” can also refer to Lane Pryce, who was literally pushed to his hands and knees by his overbearing (or maybe just kinky) father, who told him to get his affairs in order — here or there, meaning New York or London. Lane is in love with a black girl who works as a bunny at a club. He wants to stay in New York, not London, and it looks like a decision is going to have to be made.

By the way, he’s taking two more weeks off. The guy is never in the office anymore.

Then again, “Hands and Knees” could have to do with Roger Sterling begging for life from slimy Lee Garner Jr. After 30 years, Lucky Strike is taking away its business. Remember how Lucky Strike could turn off the lights at Sterling Cooper? Well, not only do they have the power to shut down Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, losing Lucky Strike puts the nail in Roger Sterling’s coffin. (But maybe Salvatore Romano can come back. Please?)

Roger: “We’re dead, you know that?” Lee agrees to give him 30 days before announcing the split so Roger can make arrangements.

Speaking of arrangements, Don also tries to get his own personal affairs in order, launching some kind of trust for the kids.

FBI guys went to the Francis household and questioned Betty for 45 minutes about Don. It launched his panic. And his self-defense. Poor Megan was blamed (and blamed herself) for Don signing a security form he should’ve read himself.

Don: “I signed it without looking, because that’s what I do.” Classic Don! Such an arse.

And poor Pete had to deal with Don’s mess too. He now has to lose North American Aviation, just to protect Don. (Why is Don so valuable to SCDP? Just his looks? Peggy is the better copywriter.)

Poor Megan. She needs to learn to stand up for herself.

At least Pete has Trudy. They are the most stable couple on the show and that’s pretty sad, considering Pete’s track record.

Don had his attack in front of Dr. Faye Miller. She saw him vulnerable and, for the first time, Don willingly shared his true Korea story with another person.

Don: “I’m tired of running.”

So Faye knows the truth. Pete knows too, although not because Don ever wanted him to know. Pete is also the first to know about Don + Faye. Pete knows a lot. And Don wants him to lose a lot of money. It really doesn’t make much sense for Pete to do what Don wants.

And yet not only does Pete have to tell the partners he’s lost a major account (during a partners meeting loaded with emotional baggage from everyone in attendance, except maybe oblivious Cooper), he has to pretend it’s his own fault. In front of Don. And then Roger screams at him for losing the account, as if he isn’t hiding a much, much, much bigger loss for the company. Remember, Pete is the one who pointed out how useless Roger would be without Lucky Strike.

We only have three more episodes in Season 4, so all of these personal and professional crises are inevitably going to come to a head.

Check out some of the details on what’s coming up:

Episode 11 “Chinese Wall” — The employees of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce resort to scuttlebutt after an agency wide meeting is called.

Episode 12 “Blowing Smoke”
— The partners of the agency wrestle over a critical decision; Don runs into an old friend. (John Slattery, aka Roger Sterling, directed this episode)

Episode 13 “Tomorrowland”
— Don takes a trip with his children in tow.

Could this mean the end of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce? We just met it! And Pete hasn’t had time to get his name on the door. (Even though he seems to be one of the only people who actually works there.)

I love the idea of Don traveling with his kids. That has serious season finale potential. And this has probably been the best season of “Mad Men” so far, so I have high expectations for that finale.

By the way, Sally is a major Beatles fan. Nice to hear an instrumental version of “Do You Want To Know A Secret” playing over the credits. Clever.

*

Catch up on my “Mad Men” stories here in this nifty archive.

"It's a business of sadists and masochists and you know which one you are."

Looks like Don Draper is going to need a(nother) new secretary.

The position has been cursed since Peggy Olson left — like the Defense Against the Dark Arts post after Dumbledore refused to give it to Voldemort.

(Tell me you got that.)

Kiernan Shipka is turning into a little "Mad Men" rock star.

“Mad Men” season 4 just gave us “The Beautiful Girls,” which was all about women. Girl power, if you will.

You want to be a liberated woman? Follow the lead of Ida Blankenship (as played by the amazing Randee Heller) former “Queen of Perversions.”

She may be an incompetent secretary (at least she never ran over anyone’s foot, like Lois) but she’s razor sharp with the quotes.

A few favorites from her final day at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce:

Blankenship to Peggy: “It’s a business of sadists and masochists and you know which one you are.”

Coop wants a three-letter word for a flightless bird. Blankenship says “Emu.” Coop says it starts with an “L.” Blankenship: “The hell it does.”

Blankenship on Dr. Faye Miller: “She’s pushy, that one. Guess that’s what it takes.”

Blankenship to Don: “Are you going to the toilet?”

Blankenship on Sally: “She looks so chubby in the pictures.”

Our girl Ida died sitting in her chair in front of Don’s door and the men of the office mourned her, especially Cooper and Sterling.

Roger Sterling: “She died like she lived: Surrounded by the people she answered phones for.”

Or as Cooper put it, she was born in a barn and she died on the 37th floor of a skyscraper. “She’s an astronaut.”

In keeping with the show’s “men never know what’s going on” theme, Coop and Sterling had no idea what to do for Ida’s obit, so they called in Joan to handle the details.

Other hear them roar moments:

Peggy arguing civil rights, race, women’s lib and business ethics with Abe and getting her faced licked by counter-culture lesbian friend Joyce. Joan looking cute in her pajamas and glasses, getting a free mani-pedi and massage courtesy of Roger since her hubby Greg is being shipped off to Vietnam. Don sleeping with Faye and having her joke, post-coitus, about who will look at the look at the clock first. Sally taking the train by herself to see Don, to the irritation of everyone.

Faye feels like the failed the Sally test. Don't worry, Betty failed that test a long time ago.

Line that says it all, from the nice lady/total stranger who took Sally from the train to SCDP: “Men never know what’s going on.”

Neither Don nor Betty wanted to take care of Sally.

Don ended up asking Faye to take Sally to his apartment: “I’d have my secretary do it, but she’s dead.”

(Ha! As if Blankenship would’ve done it! She’d just tell him off.)

Faye isn’t good with kids. She loves kids, but she chose not to have them and she does not view that as a failure. But she does view her time with Sally as a test that she failed.

Poor Sally. Approaching puberty with this much anger, this much confusion and so little attention or affection. Oh man is Sally going to raise hell in the late ’60s. I just want to give her a hug.

In other news, as Faye tells us earlier in a marketing pitch, primitive suburbanites still want to get their hands dirty. A woman loves a man who’s good with his hands. Primal stuff. So when Joan and Roger are mugged, and Roger protects Joan (while also giving their money away), the brush with death seems to turn her on and they re-launch their affair.

Don has a new girl named Megan. Megan passed the Sally test. Not sure how long she’s going to stick around, but I’d like to make a pitch for the return of Lois.

Lois is indestructible — unlike Jane, Allison and Blankenship. Lois didn’t quit or die, she was just transferred to Kinsey, where she continued her path of destruction.

And maybe, if we train her well, Lois could run over Betty’s foot.

Catch up on my “Mad Men” archive here.

By the way, season 4 is the best season yet — by far — and I’m proud to have “Mad Men” in the #1 slot on my list of the top 15 shows on TV.

Peggy is going to alienate her family until she is as free as Don.

“The Suitcase” was possibly the best episode “Mad Men” has ever produced — and that’s saying volumes. TKO.

It was a clever-but-not-too-clever way to bring together “the baggage” — unbreakable baggage with secrets locked inside — that Peggy Olson and Don Draper are both carrying in their personal and professional lives.

Peggy is turning into Don’s Anna — as one dies and walks out with her suitcase, the other is reborn on her birthday — even if she doesn’t quite know him as well yet. (But she thinks she does.)

Betty is actually the only one who knows the true Don now, but Peggy would probably take his Dick Whitman news in her usual clipped stride.

I loved their tour of New York during the Liston/Clay fight, even if I cringed at Peggy’s insecure jabs at Don for not sleeping with her. “You’re an attractive girl, Peggy.”

Girl being the operative word there. True, 26 is still very young, as Trudy Campbell said, but you don’t want to be Allison. You also don’t want to be the kind of person who sleeps with Duck, who took a dump (or almost took a dump) in Roger’s office out of spite at Don. You also don’t want to be the kind of person who drinks so much they vomit repeatedly. Just as a tip.

It was a surprisingly touching episode — and so simple! I love “True Blood” and that show also has at least a dozen characters in the works, but they insist on cramming all of their storylines into every episode.

I love that “Mad Men” focuses on just a few people at a time in each episode and gives their stories space to breathe. In doing so, “Mad Men” allows Elisabeth Moss and Jon Hamm to do their best work to date in “The Suitcase.”

This is why “Mad Men” has won three straight Emmys for Best Drama.

Just think — in this episode Peggy finally explodes at Don for taking credit for her work and he explodes back. But unlike Don and Betty or Peggy and her boyfriend Mark, they don’t give up on each other. Within minutes Don is calling Peggy into his office to laugh about Roger’s ramblings on Ida Blankenship, Queen of Perversions.

They are extensions of each other and both extensions are good at moving on. This never happened. It will shock you how much it never happened.

Later, Peggy opens up to Don about her baby (Don doesn’t know it’s Pete’s but we could get to that level of openness) and Don tries to deck Duck (say that 10 times fast) for calling her a “whore.” (Believe me, Don knows from whores and Peggy is no whore.)

Peggy stands over drunk Don like he’s literally watching himself from a far, asking how long he’s going to go on like this. Don cries openly in front of Peggy, treating her like the extension of himself that she has really become.

And yet, toward the end of the episode — after Don gets up from Peggy’s lap and Peggy is woken up from her office — they are still Peggy and Don. Don doesn’t freeze her out like he froze out Allison. Peggy doesn’t rush home to change before approaching Don in her professional woman mode. They touch hands. Not in a romantic way, but in a Don/Anna “I know you and accept you” way.

At the very end, Peggy asks Don a very important question: “Open or closed.” She means the door, but we know it means more than that when he says “open.”

God I love this show.

15 best shows on TV: You should be watching ‘Mad Men,’ ‘True Blood’ and these others

Catch up on my “Mad Men” archive here.

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