Monday, May 5, 2014
In Which I Review Mad Men (7x4)
Prepare yourselves. This weeks episode of Mad Men, "The Monolith," is heavily influenced by a piece of cinematic culture. Not that Mad Men doesn't often take cues from popular culture, but this week was decidedly more on-the-nose writing and allusions than in the past. If you didn't realize that this episode was one giant homage to 2001: A Space Odyssey, then hang your head in shame. The title alone should give it away. The movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, now considered a classic, came out in 1968; that's the year before the current setting of Mad Men. For example, not to give it all away in the intro, but the opening shot was of Don getting off the elevator. Across the hallway, the camera focused for a significant amount of time a jet black elevator. Significance? In 2001: A Space Odyssey, the monolith is a black oblong 3-D shape. What else is black and oblong? The giant computer being rolled into SC&P in the end shot. It's a fairly straight forward symbol. The monolith is the computer is the elevator is the monolith. The monolith serves as an invasive transition for the first primitive culture of herbivores that have trouble defending themselves to killing machines before transitioning all the way to space age explorers who run afoul of technology. Overall theme of the episode? Invasion, and those being invaded.
--Lots of talk about the moon this week. Not surprising, we're getting close to the moon landing (July 1969). It's another invasion and it fits with the overall 2001: Space Odyssey reference.
--"It's not symbolic." "No, it's quite literal."
--"These people are lost And on drugs. And have venereal diseases."
--Lane's NY Mets pendant. It was everywhere, even after Don tossed it in the garbage. It materialized back in his office and even the ceiling where Lane hung himself.
--Nice ending song this week: the Carousel, which will ALWAYS harken back to Don's brilliant pitch at the end of season one.