I Like MASTERS OF SEX

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I feel uncomfortable saying this, but I watched Masters of Sex and I ilked it. The new Showtime drama (really a dramedy, but who’s counting) follows the true story of Dr. William Masters (Michael Sheen) and his assistant Virginia Johnson (Lizzy Caplan) as they embark on a scientific escapade to discover what happens to the body during sex.

The duo truly shine in terms of acting, but the supporting cast is very hit or miss. Caitlin Fitzgerald plays Libby Masters, Dr. Masters wife, who blames herself for not providing her husband with a child. Fitzgerald’s performance is reminiscent of January Jones’ portrayal of Betty Draper in the first few episodes of Mad Men, so hopefully we can see her become a more dynamic character. The biggest casting mistake for this show is Nicholas D’Agosto playing Ethan Haas, a resident under Dr. Masters and the unrequited romantic interest of Virginia. Signing an actor whose film credits peak at Final Destination 5, Fired Up, and a reoccurring role on Heroes (where his very essential character disappeared from the plot) probably wasn’t the best decision. Thankfully Lizzy Caplan is able to counter some of his inexperience – especially in the powerful “slap” scene.

So far, I am impressed with the pilot. It has a very Mad Men feel to it, except instead of being ad men, they’re sex doctors. The second episode is entitled “Race to Space,” which indicates that the writers might try to intertwine the historical events that shaped the ‘50s and ‘60s, much like Mad Men played on JFK, MLK, and the like.

You can watch the full pilot of Masters of Sex for free here.

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MAD MEN Go Camping

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From a new and improved Betty to a violently deranged Peggy, last night’s Mad Men pushed all of the characters to their breaking points.

Pete’s the first to break, when he realizes that his contributions at SCDPCGC are going unrecognized by the partners. Harry advises him to see a headhunter, so he enlists the help of Duck Phillips to find a new start.

Peggy is torn between her newfound loyalty in Ted and her timeless bond with Don, causing her cower in the face of making a decision for the firm. Meanwhile at home, her relationship with Abe is on the rocks after he is stabbed and a rock is hurled through their bedroom window.

While Megan mopes about her deteriorating work environment, Don once again shuts her out of his life – signified by the drowning sirens over Megan’s complaints. He has something else on his mind – Bobby’s camping trip. On his trek to the wilderness, he bumps into a now-slender and refreshing Betty at a remote gas station, and the two hit it off like they were young again.

After the most uncomfortable singing of Bobby’s new camp song, “Father Abraham,” the adults retire to their lodges, but Betty leaves her door ajar – and the rest kind of explains itself.

While Don and Betty are going at it, Megan’s sex-crazed co-star Arlene goes in for a kiss to ease Megan’s tensions – but she’s not a lesbian, so it ends rather quickly and awkwardly.

Back in the woods, Don and Betty rehash their old feelings about their marriage. All the while, Don gives the best analogy for sex to every be spoken by anyone: “Just because you climb a mountain, doesn’t mean you love it.” Spoken like a true jackass.

Back in the city, a gloomy Roger tries to buy his way into his and Joan’s son’s life, but when he arrives at her apartment, he is greeted by the mysterious Bob Benson.

I’ve read a lot of interesting theories on who Bob is – some saying that he is Don’s lost-long son from his first time with Aimeé in the whorehouse, others stipulating that he is a Russian spy. My personal favorite theory is that he is Mad Men’s “Nicki and Paulo” from Lost, in that he will have an entire episode dedicated to him in the coming season and that he will die an untimely death that will be intended to teach some sort of thematic lesson.

On the other side of town, a fearful Peggy grabs a musket head when she thinks she hears a burglar and lunges at the shadowy figure – but it’s Abe! I was hoping she’d have killed him, but she just impales him to the point where he calls off their relationship.

Now single, Peggy tries to cozy up to Ted, who wants nothing to do with his now somewhat sleazy employee. In one of the greatest Mad Men endings to date, Peggy is shut out of both Ted’s and Don’s doors – trapped in the middle of the office as Lou Johnson’s “Always Something There to Remind Me” mocks her into the credits. Peggy now has nothing and no one – but the scenes from next week’s episode show her becoming friends with Joan – she needs that.

So what will become of Don and Betty’s one-night-stand? What will Bob Benson’s role be in the coming episodes? Will Pete leave the office? Will Bobby completely overshadow Sally in the writers’ eyes? So many questions, four episodes left. Next week’s episode is titled “A Tale of Two Cities.” Lost, anybody?!

MAD MEN On Drugs

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In the latest installment of everyone’s favorite period drama, the crew at SCDP(CGC) calls in a doctor for some much needed psychiatric treatment. Instead of the twenty-first century approach that psychiatrists use today, the doctor simply had the ad men drop their pants and he injected them with a mystery substance. Adrenaline? Liquefied crack? I don’t know what it was, but it promised 72 hours of creative focus, but really just made a crippled Ken Cosgrove tap dance.

Much like Don says he is “feeling a lot of emotions,” the episode is one long emotional roller coaster.

Fred Gleason, the artistic genius of CGC (and Phil of the Future’s dad…), dies after suffering from incurable cancer. Awkwardly, half of the staff mourns and the other staff pretends to have sympathy for a man they never knew. That being said, the former CGC staff head off to his funereal, while the SCDP crew works through the weekend on the Chevy account – with the help of the doctor’s mystery drug.

The staff is full of energy, having races around the office and playing human darts, which leaves Rizzo with a pen pierced into his forearm. Luckily, Peggy is drug-free and cleans out the wound, leading to yet another kiss scene for Elisabeth Moss’s character. After Rizzo opens up about his cousin being killed in action, Peggy realizes he is just using her to cope with his sorrows. However, she gives some keen advice to her co-worker, saying that he needs to express his emotions. “You can’t dampen them with drugs and sex,” she adds – a message Don and Roger have yet to receive.

All the while, a random psychic, who we later discover is Fred Gleason’s daughter, comes back with the CGC staff from the funeral and tells Don that she can’t feel a heart beat on him. Yet another point for my “Don Draper is dead” theory.

Over at the Draper apartment, Megan is in a jam. Don’s kids have arrived and she needs to go to a casting meeting – but Don is all drugged up to realize he needs to come home. Dilemma!

Megan leaves Sally in charge and goes to change the world or something. However, in the middle of the night, a mysterious black woman comes into the apartment, waking Sally. She claims that she is her grandma, Ida, and that she raised Don when he was kid. Soon, Bobby is up too, and the two of them are convinced of her sincerity. Sally even gives her an awkward Voldemort hug! A confused Bobby goes on to ask his sister, “Are we Negros?” which has to be the funniest thing ever said in the history of Mad Men. You go, Bobby. You go.

Over at the office, Don is coughing up a lung as he has flashbacks to his adolescent years at the whorehouse – specifically when he lost his virginity to the prostitute Aimeé – “with two e’s and an accent.”

When Don returns home, he finds police officers, accompanied by Henry and Betty, who tell him that a black woman has robbed his and many other apartments in his complex. He passes out after Betty goes off on him. Smooth move, Don.

In a shocking turn of events slash proof of character development, Don greets Sylvia into the elevator on his way to work the next morning and the two don’t have sex! Progress.

When Ted comes back to the office after the weekend, he finds that half of the work is gibberish and that the drugged up creatives managed to spell Chevy wrong in their slapdash work. Furious, he confronts Don, but all Don has to say is, “Every time we get a car, this place turns into a whorehouse,” alluding to Joan’s stint as a prostitute to get the Jaguar account. With Chevy, the whorehouse is more symbolic, thus the flashbacks.

One of the last scenes of the episode struck me as the most tragic. Don calls his daughter Sally to apologize for not being home when the woman robbed his apartment. Sally is embarrassed because the woman was able to answer every question about Don that she could think of. “Then I realized I don’t know anything about you…” she closes. Maybe this will inspire Don to be a better father and a better person? Most likely not, but maybe…just maybe.