Thursday, May 23, 2013
But this season it's become harder for even us diehard fans to follow. This was one of my Tweets from yesterday:
"I still haven't figured out last Sunday's #MadMen." -- Sherlock Holmes
According to what I've heard and read, Sherlock and I are not alone. In last Sunday's chapter: Everyone was on meth, Don was pitching gibberish, there were flashbacks where the kid they got to play young Don Draper (who at the time was young Dick Whitman) looked nothing like either Don or Dick, there were symbolic wooden spoons and moles, a burglar posing as the mom from GOOD TIMES, Betty no longer was a brunette and no longer wore a fat suit, hippies roamed the ad agency, Joan was nowhere to be seen, and the cast now equals the population of Lichtenstein. It was like somebody watching DR. WHO for the first time plus it was dubbed in Mandarin.
MAD MEN rolls out these more confusing episodes at their own peril. Loyal fans may throw their hands up and say it's just not worth it. Or they may get disgusted or even insulted that the show doesn't seem to care that they don't get it.
And it's not like they can make a mid-season adjustment. All of the episodes for this year have been filmed. If fans are fleeing there's nothing they can do.
Ah, but there is.
And so, as a passionate MAD MEN viewer, I offer these few suggestions to help bring the flock back into the fold.
At the end of each episode, instead of those nonsensical preview snippets (“This can't continue!” cut to: “I'm going to lunch” cut to: “I hate dogs!” cut to: “You...” cut to: “Lettuce?”) distribute a reading list of books that must be read by the next episode. The recent DR. FEELGOOD biography would have been on last week's list. Maybe five or six a week. It's a small price to pay.
Use Pop Up videos during the episode. Quick little blurbs like “Don gave Sylvia a red dress but equates red to being a whore and he detests whores because his mother was one and died during Don's birth and he was raised by whores so by giving Sylvia a red dress he is in essence calling her a whore.”
Flash one of these on the screen every ten to fifteen seconds to enrich the viewer's experience.
At the halfway point, instead of a commercial break, have James Brown and the rest of the CBS NFL TODAY crew analyze what we've seen so far. Let Dan Marino, Boomer Esiason, Bill Cowher, Shannon Sharpe, Jason La Canfora, and Lesley Visser kick around the plot points and get you ready for the second half. For example: they could compare the shots they've all gotten before big games. Also, throw in some highlights.
Furthermore, form chat groups with each others so you can text back and forth during the episode and keep those slower members (I.Q.'s of only 130, the poor wretches) up to speed.
Encourage the faithful to hit pause, go back three or four times if there was something they didn't understand. Watch the show in slo-mo if necessary.
That's it. And you'll notice that nowhere did I suggest they alter their content or storytelling.
Will these steps eliminate all confusion and bring back your loyal legion of fans? I don't know. But it's a start.
Any books I should be reading for Sunday night? It's Thursday already.
By Ken Levine at 6:00 AM