Archive for September 4th, 2017


by Patricia Perry

Where do I even begin with Mad Men: very likely the most written about, most talked about, most analyzed (possibly over-analyzed) television series of the 21st century so far?

The seven-season drama created by Matthew Weiner follows the fortunes of a Madison Avenue advertising agency (Sterling Cooper early on – later Sterling Cooper Draper Price – then finally Sterling Cooper and Partners) through the entire decade from 1960 to 1970. There’s a narrative arc with its principal characters that approaches soap opera, but at  the same time, it is so thematically and symbolically dense that doing it justice in a readable blog post verges on impossible.

In the course of its 92 episodes, Mad Men explored not only the advertising business, but a range of deeper and more diffuse themes, including marriage, parenthood, gender roles, workplace politics, social upheaval, identity, and the complexities of personal re-invention.  It was also, not insignificantly, a showpiece of gorgeous and meticulously period-correct production design. Its costumes even provided the inspiration for clothing lines from both Banana Republic and Brooks Brothers.

With so much to consider and write about, I finally decided is to approach Mad Men by looking closely at seven pivotal episodes from various points in its run. I’d stop short of calling these the best or most essential episodes, or even of calling all of them my favorites.  But they represent moments in time when the series’ lead performances, story arcs, themes and hallmarks coalesced with particularly memorable results.  For this viewer, anyway – as film blogger Rick Olson used to say “Your mileage may vary.” (more…)


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by Sam Juliano

Labor Day 2017.  The annual lamentations always seem to focus in on how quickly we reach certain dates or times of the year.  The whole matter of time as a  fleeting proposition would be a perfect fit for a post at my good friend and esteemed author Laurie Buchanan’s philosophically-attuned Tuesdays with Laurie blogsite, but for now here at Wonders in the Dark we’ll chalk it up as an affair of time well spent and experiences stored away for fond recall down the line.  With vacations concluded, those of us in education have been preparing for the start of the new school year – at age 63 I once again am setting up camp for my role as children’s literature and creative writing specialist in the Fairview grammar school where my wife Lucille serves as Principal.  The “Welcome Back” meeting for district faculty will be staged on Tuesday morning from 9:00 A.M. till noon in the Lincoln School auditorium. Students will be returning on the following day – Wednesday the 6th.  I’d like to congratulate one of my best friend Louie Aveta’s son David on his very first year in the system as a First Grade teacher.  He will be working in our school to boot!  Best wishes!

We have now reached the last leg of the long running Top 80 Greatest Television Series Countdown with the Top 20 front and center.  Though the final day of the countdown is Wednesday, September 27th, this exhaustive television project to quote Margaret Hamilton “is only just beginning.”  Part 2, compared to the Top 80 near conclusion is utterly massive and will launch on Monday, December 11th with an essay by Adam Ferenz on a famed television series from Denmark.  It will continue daily (no new post on Christmas Day of course) all the way up until May 11th.  This admittedly insane duration could well be the swan son of countdowns at the site, as it is unclear where all the prime participants will be mentally after it is done, not to mention the advancing age with some of us.  The second part to be sure will take a look at Numbers 81 through 233 in reverse order, meaning that 153 essays will be appearing.  I project that a good number of these posts will not be the length of those in Part 1 for all sorts of reasons, not the least of which that Adam Ferenz and myself have such a volume that there simply isn’t enough time in a week, or in months to do anything as comprehesnsive as what was done for the currently running countdown.  But we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.  There could well be some days where a few photos and a single paragraph will introduce that day’s choice, but as I say I am getting ahead of myself now. (more…)

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