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Home Blogs The Arts The tale of two finales - one full of life and one wilted like a dead four-leaf clover

The tale of two finales - one full of life and one wilted like a dead four-leaf clover

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Sunday night marked the ending of two AMC TV series. Rookie "Rubicon" and Emmy-award winning "Mad Men" brought the action to a close. One of the series soared. The other one fell flat on its face.

"Rubicon" had such promise. The story of an intelligence agency charged with figuring out what the bad guys are up to before any damage is done looked to be one of the bright spots on Sunday's roster. And it was ... for a few weeks.

Then, the writing just got too smug and self-absorbed ... and it abused the viewers by using only snippets of each plot line, never allowing enough information so we could at least have a *notion* of where the story was heading.

As if the writers didn't heap enough on us, the team who dressed the actors and sets should be shot at sunrise.

I don't think I saw ANYONE  or ANY ROOM with ONE DROP of color all season. Seriously. I mean, setting the somber mood at the intelligence offices is one thing, but having the entire series draped in neutral colors got on my last nerve.

Maybe the guys would pick dull, drab colors over and over and over, but there were also GIRLS in the office. Hard to believe they NEVER chose a color other than black, grey, brown or navy.

Despite my irritation with the writing and the colors, I stayed with "Rubicon" to the bitter end.

This week, the writers lost me.

They killed off a major character who held the two serious clues to the "real" bad guys. She was to meet Will, the series' main character, in Central Park. She had a disc to give him. Seems simple enough, but noooooo ... this is clever TV.

The character knew she was in danger.

On the disc, her deceased husband gives her an address to use in case things get dicey, which, of course they are because this is, after all, the finale of season one. (In the first episode, he shot himself in the head after receiving a 4-leaf clover in the mail, which must be the kiss of death because bad things happen when they arrive. I can't make this stuff up. I'm not that clever.)

So, she goes to the address where she meets a woman (who has been sleeping with Will in another apartment, passing herself off as a struggling artist, but everyone KNEW she was more critical to the plot than just a good lover) whose knickers are in a real knot, saying they aren't safe as she loads her Glock and hustles them out of the apartment on the way to somewhere safe.

But before they can escape, the doomed woman insists on meeting Will to give him the disc with the clues.

Her friend with the Glock stays in the shadows of a tunnel as the doomed woman heads toward the light and her fateful meeting with Will.

A bad guy bumps into her, wearing rubber gloves (our first clue that this wasn't just one person stumbling into another).

In her hand, the doomed woman has the disc - sans cover - in her hand. In the bright Central Park sunshine.

A disc with no cover + sunshine = reflection. Right? Wrong.

As Will comes toward the doomed woman, the bad guy dumps his rubber gloves in a trash can RIGHT THERE AT THE SCENE, the doomed woman swoons and dies in Will's arms.

HE NEVER SEES THE DISC.

He walks away from the dead, doomed woman like he was simply a sympathetic passerby, as his former lover/woman with the Glock turns her back and walks away through the darkness of the tunnel.

How stew-pid (typed in my best Julia Sugarbaker mode) do the writers think we are?

It gets worse, but trust me when I say the whole "Rubicon" team missed the boat. I'm willing to bet lunch at Lonesome Dove in Fort Worth that the network won't even be able to FIND their Nielsen ratings on a chart next year. It's a pity, because espionage usually sells. But not when it's packaged like this.

***********************************************************************************

And now on to Sunday's bright star: "Mad Men."

After a whole season of being lost, Don Draper has found his place in the world. It might be just a temporary feeling, but he's fallen in love with his French/Canadian secretary Megan ... and it happened on a trip with his kids to California where Don also pitches his marketing ideas to the American Cancer Society.

After ex-wife Betty fires the family's long-time nanny, Carla, Don is left without help on the trip. Enter Megan ... eager, efficient, energetic Megan. Megan who is everything ex-wife Betty and current girlfriend, Dr. Faye Miller, aren't.

While in California, Don meets up with his late friend Anna's niece. Anna was engaged to the "real" Don Draper. The niece gives Don an engagement ring that belonged to Anna. CAN YOU SAY FORESHADOWING?

When they return home, Don proposes to Megan and she accepts. People out in the blogosphere think Megan is a manipulator, but I like her. We'll see next season.

Copywriter Peggy snags a new panty hose account (pun intended). Her rainmaking plays second fiddle, however, to Don's announcement. He and Megan are engaged.

"Who the hell is she?" asks partner Roger Sterling.

Who is she indeed.

As I suspected, Joan (uber-secretary to the agency and now director of agency operations) did not abort Roger's child. She either made a flying trip to her doctor husband's army base or she's lied to him about the due date. Whatever she did, the "We avoided a tragedy" line from a couple of episodes ago was one filled with both pathos and the truth.

One of the episode's more poignant moments comes near the end when Don drives out to the suburbs to meet a realtor who's going to sell his house. (Betty, her new husband and the three kids are moving.)

Betty is "accidently" at the house. She and Don share a conversation about the house, their previous life and moving on. Betty is shocked to learn Don has found someone new, even though she had her hooks into husband number two before she and Don even separated.

Hard to believe this season is over. Kudos to everyone involved. Jon Hamm should win the Emmy this year. "The Suitcase" episode alone should do it, but his work in every scene was top notch.

Elisabeth Moss (Peggy) carried a lot of weight this season, too. Her work on "The Suitcase" showed range, talent and a complete understanding of her character.

I particularly liked Jared Harris (Brit Lane Pryce) in the "Hands and Knees" episode where his father shows up from across the pond. Talk about child abuse. Egads!

Christina Hendrick (Joan) was limited by the plot line, but when she had screen time, boy, did she deliver. She is one fearless actress.

I hope Keirnan Shipka (Sally) gets nominated for her work in "The Beautiful Girls." She's a pint-sized star with a command of her craft.

Can't wait to see what happens at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce next year.

Will the agency survive the loss of the Lucky Strike account?

Will Joan be able to pull off the pregnancy?

Will her doctor/husband return safely from Viet Nam?

Where will Don and Megan live?

Will Dr. Faye play the woman scorned role? If she does, what will she do to damage Don's reputation?

Will Burt Cooper make a triumphant return?

How will Sally adjust to the family's big move?

Will Don and Megan have children?

Here's hoping Matthew Weiner and his writers are hard at work on the questions that bother me so.

 

 

 

 

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