Saturday, October 27, 2007

Summer season finales

I know, I know, it's fall now (and the weather is finally agreeing with the calendar here in the Northeast) but two really awesome series that ran this summer recently had their season finales. It's funny, summer series never used to be a big thing at all, but with the cable networks producing their own original series and not adhering to the regular broadcast seasons, things have gotten a lot more interesting. These two shows, Damages and Mad Men each had 13-episode freshman seasons and they were both just phenomenal in their own way, really way better than any of the new fall shows, in my opinion. Looking at my TV schedule this fall, I have a mix of quirkiness, guilty pleasures, and geeks of all kinds but not too much of what Damages and Mad Men were: thinking shows for grownups.

Let's talk about Mad Men's big finale twist first: Peggy hasn't just been gaining weight, she was pregnant. And she gave birth. And seemingly rejected her baby. Pretty much all in the last couple of minutes of the show. WTF? It was definitely a shocker, and a lot of people have been buzzing about how that just strains the credibility of the show. And I'd really been liking Peggy, as she rose in the ranks from secretary to junior copywriter based on her talent. It's just so bizarre that they went in this direction. I can't speak firsthand, but it seems to me that gaining weight because you're pregnant is entirely different from just plain gaining weight. And I mean, was she so clueless that she didn't realize she wasn't having her period? She didn't feel kicks? Or was she in colossal denial? The writers have got some serious explaining to do.

But outside of that, the episode (and entire season really) have just been excellent. Jon Hamm, who I don't recognize from anywhere really, has been so incredibly good as Don, and I've loved the slow reveal of his past. Betty's storyline has been a roller coaster too...she has this weird sort of creepy quality about her that makes her and Don the craziest couple on TV that I'm actually rooting for. Don's slideshow presentation with all the photos of his family really got me a bit misty. And how sad was it when he got home and saw that they had already left? It's weird, this slick, composed guy whose whole life is kind of a lie and who cheats on his wife...I'm totally sympathetic with him.

There's tons more to say but I really encourage everyone to go and check out this show before it returns for a second season. The time period is almost a character in itself, and it's really unlike anything else on TV.

Now onto Damages. Talk about a show that knows how to plot! The show had two timelines that were inching closer to eachother as the episodes progressed, and it was just really thrilling, with all the twists and red herrings and mini-mysteries. It's been really unpredictable and exciting, but not to the point where unbelievable things are happening. It's kind of hard to sum up the entire season, but it's been an incredible ride.

And things have been kind of set up for a second season, though it seems it'll have to be a very different kind of show. I originally thought this was going to be an extended mini-series of sorts, with only one season, but there have been rumblings otherwise. This season has been very tightly structured and plotted, revolving around the Frobisher case. Ellen's whole induction into Patty's world was really based solely on her connection to Katie and the case. But now with the case wrapped up, Frobisher presumably dead (shot down by crazy was that?)...we're going to be delving into Ellen working undercover for the FBI to find out more about Patty? The writers are definitely going to have to come up with more than that. And I'm a bit skeptical. Patty's a really great character and Glenn Close is amazing and I'm sure there's tons that can be done with her, but I don't know if I necessarily want more. Again, it's the whole thing with letting a story end where it ends logically. I mean, some shows just aren't meant to go on indefinitely...right?

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